Francis Cooke was born in England about 1583. No one knows for sure exactly where he was born, but it was most probably the south-east of England or East Anglia. We can say with some degree of certainty that, at the age of 20, he married a French Protestant refugee called Hester le Mahieu in Holland, which at that time was a haven for those fleeing Catholic persecution. Francis and Hester had four children together and seem to have divided their time between England and Holland, with Francis making his living as a wool-comber.
Francis Cooke was one of the original Pilgrim settlers who made the perilous crossing to America aboard the Mayflower. Initially, however, his family didn't come with him, and Francis only sent for them once the settlement was properly up and running. For the rest of his long life Francis kept a fairly low profile in Plymouth, serving diligently like so many others on the various committees and juries that were responsible for the settlement's administration.