George's parents, William Henry Cockram (1820-1899) and Prudence Yeo (1822-1908):
William was born in Stoke Rivers, northern Devon, the eldest of seven children of William Cockram Sr and his wife Thomazin Hoyle. He worked as an agricultural labourer from at least the age of twenty, and probably earlier, staying in Stoke Rivers until after he married Prudence Yeo in 1843. They raised their children in Bickington and later moved a short distance to Fremington. On various censuses, William's occupation is given as agricultural labourer, labourer, and later, a lighterman in Fremington.
I mentioned in an earlier post that Prudence was an illegitimate child of Elizabeth Yeo, and that she had a daughter about a year before she married William - other than that, I know nothing about her. The only potentially 'controversial' thing I've found about William is that he may have been accused of stealing a chicken in when he was an 'old man' in 1891. But I strongly suspect that was another William Cockram. So if William or Prudence did do anything that somehow upset George, I still don't know what it was.
George's siblings in a nutshell
Elizabeth Yeo Cockram (1842-1893): Elizabeth married John Ellis in 1861when her brother George was only ten years old. In about 1869, the Ellis family moved to Swansea, Wales, where John was an agricultural labourer. John died in 1881 and Elizabeth remarried. She and her new husband, James Taylor returned to Fremington, living next door to her parents. Elizabeth died in 1893.
Thomas Cockram (1845-1907): I've always imagined that George's choice of his new name, Thomas, came from this brother. If George was fond enough of Thomas to adopt his name, it's highly unlikely that Thomas did anything that sent George running. But he may have encouraged George to find new horizons overseas, and inspired him to use a new name. Thomas didn't do anything so adventurous himself though. As a young man he worked as a carter and boarded with other families in Fremington. In 1871 he was working as a railway porter and boarding in the outskirts of London with James and Eleanor Knowles and their daughter Elizabeth, who he married in 1874. She died only four years later, and for some time, Thomas' sister Mary Ann lived with him and his two children in Kingston on Thames. When he was 40 years old, Thomas married Frances Deakin. He spent his whole adult life working for the railway as a porter, and died at the age of 62.
Mary Ann Cockram (1847- aft 1911): Mary Ann never married, as far as I can tell, and worked as a servant of one type or another from the age of 14 up until my last sighting of her at age 44. Most of her life was spent in Devon, but as mentioned above, she spent some time as Thomas' housekeeper in London when he was widowed. In 1891 she was back in Devon, working as a housemaid, along with her sister Lucy, for the Macaulay sisters in Littleham. And then she drops off the radar. I'm intrigued that like her brother George, Mary Ann appears to be missing from the 1871 census. Some day, will I find the two of them together somewhere? (updated info in a newer post)
John Cockram (1849-1932): There were a lot of John Cockrams in Devon in the 1800s and I'm not sure I'm on the trail of the right one - but I do know that John was working and living on a farm by the age of 12. If I've got the right John after that (and I think I do), at some point he went to Wales, and I have to wonder if this had anything to do with his sister Elizabeth going there - he may well have gone at the same time. He married twice and worked as a beer bottler in a brewery in Glamorgan, then ran the Bridge Inn public house. After his second marriage in 1894, he and his wife Minnie Hawkridge returned to Devon, where they ran a pub on The Strand in Barnstaple. By 1911, they had moved to Islington in London, where John was a 'beer retailer' - does that mean he ran a pub? He died at 84 years old, back in Devon in 1932. (updated info in a newer post)
William Cockram (1853-1910): William is the only Cockram who I'm certain was in the military. He joined the Navy in 1869 at the age of 15, and served for at least 5 years. In 1871 he was aboard the Caledonia in Naples, Italy on census night. (If only I had found George there too....). Perhaps William's tales of adventures at sea gave George the travel bug - who knows? After 1873, William is very hard to find amongst other William Cockrams. I think he died in 1910 in Devon, but am not sure.
Richard Cockram (1855-?): Richard may well have died before he reached manhood. In 1871, at the age of 16, he was working as a ploughboy at a farm in Yelland, Devon. And that's the last I've found of him.
Alfred (1857-1940), Herman (1862-1902) and Frederick Cockram (1865-1940): These three brothers emigrated to Australia. I'll discuss them in a separate post.
Lucy Cockram (1860-aft 1911): In 1871 Lucy was only eleven years old, and not likely to have had much influence on her missing brother George. She spent much of her life in various service jobs in households around Devon. By 1901, after her father had died, she was living with her mother in Fremington, and five years later, at the age of 46, she married Henry Turner. In 1911 they were living in the neighbouring county of Somerset, where they were the stewards of a golf club. And then they both disappeared...
Clara Cockram (1864-1950): Clara was thirteen years younger than George, but I suspect he was fond of her, as he named his first child after her. Like her sisters, she worked as a housemaid when she was a young girl. In 1894 she married Henry Moran in London, and lived there, in Islington for the rest of her life. She and Henry, who was a commercial traveller selling scientific instruments, had four children. Henry died in 1927, and Clara lived on for another 23 years. When she died in 1950, she left an estate of 1200 pounds to her children.
These are very quick sketches of George's siblings' lives. For a few of them, I have no more information, and for those who I do know more about, there's nothing to indicate that any of them ever got into any kind of trouble or did anything outrageous. But of course I can't discount the possibility. In any case, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I think it's unlikely that George was estranged from any of them, as so many of their names were passed on to his children.