Frederick Cooke (socialist)

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Frederick Riley Cooke
Fred Cooke 1920s.jpg
3rd President of the Social Democratic Party
In office
Preceded byHiram Hunter
Succeeded byPeter Fraser
5th President of the New Zealand Labour Party
In office
Vice PresidentTim Armstrong
LeaderHarry Holland
Preceded byPeter Fraser
Succeeded byTom Brindle
Personal details
Born28 April 1867
Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Died26 June 1930
Christchurch, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyLabour (1916-1930)
Other political
Socialist Party (1901-13)
Social Democratic Party (1913-16)
Spouse(s)Ida Clough
OccupationTrade unionist

Frederick Riley Cooke (28 April 1867 – 26 June 1930) was a New Zealand tailor, socialist and trade unionist.

Early life[edit]

Cooke was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England on 28 April 1867. He started his working life aged seven and was almost entirely self-educated. He married Ida Clough on 1 August 1891 in Bradford, where he was living at the time.[1]

Political career[edit]

He came to New Zealand in 1900 and was a founding member of Socialist Party. He stood as a parliamentary candidate in the Christchurch East electorate in 1905, 1908, and 1911 and received few votes, but he regarded his candidacies as a good propaganda tool.[1]

At the unity conference in 1913, Cooke was a forceful opponent of compulsory military training. The Socialist Party merged with United Labour Party at that conference to form the Social Democratic Party, and Cooke was elected vice president in 1914, and president in 1915. In 1916, the Social Democratic Party merged to become the Labour Party. Cooke was Labour's vice president (1920/1921) and president (1921/22).[2] He was a member of Christchurch City Council from a by-election in 1920 onwards.[3]

Cooke unsuccessfully contested further parliamentary elections for the Labour Party: Ashburton in 1922, Christchurch North in 1925, and Waitaki in 1928.[1]

Cooke died in Christchurch on 26 June 1930; he had suffered from diabetes for the last decade and had developed prostate cancer. He was buried at Sydenham Cemetery. Addresses were given at the funeral by Ted Howard (MP), Peter Fraser (MP), John Archer (Mayor of Christchurch), and John Alexander McCullough (trade unionist).[3]


  1. ^ a b c McAloon, Jim. "Frederick Riley Cooke". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ Paul, J.T. (1946). Humanism in Politics: New Zealand Labour Party in Retrospect. Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Worker Printing and Publishing. p. 192.
  3. ^ a b Greenaway, Richard L. N. (June 2007). "Sydenham Cemetery Tour" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. pp. 15–18. Retrieved 30 July 2013.


  • Gustafson, Barry (1980). Labour's path to political independence: the origins and establishment of the NZ Labour Party 1900–1919. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. ISBN 0-19-647986-X.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Hiram Hunter
President of the Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Peter Fraser
Preceded by
Peter Fraser
President of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Tom Brindle