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Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, the origins of Captain Cook

30 Mar

Cook, Immortalised in Queensland

When John Cook was born on the Scottish Arran Islands in 1645, he could not have known that a few hundred miles away in beautiful Yorkshire, was born Thomas Butler. Though it is likely they never met, Butler and Cook’s grandchild James would have a major impact upon travel to the continents of the Americas and Australasia.

The Voyages of Captain James Cook from his early life shipping Urine and Coal from the North East Coast to London as a Merchant Seaman, through his self educating in mapping and navigation under Wolfe’s Royal Naval command in Nova Scotia and then Newfoundland, to his famous voyages to Australia and New Zealand.
Indeed Cook’s navigation skills and mapping were so accurate they had been in use until late in the last century and had been responsible for guiding many thousands of passengers migrating to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. To that end we have Captain Cook to thank in ensuring their safe arrival.

Cooks pedigree was from the names of Butler and Cook but what are the origin of these names ?

Butler

Cooks Home was Whitby

This famous aristocratic surname is of Norman-French origins, and is one of the very few to be accepted as being pre-1066 in origin and recording, and even rarer still to be recorded in France itself. It is in a sense job descriptive, deriving the Olde French ’bouteillier’ and meaning “one who supplies the bottles” but more specifically the wine. However ‘Bouteillier’in the surname sense defines status in a royal or at least noble, household, along with the Marshall (Master of the Horse), The Steward (Head of the Estate), The (dis)Spencer (Head of Provisions) and the Bouteillier or Butler (Master of the Pantry). That the original ‘Butlers’ were much more than servants of any sort is shown by the fact that when Theodore Fitzwalter accompanied King Henry 11 on his conquest of Ireland in 1171, he was not only appointed ‘Chief Butler of Ireland’ but he subsequently adopted ‘Butler’ as his surname. In England and Ireland no less than ninety four Coats of Arms have been granted to Boteler and Butler, the first being to Robert de Pincerna, butler to Randolf, Earl of Chester, in 1158, and the first of the Butlers of Cheshire. This original and ancient arms has the blazon of a red field, a bend between three goblets, all gold. The Butler’s were also amongst the first into the new American Colonies, Francis Butler, aged 18, being recorded as a settler at ‘Elizabeth Cittie, Virginea’in January 1624. He arrived on the ship ‘Bonaventure’ and was a member of the governors guard, history repeating itself. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Buteiller, which was dated 1055, The calendar of preserved ancient documents of France, during the reign of King Henry 1 of France, 1031 – 1060. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Cook

This distinguished surname, with forty entries in the “Dictionary of National Biography”, and having no less than fifty Coats of Arms, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a cook, seller of cooked meats, or the keeper of an eating house. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century “coc”, ultimately from the Latin “cocus”, cook, and the surname has a particularly early first recording (see below). It also has the distinction of being recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, when one Galter Coc was noted in Essex. The surname is also widespread in early Scottish records. Richard Cocus held lands in Berwick after 1147, and Raginaldus the Cook witnessed the gift of the church of Cragyn in Kyle to the Abbey of Paisley, circa 1177. One Henry Coke, and a Ralph le Cook were recorded in Somerset and Sussex in 1279 and 1296 respectively. Notable bearers of the name were Sir Thomas Cooke, sheriff of London, 1453, and Lord Mayor of London, 1462, and Sir George Cooke who commanded the first division of guards at the Battle of Waterloo, 1815. Garret Cooke, aged 20 yrs., who embarked from London on the “Primrose” bound for Virginia in July 1635 was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a gold shield with a red chevron between two lions passant guardant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aelfsige thene Coc, which was dated circa 950, in the “Anglo-Saxon Wills Records”, during the reign of Edred the Saxon, Ruler of England, 946 – 955. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Ironically the term used in the title of this blog; Chief Cook and Bottle Washer refers to a person who can do anything, In the case of Captain James Cook, he certainly could but not only, he excelled at it.

What does your family history reveal about you ?

For more information about how I can help you with your family search, please contact me

Source of name origins. The Name Database.


An experienced former Government Researcher and Investigator (UK) offering specialist services to descendants of families originating in the United Kingdom. Offering a special emphasis on Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire, I can research your ancestors from any region of England, Scotland and Wales providing all available personal details for your family tree. As well as being a member of the Society of Genealogists, I am also a member of several other UK based Family History Societies.
For more information Family Tree Services or any other Family History advice, please contact me. danny.billington

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