Richard Cocke

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For the American politician from Virginia, see Richard I. Cocke.
Richard Cocke
Portrait of Richard Cocke at Bremo
Born 1597 (1597)
Stottesdon, Shropshire, England
Died 1665 (1666) (aged 68)
Henrico County, Virginia

Richard Cocke (1597 – 1665) was a prominent colonial Virginia planter and politician. He established a politically and social dynasty that firmly seated itself as among the most prominent in Virginia. Among his more prominent descendants are General Robert E. Lee and U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Early life[edit]

Richard Cocke was born in 1597 at Pickthorn, Stottesdon, Shropshire and baptized Dec. 13, 1597 at Sidbury in Shropshire.[1] He was the son of Thomas Cocke a yeoman farmer.[1] His early education is not known but it is clear he was educated as he was both literate and of enough education to represent as an attorney in court.

Arrival in Virginia[edit]

The first Virginia record of Richard Cocke is of December 24, 1627, when he appeared at the court in Jamestown to give testimony as the purser of the Thomas and John that four men of Mr. Sharples had run away while being transported to Virginia.[2] Cocke again appeared on February 10, 1629 as Patrick Canada’s attorney and ordered to take custody of Thomas Hunter’s estate on behalf of Patrick Canada.[2]

Settlement and family[edit]

Cocke was definitively settled in Virginia by 1632, as record on June 5, 1632 Court learned that Richard Cocke had married Temperance Bailey, the widow of John Browne and settled his estate with a fee of 6,397 pounds of tobacco.[2] Temperance was born about 1617 in Virginia, the daughter of Thomas Bailey and Cicely Jordan Farrar who had arrived at Jamestown in August 1610, as is indicated by the 1623 and 1624/25 Muster.[3][4] Temperance married between the age of 13 and 14 John Browne with whom she had children.[3] Richard Cocke and Temperance had two known sons, Thomas and Richard. Following the death of Temperance he married Mary Aston, a daughter of Walter Aston, with whom he had children including another son Richard, Elizabeth, John, William, and Edward.[5] His two sons named Richard have traditionally been differentiated as Richard the Elder and Richard the Younger.[5]


Malvern Hill built by Thomas Cocke

Richard Cocke “Gentleman” patented 3,000 acres near the lands of John Price, Thomas Hallam and Thomas Harris in Henrico County on March 6, 1636 and expanded his holdings further on March 10, 1639 with an addition 2,000 acres.[6] On December 6, 1652 he added 2,842 more acres in Henrico County with an added 100 acres on the Chickahominy on Aug 24th, 1664.[6] Cocke’s last acquisition was in partnership with John Beauchamp on June 21, 1664 consisting of 2,974 acres on the south side of the Chickahominy. Beauchamp confirmed his portion to Cocke’s sons after his death.[6] By the time Richard Cocke died he was in possession of 10,916 acres of land spread over three sites named, ‘Bremo” (his home site), ‘Malvern Hill’ and ‘Curles’. He is also known to have owned property in present-day Surry County, Virginia where he first resided in the early 1630s.[7]

Virginia House of Burgesses[edit]

Richard Cocke served in as a member of the House of Burgesses periodically throughout his life. He is first recorded in 1632 representing Weyanoke. Cocke later represented Henrico in sessions from 1644 to 1654.[8] In addition to his service in the House of Burgesses he was also a Colonel of the local militia and a justice of the court.[8]


Traditionally the Cocke surname has been pronounced as "Cook", which accounts for errors in which the name was recorded as Cooke. Though some descendants still pronounce the name "Cook" many have averted to "Cock" as a means of cultural conformity, much like that of the Randolph family whose name was traditionally pronounced "Randalls" in Virginia.

Notable descendants[edit]

Associated places and estates[edit]

The descendants of Richard Cocke lived in the grand style associated with the Virginia aristocracy and in that fashion built a number of great estates.

Branch House
  • Estates
  1. Appomattox Manor owned by descendant Richard Eppes.
  2. Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
  3. Bacon's Castle inherited by Benjamin Cocke who married the daughter of Arthur Allen, and whose descendants expanded the house.
  4. Bremo a large estate with three residences built by John Hartwell Cocke.
  5. Branch House built by descendant John Kerr Branch.
  6. Chatham Manor built by descendant Ann Bolling Randolph Fitzhugh and husband William Fitzhugh.
  7. The Cedars built by John S. Cocke.
  8. Derment built by Thomas Lewis Preston Cocke.
  9. Edgemont built by James Powell Cocke.
  10. Esmont built by Dr. Charles Lewis Cocke.
  11. Estouteville built by descendant Selina Skipwith and husband John Coles.
  12. Lightview (Ware Neck, Virginia) built by descendant William Keeble Davis.
  13. Malvern Hill owned by Richard Cocke the house at Malvern Hill was built by his son Thomas Cocke, the house burned down in 1905.
  14. Maymont Park built by descendant Sallie May Dooley.
  15. Mount Pleasant built by Richard Cocke IV.
  16. Oakland built by Bowler Cocke.
  17. Old Woodville was built by descendant Elizabeth Fauntleroy Cocke and her husband Walter Coles, ancestors of George C. Marshall.
  18. Prestwould built and owned by Sir Peyton Skipwith whose 1st and 2nd wives were sisters Ann and Jean Miller granddaughters of Anne Cocke.
  19. Ravensworth built by descendant Ann Bolling Randolph Fitzhugh and inherited by William Henry Fitzhugh Lee.
  20. Rocklands built by descendant Robert B. Haxall.
  21. Swannanoa built by descendant Sallie May Dooley.
  22. Tallwood built by descendant Helen Skipwith and husband Tucker Coles.
  23. Weston Manor owned by descendant Richard Eppes and gifted to his daughter Christian who married William Gilliam.
  24. Wickham-Leigh House built by descendant Benjamin Watkins Leigh and is now owned by the Valentine Richmond History Center
  • Places associated with the Cocke Family
  1. Cocke County, Tennessee named for William Cocke
  2. Cocke Hall located at The Lawn of the University of Virginia is named for John Hartwell Cocke.
  3. Hollins University in Roanoke Virginia is an all-female university founded by Charles Lewis Cocke.


  1. ^ a b Day, Steven R. (1 November 2007). "Richard Cocke of Henrico, Virginia". Magazine of Virginia Genealogy. 45 (3). 
  2. ^ a b c McCartney, Martha W. (Apr 30, 2007). Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 214. 
  3. ^ a b Dorman, John Frederick, Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th ed., v1 pp926-929
  4. ^ "The Living and Dead in Virginia, Feb. 16, 1623"
  5. ^ a b Stanard, William Glover (1921). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 29. Richmond, VA: Virginia Historical Society. 
  6. ^ a b c Brock, Robert Alonzo (1886). Documents, chiefly unpublished, relating to the Huguenot emigration to Virginia. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Historical Society. p. 193. 
  7. ^ Henrico County Land Book 1, page 403, page 407, Book 3, page 133, Book 5, page 12 and page 399.
  8. ^ a b Torrence, Rev. Clayton (1922). "Cocke Family". Sons of the Revolution in State of Virginia quarterly magazine. 1–2: 52.