Cook’s grave in Rugeley

Cook's Grave beneath the yew tree.
Cook’s Grave beneath the yew tree.

As you enter St. Augustine’s Churchyard from Station Road and approach the main church door, few would give a second glance at the grave that stands on the right hand beneath the yew tree. But the death of the gentleman buried there started one of the biggest scandals of the Mid Nineteenth Century. For several years the grave of John Parsons Cook was merely covered in an earth mound. In 1859 or 1860 the Reverend Atkinson had a stone placed upon his grave. It was made of limestone and can still be seen to this day.

A mistake on the inscription

They made a mistake on the inscription. It was incorrect as Cook died at 1.00a.m. on 21st November 1956 not 22nd November 1856 so later the date was scratched out.

Postcards bearing the inscriptions from his grave were sold right up until 1920
(See Memorabilia at Shugborough)

An Anomaly

All accounts written in 1856 referred to Cook and his stepfather having a close relationship. Why then did his stepfather permit Cook to be buried in Rugeley rather than in the family vault in London? Also why did he himself not purchase a headstone for the grave?