Industrialist and Liberal politician, he was the second son of Anselm Cook of Kingscourt, Stroud, a manufacturer of tacks and shoe rivets. He was apprenticed in the pin and wire trade and set up his own successful business in Birmingham.
He became a member of the Birmingham town council in 1872, and was chairman of the Health Committee in 1875, was made alderman in 1882 and was Mayor in 1883-4. Elected MP for Birmingham East in 1885, he lost his seat at the general election the following year and was unsuccessful again in standing for Bordesley in 1895, He was a JP for Warwickshire and was knighted in 1906. He died at Blackpool on 26 January 1908.