COOKE, George (c.1705-68), of Bellamond, or Bellacketts, in Harefield, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1705, o.s. of Sir George Cooke of Harefield, chief prothonotary in the court of common pleas, by Anne, da. of Edward Jennings of Dudleston, Salop. educ. I. Temple 1717, called 1728, bencher 1733. m. July 1735, Catherine, da. of Sir Thomas Twisden, 3rd Bt., of East Peckham, Kent, 7s. 1da. suc. fa. 4 Nov. 1740.
Chief prothonotary in the court of common pleas 1732-d.; steward of anniversary dinner of independent electors of Westminster 1748; jt. paymaster gen. 1766-d.
The son of a distinguished barrister, who resigned to him the office of chief prothonotary of common pleas,1 which his grandfather had also held, Cooke was returned for Tregony by the 2nd Viscount Falmouth in 1742. Called ‘a pompous Jacobite’ by Horace Walpole,2 he spoke against the Hanoverians in January 17443 and in April 1746. Unsuccessful for Middlesex in 1747, he was asked to stand for Westminster in opposition to Lord Trentham in November 1749, but declined, writing to the independent electors:
I most sincerely wish my situation would allow me to accept so generous an invitation, and support their choice with a spirit becoming the confidence placed in me. But as my time is so short, and several of my friends in the county are averse to my engaging in this, I hope the gentlemen will turn their thoughts to some person more worthy of their attention and more capable of serving them.4
He supported Sir George Vandeput, who was chosen to oppose Trentham, organising the scrutiny on behalf of Vandeput.5 When Cooke was chosen to stand for Middlesex by the general meeting of the county to oppose a nominee of Sir Hugh Smithson, Vandeput published an advertisement (19 Feb. 1750), stating:
that the great and signal services he received from the infatigable zeal of his friend Mr. Cooke calls for his most grateful acknowledgments, and therefore, he begs his friends will use their utmost efforts in his favour, in opposition to those who will take every step for the destruction of the freedom and liberty of your countrymen.
He was accused by his opponents of joining himself ‘to a party which always opposed every measure for the security of the present happy establishment in church and state’ and of having opposed ‘every measure for raising forces during the rebellion’.6 He was successful, and in January 1751 presented a petition from the electors of Westminster on behalf of Vandeput. In December of that year he opposed the land tax at 3s. in the pound, and in January 1752 he spoke against the Saxon subsidy.7
He died 5 June 1768.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Gent. Mag. 1732, p. 777.
- 2. Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 13.
- 3. Yorke's parl. jnl. Parl. Hist. xiii. 463.
- 4. A Genuine and Authentic Account of the late election for Westminster, 1749.
- 5. See WESTMINSTER.
- 6. A Collection of Papers published during the election of a knight of the shire for Middlesex, to serve in the room of Sir Hugh Smithson, 1750.
- 7. Walpole, i. 13-14, 218, 254.