Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Parish History Notes 15: The Rev. John Cooke & Trinity Church

John Cooke was born in 1801 in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and was a member of the second graduating class of the Theological Seminary in Alexandria. After serving briefly as deacon in Petersburg he was appointed to St. Martin’s Parish. Rev. Cooke began his ministry here in 1825, and, thanks to his youth and energy, Fork Church and its congregation began a gradual recovery from the apathy that characterized the first quarter of the century.

On April 28, 1831, at Airwell, he married a young widow, Elizabeth Edmonia Berkeley, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Churchill of Wilton, Middlesex County.  He designed a house and built it on a tract of land already known as Dewberry, and they moved there in 1833. In the following year Mr. Cooke resigned as rector, and from then on he devoted most of his time to experimental agriculture at Dewberry and to the management of his wife’s vast estates. He also visited other rural counties to perform services for many Episcopal congregations that had no ministers.

Trinity Church, which was constructed while Mr. Cooke was rector, stands as evidence of the recovery of support for the Episcopal doctrine during his time in charge of the parish. Mr. Cooke died in Henrico County in December 1861. His wife continued to be a faithful member of the parish until she died at Airwell on June 28, 1888. Their remains are interred beneath the pulpit of Trinity Church.