Alexander Cockburn (1794-1842), Pipe Maker, Grocer, and Miller

Although baptised in Swinton, Berwickshire, Alexander Cockburn and his brother John (1781-1835) were to establish themselves in business in Carlisle. John may have arrived first, with Alexander joining him later. Marrying Mary Storey, the daughter of Johnathan Storey, a spirit merchant in Shaddongate Parish, the register describes Alexander as a pipe maker in 1817.[1] The Cockburn brothers also had a small premises in Fisher Street where they also sold tobacco. [2]

Clay for the pipes was available locally. The Pipery was situated near the Mill Race in Shaddongate.[3] Once a small suburb of Carlisle, it was on the road to Dalston just outside the city walls. At the end of the eighteenth century Shaddongate saw an influx of migrant workers looking for employment opportunities in the manufacturing industries. Many of these workers were of Irish and Scots origin.


Alexander and Mary’s daughter Margaret was baptised 28 February 1819 [4] by which time Alexander also had a Grocer’s shop at Annetwell Street within the area of the old city. Shortly after this in 1823 the canal was opened improvng trading links especially to Liverpool. It was here that another brother James (1801-1868) moved. Initially a flour miller, he married his first wife Ann Storey (1805-1852), [5] the sister of Mary Storey in 1824. While the brothers’ sister Mary Anne Hepburn (1797) married Steven Somerville and lived in Edinburgh, other siblings were Alison (1783-1811), Robert (b.1786), Margaret (b. 1789), Agnes (b.1791), and Isobel (b.1801). [6] Their parents being Alexander Cockburn (1752-1825 ), a fewer or blacksmith, and Margaret Service (1757-1829). [7]

Alexander and Mary don’t appear to have had any more children, before Mary died in childbirth on 22 November 1824 aged 29 at Annetwell Street. [8]

The brothers continued with their Pipery in Shaddongate despite the unrest that had developed in the area. Living conditions were poor, overcrowding common for many. The migrants being unfairly blamed for some of the trouble. After the ‘Shaddongate Riots’ of 1826, the Cumberland Pacquet and Whitehaven Ware’s Advertiser described the arrival of Benjamin Batty to direct efforts to restore order in the area. He was to instigate the formation of a police force to combat insubordination in the suburb. His first attempt to restore order in February 1827 led to him having to take refuge in Mr Storey’s house after being set upon. It is possible this could have been Mary Story’s father’s abode.[9]

24 January 1831 Alexander married again. His wife Jane Ross (1793-1873). [10] was the widow of Hugh Ross and the daughter of John Tallentire and Jane Henderson. A son, John Tallentire, was born 21 December 1834.[11]

For a brief time John Cockburn, after trading as a haberdasher and paper dealer, became a bookseller at 34 Scotch Street, once occupied by Mr Jollie the publisher. At the time, Alexander was listed at Irish Gate Brow [Annetwell Street].[12]

On Alexander Cockburn’s headed bill of September 1835 to Dalston’s Overseers he is described as a grocer supplying goods to Agness Ha[e]rdman for 23 weeks at a cost of £2.17s. 6d. [13] Agnes’s life is a mystery.

SPC21/2/48/159 Dalston Overseers’ Voucher September 1835


Well established in Carlisle, Alexander was elected a Counsellor. [14] All appeared to be going well. He owned three farms which he let. [15] Then on 16 September 1835 brother John died aged 54 [16] and on 3 January 1837 a fiat of bankruptcy was issued against Alexander. [17] The fact being made well known by various newspapers. The Cumberland and Westmorland and Whitehaven Ware’s Advertiser further reiterated his status Peter Dixon was elected to Alderman of the Corporation of Carlisle on Tuesday in the rooms of A Cockburn a bankrupt’.[18] He relinquished the office of Alderman on 9 November 1836, [19] and his farm properties were advertised for sale. [20] Creditors were asked to make it known what they were owed. The Pipery in Shaddongate was advertised for lease, by the now owner Mrs Armstong in May 1838. [21] A Certificate was issued in April 1837 [22] which would effectively discharge him of what was asked of him under the bankruptcy proceedings, while final dividends were paid out in 1838. [23]

