Thursday, 30 July 2015

Where were the rellies? Part 2

Right, it's time to have a look at George's parents and numerous siblings to see what they got up to that might have had something to do with George changing his name and/or leaving the country.

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.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Where were the rellies? Part 1

Besides good old Uncle George, I wonder if anyone else in George's or Louisa's family had some influence on their decision to emigrate.  What were all those siblings etc doing in the early 1870s?

First, a look at Louisa's family.  Before I begin, I need to clarify that her mother's maiden name was spelled in a variety of ways in different documents - Tremain, Tremaine, Tremayne, Tramain etc. I usually stick with Tremayne, but when I'm referring to specific records, I use the spelling in the record.

Louisa's mother, Jane Tremayne: I've previously mentioned Louisa's mother, who may or may not have married Louisa's father.   As a young girl, she might have got into a spot of bother.  I found a record from 1847 of a 12 year old Jane Tremain who was charged with larceny, along with three boys, age 15 to 17.  The boys were all acquitted, but Jane was sentenced to 2 weeks in jail.  I'm not positive about Jane's birthdate, but she would have been  around the right age, probably closer to 14, but she might have lied about her age to try to get let off the charge.  By the 1870s, Jane was calling herself a widow, working as a laundress and living in a lodging house with Louisa.  They may have continued living together after Louisa got married and George went to Canada on his own.

Louisa's sister, Jane Tremayne or Murphy: Young Jane is a mystery, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, she apparently ended up in Canada too.  I don't know when she emigrated, but if she went before George and Louisa did, she might well have encouraged them, and her mother, to emigrate.  Louisa's mother followed George and Louisa to Canada in 1877, apparently travelling alone.  Young Jane might have gone before, or after.  Until I discover for sure what young Jane's married name was, I won't know any more about her.

Louisa's maternal grandparents, Grace Dunn and Nathaniel Tremayne: Louisa's grandmother Grace, lived her whole life in Mevagissey, Cornwall. She and her husband Nathaniel had five children of whom Jane, Louisa's mother, was the youngest.  Nathaniel, an agricultural labourer, died in 1857, after which Grace went to work as a fishmonger, and later a domestic servant - in 1871, at the age of 75, she was still working.  She died in 1873.

Excerpt from 1871 UK Census for Grace and Sarah Tremaine, living in River St, Mevagissey and both working as domestics

Louisa's aunt, Sarah Tremayne:  Sarah, Nathaniel and Grace's eldest child, never married.  She worked as a domestic servant and lived with her mother until Grace died.  On the 1881 census, when Sarah was 57, she was marked as an 'imbecile', although she was still working, and living on her own.  Prior censuses had given no hint that there was anything wrong with her.  Like her mother, Sarah lived her whole life in Mevagissey, and died there in 1890.

Louisa's aunt, Harriet Tremayne: Harriet, born in 1826, also spent her entire life in Mevagissey, living in the same street where she was born.  She married William Whitford, a coal porter and later a fisherman, in 1856, and they had four children.  She died in 1888.

Louisa's uncle, William Tremayne: William is a little more interesting, but also harder to pin down.  He was born around 1828 and lived in Mevagissey until at least 1851.  He may have joined the Royal Marines - the 1861 census lists a Private William Tremain, born in Mevagissey at about the right time, married, serving aboard the HMS Conqueror.  This ship was wrecked later that year, in the Caribbean, with everyone on board being saved.  I haven't yet located a wife for William, and don't know if this is the right person or not.  The age given in this census record is a little off, but that's not unusual in censuses.  As far as I can discover, there were no other William Tremaynes born in Mevagissey within the same time frame.  There is no Royal Marines Service Record for William Tremayne, even though the census is evidence that he did serve - but I've just discovered that the records don't include anyone who had left the Marines before 1884 (see my previous post Was it all about Louisa? ).

HMS Conqueror.  William may have served on her, travelled to the Caribbean, and been rescued when the ship sank.

