John Cooke

                Engraver and Publisher: 1765 - 1845                       

JOHN COOKE – of London and Plymouth


Newly Revised 2024 


INTRODUCTION to The Third Edition 2024

 I am an avid collector of Devon guidebooks and soon became aware that a certain John Cooke had either engraved, or engraved and published, plans of the Plymouth area or of its breakwater which expanded in to an article about Plymouth Breakwater.[1] Over the years I managed to acquire a number of maps and plans depicting this monumental enterprise and Cooke´s name appeared several times. The name John 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, not counting the other Cookes active in the book and printing trades at the turn of the nineteenth century. According to Tooley´s Dictionary of Mapmakers (the most reliable source at that time) there seemed to be a father and son team of John and Charles Cooke[2] in London as well as a possible second John in London and yet another John 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 posted his work on the internet.[4]  She is directly descended from John Cooke through 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 the second edition was completely revised to include the new facts – and also less speculation – about John’s life.

In the course of including Dr Atkinson’s material, I took the opportunity to add new information which had come to my attention since the first and second editions; this included one new map (24A) as well as many more illustrations which have come to light. The interested reader will discover more about the projects which John Cooke worked on both before moving to Plymouth, and his career while residing in Stonehouse, now in Plymouth, but in 1815 a bustling community perched between Plymouth in the east and the important dockyards to the west.

The internet is becoming increasingly important for researchers, as more and more works are digitalised and made available to the public. Online retailers and antiquarian bookshops as well as auction houses are posting more and more information and images of works in their possession and the patient researcher can discover hitherto unknown works. Such is the case with this present edition. The world wide web can be frustrating and surprising: entering the same search requirements five times can provide five different results; and some lead to sites one had used but which now reveal something totally new or suggest a new lead to follow up further. In only twelve months, due to a combination of diligence, fluke and serendipity I have been able to uncover a wealth of non-cartographic material executed by John Cooke. These range from an anti-Jacobin caricature produced in 1799 for a London publisher, an early aborted project for an atlas to plates of fossils executed for a local Stonehouse author.

Although only one new chart was discovered in this period, the Mercator’s Chart from England to Greenland (1A), a more detailed look at David Steel´s Elements of Rigging reveals that John Cooke produced nearly 50 of the plates at an early stage of his career. Nevertheless, the new material added to that which we already know about cannot be all he produced in his lifetime: there is more to be discovered out there.  

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

 Third Edition

 Stuttgart, February 2024


IMPORTANT: To go directly to the individual maps, begin by opening Part IV. Short List. This has a list of all 36 cartographic works with links to each map listed in chronological order.

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

Part One - The Life of John Cooke


  John Cooke - London                                                          

John Cooke (1765-1791)

John Cooke of Hendon and Mill Hill (1792-1796)

John Cooke of Howland Street (c.1799-1805)

The Ladies Circular Atlas and “Mr Barrow”

The Rev. Thomas Smith and The Universal Atlas

John Cooke at the Admiralty (1802-1805)

Between the Admiralty and Plymouth (1805-1812)

Synopsis of Geography 

 II. John Cooke - Plymouth      

Stonehouse (1813-1845)

Napoleon and Cooke´s first Plymouth engravings

The Copper-Plate Engraving, and Printing Office (1815-21)

John Cooke of Union Street, Stonehouse (1823-1845)     

 III. John Cooke - Summary      

                    A Summary of John Cooke´s life

Part Two - Cartographic Works

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

Part Three - Cartobibliography

 VII. The Cartographic Works of John Cooke      

                    Maps 1 - 36 in chronological order

Part Four - Acknowledgements and Sources of Material

 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 the dating of individual blog page publication. To run sequentially I had to "fiddle" the published 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 

Blog updated to Third Edition from February 2024 

[1] See Kit Batten: Plymouth Breakwater; in MapForum, Issue 9 Spring 2006, pages 62-68. Now updated and available on-line at

[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.

[4] This Third Edition will replace it at


John Cooke – Engraver and Publisher

1765 London – 1845 Plymouth

Third Edition


This Edition published privately in 2024.


Copyright © 2024 Kit Batten.

A copy of this book has been lodged with the British Library.

Reference copies are available at Devon Archives and Heritage Centre, Exeter

And at Plymouth Central Library.


This work is dedicated to the late

Francis Bennett.

Always a friend and ever generous with advice

and information he also sold me copies of

works by John Cooke.

Without this input I would probably never have begun this monograph.


An updated version of this monograph can be found on-line at:

Please note that the same copyright rules apply to the on-line version,

i.e., all images remain the property of the legal owner and cannot be used in any way without conforming to the standard rules and regulations concerning attribution of the same copyright.

For a full list of Kit Batten´s articles listed on-line go to:

 The moral right of Kit Batten to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the copyright holder.

Any illustrations used in this, on-line version (, may not be reproduced without the explicit consent of the copyright holder. A list of sources for all illustrations will be found at the back of this work.


  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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