Find records: marriage
m. bef 1575
m. aft 20 Jul 1603
Facts and Events
Francis first appeared in Leiden in April 1603 as a witness to the betrothal of Raphael Roelandt, another woolcomber would would witness his own betrothal in June: "Couk, Franchoys of England, Wool-comber. acc[ompanied] by Phillipe de Veau and Raphael Roelandt his acq[aintence]. betr[othed]. 30 June 1603 to Hester Mahieu of Canterbury in England, acc[ompanied]. by Jenne Mahieu her mother and Jenne mahieu her sister ..." There is no record of their actual marriage, which was probably at the Leiden Walloon Reformed Church (records of which from before 1604 are missing). An article in Mayflower Descendant 27:145-55 points out that intentions were entered in July 4 and 5. Banns then would have been read the next three Sundays: July 6, 13 and 20th, meaning the 20th was the soonest the marriage could have taken place. Hester and Francis were later members of the church - they had their children baptized there and letters of transfer were written to Norwich on their behalf.
Hester Mahieu's name also appears in records in Leiden in 1603 as having been accepted as a member of the French Reformed Church (known as the Walloon Church) of Leiden. Her name in this list reads "Esther de Mahieu." The baptism of John Cooke, Francis and Hester Mahieu Cooke's firstborn son, is also in the Walloon Church records.  Hester Mahieu Cooke's name appears in 1646 in a description of the relationship amomug the various Protestant churches of Europe: "And for the French churches, that we held and do communion with them, take notice of our practice at Leyden, viz. that one Samuel Terry was received from the French church there into communion with us. Also the wife of Francis Cooke, being a Walloon, holds communion with the church a Plymouth, as she came from the French, to this day, by virtue of communion of churches." 
"On New Year's Day, 1608, amoung those admitted to communion by letter of transfer from another Walloon congregation were 'Francois Cooke et Esther sa femme, de Norwich" ... This entry informs us that before 1608, the Cooke-Mahieu couple had lived in Norwich among the Wallooons there. They evidently left for Norwich on 8 August 1606, as a note in the Walloon Library of Leiden mentions their departure on that date with letters of transfer ... Both the departure with attestation and the return to communion in Leiden with a similar letter indicate the Francois Cooke, as well as Hester his wife, was a member of the Leiden Walloon congregation. The Cookes evidently returned briefly to Leiden, between the quarterly dates of communion, which they missed , in order to have their son Jean baptized within the Leiden Walloon congregation with family as godparents to raise him in case he became orphaned. "Scholars at the Leiden Municipal Archives discovered two other children of Francois and Hester besides their son Jean: Elizabeth, baptized on 26 December 1611, and a child, whose name is not given , buried in the Pieterskerk on 20 May 1608 ... The burial record imparts the further information that at that time Franchoys Couck lived on the Levendaal, a canal on the southeast side of Leiden. The Cookes' other children, Jane, Hester, Jacob, and Mary wered presumably baptized in the Separatist congregation of Leiden, for which no records are preserved, although it is possible that on or two might have been born in Norwich, or some may have been born in the colony of New Plymouth ... 
The Pilgrim church was not established in Leiden until 1609, so Francis was living there long before their arrival and must have met up with and joined them afterwards. What brought him to Holland in the first place is unknown: religious persecution of Protestants in England did not really begin until after King James took power in 1604. In 1606, the Cookes left Leiden and went to Norwich, Norfolk for a time (for what reason is not known), but returned to have their first son, John, baptized at the French church in Leiden.
Mayflower and Plymouth
"The names of those which came over first, in the year 1620, and were by the blessing of God the first beginners and in a sort the foundation of all the Plantations and Colonies in New England; and their families ... "Francis Cooke and his son John; but his wife and other children came afterwards."  (Hester Mahieu Cooke and her children arrived in Plymouth in 1623 on the Anne.)
"Friday, the 16th [February 16, 1621], was a fair day; but the northly wind continued, which continued the frost. This day, after noon, one of our people being a fowling, and having taken a stand by a creek side in the reeds, about a mile and a half from our plantation, there by him twelve Indians, marching towards our plantation, and in the woods he heard the noise of many more. He lay close till they passed, and then with what speed he could he went home and gave the alarm. So the people abroad in the woods returned and armed themselves, but saw none of them; only, toward the evening, they made a grant fire about the place where they were first discovered. Captain Miles Standish and Francis Cooke being at work in the woods, coming home left their tools behind them; but before they returned, thier tools were taken away by the savages. This coming of the savages gave us occasion to keep more strict watch, and to make our pieces and furniture readyu, which by moisture and rain were out of temper." 
