Hartwell Cocke I

Family Background

Hartwell Cocke I, the eldest son of Richard Cocke IV, was the only male child he and his wife, Elizabeth Hartwell, produced.  Hartwell attended the College of  William and Mary during 1744. 20  He married Anne Ruffin, the daughter of Colonel John Ruffin of Rich Neck in Surry County, sometime prior to November 26, 1749, at which time their eldest child was born.  Together Hartwell and Anne Ruffin Cocke produced at least nine children: John Hartwell Cocke I and his brothers Benjamin, Richard VI, and Robert, and daughters Mary, Martha, Nancy, Ann, and Elizabeth Hartwell Cocke (Cocke and Cocke 1967:I:16; Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).

As noted above,Hartwell CockeI was the primary heir of Richard Cocke IV, who died on March 5, 1772. As such, he stood to inherit virtually all of Richard IV’s Surry County property and the bulk of his land elsewhere in Virginia.  Although the date of Hartwell Cocke I’s birth is uncertain, it is probable that he was born during the 1720s, for he was a college student in 1744 and in 1772 his eldest son was almost 23-years-old.

Cocke I’s Role in Community Life

Colonel Hartwell Cocke I was a prominent man in Surry County.  He served as a burgess from 1758 to 1772 and he was responsible for the tobacco collected as taxes in Surry County in 1755, 1760, 1764, and 1769.  Like his father, he became Surry County’s official surveyor, having been appointed to office in September 1749 (Stanard and Stanard 1965:147-192; Surry County Deed Book 10 [1769-1778]:92, 97, 266-268).

Hartwell Cocke I’s Estate

On May 29, 1772, Colonel Hartwell Cocke I prepared his will.  He did so only a month after he and his brother, Richard V, had presented their father’s will to Surry’s county justices for probate.  Hartwell Cocke I’s will commenced by his stating that he was “in sound mind and memory.”  He bequeathed to his “well beloved wife the use and profits of the Plantation whereon I live, the Brick house Plantation, 21 and my Ferry.”  He also left her certain slaves, notably, Cruso, Harry, Pompy, Hercules, Morgan, Dick, Tom, New Jack, Bristol, Qually, Old Jimmy, Hanniball, Rachel, Beck, Charlotte, Lucy, Lylva, Dinah and Rose, along with “all my household and kitchen Furniture, my Riding Chairs, tools, and utinsils and all my horses, cattle, hogs and sheep belonging to the plantation during her natural life for the education and maintenance of my children.” Hartwell Cocke I left to his wife,Anne, “all negroes and stock and tools on my Goochland plantations until son Hartwell [II] comes of age.”  He also gave her the “profits of land and mill in Southampton County and 9 slaves, stock, and tools – then to son Benjamin when of age.” Anne had “the use of Isaac, Annacay and her child Hannah until son Benjamin comes of age” and could keep his other slaves, until son Robert came of age.

 Whenever my wife dies if my son Hartwell [II] should be of age, I desire an equal division may be made of the Land I have a fee simple estate in, 22 namely the Brickhouse Tract, the Haystack, Grays, and Holdworth’s, 23 by gentlemen indifferently chosen by my said son Hartwell [II] and his brother Richard [V] which moiety or equal part I give to my son Hartwell [II], the other moiety or equal part to my son Richard and his heirs forever.

 Through this means, Hartwell Cocke II and his brother Richard VI stood to inherit land that their late father had purchased and added to John Hartwell’s original acreage in the eastern part of the Swann’s Point plantation.  When Hartwel lII came of age or married with consent of his late father’s executors, he was supposed to receive half of the slaves, livestock and utensils on Hartwell Cocke I’s land at the Goochland Quarter.  Hartwell Cocke I bequeathed to his son, Benjamin, at age twenty-one, the 475 ½ acre tract in Southampton County  that he had inherited from his own father; the testator noted that slaves and a mill were on the property.  As soon as son Benjamin came of age, he was to have the slave Annacay and her child, Hannah, and the boy named Isaac.  Hartwell Cocke I left his son, Robert, at age twenty-one or when married, the slaves named Gruff, Nedd, Moses, Sarah, Sucky, Fanny, Hercules, Jack, Tony, George and Sarah.  He instructed his executors to set aside for son Robert the sum of 500 pounds, which was to be used for the purchase of land after his sisters’ legacies were paid.  John Hartwell CockeI, with the advice of his father’s executors, was supposed to select land for his brother, Robert, when he came of age.  Hartwell Cocke I gave to his daughter, Mary, money and slaves.  At the death of his wife, Anne, the slaves he had bequeathed her were to be divided equally among all of their children except principal heir John Hartwell Cocke I.   Hartwell I specified that “the remainder of the furniture of every kind and stocks of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs, with tools, utensils of husbandry and riding chairs, at the death of my wife [is] to remain on this plantation,” noting that he had given that personal property to his son, John Hartwell Cocke (I).  Hartwell Cocke I said that if any of his other sons died before they married and produced legal heirs, their legacy was to be divided among his other children except the eldest son,John Hartwell Cocke I.

