Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Linus, Linnaeus, Leneans – How do you spell that?

Linus van Pelt, Charles M Schulz’s Peanuts comic series
Captain N L Cooke was a child of Kentucky, born in 1816 to Norborne Berkeley Cooke and Judith Virginia Markham.  He likely began his days in the town of Versailles, but as a young boy, moved with his family to an area around New Castle in Henry county Kentucky.  His story is an interesting one, and descendant William “Bill” Millay has put together an account – sharing stories about the packet boats he operated on the Ohio River, his stance on slavery, and an eventual move to Texas.  Bill has graciously allowed me to share these stories on my Markham of Chesterfield website.

So, what do the “N. L.” initials represent?  After coming across at least a half-dozen different renderings for his name, I have settled with the spelling Norborne Linnaeus Cooke.  I don’t claim to be correct on this spelling, and I don’t have any strong evidence to support my choice.  After looking at so many possibilities, I simply had to settle on something. 

The name Norborne was passed down through the Cooke family for several generations.  It must have originated with Norborne Berkeley, 4th Baron Botetourt, who served as Governor of Virginia from 1768-1770. The Norborne name is often seen with a “u” in the second syllable.

Norborne Cooke’s middle name raises even more questions.  Not only have I seen a wide variety of spellings, but discussion continues as to whether the name is Linnaeus or Leneans.  Recently, Bill Millay and I have shared our thoughts on the question.  Coming from the ‘Markham Family camp”, I wrote to Bill:

I would like to ask you about the middle name “Leneans” . . . Do you know anything of its origin? I have no doubt that you know much more about the Cooke family than I do – but I have always felt that the Linnaeus spelling fit as a family name.  For what it is worth, I will tell you the little bit I know about the Linnaeus name.  Judith Virginia Markham Cooke (wife of Norborne Berkeley Cooke) had a sister Mary Markham.  She married Linnaeus Bolling and lived in Buckingham county Virginia.  I have the impression that Linnaeus Bolling was well respected among the Markham spouses.  I have assumed (possibly incorrectly) that Norborne and Judith Virginia Cooke used the name to honor their brother-in-law.  Bolling family history claims that the name Linnaeus was used in their family to honor the botanist Carl Linnaeus.  I don’t know more than that.

Bill replied, and referred me to James Nourse and His Descendants (1897), by Catharine Nourse Lyle – where the Leneans spelling of the middle name appears.  The Nourse book includes a good account of the descendants of Norborne Berkeley Cooke and Judith Virginia Markham.  It is not clear as to who supplied the information to Mrs Lyle.  If Judith Markham Cooke, or one of her children, supplied the information, then Bill is correct in suggesting to me, “I would think that the elder Mrs. Cooke would know how to spell her rather distinguished grandson's name.”  But, I do note that Judith Markham Cooke’s mother is incorrectly identified in the account, and that leaves me wondering. 

For now, I am going to leave Captain Cooke’s name as Norborne Linnaeus Cooke in my database.  But, I am not going to discount the possibility that his middle name is actually Leneans.  Perhaps some stronger evidence will surface in the future.

Regardless of the correct name spelling, you will enjoy learning more about Captain Cooke.  Be sure to check out, Captain Norbourne L Cooke: An account by William "Bill" Millay, 2015.

For more details on Norborne Linnaeus Cooke, visit his page at the Markham of Chesterfield website.

Moving back in time:      Norborne Linnaeus Cooke, 1816 > Judith Virginia Markham, 1787 > Bernard Markham, abt 1737 > John Markham of Chesterfield, abt 1700.
Norborne Linnaeus Cooke is my first cousin, five times removed.
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