1 – The North Coast Cooks

Henry Thomas Hicks‘ eldest living daughter, Margaret “Maggie” Minnie Hicks, in 1899 at St Augustines Bulli, married Alfred Cook, son of William M Cooke(e) and his first wife Rose Cook (e) nee McMahon, of Benares, in the Avondale area near Dapto. Margaret and Alfred Cook had four children. Note Rose may have died around 1894 and then William remarried to a widow, Mary A Collins in 1898.

A year earlier, Alfred’s brother, Alexander  “Alick” Cook, had married the much older Alexina McKenzie, daughter of Duncan and (3rd wife) Christina McKenzie, at Woonona, in 1898.  Alfred Cook and Margaret Hicks had been witnesses at their siblings’ 1898 wedding at St Augustines Bulli.

Alexina was also a cousin of Margaret’s mother, Mary Ann Hicks (McKenzie). It has not been determined if Alexina and Mary Ann’s fathers were brothers or cousins. Later Alexander “Alick” Cook would marry Margaret Cook’s younger sister, Mary Alice “Biddy” Cook.

Alick Cook’s first wife, Alexina McKenzie had been a school teacher at North Bulli (then known as Austinmer) Public School and boarded with Mary Ann and Henry Thomas Hicks, as had earlier school teachers. Later, Alexina moved to teach at Avondale School, living in the Schoolhouse with her mother, Christina McKenzie nee McGillivary.

The Avondale school dated from 1860, one of the earliest public schools in the Illawarra, if not the earliest, being established after a 1857 community petition led by early European Illawarra pioneer Henry Osborne. Perhaps Alfred and Alexander Cook had attended Avondale School, along with at least some of their 14 siblings ? Note – St Francis Xaviers Catholic School in Wollongong is perhaps the earliest Illawarra school – established in 1837.

Alexina’s mother Christina McKenzie died at the Avondale Schoolhouse in 1894 and so it appears that several years later Alexina married local boy Alick Cook around 1898 –  Alick had been up the North Coast. After their marriage, Alick and Alexina Cook lived on a farm called Albion Farm in the Alstonville area, and Alick, like his father W M Cook, became an alderman. Alick was to serve on his local north coast NSW council from 1923 until his death in 1933.

After Alexina died aged 73 years in 1926, Alexander then married one of sister in law Margaret Cook nee Hicks’ younger sisters, spinster Mary Alice “Biddy” Hicks. As noted above, Biddy’s mother, Mary Ann Hicks  nee McKenzie,and Alexina McKenzie  were also cousins – one of those intricate family interconnections.

There were no children from either of Alexander’s marriages. And Alexander second marriage to Biddy’s was only short-lived. Alexander died in 1933, and was buried with first wife, Alexina in Alstonville. After Alexander’s death, Biddy seems to have moved down to live with her younger sister Edith Florence Joy (nee Hicks) in Forest Rd Penshurst. Biddy is still fondly remembered by her sister Edith’s grandchildren. On Biddy’s death, her remains would be buried with her Hicks family at St Augustine’s Bulli. Six generations of her Hicks family now lie there.

And so the Avondale “Benares” Cook brothers,  and their respectives brides, had  all moved up to the north coast at various times – but sometimes Maggie and Biddy would travel to visit their younger sister, Edith Florence Joy (Hicks), down at Edith’s Penshurst home.


Alfred died in 1930, aged 61 years and was buried at Alstonville.  It would be over 20 years later, that Margaret died in 1952 aged 86 years, and was buried with husband Alfred in Alstonville.

