Francis Cooke


BIRTH:  About 1583.
MARRIAGE:  Hester le Mahieu, 20 July 1603 at Leiden, Holland.
CHILDREN:  John, an unnamed child buried in Leiden, Jane, Elizabeth, Jacob, Hester, and Mary.
DEATH:  7 April 1663 at Plymouth.


Francis Cooke was born about 1583. His origins have not been discovered, but it is probable he was born in England, perhaps from the Canterbury or Norwich areas. He married Hester le Mahieu on 20 July 1603 in Leiden, Holland; she was a French Walloon whose parents had initially fled to Canterbury, England; she left for Leiden sometime before 1603. Francis Cooke and Hester le Mahieu's marriage occurred in Leiden, Holland six years before the Pilgrim church made its move there, so he was living there long before their arrival and must have met up with and joined them afterwards.  What brought Francis to Holland in the first place is unknown: religious persecution of Protestants in England did not really begin until after King James took power in 1604. In 1606, the Cookes left Leiden and went to Norwich, co. Norfolk, for a time (for what reason is not known), but returned to have their first son, John, baptized at the French church in Leiden, sometime between January and March, 1607. In Holland, Cooke took up the profession of wool-comber.

Francis, and his oldest son John, came on the Mayflower to Plymouth in 1620. He left behind his wife Hester and his other children Jane, Jacob, Elizabeth and Hester. After the Colony was founded and better established, he sent for his wife and children, and they came to Plymouth in 1623 onboard the ship Anne.

Francis lived out his life in Plymouth. Although he kept a fairly low profile, he was on a number of minor committees such as the committee to lay out the highways, and received some minor appointments by the Court to survey land. He was a juror on a number of occasions, and was on the coroner's jury that examined the body of Martha Bishop, the 4-year old daughter who was murdered by her mother Alice. He received some modest land grants at various times throughout his life. He lived to be about 80 years old, dying in 1663; his wife Hester survived him by at least three years and perhaps longer.