Hartwell Cocke I stated that, “In case of the death of my eldest son John Hartwell without issue, so what I have given him should fall to my next son, [Hartwell II] I desire that the legacy given the said son should then be equally divided between my other children.”  In other words, if John Hartwell Cocke I were to die without issue, his brother, Hartwell II, became their father’s primary heir.  In that event, the property Hartwell Cocke II stood to inherit was to be divided among the testator’s other sons and daughters.   Hartwell Cocke I left money to his daughters Martha, Anne, and Elizabeth Hartwell. 24  However, “The plate left me by my Father, four beds and furniture, also the Furniture in my Father’s house and all the rest and residue of my estate of every kind whatsoever I give to my son John Hartwell and his heirs forever.”  This statement reveals that the  testator Hartwell Cocke I and his father, Richard Cocke IV, who had died on March 5, 1772, were living in separate homes.  As real estate tax rolls for the 1780s reveal that Hartwell Cocke I’s widow, Anne, was in possession of the eastern part of the Swann’s Point tract, it is probable that Hartwell and Ann had constructed a home there, leaving western part of the property (what later became known as Mount Pleasant) to the occupancy of his father, Richard Cocke IV, and stepmother, Elizabeth Ruffin Kinchin. 25

Hartwell Cocke I instructed his executors to see that his just debts and bequests were paid.  He noted that “the Lands given my sons Hartwell [II] and Richard [VI] are contiguous or very convenient to the entailed land which my son John Hartwell will inherit” and added that if eldest son John Hartwell Cocke I would dock the entail on the 1,560 acre Goochland tract and divide it equally between his brothers Hartwell II and Richard VI, he (the testator) would give him reversionary rights in the Goochland County property.  Hartwell Cocke I closed his will by stating that, “I desire there may be no appraisement of my estate” and designated his “loving wife Anne, my son John Hartwell, and brother-in-law Robert Ruffin as executors.”  Colonel Hartwell Cocke’s will was presented for probate on August 25, 1772, by John Hartwell Cocke I and entered into the records of Surry County (Surry County Deeds, Wills &c. 5 [1768-1779]:235).  His death, which occurred in July, was announced in the Virginia Gazette’s July 23, 1772, edition.  He reportedly had “died of a lingering illness” (Purdie and Dixon, July 23, 1772). On September 2, 1773, the Gazette’s editor announced that Nicholas Faulcon Jr. had been elected to fill the assembly seat vacated by the late Colonel Hartwell Cocke (Hunter,September 2, 1773).

The late Hartwell Cocke I apparently was heavily involved in trading activities, for on July 6, 1777, a co-investor named Arthur LeClair announced that the partnership of Hartwell Cocke and Company was dissolved.  Through an advertisement he placed in the Virginia Gazette, he asked those indebted to the firm to pay John Hartwell Cocke I (Purdie, July 11, 1777). A fragmentary account book maintained by the firm H. Cocke and Company of Surry reveals that the establishment did business with William Ruffin, Benjamin Cocke, William Acrill, Thomas Holt of Charles City, Arthur Sinclair, 26 Hartwell Cocke, and Nicholas Faulcon Sr. and Jr. (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 1).

Real estate tax rolls, though incomplete for the 1780s, reveal that the widowed Anne Cocke retained possession of her late husband’s 1,130 acres at Swann’s Point (the eastern part of the plantation until her death around 1790.  By 1791, her acreage had  come into the hands of the couple’s son,Robert, who retained it until his death in ca. 1796-1797 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1782-1797; Alterations).  Although genealogical sources shed very little light upon Robert Cocke’s personal or public life, it appears that he died before marrying and producing heirs (see ahead).  Meanwhile, the late Hartwell Cocke I’s son and principal heir took up residence at what became known as Mount Pleasant.

[20] An account of his college expenses has been preserved (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).

[21] The Brickhouse Plantation was in the eastern part of the Swann’s Point tract.  It was not part of what became known as Mount Pleasant, which was entailed land.

[22] That is, non-entailed land. These properties would have the acreage Hartwell Cocke I had purchased and therefore owned outright.

[23] On December 12, 1771, Hartwell Cocke I purchased 100 acres on Gray’s Creek, acreage that had belonged to the late Gilbert Gray, who had purchased it from William Gray (Surry County Deed Book 10 [1769-1778]:262-267).  The Holdsworth land also was in that vicinity.

[24] On December 22, 1788, Elizabeth Hartwell Cocke married William Taliaferro (Surry County Marriage Register 1768-1853:25).

[25] The remains of a large house, perhaps Richard IV and Elizabeth Hartwell Cocke’s dwelling, has been identified by archaeologists undertaking excavations at Mount Pleasant.

[26] Arthur Sinclair was married to John Hartwell Cocke II’s sister, Elizabeth (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).