Dr. Ambrose Ellis Cook, MD

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Ellis Cooke to Edward Ambrose Cooke
Dr. Ambrose Ellis Cook, MD, son of Colonel Ellis Cook and Margaret Griswold Cocker, was born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey, 11 July 1772.1,2 He died at Bound Brook, Somerset Co., New Jersey, 28 June 1828,3,4 and was buried at the Old Presbyterian Graveyard, Bound Brook, Somerset Co., New Jersey.4,5

Ambrose married Sarah Piersall Wheeler, daughter of David Wheeler and Hannah Youngs, at Hanover 17 June 1794.6,1,2,7

About 1807, a member of the family compiled a family register. It appears the three younger children, all born after 1806, were added later without their birthdates, nor were any children's marriages ever entered (only Robert, Hannah, and Ambrose are known to have married).2

In 1793, Ambrose Cook purchased what was known as the Frelinghuysen House (earlier known as the Harpending House). Named for the hero of the Battle of Trenton, Maj General Frederick Frelinghuysen, the house was used as a meeting place throughout the Revolution.

Ambrose had a large practice and was known as a man of considerable strength. On one occasion three men came to the hotel with the intent to do him harm (for reasons not clear). When they sent a message stating their intentions, he went straight to the bar-room, went to a corner and invited them to take their shots, "Come on now boys." And so they did: The doctor broke the first man's arm with a single blow; the second was thrown against a table so hard "his limb was broken." The third, seeing the fate of his friends, ran. Dr. Cook graciously and kindly set the broken bones, no doubt dispensing some sound advice about knowing who to pick a fight with.8

About 1805, he was involved in a dispute with the church minster, Rev. David Barclay. Dr. Cooke was the prosecutor in a case before the church Presbytery which was investigating Rev. Barclay who was charged with adultery. Apparently only one woman was willing to present a written statement, so the case was dismissed. Barclay decided to move on, but not before destroying the records of the church. (This explains why there are are no church records of the births of Dr. Cook's earlier children.) However, Barclay did not let the matter rest. Since the charges had been dropped, he was not fully exonerated, and he made an effort to clear his name by charging defamation in the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County against Dr. Cook. Barclay won a small judgement, but Cook appealed to the Supreme Court where the judgement was reversed. Dr. Cook's involvement appears to end at this point, but, unfortunately for Rev. Barclay, all of the private proceedings of the Presbytery were now a matter of public record. Barclay's problems were later chronicled in The Several Trials of the Rev. David Barclay Before the Presbytery of New Brunswick (1814) by Jacob Kerr, a Justice of the Peace of Sussex County.9

He died at the Frelinghuysen house in 1828. There were no handles on coffins in those days, and to carry his coffin, three sticks were placed underneath, and six men at the ends carried the body to its resting place. Dr. Cook had instructed before his death that a bier should be made to carry his coffin, and afterwards should be placed on his grave and left there until it was needed at the next burial. The bier remained there for twenty days and during that time a note was written and placed there:
The lamented Dr. Cook did die,
Yet memory ever bring him nigh;
We'll strew his grave with early flowers,
And mourn his loss for that is ours.

Later, two maple trees were set in front of the house by daughters Althea [Alethia] and Ann [Hannah].

When he died, intestate, his youngest son John was under age, and the Orphans Court procedings recorded all of his surviving children, naming:
Edward Cook
Robert W. Cook,
Hannah Boggs, wife of Rev. John Boggs,
Theresa Ann Cook,
Ambrose W. Cook,
Alethia B. Cook,
Richard F. Cook,
All the above being older than 21, and John S. Cook a minor under 21.10,11


Sarah Piersall Wheeler b. 1 Mar 1774, d. 9 Dec 1857
This person was last edited on5 Jan 2020


  1. [S215] William Reiley, The Beloved Physician: A Discourse Made at the Funeral of Robert W. Cooke, M.D., in The Reformed Church, Holmdel, N. J., December 31st, 1867 (Freehold, New Jersey: James S. Yard, Printer, 1868), further cited as Reiley, R. W. Cooke Eulogy.
  2. [S1305] Ambrose Cook's Family Register, Gregory Cooke, Clarkdale, Arizona.
  3. [S215] Reiley, R. W. Cooke Eulogy. Handwritten notes on the inside front cover record vitals dates for Robert, wife Susan, father Ambrose, and mother Sarah.
  4. [S1563] Ambrose Ellis Cook Grave Stone, Presbyterian Graveyard, Bound Brook, Somerset Co., New Jersey; Photographed by Bruce Mitchell, Sep 2009.
  5. [S1546] Alice Martin LaRue, Find A Grave memorial #53111121, added 1 Jun 2010, online http://www.findagrave.com, accessed Jan 2020, further cited as Find A Grave.
  6. [S1325] Jacob Green, W. Ogden Wheeler and Edmund D. Halsey, Church Members, Marriages & Baptisms, at Hanover, Morris Co., N.J. During the Pastorate of Rev. Jacob Green, and to the Settlement of Rev. Aaron Condit: 1746-1796 (Morristown, New Jersey: The Jerseyman, 1893), 18, further cited as Green, Wheeler, and Halsey, Church Members, Marriages & Baptisms, at Hanover, Morris Co., N.J.
  7. [S80] George H. Cook, Notes for a Genealogy of the Family of Ellis Cook, of Southampton, L.I., N. Y. (New Brunswick, New Jersey: p.p., [1886]), 8, further cited as Cook, Notes for Ellis Cook.
  8. [S1648] T. E. Davis and Jim Hamilton (editor), First Houses of Bound Brook, Washington Camp Ground Association, 1893), 12-13, further cited as Davis and Hamilton, Houses of Bound Brook.
  9. [S1649] Jane Hall Spangler, Windows of the Past: A Tercentennial History of The Presbyterian Church, Bound Brook, New Jersey 1688-1988 (np: sp, 1988), 86-87, further cited as Spangler, Windows of the Past.
  10. [S1648] Davis and Hamilton, Houses of Bound Brook, 14.
  11. [S214] Somerset Co., New Jersey, Probate records, 1794-1945; indexes, 1804-1972, Orphan's court minutes, D:177, FHL microfilm 906632, further cited as Somerset Co. Probate.
  12. [S1050] Maria Cowdrey Cooke. Cooke and allied families, Compiled vital records data (no sources), Gregory Cooke, Clarkdale, Arizona.
  13. [S1321] New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University, Bound Brook Presbyterian Church Records, 1805-1903, 92, FHL microfilm 888714, further cited as Bound Brook Presbyterian Church Records.
  14. [S1321] Bound Brook Presbyterian Church Records, 98; FHL #888714.
  15. [S1321] Bound Brook Presbyterian Church Records, 110; FHL #888714.