COOKE, Alfred Lionel & Bessie Ann (Scarlett)

by Cliff McCarthy, 2015
Last Updated 25 November 2017

Pett Level

From Pett Level looking towards Icklesham, 1998, near where Alfred Lionel Cooke was born at Black Cottage. (photo courtesy of John & Rosemary Moon.)

Alfred Lionel Cooke was born on the 21st of June 1872 at Black Cottage in Pett, near Winchelsea, in Sussex County, England. His parents were Alfred Henry Davis Cooke and Ann Selina (Paine) Cooke. Alfred H. D. Cooke was a farmer and grazier.


Black Cottage, 2017 (photo by Marianne McCarthy)

Sometime before Alfred Lionel was ten, the family moved to a house known as “Cleveland Place” on Friars Road in Winchelsea, which is still standing.

Cleveland Place

Cleveland Place, Winchelsea

Alfred Lionel Cooke came to America alone and with little money. He left Liverpool aboard the Wisconsin on or about the 28th day of February 1891, arriving at the Port of New York on March 12, 1891. His son, Alfred, later told the story this way:

“My father came from England as a very young man. He was disgusted with England and was going to Australia. He got on the boat and he met a couple of guys, one particular man, anyhow, and they fraternized…They went up…l forget the name of the town…it’s just above New York…and he liked it there. They treated him very nice and he never went any further. He never went to Australia…I don’t know why, but Dad was very upset with England.”

Aunt Alvina related the story this way, filling in a few missing pieces:

“In his teens he came to Pleasantville, New York to work for and live with Dr. Wright, who was in medical research, and his family.”

According to family legend, Alfred was employed by Dr. Wright for the purpose of procuring or transporting corpses for his research. There was also some mention of a Coggeshall family at Pleasantville. Since it was during this time that Alfred met Bessie Ann Scarlett, perhaps Bessie Ann was working for the Coggeshalls as a servant. In fact, research in Pleasantville reveals the physician to be Dr. Jonathan Wright, whose daughter Margaret married Allan Coggeshall. Further, Dr. Wright was married to a daughter of Dr. George Choate, a prominent physician who specialized in diseases of the brain and ran the mental institution in Pleasantville. Still, the passenger list for the Wisconsin shows no persons of those names. The 1892 New York State census does not enumerate Alfred Cooke in Pleasantville, at all.


Passport photo of Alfred L. & Bessie Ann Cooke, 1924

Bessie Ann Scarlett was from Northern Ireland. According to her Baptism Certificate, she was born on June 25, 1871 to Robert and Bessie Scarlett at the townland called Loughkilligreen, near Clones, Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland. Her baptism was recorded that year in the Parish of Galloon, near Newtownbutler, in County Fermanagh.

Family story says that Bessie Ann came to Newport News, Virginia in about 1890 to live with her sister, Fannie (Scarlett) Scrimgeour, but there are some problems with this.

Ellis Island passenger lists show Bessie Ann arriving aboard the Furnessia from Londonderry in August of 1893. She is listed as a servant, 22 years old, with a destination of New Jersey. She may, in fact, have already been living in America in 1893 and may have returned to Ireland for a visit. If she had immigrated earlier, say 1890, she would not have come into Ellis Island, which did not open until 1892, but would have arrived at Castle Garden. However, Castle Garden records show no evidence of Bessie Scarlett.

The same source shows Fannie Scarlett arriving at Ellis Island in October 1898 from Londonderry aboard the Furnessia. Fannie is listed as 22 years old, a native of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, single, literate, and working as a servant. Her destination was 73 Poplar St., Brooklyn, where her sister, who paid for her passage, lived. A notation indicates that she may have lived in the U.S. two years earlier and returned home. Castle Garden records do show a Fanny Scarlett, age 19, arriving aboard the Anchoria in November 1893, with a destination of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Fanny Scarlett is listed in Brooklyn in the 1900 U.S. Census as a servant in the home of John W. Green, a hardware merchant. She lists 1898 as her year of immigration. Fannie Scarlett did marry Andrew Scrimgeour, but in New York and not until 1901. Andrew Scrimgeour lived in Newport News from 1910-1930.

However she arrived here, Bessie Ann wound up working in Pleasantville, NY as a servant girl in the 1890s.  After meeting in Pleasantville, Alfred and Bessie Ann married in 1898 and moved first to Brooklyn and later to Staten Island, NY.


Bessie Ann (Scarlett) Cooke

Together, Alfred and Bessie Ann raised a brood of rambunctious children, six boys and one girl. All of the children were born on Staten Island, except the eldest Alfred Phineas, who was born in Brooklyn. Uncle Al remembers: “My mother was the boss of the house. My father was real easy-going…as long as you didn’t knock the roof off the house, you could raise holy hell and he didn’t care.”

The Cooke family owned a large farmhouse in Annadale on Staten Island, which has long since burned. Alfred Lionel held a variety of different jobs, including a “tea and coffee route” for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (later known as A&P). Alfred Lionel also carted sand with his team of horses for the brick manufactory in Kreischerville, NY. Several of his sons worked in the “clay pits” at Kreischerville. They attended the Church of the Holy Comforter and later, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.


Alfred L. Cooke with Shirley

The 1920 U.S. Census indicates that the year of his immigration was 1890 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1913. Both dates are incorrect.

Alfred passed away in 1938 from encephalitis and Bessie Ann died of pneumonia on June 26, 1940. Both are buried in Moravian Cemetery in Great Kills, NY.


