John Hartwell Cocke I

JohnHartwellCockeI’s Immediate Family

JohnHartwellCockeI, the eldest son of HartwellCockeI and his wife, the former AnneRuffin, was born on November 26, 1749.  Sometime prior to 1775 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Richard and Sally Skipwith Kennon of Mount Pleasant in Chesterfield County.  Together John Hartwell and Elizabeth Kennon Cocke produced eight children, several of whom lived to maturity.  Their eldest daughter, Sally, was born on May 10, 1775.  Her birth was followed by that of Ann Hartwell, who was born on November 11, 1776, and sometimes was called “Nancy,” perhaps because her mother’s given name was “Sally.” A third daughter, Elizabeth, was born on July 6, 1778.  Then, on September 19, 1780, Elizabeth Kennon Cocke gave birth to a son, John Hartwell Cocke II.  The Cockes’ daughter, Mary Kennon, was born onJuly 25, 1783.  Her birth was followed by that ofMarthaRuffin, born onJanuary 26, 1788.  The Cockes’ second son,Robert, born onDecember 26, 1785, died in 1790, at the age of five.  Finally, onJuly 10, 1791,RebeccaKennonCocke was born.  Her birth occurred five months after her father’s death; her mother died in childbirth.  The infantRebeccaKennonCocke died before she reached age one (Cocke and Cocke 1967:I:16, 34, 62).  It is probable that five-year-oldRobert and the infantRebeccaKennonCocke were buried in a family graveyard on their parents’ property inSurryCounty.  All of the Cockes’ other children lived to maturity.

Temporary Residence in the Colonial Capital

JohnHartwellCockeI lived in Williamsburgduring part of 1777 and 1778. He and five other men (LewisBurwell, RichardKello, WilliamBrown, Edmund Ruffin, and William Acrill) shared a furnished dwelling in Williamsburg that they rented from a Mrs. Singleton for ₤ 24.  The records maintained by this “club” reveal that all six men  contributed toward the cost of food, beverages, candles, firewood and other incidentals.  They paid a cook named Frank (probably an African American), for the services he provided, and they rented the kitchen furniture he used. They also paid Frank from time to time for hauling firewood and for carting goods up from the landing.  John Hartwell Cocke I purchased a substantial quantity of peach brandy, a large jug of vinegar, and two quarters of beef.  His housemates supplied brandy, beer, ale, seafood, pork, mutton, poultry, sugar, vegetables, dairy products, spices, firewood, candles and snuffers.  Cocke and his friends rented Mrs. Singleton’s plates and one of the men  provided glass tumblers.  In 1778 they loaned some provisions to Colonel Benjamin Harrison, who also made brief use of the “club” (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 24).

JohnHartwellCockeI’s Real and Personal Property

Real estate tax rolls for Surry County reveal that in 1782 John Hartwell Cocke I was in possession of two tracts of land: one that was comprised of 1,327 acres (the western part of the acreage known as Swann’s Point, which sometimes was called Mount Pleasant) and another that consisted of only 50 acres, a parcel within the Spring Grove District.  Cocke was taxed upon both of these tracts throughout the remainder of his life and his widow, Elizabeth, was credited with them for a year (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1782-1792).  Meanwhile, John Hartwell Cocke I’s mother, Anne Ruffin Cocke, was in possession of the late Hartwell Cocke I’s acreage that abutted Gray’s Creek and included the eastern part of the Swann’s Point tract.  AtAnne’s death the property descended to her son,Robert, who was John Hartwell Cocke I’s brother.  AsRobertCocke produced no heirs, in 1797 the property he had inherited descended to his late brother’s son and primary heir, the orphanedJohnHartwellCockeII.  Through this means, theMount Pleasant and Swann’s Point properties were reunited under a common ownership.  They were listed underJohnHartwellCockeII’s name from 1797 through 1809 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1782-1809).

In 1784 when relatively detailed tax records were compiled as part of what was called Virginia’s State Enumerations, which survive for Surry County, John Hartwell Cocke I was credited with seven white household members, one dwelling, and twenty-two “other buildings” (dependencies).  Simultaneously, his widowed mother,AnneCocke, who was living at Swann’s Point, had seven white household members, a dwelling, and eight dependencies (USGPO 1908:78).

In 1782, when personal property tax records were compiled, the assessor listed as free white males (who age twenty-one or older)JohnHartwellCockeI andJosephCarrell, who probably was an overseer or farm manager. Cocke also was credited with thirteen slaves who were age sixteen or older and a like amount who were under the age of sixteen. He paid personal property tax upon ten horses, fifty-three cattle, and a four-wheeled vehicle.  The slaves who were at least age sixteen were:Jacob, Tombo,Peter,Sam,Harry, Phill,John,Billy, Daphney, Gilly, Letty, Aggy andIsrael.  Those under sixteen included Vall,Tom,Charles,Moses,Robin,Dick,Billy, Beck, Nanny,Jimmy, Patt,Cicero, and Ussa. In 1783JohnHartwellCockeI, as a

household head, was taxed upon two free white males who were at least age twenty-one, sixteen slaves who were sixteen or older and twelve who were less than sixteen-years-of age.  He had eight horses, fifty-two cattle, and a four-wheeled vehicle.  In 1785 the number of slaves and horses under Cocke’s control essentially was the same, and he still had a wheeled vehicle.  However, the size of his livestock herd had been reduced dramatically.  He was credited with eighteen cattle and he owned a stud horse that earned $30 a season.  Cocke himself was the only free white adult male attributed to the household he headed (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1782-1785).

