04 January 2016

Breakthrough on Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke

Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke (from After the Battle magazine)
Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke
(from After the Battle magazine)
For the past several months, I've been digging underneath the brick wall that surrounded the birth and parentage of Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke.

My two previous blogs can be found below:

Britain's most famous World War II spy catcher had enigmatic beginnings but the curtain has now been pulled back from them.

With the help of the British Army Personnel Records, Hinchley Cooke's great grand niece and the Dresden Landesarchiv , we have a birth date and now a birth record for the famous spy catcher.

At the same time that I wrote to the Dresden archives, the birth, marriage and death records for Dresden, from the late 1800s and early 1900s, were released on the genealogy website Ancestry, resulting in a treasure trove of information.

I am still working on deciphering the German handwriting but here's what we've got so far.

Introducing the Family
Hinchley Cooke's father was William Thomas Cooke, born 22 February, 1856, in Coseley, Staffordshire. William's parents were Henry Cooke and Jane Gough, both from Staffordshire. William apparently worked as a language teacher in Dresden and was a certified translator at the local and district court (amts- und landgericht).

Entry in 1909 Dresden telephone book for William Thomas Cooke (from Ancestry.co.uk)
Entry in 1909 Dresden telephone book for William Thomas Cooke
(from Ancestry.co.uk)
Hinchley Cooke's mother was Angeline Elizabeth Jordan born 30 October, 1860, in Dresden, Germany. Angelina's parents were Dr. Ernst Wilhelm Jordan PhD and Pauline Emilie Mathilda Alt.

William Thomas Cooke and Angeline Elizabeth Jordan were married on 4 July, 1891 in Dresden.

Their first child was born 13 September, 1892, in Dresden. Unfortunately the young Harry Ernest Bernard Cecil Cooke didn't live long, passing away on 26 January, 1893 in Dresden at the age of four months.

A year later, on 31 January, 1894, William and Angeline welcomed a second son into their life, William Edward Hinchley Cooke.

Synopsis of information from William Edward Hinchley Cooke's birth registration. (From Ancestry.co.uk)
Synopsis of information from William Edward Hinchley Cooke's birth registration.
(apparently the Ancestry transcribers also struggled with the German handwriting)
(From Ancestry.co.uk)
On 14 December, 1897, Hinchley Cooke received the gift of a younger sister when Harriett Margaret Elizabeth was born. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike the family less than two months later. On 31 January, 1898, on Hinchley Cooke's fourth birthday, his mother passed away.


William Thomas Cooke mourned the passing of his first wife and then married Emma Sophia Margaretha Werther on 16 November, 1899, in Dresden. This marriage, however, would also end in tragedy, and apparently childless. On 11 April, 1901, Emma passed away in Dresden. Hinchley Cooke would have been 7 years old when his step mother died. He still had his father and sister; for a few years at least. On 9 August, 1911, Hinchley Cooke's sister, Harriet passed away at the age of 13.

In 1914, Hinchley Cooke, who was working for the British Legation in Dresden, was deported to Britain, along with the other diplomatic staff. There is no information on the fate of his father.

A few mysteries still remain in the story of William Edward Hinchley Cooke. What happened to his father? How did Hinchley Cooke receive British citizenship, given that he was apparently not registered as a British citizen at birth? But for now... a bit of the veil has been pulled away. 

References
Ancestry.co.uk - birth, marriage, death records
British Army Personnel record for William Edward Hinchley Cooke

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