Gookin, Sir Vincent (1590?–1638), planter, was the youngest son of John Gookin of Ripple Court, Kent, England, and his wife Catherine (née Dene) of Bursted, Kent. Vincent came to Ireland and took up office as surveyor general early in the century, was admitted freeman of Youghal (1618), and was knighted (1631). He settled in Co. Cork, first at Castle Mahon in the barony of Ibane and Barryroe as a tenant in fee simple to Phane Beecher, who had been one of the original Munster plantation undertakers, then at Courtmacsherry. Vincent's brother Daniel accompanied him to Ireland, then left Cork in 1621, with his son Daniel and fifty followers, for Virginia, where he settled Newport News. Having earned commendations for dogged resistance on his plantation during the 1622 over-running and killing of settlers, Daniel senior returned to Cork, where he acquired the castle and lands of Carrigaline. Daniel junior became an official in the Massachusetts Bay colony and friend of John Eliot, a missionary among the Massachusett people; in the 1670s Daniel wrote two important and sympathetic accounts of Native Americans in New England.
The Gookins’ status in Munster protestant society was lower than that of the Boyles, who held vast estates accumulated by the first earl of Cork (qv). However, Sir Vincent acquired much lucrative land, in dispersed parcels about Barryroe and the inlets of Timoleague and Clonakilty. His will shows he also profited from the abundant fisheries of Courtmacsherry Bay, as well as from cattle and a wool business, though on nothing like Richard Boyle's scale. The Gookins’ relation to the Boyles was one of intermittent rivalry and cooperation.
Sir Vincent tended towards combativeness: between 1629 and 1634 he was engaged in a legal dispute with Israel Taylor, vicar of Lislee parish near Courtmacsherry, for not having paid Taylor his ‘tithe of pilchards’, a form in which tithes were customarily paid all around the Cork coast at this time (CSPI, 1640–1660, 335). The non-residence in Lislee of Taylor, who had a large number of Co. Cork parishes, may underlie this. In 1633–4 Gookin had a major contretemps with the authorities over a notorious public letter to Thomas Wentworth (qv), a sweeping attack on several groups of the inhabitants of Ireland, which precipitately interrupted his own career there; amid an outcry, Gookin fled Wentworth's arrest warrant to Gloucestershire, where he eventually died. Surviving passages reveal a quality of waspishness and a somewhat anxious sense of cultural superiority which contrasts both with the eirenic tone of the pamphlets of his son Vincent Gookin (qv), and with his nephew's active interest in Native American culture. He blusters self-importantly about his resistance to assimilation by the Irish: ‘Although, by God's blessing, I have obtained possessions amongst them, and have many children here born, yet I have done and ever will stand at a distance with the Irish, and will not so much as suffer my children learn their language. I know they hate me, and I make them know I know it, and that I neither care nor fear their hatred, yet in matters of great consequence they make choice of me rather than their countrymen to end matters among them’ (CSPI 1647–1660, 184–5).
This defensiveness perhaps arises from the marked difference in relations between New English settlers and the existing Munster population from those obtaining elsewhere in Ireland. Only one-third of Munster was planted; in an area such as the barony of Ibane and Barryroe the position of the incoming Gookins was far from one of outright hegemony over existing landholders. Instead they and their like had to interweave themselves into prevailing social arrangements. The septs of old Gaelic gentry such as the MacCarthy Riabhach, and powerful local old English families such as the Gaelicised Norman Barrys and Hodnett-MacSherrys, occupied higher ranks than the incomers. Indeed Sir Vincent held his Courtmacsherry lands as a tenant of the Hodnetts, ‘Old English’ catholics.
Two sons, Vincent and Robert Gookin (d. 1666/7?) were born of Sir Vincent's first marriage, to Mary Wood, and at least two other children, Thomas and Charles, of his second, to Judith Crooke, daughter of Sir Thomas Crooke of Baltimore, Co. Cork. The latter three children are named in Sir Vincent's will, and Thomas is mentioned in subsequent local documents: as a burgess of Youghal (1659) and a trustee for its corporation (1662) in managing forfeited property in the town.
Robert, always called ‘Captain’, served in Charles I's forces in the 1640s, then in 1651 raised a troop for the parliamentary army, although it is not clear that he had a commission to do so. Something between a boon and a nuisance, his activities are reported with irritation and led to disputes. In 1653 he was granted possession of Ross Abbey, West Carbery, which he had fortified and now sought to plant with English settlers; in 1655 the authorities summoned him to answer objections to his claim for satisfaction for this expenditure. Another dispute occurred about the extent of lands granted him in 1654; this was referred to Surveyor Benjamin Worsley (qv), but a 1656 order grants Robert's petition for the benefit of a fishery rent-free for the next season. That year he sought recompense for grazing military horses, and in 1657 for keeping a troop at his own charge quartered facing the fastnesses of West Carbery and Kerry ‘ten miles nearer the enemy than any other garrison thereabout . . .’ (CSPI, 624). In 1660 he leased his lands to Orrery as a means of protection against possible penalties for his prominent 1650s service to parliament.
With his wife Dorothy (maiden name and date of marriage unknown), Robert had two sons and two daughters. His will was proved on 20 February 1667.