Louisa's uncle, John Tremayne: John was born in about 1830.  He married Ruth Glanville in 1865, had a few children and was a labourer, living in or near Mevagissey all his life - and may or may not have got up to a bit of chook rustling. In 1869 a William and a John Tremain were charged with stealing chickens from two different people in the parish of St Ewe, which is about 3 miles from Mevagissey. They were tried at the Quarter Sessions in Bodmin, and both were acquitted. Their ages were 40 and 38, and they were both labourers.  They may or may not be the right William and John Tremayne - I like to think they are. However, I very much doubt that Louisa would have needed to leave the country because her uncles were would-be poultry thieves.

A transcript of William and John's poulty-stealing charge.  See the handwritten note below John's name - although the typed record says they were acquitted, the handwriting seems to say: 'Summarily convicted Apr 69 Stealing ?Brocoli? at St Ewe. 1. C? Mo(nth) Hard Lab(our)'
 I haven't looked into Louisa's Tremayne cousins yet - they're on my 'to do' list.  And there's no point in speculating about what Louisa's mysterious father and other Murphy relatives were up to in the early 1870s.  He had died before 1871 (if Louisa's mother's census information for that year can be believed - which I don't) and I have no idea who the rest of them were.

But what about George's family?  He had eleven siblings, and by the 1870s, most of them had left home - where were they and what were they doing?  That's for the next post...

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Was it all about Louisa?

Just because I can't find any record of wrongdoing by George Cockram aka Thomas Smith, that doesn't mean he didn't do any!  I may sound like I WANT to find out he was a cad and a bounder, but really, I don't - this is my great-grandfather I'm talking about, and although I never met him, I've grown quite fond of him while I've been trying to piece his life together.  No, I don't wish for devillment, I just wish for answers.

Thankfully, I'm not alone in this quest.  My cousin Donna has been asking questions about George for much longer than I have, and she has one or two interesting theories about him.

First, she thinks perhaps George really was in the Royal Marines - he could have joined when he was 15 years old in 1866, and he would have had to sign on for five years, so he would have been discharged in 1871, perhaps just at the time the census was being taken.  If he was at a loose end accommodation-wise just then, it's possible that he could have slipped through the net, and that's why we can't find him in that census. And perhaps it was his time in the Royal Marines that gave George the wanderlust that eventually took him to Canada.

UPDATE:  I've just discovered that IF George was in the Marines, the reason I can't find any records for him is that the Royal Marines' Service Records available at the UK National Archives were originally created in 1884 but include records created retrospectively for anyone who had joined earlier and was still serving in 1884.  George was long gone by then - so there is a real possibility that he was in the Royal Marines.

Whether he was ever in the Marines or not, his 1875 marriage record tells us that at some point George took up residence in Notte St in Plymouth, which is the same street where Louisa and her mother lived in 1871, and may even have been the same lodging house.  Perhaps that's where he and Louisa met.  Maybe George worked in Plymouth's main industry, shipbuilding, or he may have been a labourer on the docks, loading and unloading ships' cargo.  Living and working in a seaport, it seems likely to me that he might have met men who had been to Canada, and who spurred his desire to go.

George and Louisa's marriage certificate, showing George living in Notte St and Louisa in Lambhay Hill.  Note the name of one of the witnesses - Jane Atwell (at least I think it says Atwell) - this might be Louisa's sister, who as I mentioned earlier, disappeared off the radar.  So far I haven't found a Jane Tremayne/Murphy who married someone called Atwell, but I'm still looking - if she has living descendants, one of them might hold the key to the Cockram/Smith mysteries.

Second, Donna wonders if George and Louisa were running from Louisa's father, Michael Murphy, or someone else in his family.  We know virtually nothing about them, unfortunately, so this is mere speculation, as is another idea - that Louisa's first child, Clara, was not George's - her real father was someone nasty that Louisa had been entangled with, and she wanted to get away from him, and make sure he couldn't find her or the baby.  Either of these ideas could explain why George changed his name - it wasn't him who needed to 'hide', but Louisa!  Of course she had already changed her name when she married, but a second change would hide her from people who knew her married name.

I like the way Donna thinks.  If anything is ever going to lead us to the truth of the matter, it will be ideas like these, I'm sure.

Whatever it was that led them to leave England and change their names, Donna thinks that George and Louisa didn't leave home without some regret, or at least a need to keep some kind of link with their former lives.  This thought comes from the fact that so many of their children's names can be traced back to specific people in their families.  Consider this - of their eleven children, at least seven  had first and/or middle names that came from close family members. 