Plymouth Colony Records, Dees, &c., Vol. I 1627-1651 is the oldest record book of the Plymouth settlement. It begins with the 1623 Division of Land, recorded in the handwriting of Governor William Bradford. The lands of Francis Cooke were amoung those designated as "thier grounds which came first over in the May Floure, according as thier lotes were case" and described in this way "these lye on the South side of the brooke to the baywards." The name of Francis Cooke also appears in the list of "their grounds which came over in the shipe called Anne," which was the ship on which his wife and children arrived. 
Plymouth Colony Records, Deeds, &c., Vol I 1627-1651 also tells of the 1627 Division of Cattle: "At a publique court held the 22th of May it was concluded by the whole Companie, that the cattell wch were the Compnanies, to wit, the Cowes & the Goates should be equally devided to all the psonts of the same company ... & so the lotts fell as followeth, thirteene psonts being pportioned to one lot ... "The first lot fell to ffrancis Cooke & his Companie Joyned to him his wife Hester Cooke (3) John Cooke (4) Jacob Cooke (5) Jane Cooke (6) Hester Cooke (7) Mary Cooke (8) Moses Simonson (9) Phillip Delanoy (10) Experience Michaell (11) John ffance (12) Joshua Pratt (13) Phinihas Pratt. To his lot fell the least of the 4 black heyfers Came in the Jacob, and two shee goats."
Francis was active in Plymouth civil affairs in the 1630s and 40s - committees to lay out land grants and highways, petit jury, grand jury, coroner’s jury. He appears on the 1643 Plymouth list of those able to bear arms. Some of the land received in 1623 had apparently been sold to William Bradford by 1639  At some point in 1638 or afterward, he settled at Rocky Nook on Jones River, within the limits of Kingston, a few miles from Plymouth. He named his place "Cooke's Hollow. In 1650, Bradford described him as "Francis Cooke is still living, a very old man, and hath seen his children's children have children. After his wife came over with other of his children; he hath three still living by her, all married and have five children, so their increse is eight. And his son John which came over with him is married and hath four children living." 
United States Presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are direct descendants of Francis Cooke. Other famous descendants of Francis Cooke include Cephas Thompson (19th century artist), U.S. Senator William D. Washburn, Mrs. Anna Mary Robertson ("Grandma Moses"), Lizzie Borden, Orson Welles, Julia Child, Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce (Texas cattleman who introduced the Brahman cattle breed into Texas), Pete Seeger, Marjorie "Betty Crocker" Child, "Wild Bill" Hickok, John Bartlett, (presumably) Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Carson, George Mortimer Pullman, Elliot Richardson, Charles G. Dawes, LDS Church Apostle Amasa Mason Lyman, Charles E. Merrill (founder of Merrill Lynch), Dane Cook (comedian), Kris Kristofferson (singer/actor), Richard Gere (actor), Louis Comfort Tiffany (artist), and Beach Boys Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson.
Will of Francis Cooke
The last Will and Testament of ffrancis Cooke of Plymouth late Deceased: exhibited before the Court held att Plymouth aforsaid the fift day of June 1663 on the oathes of mr John Aldin and mr John howland;
The Last Will and Testament of ffrancis Cooke made this seaventh of the tenth month 1659
I being att prsent weake and Infeirme in body yett in prfect memory throw mercy Doe comitt my soule unto god that gave it and my body to the earthe; which my will is should bee Intered in a Decent and comly manner;
As for such goods and lands as I stand posessed of I Doe will and bequeath as followeth;
1 My will is that hester my Dear and loveing wife shall have all my moveable goods and all my Cattle of all kinds; viz: neat Cattle horsekind sheep and swine to be att her Dispose
2 my will is that hester my wife shall have and Injoy my lands both upland and meddow lands which att prsent I posesse During her life
3 I Doe ordaine and appoint my Deare wife and my son John Cooke Joynt exequitors of this my said will
Much of the above based on Pilgrim Hall Museum profile of Francis Cooke (http://www.pilgrimhall.org/cookefrancisrecords.htm)