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The Four? Cooke Brothers of 1730s Brunswick Co VA & Vicinity
Posted by: Graham Louer (ID *****0572) Date: June 17, 2012 at 11:49:27
  of 16051

Robert Cooke in his December 1747 will nominated his brother Reuben as executor. I take that to mean that Reuben probably lived not far away.

I have not been able to find any record before or after that will in which it is certain that Robert’s brother Reuben appears, and his life after December 1747 is a mystery.

Before Robert died, however, he and John Cooke appeared together in a few Prince George Co and Brunswick Co VA court records which suggest that they were brothers and evidently partners in a mercantile business:

1738/39 Mar court --PRINCE GEORGE CO VA
---Robert Cooke & John Cooke vs Lawrence Higgens; dismist, the def’t not being an inhabitant of this county.
---Robert Cooke & John Cooke vs Wm Crawley; find for plaintiffs.
---Concerning Robert Cooke & John Cooke vs Wm Crawley, sheriff says Crawley not in his bailiwick.

1739 Jul 5 --BRUNSWICK CO VA court
John and Robert Cooke against Jonathan Shaklston

1739 Sep 6 --BRUNSWICK CO VA court
John and Robert Cooke against Francis Elledge for 3L 8 s 5 p. John and Robert Cooke not appearing.

1739 Dec 6 --BRUNSWICK CO VA court
Robert and John Cooke vs. Wm. Gunn def.
On 27th May 1737 they delivered goods & Merchandise Value of 50 L 11 s 8 P in arrear, Gunn confessed and was ordered to pay

Some Notes About These Records

-1- These records all are an attmpt to collect debts, and the last record suggests that Robert and John were partners in some sort of mercantile business.

-2- The Prince George Co records were dated after Brunswick Co was formed, but I think that the fact that they were suing in PG Co court was because the defendants lived in that county, or were presumed to, and reflects the common law that plaintiffs might live anywhere but they must sue in the defendant’s home county court.

This might suggest that their “mercantile business” was located in PG Co, but since it is known that both Robert and John lived in Brunswick Co after it was formed, and both died there, then for that reason it is probable the business itself was in Brunswick Co, but perhaps located near Prince George Co.

-3- These records, in my opinion, strongly suggest that Robert and John were brothers.

It could not be that this John was Robert’s father, because Robert in his 1747 will nominated Reuben, who must have then been an adult to be so nominated, as his executor, and John did have a son Reuben, but he was still a minor to be bound out in 1748.

And it is likewise virtually certain that Robert was not this John’s father either, because although Robert did have a son John, he was born in 1724 and so was only about 15 when this first record is dated, and in any case a father and son would not be bringing a debt collection suit in this manner if the son was a minor. A father-son mercantile partnership if the son was a minor seems virtually unthinkable.

Thus it is possible that Robert and John were cousins or uncle and nephew, but it seems most likely that they were brothers.

That makes, unless I’m mistaken, three brothers: Robert, Reuben and John. The next record suggests that Nathaniel was also their brother.

1740 Aug 7 --BRUNSWICK CO VA
John Cooke & Nathaniel Cooke to Samuel Harwell, for L20, 286a in St Andrew’s Parish, on Stony Hill Run; witnessed by M[ichael] Cadet Young & John Stroud; Diana, wife of John Cooke appeared in court and relinquished her dower right.
Diana’s dower relinquishment proves that the John in this record is the John who signed his will in 1743 and who is suspected of being Robert’s brother.

But who is this Nathaniel ?

The John of the 1743 will did have a son Nathaniel, but he was still a minor a few years after John’s death, so the implication here is that he must be a brother of John, and thus a brother ---suspected--- of Robert and Reuben.

Note that John was listed ahead of Nathaniel in this record, almost always a sure sign that the first listed was older, or more prominent in the community.

