COOKE, George Alfred
(Service number )

Aliases Possibly known as Alfred
First Rank Assistant Paymaster Last Rank Assistant Paymaster


Date 14 July 1883 Place of Birth Lexden, Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment
Previous Military Experience H.M.S. Latona
Marital Status
Next of Kin
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with UK Armed Forces Served in Navy
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Royal Navy
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Staff Paymaster; Paymaster Commander


Date 24 December 1957 Age 74 years
Place of Death Harkstead, Suffolk
Memorial or Cemetery St Mary's Churchyard, Harkstead, Suffolk, England
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

George Alfred Cooke was born on 14 July 1883 at Lexden, Timaru, the younger son of George and Mary Elizabeth (née Raine) Cooke. George Cooke was born in 1842 at Semer, Suffolk, his father being the rector there. His parents, however, divorced in 1863. George and Mary Elizabeth married on 7 December 1876 at St Patrick's Church, Burkes Pass. George was a sheep farmer in partnership with his brother-in-law, John Hunter Raine, probably at Sherwood Downs, until the partnership was dissolved in August 1882. George's oldest daughter was born at Waltham in September 1877, George then being of Sherwood Downs, as he was in November 1878. As of November 1884, George was of Lexden, Timaru. His sons had been born there, Surtees in March 1881 and George in July 1883.

It was in December 1884 that George Cooke, Esq, Wai-iti, having sold his property, auctioned at his residence "the Whole of his Very Superior Household Furniture, Stock, &c." This was indeed, a well furnished four-bedroom house, with dining room, kitchen, bathroom, dairy, wash-house, and servants' quarters. Stock (horses, cows, sheep) and sundries (farm implements) were also sold. The "Tongariro' left Lyttelton for London on 17 January 1885, among the second saloon passengers Mr George Cooke, Mrs Mary Cooke, Misses Alice and Nellie Cooke, and Masters Frank, C. L. and Alfred Cooke. Mary Elizabeth Cooke (Mrs George Cooke), late of Lexden, Gleniti, Timaru, died on 24 August 1888 in London. George was at the time at Upham, Southampton. George Cooke was possibly at Brook House, Upper Clapton, London, England, in August 1914 – next-of-kin for his son Surtees?

In 1891 George and his brother Semer were at Knutsford Inferior, Chester, England, with a widowed great-aunt, Elizabeth Irwin, her son Surtees Irwin, and three of her daughters. It may be that young George spent two months at Timaru Main School in mid 1895, in the guardianship of a Mrs Williamson of Church Street. George enrolled as Paymaster Captain with the Royal Navy on 15 January 1901. A marriage was arranged to take place quietly in August 1914, at Knockainy, County Limerick, between Mr George Alfred Cooke, assistant-paymaster, R.N., of H.M.S. Latona, youngest son of Mr George Cooke, late of Timaru, and Miss Eileen Beresford Knowles, youngest daughter of vice-Admiral Sir Charles Knowles, Bart., of Oxford. In the event they married on 4 July at St Michael’s and All Angels Church, Summertown, Oxfordshire, England. Perhaps there was a ceremony at Knockainy also, Eileen being Irish born.

Beneath the heading “On Service – The New Zealand Roll in Army and Navy”, the Press (20 February 1915) recorded from the London correspondent on 5 January – “That New Zealanders abroad have not been slow to tender their services in defence of the Empire will be evident from the following list of those who are at present on service with the British Army and Navy and Auxiliary Forces. I have compiled it from sources available here, and have brought it right up to date with the latest Gazettes, though possibly there are omissions of officers and men who are serving in outlying parts of the Empire.” In that list is COOKE G. A. (Timaru), Assistant Paymaster, H.M.S. Latona.

Under Personal Notes about New Zealanders, the Press of 4 April 1918 and the Timaru Herald of 5 April 1918 reported from the London correspondent on 25 January – “Assistant Paymaster G. A. Cooke, R.N. (late of Timaru), is now a staff paymaster to Chatham.” The Evening Star of 21 January 1927 recorded – “A Wellington Association message states that the following officers have been appointed in the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy: - . . . . . ; Paymaster-Commander George Alfred Cooke, R.N., to H.M.S. Diomede; . . .”

George and Eileen were resident at the Royal Hospital School, Stamford, Suffolk, in 1939, George recorded as a Paymaster Captain Royal Navy Retired and Eileen as a Women’s Volunteer Service member. George Alfred Cooke died on 24 December 1957 at Harkstead, Suffolk, of Greenshaw Holbrook, Suffolk. Capt George Alfred Cooke was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, Harkstead. Probate was granted to his wife Eileen Beresford Cooke, his effects worth £1657.0s.1d. Eileen died on 17 January 1983, aged 93 years, and was buried with George.


NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [24 January 2020]; Timaru Herald, 10 September 1877, 4 November 1878, 21 March 1881, 16 July 1883, 19 November 1884, 17 October 1888, 21 July 1914, South Canterbury Times, 21 August 1882, 6 & 22 December 1884, Star, 17 January 1885, Press, 17 January 1885, Southland Times, 28 August 1914, Press, 20 February 1915, 4 April 1918, Evening Star, 21 January 1927 (Papers Past) [24 & 25 January 2020]; School Admission record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [24 January 2020]; 1891 England census return ( [24 January 2020]; England Probate Indexes ( [25 January 2020]; 1939 UK Register ( [26 January 2020]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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