By 1787 the number of slaves under John Hartwell Cocke I’s control had increased to twenty-two who were at least age sixteen and twenty-one who were younger.  He owned forty-two bovines and a four-wheeled chariot.  In 1790 Cocke, who was identified as a colonel, had a post-chaise in his possession.  A year later, the tax assessor listed the names of his slaves: Ned, Carey, Tom, Sam, Charles, Robin, Harry, Phyll, Billy, Anthony, two males named Peter, Dinah, Patt, Aggy, Letty, Becky, Molly, Jenny, Sylvia, Letty, Betty, Amyand Judy.  The same individuals were attributed to Colonel John Hartwell Cocke I’s estate in 1792, at which time no adult white males were attributed to the household.  All but two of Cocke’s slaves were age sixteen or older and therefore were of prime working age.  Tax records suggest that the Cocke family’s slaves were a relatively stable population, for seldom did someone’s name drop from the records and rarely was a new name added (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1787-1792).  This would have tended to preserve slave households and probably gave nuclear families a greater sense of security.

Mount PleasantWithin A War Zone

Although no records have come to light suggesting that military activity directly impacted Mount Pleasantduring the Revolutionary War, in fact, for several years the plantation was in the midst of a war zone.  By late summer 1775 the breach between Great Britainand her American colonies had become irreparable and on August 23rd King George III declared that they were in “open and avowed rebellion.”  Even before the king’s formal declaration of war, two British tenders had fired upon some American sentinels stationed at Jamestown, striking the ferry house located in the western end of the island.  On November 14th the British returned, whereupon they were challenged by troops of the Second Virginia Regiment.  Lord Dunmore placed the sloop Kingfisher downstream at Burwell’s Landing to search all incoming ships.  The Virginia Gazette reported that a boat load of British soldiers had tried to come ashore at Jamestown on November 16th but were driven off.  A little later, the Americans stationed at the battery onJamestownIsland came under attack from a British man-of-war.  A tender tried to come ashore but was driven off.  Across the river,ColonelScott, who was stationed at Cobham in Surry, had his men fire upon a British flatboat whose occupants were gathering oysters.

In 1776 Lord Dunmoredeclared marital law in Virginiaand signed an Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves and indentured servants, whom he invited to bear arms on behalf of the king.  Throughout the year, there was a considerable amount of military activity on JamestownIsland, where there was an American encampment.  Captain JamesBarronand his brother captured the Oxford, a British transport ship that carried 217 Scotch Highlanders, and brought it up to Jamestown.  The Scots reportedly were part of the 42nd Regiment or Royal Highland Watch, reinforcements being sent to Lord Dunmore.  In July 1776, John Davis of Surry County was arrested at Jamestown, for he was thought to have uttered some counterfeit currency. When put on trial, he established his innocence and was released.  As Davis was fearful of his reputation, an announcement was put in the Virginia Gazette, certifying that he was innocent of all the charges against him.

As military activity intensified, the widowedMaryAmblerofJamestownIslandtook her household and moved inland.  However, she leased her plantation toCaptainEdwardTravis, then an officer in theVirginiaNavy.  AtJamestownships sometimes were refitted and returned to battle.  During early July 1781 the British Army under the leadership ofCharlesLordCornwallisoccupiedJamestownIsland.  Later they withdrew to the lower side of theJames River, but not before engaging the Allied Army in what became known as the Battle of Green Spring.  During 1781Jamestownserved as the site of a prisoner exchange cartel, where both sides’ prisoners-of-war were swapped (McCartney 2000:I:197-207).

Thanks to the war, military cartographers of the opposing sides produced maps of the area aroundJamestownIsland.  When Pierre Du Simitiere (1775), Daniel Smith (1775), and Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson (1775) made maps of Virginia on which they identified important plantation seats, they attributed to “Cocke” a dwelling in the immediate vicinity of Mount Pleasant (Figures 4, 5, and 6).  In 1781 when French cartographerSt.Simone(1781) made a map of the countryside nearJamestown, he failed to show any buildings that were present in the vicinity ofMount Pleasant(Figure 7).  However,ThomasJefferson(1787) did indeed identify the site of the Cocke residence atMount Pleasant(Figure 8).  None of these maps show the Swann’s Point home then occupied byAnne, the late Hartwell Cocke I’s widow.

An account book maintained by Jacob Faulcon and Company between 1776 and 1779 reveals thatJohnHartwellCockeI was producing substantial quantities of tobacco, probably inFluvannaCounty, and selling it at Shaccoe inRichmond.  The company’s surviving records indicate that it had a tobacco contract with Cocke.  The Faulcon firm’s records also include information about shipments of beef being delivered toHolt’s Mill inJamesCityCountyand large quantities of salt that were sent toJamestown.  Sometimes goods were ferried from Cobham toJamestown, where they were stored.  Large quantities of tobacco were inspected at the warehouse atGray’s Creek, an inspectorate that came into existence prior to 1773 (Jacob Faulcon and Company, 1776-1779).

JohnHartwellCockeI as aSurryCountyCitizen

By the early 1770s John Hartwell Cocke I’s name began appearing in the Virginia Gazette from time to time.  On May 19, 1774, he placed an ad in which he sought to recover two runaway slaves, Bristol and Bob, who “ran from my plantation at Swann’s Point” on April 13th.  He said that the slaves had been captured in Williamsburg on April 16th and taken toJohnCocke, who had been persuaded to give them a pass. JohnHartwellCocke I said thatBob was “tall and thin, was a ferryman for many years” and that he was “smooth-tongued from association with gentlemen.”  He describedBristol as “an outlandish fellow, ignorant but artful” (Purdie andDixon,May 19, 1774).

On August 4, 1774, Cocke offered for rent annually or for a period of years the “Swann’s Point Ferry and boats with two good dwelling houses, all necessary outhouses, an exceeding fine pasture, and land sufficient to work four hands, under a good fence.”  In the same issue of the Gazette, Thomas Fenner, who indicated that he was then “at Swann’s Point,” announced that he intended to open an ordinary at Colonel Bland’s mill in Prince George County.  Fenner, apparently Cocke’s tenant, asked those who had used the ferry at Swann’s Point to pay him what they owed (Purdie and Dixon, August 4, 1774).  Thus, in August 1774 John Hartwell Cocke I was seeking a new tenant and ferryman because Thomas Fenner was leaving.  By November 1779 the ferry property was available again.  On November 13thJohnHartwellCocke I offered to rent (with possession at Christmas) “the ordinary and ferry at Swann’s Point with two good horse boats” (Dixon andNicolson,November 13, 1779).