Denton Corn Mill was offered for lease by Mrs Dixon [24] and Alexander was successful in taking over the Mill. He placed a notice in the Carlisle Journal of 1838 as follows:-

A Cockburn having entered on this commodious mill respectfully informs the public that the arrangements which he has made enable him to execute all orders in this line with the greatest care and expedition’. [25]

Alexander Cockburn was not re-elected Councillor in November 1841 at the Municipal Elections for Caldewgate Ward.[26] The next year, on 21 May 1842 Alexander died aged 48. [27] His death appeared in the Liverpool Standard and Commercial Advertiser on 27 May, where brother James was living at Aigburth, Toll Gate near Liverpool.[28] The obituary emphasised his role for Carlisle Corporation. Alexander was buried at Holy Trinity Church where his brother John had also been buried, in close proximity to where they had been in business together.

His wife and son didn’t stay on at Denton Mill. [29] They lived in Stanwix Village for a while, as did daughter Margaret who later married William Roxburgh (an estate agent from Liverpool who at one time lodged with them).[30] James Cockburn died in the Workhouse Liverpool 1868 where he appears to have sought surgical treatment. Jane Cockburn died 18 April 1873 aged 80, [31] but before her will could be enacted, her son John Tallentire died 24 April 1873 aged 38 intestate. By then, John Tallentire was a fairly successful building contractor of Bolton Place, Carlisle. As he had no close relatives, the estate went to John Alexander Cockburn (son of Alexander Cockburn’s brother John) of Allenwood Paper Mill.[32]

View of Carlisle from Blackwell Building s on the left of the the Industries that once followed the River Caldwe towards Shaddongate
Left buildings of the Industries which followed the River Caldew into Shaddongate April 2020

Sources
[1] Carlisle Patriot, 26 April 1817, p,3. col. e.
[2] Pigot & Co., National and Commercial Directory Cumberland Westmorland and Lancashire for 1828-29 (London and Manchester, J Pigot & Co., 1828).
[3] Carlisle Journal, 2 March 1844, p.4, col. b.
[4] Cumbria Archives, PR/47 25, St Mary’s Parish, Carlisle, Baptism Register 1813-1822
[5] Liverpool, England Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1935 [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk, 6 June 2020]
[6] Berwickshire Swinton and Simprim Church of Scotland Birth serach [accessed at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk 6 June 2020]
[7]Alexander Cockburn and Margaret Service gravestone at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/125134655
[8]Carlisle Patriot, 27 November 1824 p,3. col,e
[9] Ware’s Cumberland Pacquet and Whitehaven Advertiser, 13 February 1827 p,3. col,e
[10] Cumbria Archives, PR/47 14, St Mary’s Parish Carlisle Marriage Register 1825-1837
[11] Cumbria Archives, PR/47 27, St Mary’s Parish, Carlisle, Baptism Register 1830- 1853
[12] J. Pigot, National Commercial Directory of Cumberland and Westmorland (London and Manchester: J Pigot & Co., 1834 [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk p. 23]; Carlisle Journal 9 August 1834
[13] Cumbria Archives, SPC44/2/48/159 Dalston Overseers’ Voucher, September 1835, Alexander Cockburn Grocer , dealer in Tea, Hams, Bacon Butter Flour &c
[14] Carlisle Patriot, 26 December 1835 p,3. col,e
[15] Carlisle Journal, 15 August 1835 p,2 col,e
[16] Carlisle Journal ,19 September 1835 p,3 col,f
[17] Carlisle Journal, 7 January 1837 p,2. col,c
[18] Ware’s Cumberland and Westmorland and Whitehaven Advertiser ,24 January 1837, p,2. col,d
[19] Carlisle Journal, 21 January 1837 p,3. col.b
[20] Carlisle Journal, 29 July 1837 p1 col,e
[21] Carlisle Journal, 12 May 1838 p,2 col,d
[22] Perry’s Bankruptcy Gazette, 8 April 1837, p,6
[23] Carlisle Journal, 15 September 1838 p,1 col,a
[24] Carlisle Journal, 30 December 1837 p,2 col,f
[25] Carlisle Journal ,17 February 1838 p,1 col b
[26] Carlisle Journal, 6 November 1841 p,3 col,6
[27] Carlisle Journal, 21 May 1842 p.3 col f
[28] Liverpool Standard and Commercial Advertiser, 27 May 1842 p,8 col g
[29] Carlisle Journal, 28 May 1842 p,1 col,c
[30] Carlisle Patriot, 30 July 1847 p, 2 col,h
[31] Cumbria Archives, PROB/1873/W346A269, Will of Jane Cockburn
[32]Cumbria Archives , PROB/1873/96, Administration John Tallentire Cockburn 9 May 1873

