The POOK Family have been in Dorchester from at least 1616 when a Margaret POOK married a John ELICOT at Holy Trinity church on 1st July that year and proceeded to raise a family there. She was clearly part of a larger family who had moved into the area some time earlier.
Many records however have not survived from this period leaving us with only a sketchy outline of their lives. A James POOK for example married a Priscilla HARVY at Holy Trinity on 2nd June 1642 but no children from the marriage were baptised in the parish. Fortunately James left a nuncupative will dated 4th September 1670 when he died which makes it clear that after marriage they lived at Fordington where they raised a family (Link to transcription of his Will) .
Although the will refers to children they are not named and none of the parish records for Fordington have survived for the period surrounding the Civil war (records have not survived from 1640 to 1663 inc). After his death Priscilla appears to have re-married at Holy Trinity to a widower Henry DAW. She was past child bearing age by then but lived well into her 70’s being buried at Holy Trinity on 16th March 1692/3.
We also know from the Municipal Records of Dorchester that a contemporary of James, a Thomas POOK was probably the Churchwarden of St Peters Parish in 1649 as he was required by the Corporation to collect the quarterly rate on 6th July that year ‘for the better maintenance of the Rector Rev Stanley GOWER’ who was rector of both Holy Trinity and St Peters from 1648 to 1660. This suggests that at that time another family lived in St Peters Parish and again we are deficient in the parish registers which only survive from 1653 by which time they seem to have been beyond child bearing age. The following six records also seem to relate to these early families:-
- A Joan POOK the wife of John POOK was buried at Holy Trinity 8th Aug 1705.
- A James POOK married Elizabeth NEW at Holy Trinity on 1st Aug 1709.
- A Sarah POOK married a Daniel WHITE at Holy Trinity on 6th June 1721.
- A John POOK was buried at Holy Trinity on 7th Jan 1733/4. Probably the widower of Joan POOK
- A Thomas POOK was buried at Holy Trinity on 24th Sep 1739.
- A James POOK was buried at Holy Trinity on 6th Nov 1740. See transcription of his will dated 27th Oct 1740 from which we know he had a brother William POOK and a sister Sarah who married Thomas SWATERIDGE and had a daughter Sarah. These might be the Thomas and Sarah SWATRIDGE who were non conformists and had three of their children (Thomas, Ann and Elizabeth) all baptised together at the Presbyterian Chapel in Pease Lane in Dorchester on 6th Nov 1757. If so, Thomas appears to have been buried at Holy Trinity 7th Oct 1725 and Sarah 14th May 1766.
An added complication is that other families lived in the surrounding parishes particularly in nearby Puddletown, and we have a Sarah POOK of Puddletown who actually married in Dorchester at Holy Trinity church on 1st August 1717 to an Edward COTMAN. I have not carried out a study of these families but they have certainly been living in Puddletown from as early as the 1670’s so its possible that descendants from the families in Dorchester may well have migrated to Puddletown in search of work and settled there, but the absence of records leaves this in the realms of speculation at this stage.
William POOK Senior (c1644-1720)
The first complete Family that I can identify arrives upon the scene in 1671 with William POOK Senior who raised a family in Holy Trinity parish from that date with his wife Mary. Unfortunately we do not have their marriage, suggesting that she may have originated from outside Dorchester as it was traditional to marry in the bride’s parish. The only other record that I can locate concerning him is that he is almost certainly one of the two William POOK’s who signed the oath of loyalty to King Charles 2nd on 31st Aug 1681, together with 300 other inhabitants of Dorchester. William and Mary had the following children that I can trace:-
- James POOK (1671-1672) Baptied at Holy Trinity Church in Dorchester on 21st May 1671 and buried there on 10th March 1671/2.
- John POOK (1673/4-1681) bap Holy Trinity 23rd Feb 1673/4 and buried there 10th April 1681
- William POOK junior (1676-1743) bap Holy Trinity 20th April 1676. He married at the age of 20 to Ann LOVELACE on 13th April 1696 in her parish of Tyneham. Ann was buried at Holy Trinity on 18th April 1736 and William on 22nd June 1743. They had 3 children:-
- Mary Pook baptised at Holy Trinity on 6th June 1697.
- William Pook baptised on 15th April 1702 but at St Georges church in Fordington. He seems to have lived until he was 14 by which time the family was back in Holy Trinity where he was buried on 7th Feb 1716.
- Thomas Pook (1709-1776), baptised at HT on 30th Oct 1709 he married Mary BRYANT also from Dorchester but they married at Broadmayne on 7th May 1732. A market gardener by trade (1) he was admitted as a freeman of Dorchester in 1755 and served in the Militia in 1758 before rising to become Sergeant of the Mace. Mary his wife pre-deceased him being buried at All Saints on 2th Oct 1756. Thomas was buried at HT on 16th Feb 1776 leaving a Will. (Link to transcription of his Will) . They produced 5 children:-
- John bap HT 5th Nov 1737 – beneficiary under his fathers will in 1776
- Ann bap HT 8th Oct 1739 buried HT 1st Sep 1742
- Elizabeth bap HT 25th Jan 1741/2 and buried there 11th Oct 1742
- Mary bap 9th Oct 1744 - married Thomas WHETHAM at HT 20th Aug 1769 and a beneficiary under her fathers will in 1776
- Ann bap 4th Feb 1746/7 executrix, a spinster and main beneficiary under her fathers will in 1776
- Mary POOK bap HT 18th Feb 1679/80. She married at the age of 25 to Thomas TOWNSON at St Michaels church in nearby Stinsford on 10th May 1705
- James POOK bap HT 29th March 1682 who’s life I cover in the next section below
- Priscilla bap 16th Oct 1687 and buried there 19th November the same year
Another small window into their world is provided by The Municipal Records of Dorchester. On the 31st of August 1681 over 300 of the most influential inhabitants in Dorchester signed an address to King Charles II which has become known as the ‘Oath of Loyalty’. There we find William POOK, another with the same name and a John POOK. Only influential adults signed the declaration so the second William POOK cannot have been his son baptised in 1676 but nothing else is known about him.
