William Cocke
Another Elizabethan London Spoonmaker?

By Piers Percival

Spoons have been sighted with the mark of a cock for 1587, the latest in 2002 care of Mr John Bourdon-Smith, and it may be helpful to fill in a little more of the spoon connections and background of William Cocke, for whom Tim Kent first suggested the attribution of a cock back in 19811. This is the same mark as the chanticleer in Jackson's revised, pl02.

William Cocke the son of George Cocke from Leicestershire, was apprenticed to George Gatchett in 1578, so given an average apprenticeship of eight years, would be free circa 1586. We do not know the exact date since the Goldsmiths' Company Court book 'M', which covers the period 1579 - June 1592 is missing. Cocke's apprentice Barnabas Turville, started with him in 1588. But by the time he was sworn for freedom in 1596, Turville had become the apprentice of Noah Farmer (book 'N' p95). There is no mention of Cocke in book 'N' or subsequently, and it may be assumed that the reason that Turville was turned over from Cocke to Farmer was that the former master had died. There is no mention of the date he was turned over in book 'N' so it is likely that William Cocke had died sometime before June 1592. An unexpectedly short working life, but at least this would explain the paucity of spoons extant with this mark. Noah Farmer and Barnabas Turville both known spoonmakers, were also both from Leicestershire2.

A further point of interest is that George Gatchett, the master of William Cocke, may himself have come from a line of spoonmaking. He had been apprenticed to Robert Hartoppe who had a shop in Gutter Lane in Chepe (book 'H' p78) and who in 1550 was a company Warden. Hartoppe had been apprenticed in 1508 to Robert Whyte also of Gutter Lane, and free in 1515 (book 'A' pp445, 483, 502). When he died in 1555, his apprentices were passed on to his wife Joan who inherited the business. She was listed in 1558 as having the shop next door to Nicholas Bartholomew (book 'K' p464). George Gatchett was made free in 1557, livery 1577 and was buried at St. Matthews's Friday Street in 1589. But in December 1560 he had wished to be translated to the Drapers' Company, and although he was received back with the Goldsmiths' two years later, it was agreed on his departure he would pay as a fine "a dozen gylt spones weighing ii oz each and with leoparts heads graven on the knoppes" (book 'K' p141).

Joan Hartoppe later married Robert Smythe grocer, and another of her apprentices was one Patrick Brue, who had started with spoonmaker Nicholas Bartholomew next door and would later become master for William Cawdell. There is no doubt that Joan Hartoppe/Smythe was at least a retailer of spoons since apart from having Patrick Brue, mentioned in her will of February 1566, when it came to having her son Thomas quickly translated from the Haberdashers' to the Goldsmiths', also in February 1566, it was agreed that this should be done by paying a dozen gilt spoons (book 'K' p305). So on both occasions' spoons were used for payment of a fee to the Goldsmiths', and the suggestion is that they were immediately available from stock.

Thomas Hartoppe inherited the set up in Gutter Lane and by July 1566 and in 1569 is listed as working there at the White Cocke, next door to Nicholas Bartholomew who had the Woolsack. Thomas died in 1582; we do not know who then moved into his shop, though William Cocke could have been drawn to the possibility.

Half a century earlier spoonmaker William Simpson had lived and worked in Chepe (book 'A' p505), and when he died in 1546, his apprentice (and later spoonmaker) William Peke was turned over to the Hartoppes in Gutter Lane (book 'H' p71). I suspect it may even have been Simpson's spoon shop that was next door to the Hartoppes and that Nicholas Bartholomew free in 1545, was its next occupant. Even earlier, in the 15th year of Henry VII, there was a John Cotson of Gutter Lane, 1abled 'sponemaker' (book 'A' p378); we know therefore that Gutter Lane was perhaps a Mecca for spoons at least up to the days of William Cawdell and William Lovejoy at the Woolsack, 125 years later:

What glitter of gold there would have been,In that little lane, all buyers so keen; The time passes by and years intervene, But always for spoons the best to be seen!

1. Kent, T.A. London Silver Spoonmakers 1500-1697. London 1981.
2. Percival, P. The Finial 2001; Vol.11: p.134.


Richard Jonas replies to David Whitbread's 'In the Manner of De Lamerie' (Finial, Feb/Mar, page10):
I have an example, probably c1730/40, which has the following characteristics:
1. Length 19.3 cm with a similar crest to that shown in Ian Pickford's example on p87 of 'Silver Flatware'.
2. It has eight indents on the stem whereas Pickford's has seven and it has a larger, plain, drop on the heel with a bump at the bottom of it whereas Pickford's appears to be reeded.
3. The front of the terminal has a long rib, tapering to a point, as illustrated.
4. The back of the bowl has imperfections to the surface, which may indicate that the spoon was cast. The stem has the same to a lesser extent and also has a crack across the stem, which may indicate that the metal is weak due to a casting defect.

I hope this is of interest.

.10. & .11.
The Finial, April/May 2003

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