COCKERELL, Charles (1755-1837), of Sezincote, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. 18 Feb. 1755, 5th s. of John Cockerell of Bishop’s Hull, Som. by Frances, da. and coh. of John Jackson of Clapham, Surr. educ. Winchester 1767-9. m. (1) 11 Mar. 1789 at Calcutta, Mary Tryphena (d. 8 Oct. 1789), da. of Sir Charles William Blunt, 3rd Bt., s.p.; (2) 13 Feb. 1808, Hon. Harriet Rushout, da. of John Rushout*, 1st Baron Northwick, 1s. 2da. cr. Bt. 25 Sept. 1809.
Writer, E.I. Co. (Bengal) 1775, factor 1782; asst. at Bhagalpur 1783, collector 1784; jun. merchant 1785, sen. merchant 1790; postmaster-gen. Bengal c.1786-1800, home 1801; commr. Board of Control 1835-7.
Mayor, Evesham 1810, 1833; sheriff, Glos. 1814-15.
Dir. Globe Insurance Co. 1811.
Cockerell, who received his commercial education at Sharpe’s school at Bromley by Bow, arrived in Bengal in 1776, attached to the surveyor-general’s office of the East India Company. He was befriended by Warren Hastings and Lord Wellesley in turn. Combining his civil service career with partnership in the Calcutta bank of Cockerell, Trail & Co., of which he became principal, he assisted Wellesley during the Mysore war 1798-9, by making his financial arrangements with the Bengal government and by commanding the military force raised within the civil service during the war. Wellesley’s sense of his services obtained him a baronetcy in 1809.1 On his return to England in 1801, he resided at Sezincote, which had belonged to his late brother John, a colonel in the Company service, and embellished it in the oriental style said to have inspired the Prince Regent’s Brighton pavilion. He remained an East India agent with the same partners as in India, and as an East India Company stockholder was entitled to four votes for the directorate by 1806.
Cockerell came into Parliament for Tregony as a guest of Richard Barwell*, a fellow nabob. He visited France the same year. He gave a silent support to Addington’s ministry and was listed doubtful from Pitt’s point of view in May 1804. His opposition to Pitt’s additional force bill in June confirmed this: in September he was a doubtful Addingtonian. On 8 Apr. 1805 he was in the government minority against the censure of Melville, but on 12 June in the majority for his criminal prosecution and duly listed ‘doubtful Sidmouth’ a month later. He voted with the Grenville ministry for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806.
Cockerell was left without a seat at the election of 1806, but Lord Grenville secured his return on Lord Mount Edgcumbe’s interest in January 1807.2 On 24 Mar. he obtained leave of absence until 9 Apr. and it does not appear that he stood by the ministry on their dismissal. Lord Wellesley now took him up and he was an unsuccessful candidate at St. Ives in 1807, afterwards showing some interest in a seat for Penryn, where Lord Sidmouth recommended him to Lord de Dunstanville.3 Nothing came of that and it was as Member for the close borough of Bletchingley that Cockerell returned to Westminster in January 1809. The Duke of Portland had him earmarked for the baronetcy he obtained later that year. (On 4 Apr. 1810 he was presented to the King.) Wellesley being now in office, he voted with ministers on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, and against the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan. and 30 Mar. He was listed ‘Government’ by the Whigs at that time and opposed the release of the radical agitator Gale Jones, 16 Apr. On 1 Jan. 1811 he was in the opposition majority on the Regency and, though he did not adopt the same line in the division of 21 Jan., the Whigs went so far as to canvass his attendance through John Leach*.4 In fact he followed Wellesley into opposition, voting for Catholic relief, 24 Apr. 1812, and for a stronger government, 21 May.
Cockerell was again without a seat in 1812 and when, in October 1814, the patron of Bletchingley asked the prime minister to choose between Cockerell and Lord Binning to replace him as Member, Liverpool opted for Binning: ‘I have no reason besides, from what has recently passed, to think I could place any dependence upon Sir Charles Cockerell’, he explained.5 It was not until February 1816 that Cockerell was re-admitted to the House, this time for Seaford, at the instigation of John Leach (a friend of his brother Samuel Pepys Cockerell the architect), who was resigning the seat to take office. The Whigs were sour, John Whishaw commenting that Cockerell ‘though a professed adherent of Wellesley, will with very few exceptions be a regular voter with administration’, while Tierney labelled him ‘a direct supporter of government’.6 They were more or less right. Cockerell voted in the government minority for the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, and in their majorities of 24 May and 20 June, and 25 Feb. and 23 June 1817; though he was in the opposition majority against the ducal grant, 15 Apr. 1818. By then he was Wellesley’s chief creditor, having seized the purchase money received from the Duke of Wellington for Apsley House.7
Cockerell contested Evesham on the interest of his father-in-law in 1818. He was defeated, but obtained the seat on petition and held it almost for the rest of his life. He voted with ministers against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819. Subsequently, he resumed alignment with Wellesley, who recommended him to Lord Melbourne for a peerage in 1835. He died 6 Jan. 1837.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: J. W. Anderson / R. G. Thorne
- 1. India Office Lib. J/1/9, ff. 112, 214, 216; Melbourne mss, Wellesley to Melbourne, 5 May 1835.
- 2. Fortescue mss, Mount Edgcumbe to Grenville, 26 Jan. 1807.
- 3. Sidmouth mss, de Dunstanville to Sidmouth, 29 Nov., 9, 28 Dec. 1807, 13 Jan. 1808.
- 4. Blair Adam mss, 19 Jan. 1811.
- 5. Add. 38458, ff. 195, 197.
- 6. Creevey mss, Whishaw to Creevey, 10 Feb.; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 10 Feb. 1816.
- 7. Iris Butler, The Eldest Brother, 492, 540.