Regarding my family history - This gentleman was a well known English actor, acted in naval roles.

Born 23.4.l786 Marylebone,   died in l864, 37 Thurloe Square.

I am interested to know who his wife was, please?

He was the father of Martha Mary Cooke, also actress, I think she also had a sister.

Wondering when Martha was born (I think in Bath) and when she died (probably in Australia,)

Help would be appreciated,


Felicity A

Views: 1304

Comment by Debra on March 9, 2012 at 14:13

Hi Felicity,

Me again.

Thomas Potter COOKE (bachelor of St Mary, Lambeth) married Louisa Maria Ann CREMER (spinster of Kensington) at Kensington, London on 16 Oct 1819.  Witnesses were H. HANWAY and James CREMER.

Louisa was baptised 1 Jun 1792 at Lambeth, the daughter of James and Jenny CREMER.

I can only find one definite baptism for Thomas and Louisa's daughter Emma Spencer Mary born 10 Oct and Baptised 19 Dec 1827 at St George, Bloomsbury.  Thomas's occupation is "comedian" and address is Torrington Square, St George, Bloomsbury.

I can't pin them down in 1841, but in 1851 they were at 35 Thurloe Square, Thomas is 64 and a "Dramatick Artist" born Marylebone, Louisa is 58 born Lambeth, and Emma, 23 born Bloomsbury.  Also a cook and a house servant.

In 1861 Thomas is a Comedian and also a Fund (holder) and House Holder, this time he is born in Litchfield, London. Louisa is there with him, but Emma is not.  Louisa died in 1863 and poor Thomas died from a broken heart in 1864.

Emma married in London in 1860 to Hugh McPherson CUMMING, a customs inspector.

It gets a bit weird here.  Martha Mary COOKE married 1 Sep 1828 to George THOMSON at Westminster by Licence, witnesses Jas.(?) DAVIES and George Douglas CAMERON MD

They then married again at Gretna Hall, Gretna Green in 1830 - both were of St. Pancras, Middlesex.  Either they had a sense of history as well as a sense of humour, or I wonder if she was extremely underage and the first marriage was anulled. An interesting one to follow up.

If her parents were married in 1819 and she was married in 1828 then she must have been born before the marriage and it is possible that either Thomas or Louisa may not be a parent.  Trying to find George and Martha Thomson in 1841, but there are zillions of them.  Do you know when they came to Australia?

There is this person who recently posted on a messageboard so you should have a chat to them.



Comment by Debra on March 10, 2012 at 13:51

Hi Felicity,

I'm barking up the wrong tree - Martha Mary was too old to be the daughter of Thomas Potter Cooke and Louisa.  I did find her obit, and she died in London in 1870, aged 70.|||l-year=1870|||l-month=06|||l-title=110

This one says she was one of three daughters.

Her death notice|||l-year=1870

One sister was Sarah Elizabeth Cooke who married William Leman Rede in1833 in London.

Witnesses were William's sister, Mary Leman Grimstone ( and a Jemima Cooke.  This Jemima is living with Sarah in 1841, but no realationships or marital status are given on the 1841 census. She may be the third sister. They are living in Clerkenwell, Middlesex and Sarah (40) says she was born in the county, but Jemima (32) says she wasn't.

So Martha Mary went back to England with daughter Jane around 1857 and they are on the 1861 census at Clerkenwell in London.  Mary (sic) is 61, widow, a retired actress, and she says she was born in Glasgow, Scotland!

Jane was never really sure about where she was born.  In 1861 and 1901 she says Bath, Somerset, but in 1871/81/91 she says Warrington, Lancashire.  I think it is her baptism that I have found at Warrington, Lancashire in Feb 1829.  This tallies with her age when she married Charles Young in Tas in 1845 - she was 16.  It seems likely she was born at Bath and baptised in Lancashire, possibly where her father's family were at the time.

So it seems that Martha Mary's father may have been James Cooke, not Thomas, and he was a bass singer possibly from Scotland!!

The plot thickens.



Comment by Felicity Adderley on March 12, 2012 at 21:25


Martha Mary Cooke came out here in l837 on "Derwent" with husband and family to Hobart. I will give you more details later. they settled first in Hobart.   George Thompson described as a merchant came as I understand from a ship building Company on the Clyde, Glasgow.    They had 2 (some say 3) girls.

That is news to me regarding T.P.Cooke, my mother used both name for  him, T.P. and James and she also called Martha Mary Cooke, Patty.  Sometimes actors used popular aliases and I am sure their fantasy life spilled over into their real life. Hard to find the truth.   I am anxious after all this time to get to the bottom of the T.P.Cooke thing.

