Monday, February 11, 2013

Francis Cooke

  • Name: Francis Cooke
  • Born: 1583 England?
  • Died: April 7, 1663, Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Related through: Dan's grandmother Elvira Wilde

Francis Cooke was a Separatist who fled religious persecution under English King James I, and in 1620 traveled to the New World on the Mayflower.

Francis is described in Leiden Walloon church marriage records dating from 1603 as a "woolcomber out of England," however his exact origin is unknown. In Leiden, sometime after July 20, 1603, as Franchoys Couck, he married Hester le Mahieu, born in Lille, the daughter of Protestant refugees from England.

While in Leiden, Francis and Hester were members of the Walloon church. In 1606, they left Leiden briefly for Norwich, England, where they joined another Walloon church, returning to Leiden in 1607, possibly for religious reasons. Between 1611 and 1618, the Cookes were members of the Separatist congregation in Leiden.

Francis Cooke with one son John, departed on the Mayflower from Plymouth, England on September 6/16, 1620. The small, 100-foot ship had 102 passengers and a crew of about 30-40 in extremely cramped conditions. By the second month out, the ship was being buffeted by strong westerly gales, causing the ship‘s timbers to be badly shaken with caulking failing to keep out sea water, and with passengers, even in their berths, lying wet and ill. This, combined with a lack of proper rations and unsanitary conditions for several months, attributed to what would be fatal for many, especially the majority of women and children. On the way there were two deaths, a crew member and a passenger, but the worst was yet to come after arriving at their destination when, in the space of several months, almost half the passengers perished in cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.

On November 9/19, 1620, after about 3 months at sea, including a month of delays in England, they spotted land, which was the Cape Cod Hook, now called Provincetown Harbor. And after several days of trying to get south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, strong winter seas forced them to return to the harbor at Cape Cod hook, where they anchored on November 11/21. The Mayflower Compact was signed that day.

Francis Cooke was active in Plymouth civil affairs in the 1630s and 40s — committees to lay out land grants and highways, petit jury, grand jury, coroner's jury. He appears on the 1643 Plymouth list of those able to bear arms. At some point in 1638 or afterward, he settled at Rocky Nook on Jones River, within the limits of Kingston, a few miles from Plymouth.

Francis Cooke married Hester Mahieu in Leiden, Holland on July 20, 1603 or shortly thereafter. They had seven children. Her parents were Jacques and Jenne/Jeanne Mahieu, from France.

Hester died after June 8, 1666 and was buried at Burial Hill in Plymouth, Mass. His burial place is unknown.

Their son John came with his father on the Mayflower and survived to live a long life. In the summer of 1623 Hester came over with her other children Jane, Jacob and Hester on the ship 'Anne' or 'Little James.'

This article was taken from the Wikipedia article about Francis Cooke. Thanks Wikipedia!

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