Middlecott Cooke Papers
Middlecott Cooke was the son of Jane Middlecott Cooke and Elisha Cooke, Jr., one of the wealthiest men in Massachusetts. Although his father strongly challenged British authority in the province, including the right to the royal timberlands, and was active in Boston politics, Middlecott was not. After receiving his masters degree from Harvard in 1726, he helped his father manage the family lands in what is now the state of Maine. He also worked as a merchant in the firm of Goldthwaite and Cooke and served as a clerk in the Suffolk County Court.
Elisha Cooke, Jr.’s mother was the daughter of John Leverett, and through her the Cookes inherited their Maine lands, part of the Leverett patent granted in 1630. In 1729, the patent holders made an agreement with land speculator Samuel Waldo to promote settlement on this land, and he began to develop the area which became known as the Waldo Patent. In September of 1734, Middlecott traveled to St. George’s Fort in what is now Thomaston, Maine, but was then a northeastern outpost of Massachusetts. His journal, shown here in two versions (short, long), report on his voyages and include his observations of the fledgling settlement.
On 18 April 1735, Waldo made an agreement with 46 Irish and German immigrants to settle on the land for three years, building houses and clearing fields. The series of letters between Middlecott and his father in the spring of 1735 while Middlecott is at St. George’s Fort discuss the preparations and challenges of the settlement. Samuel Waldo’s 1735 “Interview with the Indians” records Waldo’s attempt to negotiate with the Penobscot Indians for land and the Native Americans’ frustration with conditions set by the Treaty of Falmouth signed by Lt. Gov. Dummer in 1726.
Unmarried and childless, Middlecott took in his sister Mary Cooke Saltonstall and her children after the death of Mary’s husband, Judge Richard Saltonstall, in 1756. Upon his death, Cooke left his Saltonstall nieces and nephews his mansion, stores, warehouses, and ropewalks in Boston, and land in Massachusetts and Maine.