And, note that when two or more siblings together sell property it is often a sign that they inherited the land together (or that their wives, who are sisters, inherited it), and in the latter case quite often the buyer is a brother of the seller(s)’s wife / wives, such as, for example, if John and Nathaniel had both married a Harwell and their wives had inherited land that the brothers did not particularly want, so they sell the land to Samuel Harwell who does want to buy all of the various distributed pieces of his deceased father’s land and reassemble it into the land his father owned before he died.
Here, however, there was no dower relinquishment by a wife of Nathaniel, thus suggesting that this land was not inherited by two sisters as speculated above, but was inherited by John and Nathaniel themselves, and also suggesting that Nathaniel was not married at this time.

Concerning the location of the land they (presumably inherited and) sold, on Stony Hill Run of Brunswick Co, I have been unable to locate this stream on maps from the mid 1800s of Brunswick, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Greensville Counties, so if any reader can kindly furnish information as to where this stream was or is I would appreciate it immensely.

(The reason we have no record of the proposed inheritance is the fact that such a large percent of the Prince George Co records were destroyed by war and / or fires. Those mishaps left a large void in our knowledge of any Cookes in Prince George Co.)

Regarding Stony Hill Run, one poster on the Brunswick Co GenForum speculates that:
“Stony or Stoney Hill Run must be off the Meherrin River or off Jeneto [Genito] Creek”,
which may be true but I have seen no evidence of it. Any help would be welcomed.


=1= John’s wife and widow’s given name was spelled both Diana and Dinah in court records, so we know not which is correct.

=2= Diana / Dinah may have some connection with John Daniel. I suspect she was either his sister or married him some years after John died. Whether they married could be followed up on, possibly, by checking Brunswick Co record’s for John Daniel’s death and widow if any.

=3= For some unknown reason, perhaps simple error, John Cooke in his will did not list his sons in the customary birth order, which is not always followed for various reasons, but there seems no reason in this will to have listed John Lett Cook, who was at least some eleven or more years the elder, after Richard who is known to have been born in July 1729.

=4= Note that John’s son John Lett Cook was granted 400a in Brunswick Co in 1739, thus proving, I am reliably informed, that he was born at least as early as 1718, and I suspect even a year or two earlier than that.

=5= Proposed brother Nathaniel appears to be unmarried in 1740. It seems quite sure that it was he who sold land in Lunenburg Co in 1750 and acquired land from his presumed nephew John Lett Cook in the same year in that county. He was probably the Nathaniel on a Lunenburg Co tithables list in 1752 as head of household, and was no doubt one of the two Nathaniels on the 1764 Lunenburg tithables list, the other probably being John’s son Nathaniel; both were heads of household in 1764.

(Note that John’s son Nathaniel “might” have been one or more of the Nathaniels mentioned above, but was probably still too young and so I feel he did not appear in these records until as one of the Nathaniels in 176 Lunenburg Co.)

=6= In 1744 Francis Lett sold land “adjoining John Cook”, further evidence of the Lett family’s connection to either John or to John’s suspected first wife.
You may ask why a 1744 deed has John Cook, who died in 1743, as an adjoining landowner, and the answer, as I deduce it, was that this very common occurrence happened because the attorney drawing up the deed of sale used as his reference the deed of sale by which Lett originally bought the land, and did not bother to check whether Cook was still living. He just copied the old deed word for word, changing only the date and the names of the principals.

=7= There was also a Richard Cooke and his wife Elizabeth who were having children in the 1720s in Bristol Parish, the same parish in which Robert and John had at least some of their children, and thus is a suspected fifth brother of Robert and the others, but so far no evidence that Richard was a brother other than that fact has been found.

=8= John Cooke mentioned three daughters in his will. All were unmarried, suggesting, but not proving, that they were young daughters by Diana / Dinah.

=9= Surviving Prince George Co’s Bristol Parish register records begin from 1720, even though the parish was established long before that.
       Thus the fact that John and Diana’s first recorded child in that register, Richard, was born in 1729 strongly suggests that this was their first child, and indeed Richard was the eldest son mentioned in his father’s will other than John Lett Cooke, who must have been born in 1718 or earlier.
       The fifth “possible” brother Richard’s children began from about 1720, and Robert’s first in that register ---John, who is known to be the third son--- was born in 1724, which strongly suggests that Robert had no children between the register’s first record in 1720 and 1724, or that he was living in another parish until 1722 when he is first confirmed in Prince George Co. If the former, which I feel is more likely, two of Robert’s sons and probably one or two of his daughters, were born before the 1720 first date of the Bristol Parish register. This may well be the case for Richard’s earlier children, and for John’s first son John Lett Cooke.

