Richard Cocke of Henrico, Virginia

By Steven R. Day

November 1, 2007


English Origins


The Parish of Stottesdon lies in Shropshire, England.  (Another name for Shropshire is Salop). In the late 1500s, the Parish of Stottesdon consisted of about sixteen small communities including Pickthorn, Walfurlong, the Heath, Walton, and Stottesdon.  Most of these communities had between three and ten families.  Stottesdon had about twenty families.  This was the time of Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare.


Pickthorn dates back to a bit before 1165.  In 1582, Pickthorn belonged to John Purslow who leased the land to about four families.  William Cocke and his brother, Thomas Cocke, headed two of these families.  Other members of the Cocke family lived nearby in Walfurlong and the Heath.  William and Elizabeth Cocke had sons named Richard, Thomas, William, John, a daughter named Margery all of whom were unmarried in November of 1582.  They also had a daughter who married Thomas Deuxhill.  William and Elizabeth may have also had a son, Robert.  It was in 1582 that William (the father) died at Pickthorn.[i][1]


In the winter of 1596, Elizabeth Cocke was living in the parish of Stottesdon (probably in Walton) at the home of her son-in-law, Thomas Deuxhill.[ii][2] She was very ill.  Elizabeth’s granddaughters, Mary and Joyce Deuxhill, had spent three nights watching over Elizabeth.  In the early hours of Christmas morning, Elizabeth realized that death would soon claim her.  She asked Mary to call her son, John Cocke, who was sleeping in another room of the house.  That same morning, Roger Deuxhill (brother of Mary and Joyce), arose early and set out from his home for a trip to Bewdley Market.  On his way, he stopped to check on his grandmother, Elizabeth.  It was about the break of day when Roger entered the house and found Mary and Joyce (his sisters) with John Cocke (his uncle) gathered to hear the last will and testament of Elizabeth.  Elizabeth directed that all debts due from her son, Thomas, should be forgiven.  All the rest of her tangible possessions were to be given to Elizabeth’s son, John.  Elizabeth lived another three days.


Thomas Cocke (son of William and Elizabeth) married and had a daughter, Eleanor, who was baptized in the Parish of Stottesdon.[iii][3] Thomas also had a son, Richard Cocke, who was baptized on December 13, 1597 in the Parish of Sidbury, which is just over one mile to the northeast of Pickthorn.[iv][4] On this cold winter day, the choice of the Parish of Sidbury was about 1/4 mile closer than the Parish of Stottesdon.  It was this Richard Cocke of Pickthorn who would later travel to Virginia.


Settlement in Jamestown


Three ships carrying the first 105 settlers sailed from London in December of 1606.  In May of 1607, they arrived at what would become Jamestown, Virginia.  The first supply ship returned with 100 to 120 additional settlers in January of 1608 to find only 38 survivors of the original settlers.  By the end of 1609, a total of between 500 to 735 people had come to Jamestown.  In May of 1610, another ship arrived and found only 60 survivors.  Ninety percent of the colonists had died during the first three years due to starvation, disease, and Indian attacks.


In August of 1610, the Swan arrived at Jamestown from London.  The Swan was about the seventeenth ship to bring settlers to Jamestown, Virginia.  A young girl named Cecily was one of the passengers.  She was about ten years old. When Cecily was about 16 years old, she married a man named Baley.  They had a daughter named Temperance Baley near 1617.  Cecily’s husband died within the next few years.


Life in early Jamestown was harsh.  As previously mentioned, many colonists died from starvation, disease, or Indian attacks.  Any woman needed a husband to provide protection and food.  Cecily married for a second time to Samuel Jordan.  It was in 1620 that Samuel was recognized for 10 years and Cecily was recognized for nine years in Virginia.  Cecily was about 20 years old.  This would have been young in England, but was not young in Jamestown.  Any person who had lived 10 years in Jamestown had survived through difficult trials. Both Samuel and Cecily were given the titles of “Ancient Planters” and granted land.  Samuel was granted 450 acres of land and Cecily was granted 100 acres of land.[v][5]  This was just outside of Jamestown at the confluence of the James and Appotomattox Rivers.  Samuel named his land “Jordan’s Journey”.


