John Cooke

                Engraver and Publisher: 1765 - 1845                       


JOHN COOKE – of London and Plymouth



An avid collector of Devon guidebooks I soon became aware that a certain John Cooke had either engraved or engraved and published plans of the city of Plymouth or of its breakwater. Some of my research was later put into an article about the Plymouth Breakwater.[1] I had 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 (the most reliable source at that time) 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.

In the course of my research I had the good fortune to come into contact with Laurence Worms. He is one of the leading experts on British engravers and in the meantime had compiled a list of John Cooke´s work and, like me, was convinced that the entry in Tooley was incorrect. The first edition of this present work was a result of the extra input he was able to provide. We were able to prove beyond doubt that one of the John Cookes of London was also the John Cooke who was responsible for the Plymouth output.[3] However, we were not able to piece much of his family life together.

In spring 2021 I was very fortunate that Dr Shirley Atkinson contacted me about John Cooke shortly after I put his work on the internet. She is directly descended from John Cooke via his second son Edward. Dr Atkinson was able to furnish me with copies of many of the documents that had been lacking when I wrote the first edition. Since our first contact she has provided me with more information and this second edition has been completely revised to include the facts – and also some speculation – about John’s life.

In the course of including Dr Atkinson’s material I have taken the opportunity to add new information which has come to my attention since the first edition; this includes one new map (entry 24A). I also removed some of the detailed information on maps and plans from the early sections; detailed analysis of each map will be found for the relevant entry.

Any errors in transcription or interpretation are all mine and where I have taken the liberty to speculate, I hope I have clearly indicated this. Acknowledgements for contributions and illustrations are included and I am indebted to all those who furnished me with details, however trivial.


Kit Batten

Second Edition June 2021

[1] See Kit Batten: Plymouth Breakwater; in MapForum, Issue 9 Spring 2006, pages 62-68.

[2] See Tooley´s Dictionary of Mapmakers Vol. I; Map Collector Publications;1979; pages 295 and 297. 

[3] Kit Batten: Who Were John Cooke? – Finally getting it right?: IMCOS Journal No. 126; Autumn 2011. 


IMPORTANT: To view the individual maps begin by opening Part IV. Short List. This has links to each map listed in chronological order.

Click the link (blue) to go directly to the following chapter. 

An account of John Cooke´s early life 1765-1812

 II. John Cooke - Plymouth      

An account of John Cooke´s career in Plymouth c.1812-1845     

 III. John Cooke - Summary      

A Summary of John Cooke´s life

IV. Short list of Cartographic Works by John Cooke    

A list of all John Cooke´s cartographic output

 V. List of Addresses used by John Cooke      

Addresses associated with John Cooke

 VI. List of Apprentices taken in by John Cooke    

Apprentices taken on by John Cooke

 VII. The Cartographic Works of John Cooke      

Maps 1 - 36 in chronological order

 VIII. Acknowledgements             

Thanks to those who have made this possible    

 IX. Sources for illustrations    

Sources of those images reproduced on this website

Monograph: John Cooke - Engraver and Publisher - 1765 London -1845 Plymouth. All rights reserved. Copyright lodged with British Library and other major libraries.

Notes on using my Blog. 

1. Maps are numbered in sequence as used in my monograph lodged with DevA, WDRO and BL and other major libraries. See Chapters IV and VII.

Map 24A was originally thought to be by or for Byers and was added later when it transpired it was a Cooke plan.

2.  Ignore dating. To run sequentially I had to "fiddle" the publish date.

3. If you are aware of further works by Cooke, please let me have details. If you notice any mistakes (there are probably many) also contact me at

Kit Batten

January 2010/Revised 2012/2020

Blog posted October 2020 (First Edition)

Blog updated to Second Edition June 2021 -

[1] See Kit Batten: Plymouth Breakwater; in MapForum, Issue 9 Spring 2006, pages 62-68.

[2] See Tooley´s Dictionary of Mapmakers Vol. I; Map Collector Publications;1979; pages 295 and 297. 

[3] Kit Batten: Who Were John Cooke? – Finally getting it right?: IMCOS Journal No. 126; Autumn 2011. 


  1. Hello. Thank you for this blog. I have been researching my family history and have an Edward Cooke born in 1814 in Plymouth - baptised at St Andrews. His father is John Cooke. On Edward's marriage certificate John Cooke is given as his father and is shown as having the occupation of Chart Engraver. On the baptism record for Edward, John Cooke is given as an Engraver and living at Stonehouse, Plymouth in 1816. If this fits with your research - it would appear that indeed John is in Plymouth at this time but appears busy raising a family.


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