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Todwick Historical Society

The Cocking Family

The Cocking family moved to Todwick around 1867 from Kiveton Park and prior to that from South Anston. Thomas moved to Todwick shortly after being married at Todwick to Ellen Hopkinson from Harthill following the birth of their first son William. They moved to Upper Common Farm which stands to the end of a dirt track which is reached from Goosecarr lane. The family has always known this to be called the Zulu, why? No one has ever known. Their second son John was born one of 6 children in 1869 and became a lifelong resident of Todwick, passing away in 1962 living at 128 Kiveton Lane.

John was to become a devout church goer, he sang in the choir, was the only person to play all three bells single handed (with the exception of one foot!) he played the third bell with his foot having tied a loop into the bell rope and when I sang in the choir the loop was still in the rope until the bells were re-roped.

Great Grandad John, Ellen, Grandad John and Doris

The picture to the left is My Great Grandad John and Ellen his wife along with my Grandad John (known as Jack) to the front right with his sister Doris on the left. John also became the lead sides’ man carrying the cross to the altar. He also played the organ for the service in fact not only playing the organ but he would pump the bellows for the organ as he played as they were manual bellows, as the church had not had electric pumps fitted like today. When John was not attending service or playing the organ he would be in the cemetery digging the next grave that was required as this was also one of the tasks he carried out to help the church.

John & Ellen also cleaned the church every week so that it shone; he was also on the PCC. My Mother Patricia Cocking tells me that before she was old enough for school it was her job on a morning to take out the hassocks and beat them to remove any dirt and giving them an extra beating for Easter. Every morning at 6 am in the winter months he would walk down to church to stoke up the boiler in order to warm up the place for morning service and would do this all day for each of the following services. John Married Edith Mary Waring from Anston and lived at Lilac cottage for some time and worked as an agricultural labourer, the cottage stood near to where Wasteney’s Road is today on Kiveton Lane. John worked for quite a few of the farms around the village taking work wherever he could, for a period he worked for Colton Fox on the grange and lived at Hill Top. He was known to be a stubborn man as did most of the Cocking’s through the years and my mother remembers a particular story of while working for Colton Fox it was voting time and Todwick parishioners had to go to Anston to vote and Colton Fox would take the workers to vote in his hay cart on the proviso that all the men voted for the candidate he voted for, but John said he was going to vote for who he liked so Colton Fox said if he did he would have to walk, my great grandad walked to the polling station that day.

He loved to walk and spent many hours with my mother just walking around the local area and would always arrive home in time for lunch, mum always said he had a knack of timing it just right. When time permitted he would sit down to his favourite pastime, a pile of books by his side, his pipe, tobacco and a bag of sweets on the other. I always remember as a small child coming home from school, running around to his house with my brother so that we could get a butter dainty from great grandad. He always kept them on top of the piano and he made us climb onto the piano stool to lift the tin down.

I only really remember him for about 2 years, but I remember him as a great man whether it was at church, in his house, having his hair cut every week by his son Jack my grandad, him playing the piano and mostly for those butter dainty’s. He led a full life, was the centre of the church and had a retirement that was as full as most people’s normal working life and managed to live until 2 months before his 95th birthday

Great Grandad with his grandchildren

This picture is of my great grandad with his grandchildren from left to right is Kenneth Cocking, Hildegard Cocking, Patricia Cocking (Mum), Peter Cocking. Front Jennifer Cocking and Steven Cocking