Select Cook Surname Genealogy

The Old English coc, meaning cook, gives the occupational name of Cook (and also, with the same pronunciation, Coke and Cooke).  Cook in medieval times could also have been a seller of cooked meats or a keeper of an eating house.

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England.  Coc was recorded as a name as early as 950.  The name Cocus appeared in the Domesday Book and Ralph le Cook was recorded in 1296.  Early surname spellings were Coke and Cooke.

East Anglia.  The first recorded Coke in Norfolk was William Coke in the town of Swaffham around 1150.  This family became prosperous in the 14th century, but it was not until the time of Sir Edward Coke – considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean era – that the Cokes rose to fame and fortune.  Sir Edward purchased the Holkham estate in Norfolk in 1609.  In 1764 his descendant Thomas Coke, who had been created the Earl of Leicester, built the grand Holkham Hall that can be seen today.  It nearly bankrupted the family.

Cookes at Lavenham in Suffolk date from the 14th century.  Sir Thomas Cooke was a wealthy draper in London and its Lord Mayor in 1462.  He built his home at Gidea Hall near Romford in Essex.  However, he was not long to enjoy it as he was accused and tried for treason.  He narrowly escaped with his lands and his life.  His great grandson was Anthony Cooke, tutor to Edward VI.  A branch of the family resided at Highnam Court in Gloucestershire. 

Meanwhile a Cooke family in Buckinghamshire led a Quaker group at their Bow Brickhill home in the mid 1600's.

Yorkshire.  The Cookes of Doncaster in Yorkshire had their beginnings with Robert Cooke of Almholme in the 15th century.  His grandson Edward became mayor of Doncaster in 1504.   These
Cookes were Royalist during the Civil War.  Sir George Cooke was rewarded with a baronetage and built Wheatley Hall.  Henry Cooke acquired the nearby Owston estate in 1698 and his line later became the Davies-Cookes of north Wales.  Wheatley remained with the family until 1933, Owston until 1980.

Cooke and Cook   The main surname spellings have been Cooke and Cook.  At first the spelling was Cooke.  But in the 1881 census, the Cookes were being outnumbered almost four to one by the Cooks.  The name Cooke, where it appeared, was more in the north.  The southeast by then had become Cook country.

.  The Cook name extended into Lowland Scotland and had cropped up in Dunfermline and Edinburgh by the year 1400.  Cook family histories have begun in Clackmannan with the birth of John Cook in 1691 and in the Isle of Bute (Argyllshire) with the marriage of Ebenezer and Margaret Cook in 1766.

One famous Cook, Captain James Cook the explorer, had Scottish roots.  His father James Cook had been born in 1694 in the rural village of Ednam in Roxburghshire on the Scottish borders.
  Cook was born in a small village in Yorkshire (Cooks' Cottage) and spent his formative years at the coastal port of Whitby.

Cook in Ireland could be an English or Scottish implant or an anglicization of an Irish name. Cookstown in county Tyrone took its name from the Anglican church lawyer Dr. Allen Cooke who had laid out the basis of the town in 1628.  The Cook name in Ulster probably came from the Scottish MacCook or MacCuagh.  Cook in Galway was an anglicized form of the Gaelic MacCug, or "son of Hugo."

.  Cookes and Cooks came to America, amongst the earliest in New England being:
  • Francis Cooke, a Leiden Separatist, who came to Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower in 1620.
  • Aaron Cooke from Dorset who arrived on the Mary and John in 1630.   His son Nathaniel was one of the first settlers of Windsor, Connecticut twenty years later.
  • Henry Cook from Kent who came in 1638 and settled in Salem, Massachusetts.  A later Henry of this family was an early settler in Plymouth, Connecticut.  
  • and Ellis Cook who sailed from England in 1640 and a few years later moved to Southampton out on Long Island.  He was one of the first settlers in what was then Dutch territory. 
The Rev. Samuel Cooke of Bridgeport, Connecticut, born in 1687, was the father of Joseph Platt Cooke, a Revolutionary War officer, and grandfather of Amos Starr Cooke, the man who sailed out from Boston to Hawaii as a missionary in 1837.  He was a co-founder of Castle & Cooke, a company that later invested heavily in Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantations.

Kochs started arriving from the Palatinate in Germany in the 1early 1700’s, mainly into Pennsylvania.  Many of them became Cooks, for instance:
  • Hans Koch who arrived in Pennsylvania from Germany with his family in 1741.  Their name changed to Cook around 1764.
  • Adam Koch who came in 1751 and changed his name to Cook soon after arrival.  
  • and Georg who was born Koch in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania in 1751 but his son George was born Cook in 1787.
The Fred Koch who founded Koch Industries in the 1920's was the son of a Dutch printer who had settled in Texas.

Ephraim Cook, descendant of Mayflower passenger Francis Cook, moved from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia in 1761.  He built fishing stands at Yarmouth and was instrumental in starting up its fishing industry.  Another Cook – William Cook, Scots Irish from Donegal and his wife Sidney – arrived there from Ireland at the same time. They made their home at the new township of Londonderry in Colchester county.  Interestingly, the famous Captain Cook spent some time in Nova Scotia at this time and the 1762 map of Halifax harbor was his handiwork.

William Cooke came to Canada from London in 1786 in the service of the Hudson Bay Company.  He was a fur trader and an early settler in the Red River settlement in 1821.  He died there in 1845 and left a large family of early colonists in western Canada

New Zealand.  William Cook, a ship’s carpenter from Plymouth, came to New Zealand on a whaler in 1821, met a local girl on the Bay of Islands in North Island and stayed.  William and Tiraha raised twelve children there. Grandsons George and Herbert were whalers in their own right and carried on whaling almost to the end of their lives, until 1930.

Select Cook Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Cook Names

Sir Edward Coke from Norfolk was the famous Lord Chief Justice whose writings on the English common law were the definitive legal text for the following 150 years.
Captain James Cook was the famous 18th century English explorer of the Pacific.
Thomas Cook started the Thomas Cook travel agency in the 1860's.
Alistair Cooke  was the British-born American journalist best known for his weekly radio address Letter from America.
Sam Cooke from Mississippi was one of the pioneers of soul with his hits of the 1960's.
Peter Cook was the leading figure of the British satire boom of the 1960's.

Select Cooks Today
  • 111,000 in the UK (most numerous in Hertfordshire)
  • 118,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 70,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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