COOK, John.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Although John Cook was styled ‘esquire’ on the election indenture it is possible that he was the John Cok or Cook, brewer of Orford, who served as constable of the town in or about 1553 and was then said to be aged 50. As the brother-in-law of Thomas Spicer, by 1554 bailiff of Orford for Sir William Willoughby, 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham, this John Cook could have been well-placed to sit for a borough where Willoughby wielded considerable influence. During a lawsuit in the autumn of 1554 he was accused, as constable, of having favoured Spicer in the latter’s quarrel with the other constable, Robert Pawling. In another related case, also in 1554, he deposed that he had ‘known the burgesses for Parliament were appointed by the town and also ... that they were appointed both by the Lord Willoughby and the town’. Another witness, Robert Cook, aged 48, may have been his brother, while both were possibly related to the Edmunds family, mariners and fishermen, who also appeared in the suits; a John Cook alias Edmunds made a will in April 1564 which was proved in January 1567.1

If the style ‘esquire’ on the indenture denotes a man of higher status than the brewer and constable—and was perhaps used to distinguish the two men—one possibility is that the Member was John Cook of Yoxford, a local gentleman about whom nothing has been discovered but who could have relied on Willoughby influence, since Parham is near Yoxford. Another is that he was the lawyer John Cock II, whose first known return was as a Hertfordshire knight of the shire in 1545; however, no connexion has been found between him and either Orford or the Willoughbys.2

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. C1/1392/34, 35; 219/18B/84; St.Ch.4/10/76; E111/48; Archdeaconry of Suff. bk. 21, f. 384.
  • 2. Add. 19124, f. 243.