Richard (IV) and Elizabeth Hartwell Cocke

Family Background

Around 1730, John and Elizabeth Hartwell’s daughter and heir,Elizabeth, married Richard Cocke IV of Surry County, the son and namesake of Richard Cocke III(1672-1720).  He also was the brother of Benjamin Cocke, who married the daughter of Arthur Allen of Bacon’s Castle. Richard Cocke IV’s immigrant ancestor,Richard Cocke I, immigrated to Virginia around 1630. Genealogists believe that he was a native of  Pickthorne in Shropshire,England, and was born around 1602.  Cocke acquired a substantial quantity of  land on the  James River, in Henrico County, developing his acreage into the plantations known as Malvern Hills and Bremo.  In 1632 he was elected to the colony’s assembly and he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Henrico militia.  He also became a parish vestryman. Richard Cocke I and his wife produced six children, five sons and a daughter. Richard made his will on October 4, 1663, and died in 1665.  He bequeathed to his wife, Mary, life-rights in a third of his real and personal estate and made bequests to his sons William, John, and Thomas, and two sons named Richard, distinguished as the elder and younger. He also referred to his wife, Mary, as his “present wife,” thereby implying that he had been married before (Henrico County Miscellaneous Court Records 1650-1807:27; Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Boxes 31 and 32).

Richard Cocke I’s son and grandson, Richard Cocke II and Richard Cocke III, were highly successful Virginia planters and accumulated wealth through the cultivation of tobacco and by intermarrying with other gentry families.  However, by the time Richard Cocke IV (a second son) and his brother, Benjamin, came along, they were obliged to find land outside of the family holdings in Henrico.  Both moved to Surry Count y where they married into prominent local families.  Richard Cocke IV and his brother Benjamin eventually became wealthy in their own right, for they acquired nearly seven thousand acres of land in what became Fluvanna County.  It was through this means that Richard Cocke IV’s son, Hartwell Cocke, inherited Bremo plantation in Fluvanna County (Cocke and Cocke 1967:I:35; Mauss 2000:7-8).  It is probable that shortly after their marriage, Richard and Elizabeth Hartwell Cocke built a home upon the land that she had inherited from her father, in all likelihood the western part of the Swann’s Point tract: what by 1801 had  became known as Mount Pleasant. 13

Together, Elizabeth Hartwel land her husband, Richard Cocke IV produced three living children.  The eldest was a son, Hartwell Cocke I.  His birth was followed by that of two daughters: Elizabeth Hartwell Cocke, who married a Mr. Thornton, and Rebecca Cocke, who married a cousin, Richard Taliaferro Jr.of Powhatan Plantation in James City County. 14   Richard Cocke IV outlived his wife, Elizabeth Hartwell, and inherited life-rights to her property.  Shortly after her demise he took as his second wife Elizabeth Ruffin Kinchin, with whom he produced five living children (Nancy, Richard, Lucy, Nathaniel, and John) (Cocke and Cocke 1967:I:35). 15

Richard Cocke IV’s Role in the Community

Surry County records reveal that Richard Cocke IV took an active role in public life.  In June 1742 he was ordered by the county court to take a list of the tithables in the Middle Precinct of Southwark Parish’s Blackwater area.  In 1746 he was appointed the county’s official surveyor and he was designated as Surry’s keeper of the standard weights and measures.  Between 1744 and 1747 Richard Cocke IV represented Surry County in the House of Burgesses (Surry County Order Book 8 [1741-1745]:27; 9 [1746-1748]:90, 134; Stanard and Stanard 1965:117, 119, 120-121).  In June 1751 he and his wife, Elizabeth, conveyed some property to Dr. John Hay.  The acreage changing hands consisted of 500 acres on the Nottoway River.  The Cockes went to court in July 1751 to confirm the transaction (Surry County Deed Book 6 [1749-1753]:249; Order Book 10 [1749-1751]:262, 340). 16   In 1770 when John Henry (1770) made a map of Virginia, he showed a plantation he attributed to “Cocke” in the immediate vicinity of Mount Pleasant (Figure 3). Richard Cocke IV, like many wealthy planters, had his portrait painted by a professional artist.  Cocke’s portrait, done by John Durrand in 1771, is at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).

