George Coke

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George Coke
Hereford cathedral 001.JPG
Hereford Cathedral today (2008)
Born 3 October 1570
Longford, Derbyshire
Died 1646
Quedgeley, Gloucestershire or Eardisley, Herefordshire
Education St John's College, Cambridge
Occupation Clergyman
Spouse(s) Jane Heigham[1]
Children five sons[1]
Parents Richard and Mary Coke

George Coke (or Cooke) (3 October 1570 – 10 December 1646)[2] was successively the Bishop of Bristol and Hereford. After the battle of Naseby in 1645, Hereford was taken and Coke was arrested and taken to London. He avoided charges of High Treason in January 1646 and died in Gloucestershire that year.

Biography[edit]

Coke was the son of Richard and Mary Coke of Trusley, Derbyshire. His mother was the heiress of Thomas Sacheverell of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire,[3] and his brother was to become Sir John Coke, Secretary of State.

St Margaret's of Antioch - the church in the small village of Bygrave

Coke was educated at St John's College, Cambridge. He took his BA in 1593 and proceeded MA 1596. He then obtained a fellowship at Pembroke College in 1597, became a lecturer in rhetoric in 1602 and in 1605 he was Junior Taxor of the university.[4][5] He was ordained both deacon and priest on 30 November 1602 by the Bishop of Ely.[6] In 1608 he became the rector of Bygrave in Hertfordshire, which was then described as "a lean village (consisting of but three houses) maketh a fat living", as it provided a considerable income of almost £300 a year.[2][7] Coke resigned his fellowship in late 1609, and by 9 January 1610 he had married Jane Heigham,[2] and they had five sons: Richard, John and William all entered the church and had associations with Herefordshire. Their fourth son, Thomas, died young, while the last, Robert, was "killed in action in Newport".[1]

Following his brother's elevation to high office in 1625, Coke was collated to the prebend of Finsbury on 19 January 1626, making him one of the canons of St Paul's Cathedral, and he was made a Doctor of Divinity in 1630.[2] On 10 February 1633, Coke was consecrated Bishop of Bristol.[6][8] In June 1635 he was instituted as rector of Maiden Newton, Dorset, to which he was presented by Martin White and Sir John Windham despite the opposition of Sir John Strangeways who believed the advowson was his.[2][6] In July 1636 he was translated to Hereford, resigning Bygrave and his prebendary.[2][6][9] The appointments to both Bristol and Hereford seem to have had the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, but during Coke's time at Hereford, he was rebuked by Laud after Coke had appointed one of his own son's as Precentor of Hereford Cathedral. The son had been apprenticed but ran away to sea, seeing a severe storm as a sign from God, he then sought ordination from his father. Laud believed the son to have insufficient learning for a cathedral post. Coke replaced his own son with his nephew, Francis, son of Coke's eldest brother, Sir Francis.[2] Coke bought the estate of Lower Moor in Herefordshire from Henry, 5th Earl of Worcester.[10] This house was to remain in the Coke family until the 1930s.[11]

Civil war[edit]

During the civil war he was one of the protesting bishops, and was imprisoned on that account. On the 30 December 1641 he was impeached by the House of Commons together with eleven other bishops[2][12] in order to weaken the Royalist party in the House of Lords.[13] Coke retired to Hereford, and was there in 1643 when it was first captured by parliamentary forces, but the articles of surrender protected his position.

After Naseby, the city was captured for the second time, the forces this time led by Colonel John Birch. Birch and Colonel Morgan took a number of people captive on 8 December 1645, including Coke, Judge Jenkins, Sir Henry Bedingfield, Sir Walter Blunt, Sir Henry Miller, Sir Marmaduke and Sir Francis Lloyd, Giles Mompesson, Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, and others who were initially taken to Gloucester. On 3 January 1646, Coke and others were ordered to London by the Commons and many were sent to the Tower on the 22nd to answer charges of high treason.[14] Birch rifled the bishop's palace and afterwards took up his habitation there until the Restoration. Moreover, he had a great part of the revenues of the diocese to his own use, and John Walker complained in 1714 that "to this day, the manor of Whitborn, by the sorry compliance of some who might have prevented it, continues in his family".[15] Coke's estate of Queest Moor was sequestred on 13 August 1646, and despite his always frugal habits, he was forced to rely on the charity of other family members.[2] Bishop Coke died on 10 December 1646, at either Quedgeley, Gloucestershire,[1][6] or Eardisley[2] and was buried in Eardisley parish church.[1][2][6] After the Restoration of 1660, a handsome cenotaph was erected to his memory in Hereford Cathedral, which was much altered in the 19th century.[1][2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Burkes Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, Bernard Burke, 1847, retrieved 28 March 2008
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Atherton, Ian (2004). "‘Coke, George (1570–1646)’". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5827. Retrieved 2008-04-15. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Wood, Athenee Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 882
  4. ^ "Coke, George (CK588G)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ Addit. MS. 5865, f. 65 b
  6. ^ a b c d e f Persons: Coke, George (1602 - 1636) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 2 February 2014)
  7. ^ Fuller's Church Hist. lib. xi. 183
  8. ^ Godwin, De Prcesulibus, ed. Richardson, pp. 497, 565
  9. ^ Ls Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 216, 471
  10. ^ A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain, John Burke, 1838, accessed 12 April 2008
  11. ^ Recent sale of George Cokes house "Lemore" for c.£1.5m accessed 10 April 2008
  12. ^ A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason, Thomas Bayly Howell, 1816, accessed 10 April 2008
  13. ^ Herefordshire.gov.uk accessed 10 April 2008
  14. ^ Memoir of Sir Thomas Lunsford in The Gentleman's Magazine for 1837, accessed 12 April 2008
  15. ^ Walker, John, Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 94, 1714

External links[edit]


Church of England titles
Preceded by
Robert Wright
Bishop of Bristol
1633–1636
Succeeded by
Robert Skinner
Preceded by
Theophilus Field
Bishop of Hereford
1636–1646
Succeeded by
vacant, next held by Nicholas Monck from 1660