Francis Cooke, "Mayflower" Passenger

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Francis Cooke

Also Known As: "Franchois Couck", "Franchoys Couck", "Cook", "(17th Signer of the Mayflower Compact)"
Birthplace: Perhaps near (operative description), Canterbury, Kent, England (United Kingdom)
Death: April 07, 1663 (80-84)
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
Place of Burial: Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Unknown Father of Francis "Mayflower" Cooke and Unknown Mother of Francis "Mayflower" Cooke
Husband of Hester Cooke
Father of John Cooke, "Mayflower" Passenger; Child Cooke; Jane Mitchell; Elizabeth Cooke; Jacob Cooke and 2 others

Occupation: wool-comber; colonist; husbandman
Fame: “Mayflower” Passenger
Immigrated on Mayflower: 11/1620
Immigration: Francis and his son John, started for America on the Speedwell from Delfhaven, Holland, bound for Southhampton UK. Then onto America. After leaving Southhampton, the Speedwell had to put into port at Dartsmouth. After departing for America
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Francis Cooke, "Mayflower" Passenger

Francis Cooke (c 1583 – April 7, 1663) was a Leiden Separatist who went to America in 1620 on the Pilgrim ship Mayflower, arriving at Plymouth in what became the Plymouth Colony. He was a founding member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and a signer of the Mayflower Compact. This early settler is one of the twenty-six male Pilgrims known to have descendants, and the longest living male Mayflower Pilgrim.


There is no evidence to support Edward Cooke and Alice Canton as his parents.

From Caleb Johnson’s “Mayflower History”:

Francis Cooke was born about 1583. It is probable he was born in England, perhaps from the Canterbury or Norwich areas. He married Hester le Mahieu on 20 July 1603 in Leiden, Holland; she was a French Walloon whose parents had initially fled to Canterbury, England; she left for Leiden sometime before 1603. Francis Cooke and Hester le Mahieu's marriage occurred in Leiden, Holland six years before the Pilgrim church made its move there, so he was living there long before their arrival and must have met up with and joined them afterwards. What brought Francis to Holland in the first place is unknown: religious persecution of Protestants in England did not really begin until after King James took power in 1604. (Wikipedia).

Biographical summary

“Signer of the Mayflower Compact" From: “Mayflower Families” (dead link)

… Other than being identified as a bachelor and a "wool comber," little to nothing is known of his early life. He and his son John originally embarked on the Speedwell, but were transferred to the Mayflower. Hester and the other children would follow in the Ann in August 1623. Leading an apparently exemplary life, Francis Cooke was among the signers of the Mayflower Compact, a purchaser in the rights of the London "Adventurers," a freeman, and in general a good citizen frequently called upon and appointed to various committees to perform various duties. He and his wife Hester toiled in this new land for some 40-plus years before leaving their legacy to others that would follow.


Francis Cooke married some time after July 20, 1603 at Leiden, Holland to Hester le Mahieu (c. 1585-7 April 1663, Plymouth, daughter of Jean Le Mahier and Jeanne (unknown). (Leiden records link)

Francis Cooke came on the Mayflower from Leiden with his eldest son John in 1620 and as such was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. His wife, Hester, soon followed on the Anne and Little James in 1623. She brought with her three additional children: Jacob, Jane, and Hester. Another child, Mary, was born in 1626. Hester died after June 8, 1666, and was buried at Burial Hill in Plymouth, Mass.

The seven children of Francis Cooke and Hester Mahieu (updated July 2021 from Wikipedia):

The birth order of the Cooke children is uncertain.

  1. John was baptized in Leiden, Holland between January and March 1607 and died in Dartmouth on November 23, 1695. He married Sarah Warren on March 28, 1634, in Plymouth and had five children. She died after July 15, 1696. “ And his son John, which came over with him, is married, and hath 4 children living."
  2. a child was buried in Leiden on May 20, 1608.
  3. Jane was born about 1609 in Leiden. She married Experience Mitchell in Plymouth after May 22, 1627. Her date of death is unknown, as is the date of his second marriage. But his first three children are generally considered to be hers.
  4. Elizabeth, was baptized in Leiden on December 26, 1611. There is no further record.
  5. Jacob was born about 1618 and died in Plymouth in December 1675. He was buried at Tyler Point Cemetery, Barrington, R.I. He married 1. Damaris Hopkins shortly after June 10, 1646, in Plymouth and had seven children. Her father was Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins. 2. Elizabeth (Lettice) Shurtleff on November 18, 1669, in Plymouth and had two children.
  6. Hester was born about 1620 in Leiden and died between 1669 and 1691. She married Richard Wright in Plymouth in 1644 and had six children. She was buried at Burial Hill in Plymouth, Mass.
  7. Mary was born in Plymouth about 1625 and died in Middleborough on March 21, 1714. She married John Tomson on December 26, 1645, in Plymouth. Both Mary and John were buried at Nemasket Hill Cemetery, Middleborough, Massachusetts.