=10= My speculation, for what it’s worth, as to the name of the father of these four or five, or more?, brothers is that he probably was named either Reuben, John, Richard or Nathaniel, since these names occur over and over again in the records of these seemingly interconnected men.


1729 Jul 27 --PRINCE GEORGE CO VA, Bristol Parish register
Richard son of Jn° and Dinah Cook Born 27th July Bap* 24th Jan' 1729 (evidently 1729/30).

1743 Apr 19 --BRUNSWICK CO VA
Will of John Cooke (proved 2 Jun 1743):
--son Richard 139a;
--son John Let[t] 130a;
--son Reuben the plantation where I now live after his mother’s death;
--son James;
--son Nathaniel 200a;
--daughter Anne Cooke;
--daughter Sary Cooke;
--daughter Jane Cooke;
--wife remainder of estate;
--executor wife;
--witnessed by Wm King, Isaac House, Geo Tilman.

1744 Feb 6 --BRUNSWICK CO VA
Francis Lett of St Andrew’s Parish, Brunswick Co, to John Daniell of same, land bounded by John Cook, Crab Louse Run, and the head of Mulberry Meadow Brook.

1748 Apr court --BRUNSWICK CO VA
On the petition of Diana Cooke it is ordered that the Churchwardens of St. Andrew's Parish do bind her three sons James, Reuben and Nathl Cooke, orphans of John Cooke, dec., to James Denman to learn the art and misery of a joiner cabinet maker &c.
This record proves that John and Diana’s son Reuben was a minor in 1748 and so cannot be Robert’s brother Reuben, who was named executor in Robert’s 1747 will.


The following are the only records I have found that tie either Robert, John, Nathaniel or Richard to a certain location defined by the name of a creek, usually.

Any assistance the reader might provide in locating which county these streams are now in would be gratefully appreciated.

Each date is followed by the county abbreviation ---PG for Prince George or B for Brunswick--- then the name of the Cooke followed perhaps by some text, then by the stream name.

In brief, these are the streams in question from the records below:
Moccosoneck Creek
Stoney Hill Run
Reedy Creek
Buckskin Creek
Beaver Pond Creek
Cockes / Cookes Creek
Mulberry Meadow Brook

Today, some of these streams are found in more than one of the counties surrounding Brunswick, so in those cases which one was earlier in Brunswick Co ?

1725/26 PG Richard granted 350a including his old land
north side of Moccosoneck

1726 PG Richard of PG granted 198a
south side of Nottoway River and both sides of Stoney Hill Run, adjoining Harwell.

1726 PG John granted 286a
south side of Stoney Hill Run.

1728 PG Richard granted 350a
north side of Moccosoneck Creek where he now lives

1732 B John and his tithables
from the county line to Reedy Creek

1733 PG Robert of PG granted 237a
north side of Buckskin Creek

1736 B John
from the river to the Beaver Pond Creek

1740 B John & Nathaniel to Samuel Harwell, Diana, wife of John Cooke relinquished
St Andrew’s Parish, on Stony Hill Run

1741 B Robert Cook witnessed
north side of north fork of Roanoke River.

1741 B Robert overseer
road from Cockes Creek to Butcher’s road

1744 B Francis Lett to John Daniell bounded by John Mulberry Meadow Brook.

1744 B John
north side of Roanoke River.

1745 B Robert witnessed a deed
bounded by the “country” line.

1746 B Robert
Cooke Creek, otherwise called Cocks Creek,

Thanks for your interest and patience.

I welcome any comments, corrections, questions or just conversation ---and especially creek information--- day or night.

Graham Louer <<<>>>
Plano TX
Married 60 years November ‘11

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