Richard Cocke of Henrico, Virginia
By Steven R. Day
November 1, 2007
The Parish of Stottesdon lies in Shropshire,England. (Another name for Shropshire is Salop). In the late 1500s, the Parishof Stottesdon consisted of about sixteen small communities including Pickthorn,Walfurlong, the Heath, Walton, and Stottesdon. Most of these communities hadbetween three and ten families. Stottesdon had about twenty families. This wasthe 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 fourfamilies. William Cocke and his brother, Thomas Cocke, headed two of thesefamilies. Other members of the Cocke family lived nearby in Walfurlong and theHeath. William and Elizabeth Cocke had sons named Richard, Thomas, William,John, and a daughter named Margery all of whom were unmarried in November of1582. They also had a daughter who married Thomas Deuxhill. William andElizabeth may have also had a son, Robert. It was in 1582 that William (thefather) died at Pickthorn.
In the winter of 1596, Elizabeth Cocke wasliving in the parish of Stottesdon (probably in Walton) at the home of herson-in-law, Thomas Deuxhill. She was very ill. Elizabeth’sgranddaughters, Mary and Joyce Deuxhill, had spent three nights watching overElizabeth. In the early hours of Christmas morning, Elizabeth realized thatdeath would soon claim her. She asked Mary to call her son, John Cocke, who wassleeping 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 tripto 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 foundMary and Joyce (his sisters) with John Cocke (his uncle) gathered to hear thelast will and testament of Elizabeth. Elizabeth directed that all debts duefrom her son, Thomas, should be forgiven. All the rest of her tangiblepossessions were to be given to Elizabeth’s son, John. Elizabeth livedanother three days.
Thomas Cocke (son of William and Elizabeth)married and had a daughter, Eleanor, who was baptized in the Parish ofStottesdon. Thomas also had a son, Richard Cocke, who was baptized on December13, 1597 in the Parish of Sidbury, which is just over one mile to the northeastof Pickthorn. On this cold winter day, the choice of the Parish of Sidbury wasabout 1/4 mile closer than the Parish of Stottesdon. It was this Richard Cockeof Pickthorn who would later travel to Virginia.
Three ships carrying the first 105 settlerssailed from London in December of 1606. In May of 1607, they arrived at whatwould become Jamestown, Virginia. The first supply ship returned with 100 to120 additional settlers in January of 1608 to find only 38 survivors of theoriginal settlers. By the end of 1609, a total of between 500 to 735 people hadcome to Jamestown. In May of 1610, another ship arrived and found only 60survivors. Ninety percent of the colonists had died during the first threeyears due to starvation, disease, and Indian attacks.
In August of 1610, the Swan arrived atJamestown from London. The Swan was about the seventeenth ship to bringsettlers to Jamestown, Virginia. A young girl named Cecily was one of thepassengers. 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 near1617. Cecily’s husband died within the next few years.
Life in early Jamestown was harsh. Aspreviously mentioned, many colonists died from starvation, disease, or Indianattacks. Any woman needed a husband to provide protection and food. Cecilymarried for a second time to Samuel Jordan. It was in 1620 that Samuel wasrecognized 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 wasnot young in Jamestown. Any person who had lived 10 years in Jamestown hadsurvived through difficult trials. Both Samuel and Cecily were given the titlesof "Ancient Planters" and granted land. Samuel was granted 450 acresof land and Cecily was granted 100 acres of land. This was just outside ofJamestown at the confluence of the James and Appotomattox Rivers. Samuel namedhis land "Jordan’s Journey".
The document that granted land to Samuel andCecily Jordan (in 1620) noted that it was adjacent to land owned by TemperanceBaley (Cecily’s daughter) who would have been only 3 years old at thetime. Temperance had inherited her land from her father. On March 22, 1622, thePohatan Indians launched a massacre killing 347 of the settlers at and nearJamestown. One survivor rowed out to Jordan’s Journey providing a warningthat the Indians were coming. This gave time to prepare and few lives were lostat Jordan’s Journey. It seems a horrible reality that if Cecily’sfirst husband had not died, it is likely that Cicely and Temperance would nothave survived the Indian massacre.
Temperance Baley married John Browne whenshe was about 13 years old. They had two children. John died after they hadbeen married only two years.
By 1632, Richard Cocke had come fromPickthorn, England to Virginia. He married John Browne’s widow,Temperance Baley, and provided 6,397 pounds of tobacco to pay for the debts ofJohn Browne. Richard Cocke was extremely successful in Virginia. In 1636, RichardCocke received 3000 acres of land for the transportation of 60 people toVirginia. Richard Cocke and Temperance had two children. Their first son,Thomas, was named after Richard’s father. Their second son was namedRichard. Temperance died rather young.
In 1639, Virginia was realizing that theyneeded to control the quality and quantity of tobacco that they were growing inorder to keep prices up. The General Assembly mandated the destruction andburning of excess and low quality tobacco. No more than twelve hundred thousandpounds was to be grown for the year and for the next two years. Fourteenviewers were appointed for Henrico County. Richard Cocke and two others wereappointed for Curles, Bremo, and Turkey Island.
Richard Cocke later married Mary Aston. Richardand Mary had five children. Their first son, William, was named afterRichard’s uncle and grandfather. Their second son, John, was named afterRichard’s uncle. Their third son was named Richard. To differentiate thetwo sons named Richard, the son by Richard’s first wife, Temperance, wascalled Richard the Elder. The son by Richard’s second wife, Mary, wascalled Richard the Younger. Richard and Mary had a fourth 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 tobuild his plantations. He owned three plantations named Curles, Bremo, andMalvern Hills. These totaled over 7,000 acres of land. These plantations thatRichard Cocke had built would remain in the family for generations.
When Richard Cocke wrote his last will andtestament 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 onlyhis two oldest sons had reached the age of majority. Richard asked his oldestson, Thomas, to operate his mill to provide for the rest of the children untilthey should come of age.