Markham of Chesterfield
      Ancestors and Descendants of John Markham

Bio: Judith Virginia Markham


Judith Virginia Markham was born on the 9th of July 1787, the youngest child of Bernard Markham and Mary Harris of Chesterfield county Virginia. At the time of her birth there were already six children living in the Markham household. But, within her first few years, two of her siblings died, and her oldest sister married. She was probably closest to her brother George who was four years older. Her father died in 1800, when she was about thirteen years old, but her mother lived on for many years. Judith received about a one-fifth share of her father, Bernard Markham's estate in July 1801, also slaves and five hundred pounds.

We know very little about Judith Markham's childhood, but it seems likely that she was educated in a manner considered appropriate for the daughters of Virginia "gentry". In a short sketch written about her in her old age she is recognized as, "Blessed with intellectual endowments of a very high order, her mind well cultivated and richly stored with useful knowledge, with conversational powers but rarely equaled . ."

It is not certain just how Judith met her husband, Norborne Berkeley Cooke. He was born in 1786 in Berkeley county Virginia (WV), son of John Cooke and his second wife, Catherine Burton Nourse. The Cookes were descendants of the early Virginia immigrant, Mordecai Cooke. In 1794, when Norborne was a boy of about eight, his family removed to Woodford county Kentucky. Norborne may have returned to Virginia for his education. Somehow the young people came in contact, and were married in July of 1810 in Chesterfield county Virginia. Norborne Cooke took his young bride home to Kentucky and began domestic life in or near the town of Versailles in Woodford county. There is evidence that Norborne Cooke established himself as a merchant, and he probably also farmed in the area.

Judith's father, Bernard Markham had received a large Kentucky land grant for his Revolutionary War service. In 1816 Norborne Cooke purchased that property from the Markham family at a nominal price.

1816; George Markham (son of Bernard Markham) sells to Norborne B Cooke for $500, land in Fayette county Kentucky which was given by patent to Bernard Markham in 1782, 1783, 1785; 13,000 acres.
[source] Deeds of Chesterfield County Virginia; Deed Book 20, page 569; 27 Feb 1816.

I have not followed up to discover what happened to this property, but it was a likely draw for Judith Markham's nephews, sons of her brother John Markham and his wife Lucy Fleming, who began to migrate to Woodford county Virginia about 1815.

In 1813 Norborne Cooke began to purchase property in the town of New Castle in Henry county Kentucky. This was about forty miles northeast of Versailles. During 1813-1814 he bought four town lots. The town was officially incorporated in 1817.

It was almost ten years later, in 1822, when the Cooke family actually moved to Henry county Kentucky to establish their new home. They settled about five miles outside of the town of New Castle. By this time they had five children, and Judith's mother, Mary Harris Markham, in the household. After their move they had several more children. Of their nine children, six lived into adulthood: Bernard Fletcher Cooke, Mary Markham Cooke, Norborne Linnaeus Cooke, John Eugene Cooke, Martha Catherine Cooke, and Lucy Frances Emily Cooke.

I came across reference to a lawsuit filed in May 1823, against Norborne B Cooke and Company, partnership of Cooke and Nathaniel Hart, merchants of Kentucky. The reference indicates that the suit was never carried forward in the courts. Nathaniel Hart descended from a line of Kentucky entreprenuers, but I have not been able to identify the nature of the business he shared with Norborne Cooke. Hart's grandfather, Thomas Hart, had operated a large and successful hemp factory in Lexington Kentucky.

Members of the Cooke family (Norborne, Judith, their children and grandchildren) appear in the Henry county Virginia census records for the next forty years. Census records give different "place" designations in each census, suggesting that they may have moved several times, staying within the same general area. By the 1860 census the family is shown in the area of Port Royal, in Henry county Kentucky. This may be the farm where Norborne and Judith Cooke lived into their old age. Norborne may have become debilitated in his last years as it appears that Judith is "in charge" by 1859. A reference in Rev Redford's sketch of the Cooke family claims, "He [Norborne Cooke] had been feeble for several years, and a great sufferer the last year of his life . ."

In 1859, Mrs Judith V Cooke, along with her husband and children, sold the "home property" to Hogg. Unfortunately I do not have the full name of Mr Hogg, but I suspect it is Judith's son-in-law, James Thompson Hogg. The deed states that Judith and Norborne Cooke are "allowed to remain in the residence for their natural lives." A deed in the previous year (1858) gives further identity to the property.

1858; Norbin L Cooke to JE Cooke, his 1/5 share in tract of land where their parents now reside, originally purchased from Norbin Green, known as Hites division of the Hogg and Hite survey.
[source] Deeds of Henry County Kentucky; Deed Book 27, page 596; 1858.

The survey refers to a post Revolutionary War grant to Abraham Hite and Peter Hogg, in Fayette county Virginia (Kentucky). Despite clues, I have not been successful in identifying the exact location of this property. A more intensive study of deeds in the area would probably answer some questions.

Norborne B Cooke died in December 1865 at the age of eighty. Judith Markham Cooke lived several more years in the Henry county Kentucky home of her youngest daughter, Lucy Cooke White. Judith died in August of 1871 at the age of eighty-five. There is a grave marker for Norbourne B Cooke in Drennon Chapel Cemetery in Drennon Springs, Henry county Kentucky. It seems likely that Judith Markham Cooke is also buried there, but no marker is found.


Do you want to know more?
Link to Judith Markham
Sketch: Cooke Family from Redford's The History of Methodism in Kentucky.

Further Reading: Descendants of Mordecai Cooke; William Carter Stubbs; 1923.

Bio for Judith Virginia Markham; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2014.