Howdenshire History

Emigration: Howden & Area, Yorkshire to Worldwide

I have been researching local history for over 30 years and, even before the age of the internet, I was contacted by people from all over the globe whose ancestors were from Howden and the surrounding villages. My own ancestors emigrated to the Port Hope area of Ontario, Canada in 1832 and from the letters I have read they knew several local families who had also settled in Ontario over the previous 10 years.

This project lists some of the families who began life in Yorkshire but who moved to many different parts of the world. I have used various sources. I have researched some of these families myself but although I have tried to check everything, some of the information below is from secondary sources. Therefore, please use it with caution.


Joshua Cocker - Christopher Blencow(e) Dunn


Joshua and Elizabeth Cocker:   Howden to Tonga (South Pacific)

In 1851 Joshua Cocker and his wife were living in Hailgate, Howden with their son Benjamin. Joshua was a wood dealer's clerk and was the son of Benjamin, a weaver and Wesleyan preacher from the Huddersfield area. Joshua himself also became a lay preacher and in 1851 was living next to the town's Wesleyan minister. Whilst in Howden a second son, William Walker Cocker, was also born to Joshua and his wife on 16 October 1853.

Joshua did not enjoy life as a clerk in Howden. He emigrated with 4(?) of his brothers to Van Diemen's Land and soon afterwards his wife Elizabeth followed, along with their two children, on the Red Jacket to Port Philip, Melbourne, Australia. Elizabeth arrived at Port Philip on the 1st February 1858. Shortly afterwards the family sailed with Joshua's brother William for the South Sea Islands, finally reaching Tonga. Joshua and his wife Elizabeth chose to remain in Tonga for the rest of their lives, thousands of miles from Yorkshire.

Their daughter Charlotte was born in 1860 - supposedly the first white girl ever born in Tonga. A third son, Joshua, was born in 1862.

Joshua Cocker Snr acted as British consul in Tonga whilst also prospering as a trader and planter. The first cow and bull were taken to Tonga by Joshua; the Tongans were apparently terrified and climbed the coconut trees. Joshua's wife Elizabeth brought with her the first hand-operated sewing machine, later teaching the Tongan women to sew. Joshua was adviser to King George of Tonga and was a great believer in Tonga maa Tonga (Tonga for the Tongans).

Joshua died in 1880 and his wife in 1911. His three sons and one daughter stayed on the island where today they have many descendants.

Joshua's son William became a prominent trader and in 1920 gave the Tongan government £4,000 in gold coin as a portion of the guarantee fund against the issue of currency notes. Later, when the Second World War broke out, he gave £2,000 to a fund to provide a fighter from Tonga. He died in 1942.





Christoher Blencow[e] Dunn:   Howden to New Zealand

Christopher Blencow[e] Dunn was born on September 4 1798 in Howden. He emigrated aged about 60 with his wife to the remote Northland area of New Zealand. There he settled and founded a school as well as working with the Maori people.

He was the only son by the second marriage of Blencow Dunn to Rebekah Hinsley. Blencow Dunn was born in 1749 in Howden, the son of Samuel Dunn and Dorothy. The Dunns were a prominent Howden family. Blencow Dunn had married firstly Mary Haigh, the daughter of Abraham Haigh of Saltmarshe, on 19 Feb 1776 in Howden and they had had children Susannah, Elizabeth, Mary, John, Samuel, Dorothy and Robert. Blencow's wife Mary died in 1787 of consumption and is buried in Howden church.

Blencow Dunn married secondly Rebekah Hinsley and they had children Rebekah, Hannah Maria, Margaret and Christopher Blencow. Rebekah died in 1799(?) aged 34 and Blencow went on to marry again for a third time.

Christopher Blencow[e] Dunn served for a time as a midshipman in the Royal Navy then trained at St Bee's Theological College. Ordained as a deacon in 1822 and a priest in 1824, he was initially appointed as curate at Cumberworth near Huddersfield, and later at Heanor in Derbyshire. He is also recorded as serving for a time as chaplain to Queen Victoria.

He married Eliza Noble, the second daughter of John and Mary Noble, from Hill Top Farm, Cartworth Moor, on January 20 1834. They had four children. Rev Dunn was the author of several books and poetry and also wrote music for the organ. His literary works included Some Remarks on the Corn Laws and the poems Infancy and Parental Love and The Battle of the Alma; he also composed A Morning Hymn for the Prince of Wales.

Christopher and Eliza Dunn emigrated to New Zealand in 1858, sailing for Auckland aboard the Whirlwind and leaving their eldest son, Dr Christopher Blencowe Noble Dunn, behind them. The Whirlwind was 'a fine barque of nearly 1,000 tonnes, one of the well-known Dundee clippers, owned by Messrs Somes Bros., was of great length and had splendid accommodation for passengers'. On her only voyage to New Zealand she carried 40 saloon passengers and 200 immigrants.

The family's cottage grand piano, now on display at Kaitaia's Far North Regional Museum, was somehow dropped into the tide at Taipa in 1858, and was immediately despatched to Sydney for repairs. Years later it was put into storage on its side but has since been beautifully restored.

The family farmed at Peria, opposite St Barnabas' Church and cemetery. In 1866 Rev Dunn began teaching several pupils privately in a room in his house, situated across the creek from the present site of Peria School, and continued to do so for several years. He is credited with founding Peria School, a private institution, in 1873, in the old church for the first six months while a building was constructed.

The family lived at Oruru for 12 years, during which time Rev Dunn was of great assistance to Rev Joseph Matthews and Rev Renata Tangata in their work among the Maori of the district. They also lived in Kaitaia for six years, and later at Mangonui, where Rev Dunn retired in 1876 to his daughter Lavinia Campbell's residence. Lavinia was married to Samuel Campbell, the first surveyor in the Far North.

Robert Horatio Dunn, second son of Christopher and Eliza, married Mary Sophia Louisa Matthews, daughter of Rev Matthews, in 1868. They had 21 children.

Christopher Blencowe Dunn died at Mangonui on December 29, 1882 and is buried in the cemetery at St Andrew's. Eliza died on April 30, 1885. The Church Gazette records Dunn's passing, at the then grand old age of 84 years, in February 1883, noting that he had given 60 years to the ministry, serving 40 of those years as a curate in England where he gave from his private means "rather than receiving".

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