This is a work in progress subject to change with new research

footnote
Margaret Cockburn [Roxburgh] died 15 January 1848 at her Stepmothers home in Carlisle Carlisle Journal 21 Jan 1848
James Cockburn 2nd wife was Jane Pickering (Graham) married Liverpool 11 February 1855

Elizabeth Dawes (1769-1852), Grocer, Lichfield, Staffordshire

Elizabeth Dawes was a grocer in St John’s Street, Lichfield, who was used by the overseers of the workhouse to supply groceries and sundries such as rice, oatmeal, potash and salt from June to September 1823.[1] The workhouse made 22 purchases from her business between these months suggesting that her business was in frequent contact with the workhouse. In a second bill from February to March 1823, she was selling the same items: rice, black pepper and treacle. Although it is a shorter bill it proves that she was in business with the workhouse for at least nine months.[2] The first bill was not written by her but by another party. The second, however, was written and signed by her as demonstrated by a comparison between the handwriting on the bills and her marriage certificate.[3] This means that she was not illiterate but that she possibly employed someone showing that the business must be stable and possibly profitable.

Elizabeth Dawes was registered under ‘Shopkeepers and Dealers in Groceries and Sundries’ in Pigot and Co.’s 1828 directory and White’s directory of 1834.[4] In Pigot’s directory she is registered along with 16 other ‘Shopkeepers and Dealers in Groceries and Sundries’, three of whom were women and nine were men. Twelve grocers were also listed separately, none of whom were female. As she was listed in Parson’s and Bradshaw’s 1818 directory as a ‘Grocer and Tea Dealer’, this means she was running the business for at least 16 years.[5]

Elizabeth Barisford was born in 1768.[6] She married Benjamin Dawes on 24 September 1797 in Lichfield at St Mary’s.[7] Benjamin died and was buried in St Michael’s, Lichfield, in 1817.[8] We do not think that they had any children as there are no baptisms recorded for the Parish of St Mary’s with a reference to them.[9] However, in the 1841 Census there is a Jane Wildley, 20, listed as living with her but the connection between Elizabeth and Jane is not stated.[10] Elizabeth is also listed as having a female servant, called Mary Hall, aged 13, living with her. This is an indication of her middle class status as she could afford to employ a servant. A servant would free up Elizabeth’s time allowing her to focus on and run her business instead.

By the 1851 Census Elizabeth was 83 and registered as an inmate annuitant which means that she was living off the profits of her investments or savings suggesting that her business had been successful enough to support her retirement. She had also moved address and was now living on Tamworth Street. She was now a member of someone else’s household possibly family but we do not know.[11] Whilst she was no longer working, the fact that she was also no longer living in her own house suggests that she might be living in reduced circumstances.

Elizabeth died on 10 July 1852 at the age of 84. She was buried in St Michael’s. Lichfield alongside her husband Benjamin.[12]


[1] Staffordshire Records Office (hereafter SRO), LD20/6/6 No item no., Lichfield St Mary’s overseer’s voucher, 1823.