Alfred Cook Obituary March 1930

“With, the passing of Mr. Alfred Cook, at Ballina on March 25, another of that band of good colonists who came from the South Coast of this State has gone, but his memory will linger long with a large circle of friends who regret his demise. Deceased was born at Avondale, South Coast, in 1869, and had thus reached the age of 61 years. As a young man he came to the Richmond River and settled at Rous. About 30 years ago he returned to the South Coast and married Miss Margaret Hicks, of Bulli. Returning with his bride he made his home at Rous. Being of a speculative turn of mind, Mr. Cook lived at different times at Newrybar, North Creek,and Alstonville. About three years ago the family settled at Ballina, where a carrying business was conducted with success. In addition to a widow there are two sons and two daughters, Messrs. George Cook and Alf. Cook, and Mesdames A. Rummery and A. Saunders. Deceased was one of a family of fourteen children, namely, Charles (Avondale), Albert. (Alstonville), John (Penrith), Edward (Byron Bay),Mesdames Kelly (Wollongong), Moore(Camden), Duffy (Newcastle), McAuliffe (Wollongong), Currie and Dwyer (Sydney). Four brothers predeceased him. The remains were laid to rest at Alstonville, Rev. E. G.Huntley conducting the service, and Mr. Chas. Henderson having charge of the funeral arrangements. Wreaths and tokens of sympathy were forwarded from Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Irwin,Mr. and Mrs. K. McGrath, Mr. and Mrs. E. Cook (Bangalow), Mr. T. Walls, Mr. and Mrs. Jung and family, Mr.and Mrs. O ‘Neil and family, Mr. and Mrs. A. Davis, Mr. L. Saunders, Mr.and Mrs. T. Ainsworth and family, Mr.and Mrs. G. D. Stewart and family, Miss Larkin, Mr. and Mrs. Les. Kimpton, Mr. and Mrs. Flanagan and family, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Daley, Mr. and Mrs. G. Woodford, Mr. and Mrs. Simons, Ballina Fire Brigade, Mr. and Mrs. Earmon Brown, Mr. and Mrs. T. Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Coe and family, St. Mary ‘s Church of England Women’s Guild, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Ainsworth and family, Miss H. Clavan, Mr.and Mrs. A. W. Garrett and family, Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Smith and family, Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Woolley (Byron Bay), Dr. and Mrs. C. Bluett, Mr. and Mrs. G. Young, Rovers’ Football Club, Ballina Tick Staff, Mr. and Mrs. B. Cox, Mr. and Mrs. J. Young, Mr. and Mrs. Lanerley,  Mr. and Mrs. A. Cook (Alstonville).


Maggie died in May 25 1952, at Ballina Hospital, aged 86 years and was described as one the Ballina District’s pioneers.

MRS. MARGARET COOK – Obituary June 3 1952

BALLINA, Monday. — With the death of Mrs. Margaret Minnie Cook, of Moon Street, Ballina, at Ballina District Hospital on May 25; another of the district pioneers has departed.

Mrs. Cook was born at Bulli, South Coast, on January 1, 1866.

She married, the late Mr. Alfred Cook, who also came from the South Coast, and lived for a number of years at Newrybar, North Creek, Altsonville,       and finally settled at   Ballina, where her husband died. She is survived by one son and two daughters. The son is George (Ballina) and the daughters are Marjory(Mrs. A. Rummery, Coogee, Sydney), and Gladys (Mrs. A. Saunders, Ballina).

The funeral took place from the Church of England, Alstonville, where a service was   conducted by Rev. E. Williams, who also conducted the service at the graveside. The   pallbearers were Messrs. G.   Cook (son), A. Saunders (son-in-law), F. Saunders (nephew ?), N. Saunders (grandson), A. Harris (nephew), J. McEwen (cousin), J. Whipps (a very, old friend). Many floral tributes and tokens of sympathy were forwarded.


MR. ALEX. COOK – ALSTONVILLE. Friday. September 1933

Mr. Alexander Cook died at his residence, ”Albion Hill,” Tuckombil, this morning. The late Mr. Cook at tended the funeral of Mr. H. A. Robins at Alstonville yesterday, and seemed in good health, but at four o’clock this morning he awoke with a severe headache and died shortly afterwards. ‘

The late Mr. Cook was born at Dapto 65 years ago, and engaged in farming pursuits on the South Coast until 35 years ago, when he removed to the Richmond, bringing with him his wife, Miss McKenzie, of Bulli.

He purchased the property upon  which he resided until his death, from Mr. P. J. Daley, now of Ballina, and here made a name as a breeder of Illawarra cattle. He was the first president and examiner of the North ern Rivers Illawarra Dairy Cattle Herd Society; and for many years a prominent judge of this breed, offici ating at Sydney, Melbourne, Ade laide, Brisbane, and numerous other shows. Last month the late Mr. Cook judged at the Brisbane National Show.

He was one of the first chairmen of directors of the original Alston ville dairy factory, which was one of the first factories on the North Coast, and was later a director of the present factory, which is now a branch of Norco, Ltd. His first wifedied at Alstonville about eight years ago, and in 1928 he married Miss A. Hicks, of Thirroul. There is no family of either marriage.


It is doubtful if there was a more popular citizen in the Alstonville district than deceased, who was the possessor of a splendid disposition. He was a councillor of Tintenbar Shire since 1923, and his associations with this body have always been pleasant. From his arrival in the district Mr. Cook was a stalwart sup porter of the Alstonville Agricultural Society, having occupied the position president, vice-president, trustee,  chief cattle steward, and many minor offices. His support took a practical turn, and on many occasions he assisted the society financially. An other of his activities was in connection with the Alstonville Caledonian Society, of which he was president on several occasions, and a keen and energetic member. In earlier years, deceased was much interested in rifle shooting, being president of the now defunct Alstonville Rifle Club, and having won trophies in most towns in the district. Although not a player, Mr. Cook was a foundation member of the Alstonville Bowling Club, and his later assistance result ed in him being elected a life member. When the Alstonville CroquetClub was formed three years ago, his   generosity was again noticeable, his assistance being forthcoming in     many ways. In addition to a widow, there are “two brothers, Messrs. E. M, Cook (Talofa), and John Cook (Pen rith), and five sisters, Mesdames Kelly, McAuliffe (Wollongong), Duffy (Newcastle), Currie (Sydney), and Dwyer (Sydney). The funeral will leave deceased’s late residence to-day after a service at the house commencing at 1 p.m. for the Alstonville cemetery.