Children of Alfred Lionel & Bessie Ann (Scarlett) COOKE

ALFRED LIONEL COOKE was born on 21 June 1872 in Black Cottage, Pett, Sussex, England. He died on 16 March 1938 in Richmond Co., NY. He married ELIZABETH “BESSIE ANN” SCARLETT on 19 February 1899 in Brooklyn, Kings Co., NY, daughter of Robert SCARLETT and Elizabeth “Bessie” FOSTER. She was born on 25 Jun 1871 in Loughkilligreen, near Clones, Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland. She died on 26 June 1940 in Staten Island, NY.  Alfred Lionel COOKE and Elizabeth “Bessie Ann” SCARLETT had the following children:

  1. ALFRED PHINEHAS COOKE was born on 11 Nov 1899 in Brooklyn, NY. He died on 01 Oct 1990 in Pompano Beach, FL. He married (1) EUGENIA “JEAN” LASARSKI about 1948, daughter of Ladislaus LASARSKI and Frances. She was born on 07 Mar 1917 in New York State. She died on 29 May 1996 in Staten Island, NY. He married (2) MARTHA GEIDEL on 04 Apr 1926 in Richmond Co., NY, daughter of Max O. GEIDEL and Henrietta. She was born about 1901. He married (3) ANNABELLE K. WOODS on 20 Feb 1937 in Richmond Co., NY. She was born about 1902 in New York State.
  2. LIONEL SCARLETT “BILL” COOKE was born on 06 Nov 1901 in Rossville, Richmond Co., NY. He died on 12 Aug 1988 in Amityville, Suffolk Co., NY. He married EVELYN BERNADETTE BEERS on 07 Nov 1922, daughter of William Henry “Harry” BEERS and Bernardette Marie Claire Veronica MARTIN. She was born on 09 Dec 1903 in Rocky Hill, Somerset Co., NJ. She died on 06 Aug 1983 in Riverhead, Suffolk Co., NY.
  3. PERCY SCARLETT COOKE was born on 20 Sep 1903 in United States. He died on 13 Apr 1974 in Plainfield, NJ. He married MILDRED KELSEY on 23 Jun 1928 in Richmond Co., NY, daughter of Harry Walter KELSEY and Lucy. She was born on 10 Oct 1903 in New York State. She died on 18 Apr 1992 in Plainfield, NJ.
  4. BESSIE ANN SCARLETT COOKE was born on 20 Oct 1905 in New York State. She died on 14 Mar 1987.
  5. EDWARD ROBERT SCARLETT COOKE was born on 11 Nov 1907 in New York State. He died in Apr 1970. He married ALVINA HOELLERER on 27 Apr 1935 in Lutheran Church, Annadale, Richmond, NY, daughter of Charles HOELLERER and Marie. She was born on 22 Jun 1911 in Richmond Memorial Hospital, Princes Bay, Staten Island, NY. She died on 14 Mar 2007 in near San Diego, CA.
  6. ROY SCARLETT COOKE was born on 23 Dec 1910 in New York State. He died on 14 Dec 1994 in Phoenix, Arizona. He married MARION BOESCH, daughter of August A. BOESCH and Maude S. She was born on 30 Sep 1912 in New York State. She died on 30 Nov 1992 in Phoenix, Arizona.
  7. ANDREW SCARLETT “RED” COOKE was born on 09 Aug 1912 in Staten Island, New York. He died on 25 Oct 1999 in Florida. He married (1) GLADYS VIOLA BOESCH, daughter of August A. BOESCH and Maude S. She was born on 15 Aug 1915 in New York State. She died on 06 Jan 1945 in auto accident, Jefferson Ave., Newport News, VA. He married (2) MARION FISCHER about 1948.



  • 1881 British Census for Alfred H.D. Cooke (Winchelsea, Sussex, England).
  • 1910 U.S. Census for Alfred L. Cooke (Hugenot Village, Richmond Co., NY).
  • 1915 New York State Census for Alfred Cooke (E.D. #40, A.D. 01, Richmond Co., NY).
  • 1920 U.S. Census for Alfred L. Cook (5th Ward, Richmond Co., NY).
    1925 New York State Census for Alfred Cooke (E.D. #30, A.D. 02, Richmond Co., NY).
  • 1930 U.S. Census for Alfred L. Cook (E.D. #43-258, Annadale, Richmond Co., NY).
  • 1940 U.S. Census for Bessie Cooke (E.D. #43-233, Richmond Co., NY, 1940)
  • Baptisms Solemnized in the Parish of Pett (Sussex Co., England).
  • Baptismal Certificate for Lionel S. Cooke, Church of the Holy Comforter, April 17, 1921.
  • Certificate of Confirmation for Lionel S. Cooke, Church of the Holy Comforter, May 5, 1922.
  • Certificate of Death for Alfred Lionel Cooke (Richmond Co., NY, dated March 19, 1938).
  • Certificate of Death, Bessie Ann Cooke, June 26, 1940, Richmond, NY.
  • Certificate of Marriage for Alfred Lionel Cooke and Elizabeth Ann Scarlett (Brooklyn, New York, #1031, recorded 25 February 1899).
  • Certificate of Registry of Baptism, Bessie Anne Scarlett, November 29, 1871, Parish of Galloon, Diocese of Clogher, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, dated 22 December 1909), page 39, No. 306.
  • Gravestones of Alfred L. Cooke and Bessie Anne Cooke in Moravian Cemetery, Great Kills, NY.
  • Letter from Evelyn B. Cooke to the author.
  • Recollections of Alfred P. Cooke as told to the author, December 25, 1984.
  • Recollections of Alfred P. Cooke as told to the author, December 25, 1985.
  • Recollections of Shirley Cooke McCarthy as told to the author, December 25, 1985.

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