COOKE, John (1649-1726), of Petworth, Suss.
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Family and Education
bap. 21 Jan. 1649, 1st s. of Edward Cooke of Field Place, Goring, Suss. by his 1st w. Katherine, da. of Thomas Fry of Battlehurst, Kirdford, Suss. educ. M. Temple 1667. m. lic. 17 Oct. 1671, Susan (d. 1707), da. of John Whitehead of Clandon, Surr., wid. of her cos. George Stringer of the Middle Temple and coh. to her uncle Richard Stringer of Petworth, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. (d.v.p.) suc. fa. 1662.1
Sheriff, Suss. 17 Nov.–30 Nov. 1693.
Cooke, whose family had lived in Sussex since the 16th century, acquired his estate at Petworth, near Midhurst, by marriage. Probably an Exclusionist, and a Whig collaborator under James II, Cooke stood as the Whig candidate at a by-election for Arundel in 1694, and was returned on petition. Until 1695 his activities in the Commons are difficult to distinguish from those of William Cooke I. Three tellerships were recorded for a ‘Mr Cooke’ in this period, including two on 30 Apr. 1695: for recommitting the bill to reverse the attainder of Jacob Leisler, the radical who had taken power in New York in 1689, and then for reading the bill. As these votes appear to have been along party lines, it may be that both Members were tellers, William Cooke I, a Court Tory, telling in the first division and John Cooke in the second. Cooke’s defeat at Arundel in 1695 was greeted with relief by Robert Middleton, the vicar of Cuckfield, who wrote to Bishop Simon Patrick of Ely that ‘Mr Cooke of Petworth . . . is happily shut out . . . he being, as divers worthy persons that know him have told me, a derider of all religion, and so of the clergy, and little better than an atheist’.2
Cooke’s ‘atheism’ did not prevent his being returned for Arundel in 1698, a seat he held until 1702. However, except for the 1701 Parliament, the presence of Thomas Coke* makes identification from the Journals difficult. Although classed as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments of about September 1698, Cooke was not listed as voting against the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699. On 12 Apr. 1699 he introduced a clause to the land tax bill for appointing county sheriffs as receivers of the tax, with the exception of London and Middlesex. According to James Vernon I*, ‘Mr Cooke of Sussex’ proposed the clause which was designed to prevent the dismissal of sheriffs for political reasons and consequently the ‘angry gentlemen’, that is, the Country party, had supported it. He was listed as being in the Junto interest in an analysis of the House of January–May 1700.3
Cooke continued to represent Arundel in both 1701 Parliaments. In the first he acted as a teller on 16 June 1701, against an additional clause for the excise appropriation bill. In the second he was included with the Whigs on Robert Harley’s* list of December 1701. He was defeated at the general election of 1702 and did not stand again. A John Cooke appears in a list of stockholders in the Bank of England in 1710 with stock worth £2,000. Cooke was buried at Goring 1 Oct. 1726, and was the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.4