William Cooke (of Highnam)

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For other people named William Cooke, see William Cooke.

Sir William Cooke (14 February 1572 – 2 March 1619) was an English landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1597 and 1614.

Cooke was the son of William Cooke of Westminster, also a Member of Parliament and younger son of Sir Anthony Cooke of Gidea Hall (Essex). His mother, Frances Grey, was first-cousin to Lady Jane Grey and granddaughter to Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset and Anthony Browne, Viscount Montagu. His father had the post of Clerk of Liveries in the Court of Wards and arranged for the post to be passed on to his son. Cooke was educated at Shrewsbury School in 1583. He became Clerk of Liveries on the death of his father in 1589, though he was only 17. He was admitted at Grey's Inn in 1592. In 1593, he went abroad, with a two-years’ licence to travel after his mother's unsuccessful attempt to arrange a marriage for him while he was a minor. By 1596 he was Justice of the Peace for Hertfordshire.[1]

Cooke's father's eldest sister, Mildred Cooke, had married Lord Burghley, and Cooke received patronage from both Burghley and his own first cousin, Sir Robert Cecil. Cecil's influence may have secured him seats in Parliament. In 1597, he was elected Member of Parliament for Helston. By January 1599, he was purveyor to the stable and had sufficient property to offer himself, with six men and horses, for the Queen’s service. In 1601 he was elected MP for Westminster. He was knighted at Theobalds on 7 May 1603. In 1604, he was elected MP for Wigan. He enhanced his estates by purchasing further land in and around Gloucester, and also owned Ribbesford Manor and other property in Worcestershire. In the reign of James I he was keeper of the lodge and herbage of Hartwell Park, Northamptonshire. By 1605, he was JP for Gloucestershire. He was steward of the manor of Bury St. Edmunds by 1614. In 1614 he was elected MP for Gloucestershire.[1]

Cooke died at the age 45 and the clerkship of the liveries, which had become ‘quasi-hereditary’, stayed in his family.[1]

Cooke married Joyce Lucy, granddaughter of Sir Thomas Lucy, and only child of Thomas Lucy (1551–1605) of Charlecote, Warwickshire, by his first wife, Dorothea Arnold,[1] and through her acquired Highnam Court in Gloucestershire. Dorothea Arnold was the only child of Ronald Arnold of Highnam Court, Gloucestershire, and with Dorothea's death soon after Joyce's birth, Joyce had become her grandfather Arnold's sole heir.

Joyce and William Cooke had at least three sons and five daughters. Their youngest daughter, Anne, married Sir Peter Ball and produced William Ball, astronomer, founder and treasurer of the Royal Society and Peter Ball, physician, both Fellows of the Royal Society.



Parliament of England
Preceded by
William Gardiner
Ralph Knevitt
Member of Parliament for Helston
With: Nicholas Saunders
Succeeded by
William Twysden
Hannibal Vyvyan
Preceded by
Thomas Knyvet
Anthony Mildmay
Member of Parliament for Westminster
With: Thomas Knyvet
Succeeded by
Thomas Knyvet
Sir Walter Cope
Preceded by
Roger Downes
John Pulteney
Member of Parliament for Wigan
With: Sir John Pulteney
Succeeded by
Gilbert Gerard
Sir Richard Molyneux
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Berkeley
John Throckmorton
Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire
With: Richard Berkeley
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Tracy
Maurice Berkeley