Robert was the son of John COOKE, a labourer and Mary the daughter of Peter HIGGINSON, also a labourer.
Robert and Mary were married 18 October 1851 at St Mark Armagh (CofI), both of full age, his address was Loughgall, hers Armagh.
Robert was a labourer at the time of his marriage and when his son Alexander was born in 1864 and when his younger daughter Ellen Jane married the second time in 1885, but when daughter Margaret married (in Co Sligo) in 1884 he was described as a farmer, as he was in 1903 on Mary's death certificate, so probably an agricultural labourer who worked up to having his own small farm. In Griffith's Valuation 1864 he was recorded as a tenant of a house and garden in Turcarra townland in Loughgall parish.
Mary was an 80 years old widow in 1901, so born about 1820-1821. She was living with her unmarried son Alexander and granddaughter Laura (my Granny) at 53 Barrack Hill Armagh. Although Mary was head of household I'm pretty sure that Alexander filled in the household schedule as Mary could only read, not write. He got a few things wrong though! He described Laura as neice of thehouseholder, she was his neice and Mary's granddaughter, and was said to be aged 7 (she was 10) and born Belfast (that's where her parents and siblings were living, she was born in Sligo.) He also got his own age wrong, he said he was 35 but was actually nearly 37, and in 1911 when he was still at the same address but living alone he said he was 40.
Mary died of old age on 7th May 1903 in Newtonhamilton, Co Armagh, the widow of a farmer. The death was registered by her son Joseph. In 1901 an unmarried 38 year old farmer Joseph Cook was living at 61 Dundalk Street, Newtonhamilton and in 1911 the same Joseph was 52 years old and living at 29 Dundalk Street. I think he was Mary's son.
The family were protestant Church of Ireland so it is likely, but I am a long way from proving, that they were planters from northern England or southern Scotland who were given land in Ireland as part of 16th and 17th century efforts to supress Roman Catholicism in Ireland.
It is from Mary Higginson,my great great grandmother that I get my mitochondrial DNA which is haplogroup W; found in low numbers across Europe as far west as Ireland, but not one of the commoner Seven Daughters of Eve haplogroups. As yet I seem to be unique in the databases for my exact HVR1 values and so not (yet) worth having the HVR2 or HVR3 regions tested.
Known children of Robert & Mary: