Born circa 1610 in England (place unknown), Josias (sometimes written Josiah) Cooke was one of the seven settlers (1644-45) of an area of Harwich that later became Eastham. Before that he lived at Plymouth by about 1633 where he was admitted a Freeman in 1636/7. He is not related to Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke.
He married Elizabeth Ring who was baptized at Ufford, Suffolk on 23 Feb 1602/3, the daughter of William Ring and Mary Durant. Josias and Elizabeth were married at Plymouth, Mass., on 16 September 1635. It was Elizabeth’s second marriage—she was the widow of Stephen Deane and daughter of widow Mary Ring.
Josias and Elizabeth had three children: Anna born about 1636 who married Mark Snow; Bethiah born about 1640 who married Joseph Harding; Josias/Josiah born in 1645 who married Deborah Hopkins. I descend from Josias and Deborah.
Josias was a tavern keeper—he was licensed to sell wine at Nauset on 7 June 1648 (Plymouth Court Records 2:125). He also served as Town Clerk, so had education sufficient to hold that position. Also, his inventory mentions two Bibles and other books.
|Swift-Daley House built after Josias's time in 1741|
In addition to Town Clerk, he served his community in many ways including: various juries, surveyor of highways, committee to divide land, committee to purchase land from the Indians, Deputy to the General Court, auditor of Treasurer’s accounts, first Eastham Constable, and Selectman.
Josias is included in a variety of Plymouth Court Records. He paid money to support the children of Elizabeth from her first marriage; he had an altercation with Edward Doty that left him bloodied; he was a bondsman for William Hiller; he sued John Combes for a debt and was awarded 3 pounds; he sued John Smith for slander.
Josias held a considerable amount of land and he is included in multiple land transactions in Plymouth records, including purchases of land from Indians.
Josiah Paine wrote that Josias was a very energetic man and appears to have given much more attention to material things than his peers in the early settlement Eastham. He was an impulsive man and often in imbroglios with some of his neighbors of impetuous temperaments. Some information on his cases of litigation are on record. They are principally of a defamatory character and show unmistakably that Mr. Cooke had some very implacable neighbors, who delighted in giving him trouble, not caring whether their slanderous charges could be sustained or not. The many public positions he held in town from the settlement in 1645 to his death in 1673 show that he was a man that the majority of his townsmen had confidence in and respected. Of the religious life of Mr. Cooke there is nothing positive. It is inferred he was a member of the church.
Josias died 17 October 1673 at Eastham. Elizabeth survived him and died about 1687. His will was dated 22 Sept 1673 and proved 29 Oct 1673; he about 63 years of age. He left to his loving wife Elizabeth and son Josias his house, housing, meadow, uplands, and orchard. After his wife’s decease he left his remaining movables to be divided equally among son Josias and daughter Bethiah Harding. He left his grandson Joseph Harding his land at Pochet Island; grandsons Josiah and Amaziah Harding received substantial upland and meadow at Plymouth near Cook’s pond; grandchild Anna Snow received cattle; grandchild Steven Twining a musket that belonged to Steven’s grandfather Deane; (step)daughter Meriam Deane a cow and five pounds, son Josias received his wearing clothes; grandson Josias Cooke received his rapier, belt and musket; grandsons Richard Cooke and Amaziah Harding land at Saconnett; his great Bible was left to grandson Richard Cooke.
The inventory of his estate was taken 20 Oct 1673 and totaled over 104 pounds without any real estate included.
Elizabeth Cooke’s inventory was taken 3 May 1687 and totaled 15 pounds 7s. 7d.
|Nauset Lights, Eastham|
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995
Various issues of The Mayflower Descendant
Josiah Paine, "Early Setters of Eastham, Book 1," No. 33 of the Library of Cape Cod History & Genealogy series, CW Swift publishers, Yarmouthport, MA, 1916Eugene Stratton, Plymouth Colony, It's History and People, 1986