Truths from DNA

A most compelling case can be made for connection between Thomas Cook of Iredell County, North Carolina and two Cook brothers who emigrated from Northern Ireland to Nova Scotia in present-day Canada.

In 1761, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and Nova Scotia were all colonies of Great Britain, as was Ulster, Ireland itself. The Scotch-Irish of Ulster province in Northern Ireland were joining what was to become a great migration to America primarily for land ownership and the freedoms that went with it. These folk—known as Ulster Scots in Canada—had in common their Presbyterian religion which was considered “dissenting” to the normative religion of the Church of England. Presbyterian ministers weren’t recognized by the state nor were the baptisms or marriages they performed.

For the 65 years following 1710, one source estimates that 200,000 people from Ulster immigrated to the original American colonies. 22 Documentation exists to show that two brothers named James and William Cook left Northern Ireland in 1761 to settle in Nova Scotia in a newly laid-out township called Londonderry. They both received grants in a village named Portaupique. James was a farmer and William a weaver. With them came their wives and children. The vessel which brought them to Halifax was the Hopewell, a vessel normally carrying passengers from the Irish ports of Londonderry or Larne to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This immigrant James Cook wrote his Last Will and Testament the 23rd of June 1794. Like Thomas Cook of North Carolina, he was old enough to have a grandson to whom he left a gift of money. His widow died in 1808. By comparison, Thomas Cook of Iredell wrote his will November 1791. His wife Margaret died in 1802. This James’ brother William Cook drowned in the 1760s in Nova Scotia but left surviving children. It may be more than coincidence that Thomas of Iredell, James and William Cook of Nova Scotia are of an age, probably born in the same decade of the 1700s in Northern Ireland. They are known to be “Protestants from the North of Ireland”, as the historical literature from both Nova Scotia and Carolina calls them. Those were the kind of settlers being recruited to these colonies.

Skip two and a half centuries ahead and descendants of those two Nova Scotia brothers did Y-DNA tests and, to everyone’s surprise, there was a match with a descendant of Thomas Cook of Iredell. This illustrates strong evidence of kinship back 7-8 generations. Such is the connection among two Cook brothers from Ulster and an heir of Thomas Cook in present-day Oregon.

At this point, the paper trail from Coddle Creek through to Jackson County Oregon requires more documentation but we can be certain that DNA is reliable evidence of kinship on which to build.

1. > All Published Collections > North Carolina, Probate Records, 1735-1970 > Iredell Wills 1790-1819, Vol. 01. Will of Thomas Cook, Image 62-63 of 238.
2. Coddle Creek ARP Church, William Cooke, died 27 Aug 1802 “in his 41st year”. Findagrave # 52725154,
3. > All Published Collections > North Carolina, Probate Records, 1735-1970 > Iredell Wills 1790-1819, Vol. 01. Will of Margaret Cooke Sen’r, Image 63 of 238.
4. Rowan County GenWeb, North Carolina Marriages to 1825, Margaret Cook and Hugh McKnight, 26 Feb 1762.
5. Samuel Ervin Jr., A Colonial History of Rowan County, North Carolina, 1917, online at
6. About the Brevard family,
7. About the Cowan family,
8. About the Rev. John Thomson, online at
9. C.L. Hunter, Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical, 1877. Google author and title.
10. List of Taxable Property in the County of Rowan, 1778, > Tax, Criminal, Land & Wills.
11. The 1790 Census for Iredell County, North Carolina, contributed by Guy Potts,
12. The Formation of Lake Norman, see Wikipedia.
13. The Journal of Alexander Chesney, (1756-1844)
14. Rowan County North Carolina Tax List, 1759, William D. Kizziah,
15. > North Carolina Land and Property
16. Property sale from Thomas & Margaret Cook to Stephen Potts, Rowan County, NC, October 18, 1762 and witnessed by David Kerr. Found among Kerr Family research online at
17. Robert W. Ramsey, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762, NC Press, 1964.
18. Ramsey, p.54, quoting William H. Egle.
19. Ramsey, p.54.
20. Johanna Miller Lewis, Artisans in the North Carolina Backcountry 1753-1770, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 1995, p.22.
21. Johanna Miller Lewis, p. 24, p.46.
22. Wikipedia on the Scotch-Irish.