James Hancock

James Hancock Born: 1 May 1776, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Newchapel, Staffordshire, England
Christened: 27 November 1776
Parents: James Hancock (~1750) and Mary Hancock (~1755)
Siblings: Mary Hancock (1820 Settler, born 1788, died 25 May 1863)
                (married Charles Thomas Croft, 14 January 1821, Salem)
                (Mary Hancock is buried in the old Grahamstown Cemetery)
Married: Ann Kennedy, 21 February 1808, Church of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury, London, England
Children: Charles James Hancock, 21 February 1809, London (died 26 February 1813, London)
                George Frederick Hancock, 5 November 1810, London (died 7 April 1811, London)
                Margaret Ann Hancock, 5 April 1812, London (died 16 August 1826, Grahamstown)
                James Hancock, 7 February 1814, London (died 3 March 1815, London)
                Joseph Ebenezer Hancock, 13 June 1816, London
                Thomas Hancock, 17 March 1818, London (died 16 June 1895, Hancock Grange farm)
                Samuel Hancock, 27 March 1820, on board the Aurora
                    (died 23 June 1886, Grahamstown)
                Benjamin Hancock, 16 June 1823, Salem (died 22 January 1825, Grahamstown)
                    (buried 23 January 1825, St George (Anglican), Grahamstown)
                Rachel Hancock, 26 December 1825, Grahamstown (died 24 March 1869, Port Elizabeth)
                Ann Eliza Hancock, 14 December 1827, Port Elizabeth (died 18 January 1850, St John's River)
                Elizabeth Kennedy, 19 August 1832, Port Elizabeth (died 19 January 1834, Port Elizabeth)
                Clarissa Charlotte Hancock, 5 November 1834, Port Elizabeth (died 29 October 1906, Harrismith)
Died: 20 August 1837, Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony
Buried: St Mary's Cemetery (Old Settler Cemetery), South End, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Coordinates: 33°57'56.66"S and 25°37'32.73"E, elevation 11m

The portrait shown above is very often (incorrectly) linked to the name of James Hancock, but is in fact of his son Joseph Ebenezer Hancock.  

According to the Hancock's Drift page on Facebook (March 2013):

James HANCOCK was born in about April 1776 in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, England. He was baptised at the church of St Giles, Newcastle under Lyme on 1 May 1776. His father, also James HANCOCK, was a Potter. His mother was Margaret HANCOCK, née FODEN.

It seems that James HANCOCK had a number of siblings, only one of whom we know for certain. Due to the parish records being incomplete and sometimes almost inaccessible, it is difficult to say who the others truly were. The following list nominates all possible children of James (Senior) and Margaret HANCOCK, with markers denoting whether they are possible (ps), most likely (ml), or certain (ct).

01. (ps) George HANCOCK, chr. 29 Jan 1775, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire; bd. 3 Feb 1788, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
02. (ct) James HANCOCK, chr. 1 May 1776, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
03. (ml) Betty HANCOCK, chr. 6 July 1777, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
04. (ml) Aaron HANCOCK, chr. 9 Jan 1780, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
05. (ml) Susanna HANCOCK, chr. 30 Nov 1781, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
06. (ml) Sarah HANCOCK, chr. 4 Sep 1785, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire; bd. 30 Jan 1786, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
07. (ct) Mary HANCOCK, chr. 27 Nov 1787, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
08. (ps) Joseph HANCOCK (twin of Benjamin), chr. 12 Jun 1791, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
09. (ps) Benjamin HANCOCK (twin of Joseph), chr. 12 Jun 1791, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
chr. = christened/baptised; bd. = buried

Most of these children grew up and remained in the Potteries area of Staffordshire, and many of their descendants did so as well. A descendant of Aaron HANCOCK migrated to Australia, returning to fight in France in the First World War. In England he married the girl who had followed him from Australia, and they soon returned to Australia and brought up a family there. Their descendants still live in Australia.

James HANCOCK Senior died about 1791 and his widow, Margaret, married John HAYES, a widower, in 1792.

James HANCOCK Junior served an apprenticeship as a china painter and gilder, and moved to London. He had a workshop in Leather Lane, near Fleet Street, and lived in Eyre Street. When he married Ann KENNEDY of 125 Fetter Lane (off Fleet Street) in 1808, they lived in Eyre Street and their first four children were born there. About 1815 the family moved to an (as yet, undiscovered) address in Islington, and lived there until they were due to leave for the Cape Colony in early 1820. The severe winter delayed their departure when the river Thames froze. As the family was unable to embark on their ship on the appointed date, they stayed with Ann HANCOCK’s brother, Thomas KENNEDY and his family, at 125 Fetter Lane in the City of London.

James HANCOCK’s sister, Mary, accompanied the family to the Cape Colony where she married a widower, Charles Thomas CROFT, firstly on board ship, then again in Salem.

The TS Aurora, with the HANCOCK family group on board, eventually left from Deptford on 6 February 1820, and, after some further delay, from Gravesend on 15 February 1820. The James HANCOCK family adventure had begun.


Aurora 1820 Settler, part of Hezekiah Sephton's party in the ship Aurora (344 passengers).
Departed from London on 15 February 1820. Arrived at Simon's Bay 1 May 1820.
Arrived at final destination of Algoa Bay, Cape Colony on 15 May 1820.

James Hancock was a china painter. He founded an art school in Grahamstown.
James Hancock was a Wesleyan lay preacher. In 1833, he had a street named after him (Hancock Street) in Port Elizabeth.

James Hancock James Hancock James Hancock

Hancock's Drift

The story of James Hancock and his family is told in the book "Hancock's Drift" by Frederic Whinchcombe Powell.

(Click on the image of the book cover for further details.)

Church of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury, London

Church of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury

Church of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury Church of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury

Copyright © 2009-2016, Rodney Jones, rtjones@global.co.za, Randburg, South Africa (Last updated on 5 May 2016)