Many tourists have walked past the grand porch of St. Bartholomew-the-Great on the corner of West Smithfield and Little Britain, perhaps on their way to the Victorian pile of Smithfield market, but very few tourists take the trouble to go through the arch, along the path and into the church. What now appears to be a separate porch used to be the west front of the actual church. The church itself was part of the monastery of the Augustinian Canons and much larger than it is today, but in 1539, the nave was destroyed as the result of Henry VIII’s Dissolution. The rest of the church was allowed to remain as a parish church and what is now the path from the porch to the church door used to be – roughly – the south aisle of the nave.
Once inside, the hustle and bustle of the street is no longer to be heard and one can pretend to be back in 1652 when the stone monument for Edward Cooke was erected. It is attributed to Thomas Burman (1617/18–1674)(1) and known as the ‘weeping statue’, because the moisture in the atmosphere used to be soaked up by the soft marble and miraculously released again as ‘tears’ from time to time. Alas, the Victorians installed a radiator under the monument which put a stop to the moisture releasing properties of the stone, so no more miracle.
Under the effigy is a tablet with the text:
Hic inhvmatvm svccvbat, qvantvm terrestre: viri
Vere venerandi, Edwardi Cooke Philosophi
Apprime docti nec non Medici spectatissimi
Qvi tertio Idvs Avgvsti Anno Dom. 1652.
Annoq[ue] ætatis 39, certa resvrgendi spe
(vtinecesse) natvræ concessit.
Or in English: Here lies interred all that is mortal of a truly reverend man, Edward Cooke, an exceedingly learned Philosopher as well as a very notable man of medicine, who, on the third of the ides [the 11th] of August A.D. 1652, and in the 39th year of his age, yielded perforce to nature in the sure hope of a resurrection.(2)
A second text on the plaque refers to the weeping nature of the stone:
Vnsluce yor briny floods, what can yee keepe
Yor eyes from teares, & see the marble weepe
Burst out for shame: or if yee find noe vent
For teares, yet stay, and see the stones relent.
Despite the fact that Edward died relatively young at 39 years of age, he had amassed a reasonable amount of property. He had lands in Lincolnshire which were given to him by his father-in-law Timothy Wade at the time of his marriage.(3) The combined coats of arms of the Cooke and Wade families can be seen under the tablet referring to the statue’s moisture properties. Edward owned a property in Lime Street, presumably that was were he lived, and he had property in Friday Street which was rented out.
He also had shares in ‘bills of Ireland’, a scheme put forward by the Cromwellian Parliament to anglicize Ireland in order to control the stubborn Irish who did not want to accept English rule. Every person who contributed to the scheme was to receive land, estates or manors according to their contribution, or ‘adventure’ as it was also called. The subscription began in 1642, but it took till 1653 for the lands to be given out, so Edward Cooke never reaped the rewards himself. He had inherited his shares from his father, also Edward, an apothecary who died in 1644, and from his brother John, who died later that same year.(4) Edward Cooke senior also invested in the Massachusetts Company and even sent his other son Robert, whom he had trained to be an apothecary, across the Atlantic. Edward senior had invested 100 pounds for which Robert was given the right to 800 acres of land in the new colony.(5)
Edward was baptised on 14 November 1613 at St. Dionis Backchurch, and became, as the monument in St. Barts already states, a medical man, consistently described as ‘Doctor of Physick’ in the parish registers. J. Venn’s Alumni Cantabrigienses (1922) lists him as entering Sidney College, Cambridge at the age of 17 on 22 Oct. 1630. He received his M.A. in 1638 and his M.D. in 1644. In between his M.A. and his M.D., he went abroad – not unusual for well-to-do Englishmen – to broaden his experience and to study at other European universities. We find Edward at Leyden registering himself on the 1st of June, 1639 and at Padua in October 1641.(6)
Edward died the 11th of August 1652 and was buried at St. Barts on the 14th; he left a wife and two children. He had married Mary Wade on 9 December 1645 at St. Helen Bishopsgate and four sons were born during the marriage, but two died young.(7) Edward left most of his wealth to his wife and on her death to his sons, first to Edward and if he should die before his wife, to Robert.
(1) http://www.churchmonumentssociety.org and A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851 (http://188.8.131.52/henrymoore/index.php)
(2) ‘Monuments, memorials and heraldry’, The records of St. Bartholomew’s priory [and] St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: volume 2 (1921), pp. 449-487.
(3) PROB 11/224/348.
(4) John Prendergast, Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland (1870) and John Pentland Mahaffey, Irish State Papers 1641 to 1659, vol. 4 (1903).
(5) Letters of 1638 and 1649 from Edward Cooke to John Wintrop in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1863, p. 381-384.
(6) Album studiosorum Academiae Lugduno Batavae MDLXXV-MDCCCLXXV, compiled by W.N. Du Rieu, 1875 and www.rcpe.ac.uk/library/read/people/english-students/
(7) Baptism and burial register of St. Helen’s Bishopsgate: baptised 23 Oct. 1646 Edward (buried 21 Nov. 1646); baptised 16 Nov. 1647 Edward; baptised 19 Feb. 1650 Timothy (buried 12 Aug. 1650); also mentioned in the will is a son Robert, but I have not found a record of his baptism.