George and Louisa's children:
Some of the untraced names here may have come from the Murphy family, but we have no idea who they were.  My grandfather's name, Ryley, is the most intriguing of them.  Surely there's an Irish connection there...  Should I be searching for a Ryley Murphy who had a son or a brother called Michael?  Oh god, there's another thing to put on my 'to do' list.

Anyway, to get back to the point, these names do suggest that George and Louisa both had fond feelings for people they had left behind, or at the very least, that they certainly weren't estranged from them.  It's somehow reassuring to believe that George was close to the Cockrams, despite the distance.  And Louisa was literally close to her mother, who also emigrated to Canada, about a year after George and Louisa did.  As for her missing sister Jane, Donna has been told that she went to Canada too, and lived somewhere in Ontario.  Her mother lived sometimes with George and Louisa, and sometimes with Jane's family.  I do wish Jane would pop her head up and wave at me....

Saturday, 4 July 2015

What about Uncle George? Part 2

My husband may be thrilled to believe that my youthful great-grandfather 'got some girl up the duff and scarpered to Canada', but I'm not at all convinced that he did.  Or that his Uncle George did either.

I've had no success linking Elizabeth Grant to either of my Georges - although I probably found the right Elizabeth Grant, in several census records.  She was born in 1837, which almost certainly leaves young George out of the picture, as he was 13 years younger than her.  Apparently she lost her parents at an early age and was brought up in Barnstaple by her grandparents, left the area quite soon after her baby was born, spent most of her life as a lady's maid, and eventually got married when she was over 50.  Interesting, but absolutely no evidence that either of my Georges ever knew her.  And then again, she might not be the right Elizabeth Grant!  It's all too hard...

As for the solicitor who represented George Cockram in this case, I definitely found him.  His name was John Arnoll Thorne, the son of Henry King Thorne and Susan Arnoll.  Uncle George's grandmother Thomasin Thorne had a brother called Thomas, who might have been John Arnoll Thorne's great-grandfather, but I can't find any evidence that makes that connection.  If John Thorne was related to my Georges, the nearest relationship he could have would be second cousin once removed to Uncle George, and third cousin to young George.  This is going to have to go on the backburner for awhile, as it's doing my head in, wandering down a lot of Thorne dead ends.  I need to go to England to look at records that aren't available online, and that's not likely to happen.

A word about the case relating to stealing salmon in Chulmleigh - I've dismissed this as a likelihood, as there were a couple of other George Cockrams living in Chulmleigh around that time, and the salmon stealer was far more likely to to be one of them than one of mine.

So let's move on to the other newspaper articles I found, all of which I think relate to Uncle George.  The first is from the North Devon Journal, Sept 10 1868, page 4:

A parliamentary election was coming up, and in Barnstaple, a committee was formed to work for the election of Thomas Cave and W Herbert Evans.  Among the approximately 250 names listed as members of the committe, is George Cockram of Boutport Street.  I'm reasonably confident that this is Uncle George, as I know he lived in Boutport Street in 1871 when the census was taken, and he was the only Cockram in the street.

Extract from 1871 UK Census, showing George Cockram, coach maker, and his wife Ann in Boutport Street, Barnstaple, with a lodger by the name of Caroline Beer.  Is it just a coincidence that 20 years later John Thorne's father had a servant called Emily Beer?  Probably.

If it is indeed Uncle George on the committee, this tells me a thing or two about him.  On the same page of the newspaper are 'campaign' articles by the two candidates.  They were members of the new Liberal Party, which favoured social reform, personal liberty, reducing the powers of the Crown and the Church of England (many of them were Nonconformists) and an extension of the electoral franchise.  So I assume that Uncle George held with these views.  I also assume that he wasn't any kind of a rogue, or he wouldn't be on the committee - not too likely that he was charged with being the father of an illegitimate child just a few months earlier.

