Select Cook Miscellany

Here are some Cook stories and accounts over the years:

The Coke Surname in Norfolk

The surname Coke in Norfolk has been traced back to a William Coke in the hundred of South Greenhoe, now the Norfolk town of Swaffham, around the year 1150.  The name origin is uncertain, maybe from the occupation of cook or possibly from coc meaning “leader.”  In any case it was not a common surname in the area and there was only one record of this name in the 1400’s. 

By that time this family had become a well-regarded one and included in their number an Under-Sheriff and a Norwich merchant.   Edward Coke, the famous jurist, was born in 1552, his father Robert being a London barrister who had built up a strong practice representing clients such as the Townsends from his home area of Norfolk. 

The Coke name was pronounced "kuke" in Elizabethan times, but later came to be pronounced as "cook

Cooke Quakers in Buckinghamshire

Early Quaker meetings in Buckinghamshire were held at Hogsty End (now Woburn Sands) around the year 1659.  They were also held at the Bow Brickhill house of Thomas Cooke, born about 1610.  He was the son of William Cooke, one of the four Cooke yeoman farmers known to be holding land in Bow Brickhill in the year 1600. 

The Quakers were persecuted before and after the Restoration in 1660 and recorded prosecutions under the heading of "sufferings."  In 1670 the authorities imposed a fine of £20, to be shared between William Cooke, William Allbright and George Galsey, for illegal meetings at Woburn.  In the 1680’s Cooke father and sons often appeared before the Quarter Sessions for not attending All Saints church. 

Thomas Cooke had five children – Thomas, John, William, Edward and Joan.  All were Quakers. The Cooke farmers at Bow Brickhill had prospered, for these were the golden years for the yeoman farmer.  Thomas was able to leave land to all his sons and £100 to his daughter Joan. 

By the early 1700’s the Hogsty End Quaker meetings went into decline and there were few Cooke entries in the register.

Cooks' Cottage

James Cook, the famous explorer, was born in the small village of Great Ayton in north Yorkshire.  Cooks’ Cottage had been built there in 1755 by his parents James and Grace Cook.  

In 1933 the owner of the cottage decided to sell it with a condition of sale that the building remain in England.  She was persuaded to change "England" to "the Empire", and accepted an Australian bid of £800 by Russell Grimwade, as opposed to the highest local offer of £300.  

The cottage was deconstructed brick by brick and packed into 253 cases and 40 barrels, for shipping on board the Port Dunedin from Hull.  Cuttings from ivy that adorned the house were also taken and planted when the house was re-erected in Melbourne.  Grimwade, a local businessman and philanthropist, donated the house to the people of Victoria for the centenary anniversary of the settlement of Melbourne in October 1934.  

The cottage immediately became a popular tourist attraction.  In 1978 further restoration work was carried out on the cottage.  An English cottage garden has been established around the house, further adding to its period reconstruction.  Very few of the items in the house are from the Cook family, but all are representative furnishings of the period

Cook and Cooke Distribution in the 1881 Census

H..B. Guppy remarked in his 1890 opus Home of Family Names in Great Britain that the names Cook and Cooke were in be found in southern England and down the east coast from Lincolnshire to Kent.  The names were comparatively scarce in the north (which does not seem to be true) and in the southwest of England (which does seem to be true). 

The 1881 census showed the following distributions of the Cook and Cooke names.

County (000's)
Cooke %
East Anglia
SE England

By 1881 the Cooke spelling had held up to some degree in the north.  An example of the northern Cookes was the Cooke family of Salford in Lancashire whose son Alistair Cooke, born in 1908, grew up to be the famous radio broadcaster renowned for his Letter from America.

However, the Cooke name was scarce in the south.

Cook's Battle Hymn of the Republic

In the 19th century the Battle Hymn of the Republic was adapted to fit prominent American surnames of the time, including Cook.  The Cook version had three stanzas of specific references.  They ran as follows: 

“The Cooks of York, Northumberland, Norfolk, Bedford and Kent, 
To deeds of valor and of missions of import were sent. 
And when they pledged their honor everything they said they meant.  
The clan goes marching on!  

William, Ellis, Gregory were fathers of our clan.  
Posterity of Henry and Elijah never ran.  
Modecai was virile, Nathan was a sturdy man.  
The clan goes marching on!  

Sir Samuel was Lord Mayor, Fred was chaplain to the Queen; 
James Cook discovered islands which white men had never seen. 
Cooks love Old Glory, Union Jack, and “Wearin’ of the Green.” 
The clan goes marching on!"

This Cook version therefore combines English, Irish, and American Cooks. 

The early Cook arrivals in America shown here were: 

  • Ellis Cook on Long Island (Southampton) and Gregory Cooke in Massachusetts (Newton).  William Cook’s identity is uncertain.  
  • Henry Cook settled in Massachusetts (Salem); and Elijah Cook came to America with the Pilgrims and settled in Connecticut.  
  • while Mordecai Cooke was the forebear of a Cook family in Virginia and Nathan Cook was one of the first settlers in Windsor, Connecticut.

Ephraim Cook's Lameness

In 1755 Ephraim Cook accompanied his father Caleb, a captain of the local militia, in his duties around Kingston, Massachusetts.  While they were building a fort, a log fell and broke his leg, necessitating amputation below the knee.

He could no longer farm and became for a time a surveyor.  But he preferred the sea.  After working as a shoresman and storekeeper in his future father-in law’s fishing vessel, he moved to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in 1761 and erected fishing stands on the beach.

Being lame he required a horse for drawing the fish to and from his stands; and, as water was somewhat distant from his camping home, he procured a stout canoe in which he fixed a barrel.  By these expedients he supplemented the loss of his limb.  He gradually became a man of considerable influence in the township.

Later he had a 40 ton vessel built for fishing and can justifiably be called the father of Yarmouth’s fishing industry. He was the first captain of militia for the area and also served as a Justice of the Peace.  He died in 1821 at the age of 84, leaving behind him “a good substance, a large family, and a fair fame.

Amos Cooke's Correspondence

Amos Starr Cooke and his wife Juliette sailed from Boston in 1837 on the Mary Frazier as  missionaries for Hawaii.  After teaching school for two years the King and chiefs of Hawaii requested that they begin a school for their young chiefs.  The Cookes served with the school for ten years, educating many of Hawaii's leaders.  In 1851 Cooke entered a mercantile business with Samuel Castle, establishing the firm of Castle & Cooke.  

There are a total of eight volumes of the Amos Cooke journal.  Volumes One and Two focused on Cooke's early life and travels around New England.  Volumes Three to Eight gave an account of the voyage and the first days in Honolulu and contained informative material on the history of the Chief's Children's School. Entries also recorded the arrival of friends who were entertained by the Cookes, family matters, and other mission activities. The remaining volumes reported Cooke's continuing interest in the mission, church, and educational affairs of Honolulu, while he was employed in the mercantile business with Samuel Castle. 

Other preserved written materials of the Cookes are the letters written to Amos’s sister Mary Keeler Seeley in Danbury, Connecticut.  The letters from Hawaii started on their arrival in 1837.  The last one was dated 1854, although Amos himself did not die until 1871.

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