In early February, it was announced in the Virginia Gazette that three packages of European goods were to be sold at public auction at Cobham.  Included were women’s silk bonnets, ribbons, and men’s shoes. JohnHartwellCocke I,NicholasFaulconJr.,AllenCocke, and others were listed as the county justices who planned to conduct the sale, which was to be held at Cobham (Pinckney,February 2, 1775).  Thus,JohnHartwellCocke I was then a sitting justice ofSurryCounty’s monthly court.

JohnHartwellCockeI placed at least two advertisements in the Virginia Gazette during 1777.  On March 14th he announced that the services of his stud horse, Old Partner, were available “at my plantation near Swann’s Point.”  Stud service was offered “by the leap” or by the season (Dixon, March 14, 1777).  Then in December John Hartwell Cocke I, as an executor, advertised that he intended to sell the slaves and livestock from the late William Ruffin’s plantation (Dixon, December 19, 1777).

JohnHartwellCockeI kept a record of the mares that were brought to his plantation for stud service.  His horse breeding book, whose earliest entry dates to March 15, 1777, suggests that he commenced maintaining a logbook immediately after he announced Old Partner’s availability as a stud horse.  In that volume he made note of the mares that were breed and their owners’ names (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).

JohnHartwellCockeI also was keenly interested in cock fighting.  He maintained elaborate records that included the names of the people from whom he had bought game cocks, the breeding stock that he acquired, and when the purchases took place. He made note of bloodlines and the ages of various cocks and recorded where they were “walked” in preparation for the cock pit.  Evidence of his avid interest may be seen in the fact that he walked 19 cocks in 1788 and 23 in 1791.  It is believed that after John Hartwell Cocke I’s death, his brotherRichardVI periodically updated the book.  Later, the tradition was carried on byJohnHartwellCockeII who passed the game cock breeding book, which spans the years 1787 to 1798, to along to his sons.  According toRichardE.PowellJr., who transcribed the book in the late 1980s, the little volume went from Mount Pleasant to Four Mile Tree and finally to Belmead, the home of John Hartwell Cocke II’s son, Philip St. George Cocke (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).

The Disposition ofJohnHartwellCockeI’s Estate

It is likely that JohnHartwellCockeI succumbed to a sudden and severe illness or some sort of a serious injury, for he prepared his will on January 29, 1791, just over a week before he died.  Death came on February 9, 1791.  The testator indicated that he was “in perfect mind and memory” but said nothing about the state of his physical health.  He named his only surviving son, John Hartwell Cocke II, as his principal heir, but  stipulated that if the child with whom wife Elizabeth was then pregnant happened to be a boy, he and his brother, John Hartwell II, were to share equally in the estate.  However, John Hartwell Cocke II, as the eldest son, was to have his choice of the real and personal estate that was to be divided.  TestatorJohnHartwellCocke I bequeathed two slaves and 500 pounds sterling to each of his daughters, to be given to them as soon as they attained the age of twenty-one or married with the consent of their mother and his executors.  If the child his wife was expecting happened to be a girl, she (like her sisters) was to receive two slaves and 500 pounds sterling.  Cocke instructed his executors to sell several parcels of land in order to raised the funds that were needed for his daughters’ legacies: some in Kentucky that he had purchased from Peyton Short; his acreage in Brunswick County that was occupied by a Mrs. Clack; 400 acres in Halifax County; his 50 acres in Surry County within the Poplar Spring District; and a 400 acre plantation called Bear Garden in Buckingham County (Surry County Wills &c. 12 [1783-1792]):289-291; Cocke and Cocke 1967:16).

JohnHartwellCockeI made provisions for his widow, but seemingly was intent upon seeing that his real estate remained in the hands of his male offspring.  He stated, “I lend to my beloved wife Elizabeth during her widowhood for the maintenance and education of my children until they severally arrive at age twenty-one or marry with her consent all of my estate both real and person after debts.”  If Elizabeth were to marry again, she would receive eighteen slaves, notably, Old Tombo, John, Moll, Tom, Charles, Moses, Pat, Letty, Aggy and her four children, and Beck and her four children.  John Hartwell Cocke I also bestowed upon wife Elizabeth life-rights to his “charriott and four horses and Phill and Billy as Postilleons” in lieu of “all claim of dower in my estate.”  Thus, Elizabeth was entitled to use the bulk of her late husband’s personal property as long as she did not exercise her legal claim to one-third of his real and personal estate, her dower share.  John Hartwell Cocke I also stipulated  that if his wife did not remarry before their son, John Hartwell Cocke II, attained the age of twenty-one, “I then give her the plantation whereon I now live with a child’s part of the personal estate undisposed to my daughters during her widowhood.”  In other words, if Elizabeth did not remarry before John Hartwell Cocke II attained his majority, she had the right to retain the property she and her husband had occupied.  She also was entitled to a fractional share (“a child’s portion” or one-sixth part) of her late husband’s undesignated personal estate that had been set aside for distribution to their daughters.  John Hartwell Cocke I named several executors (his brothers Richard VI and Benjamin Cocke and his friends Francis Ruffin, Samuel Kello, and William McKenzie) and instructed them to see that his legitimate debts were paid.  He also invoked the right reserved to those whose wealth was known to exceed their debts, for he specified “that my estate [is] not [to] be appraised.”  Thanks to that decision, one frequently exercised by Virginia’s more affluent citizens, an inventory of his real and personal estate was not entered into Surry County’s court records.  The late John Hartwell Cocke I’s will was proved in the Surry County monthly court on February 22, 1791, less than two weeks after his death.  It was then that the decedent’s brother, Richard VI, commenced serving as executor (Surry County Wills &c. 12 [1783-1792]):289-291).

