William Cooke was born in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanaugh, Ireland. He was among the pioneers of Northumberland county, of which he was the first elected sheriff, serving in that office from 1772 to 1775. He represented Mahoning township in the Committee of Safety which organized at the house of Richard Malone on the 8th of February, 1776. On the preceding day, at a meeting of the officers and committee-men of the lower division of the county, he had been elected lieutenant colonel of the battalion, and thus early in the Revolutionary struggle was called upon to assume the responsibilities of military leadership. He was a delegate to the Provincial Conferences of June, 1775, and June, 1776, and to the Constitutional Convention of 1776. On the 2d of October, 1776, he was commissioned colonel of the Twelfth Pennsylvania regiment of the Continental Line, which was so reduced in numbers at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown that its officers and men were assigned to other commands or mustered out of the service. In 1781, 1782, and 1783, Colonel Cooke was elected to the Assembly; on the 3d of October, 1786, he was commissioned a justice of the courts of Northumberland county, and on the 19th of January, 1796, he became associate judge, serving in that office until his death in April, 1804. Howell’s map of 1792 locates his residence in Point township near the North Branch above Northumberland.
Reprinted from Herbert C. Bell, History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1891, p. 237.