Cook Surname Genealogy

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

Cook Resources on

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

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
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
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
Cooke. But in
the 1881 census
, the Cookes were being
outnumbered almost four to one by the Cooks. The name Cooke,
where it
was more in the north. The southeast by then had become Cook

Scotland. 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

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.

Ireland. 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
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
form of the Gaelic MacCug, or “son of Hugo.”

Cookes and Cooks came to America, amongst the earliest in New England

  • 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
  • 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.

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
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

started arriving from the Palatinate in Germany in the 1early 1700’s,
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
    Cook in 1787.

The Fred Koch who founded Koch Industries in the 1920’s was
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
fishing industry. Another Cook – William
Cook, Scots Irish from Donegal and his wife Sidney – arrived there from
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

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.
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)


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