John Cooke (prosecutor)

John Cooke (prosecutor)

John Cooke (1608 – 16 October 1660 ) (sometimes spelt John Cook) was the first Solicitor General of the English Commonwealth and led the prosecution of Charles I. Following the English Restoration, Cooke was convicted of regicide and hanged, drawn and quartered on 16 October 1660.

Biography

John Cooke was the son of Leicestershire farmers Isaac and Elizabeth Cooke who had their farm just outside Burbage; John was baptised on 18 September 1608 in the All Saints church in Husbands Bosworth, just south of Leicester. He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, and at Gray's Inn. Cooke and his wife Frances had a son (name unknown) and a daughter, Freelove, who was still a baby in 1660 when Cooke was executed. Prior to his appointment as prosecutor, he had established a reputation as a radical lawyer and an Independent.

In a 2005 biography of Cooke, Geoffrey Robertson argued that Cooke was a highly original and progressive lawyer: while representing John Lilburne he established the right to silence and was the first to advocate many radical reforms in law, including the "cab rank" rule of advocacy, the abolition of imprisonment for debt and courtroom Latin, fusion of law and equity and restrictions on the use of the death penalty. He was also the first to argue that poverty was a cause of crime and to urge probation for those who stole to feed starving families; he originated the duty to act free of charge for those who could not afford it.

Although he was not fundamentally anti-monarchist, he was forced to this stance when Charles refused to recognise the legality of the court or answer the charges of tyranny against him. Robertson says that Cooke bravely accepted his fate at the Restoration when many others compromised with the new regime.

The idea of trying a king was a novel one; previous monarchs had been deposed, but had never been brought to trial as monarchs. The High Court of Justice established by the Act consisted of 135 Commissioners (all firm Parliamentarians); the prosecution was led by Cooke.

His trial on charges of high treason and "other high crimes" began on 20 January 1649, but Charles refused to enter a plea, claiming that no court had jurisdiction over a monarch.cite book
last = Robertson
first = Geoffrey
authorlink = Geoffrey Robertson
title = Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice
origdate =
origyear =
origmonth =
edition = 2nd ed.
year = 2002
publisher = Penguin Books
isbn = 978-0141010144
pages = p.5
chapter = Chapter 1 The Human Rights Story
] When Cooke began to read the indictment, Charles I tried to stop him using the poke of his cane. The ornate silver tip of the cane fell off and Cook refused to pick it up. After a long pause, King Charles I stooped to retrieve it. This is considered an important moment that may symbolize the divine monarch bowing before the human law.

As a regicide, Cooke was exempted after the Restoration of Charles II from the Indemnity and Oblivion Act which indemnified most opponents of the Monarchy for crimes they might have committed during the Interregnum (1649–1660). John Cook was tried and found guilty of high treason for his part in the trial of Charles I. He was hanged, drawn and quartered with the radical preacher Hugh Peters and another of the regicides on 16 October 1660.

Shortly before his death, Cooke wrote to a friend: "We fought for the public good and would have enfranchised the people and secured the welfare of the whole groaning creation, if the nation had not more delighted in servitude than in freedom."

The journalist, historian and anti-Corn Law propagandist William Cooke Taylor (1800–49) claimed descent from Cooke.The Gentleman's Magazine, 1850, p94–6.]

References

Further reading

*cite book
last = Robertson
first = Geoffrey
authorlink = Geoffrey Robertson
title = The Tyrannicide Brief
year = 2006
publisher = Chatto & Windus / Vintage
isbn = 9780099459194

* Patrick Maume (ed.) William Cooke Taylor in "Memoirs of Daniel O'Connell" (University College Dublin Press reprint, 2004)

External links

* [http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/cook.htm Biography of Cook] British Civil Wars website


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • John Cooke — may refer to:* John Cooke (Mayflower passenger) (c. 1607 ndash;1695), teenage passenger on the Mayflower, son of Francis Cooke * John Cooke (composer), 15th ndash;century composer * John Cooke (cricketer) * John Cooke (prosecutor), prosecutor in… …   Wikipedia

  • John Landis — Infobox Actor name = John Landis imagesize = caption = John Landis at The Blues Brothers 25th Anniversary birthdate = birth date and age|1950|8|3 location = Chicago, Illinois, U.S. birthname = John David Landis othername = occupation = Film… …   Wikipedia

  • Повешение, потрошение и четвертование — Казнь Хью ле Диспенсера Младшего (1326). Миниатюра из …   Википедия

  • Wadham College, Oxford — Oxford College Infobox name = Wadham College university = Oxford picture = primary colour = #000326 colours = named for = Nicholas Wadham established = 1610 sister college = Christ s College, Cambridge head name = Warden head = Sir Neil Chalmers… …   Wikipedia

  • Newgate Prison — For the Irish prison of the same name, see Newgate Prison, Dublin. For the prison in East Granby, Connecticut, see Old Newgate Prison. Newgate, the old city gate and prison …   Wikipedia

  • High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I — The High Court of Justice is the name given to the court established by the Rump Parliament to try King Charles I of England. This was an ad hoc tribunal created specifically for the purpose of trying the king, although the same name was used… …   Wikipedia

  • Personal Rule — The Personal Rule (also known as the Eleven Years Tyranny) was the period from 1629 to 1640, when King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland ruled without recourse to Parliament. He was entitled to do this under the Royal Prerogative, but… …   Wikipedia

  • Husbands Bosworth — is a large crossroads village in South Leicestershire on the A5199 road from Leicester city to Northampton and the A4304 road from Junction 20 of the M1 motorway to Market Harborough.John Cooke, Solicitor General and later the prosecutor in the… …   Wikipedia

  • New Year Honours 2006 — The New Year Honours 2006 for the Commonwealth Realms were announced on 31 December, 2005, to celebrate the year passed and mark the beginning of 2006.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and… …   Wikipedia

  • 2006 New Year Honours — The New Year Honours 2006 for the Commonwealth realms were announced on 31 December 2005, to celebrate the year passed and mark the beginning of 2006. The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”