Yorkshire Chess History



George Bailey Cocking











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1823/24, Sheffield


21/07/1905, Sheffield


Cocking, George Bailey.jpg


George Bailey Cocking was a Sheffield chemist and druggist who was a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club around the period 1855 to 1883, serving the club at times as secretary or treasurer.


Non-Chess Life


George Bailey Cocking’s father was timber merchant William Cocking, who was born about 1796.  His mother was Elizabeth Cocking [née Bailey?], who was born in 1798 at Retford, Nottinghamshire.


The 1787 Gales directory for Sheffield appears to list nobody of the surname Cocking, but the Gell’s 1825 directory for Sheffield lists:

Benjamin Cocking, bricklayer, 9 Walker Street;

William Cocking, 19 Carver Street, agent;

W. & R. Cocking, cabinet and chair makers,
and dealers in mahogany and cedar veneers, upholsterers &c, Hartshead.


The “W.” of “W. & R. Cocking” was William Cocking, timber merchant, husband of Elizabeth Cocking and father of George Bailey Cocking, while the “R.” of “W. & R. Cocking” was Robert Cocking, cabinet-maker, husband of Mary Cocking, and father of chess-player Tusting Johnson Cocking.  Whether William Cocking the agent was the same as William Cocking the timber merchant is unclear, but it’s most probable that two Williams are involved.


The William and Robert of “W. & R. Cocking” were very probably brothers who moved to Sheffield from the Nottinghamshire-Lincolnshire border area around 1820.  Thus, while George Bailey Cocking was not a brother of fellow chess-player Trusting Johnson Cocking, it is very probable that they were cousins.


White’s History & Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham &c, 1833, lists:

Benjamin Cocking, stone mason, 9 Walker Street;

Robert Cocking, cabinet maker & upholsterer,
23 Norfolk Street and Watson’s Walk;

William Cocking, timber and mahogany merchant, 1 Union Street.

Thus the “W. & R. Cocking” partnership seems to have resolved itself into two businesses, at two new addresses.


The 1841 census found timber merchant William Cocking and his wife Elizabeth at Eyre Street, Sheffield, with the following six children:

William Cocking         born 1829/30, [where born?];

Sarah Cocking           born 1831/32, [where born?];

Betsy Cocking            born 1834/35, in Sheffield;

Joseph Cocking         born 1836/37, in Sheffield;

Jane Cocking             born 1837/38, in Sheffield;

Eliza A. Cocking        born 1839/40, in Sheffield.


George Bailey Cocking was not included in the Cocking household in Eyre Street as he was an apprentice druggist and was living with druggist Henry Crawshaw and his family, on Moorfields, Sheffield.


At some stage during the next eight years, George set up his own business.  Over the same period, William Cocking, timber merchant, seems to have died, and so White’s General Directory of Sheffield, 1849, listed:

George Bailey Cocking, chemist and druggist, 126 Barker’s Pool,

Henry Cocking, bricklayer, 43 Burnt Tree Lane, (son of Benjamin?),

Robert Cocking, cabinet maker, 11 Watson’s Walk, h. 158 Devonshire Street,

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


George Bailey Cocking continued to be listed as a chemist and/or druggist, at the same address until he retired - except for the fact that he numbering in Barker’s Pool was a continuation of the numbers running up Fargate, and by 1862 White’s directories were listing 126 Barker’s Pool as 126 Fargate.


He never married, perhaps because he found himself responsible, as eldest son, for his mother and younger sisters after the death of his father.


The 1851 census listed George at 126 Barker’s Pool, living with his widowed mother, 52-year-old Elizabeth Cocking, and his three youngest sisters, 16-year-old Betsy Cocking, 13-year-old Jane Cocking and 10-year-old Eliza A. Cocking.  Eldest sister Sarah had perhaps got married.  [Was brother Joseph away at school?]


The 1861 census listed George at 126 Barker’s Pool, living with his mother, who was no described as “housekeeper”, 24-year-old brother Joseph Cocking, who was now an assistant draper, 23-year-old sister Jane Cocking, and 20-year-old sister Eliza A. Cocking.  The circumstances of second sister Betsy are unclear, as she reappears in 1871.


