Founding citizen of the State of Franklin and, later, of Tennessee.
Settled on the Virginia-Tennessee border (1774), then in Kentucky (c. 1775). Militia captain in Revolutionary War. Served in Transylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina state legislatures. Active in efforts to establish the independent State of Franklin in western North Carolina (1784-88); helped write constitution, served as a state legislator, brigadier general, Indian agent, and commissioner to North Carolina, and was elected to the U.S. Congress, which refused to seat him. Later served in the Southwest Territorial legislature and the territorial convention that created the state of Tennessee. U.S. Senator for Tennessee (1796-97, 1799- 1805). Judge of the circuit court of Tennessee (1809-12). Moved to Mississippi (1813), where he was an Indian agent and state legislator.
Son of Abraham Cocke of Amelia County, Virginia. Married (1) Sarah Maclin (c. 1773); nine children. Married (2) Keziah Sims.