The Cocker Letters (4)

to Hannah Cocker from Ann and Maria Fildes, 1849

Contributed by Eunice and Ron Shanahan, © Copyright 2005


This page describes a letter written to Hannah Cocker in Hathersage, from her (step) sister Ann [see Editor's Note] and niece Maria Fildes. It has been purchased by Eunice and Ron Shanahan from dealer David Shaw in Yorkshire, and follows on from earlier purchases of letters written by and to various members of Hannah's family in Hathersage.

This letter is in two different hands: one side of the sheet by Ann, and the other by Maria Fildes, who appear to be aunt and niece (Ann writes to Hannah as a ‘dear Friend’, but Maria refers to both Hannah and Maria as her aunts). The spelling is as written - we assume they both write as they speak. There is no address on the top of the letter, so a further assumption is that Hannah knows where they are living in London. The content suggests to us that they may be keeping a Boarding House.

Monday Night

My dear Friend

I have been wanting to write to you for the last week - in my last I told you that H Langdon and H Ibbotson ware staying with us, the latter I suppose as gone to America, the first staid with me I think he his a nice fellow

Charles Peace as been in London and took up his abode in Alderberry at Cavesus<?>, We can live without him, during the time that Mr Langdon was in London H Teacher from Hunters House came and staid at Greenes Mr L thought it very strange that he did not come here, but people will please themselves

It will soon be 4 years since I saw you and what strange things as turned up since then.

I must get Maria to conclude, with dearest love to all
Yours truly Ann

Then overleaf in the different handwriting:-

London Dec 3 - 49

My dear Aunt
My aunt was so tired she could not write any more, she requested me to give you the particulars of a party she was at in Belgrave Square at Mrs Riley's Sister's Miss Mellelue <?> her youngest sister is a very clever lady and conducts a party with very good style, the Invitation came for nine o Clock in the evening. On Aunt's arrival at about 20 minutes before 10 o'clock, she was ushered into the room were there were about 30 to 40 people part Dancing and the other part amusing themselves in other ways. The distinguished guest were Charles Dicken's nephew and his intended lady who has £700 a year of her own private property - the Editor of the Morning Post and Chronical were present and the Rector of some place or other with £3000 a year and Miss Cocker with many others connected with the fashionable circle. Charles Dickens was to have been there but was engaged. They broke up about 6 the next morning. The Supper was splendidly set out. They had a band of music the whole of the evening. Mrs Riley was present but it was to stylish for the Doctor so he would not go - Aunt and I took tea with Mr Riley last week he his quite determined to leave the place, he is now at … I think it would not take a great deal to persuade him to go back to Hathersage. Mrs Riley desired her fond love to you all, she is coming to take tea with us some day this week, she is frequently talking how kind you all were to her. It is very dull wet weather. Uncle James is much the same <Couteins?> are doing very well at the Bazaar. We got a very intelligent and agreeable Gentleman in on Saturday evening he may stay with us a week or two but it is quite uncertain. We shall begin to look forward to the time of Uncle Joseph coming although we should have been delighted to have seen Uncle Henry, yet Uncle Joseph will not be less welcome. I hope you will have a good Merry Xmas it is such a flat time with us that we never can enjoy it much. Mr Vaughan is at Ann Kershaw's now and as left <Rickwood?> he his going to Board with her for 12 months he is going to study for the Church.

Have you heard anything respecting Mrs <Sleigh?> yet we have never heard any thing more of her. All join me in kind love to yourself, uncle and Aunt

Henry and believe me to remain
Your ever affectionate neice
Maria Fildes

Editorial Comments

At the time of creating this page, it was not clear to me what relationship there was between the writer Ann, and the addressee Hannah. Maria referred to them both as ‘Aunt’, but since Ann addressed Hannah as ‘Friend’ it had seemed unlikely they were sisters. My first thoughts were that Ann had married a brother of Hannah's brother Joseph's wife, Margaret ARMSTRONG. Margaret originated in Lancashire, and the IGI shows a lot of FILDES families from there. Or perhaps one of Hannah's brothers, already resident in London (see Five More Letters)

In fact it now appears that Ann was most likely Hannah's step sister. Thanks to the 1851 census transcription available via Ancestry UK, an Ann (COCKER), Unmarried, aged 53 and her niece Maria (FILDES) aged 17 are recorded at “21 Thavie Inn” in an Extra-Parochial district of London. Ann was recorded as born “Hathersay” (Derbyshire), and this would accord with Ann, daughter of Thomas COCKER and his first wife Ann, baptised in 1797. Her occupation was “Boarding House”; (sic) .

Maria was born in Manchester, so with Manchester featuring at least my initial guess was partially correct! They had two visitors living with them, and a House Servant.

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