Fortunately, a draft copy of the late John Hartwell Cocke I’s inventory has been carefully preserved in the voluminous collection of personal papers accumulated by his descendants.  It is likely that that inventory, which is datedFebruary 24, 1791, is an exact  copy of the document that was presented to the justices of the General Court.  The individual who compiled the inventory (probably executorRichardCockeVI) grouped the decedent’s personal possessions categorically (see Appendix C).  Listed by name were the slaves that lived upon hisSurryCountyproperty.  Next came his livestock: six horses, sixty-five cattle, thirteen sheep, and sixty-five hogs.  The field crops listed in the inventory included corn, oats, black-eyed peas, and fodder.  The lateJohnHartwellCockeI had been in possession of a substantial amount of agricultural equipment, along with blacksmith’s tools, an apple mill, a 30-gallon still, and a chariot.  He also had a substantial amount of kitchen equipment. However, it was Cocke’s household furnishings that truly reflected his socio-economic status.  He appears to have been partial to Queensware, for he had two complete sets, and a substantial quantity of specialized food service vessels.  Listed separately were his gold watch, silver tankard, quart cans, and other items of plate.  Also filed with John Hartwell Cocke I’s inventory was a list of his financial assets and his debtors.  Inventories of his personal property in Fluvanna andBuckinghamCountiesindicate that both properties were agricultural quarters, where slaves, livestock and farming equipment were to be found (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 1).

In 1791 the widowedElizabethKennonCockewas credited with the land formerly attributed to her husband.  But her death quickly followed his, for she died onJuly 10, 1791.  As a result, by 1792, the couple’s only surviving son, twelve-year-oldJohnHartwellCockeII, who was described as an orphan, was identified as the owner of his parents’ 1,327 acre and 50 acre tracts inSurryCounty.  The tax assessor listed the land identically through 1796.  However, in 1797 the young orphan commenced being credited with an additional 1,130 acres that formerly had been attributed to John Hartwell Cocke I’s widowed mother, Anne Ruffin Cocke and then to her son, Robert Cocke.  Land transactions that occurred during the early nineteenth century reveal that the acreageRobertCockehad possessed comprised the eastern part of the Swann’s Point tract, which included the ferry landing and abuttedGray’s Creek (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1782-1797; Surry County Deed Book 3 [1804-1811]:481; Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).

Mount Pleasant Under the Care of Executor Richard Cocke VI

The accounts maintained by Richard Cocke VI, as the late John Hartwell Cocke I’s executor, shed a great deal of light upon life at Mount Pleasant after the death of its deceased owner. They reveal that as early as February 18, 1791, Richardbegan making purchases on behalf of his late brother’s household.  He then bought tea, oysters, eggs, and “sundry goods” which he procured from merchants in Williamsburgand at Cobham.  A short time later, he bought poultry, plus rum, wine and “other things,” again making purchases in the old colonial capital. One of the stores he patronized frequently was Greenhowe’s.  Sometimes, he bought barrels of fish from Norfolkand he did some shopping in Petersburgand Richmond.  In March 1791 he paid “Granny Walden,” who seems to have been a midwife.  Later in the spring he bought flour, candles, porter, and some fluke hoes, one of which had been made byJoe, a slave who belonged toWilliamRuffin. By May 1791RichardCockeVI had begun making repairs and/or improvements toMount Pleasant (Appendix D).  It was then that he first purchased substantial quantities of plank. InJuneRichard bought flour, a couple bottles of wine, and some leather breeches.  OnJuly 1, 1791, he paid theRev.SamuelButler of Upper Southwark Parish for preaching a funeral sermon, perhaps that of the lateJohnHartwellCocke I.   Significantly, in JulyRichard paid “oldSarahWalden for services toMrs.Cocke.” Then, in the early fall, payment was made to the person who had madeMrs.Cocke’s coffin. This raises the possibility thatElizabethKennonCocke died as a result of complications associated with the birth of her daughter,RebeccaKennon, who was born onJuly 10, 1791.  In November, “a small coffin” was made for babyRebecca.

During the summer of 1791 executorRichardCockeVreceived funds from several people who purchased substantial quantities of wheat and corn from John Hartwell Cocke I’s estate. One buyer wasWilliamTaliaferro.  Another was the executor ofWilliamRuffin’s estate. Richardalso sold two broadaxes to next door neighbor and brother-in-lawWilliamBrownof Four Mile Tree, and he collected some of the funds that were owed to the late John Hartwell Cocke I’s estate.  Cash was generated through the sale of a work steer and some wheat toRobertCocke, the decedent’s brother. However, the late John Hartwell Cocke I did have some debts, for funds were owed to Nathaniel Berriman, Joel Wall, Robert McIntosh, Thomas Spratley, Benjamin Warren, Peter Fagan, Josiah Savidge, and Benjamin Cocke, Colonel Richard Cocke, and others.  On the other hand, the estate received some income from loans or credit that the decedent had extended to others.  Sometimes, wheat, corn, and tobacco produced on his property were sold to merchants, who also bought pork.  During the mid-1790s some of the decedent’s outlying real estate was sold or rented out. For example, his property calledBearGardenwas let to tenants.  In 1799 the late John Hartwell Cocke I’s land inKentuckywas sold, as was that inSurryCountyat Poplar Spring. Then, in 1800 his tract inHalifaxCountywas disposed of.  Sometimes, attorneys were hired to take care of legal transactions involving the decedent’s estate in distant locations.