Alexina Cook – Widow of Alexander Cook – Obituary – North Star Lismore 21 .12. 1926


There passed away at her residence, “Albion Farm’ Alstonville, Sunday,   12th inst., an early resident of the district in the person of Mrs. Alexina Cooke, wife of Mr. Alex. Cook, of Alstonville. Deep regret was felt throughout the whole community when the news became known, as the deceased lady was held in the highest respect and esteem. Her unbounded charity, thoughtfulness for others, especially those in distress, and her bright and cheerful disposition had endeared her to all, whilst, her many contributions to public functions were characteristic of her splendid generosity. She had a host of true friends, who mourn her death.


The late Mrs. Cook, who before marriage was Miss McKenzie, was born at Fairy Meadow, near Wol longong, 73 years ago, and came to Alstonville district about 30 years ago, and settled on the farm where she had lived ever since. Before coming to .this locality the late Mrs. Cook was a school teacher at North Bulli, Tongarra (near Albion Park) and Avondale. The deceased was a  great worker for the Presbyterian Church, and also for the show and all patriotic, charitable and public movements. During the war she worked indefatigably for the soldiers, and she received countless letters from them expressing their gratitude for herkindness and consideration for their com fort. Up to her last moments she had been actively engaged in this public spirited en terprise, and many a necessitous case had received liberal assistance without the facts being broadcasted to the public. Her husband survives her. There were no children of the marriage. The deceased lady was away for a fortnight in Sydney prior to her death, and was visiting a cousin,  Mrs. H. Hicks, of Thirroul, South Coast, who was most anxious to see her. She said on step ping on to the jetty, at Byron Bay on her return that she had a most pleasant holiday, but before getting into the town of Byron Bay whilst walking along the jetty she complained of a sudden feeling of sickness. After resting for a while she was able to return home. After retiring in the evening she did not rise from her bed again.

The funeral took place on Monday after noon, the cortege being one of the largest ever seen in the district. The interment took place in the Presbyterian portion of the Alstonville cemetery, the Rev. J. Allan (Alstonville), assisted by Rev. R. Miller (Bangalow), performing the last rites at the graveside. Messrs. W. Riley and Son had charge of the funeral arrangements. Many wreaths, cards, letters and telegrams, of sympathy were sent from all parts of the State.


When Aunty Biddy died in September 1944, she was not buried with her husband, Alexander Cook, as he was already buried in Alstonville, with his first wife, Alexina nee McKenzie, a cousin of Biddy’s mother,  Mary Ann Hicks (nee McKenzie).

So Biddy was buried with her Hicks family, in St Augustine’s Bulli. Her niece “Molly” Mary Constance Callcott would be buried beside her, in the years that followed. In the mid 1980’s, St Augustine’s Bulli redeveloped and built over the grave yards. The gravestones were to be placed in a memorial park. However it would not be until 1998 that this project was finally completed. Biddy’s gravestone was placed near to her family’s – James and Margaret Hicks, with their daughter Minnie, second wife of Archibald Blundell; her parents Henry Thomas and Mary Ann McKenzie; her sister Edith Florence Joy & husband John Charles;  niece “Molly” Mary Constance Callcott. The ashes of succeeding Hicks generations have also been interred near Biddy’s gravestone, viz great niece Joan Lois Adams nee Callcott, with her husband Cyril Ross Adams, as well as great great nephew Ian Craig Callcott and his mother Lola Elspeth Callcott nee Martin.

Grave Mary Alice Biddy Cook pre 1980s Church redevelopment

Grave of Mary Alice “Biddy” Cook (nee Hicks) – second wife of Alexander Cook who is buried with first wife Alexina, in Alstonville – note photograph is pre 1980’s Church redevelopment

Closely adjacent grave of Biddy's niece - "Molly" Mary Constance Callcott next to Biddy Cook  - pre 1980s Church redevelopment

Closely adjacent grave of Biddy’s niece – “Molly” Mary Constance Callcott (nee Joy)- pre 1980’s Church redevelopment

About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
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1 Response to 1 – The North Coast Cooks

  1. Pingback: 1 – From the Farming Cooks to the Families of Fortune, a NSW Migration Heritage Project | The Hicks Family

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