Benjamin Cook (1690s – 1759/60)

With the near total destruction of the early records of New Kent and Hanover Counties, we have very little information on Benjamin Cook.  We theorize that he was a son of Abraham Cook, but proof is impossible to produce.  We can only observe that he first appears within fifteen miles or so of Abraham Cook and was about the right age to have been a son.  Further, as far as we know, Abraham Cook was the only Cook in the vicinity who might have been his parent.

Benjamin Cook makes his first appearance in the available records patenting land about 15 miles west of the Abraham Cook Sr. patents of 1718 and 1723.   As “Benjamin Cook of Hanover County” he was issued a patent for 400 acres in Hanover County on 24 March 1725/6.1   The land was on the south fork of Hickory Bear Creek (now a branch of Long Creek), located in the eastern part of what became Louisa County sixteen years later.  The surrounding land was patented by several others over the next few years, each patent mentioning Benjamin Cook’s lands.  In early 1736 Peter Marks patented land bordering Benjamin Cook’s patent to the south.2  A couple of months later, William Weatherford patented a parcel to the west.3   In 1739 Anthony Waddy [a name from New Kent] patented the land on the east.4  The land bordering Benjamin Cook to the north was already owned by “the orphan of Owens” according to Cook’s patent, and the patent was issued in 1731 to Ann Owen.  Benjamin Cook would apparently remain on this patent until his death over thirty years later.

The single book of surviving Hanover County records, covering the period 1733-5, mentions Benjamin Cook only once, as a witness  to a 1734 deed by Robert Thompson of St. Martin’s Parish to Thomas Tullock for land bordering Thomas Harris on the Little River.5

The same book of records gives us a possible clue to the name of his wife.  On 1 October 1735, “Elenor Cook” was a witness to a deed by Esther Penick, widow of Edward Penick, to Matthew Anderson of land that Edward Penick “had purchased of John Sanders”.6   This was likely a patent to John Sanders in 1727 which was located almost exactly on what would later be the Hanover-Louisa county line.7  Assuming this was indeed the same land, Benjamin Cook’s patent was much closer than the patents of either of the Abraham Cooks.  Thus it is conceivable that Eleanor Cook was his wife, though we cannot draw the conclusion from this very weak evidence.  I note that neither of his sons gave this name to a child, and also note that Abraham Cook (Junior) was an appraiser (and therefore a neighbor) of an Elizabeth Penick in 1735, who may have been related to Esther Penick.

Although no other records exist in Hanover County, there are some of the ledger books of the store of Thomas Partridge and Company for the period 1734-7 and for 1756.8   Benjamin Cook is mentioned on 7 April 1738 when he was paid from the account of William Harris Jr.9 and, on the same date, from the account of John Jennings.10   [William Harris Jr., earlier a neighbor of Abraham Cook, had patented land about three miles north of Benjamin Cook in 1726, and John Jennings apparently also lived in the part of Hanover which later became Louisa County.]  Benjamin Cook himself did not have an account in the earlier ledger, perhaps because his patent was so distant from Partridge’s location.11  However, in the account book for 1756, both he and his son William had account.  William Cook’s account shows a credit on 28 October “by his father”12, and the account for Benjamin Cook shows a debit on the same date “pd his son William”.13   Benjamin Cook’s account, according to the compiler, was settled and not carried forward.

The next reference is posthumous.  On 28 October 1760, William Cook of St. Martin’s Parish of Louisa County sold 200 acres to Anthony Waddy that was “bounded by Benjamin Cook… part of a tract granted to Benjamin Cook by patent…and by the sd. Benjamin Cook in his last will and testament, bearing date 6 August 1759, given to sd. Cook.”14  While this deed does not specify the relationship between Benjamin and WIlliam Cook, iwe can presume they were father and son.  William Cook and his wife Keziah appeared in the Louisa court the same day to acknowledge the deed.  This was half the 400 acre patent to Benjamin Cook of  24 March 1725/6.  The other half of the land was sold by Benjamin Cook Jr. on 8 May 1764, described as 200 acres “by the last will and testament of Benjamin Cook, dec’d, given to his son the said Benjamin Cook”.15   Benjamin Cook, Jr. and his wife Effey acknowledged this deed the same day.  As a minor note, both parcels were sold for exactly the same sum.  Assuming that one of them contained a residence, it must have been a modest one.