There is no record at Plymouth of what kind of work Cooke was engaged in. He did have an apprentice, John Harmon, for seven years starting in 1636. Francis Cooke was also on the 1643 Plymouth list of those who were able to bear arms. (Plymouth Colony Records 8:187-196 PDF)


In 1651, William Bradford wrote of him:

"And seeing it hath pleased Him to give me [William Bradford] to see thirty years completed since these beginnings, and that the great works of His providence are to be observed, I have thought it not unworthy my pains to take a view of the decreasings and increasings of these persons and such changes as hath passed over them and theirs in this thirty years ...
"Francis Cooke is still living, a very old man, and hath seen his children's children have children. After his wife came over with other of his children; he hath three still living by her, all married and have five children, so their increase is eight. And his son John which came over with him is married, and hath four children living." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, ed.

Samuel Eliot Morison (New York : Knopf, 1991), p. 75-6. (GoogleBooks)


Cooke appears to have been granted many different parcels of land in and around Plymouth. Some of this land he gave to his sons Jacob and John, which they sold portions of. Francis even sold some land to William Bradford. His neighbors included Isaak Allerton, Edward Winslow, and Thomas Prence as well as his 2 sons John and Jacob.

On December 7, 1659, Cooke made out his will, describing himself as "at present weak and infirm in body." He had a very simple will that just gave everything to "Hester my dear and loving wife."

from The Will and Inventory of Estate of Francis Cooke, deceased 1663

Francis’ will was made 10 Jul 1659. He makes his wife Hester and son John executors. It is witnessed by Howland and Alden. Inventory was taken 1663 by Eph. Tuckham and Wm Crowe.

7 December 1659 - The last Will and Testament of ffrancis Cooke of Plymouth late Deceased: exhibited before the Court held att Plymouth aforsaid the fift day of June 1663 on the oathes of mr John Aldin and mr John howland;

The Last Will and Testament of ffrancis Cooke made this seaventh of the tenth month 1659

  • I being att prsent weake and Infeirme in body yett in prfect memory throw mercy Doe comitt my soule unto god that gave it and my body to the earthe; which my will is should bee Intered in a Decent and comly manner;
  • As for such goods and lands as I stand posessed of I Doe will and bequeath as followeth;
  • 1 My will is that hester my Dear and loveing wife shall have all my moveable goods and all my Cattle of all kinds; viz: neat Cattle horsekind sheep and swine to be att her Dispose
  • 2 my will is that hester my wife shall have and Injoy my lands both upland and meddow lands which att prsent I posesse During her life
  • 3 I Doe ordaine and appoint my Deare wife and my son John Cooke Joynt exequitors of this my said will
  • Witnes John Aldin ffrancis Cooke John howland

Francis Cooke died in Plymouth on April 7, 1663, and was (probably) buried at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth. (Cenotaph at Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts (image). (The first internment at Burial Hill was in the early 1670's - after the death of Francis Cooke.)
An inventory was taken of his possessions by Ephraim Tinkham and William Crow on 1 May 1663. His total net worth at that time was 86 pounds, 11 shillings, and 1 pence. From his estate inventory, it appears that he was involved with sheep and wool as he had sixteen sheep and five lambs, a "woolen wheele & scales," three pairs of sheep shears, and twenty pounds of wool. Besides the housing and land; the goods and Chattels amount to eighty six pounds eleven shillings and a peney; apprised by us, Ephraim Tinkham his E T , William Crow. (From “Pilgrim Hall Museum - The Will of Francis Cooke”).

Notable descendants

Notable descendants of Francis Cooke include Cephas Thompson, William Drew Washburn, Mrs. Anna Mary Robertson ("Grandma Moses"), (George) Orson Welles, Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce (Texas cattleman who introduced the Brahman cattle breed into Texas), Actor Richard Gere, and Beach Boys Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson. (See more at


  1. Francis COOKE of Plymouth: A Biographical Research Profile. by David Haas. (link)
  2. cites
    1. Johanna W. Trammel, The Pilgrims and other people from the British Isles in Leiden, 1576-1640 (Isle of Man: Mansk-Svenska Publishing Co. Ltd., 1989), p.152
    2. Walter J. Harrison, "New Light on Francis Cooke and His Wife Hester Mayhieu and Their Son John," Mayflower Descendant, Vol 27, 145-153. Their betrothal was recorded July 4 and 5,so the 20th was the soonest the marriage could have taken place after banns were read.
    3. Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs. "The Pilgrims and other English in Leiden records: some new Pilgrim documents." New England Historical and Genealogical Register, July 1989, p.195-214.
    4. Robert Charles Anderson, "Francis Cooke", The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, 1995, Vol. I. AncestryImage
    5. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Knopf, 1991), p. 442, 446.
  3. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, Nathaniel B. Shurtleff and David Pulsifer, eds., (Boston 1855-1861), Vol 8, p. 23
  4. Famous Descendants of Mayflower Passenger Francis Cooke, Francis Cooke Society
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Francis Cooke, "Mayflower" Passenger's Timeline

Perhaps near (operative description), Canterbury, Kent, England (United Kingdom)
Age 20
Leyden, Netherlands
August 8, 1606
Age 23
Norwich, Norfolk, England
January 1607
Leiden, Rhynland, Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden
Age 24
England for Holland

Pilgrims make first attempt to leave England for Holland but are arrested.

May 20, 1608
Leiden, Rhynland (present Zuid-Holland), Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden (present The Netherlands)
Leiden, Rhynland, Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden (present The Netherlands)