COOKE, Anthony (1559-1604), of Gidea Hall, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1559, 1st s. of Richard Cooke I of Gidea Hall by Anne, da. of John Caulton. educ. fellow comm. Pembroke, Camb. 1574. m. Avis or Anne, da. of William Waldegrave of Smallbridge, Suff., 3s. 1da. suc. fa. 1579. Kntd. 1596.

Offices Held

J.p. Essex from 1584; high steward, Havering atte Bower, Essex; gent. pens. 1589-d.1


Cooke inherited Gidea Hall and the manors of Bedfords and Ridden Court, the latter of which he subsequently sold. Other property included pasture and sheep in Warwickshire. Wealthy and related to the Cecils, he might well have expected a bright future.2

Cooke first travelled abroad, spent heavily, ignored advice from William Herle to return home, and wrote to Burghley from Paris afraid that ‘sinister friends’ were telling stories about him. Back in England in time to represent Lymington in the 1584 Parliament, presumably through the influence of Burghley, Cooke avoided his creditors and, as soon as the session ended, hurried back to Paris without waiting for permission. On 24 May 1585 he wrote to Walsingham explaining that his absence, not to be construed as ‘want of loyalty’, would continue until he had saved enough to pay his debts. He was in England again in 1588, when Burghley secured his admission to Gray’s Inn.3

In 1593 he was returned for East Retford, again no doubt through the influence of Burghley who was exercising the patronage during the minority of the 5th Earl of Rutland. Cooke served on the subsidy committee (1 and 3 Mar.) and promoted a bill to avoid a conveyance settling the inheritance of his lands. The conveyance, drawn up by his advisers several years before, had omitted three provisions and included three others that were void in law. Parliament had ‘an inclination to relieve’ him, and with the backing of Burghley the bill was passed.4

Next, like other impoverished gentlemen, Cooke turned to soldiering, going on the Cadiz expedition and being knighted by Essex, and subsequently in January 1599, together with Sir John Brook, assuming command of a force from the eastern counties, bound for Ireland. After embarkation, storms compelled their return. Then, after six days sailing they reached Ilfracombe, where Cooke stayed with the Earl of Bath, who thought his ‘mishaps’ were ‘to be pitied’. At last reaching Ireland, Cooke was by June lying sick at Kilkenny, without status or money, and with Cecil ignoring his ‘poor kinsman’s hard estate’. At various times Cooke asked for money and for a company of foot to be attached to his little force of 50 mounted men. By August 1600 he had lost 28 men and 56 horses in hard fighting. Sir George Carew thought Cooke merited ‘more for his continuance in this hard service ... than any gentleman of his quality’. He ‘deserved as well as Mr. Cuffe at the least’ and it was a ‘disreputation’ for him ‘to be a stander-by where his inferiors do sit’.5

Returning to England, Cooke was made responsible for the fortifications of Pendennis castle, where he was busy in November 1600. He returned to Ireland again, still arguing for a company of foot. In August 1601 he conducted James McThomas and Florence McCarthy to the Tower of London, but (unless these were excuses) ‘an unfortunate mishap by a wrench’ and the illness of his daughter prevented him from attending court. That November he left Barnstaple for Ireland with 975 west countrymen, but soon returned, and died intestate on 28 Dec. 1604. Administration of the estate was granted in January 1605 to his widow. Referring to the demise of her ‘dearly beloved nephew’, Lady Elizabeth Russell informed Cecil that Cooke had been ‘killed by butchery for surgeon’s practice’.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. Morant, Essex, i. 67; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 382; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 299; N. and Q. (ser. 2), xii. 480.
  • 2. Morant, i. 64, 66, 67; C142/189/45, 576/168.
  • 3. CSP For. 1581, 1582, pp. 592, 624; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 144; Lansd. 36, f. 173; 46, f. 6.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 481, 486; HMC Hatfield, iv. 263, 296; CSP Dom. 1591-4, pp. 330-1.
  • 5. CSP Ire. 1598-9, pp. 452, 487, 497-8; 1600, pp. 391, 399, 537-8; APC, xxix. 447, 461, 557, 611, 633, 690; HMC Hatfield, ix. 79, 88, 91, 96, 111-12, 120, 134, 146, 213; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, pp. 149, 167.
  • 6. HMC Hatfield, x. 375; xi. 310, 354, 393, 468, 487, 491; xvi. 292, 414; CSP Dom. 1601-3, p. 91; CSP Ire. 1601-3, passim; PCC admon. act bk. 1605, f. 231; Cal. Carew Pprs. iv. 302, 324; C142/576/168. Information from W.J. Tighe.