COOK, Sir William, 2nd Bt. (c.1630-1708), of Broome Hall, Norf. and Mendham, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1630, o.s. of Sir William Cook, 1st Bt., of Broome Hall by 1st w. Mary, da. of Thomas Astley of Melton Constable, Norf. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1647; G. Inn 1648. m. settlement 1664, Jane (d.1698), da. and coh. of William Steward of Barton Mills, Suff., 7da. suc. fa. Feb. 1681.1

Offices Held

J.p. Norf. Sept. 1660-Feb. 1688, 1689-d., capt. of militia ft. c. Oct. 1660-at least 1679; commr. for assessment, Norf. 1661-80, Suff, 1679-80 , Norf. and Suff. 1689-90, recusants, Norf. 1675, dep. lt. by 1676-Feb. 1688, Nov. 1688-d.; freeman, Yarmouth 1685.2


Cook’s grandfather, from a minor Suffolk gentry family settled at Linstead by the 15th century, acquired Broome by marriage in 1603. His father apparently avoided commitment in the Civil War, though he was named to the assessment commission in 1652. He signed the Norfolk address for a free Parliament in 1660 and was created a baronet in 1663. Cook himself was ‘very well versed in every kind of learning, but especially distinguished by the suavity of his manners’, and already ‘venerable’ in his forties. An active militia officer and a strong loyalist, he was much distressed at the dissension between Court and Commons revealed in the 1677 session. As an adherent of Lord Yarmouth (Robert Paston), he was regarded as a suitable court candidate in 1679, should Sir Christopher Calthorpe decline to contest the county again, and he was again mentioned in 1681 as a possible compromise candidate, having ‘always been accounted of the loyal party’,but not ‘violent’. In 1682 he signed the address abhorring the ‘Association’.3

Cook was returned for Yarmouth in 1685 on the Paston interest, though, as he wrote to Archbishop Sancroft, he felt himself

very incompetent for so great a trust in this critical juncture. There is nothing can sweeten this service but the thoughts of Lambeth being so near Westminster and the pleasure I shall receive by waiting on your grace will smooth the roughness of that province which is put upon me. It would still add to my happiness if I might (without offence) beg the care of one of your grace’s servants to procure me a small quiet lodging on Lambeth side of the river with a bed in some near chamber for my servant, and what is ordinary in the kind will suit well with my circumstances, which highly incite me to frugality and to wish for a short but happy Parliament.

A moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed to nine committees, none of which was of major political importance. He probably introduced the bill to renew the Yarmouth Harbour Act, since he was the first Member appointed to the committee.4

In 1688 Cook agreed that ‘some of the Penal Laws may require a review and amendment’, but he was determined ‘not to part with the Tests’, and he was removed from local office. Like Sir John Holland and most of the other county magistrates he refused to act with Roman Catholics on the bench in October 1688. He was returned for the county in 1689, and, according to Anthony Rowe, voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. He had leave to go into the country for his health on 18 Feb. but returned to become again a moderately active Member. He was appointed to 20 committees in the Convention, including those to consider the abolition of the hearth-tax, to adopt new oaths of allegiance and supremacy, to repeal the Corporations Act and to inquire into the reasons for the fall in rents. In both sessions he was among those ordered to consider the bill for the better recovery of tithe.5

Cook returned from the recess in the company of the Whig Members for Yarmouth, George England and Samuel Fuller. He was named to the committees to restrain election expenditure, to inquire into the miscarriages of the war, to establish a ‘court of conscience’ for small claims at Norwich, and to draft the address to ask who was responsible for the appointment of Commissary Shales. He was added to the committee of elections and privileges on 9 Dec., but a week later he again applied for leave, and was probably absent from the division on the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations.6

Cook, who remained a Tory under William III, was obliged to sell Broome. He died at Mendham in January 1708, aged 78, the only member of his family to enter Parliament, and was buried at Cranworth. His epitaph proclaims him an avowed defender of monarchy and hierarchy, ‘equally unaffected by the wicked artifices of rabid Papists and schismatics’.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 54; Vis. Norf. Notes (Norf. Rec. Soc. xxvii), 64.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 64; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 32; HMC 6th Rep. 382; Norf. Ltcy. Jnl. (Norf. Rec. Soc. xxx), 7, 92, 154; Yarmouth corp. assembly bk. 1680-1701, p. 84.
  • 3. Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 19, 128; Blomefield, Norf. x. 109; W. Rye, Address from the Gentry of Norf. (1660); CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 323; 1682, p. 56; Add. 36988, ff. 145-6, 180; E. Bohun, Autobiog. 24-25.
  • 4. Bodl. Tanner mss 31, f. 17.
  • 5. Norf. Ltcy. Jnl. 88-89.
  • 6. Diary of Dean Davies (Cam. Soc. lxviii), 57.
  • 7. Blomefield, x. 110; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1650-1715, p. 226.