I also eventually worked out that Christina Mary, in my estimation was born about l827 and Jane Eliza (sometimes called Eliza Jane) born l829.  I  had been given dates of l823 and l833 which did not make sense with their marriage dates.  I have no birthdates of Martha Mary Cooke via my mothers notes so took her statement as perhaps correct, although I did wonder.  He would have had to have been very young to be her father, I believe he was a manly type though!   The Cooke fellow she referred to did Naval roles a lot.

I will  be out most of tomorrow but will re study my notes again later tomorrow, will try to find out more about Martha mary cooke,  it is late now,  thanks so much,   felicity

Comment by Debra on March 13, 2012 at 11:53

Hi Felicity,

Just working out Martha Mary's daughters.  The obit does mention three daughters and their marriage dates indicate that they would all have to have been born before the parents came to Tasmania.  I do see that the Derwent's manifest says "2 children" but these are not always accurate and unless it is documented somewhere else there is no way of knowing if this is definitely your family.

1. Christina Mary I cannot find an obvious baptism for.  When she married in 1841 she said she was 18, so born c1823 and well before her parent's marriage.  Even if she was younger, you probably wouldn't be looking any later than 1825, though all of these girls were extremely young when they married.

2. Jane Elizabeth bap. 27 Feb 1829, Warrington, Lancashire. This bap matches Jane's given age when she married and census records.

Married (1) Charles Young 1845 in Tas. Married (2) Hermann Vezin 1863 in London.

3. Christina Ellen born 24 Feb, bap. 21 May 1831 at St Pancras. Buried 25 Nov 1833 at St Giles aged 2 years 8 months.

4. Elizabeth born 4 Apr 1833, bap. 25 March 1835 at Clerkenwell

5. Marian born 4 Apr 1834 bap. 24 Nov 1834 at Islington

George is described variously as a merchant and gentleman.

I am not sure what is going on with the last two - possibly errors in the church registers.  Why would they baptise one child in 1834 when they had another who was older and not baptised?  Normally they did them together.  Perhaps Marian was sickly and baptised quickly and then died.

This would make sense as the third daughter was known as Elizabeth Marian Thomson, with both names joined together.  She married Medmer Lushington Goodwin in Tas in 1848 and said she was 16 so she is more likely to be the 1833 birth.  She died in Tas in 1874 and her death notice says she was 40.

It is also possible that Mary was only given the extra name 'Christina" after the death of her sister in 1833.


Comment by Felicity Adderley on March 13, 2012 at 16:30


Its nearly 5 pm and I am looking through the papers.  Thanks for the info regarding the daughters.

In the notes in my possession Martha Cooke's father is little described and I have found 2  mentions of him being "James Cooke who for 30 yrs was principal bass singer at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Mrs. Martha Cooke's sister was a Mrs. Waylett, famous London actress and singer l798 to l851." The other mention he was given the name T.P.Cooke .  I shall try to find out more about James Cooke and when he was born etc.

Also the third daughter Eliza made her first appearance in l844 at 7 or 8 years of age.

My mother wrote to a Dr.Oppenheim of Sydney University who said she was an authority on Theatre matters and she stated that there were 3 daughters on the stage, but my mother earnestly believed this to be untrue being told by her mother and cousins this was a lot of nonsense and has crossed off references to  a 3rd daughter obviously wrong, thanks to your digging.

I have found references in play bills since of 3 daughters performing so cannot understand their insistence.

I do know that Jane was often referred to on play bills as Eliza or Jane so maybe it seemed that they could invent 3 daughters out of 2 if you know what I mean.  Also confusing having 2 Elizabeths.

I assume that James Cooke is not the T.P. Cooke born in l786 who was famous for his sword and cutlass roles but  a Principal Bass Singer at Drury lane.

Perhaps The Thomsons were passengers on the schooner "Sisters" from Hobart town, arriving at Sydney 26.8.l841.  The Australian 28/8/l841.  Passenger list in Archives of NSW Colonial Secretary.  Mrs. Thomson, Miss Thomson, Miss.I.Thomson.  Don't know is this is the same Thomsons.

I have references to The Hobart Theatre Company arriving in Melbourne in The Port Phillip Gazette on June l8th l845 Shipping Intelligence.  Melbourne only being l0 years old then, they appeared at the Queens Theatre Royal and they were called the Launceston Company under Mr.Coppin.

Shall continue digging tomorrow avo,  

Good luck,

Felicity A

Comment by Felicity Adderley on March 14, 2012 at 13:25


I found an article in Wikemedia Commons, searched Principal Bass singers Drury Lane, Thomas Simpson Cooke, l782-1848,  Singer, Instrumentalist and Composer with son Grattan Cooke.   Maybe an uncle of Martha Mary Cooke 

Sent a query also on that Genealogy site you sent me, re James Cooke, not very relevant on how to use the site, but registered so may get an answer on James Cooke who I feel cannot be T.P.Cooke.

