COOK, Sir William, 2nd Bt. (c.1630-1708), of Broome Hall, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1685 - 1687
1689 - 1695
1698 - 1700

Family and Education

b. c.1630, 1st s. of Sir William Cook, 1st Bt., of Broome Hall by his 1st w. Mary, da. of Thomas Astley of Melton Constable, Norf.  educ. Emmanuel, Camb. fell. comm. 1647; G. Inn 1648.  m. settlement 1664, Jane, da. and coh. of William Steward of Barton Mills, Suff., 7da.  suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 1681.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Great Yarmouth 1685.2

Biography

Although Cook was not listed as having voted in the Convention to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, his name appeared on the black list of Tories published before the 1690 election. He was returned, with his kinsman Sir Jacob Astley, 1st Bt.*, a moderate Tory, having defeated two Whigs. Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed him as a Tory supporter of the Court. Despite the fact that he is not recorded as having made a speech, Cook contributed to the preparation of several bills. On 9 May, for example, he was nominated to prepare the bill for the regulation of wines. In the following session he was appointed to prepare the militia bill (10 Oct.) and to draft a poor relief bill (7 Nov.). In April 1691 Robert Harley* listed him as a doubtful supporter of the Country party. He was appointed the following session (2 Dec. 1691) to draft the bill to encourage the manufacture of saltpetre in England, but on 18 Jan. 1692 was granted leave of absence for a month because of ill-health (and again on 9 Jan. 1693 and 27 Feb. 1695).

Cook did not stand for re-election in 1695, but put up again with Astley in 1698, and was returned at the top of the poll. He was listed in about September 1698 as a member of the Country party, and was forecast as likely to oppose the standing army. His personal correspondence bears out this assessment. In January 1699 he wrote approvingly of (Sir) John Phillips’ (4th Bt.) immorality bill, describing its probable failure as a ‘scandal of the government’. At the same time he hoped that a bill against distilling brandy from corn would meet with sufficient opposition that ‘we may throw it out, for it will be a vast prejudice to our rents, and is driven on chiefly by the brewers and the plantation merchants in regard to their molasses’. On 23 Feb. he wrote:

On Saturday last we had a long tug with the courtiers . . . upon the report from the committee of the whole House upon the article of the 15,000 men voted in the committee. We first moved the number should be reduced to 12,000, but upon the question they carried it against us by five; then we moved the addition of these words to the question ‘to be seamen only according to the ancient usage of the navy’, and we carried that by nine . . . We are now coming upon ways and means for raising the money and ’twill be very difficult without a great burthen still upon the land, and I pray God they do not get the excise upon malt continued.

He reported with delight on 9 Mar. that ‘we have damned the malt tax I hope for ever in the committee’. On 4 Jan. 1700 he lamented that he had been unable to attend a call of the House having been badly stricken with gout. His attendance a few days later caused him a great deal of discomfort. During February his condition improved somewhat, only to worsen in March with pain from the stone being added to that of gout. Not a candidate in either of the general elections in 1701, he seems to have been prepared to support the two Whigs who put up in December, Sir John Holland, 2nd Bt.*, and Hon. Roger Townshend*, until he heard that Astley was intending to stand as well, whereupon he was forced to reconsider: ‘so near and honourable a relation as Sir Jacob Astley concerning himself at this time’, he informed Roger Townshend, ‘I must beg your pardon if I stand neuter’.3

Cook contested the county in 1702, together with Astley, at the urging of Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†), but was defeated and retired from active politics. He sold the manor of Broome at about this time and went to live a