Richard Cocke IV’s Estate

On September 13, 1771, when Richard Cocke IV prepared his will, he was age 64 and a widower.  He identified himself as a resident of Southwark Parish in Surry County and said that he was “of perfect mind and body.”  He bequeathed to his eldest son and primary heir, Hartwell Cocke I, the plantation called Bremo, in the fork of the James River, noting that it had been given to him by his own father who had patented it on December 15, 1725.  He also gave Hartwell two other pieces of property: the plantation called Bear Garden, which he described as 380 acres on the south side of the James above the topographic feature known as “the point of fork,” and a tract on Beaverdam Creek in Goochland County.  Richard Cocke IV bequeathed some slaves and money to each of his daughters and he gave one slave apiece to his sons John and Nathaniel.  He instructed his executors to sell his 883 acres in Lunenburg County and his 475 acres in Southampton County on the Blackwater River, where there was a grist mill.  The testator’s land in Halifax County on Difficult Run was to be divided equally between sons John and Nathaniel, as were the slaves and livestock then residing on the property.  If sons John or Nathaniel Cocke failed to survive, Richard Cocke V was to be the reversionary heir. 17 Richard Cocke IV stated that the rest of his estate “both real and personal,” which included his Surry County acreage, was to go to his eldest son, Hartwell, after his (the testator’s) just debts were paid and the other children had received their bequests.  Richard Cocke IV named as his executors sons Hartwell and Richard Cocke V, and sons-in-law Richard Taliaferro Jr., William Brown V, 18 and William Ruffin VII.  Richard Cocke IV died on March 5, 1772.  When his will was presented to the justices of Surry County on April 21, 1772, it was proved by sons Hartwell and Richard Cocke V (Surry County Deeds, Wills, &c. 5 [1768-1779]:191-198; Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 32). 19

Although an inventory was prepared of Richard Cocke IV’s personal property in Halifax County (agricultural equipment, livestock, and other items appropriate to a quarter), none was filed that documented his personal property in Surry County.  This was done in accord with his wishes and was permissible under the provisions of the law (Surry County Deeds, Wills&c. 5 [1768-1779]:268-288).  Significantly, Richard Cocke IV’s son, Hartwell I, as a reversionary heir, came into possession of his late father’s property in Halifax and Lunenburg Counties.  As primary heir and Elizabeth Hartwell’s son, he also inherited virtually all of his maternal grandfather’s land in Surry County, which included the expanse of land  generally known as Swann’s Point.  Although the date of Hartwell Cocke I’s birth is uncertain, he was a mature married man at the time of his father’s death on March 5, 1772, and had a grown son, John Hartwell Cocke I, who was almost age 23.  Hartwell Cocke I’s will, presented for probate in August 1772, reveals that he and his father, Richard Cocke IV, had separate residences in Surry County upon the Swann’s Point plantation that Hartwell I stood to inherit (see ahead).

[13] Elizabeth’s mother had liferights to the family home in the eastern part of the Swann’s Point tract.

[14] Elizabeth Hartwell’s father, John, was the brother of Elizabeth Hartwell Eggleston (Mrs. Benjamin Eggleston) of Powhatan Plantation.  The Egglestons’ daughter, Elizabeth, married Colonel Richard Taliaferro, the builder of the Powhatan mansion.  Elizabeth Hartwell Cocke’s daughter, Rebecca, married Richard and Elizabeth Eggleston Taliaferro’s son, Richard Jr.

[15] While Richard Cocke IV was in possession of his first wife’s land, he acquired the ferry tract at Swann’s Point.  Additional research should pinpoint when that  transaction occurred and shed light upon how he used the eastern part of the Swann’s Point tract after his mother-in-law’s demise.

[16] In September 1757 while Richard Cocke IV owned the Swann’s Point plantation, a slave auction was held at Swann’s Point itself.  It was then that fourteen slaves from Colonel Benjamin Harrison’s estate were sold to the highest bidder (Hunter, September 2, 1757).

[17] This Richard Cocke (V) is credited with compiling genealogical information on his father’s family (Cocke and Cocke 1967:I:35).

[18] Colonel William Brown and his family lived next door at Four Mile Tree.  Collections of private papers reveal that during the 1770s, 80s, and 90s the Brown family frequently purchased household goods, fabric, and luxury items from John Hay and Company of Williamsburg and Jacob Faulcon and Company of Surry, exchanging those items for large quantities of beef and pork.  The Browns also purchased paint and leather goods from two firms in London, England  (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 24).

[19] John Faulcon later made an extract from Richard Cocke IV’s will (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 1).