The next article doesn't really tell me much, but I'll add it anyway.  This is from the North Devon Journal, Oct 7 1869, page 5:

Here, George Cockram was on a jury.  At that time only male property owners between the ages of 21 and 70 could sit on juries, which doesn't tell me much except that it couldn't have been young George, and if it was Uncle George, he owned his house.  I'm interested to see that there was also a Thomas Geen on this jury - he was very likely Uncle George's brother-in-law. And the name Beer shows up here again too, but doesn't shed any light on anything. By the way, this case, about a stolen pair of boots, was written up in great detail, including the fact that the judge complained about the length of time the case occupied.  The female defendant, Eliza Hill, was acquitted on the grounds that she was acting under the influence of her husband Francis. He was sentenced to six months hard labour, and his brother William to seven years.  All for a pair of boots.

Just one more thing, which I found in the Manitoba Free Press, Jan 1, 1907, page 14, in an article about upcoming civic elections in Ontario.

Uncle George and his wife lived in the town of St Thomas, Ontario, where he worked as a railway car inspector from at least 1891 to 1911.  And here is his name amongst the list of men running for aldermen in that town.  It seems that he didn't win, as his name doesn't seem to show up after the elections, but the fact that he was in the running suggests that he was a respected person in the town.

So to sum up the results of my newspaper search, as inconclusive as they are, it seems that neither George nor his Uncle George ever got up to any serious mischief  - or at least they never got caught getting up to anything.

As for my question about whether Uncle George influenced and/or helped young George to go to Canada, I haven't found a shred of evidence one way or the other.  As far as I can tell, they never lived nearer than about 200 miles from each other in Canada.

So for now I'll leave Uncle George inspecting railway cars in Ontario, and get back to concentrating on young George aka Thomas Smith.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

What about Uncle George? Part 1

I recently realized that George wasn't the first person in his family to emigrate to Canada - he had an uncle, also called George Cockram, who did the same in 1873, two years before George.  This revelation led me to consider two theories:

1) Did Uncle George find life in Ontario, Canada so much to his liking that he encouraged, and perhaps helped his nephew to join him there?
2) Or was Uncle George the black sheep of the family?  When young George went to Ontario, did he change his name so as not to be mistaken for his nefarious uncle?

These both seemed like good leads to follow up, so in the last couple of days I've been looking for any evidence that would back up either theory. Uncle George was born in 1838, and lived in Devon until 1873, when he left England.  Nephew George left in 1875, so I was looking at Devon newspapers between 1845 and 1875, to cover both Georges.

Of course I went down the most interesting path first, and looked for one of them as a bank robber, molester of women, sheep rustler or anything else along those lines.  I only found two articles of interest, but with not enough information in them to assure me that they are about either of my George Cockrams.

The earliest article is in the 'Chulmleigh, County Magistrates Petty Sessions' column of the North Devon Journal, January 20th, 1859, page 5:


Uncle George would have been nearly 21 years old at this time.  I don't know whether or not he lived in Chulmleigh, as he's missing from the 1851 census, and in 1861, he and his widowed mother were visitors at a friend's house in Barnstaple on census night. But Chulmleigh is only a few miles south of Stoke Rivers, where he was born, and Barnstaple, where he lived later, so it's certainly possible.  But I have a strong feeling that this is another George Cockram altogether.  And by the way, the name Cockram is a very common one in Devon, and the number of George Cockrams born there in the 19th century is annoyingly large.

The next, and rather more juicy article is in the 'Barnstaple, Divisional Petty Sessions' column of the Western Times, February 14th, 1868, page 7:

By this time, Uncle George was nearly 30, and young George was nearly 17, so either of them (or neither of them) could have been the culprit.  Uncle George married Ann Geen in Barnstaple in 1862, and they were living there in 1871, where he worked as a coach-maker.  As we know, young George's whereabouts between 1861 and 1875 are unknown, but his parents' home in Bickington was within the range of the Barnstaple courts.  Not really a lot to go on, though.

Other names in the article might provide a clue or two.  I'll try to locate a likely Elizabeth Grant - her age and residence could tell me something useful, but it may be very difficult to find her.  The defendant's solicitor's name, JA Thorne, is of interest because Uncle George's grandmother, and young George's great-grandmother, was Thomasin Thorne.  I'm now trying to discover whether or not JA Thorne was related to my Georges. 

To be continued...