Early Family History: the Cokayne Memoranda

Andreas Edward Cockayne (born 1841 in Derby) researched, wrote about and compiled a family history. He privately published the Cockayne Memoranda: collections towards a historical record of the family of Cockayne in two parts – the first part a book in 1869 and the second a collection of pedigrees in 1873. Just 40 copies of volume one and 100 of volume two were published. The British Library in London holds one of the few publicly available copies – it is part of the rare books reference collection.  Parts of the Cockayne Memoranda have been digitised and are available from the online Family History Archive of the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University (search on Cockayne). 

The following information is sourced largely from the Memoranda (referred to as AECM) and provides a useful companion to the early pedigrees.

The Cokayne family may have been allied to William the Conqueror and may have resided at Henningham Castle in Essex prior to settling in Ashbourne (Poems (1658) of Sir Aston Cokaine, cited in AECM). Morant’s history of Essex records a John de Cokaine being fined concerning land in the parish of Alresford, Essex, in 1278. However, the manor concerned was conveyed to another family in 1332 (cited in AECM). Interestingly, there is a place called Cockaynes next to Alresford marked on the modern OS 1:50,000 map, but we have not researched its origins.

The AECM starts at 1150, with the listing of John Cokayne of Ashbourne, in the county of Derbyshire. It is uncertain as to what the date represents, but it seems most likely to have been from a documented reference to the living John and so may be neither a birth nor death date.

Ashbourne Hall was the primary residence of the family until the 17th century, when it was sold by Sir Aston Cokayne. It is clear that during this early period the Cokaynes held lands in many other parts of Derbyshire (e.g. Parwich, Chaddesden). Manors and lands in other parts of Derbyshire, such as Ballidon and Hartle, and in other counties (Warwickshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire) came into the family by marriage alliances with other landed families. Pooley Hall, in Warwickshire, became an important residence of the family from the late 14th century via marriage of Edmund Cokayne of Ashbourne to Elizabeth de Herthull. Edmund was the eldest son and therefore heir of Sir John Cokayne and his younger brother Sir John Cokayne established the Cockayne-Hatley branch of the family in Bedfordshire. The Cokaynes of Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire, arose from the Ashbourne branch in the early 17th century and became the Viscounts Cullen following marriage of Charles Cokayne with Lady Mary O’Brien, the daughter of the 5th Earl of Thomond and descendent of the royal Plantaganet family.

We have not attempted to verify the contents of the AECM, but we have been able to add a small amount of additional information to the later parts. The AECM pedigree has, in parts, been added to the IGI, but possibly with a number of errors and we would recommend caution in its use. However, there are other accounts that suggest the AECM is not entirely accurate. Of particular note is the work of Joyce Ream who suggests some revision to the line of the family originating with William, second son of Sir John and Isabel Shirley.

We provide some of the AECM pedigrees in parts, as follows (Each link opens a small jpeg file):

Part 1: John Cokayne of Ashbourne (1150) to Edmund Cokayne of Ashbourne and Sir John Cokayne of Cockayne-Hatley (<1400>).

Part 2: Sir Edmund Cokayne (<1400>) to Francis Cokayne (<1550>) and George Cokayne (-1623); the Ashbourne & Pooley branch.

Part 3: Sir John Cokayne of Cockayne-Hatley (<1400>) to Rev. George Cockayne of Cotton End (1619-).

Part 4: William Cokayne of Ashbourne (second son of Sir John Cokayne and Isabel Shirley) to William Cokayne of Surrey (-1618) and William Cokayne of London (1611-1666); from which Cokayne of Rushton Hall, Northants.

Part 5: George Cokayne (-1623) to Francis Cokayne of Chaddesden (1727-1785); the Chaddesden branch.

Part 6: Caleb Cokayne of Derby to Andreas Edward Cokayne of Derby (1841-); the Derby branch.