William Cockayne

Sir William Cockayne (Cokayne) (1561 – 20 October 1626), London, England, was a seventeenth-century London merchant, alderman, and, in 1619, Lord Mayor.[1][2]


He was the second son of William Cokayne of Baddesley Ensor, Warwickshire, merchant of London, sometime governor of the Eastland Company, by Elizabeth, daughter of Roger Medcalfe of Meriden, Warwickshire; and was descended from William Cokayne of Sturston, Derbyshire, a younger son of Sir John Cokayne of Ashbourne in that county. Apprenticed at Christmas 1582 to his father, he was made free of the Skinners' Company by patrimony 28 March 1590. On his father's death, 28 November 1599, he succeeded to his business.

He was sheriff of London in 1609, and alderman of Farringdon Without in 1609–13, of Castle Baynard; in 1613–18, of Lime Street 1618–25, and of Broad Street from 1625 till his death.

Governor of Londonderry

On 8 January 1613, Cockayne, who was already the first Governor of The Irish Society, was appointed the first Governor of Londonderry. It was due to the development directed by The Irish Society towards rebuilding and expanding the city, that it was renamed Londonderry in honour of the capital and colonisation from London.[3]

On 8 June 1616 Ireland's King James I of Ireland honoured him with his presence at dinner at his house in Broad Street in London, England, (Cokayne House, exactly opposite St. Peter's Church), where he dubbed him a knight.

Mayor of London

During Cockayne's mayoralty (1619–20) King James visited St. Paul's Cathedral with a view to raising money to complete the spire, and was received by Cockayne in great state. A pageant entitled 'The Triumphs of Love and Antiquity' was performed; the entertainments, which started at Cockayne's house on Monday and Tuesday in Easter week 1620, terminated on Saturday with service for the lords of the privy council, when the marriage was celebrated between Charles, Lord Howard, baron of Effingham, and Mary, Cockayne's daughter. The king frequently consulted him, both in council and privately.

The Cockayne project

In 1614, while serving as governor of the Eastland Company of English merchants, Cockayne devised a plan to dye and dress English cloth, England's main export at the time, before shipping it abroad. Cockayne convinced James I to grant him a monopoly on cloth exports as a part of this plan, intended to increase the profits of English merchants, Cockayne's in particular, while boosting royal customs duties through bypassing Dutch merchants. The scheme failed as the Dutch refused to purchase finished cloth and instead engaged in a trade war with England. As a result, the English cloth trade was depressed for decades.

Later life

William Baffin was equipped for one of his northern voyages by him and others of the Merchant Adventurers' Company and, in his honour a harbour in Greenland, called on the Admiralty chart 'Cockin's Sound,' was named.

He bought estates at Denchworth, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire); Elmesthorpe, Leicestershire and Rushton Hall in Rushton, Northamptonshire which were later the homes of his descendants. He gave each of his numerous daughters £10,000 on marriage, leaving his son an annual rent roll of above £12,000. He died on 20 October 1626, in his sixty-sixth year, at his manor house at Comb Nevill in Kingston, Surrey.

He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, where Denchworth preached his funeral sermon and a monument was raised to him. The grave and monument were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. His name appears on a modern monument in the crypt, listing important graves lost in the fire.


He married Mary Morris on 22 June 1596 in London and they had issue:

His widow remarried, 6 July 1630, Henry Carey, 4th Baron Hunsdon, 1st Earl of Dover, and, dying 24 December 1648, was buried with her first husband at St. Paul's.


  1. Record forSir William Cokayne on thepeerage.com
  2. G. E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H. A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910–1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume IV, page 445, 446 and volume II, page 516

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Clerke, Agnes Mary (1887). "Cokayne, William". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 11. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 176–177. 


Civic offices
Preceded by
Sebastian Harvey
Lord Mayor of the City of London
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Jones
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