Sir Philip Sidney's funeral procession, under Robert Cooke, King of Arms, in 1587.
Robert Cooke (born c. 1535, died 1592–3)  was an  English Officer of Arms during the reign of Elizabeth I, who rose swiftly through the ranks of the College of Arms to Clarenceux King of Arms, serving in that office from 1567 until his death in 1592–3.
Cooke served as
Deputy Earl Marshal at the funeral of Sir Philip Sidney in 1587, but was later accused by some fellow heralds of granting arms to unworthy men for personal gain.
Life and work
Kirkham Grammar School from a recusant family, Cooke was brought up in the household of Sir Edmund Brudenell, an ardent genealogist. He went up to St. John's College, Cambridge, graduating in 1558. He was appointed Rose Blanche  Pursuivant Extraordinary, 25 January 1561–2 and succeeded  William Flower as Chester Herald of Arms four days later.  Both events were recorded in the diary of  Henry Machyn, who twice identified Cooke as the servant of Lord Robert Dudley. Cooke was promoted to Clarenceux King of Arms on 21 May 1567.  Cooke served as  Acting Garter King of Arms, after the death of Sir Gilbert Dethick on 3 October 1584, until the permanent appointment of Sir Gilbert's son William Dethick on 21 April 1586. As Acting Garter, Cooke with Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, accompanied the Earl of Derby to France to invest King Henri III with the Garter in 1584. 
As Clarenceux, Cooke was responsible for arranging the funerals of all
knights resident south of the River Trent In this capacity he oversaw the "magnificent" state funeral at  St Paul's Cathedral of Sir Philip Sidney, who died in Flanders on 17 October 1586.  Detailed drawings of the funeral procession on 16 February 1587, with its hundreds of mourners, were published as  The Procession at the Obsequies of Sir Philip Sydney, Knight, drawn and invented by Thomas Lant, Gentleman, servant to the said honourable Knight, and engraven on copper by Derick Theodore de Brijon, in the City of London. 1587.
Cooke had sought appointment as Garter (with the support of Dudley, by then the powerful Earl of Leicester),
and William Dethick, who secured the appointment, later charged Cooke with encroaching on the traditional privileges of Garter King of Arms. In 1595, after Cooke's death,  William Segar, Norroy King of Arms, sided with Dethick, criticising Cooke for his inability to write clearly and for making many grants of arms to "base and unworthy persons for his private gaine onely."    Ralph Brooke, York Herald and sometimes deputy to Cooke, complained in 1614 that Cooke had granted more than 500 new coats of arms during his tenure.
In 1530, Henry VIII had issued an instruction governing the conduct of
heraldic visitations, in which Clarenceux and Norroy Kings of Arms (or their deputies) were to tour their areas of authority, recording coats of arms and pedigrees of armigers, with powers to forcibly prevent the bearing of unauthorised arms.
As Chester Herald and deputy to
William Harvey, who preceded him as Clarenceux, Cooke conducted visitations of Worcestershire in 1560, Devonshire in 1562, Lincolnshire in 1562 and 1564, and Leicestershire and Warwickshire in 1563.
As Clarenceux, Cooke conducted visitations of
London in 1568 and again in 1593; Worcestershire in 1569; Herefordshire in 1569 and 1584; Worcester in 1569; Shropshire in 1569 and 1584; Essex in 1570 and 1583; Surrey, Hertfordshire and Middlesex in 1572; Devonshire in 1572; Somerset in 1573 and 1591; Cornwall in 1573; Kent in 1574 and 1589; Dorsetshire in 1574; Hampshire and Cambridgeshire in 1575; Suffolk in 1577; Buckinghamshire in 1580; Bedfordshire in 1582 and 1586; Gloucester in 1583; Berkshire in 1584; and Norfolk in 1589. Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, Richard Leigh (then Portcullis Pursuivant), and Ralph Brooke (then Rouge Croix Pursuivant), acted as Cooke's deputies on various visitations.
Cooke's invaluable writings in manuscript include
An English Baronage, Heraldic Rudiments, An Ordinary of Arms and A Treatise on the Granting of Arms. On one copy of An English Baronage the antiquarian Sir Simonds d'Ewes wrote a title concluding "in which are a world of errors, ergo caveat lector." 
Coat of arms of Robert Cooke
A dexter hand in armour proper joined to a wing or & holding a sword erect proper entwined with a branch of (? olive) vert. Escutcheon
Gules, a cinquefoil ermine in an orle of crosses crosslet fitchy argent. 
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).
^ a b
"Cooke, Robert (CK553R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
^ a b c d e f Stephen 1887, "Robert Cooke, herald".
^ The patent was sealed 8 February, the date given for the appointment in
Maychen's Diary; see Nichols 1848 and Cooper et al. 1861.