[2]SRO LD20/6/6 No item no., Lichfield, St Mary’s overseer’s voucher, 1823,

[3] SRO, D20/1/9, Lichfield, St Mary’s Parish Register, 24 September 1797.

[4] John Pigot and Co., Pigot and Co.’s National Directory, 1828-1829, part 2 (Manchester and London, 1828), 717; William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834), 161.

[5] W. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory (1818), 186.

[6] St Michael’s Church Yard, Lichfield, Gravestone; D20/1/9, Lichfield, St Mary’s Parish Register, 24 September 1797.

[7] SRO, D20/1/9, Lichfield, St Mary’s Parish Register, 24 September 1797.

[8] SRO, D/27/1/9, Lichfield, St Michael’s Parish Register, 1 April 1817.

[9] SRO, D20/1/9, Lichfield, St Mary’s Parish Register, Baptisms.

[10] TNA, HO107/1008/3, 1841 Census, Elizabeth Dawes, Lichfield.

[11] TNA, HO107/2014, 1851 Census, Elizabeth Dawes, Lichfield.

[12] Lichfield, St Michael’s Church Yard, Gravestone.

Jane Davidson (1748-1827), Grocer, Brampton, Cumberland

Jane Davidson was a grocer who was used by the overseers of Brampton to supply the workhouse with standard dry goods such as tea, sugar, barley and tobacco.[1] For one bill in 1819 she received £1 6s 11 ½ d. This was for supplies of grocer’s goods that she had made on 11 occasions between January and April. Although we only have one voucher, this shows that she was in regular contract with the workhouse. It gives the impression that she was not just used once and was actually a frequent supplier to the workhouse. The supply of tea in a small amount such as 2oz, as written in the voucher, suggests that it was not for the general use of the inmates and that it was more likely used for medicinal purposes, or for the use of the master and mistress of the workhouse.

Davidson was born in 1748.[2] She married Robert Davidson, a grocer, however we do not know when but we know it was before 1816 as this was when Robert passed away.[3] Jane Davidson had two daughters and a son; Mary who married George Hadden; Jane who married Thomas Hobson; and Thomas. [4] As well as this she also had at least 13 grandchildren, eight by Mary and George Hadden, and five by Jane and Thomas Hobson.[5] She also had a stepson via Robert’s first wife of which nothing is known.

In his will Robert Davidson left the business to his wife Jane and not to his eldest son.[6] This suggests that he had trust in her to run the business and to look after it. The stereotype is that the eldest son would inherit the business, however, it was quite common that businesses were inherited by widows. Robert was illiterate as he signed his will with a cross. This probably meant that the accounts and the books for the business were not done by him but most likely by Jane. This could be why he trusted her to run the business.

Jane Davidson, grocer, is not registered in either Jollie’s 1811 directory or Pigot’s 1828-29 National directory.[7] This suggests that their business could have been a more stable, locally based one so therefore they did not need to advertise nationally, and even after the death of Robert in 1816 Jane Davidson did not place herself in any other directory suggesting that she had maintained the stable business.

Jane Davidson used at least one local shop to maintain her stocks. The ledgers of Isaac Bird, grocer, Brampton, state that she settled a bill adding up to 15s 11d in 1819.[8] One example of this is that she bought ¼ stone of shag tobacco at 2s 7d presumably to stock her own shop as the amount is too much for her own personal use.[9]

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.


[1] Cumbria Archives, PR60/21/13/5/101, Brampton overseers’ vouchers, Jane Davidson, 20 January-6 April 1820.

[2] In the Burial ledger her age was given as 79. Cumbria Archives, G.Bell and C. Yellowley (eds), Brampton Denary Burials Part 1, 1813-39, 49.

[3] Cumbria Archives, G.Bell and C. Yellowley (eds), Brampton Denary Burials Part 1, 1813-39, 49.