James POOK (1682-1738)
William and Mary’s son, James POOK married at the age of 44 to Hannah HILL in St Peters Dorchester on 12th May 1726. They initially lived in St Peters Parish but moved to Holy Trinity around the year 1728 or 1729. James was buried at Holy Trinity on 6th April 1738 and Hannah on 18th November 1751 at All Saints. They had three children:-
- William POOK bap St Peters Dorchester 12th Nov 1727
- Thomas POOK bap Holy Trinity on 7th October 1730. A grocer by trade he served in the Militia in 1758 and married Mary GREENING at All Saints church on 27th Nov 1763. Mary pre-deceased him being buried at HT on 30th Sep 1770 followed by Thomas at All Saints on 8th May 1775. They had 3 children:-
- William bap All Saints 11th June 1764 & buried there 22nd Dec 1767
- Ann bap All Saints 15th Apr 1766
- James bap All Saints 3rd Dec 1767 and buried there 13th Dec 1767
- James POOK (1734-1780) He married twice. He is listed as being from St Peters parish, a sadler by trade, and serving in the Militia in 1758. Later that year on 27th December he married for the first time to Susannah CHAFFEY at St Peters. She produced three children for him before her premature death (probably resulting from her forth pregnancy) and burial at St Peters on 11th August 1763.
- Susannah bap HT 1st January 1760 and buried there 25th May 1778.
- Hannah bap 1st Sep 1761. She was alive in 1780 being a beneficiary under her fathers Will. She married under age (20), after her fathers death, but with the permission of her step mother to Joseph ALLEN at Ht on 4th Sep 1781.
- Jane bap HT 22nd Sep 1762 and buried an infant at St Peters on 30th Mar 1763.
James second marriage was to Sarah PINNEY at Mintern Magna on 6th October 1765. She produced another 2 children for him as shown below. James was buried at Holy Trinity on 23rd July 1780 leaving a Will (Link to transcription of his Will). Sarah his widow is shown as a lessee of property owned by the corporation in 1796 and she was assessed for land tax in 1798 and lived until she was 96 being buried there on 26th January 1831. She also left a Will (in which I am told she refers to her step children as her own children) but I have not obtained a copy as available at the National Archives (Prob 11/1782 proved 8th Feb 1831)
- Elizabeth bap 27th Mar 1770 HT. A beneficiary under her fathers will in 1780 she married Thomas SHEPPARD at HT on 1st Nov 1786.
- John bap 22nd Aug 1772 also a beneficiary under his fathers will, he married Elizabeth ROE on 15th Dec 1794 at Blandford Forum. They had a daughter Sarah POOK [1797-1856] who was born 6th April 1797 and baptised at the Protestant Dissenters Chapel in Blandford Forum on the 20th July 1797 (3). She later married a bachelor Gentleman named Benjamin BENSLEY by licence in London at St Anns Blackfriars on 8th April 1818 and had 2 children by him before her death 27June 1856 at Starcross in Devon. John POOK was living at Melcombe Regis when he died at the age of 76 being buried at St Peters Church Dorchester on 4th April 1848. His widow Elizabeth returned to her home parish of Blandord but was buried with him at St Peters 29th May 1849 aged 79(4).
There is reference to Thomas POOK (1709-1776) in the Municipal Records of Dorchester (page503) for 16th May 1757 "At a meeting this day of the Mayor, Bailiffs, Aldermen and Burgesses of the borough it is agreed that the Sheep Fairs lately kept in a Lane called Pease Lane within the Borough shall in future be kept in the back West Street of the borough from the West end of the street as far as the East corner of a garden now in the possession of Thomas POOK, gardener and on both sides of the street, as far as the opposite place to the siad corner of the garden, and also all along the walks from the West corner -------".
(2). Also in a survey of rental lands belonging to Chubbs Almeshouse (page 702) to the Lessee Thomas POOK who rented the property at 7s 6d of a House in West Back Street in the parish of Holy Trinity.
(3). Protestant Dissenters Births & Baptisms at Blandford Forum 1785 to 1808 CLDS Microfilm #GS0917111 (RG4 1715) Image available at SOG. Blandford is not my area of expertise but the OPC site confirms that within the town there was a Congregational Chapel in Salisbury Street, a Primitive Methodist chapel in Albert Street, a Wesleyan Chapel in The Close and the Open Brethren also had a meeting room. A second transcription on the site suggests they were part of the Congregational Chapel
(4). GRO 2nd qtr 1856 District of St Thomas Devon Ref 5b/36