The executor’s accounts maintained by RichardCockeVIsuggest that he was very conscientious when it came to taking care of his brother’s children.  He bought shoes for his niece, Sally, and knee buckles that may have been intended for his nephew, JohnHartwellCockeII.  On other occasions he purchased velvet ribbon, corset stays, silk edging, and other luxury items that probably became part of his young wards’ wardrobe.  In September 1791 he paid JohnD.Housman, a music teacher, for providing instruction to “the 3 young ladies.”  A month later, he brought “MissP.Beverley” by stagecoach from Fredericksburg“as a tutoress to the children.”  From time to time he paid the costs associated with the girls’ attendance at fox hunts held at Cabin Point.  The expense was considerable, for they were accompanied by their servants and horses. During 1793 RachaelAndersonwas paid for “making clothes for Sallywhen married.” During late 1795 fabric was bought to make clothing for Ann Hartwell Cocke.  Court records indicate that the garments were made in Williamsburg. In 1796 Peter Fagun was paid for playing the fiddle at the wedding of Ann Cocke to Carter Nicholas of Chesterfield County.  In 1796, four years afterSallyCocke’s marriage toNicholasFaulcon, executorRichardCockeVI noted that she had taken custody of the legacy she was due from her late father’s estate. During 1797 the late John Hartwell Cocke I’s youngest daughters,Patsy (Martha) andPolly (MaryKennon), received schooling fromRobertHunnicutt, with whom they also boarded. This probably leftRichardCockeVI essentially alone atMount Pleasant, perhaps with only his late brother’s slaves and a housekeeper or overseer.

Over the years, executor RichardCockeVIpurchased substantial quantities of fabric, some of which was used to make clothing for the plantation’s slaves.  He also bought sugar, pepper, a barrel of fish, large quantities of bacon, and a barrel of vinegar. One person from whom he regularly bought flour was William Coleman, who owned a large merchant mill complex on Mill Creek, which lay a short distance inland from the east end of Jamestown Island.  RichardCockeVIsent two mares to WilliamStark, so that they could be bred with his stud horse, Wildair. and on several other occasions he sent mares out for stud service. For example, two of the Cocke plantation’s mares were bred to a stud horse that was owned by “Mr. Ambler,” in all probability John Ambler II of Jamestown Island. He also appears to have sent livestock to Bremo from time to time and during 1796 he sent a slave named Billy to Caroline County to bring back a ram.  Thus, it appears that Richard Cocke V had a working knowledge of selective breeding and animal husbandry.

While serving as executor, RichardCockeVIpaid the taxes that were due upon his late brother’s real and personal estate. He had tailor Josiah Savidge make special suits of clothing for Billy and Phil, the slaves who were postillions, and he paid Savidge to cut out nine suits of clothing for other slaves.  Richardalso had the slaves’ shoes mended, although he occasionally bought shoe thread so that repairs could be done at home. The slaves named Jackand Patsyprobably were house servants, for sixteen yards of linen were bought to make clothing for Jackand three yards of calico were purchased to make a dress for Patsy.  In November 1791 RichardCockeVIpaid NathanielAdamsfor planting potatoes and the following year he compensated JohnThomasfor sowing grain. Sometimes, people were paid for repairing agricultural equipment, such as scythes and cart wheels.  ThomasCaseyalso performed some work on the Cocke orphans’ behalf. A large plow, four horse collars, and three spinning wheels were purchased for use on the plantation.   Later, a woman named Mourning (probably a hired slave or free black with special skills) was paid for weaving thirty yards of cloth and a man named Harrywas paid for coopering casks.  A Mrs.Smithand a Mrs.Frasierwere paid for weaving and Mr.Lightfootwas paid a stud fee.  RobertMcIntoshand ThomasWarrenreceived remuneration for blacksmithery.  In 1796 WilliamUrquhartwas paid for the three hundred apple trees he had supplied.  Thus, Mount Pleasantprobably had a large fruit orchard.  It also was equipped with a boat and canoe.  Tobacco grown upon the plantation was inspected at Swann’s Point.  Over the years, John Hartwell Cocke I’s estate received some income from the ferry that ran from Swann’s Point to JamestownIslandand later, to the mainland.

Executor RichardCockeVIoccasionally sent slaves on errands to Bremo (in Fluvanna), to Richmond, and to MecklenburgCounty.  He seems to have shipped slaves’  clothing from Mount Pleasantto Bremo from time to time and he used trusted slaves to deliver mares that were being sent out for stud service.  In January 1794 RichardCockeVIdispatched funds to Williamsburg, tuition for fourteen-year-old JohnHartwellCockeII’s “entrance to school.”  Thereafter, from time to time he sent his young ward what he described as “pocket money.” In 1794 he bought Johna hat and twice during 1795 he sent funds to Williamsburgto cover the cost of his room and board at Colonel Travis’s house.  During 1798JohnHartwellCockeII lived in theWilliamsburg home of aMr.Moore. Throughout his college years, he was provided with a young male slave (probably a body servant) and two horses that would have provided both of them with transportation. WhileJohnHartwellCockeII was a student at theCollege ofWilliam andMary, he was supplied with books and paper, a dictionary, and some clothing at the expense of his father’s estate. During 1797 aMr.Beleamy was paid for providing him with instruction in French. In 1799 he required some extra pocket money, for his had been stolen. JohnHartwellCockeII returned toSurryCounty from time to time to participate in fox hunts held at Cabin Point.  He also made occasional trips toNorfolk,Petersburg, andRichmond.

The estate accounts maintained by executor RichardCockeVIsuggest strongly that he treated his late brother’s property as though it were his own, perhaps relishing the fact that it would be under his control for a decade.  Also, as a younger son who had received relatively little from his late father’s estate, he may have felt justified in being somewhat self-indulgent.  For example, while his brother’s children were living elsewhere, he regularly charged substantial quantities of alcoholic beverages to the estate, and seems to have been especially fond of port, brandy and rum.  He also bought large quantities of flour, oysters, rice, chocolate, coffee, tea, and other consumables unlikely to have been shared with the plantation’s slaves.  He purchased four large tablespoons and some plates and he ordered from a Norfolkmerchant a dozen dishes, two teapots, two sets of cups and saucers, a sugar dish and some related incidentals that he failed to describe.  Unfortunately, he made no notation about the type of ceramics he purchased.  Later, he bought two china bowls, four dozen plates, a coffee mill, and two butter boats.  Cocke also acquired some table linens (Surry County Will Book 1 [1792-1804]:379-415; Cocke and Cocke 1967:I:62). Some of these purchases suggest that the executor may have entertained lavishly, or perhaps hosted social gatherings on behalf of his wards, two of whom had weddings.  On the other hand, many expenditures were made during the years his nephew and nieces were being schooled and were residing elsewhere.

