From Leeds where he was born in 1808 Cookson took his degree at Cambridge. Ordained as priest in 1833 his first positions were as curate in Yorkshire, Norfolk and Leicestershire parishes before coming to Suffolk, first as curate at Combs for 7 years before being appointed to Stowupland in 1862, in 1871 he was living at Hill House in the parish. His ministry here lasted 10 years until his death in 1872.
The lack of dedicated accommodation for a vicar with a family was no doubt a disincentive in attracting applicants for the position. In June 1873, the diocesan architect R. M. Phipson advertised for tenders to build a vicarage in Stowupland. A grant from the ecclesiastical commissioners of £289 no doubt went a long way in funding this.