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Francis Cooke (1583 – April 7, 1663 Plymouth, Massachusettsmarker) was one of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower. This early settler is one of the twenty-six male Pilgrims known to have descendants.

Early life and family

Francis is described in Leidenmarker Walloon church marriage records dating from 1603 as a "woolcomber out of (uyt) England". However, his origins are unknown. He could have been a refugee from religious persecution elsewhere in continental Europe.

In Leiden, sometime after July 20, 1603, as Franchoys Couck, he married Hester le Mahieu, the daughter of Protestant refugees from the Walloon Flanders area. The Mahieus, from Lillemarker, had resided in Canterbury, then London, since the 1570s before moving to Leiden in 1590. Hester le Mahieu's sister was Marie le Mahieu, wife of Jan Lano, another Protestant refugee in Canterbury and then Leiden, whose son, Philippe de Lannoy (anglicized to 'Delano') migrated on the Fortune to join his uncle Francis Cooke and his cousin Robert at Plymouth colony in 1621, having been left behind with twenty others when the Mayflower's sailing mate, the Speedwell, foundered and returned to port in England leaving the Mayflower to sail alone. Philippe is the progenitor of the branch of the Delano family from which Franklin Delano Roosevelt descends.

While in Leiden, Francis and Hester were members of the Walloon church. In 1606, they left Leiden briefly for Norwichmarker, England, where they joined another Walloon church, returning to Leiden in 1607, possibly for religious reasons. Between 1611 and 1618, the Cookes were members of the Pilgrim Separatist congregation in Leiden. The Pilgrim church was not established in Leiden until 1609, so Francis was living there long before their arrival and must have met up with and joined them afterwards.

The Mayflower and Plymouth

In 1620, Francis, his son John, and nephew Philippe de Lannoy boarded Speedwell at Delftshaven. Cooke left wife Hester and their younger children behind to follow when the colony was established. The Leiden Separatists bought the ship in Holland. They then sailed it to Southampton, England to meet the Mayflower, which had been chartered by the merchant investors. In Southampton they joined with other Separatists and the additional colonists hired by the investors.

The two ships began the voyage on August 5, 1620, but the Speedwell leaked badly and had to return to Dartmouth to be refitted at great expense and time. On the second attempt, the two ships sailed about 100 leagues beyond Land's Endmarker in Cornwall, but the Speedwell was again found to be leaky. Both vessels returned to Plymouth where the Speedwell was sold. It would later be revealed that there was in fact nothing wrong with the ship. The crew had sabotaged it in order to escape the year long commitment of their contract.

Eleven people from the Speedwell (including Francis and John Cooke) boarded the Mayflower, leaving 20 people (including Robert Cushman and Philippe de Lannoy) to return to London while a combined company of 103 continued the voyage. For a third time, the Mayflower headed for the New World. She left Plymouth on September 6, 1620 and entered Cape Codmarker Harbor on November 11, 1620. The Fortune eventually followed, arriving at Plymouth Colony one year later on November 9, 1621.

Arriving at what is now Provincetown, Massachusettsmarker, on November 11 (November 21, new-style calendar), forty-one of the passengers, among them Francis Cooke, signed the Mayflower Compact as the boat lay at anchor.

Francis was active in Plymouth civil affairs in the 1630s and 40s - committees to lay out land grants and highways, petit jury, grand jury, coroner's jury. He appears on the 1643 Plymouth list of those able to bear arms. At some point in 1638 or afterward, he settled at Rocky Nook on Jones River, within the limits of Kingston, a few miles from Plymouth.

In 1651, fellow Pilgrim William Bradford wrote of him: "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." Francis Cooke died in 1663 in Plymouthmarker.

Notable Descendants

Claimed by the Francis Cooke Society

Other notable descendants


  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 on 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.
  5. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Knopf, 1991), p. 442, 446.
  6. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, Nathaniel B. Shurtleff and David Pulsifer, eds., (Boston 1855-1861), Vol 8, p. 23
  7. Famous Descendants of Mayflower Passenger Francis Cooke, Francis Cooke Society

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