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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Going back further with the Cookes

Like the O’Rorkes, the Cooke’s have a long history that can be traced back many centuries. I spoke recently with a fellow family historian, Kieran Cooke, Kieran lives in county Galway and is a very prominent name in modern Cooke genealogy, and he saw one of my posts on a genealogical website and asked to speak to me. The most amazing conversation ensued, he said that he had gathered DNA from various Cooke’s, to see if there was a relative connection between him and them. He had contacted one of the Kilmacow Cooke’s, and proved that he was related to him through a DNA test. I asked him where he was going with this, and then he lay down the line. He said that he had traced his family back to 16th century county Carlow, where the Coke family had a stately home in Oak Park (formerly Painstown), just outside Carlow town. The Cokes had to change their name, so as to keep their home, it’s a story for another blog, they changed their name to Cooke. Prior to living in Carlow, Kieran informed me that they came from British nobility, based mainly around Norfolk.
Now, my grandmother’s father was John Cooke, who was born in Ullid, near Kilmacow in 1858. His father was Patrick Cooke, and his father was Thomas Cooke, supposing that they were around thirty five when their children were born, this would put Thomas as being born around 1775.
I was also informed by Kieran that there is a grave in old Shankill church graveyard in Paulstown, county Kilkenny with the inscription:
“Erected by Michael Cooke in the memory of his father Thomas Cooke, late of Kellymount, died 16 December 1801, age 70 years. Headstone carved by John Brennan, stone-cutter, Royal Oak”

I feel that this Thomas is possibly the father of Thomas(1775) Amazing to see the connection between Kilkenny and Royal Oak, county Carlow, Kellymount is about one mile west of Paulstown.
Like the O’Rorkes, the Cooke’s seem to play their part in history, just to summarise what I have briefly read, but Cavaliers, James II of Britain, and Oliver Cromwell all play a part in the Cooke history. I will at some point write a larger blog dedicated to that history, but that is way down the line, and I have to study it a bit too.


  1. Hi,

    I'd be fascinated to find out more about the Coke/Cookes as I believe I and some other researchers I'm in contact with are related.

    In particular I'd love to know more about the change of name from Coke to Cooke.

    Also, I'd like to know how to get access to a copy of "The Cookes of the Cavaliers" or get in touch with Dr Kieran Cooke.

    Any help would be much appreciated.


    Stuart Anderson

  2. Hi Stuart

    Thank you very much for your interest in my blog.

    I have passed on your email address to Kieran Cooke, and he should be in touch soon.

    So, how are you related to the Cooke? Have you anything to do with my grandmothers family from south Kilkenny/Waterford city? If you do, I'd like to know more.

    As you have read my blog on the Cooke, I will just add that apparently that when Cromwell and his men were working their way through Ireland, apparently the Coke family that lived in Painstown, Carlow at the time, changed their name to Cooke, apparently this was the same name as the lord chief justice of Britain at the time, who was apparently a close friend of Cromwell. The newly named Cooke's claimed to be related to this Cooke in Britain, Cromwell sympathized with them, and apparently let them keep their estate!

    Later on in the late 1700's the last of the Cooke's of Painstown sold the estate to the DeBruin family. Painstown is still there nowadays, it's called Oak Park, It is now some sort of agricultural research place for the Irish Government, I went there one day I was down in Carlow, but couldn't get in as it was closed and i didn't want to risk trespassing. next time i'm in Carlow town I shall arrange to go in and have a look. Apparently their is a grave yard in their with Cooke graves in it. There is also a tomb in there, and it belongs to the Cooke's, but the coat of arms that is above it is apparently a Coke coat of arms! So if you are studying the Cooke's the Cooke's coat of arms is wrong and should be Coke for this branch of the Cooke's.

    I hope this has been some help to you, and that kieran will be in touch with you soon.

    All the best


    1. Hi Pete,

      Thankyou so much for passing on my email address to Dr Cooke. I look forward to getting in contact.

      I'm in contact with a number of people who are researching a Cooke line from Cookes in Dublin.

      Our Cookes go back to Dublin around 1700 with a number of Richard Cookes, one of whom married into the Burleigh and Langford families.

      What peaked my interest in Painstown Cookes was getting in contact with a third cousin Jestyn Coke in England who revealed that two lines of the Cooke descendants changed their name to "Coke" in the late 1800's.