Although the will itself is lost,  it is obvious that Benjamin Cook left his land to two sons.  He surely had other children, but there are no clues to their identities.

    1. William Cook (c1735 – 1801) He married Keziah Burch and eventually settled in Surry County, North Carolina where he died in 1801 leaving eleven children.  [See separate page.]
    2. Benjamin Cook (c1730s – 1799)  He apparently lived for a time on his inherited land, selling it four years after his brother.  A few months later, on 17 September 1764 Benjamin Cook purchased 219 acres in Louisa County a few miles northeast of his inherited land.16  He and his wife Effy sold this parcel in two transactions in 1769 and 1770.17  On 13 May 1772 he bought two adjacent parcels of 193 acres in eastern Louisa County.18  He appears in Louisa’s records through 1777, serving as a constable for  several years. His wife Effie was evidently the daughter of Dr. Edward Jones.  A Louisa court record dated 13 November 1771 contains a deposition by Benjamin Cook that he was a legatee of Jones’s will (now lost), along with Charles Dickerson, Jones’ widow, Edward Jones Jr., and Elizabeth Forsie, wife of James Forsie.19   Benjamin was later an executor of Charles Dickenson’s will and a witness to a deed from Edward Jones Jr. and his wife Hannah to Sarah Dickenson, widow of Charles Dickenson.   Edward Jones’ widow was evidently Sarah Jones, who later moved to Rockingham County, North Carolina and left a will dated in 1787 naming Benjamin Cook as a son-in-law.20  [I also note that Benjamin Cook’s son named a daughter Effie Jones Cook and one of his daughters named a child Edward Jones Hardin.]

      Benjamin Cook appears in Louisa records through 1777, then apparently moved to Rockingham County, North Carolina before 1784.  He was still in Rockingham for the 1790 census, with his son-in-laws William S. Burch and Henry Hardin, and brother-in-law Edward Jones all nearby.21

      By 1793 he was in Elbert County, Georgia when he witnessed a deed to his son-in-law William S. Burch.22  There were two Benjamin Cooks in Elbert County who are difficult to differentiate, but he was perhaps the same Benjamin Cook with two grants earlier that same year.23His will was dated 4 April 1798 and proved 12 January 1800 in Elbert County, Georgia.24  It leaves slaves and other property to “beloved son-in-law” Henry Hardin (who had also witnessed Sarah Jones’ will in 1787),  daughters Polly and Rebecca, and son William Cook.  The balance of the estate was left to his wife Effie and divided among “all my children” at her death.  Effy Cook and William Cook were named executors.  Although the will mentions only four children, the 1817 will of William S. Burch identifies five children of Benjamin Cook:

2.1. Sarah Cook (c1763-1835) who married Henry Hardin, apparently in or near Rockingham County prior to the 1790 census.  In 1832, as a resident of Walton County, Georgia, Henry Hardin applied for a pension for his Revolutionary service, giving his age as 71.  He stated that he served in 1777-8 and again in 1780-81 while living in Surry County, North Carolina but moved to Guilford County in 1781.  Two deponents stated he was an ordained Baptist minister.  His will was dated 4 April 1838 and proved in April 1843.  It left $200 to Mary Wayne “ for her kindness and attention towards my first wife in her afflictions”, and to several children or their heirs.  The children were: Effie, Judith, Elizabeth, Mark, Benjamin Cook, Edward Jones, Rebecca Thomas, Clarissa Warren, and Harriet Hargrove Hardin.