^ Nichols 1848, January 1561–2.
^ Raines 1870, pp. x, xiii.
^ a b Bos, Sanders, Marianne Lange-Meyers, and Jeanine Six, "Sidney's Funeral Portrayed". In Van Dorten et al. 1986, p. 38.
^ a b Moule 1822, p. 34.
^ a b Cooper 1861, p. 145.
^ Wagner 1967, p. 207.
^ a b Rockett 2000.
^ Wagner 1946, pp. 20–21.
^ Moule 1822, pp. 571, 584, 585, 598, 601.
^ Moule 1822, pp. 560–563, 565, 569, 571, 573, 575, 577, 580, 586–588, 593, 594, 597, 601.
"Clarenceux King of Arms | British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk . Retrieved . 21 November 2018
Cooper, Charles Henry, Thompson Cooper, and George John Gray (1861). . Athenae Cantabrigienses: 1586–1609 2. Deighton, Bell . Retrieved . 6 September 2009 CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list ( link)
Day, J. F. R. (2004). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 'Cooke, Robert (d. 1593) '" . Retrieved . 5 September 2009
Nichols, J. G. (editor) (1848). "Diary: 1562 (Jan – June)". The Diary of Henry Machyn: Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London (1550–1563) . Retrieved . 6 September 2009 CS1 maint: extra text: authors list ( link)
Moule, Thomas (1822). . Privately published Bibliotheca heraldica Magnæ Britanniæ: An analytical catalogue of books on genealogy, heraldry, nobility, knighthood, & ceremonies: with a list of provincial visitations, pedigrees, collections of arms, and other manuscripts; and a supplement, enumerating the principal foreign genealogical works . Retrieved . 5 September 2009
Raines, Francis Robert, ed. (1870). . Chetham Society The visitation of the county palatine of Lancaster, made in the year 1567 by William Flower, esquire, Norroy king of arms . Retrieved . 5 September 2009
Rockett, William (22 June 2000). "Britannia, Ralph Brooke, and the Representation of Privilege in Elizabethan England". Renaissance Quarterly . Retrieved . 5 September 2009
Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). . . Dictionary of National Biography 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
van Dorsten, J. A., Dominic Baker-Smith, and Arthur F. Kinney, eds. (1986). . Brill Archive. Sir Philip Sidney: 1586 and the creation of a legend ISBN 978-90-04-07923-6 . Retrieved . 5 September 2009 CS1 maint: uses editors parameter ( link)
Wagner, Anthony (1946). Heraldry in England. Penguin, London. Wagner, Anthony (1967). Heralds of England: A History of the Office and College of Arms. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
Heraldic manuscripts by Robert Cooke
Bannerman, W. Bruce, ed. (1899). . Harleian Society. The Visitations of the County of Surrey Made and Taken in the Years 1530 by Thomas Benolte, Clarenceux King of Arms: 1572 by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms, and 1623 by Samuel Thompson, Windsor Herald, and Augustin Vincent, Rouge Croix Pursuivant, Marshals and Deputies to William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms
Bannerman, W. Bruce, ed. (1924). . Harleian Society. The Visitations of Kent taken in the years 1530-1 by Thomas Benolte, Clarenceux, and 1574 by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux
Blaydes, Frederic Augustus, ed. (1884). . Harleian Society. The visitations of Bedfordshire: annis Domini 1566 [Harvey], 1582 [Cooke], and 1634 [Owen]
Howard, Joseph Jackson and Sir George John Armytage, ed. (1869). Harleian Society. The Visitation of London in the year 1568: Taken by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux king of arms, and since augmented ...
Metcalfe, Walter Charles, ed. (1879). Mitchell and Hughes. The Visitations of Essex by Hawley, 1552; Hervey, 1558; Cooke, 1570; Raven, 1612; and Owen and Lilly, 1634...
Metcalfe, Walter Charles, ed. (1886). Harleian Society. The visitations of Hertfordshire: made by Robert Cooke, esq.,Clarencieux, in 1572, and Sir Richard St. George, kt., Clarencieux, in 1634...
Rye, William, ed. (1891). . Harleian Society. The Visitations of Norfolk [1563 by William Harvey, Clarenceux, 1589 by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux, and 1613 by John Eaven, Richmond Herald]
Benolt, Thomas; Cooke, Robert (1885). Weaver, Frederic William (ed.). . Privately printed by W. Pollard. The Visitations of the County of Somerset, in the years 1531 and 1573, together with additional pedigrees, chiefly from the visitation of 1591 Weaver, Frederic William, ed. (1886). . Privately printed by W. Pollard. The visitation of Herefordshire made by Robert Cooke, Clarencieux, in 1569