      Their announcement in The Times of 1884 read in part:

      "ASSUMPTION OF ORIGINAL FAMILY NAME: I, the undersigned Arthur Coke, hitherto known as Arthur Cooke .... give notice that I have assumed my original family name of Coke, which was changed previous to 1723 to Cooke, by my ancestor Charles Coke, descendant of Clement Coke, of Paynstoun, County Carlow, Ireland, sixth son of Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice of England..."

      Family stories passed down through his family support this reference.

      Jestyn has been interested for some time to confirm this link to Clement Coke, however he hasn't been able to find a link back further than Richard Cooke, merchant in Dublin around 1700.

      The family stories told of ancestors changing their name from Coke to Cooke and that of one of the ancestors losing right to a large estate for fighting on the wrong side of the civil war.

      This is certainly reminiscent of the Painstown Cookes, though the actual geneological link eludes us.

      Thank you for your help and your enjoyable blog!



  3. Hi Pete,

    Very interesting article, and great photo of your grandfather!

    I'm descended from the Cookes of Hacketstown, Co. Carlow. They owned a large granite house in the townsland of Rathnagrew. I've been trying to discover more about this branch so I thought I'd mention it here in case it means anything to anyone.

    In the graveyard of the Church of Ireland church at Hacketstown I found a Cooke grave where a William Cooke of Griffinstown, Co. Wicklow is buried there, along with his wife Elizabeth and son Robert Disney Cooke.

    Griffinstown is quite far from Hacketstown so I'm assuming the Cooke family who lived in Griffinstown originated from Hacketstown, and were likely to be related to my own branch.

    I intend to check the estate records for the area and hope to be able to go back further.

    So far I know the Cookes were living in Hacketstown from at least the early 1700s as I found a lease for a William Cooke living in the townsland of Monastill (adjacent to Rathnagrew) dating from 1725.

    Hopefully some of this will mean something to somebody. If all else fails a DNA test may provide a connection to the Cookes of Painstown.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Shane, i think you were looking for information regarding o'tooles from Hacketstown a few years back but the link is dead!- Nicholas o'toole is part of our family tree and Id be happy to forward on the bits we have if your still looking for links!

    2. Hi Shane, i think you were looking for information regarding o'tooles from Hacketstown a few years back but the link is dead!- Nicholas o'toole is part of our family tree and Id be happy to forward on the bits we have if your still looking for links!

  4. Hi Shane
    Thanks for your contribution to this post, Can't say I have heard of Cookes in Hacketstown, mine are actually in southern Kilkenny, All I know is that Dr Kieran Cooke got in touch with me and said that if Iwas descended from those Cookes then DNA says that I am descended from the Painstown Cookes too.
    Though hacketstown is really only a short hop from Painstown so I think you'd be safe in assuming that they came from there.
    If you'd like i'll pass on your details to Kieran, just say and i'll do it.
    One aspect of your post that intrigues me is the name Disney, is Elizabeth Disney a descendent of the famous county Carlow Disneys that Walt Disney himself claims descendancy from?
    Another point worth noting here in relation to Cooke descendancy is the fact that 'A genealogical and heraldic History of the Commoners of Great ..., Volume 2' a publication about the nobility of Britain and Ireland is available online and does show articles on the Cookes and the Cokes too, it can be found if you search ;cooke' and 'painstown' on the google book website.
    One day it will become clear to us all, and if anyone can add anything to this to show any of us the right direction, then please post here or send me an email, my email is available on my profile on this page.

    1. Hi Pete and Shane
      I have just stumbled on this blog during my research. I to am related to the Cookes of Griffinstown House. My link has recently raised an interesting story and now with Shanes story it could add a new twist. My Great great grandfather is also Robert Disney Jones and he married Sarah Spencer Cooke of Griffinstown in the 1840s. The relationship was not approved of (Don't know by who) and they supposedly ran off to get married. They moved to Canada and eventually returned after his father passed away. My Robert D Jones mother is Mary Disney daughter of Robert Disney and she too is buried in Hacketstown cemetery. I now wonder were my Robert and Sarah 1st cousins?

  5. I seem to be a direct relative. My grandmother was Mary Cooke, Bridget's sister. I have several pictures of the brothers I'd be happy to share.

    My email address is