Cook, Robert (d.1593?) (DNB00)

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COOK, ROBERT (d. 1593?), herald, is supposed to have been the son of a tanner and to have been brought up in the household of Sir Edmund Brudenell, an ardent genealogist. That he was of low birth is probable because he obtained a grant of arms as late as 4 March 1577. Matriculating as a pensioner in St. John's College, Cambridge, 10 Nov. 1553, he proceeded B.A. there in 1557–8 and commenced M.A. in 1561. He was appointed successively Rose Blanche pursuivant extraordinary, 25 Jan. 1561–2; Chester herald four days later (Pat. 4 Eliz. pt. 5); and Clarencieux king of arms, 21 May 1567 (Pat. 9 Eliz. pt. 10). On 24 March 1567–8 he obtained a special commission to visit his province. During the interval between the death of Sir Gilbert (3 Oct. 1584) and the appointment of William Dethick [q. v.] (21 April 1586) Cook exercised the office of Garter king of arms. In that capacity he accompanied the Earl of Derby to France in 1585, carrying the garter to Henry III, who rewarded him with a present of two gold chains worth over 120l. apiece. At this period there seems to have been some talk of uniting the offices of Garter and Clarencieux. Cook gave 20l. and a bond for 80l. to George Bentall, servant of Shrewsbury, the earl marshal, to obtain him the office of Garter, but his suit was unsuccessful. Bentall nevertheless sued him for the 80l. He appealed to chancery, and the last we know of the cause is that on 24 Oct. 1588 Sir Christopher Hatton made an order referring it to Richard Swale, LL.D., one of the masters. He died about 1592, and was buried at Hanworth, leaving a daughter Catharine, wife of John Woodnote of Shavington in Cheshire. Cook was an industrious herald, and made visitations in most of the counties of his pro- vince. An inventory (Lansd. MSS. vol. lxxv. No. 31) of papers in his house in London, which Dethick proposed should be bought for the Heralds' College, was taken after his death by order of the privy council; it is dated 11 Oct. 1593, and signed by the sheriff in presence of Dethick Garter, Lee Richmond, and John Woodnote. Cook was also a painter, and it has been supposed that he painted the portraits of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Queen Catherine, the Duke of Suffolk, Sir Anthony Wingfield, and Sir Robert Wingfield and his family at Cockfield Hall in Yoxford, Suffolk; but this seems doubtful. Cook's portrait has been engraved by T. Tovey. The accusations laid against him by his enemy, Dethick, jun., are perhaps not worthy of much credit. They are that he was son of a tanner, ignorant of languages, unable to speak French, dissolute, had married another man's wife, had granted arms to unworthy persons in taverns in exchange for the cheer they made him, &c., &c.

Cook wrote: 1. ‘An English Baronage’ (Harl. MSS. 214, 1163, 1966, 4223, 7382; Addit. MSS. 4958–9, 5504, 5581, 12448; MSS. Coll. Regin. Oxon. 73, 133, 136; Arund. MS. in Coll. Arm. 34; Royal MS. 18 C. 17; MSS. Phillipp. 111, 196). 2. ‘Heraldic Rudiments’ (Harl. MS. 1407, art. 3). 3. ‘An Ordinary of Arms’ (MS. Phillipp. 7357). 4. ‘A Treatise on the Granting of Arms’ (Lansd. MS. 255, f. 219). All remain in manuscript. Upon one (Harl. MS. 214) Sir Symond d'Ewes has written a title concluding ‘in which are a world of errors, ergo caveat lector.’

[Harl. MSS.; Addit. MSS.; Cat. Arund. MSS. in Coll. Arm.; Ayscough's Cat.; Coxe's Cat. of Oxford MSS.; Lansd. MSS.; MSS. Phillipp.; Smith's Cat. of Caius Coll. MSS.; Cal. of Chanc. Proc. Eliz. iii. 186; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab.; Dallaway's Heraldry, pp. 163–7, 264, 296, pl. 11, 12; Lemon's Cal. of State Papers; Leycester Corresp. p. 32; Lodge's Illustr. ii. 143, 349; Monro's Acta Cancellariæ, p. 586; Nichols's Progr. Eliz.; Noble's Coll. of Arms, pp. 169, 177, 188, App. F; Rymer, xv. 668, 672; Strype's Annals, i. 558; Walpole's Painters, ed. Wornum, p. 105.]

R. H. B.