Sir Anthony COOKE of Gidea Hall, Knight

Born: 1505, Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex, England

Died: 11 Jun 1576, Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex, England

Buried: 21 Jun 1576, Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex, England

Father: John COOKE (Sir)

Mother: Alice SAUNDERS

Married: Anne FITZWILLIAM BEF 1523, Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex, England


1. Mildred COOKE (B. Burghley)

2. Anne COOKE

3. Elizabeth COOKE (B. Russell)

4. Anthony COOKE (b. 1535)

5. William COOKE (MP)

6. Richard COOKE of Gidea Hall

7. Edward COOKE

8. Catherine COOKE

9. Margaret COOKE

The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Born by 1505/6, first son of John Cooke of Gidea Hall by Alice, dau. and heiress of William Saunders of Banbury, Oxon. Educ. I. Temple, adm. 4 Feb 1523. Married, by 1523, Anne, dau. of Sir William Fitzwilliam of Milton and Gains Park, Essex and Milton, Northants. Suc. family 1517. Justice within the liberty of Havering regularly from 1531. One of the Essex gentlemen put on alert at the time of the Northern Rebellion in 1536. Cooke emerges during the last decade of Henry VIII's reign. First appointment at court as one of the newly-formed corps of ‘spears’ or royal bodyguard 1539. KB 20 Feb 1547. J.p. Essex 1537-54, q. 1558/59-d., Warws. 1564-d.; sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1544-5; gent. privy chamber by 1546-53; commr. heresies, Essex 1549, 1550; poss. tutor to Edward VI in 1550; served on the commission to reform the ecclesiastical law 1552; custos rot. Essex 1572-d.

A rebuke to one of his sons in the presence of either Protector Somerset or of Thomas Seymour, is supposed to have prompted the observation, ‘Some men govern families with more skill than others do kingdoms’, and to have led to Cooke's appointment as tutor to Edward VI. In Mar 1550 Bishop Hooper linked him with Sir John Cheke in the tutorship, and in the following May he was given an annuity of £100 for providing ‘training in good letters and manners’ to the King, but he is never officially styled tutor and he is nowhere mentioned in the King's journal. The most likely explanation is that Cooke was brought into the royal household after the retirement of Richard Cox, Cheke's fellow-tutor, in Feb 1550 and that he gave the King the same sort of intellectual guidance as he had given his own children, but as a companion rather than as a teacher.

The new reign had certainly begun auspiciously for Cooke: in Feb 1547 he was made a knight of the Bath and in the following Nov he took his seat in Parliament. It is possible that his election was engineered by the Council, but the influence at work could have been of a more personal kind, the sheriff being his wife's step-uncle John Sackville and his fellow-Member Sir Walter Mildmay a neighbour from Essex. His son-in-law William Cecil nominated him for Stamford and on 31 Jan 1553 the townsmen chose Cooke and their clerk of the peace Robert Lacy, but by the time the sheriff made the return more than two weeks later Cooke had been replaced by his son Richard. His withdrawal is more likely to have been prompted by paternal solicitude than by political misgivings, for on the King's death in the following summer he gave his support to Jane Grey and thus incurred a spell in the Tower after the failure to alter the succession.

With Mary's restoration of Catholicism Cooke went into exile. On 14 Apr 1554 he and Cheke arrived at Strasbourg; Cheke went on to Italy, but Cooke remained at Strasbourg, hearing Peter Martyr lecture and perhaps helping in the parliamentary petition, entitled ‘The confession of the banished ministers’, from the English émigrés living there. In the following autumn he followed Cheke and spent the winter with Thomas Hoby at Padua, but by Jun 1555 he was back at Strasbourg, where in that month he was granted a licence to reside. He stayed there for the next three years writing pamphlets for circulation in England. On Mary's death he returned home. Cooke sat with his sons Richard and William in the first two Elizabethan Parliaments.

Anne, the second daughter of Sir Anthony, married Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under Elizabeth and father of Anthony and Francis.


M. K. McIntosh, ‘Sir Anthony Cooke; Tudor humanist, educator and religious reformer’,

Procs. Am. Phil. Soc. cxix. 235-6
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