Climbing My Family Tree, Part 24

Immigrants Francis Cooke, Hester le Mahieu Cooke, Jane Cooke, and Experience Mitchell

Francis Cooke (my ten times great-grandfather) was a Mayflower passenger. I stumbled across his lineage while investigating the Packards in Part 22. Francis was born in England in 1583. Curiously, we find him living in Leiden, Holland, about eight years before John Robinson and the rest of the Pilgrims arrived. This period was before the time of Protestant persecution in England under King James, so the original motivation to move to Holland is unknown. His occupation was that of wool comber.

Francis married Hester le Mahieu while living in Holland. Hester was born in England, but her family was not native to that nation. Her parents, Jaques and Jenne le Mahieu were French Walloon refugees, having fled to Canterbury, England to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. From there they moved to Holland.

Francis and Hester initially attended a French Walloon church. Sometime between 1611 and 1618 they left the French church and joined with the Pilgrim Separatists.

Mayflower II

The Mayflower II is currently docked in Plymouth, Massachusetts

The couple were parents to five surviving children while living in Leiden. Francis and their oldest son, John, were among the original Pilgrims to immigrate to America. They started out on the Speedwell, but when it proved unseaworthy, they were two of the eleven passengers transferred to the Mayflower (another 20 were left behind). Francis was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact.

Hester stayed behind with the other children. They reunited with Francis and John when they sailed on the Anne, arriving in Plymouth three years later. Their daughter, Jane (my nine times great-grandmother) was about 19 years old at the time.

Francis and Hester had one more child while living in Plymouth. Francis lived out the rest of his life in the New World. He was a voluntary member of the Plymouth military company led by Captain Miles Standish, and he served in an expedition against the Indians in 1621. He surveyed land and served on a number of committees and juries. Francis died when he was around 80 years old. Hester survived him by at least three more years.

Jane married one of her fellow passengers on the Anne, Experience Mitchell.   Experience’s birth certificate has not been discovered, but it is presumed he was born in Holland after his parents emigrated from England with the other Pilgrims Separatists.

The Cookes, the le Mahieus, and Experience Mitchell all left their native lands due to religious persecution. They immigrated to the American colonies seeking freedom to worship as they believed best. In the process, they disregarded the rights, freedom, and beliefs of the “savage” people they found living here.

Every Thanksgiving we celebrate our Pilgrim Fathers as some of the very first American heroes. We hold them in high status for standing up for their beliefs and accepting nothing less.

At the same time we are quick to turn our backs on current refugees and immigrants, modern day Pilgrims coming to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, also wanting to worship the way they believe best.

Why is it that I am accepted here as a 10th generation immigrant, but the status of a first or second generation immigrant is so frequently brought into question?


Has your family benefited from immigration to America? Do you believe our diverse population makes us stronger? Do you want to be part of the solution?

In Climbing My Family Tree, Parts 8-18, I highlight eleven different charities that support immigrants and children. Every charity listed boasts the highest rating possible as designated by Charity Navigator. Please consider pledging your support to these important organizations who are working so hard to make a positive change in our world.

Please go out of your way to be kind to immigrants and refugees.

Did you enjoy this post? Please like and share. I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!



My Family Tree

  1. Jaques & Jenne Mahieu


  1. Francis Cooke & Hester Mahieu


  1. Jane Cooke & Experience Mitchell


  1. Elizabeth Mitchell


  1. Sarah Washburn


  1. Sarah Ames


  1. Josiah Packard


  1. Susannah Packard


  1. Eliphalet Sturtevant


  1. William Pratt Sturtevant


  1. Pliny Wyman Sturtevant


  1. Electra Wyman Sturtevant


  1. Patricia Louise King


  1. Me (Alan deMeurers)



Running count of family immigrants = 72


Reference Links:





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