[4] Cumbria Archives PROB/1816/WI462A C/1/18/9/5, Will and Inventory of Robert Davidson, 9 September 1816.

[5] Cumbria Archives, G.Bell (ed.), Brampton Baptism, Marriage and Burials, 1813-39.

[6] Cumbria Archives PROB/1816/WI462A C/1/18/9/5, Will and Inventory of Robert Davidson, 9 September 1816.

[7] F.Jollie and Sons, Jollie’s Cumberland Guide and Directory 1811 (Carlisle:1811); John Pigot and Co., Pigot and Co.’s National Directory, 1828-1829, part 1 (Manchester and London, 1828).

[8] Cumbria Archives, DCLP8/38, Isaac Bird, Grocery, Brampton, Ledger, 1817-19.

[9] Cumbria Archives, DCLP8/39, Isaac Bird, Brampton, Ledger, 1817-19.

Sarah Oliver (c.1778–1852), Grocer, Brampton

The reconstructed life of Sarah Oliver is a combination of a few ‘definitelys’ and many ‘maybes’. She is most visible in historic records as a widow, but even then the traces she left are few. She has come to attention because she supplied Brampton’s overseers with groceries.

The Marriage Bond Index held at Carlisle, lists Sarah Bell, a minor, who married Henry Brough Oliver, bachelor.[1] The bond was dated 22 October 1798. Sarah’s mother Jane was her guardian and the bondsman was Thomas Bell. This may be Thomas Bell the younger who ran the Howard Arms in Brampton and or Thomas Bell the elder, of the Bush Inn and a carrier operating a service between Carlisle, Brampton and Newcastle.[2] There were, however, many people in Brampton with the surname ‘Bell’.

There is a record of a Henry Brough Oliver born 11 November 1776, baptised 10 December 1776, at St John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, the son of Richard and Jane Oliver.[3] A Henry Brough Oliver and a Richard Oliver served as officers in the Eighth (King’s) Foot Regiment c.1792–98.[4] Henry and Richard Oliver of Intack, Cumberland, both held game certificates and were thus licensed to shoot game.[5] Henry Brough Oliver died in 1808, and was buried in Knarsdale, Northumberland.[6]

Henry and Sarah Oliver had several children: twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, baptised in Brampton 24 March 1803; and two other twin sisters Isabella and Sarah baptised in Brampton 13 March 1807.[7] There was possibly a fifth daughter Mary born 1 September 1808, in Knarsdale. There was also a son Richard Brough (23 January 1800) who became a doctor with a practice in Carlisle, before becoming the medical superintendent of Bicton Heath Lunatic Asylum, near Shrewsbury.

The Olivers are not listed in the Universal British Directory of the 1790s, but S. Oliver is listed as a grocer in Jollie’s 1811 directory.[8]

Henry was a cotton manufacturer, but a notice in the Tradesman or Commercial Magazine, and later in the London Gazette show that a commission of bankruptcy was brought against him in July 1808.[9] In 1811 the London Gazette, carried the following notice:

The Commissioners in a Commission of Bankrupt, bearing Date the 6th Day of July 1808, awarded and issued forth against Henry Brough Oliver, late of Brampton, in the County of Cumberland, Cotton-Manufacturer, Dealer and Chapman, intend to meet on the 26th Day of December next, at Eleven of the Clock in the Forenoon, at the Bush, in the City of Carlisle, in the County of Cumberland, in order to make a Final Dividend of the Estate and Effects of the said Bankrupt; when and where the Creditors, who have not already proved their Debts, are to come prepared to prove the same, or they will be excluded the Benefit of the said Dividend. And all Claims not then proved will be disallowed.[10]

Despite the declaration that a final dividend was to be paid on this occasion, this was not the end of the matter. Fifteen years later, another notice in the Gazette called the creditors of Henry Brough Oliver to a meeting at the Office of Messrs. Mounsey, Solicitors, Carlisle, ‘to take into consideration and determine upon the best mode of proceeding as to a certain sum of money, lately become due to the said Bankrupt’s estate; and on other matters and things relative thereto’.[11]

