Alexander Cooke 1564-1632

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Alexander COOKE 1564-1632

Biographical Note

Born at Beeston, near Leeds, son of William Cooke. BA Brasenose College, Oxford 1585, MA 1588, fellow of University College, Oxford 1587, BD 1596. Vicar of Louth, Lincolnshire, 1601, but suspended 1604 for refusing to wear a surplice; Cooke held strongly puritan views. He moved to Leeds to act as curate to his brother Robert (1559-1615), Vicar of Leeds; on his death, popular support from leading townsmen led to Alexander being appointed in his stead and he remained Vicar of Leeds until his death. He published a number of polemical anti-Catholic and anti-Arminian writings, was the subject of active controversy during his ministry, and was instrumental in establishing a strong tradition of puritan piety in Leeds.


Cooke’s will contains detailed instructions about his library, which was apparently listed, and which was mostly bequeathed to his sons Edward and Thomas in equal shares valued at £50 apiece. His “paper books” were also left to these sons while a number of specific titles were given to other family members. An account written in 1816 stated that the collections of both Alexander and his brother Robert passed subsequently to Henry Robinson (1646-1736), Vicar of St John’s, Leeds, and that some of the books and manuscripts in the collection came originally from the monastic library of Kirkstall Abbey. Examples: British Library ms Harl.5247.