2.2.   Elizabeth Cook (1770 – 1855) married William Stapleton Burch.25  His will, dated 15 May 1817 and proved 17 January 1822 in Elbert County, contains much useful information.26   Upon his wife’s death, a portion of the estate was to be divided among the children of the three “sisters of my wife Elizabeth” and the children of William T. Cook, “brother of my wife Elizabeth.”  Another portion was left to “my sister” Betty Cook and was to be divided at her death “betwixt my brothers and sisters” Thomas, Benjamin, Moza, John, and Cheadle Burch, Polly Johnston, Jinney Divine, Hannah C. Purkins, and Sarah Kiser.

2.3.   William Thomas Cook (1777-1814) who married Francis Oliver.  He was left land in Franklin County in his father’s will, and may be the William Cook on the Franklin tax lists of 1800 through 1803.  He died intestate in Elbert County before 7 January 1818 when his inventory was recorded by his wife Francis.27   His children were:  Mary Ann, William Thomas Oliver, and two others who died young.  There are several published accounts of his family, for instance this.28

2.4.   Mary Cook William S. Burch’s will identifies her as Polly Wilbourn, the wife of Thomas Wilbourn.

2.5.   Rebecca Cook (c1782 – ?) was married to John Upshaw Jr. when William S. Burch made his will.  John Upshaw’s own will in Elbert County was dated 18 January 1815 and proved 1 September 1818, naming Rebecca and two children:  Middleton Cook Upshaw and Elizabeth Burch Upshaw.29  Rebecca later married Benjamin Thornton.


  1. Virginia Patent Book 14, p388. []
  2. Virginia Patent Book 16, p507. []
  3. Virginia Patent Book 17, p290. []
  4. Virginia Patent Book 18, p481. []
  5. Hanover County, Virginia Court Records 1733-1735, Rosalie Edith Davis (1979), p57. []
  6. Davis, p77. []
  7. Virginia Patent Book 13, p97. []
  8. Published in several issues of the Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly. []
  9. Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1, p39. []
  10. Ibid., p41. []
  11. The precise location of Partridge’s store is unknown, but is thought to be in the vicinity of the original courthouse several miles east of Benjamin Cook’s patent. []
  12. Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 4, p28. []
  13. Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 1, p40. []
  14. Louisa County, Va. Deed Book C, page 44. []
  15. Louisa County Deed Book C½, p13. []
  16. Louisa County Deed Book C½, p162. []
  17. Louisa County Deed Book D½, p126 and p330. []
  18. Louisa County Deed Book D½, p355 and p356. []
  19. Louisa County, Virginia Judgments 1766-1790, Janice Abercrombie (1998), p14-15.   The abstract appears to have one typo, substituting “Benjamin Jones” for “Benjamin Cook” in one spot.  Dr. Edward Jones had apparently died just prior to this record – a creditor was suing the heirs prior to any administration activity.  From this court record, his children were apparently Sarah Dickerson, Effie Cook, Elizabeth Forsie, and Edward Jones Jr. []
  20. Rockingham County Will Book A, p26. []
  21. All were on page 169 of the Rockingham County 1790 census.  Benjamin Cook had one male under 16, one male over 16, three females, and 10 slaves in the household. []
  22. Historical Collections of the Georgia Chapters, DAR, (C. P. Byrd Printers, 1926), Vol. 3, p179. []
  23. Ibid., p218 []
  24. Elbert County Will Book B, p78. []
  25. He was nephew of Keziah Burch, the wife of William Cook.  William Stapleton Burch was the son of Benjamin Burch, the brother of Keziah Burch Cook.  See the William Cook paper. []
  26. Elbert County Will Book M, p203. []
  27. Elbert County Will Book L, p170. []
  28. Early Settlers of Alabama, James Edmonds Saunders, Part II, p432. []
  29. Elbert County Will Book L, p198. []