Mount Pleasantappears to have been somewhat less self-sufficient than manyVirginia  plantations of comparable size, at least while it was entrusted to the care of executorRichardCockeVI. He appears to have relied heavily upon others for overseeing and managing his late brother’s agricultural operations, perhaps because he lacked the physical or intellectual skills or the stamina that would have been necessary.  It is also quite possible that his health was impaired, for the estate accounts include many doctor bills. Richard’s purchase of eggs, bacon, oysters, and other perishable consumables suggests that he did not attempt to make his brother’s plantations self-sustaining.  In 1793 he paidAndrewRoysterfor a year’s service as overseer.  A year later, he compensated another farm manager,JosephRidd. He also paid the men who served as overseers inFluvannaCounty, at Bremo Plantation.  From time to time, he bought bark, an herb used for medicinal purposes, and in 1795 he paid the bill of aDr.Strachan.  During 1798 aDr.Baileytended to the medical needs of a slave namedFredand his two children.

Of special interest are the expendituresRichardCockeVImade on theMount Pleasantproperty, presumably on behalf of his young nephew,JohnHartwellCockeII, who was only eleven when his father died.  It is probable that the buildings and fences associated with the domestic complex, most likely built duringRichardCockeIV’s lifetime, would have required repairs from time to time.  However, it appears that some  expenditures were linked to improvements thatRichardhad made to the property while  functioning as his late brother’s  executor.  During 1791 substantial quantities of plank were purchased fromMichaelSmithon four occasions.  Six hogsheads of oyster shells were procured fromSamuelEllisandJosephThorpwas paid for his work on a barn. During 1792 more plank was purchased fromMichaelSmithand a well digger was paid for partially bricking up a well.  In 1793 bricklayerWilliamBennettdid some work at the plantation andJohnMallicotewas paid for making a door.  Plank and a barrel of lime were bought fromWilliamRoeand a slave namedIsaac, who belonged to aMr.Gilbert, did six days’ work “on a house in the yard.”  In early 1794ThomasHolt(a carpenter) was paid for sixteen days work andWilliamGloverwas compensated for building two brick chimneys and underpinning the porch. JohnMallicoteperformed more carpentry work and soldRichardCockeVIten panes of glass and 132 feet of plank.ThomasHamiltonwas paid for bricking a well. NeighborWilliamBrownwas paid for work performed by his slave, Jimboy, “on the stable.”   During 1796BenjaminE.Brownwas compensated for the scantling he had provided and some sawyers were paid for sawing and other work with wood.CaptainB.A.Cockewas paid for twelve days work done by his male slave,Peter, and a man namedMichaelJacksonwas remunerated for digging and bricking a well.  In 1797RichardCockeVIdisbursed funds from his late brother’s estate to J. Souer, who had made a well cover.  Nails were purchased so that the barn could be reshingled.  OnSeptember 5, 1797, a man known only asTom(perhaps a free black) was paid 1 pound 17 shillings and 6 pence for making brick at a rate of 3 shillings per thousand.  This suggests thatTommade approximately 12,500 bricks atRichardCockeVI’s request (Surry County Will Book 1 [1792-1804]:379-415).

All of the construction and repair work done at Mount Pleasant while the plantation was entrusted to John Hartwell Cocke I’s executor took place while his principal heir, the orphaned John Hartwell Cocke II, was between eleven and seventeen years of age.  Thus, the architectural changes that occurred during that period largely would have been attributable to the influence and personal choices of executorRichardCockeVI (Appendix D). It is unclear whether he was trying to repair and remodelMount Pleasant, thereby developing it into what he considered a proper seat for a young gentleman, or whether he was following his own inclinations while spending the young heir’s money.

From 1792 (when personal property tax rolls first indicate thatColonelJohnHartwellCockeI was dead) through 1800, his household was credited with slaves, horses and a post chaise.  Although the number of slaves attributed to Cocke’s estate from 1792 through 1796 remained relatively constant (between nineteen and twenty-one enslaved blacks who were age sixteen or older) and two who were between twelve and sixteen), in 1797 the slave population swelled to an all time high of thirty-six adults and seven younger children.  The number of slaves remained at that level until 1801, at which timeJohnHartwellCockeIIattained his majority and took charge of the real and personal property he had inherited.  Throughout the years thatRichardCockeVImanaged his late brother’s estate, his name was listed right below that of the decedent in the personal property tax rolls. Richardusually was credited with only one or two slaves who were age sixteen or older and a horse (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1792-1801).  Thus, he seems to have had very little personal property of his own in Surry.

The lateJohnHartwellCockeI held a legal interest in the Swann’s Point plantation and was deriving some rental income from it at the time of his death. Records maintained by executorRichardCockeVIindicate that his brother,Dr.RobertCocke, had commenced renting 1,100 acres of land at Swann’s Point onJanuary 1, 1791, and that he held a lease that ran toJanuary 1, 1796.  In addition to the acreage and buildings that were on the Swann’s Point plantation, the lessee had possession of slaves namedIsaacandAbraham, two work horses, two breeding sows, six sheep, and 27 hogs.  Charges against the estate of Anne Ruffin Cocke,HartwellCocke’s widow and John Hartwell Cocke I’s mother, between 1787 and 1795, are associated with the time that she and sonRobertwere in possession of the Swann’s Point property (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 1).