Felicity A

Comment by Felicity Adderley on March 14, 2012 at 14:12


I have just read that T.P.Cooke was the son of a Surgeon, (wondering who the surgeon was) maybe he had older brothers.

The Creature.   In the original version the part of the Creature was played by Thomas Potter Cooke (1786-1864), a popular actor who had in his youth served in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The son of a surgeon, Cooke entered the Navy after his father's death and at the age of ten was present on the ship Raven during the siege of Toulon in 1796. He participated in numerous battles thereafter, building a reputation for courage and gallantry under fire, and he was present at the blockade of Brest. He left the Navy after the Peace of Amiens (1802) and began a long career in the theatre. In what is believed to be only his second role he portrayed Lord Nelson in a production at Astley's Ampitheatre. By 1820 Cooke had successfully established himself as a melodramatic actor specializing particularly in roles as vampires and monsters, undoubtedly capitalizing in these roles upon his large and strong physique and great energy. On 9 August 1820 Cooke enjoyed a huge popular success as Ruthven, the hero of The Vampire, a play derived from the novel of that name by Byron's friend John Polidori. The role in Presumption was under these circumstances a logical one for him, and it firmly established his reputation. Interestingly, like the mild-mannered Boris Karloff (William Henry Pratt) who played the Creature in the film versions of Frankenstein a century later, Cooke was known off stage as a gentleman in every respect. Accoring to one contemporary account, after the season closes at the English Opera House, Cooke "generally returns to the [Royal] Cobourg [Theatre], where he undertakes the duty of stage-manager, where his kind conciliating manner and gentlemanly conduct has endeared him to all his brother actors" (Mirror of the Stage, n.s. 1:19).


Comment by Debra on March 14, 2012 at 16:58

Hi Felicity,

T.P. Cooke was born at Marylebone in 1786 the son of Josh. Cooke, a surgeon, and Mary.  He was much younger than James Cooke who first performed at Drury Lane in 1791 and would have been far too young to have been the father of Martha and her sisters.  I don't think they were related at all.

Martha Mary's two sisters appear to be Sarah Elizabeth Cooke who married William Leman Rede in1833 in London (mentioned earlier) and Jemima Cooke who never married.  Some death notices:

From the 'Era Almanack', 1883

Cooke, Jemima, daughter of the late James Cooke of Drury Lane, aged 74, April 4 (1882)

The Examiner (London, England), Sunday, March 4, 1832

On the 24th Feb., at Bath, Mr James Cooke, the uncle of Mrs W. West and Mrs Waylett.  He was one of the oldest actors existing having made his first appearance in London, 1st of January 1791, as Anselm in 'The Seige of Belgrade'.  He left Drury Lane when Elliston took the management, and retired to Bath, where he was much and deservedly respected.  It will be remembered that his daughter, Miss Cooke, met a dreadful accident whilst performing in 'Peter Wilkins' on the Bath stage; she is a talented actress. The oldest actors now living are Decastro, Rees, Bannister, Pope and Powell.

John Bannister was born in 1760, so James Cooke was presumedly born before then.

I had to know what the accident was, and here is an account.  No idea which daughter it was.

Some info on James Cooke, but no access to the next page.  The years are his acting years, not his living years.

Harriet Cooke married John Providence Waylett in Coventry, Warwickshire in 1819.

Some info about her,_Harriet_%28DNB00%29


Scroll up to see an engraving of her.

This one says her father was an upholsterer

Sarah Cooke was her cousin and married William West in 1815 at Edinburgh. She named her father as Isaac Cooke.

Some info about her,_Mrs._%28DNB00%29

So Sarah, Harriet and Martha Mary were cousins and their fathers, James, Isaac and ? (an upholsterer) were brothers from Bath.

If they weren't always referred to as just Mrs and Miss it would make life a lot easier!

I did see a reference somewhere that they were related to the "unstable" George Frederick Cooke  but whether this is true or not.....


Comment by Felicity Adderley on March 15, 2012 at 15:21

Dear Debra,

Thanks so much for your info.   I was wondering if James Cooke was related to T.P.Cooke who obviously could not be father of martha cooke.   I will  have a good gander at all the stuff you sent tomorrow,( as just got on the computer, we had problems today with the computer).  I believe it was Martha who had the accident and have an account of it.  

Thanks again,

Felicity A

Comment by Felicity Adderley on March 16, 2012 at 13:32

That accident was a new one to me. Martha was involved in nearly badly injuring herself with a knife in a pretend stabbing which became too realistic.
bye Felicity


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