COOK, Thomas II, of Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

s. of John Cook† of Silverton and Exeter. m. (1) Katherine, da. of Reynold Seynesbury of Dunster, Som. by his w. Margaret; (2) by 1432, Joan, 1da.

Offices Held

Steward, Exeter Mich. 1428-9; receiver 1430-1; member of the council of 12, 1431-2, 1433-5, 1436-41, 1442-56; mayor 1432-3, 1435-6, 1441-2.1

Constable of the Staple, Exeter Nov. 1429-30, 1438-9, 1455; mayor Jan. 1434-5, Oct. 1445-6.2

Warden of the Magdalen hospital, Exeter Sept. 1441.3

Commr. of gaol delivery, Exeter castle May 1454.


Cook’s father, John, who came from Silverton, a village to the north of Exeter, became a freeman of the city in 1398. It was not, however, until the first of his father’s three mayoralties (1417-18, 1421-2 and 1424-5) that Thomas, along with his brother William (d.1450), entered the liberty, and he was returned to Parliament for the first time within a month of his admission on 25 Oct. 1417.4 The father sat later, in the Parliament of 1422. The Cooks dominated the government of Exeter in the 1420s and 1430s, for William’s mayoralties (in 1431-2, 1434-5 and 1439-40) alternated with his brother’s. Thomas took part in the local elections of civic officials some 20 times between 1428 and 1456, and in April 1432 he also attended the elections of the knights of the shire and parliamentary burgesses of Devon held at Exeter castle. Like his father before him he was important in the organization of the Staple at Exeter. He himself is known to have traded in iron, canvas and woollen cloth.5

The settlement made at the time of his first marriage brought Cook burgages and lands in Dunster and Washford and a fourth part of the manor of Exton, all in north Somerset. He also held property in Clyst St. Mary, Devon, and by 1432 he had acquired holdings in Lea and Hockworthy some eight miles from Tiverton (lands which in 1438 he granted in reversion to his son-in-law, John Gambon of Moreston in Halberton), as well as about 80 acres in Okehampton. Over 300 acres of farm land in Uplowman, Silverton, Duryard, St. Sidwell’s and Holcombe Rogus were probably inherited from his father along with property in High Street, Exeter.6

Cook was on good terms with his fellow citizens and often acted on their behalf in property conveyances. He was also very much involved in the city’s disputes with the cathedral authorities, which reached a climax during the mayoralties of John Shillingford*, sometimes playing the role of peacemaker. In October 1447 when Shillingford quarrelled with Richard Druell† ‘nerthelez better accorde [was] hadde by mene of Thomas Cook’, and it was during the mayor’s absence from the city in December following that Cook went to see Bishop Lacy at Chudleigh and the earl of Devon at Tiverton in an attempt to bring about a compromise. He was one of the men left in charge of the administration of the city while the mayor was away, and he figured prominently in the meetings with the recorder, Nicholas Radford*, called to decide how the city’s case should be conducted.7 In the spring of 1448 Shillingford noted that Cook was ‘seke, lame at home’, but he lived on until 1456 at least. In 1482 his great-grand daughter, Elizabeth Sydenham, granted property on St. David’s Hill to the Benedictine monastery of St. Nicholas, to provide daily services for the souls of Thomas and Joan Cook and their descendants.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Exeter City RO, mayors’ ct. rolls 7-35 Hen. VI.
  • 2. C267/6/57, 61, 63, 65; C67/25; C131/73/3; H. Lloyd Parry, Exeter Seals, 17.
  • 3. Notes and Gleanings, iii. 143.
  • 4. Mayors’ ct. rolls 22-23 Ric. II m. 24, 5-6 Hen. V mm. 4, 17; C219/14/3.
  • 5. Mayors’ ct. rolls 7-24 Hen. VI; E122/40/37. In HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 216, Cook is erroneously described as a lawyer.
  • 6. H.C. Maxwell-Lyte, Hist. Dunster and Fams. Mohun and Luttrell, 326; Exeter City RO, misc. docs. 51/1/4/4; mayor’s ct. roll 17-18 Hen. VI m. 2; CP25(1)46/82/94, 84/150, 88/233; CPR, 1429-36, p. 86.
  • 7. Exeter City RO, ED/WA/1-12; M.E. Curtis, City v. Cathedral Authorities (Hist. Exeter Research Group Mono. v.), 70-71; Letters and Pprs. Shillingford (Cam. Soc. n.s. ii), 5, 32, 39, 152-3.
  • 8. Letters Shillingford, 48; Exeter City RO, ED/SN/67.