On September 30, 1795, executor RichardCockeVInotified the public that the late John Hartwell Cocke I’s land at Swann’s Point was for rent.  The advertisement in the Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser stated:

To be leased on the first day of December next, for a term of years, to commence on the first day of January 1796.

A tract of land belonging toColonelJohnHartwellCocke, dec’d, situate onJames Riverin thecountyofSurry, and known by the name of Swann’s Point.  There are about 1100 acres of land in this tract, the soil of which is very fertile, and extremely well adapted to the production of Indian corn, tobacco, wheat and other small grain.  There are on the premises a pretty good dwelling house, a kitchen and all other ancillary outhouses, and also an excellent garden.  This land is inferior to few tracts in the lower part of the country for Stock of all kinds.

There will be leased with the above mentioned land and premises the ferry, ferry boat, ferry house and other houses thereto belonging.  The premises will be shown to any person disposed to view them, either byRobertCockeEsq.(who lives thereon) or by the Subscriber – and as it is expected that every person inclined to lease them will ask to see them before the above mentioned day, a particular description of the land and improvements is deemed unnecessary.

The conditions and continuance of the term will be made known on the day of leasing the premises byRichardCocke, executor ofJohnH.Cocke, deceased.

RichardCockeVclosed the ad by noting that, “There will be about 50 bushels of wheat sown in prime tobacco ground” (Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser, September 30, 1795).

The real estate advertisement apparently attracted someone interested in renting the Swann’s Point property, for onJanuary 18, 1797, a notation was made of the items at the ferry that had been entrusted to Gruff’s care: two beds and furniture, two dishes, seven pewter plates, six knives and forks, and a walnut table.  In another entry, it was noted that ten gallons of brandy, two measures, a pair of oars, a barrel of tar, and some “junk” were at the “Ferry House.”  The ferryman’s accounts also were recorded.  In 1798 Richard Cocke VI noted that that the beds and furniture, dishes, plates, knives and forks, and walnut table had been transferred to Mr. Thompson’s care at the “Swann’s Point House” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 1).  He probably wasSimonThompson, an overseerRichardemployed on behalf of his late brother’s estate (Surry County Will book 1 [1792-1804]:517-520).

On February 13, 1800, shortly before JohnHartwellCockeIIattained his majority, RichardCockeVIpresented an account of his expenditures and the income he had received on behalf of his late brother’s estate. Later in the year he reimbursed the estate for the cost of four pair of shoes and other “sundries” he had bought for himself.  He may have been ill, for he made his will in October 1800 and died within three months. In October 1801 when the justices of SurryCountyconvened in a monthly court session, they examined an addendum to RichardCockeVI’s accounts as an executor and found that he was due 53 pounds two shillings and three pence halfpenny (Surry County Will Book 1 [1792-1804):379-415, 517-521; Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 2).  NicholasFaulcon, who had wed JohnHartwellCockeII’s sister, Sally, in 1796, seems to have served briefly as John Hartwell Cocke I’s administrator.  In 1801, Faulcon identified himself as such when issuing a receipt for tobacco produced at Swann’s Point (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 1).

Richard Cocke VI’s Legacy

As noted above, RichardCockeVIwas one of Hartwell and Anne Ruffin Cocke’s younger sons and one of nine or more children.  Genealogical sources indicate that Richardand his twin sister, Martha, were born on September 5, 1761.  Thus, he was only eleven-years-old when his father died.  He stood to inherit some family-owned property in GoochlandCountyand half of the land his father had purchased near Gray’s Creek, but only after his mother’s death.  Brothers John Hartwell Cocke I, Benjamin, and Hartwell Cocke II would have had to die without heirs before he could have inherited his late father’s entailed land and personal property (Surry County Deeds, Wills &c. 5 [1768-1779]:235; Ancestry.com).  RichardCockeVImost likely was reared in the family home located upon the Brickhouse Plantation, which was in the eastern part of the Swann’s Point tract and may have been residing there when his mother died in ca. 1790.  Months later, he took charge ofMount Pleasant. Richard’s brother,Robert, was in possession of Swann’s Point in its entirety until his death in ca. 1796-1797 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1782-1797; Alterations).  Thus, none of the acreage was split off and given toRichard and his brother,HartwellII, who died prior to 1793.

RichardCockeVIwould have been almost 30-years-old in January 1791 when he became John Hartwell Cocke I’s executor.  Very little is known about his life experience prior to that time.  Local court records suggest that he never played a role in public life, perhaps because he lacked formal education or was more interested in other pursuits. His will, made in 1800, demonstrates that he was somewhat of an iconoclast.

RichardCockeVI’s name was included twice in Surry’s personal property tax rolls in 1792, the year after his mother’s death.  He was listed with the late John Hartwell Cocke I’s personal property and was identified as his executor, but he also had a separate listing for his own taxable possessions. RichardCockeVIandRobertThompson(probably an overseer) were identified as free white males of tithable age.  Attributed toRichardVIwere two slaves over the age of 16:Pauland Bibbianna.  In 1793 he was listed with his overseer,AndrewRoyster, but the slave named Bibbianna was credited toMrs.AnneCocke’s estate.  In 1796RichardCockeVIpaid taxes upon one slave,PaulMeyears, and he was taxed upon a horse.  By 1798Richard’s fortunes seem to have improved somewhat, for he was credited with four slaves who were age 16 or older, a horse, and a two-wheeled vehicle.  However, a year later he had onlyPauland Aggy, though he still paid taxes upon a horse and two-wheeled vehicle.  In 1800,Richardwas credited with four slaves who were age 16 or older:Paul, Aggy, andBecky. Beckypreviously had been attributed to John Hartwell Cocke I’s estate, but had been transferred toRichardwhileJohnHartwellCockeIIwas only 20-years-old and therefore, a minor.  This invalidated the sale and in 1801Beckywas credited to John Hartwell Cocke I’s heir,JohnHartwellCockeII (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1792-1800).

