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John Cooke                                                                     INTRODUCTION                                      JOHN COOKE – from London or Plymouth?
I first became interested in the engraver John Cooke while doing some research on the building of Plymouth Breakwater.[1] I managed to acquire a number of maps and plans depicting this monumental enterprise and Cooke´s name appeared several times. The name Cooke is certainly not rare. However, there appeared to be two or even three engravers of that name around this time, with two operating from London, the other from Stonehouse, Plymouth. According to Tooley´s Dictionary of Mapmakers there seemed to be a father and son team[2] of John and Charles Cooke in London as well as a possible second John in London and yet another one in Plymouth. The father and son partnership in Tooley clearly refers to John Cooke of Paternoster Row (the Drury Lane address quoted being incorrect). John trained under Alexander Hogg and published …
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I. LondonExcept for the published works which have been discovered, not much is known about John Cooke´s life. We do know that John Cooke was the son of Ann and John Cooke of Fetter Lane, a shagreen-case-maker[i]. He was baptised 1st August 1765 at St Andrew in Holborn, London, three years before a brother, Stephen William, who also became engraver. He was apprenticed to the bookbinder Mary Cooke, also of Fetter Lane on 7th September 1779 at the age of fourteen (normal practice in those days). However, he was turned over to William Wells, an engraver, of Fleet Street on 6th November 1787 “and to John Russell, by whom he was freed the same day” which points to some kind of special arrangement. Russell himself was a well-known engraver and it may be that his influence led Cooke in that direction. Between 1787 and 1812 John Cooke worked as an engraver from a number of different London addresses. Considering that he had a number of apprentices himself during this period, including his bro…
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II. PlymouthAlthough two guides to Plymouth appeared together in 1812 the first guide book to any of the Three Towns[1] is generally regarded as being The Picture of Plymouth, first issued by Rees and Curtis and which contained only one map, The Town of Plymouth Dock 1811, and this was signed by John Cooke as engraver. The text of this particular guide is credited to Henry Woollcombe, a local Plymouth resident and Attorney at Law of Frankfort Street. There was no immediate reason to think John Cooke was local as the book was sold by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, a well-known London group of publishers and booksellers. Cooke’s map was reissued together with a second map in the Tourist's Companion, with much expanded and revised text, published by Granville & Son of Plymouth-Dock when it appeared in 1823 and issued again in subsequent editions of the Tourist's Companion from 1828 (see below). What is very interesting, however, is that for the second issue above, the…
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III. SummaryAs can be seen from the works quoted, Cooke was certainly resident at various London addresses until circa 1812 and various Plymouth addresses after 1817. He was certainly at 48 Union Street 1820-25 but was at 82 Union Street by 1827. Cooke is listed in Pigot´s 1830 directory[i] as engraver and copper plate printer at 82 Union Street (but under Miscellaneous) and Mrs Nile is not listed - 48 Union Street was now occupied by the baker Thomas Philips (Mrs Nile’s address in the maps and charts of 1819/1820). The map in the Tourist's Companion of 1823 only gives the address as Union Street. The (circumstantial) evidence would point to Cooke taking over Mrs Nile´s business soon after 1820 and moving along the street (to larger/smaller premises) before 1827. Robert Brindlay´s Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Directory of 1830 has John Cooke as Engraver and Copper Plate printer in Union Street and has an Eliz. Nile at 85 Union Street.Except for Cooke's New Plan Of The …