As a grocer, Sarah Oliver was in regular contact with Brampton’s overseers between 1818 and 1820.[12]  In the 139 days between 22 December 1818 and 10 May 1819, for example, purchases were made on 70 separate occasions. Some of her stock came from fellow Brampton grocer Isaac Bird. She settled her account with him in cash, and once in tobacco.[13]

Oliver supplied Brampton’s workhouse with imported items including tea, coffee, sugar, and pepper; and domestic items including, candles, soap, starch and flour.[14] Oliver did not sell a more restricted range of goods than male grocers also located in Brampton. Her goods were identical in name to the flour, soap, starch, blue, candles, tobacco, barley, tea, coffee and sugar supplied by Joseph Forster.[15]  Moreover, prices paid per stone, pound or ounce, were very similar. It is entirely possible that the quality of goods differed, but neither the vouchers nor Forster’s ledger make such distinctions possible.

In the early 1820s Oliver moved her business to Scotch Street, Carlisle, where she acted as agent to the London Genuine Tea Company.[16] Daughters Elizabeth and Jane, became milliners and dressmakers; they are listed in Jollie’s1828–29 directory, as also being resident in Scotch Street.[17] In 1834 Richard Hind, ironmonger, of English Street, Carlisle, married Mary Oliver, of Scotch Street.[18]

Sarah Oliver died Carlisle in 1852.  Her death was reported in the Carlisle Patriot: ‘Yesterday, in this city, aged 52, Sarah, relict of the late Mr. Henry Brough Oliver, of Brampton, deeply lamented by her family’.[19]

This is a work-in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.


[1] Cumbria Archives, Carlisle, Marriage Bond Index.

[2] Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce and Manufacture, 5 vols. (London: c.1795), V, Appendix, 27–9. 

[3] St John the Evangelist, Smith Square, London, born 11 November, Baptised 10 December 1776, Henry Brough, son of Richard and Jane Oliver.

[4] Historical Record of the King’s Liverpool Regiment of Foot; http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U197827 accessed 12 Feb. 2019

[5] Carlisle Journal, 4 September 1802, p.1; Carlisle Journal, 24 September 1803, 3.

[6] The Monthly Magazine, vol. 26 (R. Philips, 1808), 492.

[7] Cumbria Archives, PR60, Brampton, St Martin’s Parish Registers, 1663–1993.

[8] F. Jollie, Jollies Cumberland Guide & Directory (Carlisle: 1811)

[9] Tradesman or Commercial Magazine, 1, (July–December 1808), (London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1808), 271.

[10] London Gazette, 26 November 1811, 2301.

[11] The London Gazette, 25 February 1826, 437.

[12] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, PR60/21/13/5/100, 6 April 1819; PR60/21/13/5/124, 8 January 1819; PR60/21/13/6/710 February 1820, Brampton Overseers’ Vouchers, Sarah Oliver.

[13] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, DCLP/8/38, Isaac Bird, Grocer, Brampton, Ledger, 1817-19.

[14] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, PR60/21/13/5/124; Brampton Overseers’ Voucher, Sarah Oliver, 8 January 1819.

[15] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, DCL P/8/47, Joseph Forster, grocer, Brampton, ledger, 1819–31; William Parson and William White, History, Directory and Gazetteer of Cumberland and Westmorland (Leeds: Edward Baines and Son, 1829), 426.

[16] Carlisle Patriot, 30 August 1823 and 3 December 1825.

[17] J. Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Part 1: Cheshire – Northumberland] for 1828–29 (London and Manchester: J. Pigot and Co., 1828), 71; W. Parson and W. White, History, Directory & Gazetteer of Cumberland & Westmorland, (Leeds: Edward Baines and Son, 1829), 165

[18] Carlisle Journal, 1 November 1834, 3.

[19] Carlisle Patriot, 27 October 1832, 3.