The document that granted land to Samuel and Cecily Jordan (in 1620) noted that it was adjacent to land owned by Temperance Baley (Cecily’s daughter) who would have been only 3 years old at the time. Temperance had inherited her land from her father.  On March 22, 1622, the Pohatan Indians launched a massacre killing 347 of the settlers at and near Jamestown.  One survivor rowed out to Jordan’s Journey providing a warning that the Indians were coming.  This gave time to prepare and few lives were lost at Jordan’s Journey.  It seems a horrible reality that if Cecily’s first husband had not died, it is likely that Cicely and Temperance would not have survived the Indian massacre.


Temperance Baley married John Browne when she was about 13 years old.  They had two children.  John died after they had been married only two years.


By 1632, Richard Cocke had come from Pickthorn, England to Virginia.  He married John Browne’s widow, Temperance Baley, and provided 6,397 pounds of tobacco to pay for the debts of John Browne.  Richard Cocke was extremely successful in Virginia.  In 1636, Richard Cocke received 3000 acres of land for the transportation of 60 people to Virginia.[vi][6]  Richard Cocke and Temperance had two children.  Their first son, Thomas, was named after Richard’s father.  Their second son was named Richard.  Temperance died rather young.


In 1639, Virginia was realizing that they needed to control the quality and quantity of tobacco that they were growing in order to keep prices up.  The General Assembly mandated the destruction and burning of excess and low quality tobacco.  No more than twelve hundred thousand pounds was to be grown for the year and for the next two years.  Fourteen viewers were appointed for Henrico County.  Richard Cocke and two others were appointed for Curles, Bremo, and Turkey Island.[vii][7]


Richard Cocke later married Mary Aston.  Richard and Mary had five children.  Their first son, William, was named after Richard’s uncle and grandfather.  Their second son, John, was named after Richard’s uncle.  Their third son was named Richard.  To differentiate the two sons named Richard, the son by Richard’s first wife, Temperance, was called Richard the Elder.  The son by Richard’s second wife, Mary, was called Richard the Younger.  Richard and Mary had a third child, Elizabeth, named after Richard’s grandmother.  Richard and Mary also had a fifth child, Edward who was born shortly after Richard’s death.


Over the years, Richard Cocke continued to build his plantations.  He owned three plantations named Curles, Bremo, and Malvern Hills.  These totaled over 7,000 acres of land.  These plantations that Richard Cocke had built would remain in the family for generations.


When Richard Cocke wrote his last will and testament in 1665, he asked to be buried in his orchard near his first wife (Temperance).  Richard was 68 years old when he was buried at Bremo, but only his two oldest sons had reached the age of majority.  Richard asked his oldest son, Thomas, to operate his mill to provide for the rest of the children until they should come of age.


[i][1] Last Will and Testament of William Cocke of Pickthorn, 1582, Hereford Record Office Probate Records, 13/2/45

[ii][2] Cocke vs. Cocke – 1597, Transcription by CFR Potter, 2006

[iii][3] “The Parish Registers of Stottesdon, Shropshire, 1565-1712”, Transcribed and Indexed by CFR Potter, 2005

[iv][4] Baptism Record for Richard Cocke, 1597, Sidbury Parish Register, P61/A/1

[v][5] Virginia State Land Office Patents No. 8, 1689-1695, p. 125 & 126 (Reel 8), The Library of Virginia

[vi][6] Virginia State Land Office Patents No. 1, 1623-1643, Vol. 1 & 2, p. 413 (Reel 1), The Library of Virginia

[vii][7] Acts of the General Assembly, Jan. 6, 1639-40, William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, 2nd Series, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1924, pp. 16-35.