Cooke family, of Trowbridge

John and Mary Cooke of Trowbridge were devout Anglicans. John, a prosperous clothier, was described by James Everett as 'well educated, of a fine natural disposition, deep piety and sound judgment'. He died c.1774. He and his wife were firmly attached to the established Church, but gave a friendly welcome to the Methodist preachers, including John Wesley himself, and entertained them.

They had five daughters and a son. Mary, the oldest daughter, born on 18 January 1760, became a member of the Trowbridge society in 1784, following the example of her younger sisters Elizabeth (Eliza, born 1761) and Frances (Fanny). Hearing John Wesley preach on 12 March 1785 marked a turning point in Mary's spiritual life and between 1785 and 1789 she corresponded frequently with him. On 17 April 1788 she married Adam Clarke, who had been briefly stationed in the Trowbridge Circuit in 1782. John Wesley's wedding gift was a set of wooden trenchers inscribed with traditional verses, now in the museum at City Road Chapel. She proved a worthy partner, giving him invaluable support as his secretary and amanuensis in both his circuit and academic work. Her sister Anne married Joseph Butterworth. Mary died at Stoke Newington on 20 December 1836. Her 'character and correspondence' were celebrated by her daughter, Mrs. Mary Ann Clarke Smith, in 1851.

  • Mary Ann Clarke Smith, Mrs Adam Clarke: Her Character and Correspondence (1851)
  • G.J. Stevenson, City Road Chapel and its Associations (1872) pp.380-1