The 1871 census listed those resident at 126 Barker’s Pool as George, 73-year-old mother Elizabeth Cocking, 36-year-old Betsy Cocking, back at home, and 20-year-old Eliza A. Cocking.


In 1874 it fell to George to administer the estate of deceased John Cocking, farmer of High Toynton in Lincolnshire.  The following notice appeared in The London Gazette of 9th June 1874:

Mr. JOHN COCKING, Deceased.

Pursuant to the Statute 22nd, and 23rd Vic., cap. 35, intituled "An Act to further amend the Law of Property, and to relieve Trustees."

NOTICE is hereby given, that all persons having any claims or demands against the estate of John Cocking, late of High Toynton, in the county of Lincoln, Farmer, deceased (who died on the 17th day of September, 1873, and whose will was, on the 11th day of November, 1873, proved in the District Registry of Her Majesty's Court of Probate at Lincoln, by George Bailey Cocking, of No. 126, Fargate, Sheffield, in the county of York, Druggist, and Thomas Cocking, of No. 15, Watson’s Walk, Sheffield aforesaid, [etc].


This John Cocking is listed in the 1861 census as a 70-year-old who had been born (c. 1790/91) at Thorney, Nottinghamshire, and was in 1861 resident at High Toynton, Lincolnshire.  The Thomas Cocking mentioned in the above notice was clearly the son of Robert Cocking, former cabinetmaker of Watson Walk, Sheffield.  Thus John Cocking’s executors were sons respectively of the late William Cocking and the late Robert Cocking, strongly suggesting that this John Cocking was the father of William and Robert Cocking, the fathers, respectively, of Sheffield chess-players George Bailey Cocking and Tusting Johnson Cocking.


At some time from 1871 to 1879, George retired from the business of chemist and druggist.  No. 126 Barker’s Pool was occupied by Wheeler and Wilson’s sewing machine depot in White's Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham &c, 1879.  Over a similar period, his mother seems to have died.


The 1881 census found 57-year-old George, retired chemist and druggist, living at 45 William Street, Sheffield, with his 40-year-old sister, Eliza A. Cocking, and a live-in domestic servant.


He was a Wesleyan Sunday School worker.




He died 21st July 1905.


The London Gazette of 1st September 1905 carried the following notice:


Pursuant to the Act of Parliament, 22nd and 23rd Vic., cap. 35, intituled " An Act to further amend the Law of Property, and to relieve Trustees."

NOTICE is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any claims against the estate of George Bailey Cocking, late of 45, William-street, Sheffield, in the county of York, Gentleman, deceased (who died on the 21st day of July, 1905, and whose will was proved in the Wakefield District Registry of the Probate Division of His Majesty's High Court of Justice, on the 18th day of August, 1905, by John Austen and Alfred Fynes Cocking, the executors therein named), are hereby required to send the particulars, in writing, of their claims to us, the undersigned, the Solicitors for the said executors, on or before the 2nd day of October next, after which date the said executors will proceed to distribute the assets of the said deceased amongst the persons entitled thereto, having regard only to the claims of which they shall then have had notice; and they will not be liable for the assets of the said deceased, or any part thereof, so distributed, to  any person of whose claims they shall not then have had notice.—Dated this 29th day of August, 1905.

BRANSON and SON, 9, Bank-street, Sheffield, Solicitors for the Executors.


The John Austen mentioned was his nephew.  Alfred Fynes was also later executor to Tusting Johnson Cocking, of whom George Bailey Cocking was a relative.




George Bailey Cocking was a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club from 1855 to 1883 and possibly beyond.


He was secretary of the club for twelve successive years, stepping down in 1866 [1866 CPM New II p.92].  In particular, he was secretary of the club when it hosted the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting in 1863.  The WYCA minute book contains a report of the 1863 meeting handwritten and signed by him as below.


Cocking signature.jpg


He was vice-president of the club in 1871 and 1872, and possibly other years.


As well as that of 1863, he also attended the annual meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in 1876 (at Halifax), 1878 (at Leeds), 1879 (at Wakefield), and 1880 (at Sheffield).


He was treasurer of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club in 1880 when it hosted the WYCA annual meeting, and after that at least to 1883.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

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