COOKE, Bryan (1756-1821), of Owston, Yorks. and Hafod-y-Wern, Denb.
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Family and Education
b. 8 June 1756, 1st surv. s. of Anthony Cooke of Owston by Mary, da. of Anthony Eyre of Adwick le Street, Yorks. and Rampton, Notts., sis. of Anthony Eyre†. educ. Eton 1764; Christ Church, Oxf. 1773. m. (1) 18 Dec. 1786, Frances (d. 1 Jan. 1818), da. and h. of Philip Puleston of Hafod-y-Wern by Mary, sis. and coh. of John Davies of Gwysaney, Flints. and Llannerch, Denb., 5s. 5da.; (2) 17 Apr. 1821, Charlotte Bulstrode, da. of Sir George Cooke, 7th Bt., of Wheatley, Yorks., s.p. suc. fa. 1763.
Cornet R. Horse Gds. 1775, lt. 1781, ret. 1783.
Lt.-col. W. Yorks. yeoman cav. 1794-1803; col. 3 W. Yorks. militia 1803-12.
Sheriff. Denb. 1794-5.
By birth a Yorkshire, and by marriage a Welsh, country gentleman, Cook entered the army on the same day and in the same regiment as the Hon. George Fitzwilliam†, Earl Fitzwilliam’s younger brother. His local military activities would have strengthened his connexions with Fitzwilliam, whose borough he represented and whose political line he followed.1 He voted against union with Ireland, 7 and 11 Feb. 1799 and 21 Apr. 1800; for Tierney’s motion on the state of the nation, 5 June 1800; for Grey’s amendment to the address and motion on the state of the nation, 2 Feb. and 25 Mar.; against the conduct of the Helder and Ferrol expeditions, 19 Feb. and 22 Apr., and against the seditious meetings bill, 20 Apr. 1801. Like other members of the Fitzwilliam connexion, he opposed the peace, 14 May 1802, but on 20 May, in the only recorded speech of his career, spoke against any increase in the militia as ‘a useless expense to the country’: there were not sufficient officers to cope with the increase and he objected to ‘gentlemen of property and consideration in the country’ acting as ‘drill serjeants for the regular service’. He supported Patten’s motion of censure, 3 June 1803, and voted against Addington in all but one of the divisions leading to his fall in March and April 1804. Classed ‘Fox’ in May 1804, ‘Fox and Grenville’ in September 1804 and ‘Opposition’ in July 1805, he voted against Pitt’s additional force bill in June 1804 and continued to oppose him throughout the 1805 session. He naturally supported the Grenville ministry, voting for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and for Brand’s motion, 9 Apr. 1807: but he had been listed ‘adverse’ to the abolition of the slave trade.
He was briefly out of the House after a local revolt of Fitzwilliam’s tenantry at Malton in 1807, but was again elected after a successful petition and a contested by-election. He continued to vote with the Whigs in the sessions of 1809 and 1810 in a pattern similar to that of Fitzwilliam’s son, Viscount Milton, although unlike him he voted in all divisions against the Duke of York, 15 and 17 Mar. 1809. His last recorded vote was against the adjournment, 29 Nov. 1810. On 31 Dec. he took two weeks’ sick leave. On 7 Jan. 1811 he informed Fitzwilliam that he regretted his inability to attend and vote against the Regency restrictions. On 3 Feb. he wrote again, still not recovered, and lamented that the ‘states of the realm’ appeared to be as mad as the King and unfit to extricate the country from its difficulties.2 He resigned his militia command because of ill health in January 1812 and on 14 Mar. told Fitzwilliam that he wished to resign his seat, having ‘had a hint that should induce me to confine my operations in business to a narrower compass, that I must live in future by rule and avoid late sittings up’.3 He died at Geneva, 8 Nov. 1821.