Mike Cocks 14/7/2013.
I have only just picked up on your message today. My father was Patrick Falconer Cocks, my grandfather was Hubert Falconer Cocks and his mother was a Falconer heiress who married a man named Cocks. I have a rather splendid oil painting of William Falconer and also one of his first sailing ship the Alexandrina 1847. I also have the ship's bell as it was abandoned in a sinking state of the Cape Verde islands having collided with another ship in fog. My cousin Nigel rather pretensiously calls himself double barrelled Falconer-Cocks but I prefer to keep it as a middle name. I am not really into geneology but it quite likely we are cousins. I believe the Keith-Falconers backed the wrong side in the Jacobite rebellion and had to start working for a living out of Aberdeen. The Falconer family is I believe an ancient scottish outfit going back to the 13thC with the Falconers of Halkerton and then Castle Keith came into their hands. It was where the scottish crown jewels were hidden to keep them away from Edward 1st, hammer of the scots and there are still ancient remains on the east coast. This may all be a tall story but it is quite a good one.
Hi Michael,Thank you for taking the time to respond to me.
Yes, we are related: we are third cousins. My connection was via Elizabeth Matilda Falconer, sister to Edith Constance who married Joseph Cocks. My ancestor married a doctor in High Wycombe, Dr William Gallimore Hayden. His descendants have all been medical Doctors, until my son, who graduates from Caius this week as a Doctor of Geology. He is passionate about sailing though and spends his time sailing, skippering etc.
Unfortunately I do not have any Falconer relics as they are still in the house belonging to my grandmother which her daughter Rosemary then bought. She died last Jan 2012 but it is thought that her new Will was invalid so the house has still not been sold and probate cannot be found. She was involved with a rather shady character soI hope the contents are still intact.
When did the ship sink? Was WF on the ship at the time?
I too was given this tall story, but have not yet discovered any truth to it. I MAY have traced us back to a disgraced John Falconer. Eight of WF’s descendants used the name Keith as middle names, including my father Dr. Roger Keith Hayden, and several of the women were given this name. Some double barrelled it too, such as the daughter of Florence Falconer, Edith’s sister. The closest I have come so far was finding a grave in Dunnottar:
Here lies Thomas Herdman first husband to Mary White. He was principal servant to William, Earl Marishal (sic) d. 31 May 1713 aged 36: also George, James and Thomas his sons and Mary and Anna, children by her to John Falconer her second husband at Mill of Stonehive. John was brother to our William, 5 x gt godfather.
The name Keith-Falconer began to be used much later and facts do not correspond. Wiki says this
Earl of Kintore is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1677 for Sir John Keith, third son of William Keith, 6th Earl Marischal (see Earl Marischal for earlier history of the family). He was made Lord Keith of Inverurie and Keith Hall at the same time, also in the Peerage of Scotland. At the death of William, the fourth Earl, in 1761 the earldom became dormant as no-one could prove a claim to it. In 1778, it was decided that the earldom should pass to Anthony Adrian Falconer, Lord Falconer of Halkerton, who changed his surname to Keith-Falconer. My grandmother was told that our WF was offered this title, but this would have been 100 years later. The family must have believed this for so many to use Keith as a name.
The Falconer money originated via Elizabeth Samuel who married an elderly man in London who owned a Chandlers business and a pub in Wapping, London. After he died she married a sailor who landed at Wapping stairs, James Falconer. He was the child of a lowly watch maker. James’s son William did the same: married the owner of the best hotel in Port Elizabeth. Her ancestry is a secret, and the evidence has been ripped out of the Church record book in London. I believe it still exists in PE though. She was the result of a bigamous marriage to an Admiral. Do you know any more about this?Kind regards, Lorna
Thank you for your comprehensive reply, this begining to ring quite a few bells. My grand father, Hubert Falconer Cocks son of Edith, was a wonderful character and after a few drinks would insist that he was the rightful Earl of Kintore. So much so that it became a family joke and he was known as the "old earl". Brought up in Hampstead and a young man about town in the Edwardian period made him quite a racy character, marrying ridiculously young an irish musical hall singer (minor pop star - my grandmother Kathleen Cody). He survived WW1 despite being an officer in a horse artillery regiment, called King Edwards Horse, which comprised a bunch of hurray Henrys who mixed extreme danger with quaffing champagne at every opportunity. The James Falconer and Wapping connection rings bells, as does the Port Elizabeth marriage. But as I have William married in PE
the daughter of a retired sea captain, so he may well have owned an hotel. The Royal Navy connection is very interesting, not least because I spent 35 years in the Royal Navy ending up as a Commander. So I certainly know a few badly behaved Admirals to this day! I will now have to go for a rummage through family stuff because I have photocopies of details and paintings of some common ancestors and then contact you again. I am glad your son likes the sea, it is in the blood.
The ship sinking is very interesting. The Alexandrina was built to a very high standard in Aberdeen around 1847, even Lloyds A1 registered. It was WFs favourite vessel, he sailed five and managed to get the Royal Mail packet contract between London/Southampton and Cape Town, Algoa Bay and Port Elizabeth. Quite a coup in the days of Cecil Rhodes etc.However in 1869 the Alex collided in fog off the Cape Verde islands having been run down by another Falconer sailing ship and slowly sank. This was an enormous coincidence, or an accident waiting to happen as the vessels wanted to liaise mid passage, or an insurance right off? Anyway the bell was saved and I believe the oil painting was then commissioned for his rather grand house in Southampton. The Falconer Union Packet line merged with the Mercer line to become the Union Steam Packet Company which in turn became Union Castle then SAFmarine. So theoretically I have the founding ships bell?
best wishes, Michael
Our stories overlap especially the Earl of Kintore story. Your grandfather sounds as if he was a wonderful character. WF was not the owner of the hotel. I have a copy of a book written about 1820 ish which mentions Mrs. Robinson’s tavern, the best in PE. Many years later, after the birth of Ann, in PE, she married James Pyboul Scorey. I think the hotel was part of a settlement on her by the rogue Admiral. Scorey had quite a life and after his wife’s death then married her niece, but not until she had borne 2 children to him. She was cut out of his will, so she contested it, WF was involved, and she won. She, the niece, moved to London and lived next door to her new step-daughter, having previously lived with her aunt in London before her death.
Do you have a copy of WF’s Will? I have not yet sent for it. I would love to learn more and see your docs, photos etc. This is the first I knew of a house in Southampton. I knew the Mercers lived there.
You wouldn’t part with the bell though would you? It is a part of who you are.
My son has the sea running through his veins as his Mallors (Elizabeth Falconer married his descendant) ancestors were in the RN, and also worked out of SA, and on his father’s side he has many Commanders, Captains, Master Mariners etc, being related to the Foleys of Wales. On my mother’s side I also have lowly sailors in the RN and my grandfather was in the R.N.V.R in 1910. The more I think about this the more I realise that so many were in the Navy on various lines in my tree, and have just discovered that my Uncle was a Lieut-Commander. He was a philanderer, and left nothing apart from debts and a yacht moored in Spain, upon his death! A Foley descendant was Josiah Ilbery, Master on the fated Waratahwhich went down in 1910.
I look forward to seeing what you have on the Falconers,Lorna