James Powell Cocke (1748-1829) was born at Malvern Hill, his family's ancestral home in Henrico County, Virginia. In 1783, Cocke moved to Augusta County and then in 1787 he relocated to Albemarle County. When he came to Albemarle, Cocke purchased from Robert Nelson sixteen hundred acres on the south fork of the Hardware River. According to Albemarle County historian Edgar Woods, Cocke "fixed his residence on the east side of Fan's Mountain, and the west edge of the Eppes Creek valley .... He first built the mill which has ever since continued in that vicinity ...."1 Cocke was married twice, first to Elizabeth Archer, then to Lucy Smith. He had five children: James Powell, Smith, Chastian, Mary, and Martha.
In his memorandum books, Thomas Jefferson first mentioned Cocke as early as 1771, when Jefferson became involved in a case between "Isaac an Indian" and Cocke, whom Isaac sued for freedom. Late in Jefferson's presidency, he purchased glasses and a stove in Philadelphia for Cocke. Most of Jefferson's correspondence with Cocke comes from the 1812-1813 period and concerns stocking Jefferson's fish pond with "Roanoke chub."
In Albemarle County, James Cocke lived at Edgemont, a house that was built ca. 1796 and is generally believed to have been designed by Thomas Jefferson. Cocke died in 1829 and was buried in a small family plot behind the house.
Primary Source References
1772 November 1. "Isaac an Indian v. James Powell Cocke (Henrico). Bring suit for freedom."2
1772 November 3. "Isaac an Indian v. James Powell Cocke (Henrico). Issd. writ in TAB. & false imprismt. Dam. £200."3
1781 March 16. "Recd. from Jas. Cock of Malverne hills a horse mule (Dr. Slop) and a mare mule (Capt. Molly) both 3. years old for which I am to pay 3000 ℔ tobo. each or it’s worth in money."4
1781 April 4. "Inclosed F. Eppes for James Powell Cocke for the two mules £4800."5
1782 May 21. "Charge Jas. Cocke (Malverne hills) a leap."6
1796 September 3. "Recd. from Rand. Jefferson a negro boy Ben, Peter's son who is to be valued by John Coles & James Cocke, and I am to pay the valuation to Donald & co. in discharge of their acct. agt. him."7
1797 September 20. "Colo. Coles & Mr. Cocke have valued the two boys I bought from Rand. Jefferson (Carey & Ben) at £155."8
1800 May 9. "Gave McAllister & Matthews ord. on J. Barnes for 11.33. viz. ... for glasses for Jas. Cocke. 1.67...."9
1800 November 4. "Recd. of Jas. P. Cocke for stove &c. balance in full £3-11-6."10