Cooke, Elizabeth

, third daughter of sir Anthony Cooke, was born about the year 1529, and having enjoyed the same liberal education which was bestowed upon her sisters, was equally happy in improving it, and gained the applause of the most eminent scholars of the age. It was observed by sir John Harrington, that if Madam Vittoria, an Italian lady, deserved to have her name celebrated and transmitted to posterity by Ariosto, for writing some verses, in the manner of an epitaph, upon her husband, after his decease; no less commendation was due to the lady before us, who did as much and more, not only for two husbands, but for her son, daughter, brother, sister, and venerable old friend Mr. Noke of Shottesbrooke, in the Greek, Latin, and English tongues. She was married, first, to sir Thomas Hobby, and accompanied him to France, when he went there as ambassador from queen Elizabeth, and died there July 13, 1566. His disconsolate lady having erected a chapel in the chancel of the church at Bisham, in Berkshire, carefully deposited the remains of her husband, and of his brother, air Philip Hobby, in one tomb together, which she adorned with large inscriptions, in Latin and English verse, of her own composition. She had by sir Thomas Hobby four children, Edward, Elizabeth, Anne, and Thomas Posthumus. It does not appear that she had great comfort in either of her sons; and the youngest in particular, as is manifest from a letter written by her to lord treasurer Burleigh, was guilty of such extravagancies and undutifulness, as gave her much uneasiness. It is evident, from the letter, that she was a woman of uncommon spirit and sense, and an excellent economist. Some years after the decease of sir Thomas Hobby, she married John, lord Russel, son and heir to Francis Russel, earl of Bedford. Her husband dying before his father, in the year 1584, was buried in the abbey church of Westminster, where there is a noble monument erected to his memory, and embellished with inscriptions in Greek, Latin, and English, by this his surviving lady. Her children, by John lord Russel, were one son, who died young in 1580, and | two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth. The last of them survived her father but a little time, and is said to have bled to death by the prick of a needle in the forefinger of her left hand. This story has been supported by the figure placed on her monument, which is in the same grate with that of her father; where, on a pedestal of black and white marble made column-wise, in imitation of a Roman altar, may be seen the statue of a young lady seated in a most curiously-wrought osier chair, of the finest polished alabaster, in a very melancholy posture, inclining her head to the right hand, and with the forefinger of her left only extended downwards, to direct us to behold the death’s head underneath her feet, and, as the tradition goes, to signify the disaster that brought her to her end. Mr. Ballard thinks, that if the fact be true, it must be attributed to some gangrene, or other dangerous symptom, occasioned perhaps at first by the pricking of an artery or nerve, which at last brought her to the grave. The matter, however, does not deserve to be reasoned upon; being, in truth, no other than an idle and groundless tale, which very well answers the purpose of amusing the crowd who go to visit the tombs in the Abbey.

Lady Russel translated out of French into English a tract entitled, “A way of reconciliation of a good and learned man, touching the true nature and substance of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament.” This work was printed in 1605, and is dedicated to her only daughter, Anne Herbert, wife to Henry lord Herbert, son and heir to Edward earl of Worcester.

The time of lady Russel’ s death has not been ascertained. In a letter written by her ta sir Robert Cecil, without date, she complains of her bad health and infirmities, and mentions her having compleated sixty-eight years. She seems to have been buried at Bisham, in Berks, near the remains of her first husband, and in the chapel which she herself had founded. From Birch’s Memoirs of the reign of queen Elizabeth, it appears that lady Russel interested herself in the concerns of her nephew Anthony Bacon, and endeavoured to do him service with the lord treasurer Burleigh. In that work there are some extracts from two of her letters upon this occasion, and a long account of a curious conversation which she had with her nephew, relative to the disputes between him and the treasurer. The fact was, that lord Burleigh was dissatisfied with the connections both of | Mr, Anthony and Mr. Francis Bacon, and especially with their attachment to the Earl of Essex, and on these accounts was not favourable to their promotion. 1


Biog. Brit.—Ballard’s Memoirs. [this footnote is given only once for the whole Cooke family in the printed edition, and is repeated here under each entry for convenience]