Chaplain Noah Cooke, Jr., Hospital Chaplain
Noah Cooke, Jr. was born October 8, 1749 in Hadley, Massachusetts. He was the eldest son of Lieutenant Noah and Keziah (Parsons) Cooke, Sr. As a youth he attended the Hadley Grammar School and proceeded to Harvard College as part of the Class of 1769. He transferred to Yale in his second year, but transferred back to Harvard. After earning his A.B., he remained in residence as Hopkins Fellow, and was paid for delivering two lectures. For his M.A. he was prepared to argue that “The First Resurrection in the Apocalypse is Mystical.”
On Noah’s twenty-first birthday, he received a license to preach from the Cambridge Association. In 1773, Noah gave up the Hopkins Fellowship in an attempt to become a circuit minister.
On October 5, 1775, Noah appeared on Winter Hill as Chaplain of Colonel John Stark’s 1st New Hampshire Regiment. On January 1, 1776, Noah Cooke, Jr. was commissioned as “Chaplain to the Fifth Regiment of Foot commanded by Colonel John Stark, and to the Eighth regiment commanded by Colonel Enoch Poor.” This commission is now held by the Harvard University Archives. The Fifth Regiment of Foot and the Eighth Regiment of Foot were the temporary designations for the 1st and 2nd Regiments of the New Hampshire Continental Line, respectively.
In May of 1776, Chaplain Cooke rode to Philadelphia to speak with Congress about Regimental pay. When he returned to the Main Army in New York, he communicated to his friend, Colonel Elisha Porter, that Independence would be coming “very soon.” Chaplain Cooker remained primarily with the 2nd Regiment, New Hampshire Continental Line until September 18, 1777 when he was appointed a Hospital Chaplain with the status and pay of a Colonel. Chaplain Cooke, Jr. resigned on October 6, 1780.
After this, he read law with Daniel Newcomb of Keene, N.H. who had been a year ahead of him at Harvard. In January of 1784, Noah Cooke, Jr. was admitted to the Bar of Cheshire County. He shortly after married Mary Rockwood, daughter of Nathaniel and Margaret (Phipps) of Winchester, New Hampshire. He then engaged in a number of pursuits and elected positons in the town and county.
In 1801, Mary died of consumption leaving Noah a widower. On April 27, 1805 he married Eliza, the widow of Dr. Abraham Moore of Bolton, Massachusetts.
Chaplain Noah Cooke, Jr. died October 15, 1829. One of his sons, Josiah Parsons Cooke, graduated from Dartmouth in 1807 and became the father of Josiah Parsons Cooke, Jr. who graduated from Harvard in 1848, became a Professor at the College and from whose hands the portrait of Chaplain Noah Cooke, Jr. passed to the University.
Sources: Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army (Baltimore, 1914), 170; C. Kenyon Shipton, Sibley J. Langdon, Sibley’s Harvard graduates: biographical sketches of those who attended Harvard College with bibliographical and other notes (Boston, 1975), 136-138; Commission of Noah Cooke, Jr., as chaplain in the Continental Army, signed by John Hancock, 1776 January 1; Selected Wartime Service Records of Chaplain Noah Cooke, Jr.