Cooke/Stillwell, Anabaptists who left England for religious freedom.
By Vicky Moon 2010
Our ancestor Nicholas Stilwell’s last name was not Stillwell! I have been concerned about this as the England Stillwell’s say he wasn’t a Stillwell, so I did some more research. He was a Stillwell, but that was his Mother’s maiden name. His father’s name was John Cooke and I also found this:
Marshall Stilwell in 1878, page 27 reads "Tradition gives the original surname of these brothers as COOKE; but this is not universally received in the family, the Staten Island branch, known as the "Royal Family," claiming that it was STUART, and that these brothers were of royal blood. But that their mother was of the family of STILL." It would not be improbable that the three brothers assumed that of their mother's family, Still. The name of their residence would naturally attach as Still of Wells, into Stillwell.
This is what happened. Three brothers Jasper, Nicholas Cooke and John Cooke came to the new world. Jasper was an Anabaptists led by Rev. Whitfield in England. Nicholas married Abigail Hopton who was a Lady in Waiting to the “Queen of Bohemia Elizabeth, Electress Palatine and Queen of Bohemia (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662), born Elizabeth of Scotland, was the eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. She was thus sister to King Charles I and cousin to King Frederick III of Denmark. With the demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, her direct descendants, the Hanoverian rulers, succeeded to the British throne.”
I descend from Abigail Hopton and Nicholas Stillwell, through their son Nicholas Stillwell who married Catherine Van Keuren a.k.a. Morgan who was widowed. Her first husband Charles Morgan. Then their daughter Rebecca Stillwell married Abraham Emans son of Jan Emans and Sarah Jansen daughter of Anthony Jansen Van Salee.
I figured out how they all met one another.
Getting back to the above 3 brothers. They had to flee England and go to the Netherlands to escape religious prosecution by Charles I, advisors. Charles I and Queen of Bohemia. Nicholas and Abigail left first, then the others followed. Nicholas and Abigail’s two sons were born in Netherlands. They created a watch word so they could communicate with one another. Still and Well, their mother’s maiden name was their watch word. They used that name instead of Cooke so they would not be found by King Charles I while living in Netherlands.
Jasper Stillwell and his friend Whitfield founded the town of Guilford, Connecticut. Mabel Stillwell their mother was from Guilford Surrey, England. So that explains how they named the town in Connecticut. John and Nicholas moved to Staten Island, New York, where they used the last name Stillwell. John Cooke returned to Holland, lived in Italy then England and was beheaded in England.
Nicholas and Abigail’s son Richard Stillwell married Mercy Freelove Cooke, his cousin. Her father was John Cooke who returned to England, where he was beheaded.
When war broke out between England and Holland Governor Stuyvesant entrusted Nicholas Stillwell his Lieutenant to keep peace and order at Gravesend. When Nicholas went there, he exchanged properties with our ancestor Anthony Jansen Van Salee. He moved into his property as Anthony was afraid to be there and left. Nicholas became the Lieutenant Governor of Long Island and Sheriff of the Dutch possessions . Nicholas sent Richard his eldest son to England hoping he could obtain land as he was Lord Ralph Hopton’s nephew. The lands were given instead to Lord Hopton’s sisters or as some say his aunts. One of them was Rachel Hopton whose son Charles Morgan was the husband of Catherine Morgan who married Nicholas Stilwell son of Nicholas and Abigail Hopton. We descend from Nicholas and Catherine.
Richard was 4 years old when his mother Abigail Hopton died in Netherlands. Another Richard Stillwell 4th son of Richard Stillwell and Mercy Cook married Mercy Sands whose father was James Sands of Block Island, Rhode Island.
Nicholas married to Abigail first wife then Ann Van Dyke second wife, was also in command of a troop fort at York River. They attacked the bitter enemy of white men, Indian Openchancanagh, the successor of the emperor Powhatten. Nicholas carried him on his shoulders to his camp. This dealt the death blow to the long dreaded anti white confederacy among Indian tribes.
John Cooke who was beheaded was also known as the famous Regicide. (1608?–?16 October 1660; name sometimes spelled as John Cook) was the first Solicitor General of the English Commonwealth and led the prosecution of Charles I. Following the English Restoration, Cooke was convicted of regicide and hanged, drawn and quartered on 16 October 1660. Some of his descendants started the first Baptist Church in America.
A few hours before his execution he wrote to his little
Daughter ( Freelove Cooke) from Newgate prison: "My Dear, Sweet Child:
"So soon as God gives thee any understanding,
know that thou art the child of one whom God
counted worthy to suffer for his sake, and to seal
to the truth of his law and gospel with his blood;
which will be a great honor to thee, in the judge-
ment of all that truly love and fear God.
"Know that thy dear father has gone to Heaven
to thy dear brother, and be sure so to live that by
God's grace thou may'st follow after. I leave thee
to the Lord, who I know will take care of thee and
be thy portion, so thou shalt never want. So I leave
God's blessing with thee, and rest. "Thy dear and loving father,
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