Yorkshire Chess History



Tusting Johnson Cocking











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



17/01/1826, Sheffield




22/01/1870, Sheffield




Non-Chess Life


Trusting Johnson Cocking was a son of Robert Cocking, a Sheffield cabinet maker (born 1795/96, in Thorney, Nottinghamshire) and his wife Mary (born 1800/01, Sheffield).  Thorney is a mile or so southward off the A57, seven miles to the west of Lincoln.  Mary’s place of birth suggests Robert Cocking had moved to Sheffield by about 1820.  The couple had at least seven children, all Sheffield-born:


Mary Ann Cocking

born 1823/24

Tusting Johnson Cocking

born 17/01/1826

William James Cocking

born 1827/28,

baptised 29/02/1828, St Peters(Cathedral) Sheffield

Thomas Cocking

born 1829/30

Emma Cocking

born 1833/34

Sarah Jane Cocking

born 1836/37

Robert Cocking

born 1840/41


Trusting Johnson Cocking was not a brother of fellow chess-player George Bailey Cocking, but it is likely that their fathers were brothers, making Tusting and George cousins.


Pigot & Co.'s Directory of Yorks, Leics &c, 1841, listed the father, Robert Cocking, as a cabinet-maker, with business premises at Watson Walk, Sheffield.


The 1841 census listed all the family, except unborn Robert junior, but omitted the second forenames of Tusting, William and Sarah.


White’s General Directory of Sheffield, 1849, listed:

Robert Cocking, cabinet-maker, 11 Watson Walk; h. 158 Devonshire Street;

Tusting Johnson Cocking, secretary for Union Wheel, 158 Devonshire Street.


Being secretary of the Union Wheel must have been Tusting’s first important job, and from it he was able to branch out into other accountancy-related activities.


The “Union Wheel”, or Union Grinding Wheel, was a steam-powered cutlery factory on Alma Street, owned by a group of businessmen who rented individual workshops to cutlers and others.  Tusting Johnson Cocking was clearly responsible for much of the administration of the business.  Archaeological excavations took place at the site on Alma Street over the period April 2003 to July 2008.  Sheffield Museums owns a depiction of the interior in use by cutlers, painted by Sheffield-born artist William J. Stevenson (1835-1905).  When fellow chess-player Dr John Charles Hall wrote about disease among Sheffield grinders in The British Medical Journal of 28th March 1857, he reported that the average age at death of grinders at the Union Wheel, over the period 1850 to 1857, was 40 years.


The 1851 census found the family, now with Robert, but without William, at 158 Devonshire Street.  It supplied Tusting’s and Sarah’s second forenames.


White’s Gazetteer & General Directory of Sheffield, 1852, listed Tusting Johnson Cocking as “accpt” and secretary for the Union Wheel, at 130 Barker’s Pool.


White’s Sheffield directory for 1856 listed Tusting Johnson Cocking, accountant, rate, debt and tax collector for Union Wheel, &c, 130 Barker’s Pool.


Father, Robert Cocking, was also listed in W. White’s directory for 1856, but F. White’s Sheffield directory for 1862 didn’t list Robert, but instead listed Thomas Cocking as cabinet-maker.  This rather suggests Robert Cocking died in the period 1856 to 1862.


The 1861 census found Tusting Johnson Cocking, an accountant employing four clerks, living at 7 Upper Hanover Street with siblings Thomas, Emma and Robert.


In 1861 our man married Jane (born 28/06/1839), at Wortley.  The couple’s children included:

William Tusting Cocking

born 1862 (became a physician);

Mary Eleanor Cocking

born 26/03/1864; died 15/06/1926;

another daughter


Tusting Johnson Cocking (jun.)

born 26/06/1870, died 07/02/1871.


The second daughter was probably Annie Elizabeth Cocking, born 1865/66, who married William Dawson on 26th March 1883 at St Philip’s Church, Sheffield.


F White’s Sheffield directory, 1862, listed Tusting Johnson Cocking, accountant, 130 Barker’s Pool.


Glimpses of the business activity our man was engaged in are provided by the following examples.


Various claims for damages were made against the Sheffield Water Company, following the flooding caused by the bursting of the Dale Dyke Dam at Bradfield, around midnight of 11th March 1864, when the deluge killed around 250 people, besides causing extensive damage to property.  These claims were enabled by a special Act of Parliament.  One successful claimant was the "Union Building Company" whose trustees were listed at the time as John Booth, Joseph Wells, John Beckett, George Drake, John Bennett Roberts, Edwin Falding, Joseph Pearson, Tusting Johnson Cocking, and Thomas Ridgway.  They received £27 10s 5d for repairs to property.  This may have related, at least in part, to damage at the Union Wheel, were much mud was deposited by the flood.


In March 1865, the Inundation Commissioners met for the last time; of the total of £455,164 claimed, a total of £276,821 had been awarded to the claimants.


Records at Sheffield Archives (YWD 1437/10, 8 January, 1864) reveal that one of his clients was William Pagan of Sheffield, draper, who assigned to Thomas Pashley and Nathaniel Creswick, solicitors, money due to him and collected on his behalf by Tusting Johnson Cocking, his accountant.


The Science Museum Library and Archives, Swindon, has drawings related to property in Ecclesfield acquired by Sheffield Water Works Company, belonging to William Crapper and Tusting Johnson Cocking, suggesting he had investments in property.




Tusting Johnson Cocking died on 22/01/1870, and was buried in Sheffield’s General Cemetery, in a grave surmounted by an impressive red-granite obelisk.  His wife Jane died on 13/03/1917, and was interred in the same grave.  Other relative are also buried there.  (Click here for images of the grave.)




In 1851 he became secretary of Sheffield Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute Chess Club, taking over from George Bailey Cocking.


Tusting Johnson Cocking was a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, at least on and off, from 1856 to 1869.





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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