On October 4, 1800, when 39-year-old Richard Cocke V made his will, he commenced by instructing  his executors to see that his just debts were paid.  He then said that he wanted the slave woman named Becky and her son, Robert Kennon, “which I have bought of John Hartwell Cocke [II] and paid 100 pounds for” to be freed immediately.  He asked that “the whole of my estate real and personal except what I shall particularly give away should be kept together under the direction of my executors hereafter named for the support and education of Robert Kennon until the said Robert Kennon shall attain the age of 21 years or until his death, whichever shall happen first.”  He added that if Robert Kennon were to die before the age of 21, he wanted his executors to emancipate all of his (the testator’s) male slaves who were age 21 or older and all of the females who were age 18 or older. If Robert Kennon were to survive until age 21, he was to have custody of the testator’s younger slaves until they reached the ages set for their emancipation. Richard Cocke VI indicated that he had ordered two guns, one of which was to be given to William Taliaferro (his brother-in-law) and the other to John Hartwell Cocke II (his nephew), who also was to receive his Herod filly.  Walter Taliaferro was to be given the testator’s Boxor colt in Goochland and William Taliaferro was to receive his old mare, pregnant with a colt sired by Cormorant.  Richard Cocke VI  left ₤ 100 to Anne Moreland, a sum that was to be paid out of funds derived from the sale of crops.  He specified that Colonel Daniel Coleman’s bond, which had been given to John Hartwell Cocke II, was not to be collected until 1805. He also asked that his phaeton and harness be sold and the proceeds given toWilliamTaliaferro.

Perhaps the most remarkable features of RichardCockeVI’s will were the bequests he made to his slave Becky(Rebecca) and her son, RobertKennon, whom he acknowledged as his own child.  In a departure from tradition, the testator gave “to Beckythe woman bought of JohnHartwellCocke[II] the sum of ₤ 12 a year for support as long as she keeps single and do not breed.”  He then went on to say that “Now all and every part of my property whatsoever not heretofore mentioned I give to my child Robert Kennon on his attaining the age of 21 years.”  He stated that if Robert Kennon failed to attain the age of 21, the watch, bed, gun, tool chest, optical glass, book of prints, breast pin, and studs he stood to inherit were to be given to Walter Taliaferro.  The remainder of Robert Kennon’s inheritance was to be sold and divided equally among the testator’s three sisters, each of whom had to pay $333.33 to Richard Cocke Archer, the testator’s godson, when he attained age 21.  Richard Cocke VI designated Nicholas Faulcon, William Taliaferro, and John Hartwell Cocke II as his executors, and asked his friend, William Taliaferro to “take my child Robert Kennon under his particular direction and to have him brought up as he may judge most proper.”  Taliaferro was to have a beef, pork, fowls, and other produce from his estate as compensation for taking care of Robert. RichardCockeVI died sometime prior toJanuary 24, 1801, at which time his will was presented toSurryCounty’s court justices (Surry County Wills [1800-1804]:471-473).

An inventory was made of Richard’s personal estate in Surry and GoochlandCountiessometime prior to February 25, 1801.  Included were male slaves named Cesar, Paul, and Jack, who were adults, and Mosesand Simon, who were boys.  The decedent had two adult female slaves, both of whom were named Aggy, plus Milly and Silviah, who were identified as girls.  Richard Cocke VI’s personal possessions consisted of: a featherbed and bedstead, three new guns, a riding chair and harness, a phaeton and harness, a tool chest and tools, an optical glass and box of prints, a gold breast pin, three gold studs, a gold watch, a large leather trunk, a small S[eal?] skin trunk, a pair of silver boot buckles, a pair of knee buckles, and a bedstead and curtains.  The total value of the decedent’s estate inSurryCounty was ₤ 662.11.0.  The inventory of his estate in Goochland reveals that it was an agricultural quarter that had slaves, livestock, and tools  (Surry County Will Book [1792-1804]1:492-493, 514-515).

RichardCockeVI’s executors apparently realized that they had overlooked the bonds and other uncollected debts that he had mentioned in his will.  Therefore, onOctober 27, 1801, they filed a duplicate copy of his inventory, but listed the various sums that were due to his estate.  It was then noted that Richard had a bond from Allen Cocke worth ₤ 90.5.8; a bond from Daniel Coleman worth ₤ 517.0.0; a bond from Thomas Shammel worth ₤ 3.10.0; a bond from James S. Lane worth ₤ 17.19.10; a debt from John Ruffin worth 6,000 wt. of tobacco; and an identical debt from William F. Browne, who also owed the decedent 6,000 pounds of tobacco (Surry County Will Book [1792-1804]1: 514-515).

The day before RichardCockeVI’s executors finalized his inventory, they took steps to clear up the legal problem that had been created when he purchased the slave named Becky(Rebecca) and her son from JohnHartwellCockeIIwhile the latter was underage.  OnOctober 26, 1801,JohnHartwellCockeII deeded toWilliamTaliaferro,RichardCockeVI’s executor and administrator, “a mulatto woman known by the name ofRebecca and her youngest son,RobertKennon, for ₤ 100 paid byWilliamTaliaferro, executor (Surry County Deed Book 2 [1800-1804]:191).  No sooner had that transaction occurred thanWilliamTaliaferro executed a deed of manumission, freeingBecky and her son,RobertKennon.  That document, datedOctober 26, 1801, states “Whereas Richard Cocke Jr. [VI] freedBecky and her sonRobertKennon and whereasJohnHartwellCocke at the time was in infancy but is now 21, has by deed ofOctober 26, 1801, released the woman and child.”  Taliaferro formally emancipated the two and as executor, released all rights and claims to them (Surry County Deed Book 2 [1800-1804]:191-192).  Although future research may reveal what happened toRebecca andRobertKennon after they were freed, their names are not included in Surry’s personal property tax rolls for 1810, the earliest date at which “free negroes” are listed.  They may have accompaniedWilliamTaliaferro toCarolineCounty.