The portrait shown above is very often (incorrectly) linked to the name of
James Hancock, but is in fact of his son
Joseph Ebenezer Hancock.
According to the Hancock's Drift page on Facebook (March 2013):
James HANCOCK was born in about April 1776 in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, England. He was baptised at the church of St Giles, Newcastle under Lyme on 1 May 1776. His father, also James HANCOCK, was a Potter. His mother was Margaret HANCOCK, née FODEN.
It seems that James HANCOCK had a number of siblings, only one of whom we know for certain. Due to the parish records being incomplete and sometimes almost inaccessible, it is difficult to say who the others truly were. The following list nominates all possible children of James (Senior) and Margaret HANCOCK, with markers denoting whether they are possible (ps), most likely (ml), or certain (ct).
01. (ps) George HANCOCK, chr. 29 Jan 1775, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire; bd. 3 Feb 1788, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
02. (ct) James HANCOCK, chr. 1 May 1776, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
03. (ml) Betty HANCOCK, chr. 6 July 1777, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
04. (ml) Aaron HANCOCK, chr. 9 Jan 1780, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
05. (ml) Susanna HANCOCK, chr. 30 Nov 1781, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
06. (ml) Sarah HANCOCK, chr. 4 Sep 1785, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire; bd. 30 Jan 1786, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
07. (ct) Mary HANCOCK, chr. 27 Nov 1787, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
08. (ps) Joseph HANCOCK (twin of Benjamin), chr. 12 Jun 1791, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
09. (ps) Benjamin HANCOCK (twin of Joseph), chr. 12 Jun 1791, St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
chr. = christened/baptised; bd. = buried
Most of these children grew up and remained in the Potteries area of Staffordshire, and many of their descendants did so as well. A descendant of Aaron HANCOCK migrated to Australia, returning to fight in France in the First World War. In England he married the girl who had followed him from Australia, and they soon returned to Australia and brought up a family there. Their descendants still live in Australia.
James HANCOCK Senior died about 1791 and his widow, Margaret, married John HAYES, a widower, in 1792.
James HANCOCK Junior served an apprenticeship as a china painter and gilder, and moved to London. He had a workshop in Leather Lane, near Fleet Street, and lived in Eyre Street. When he married Ann KENNEDY of 125 Fetter Lane (off Fleet Street) in 1808, they lived in Eyre Street and their first four children were born there. About 1815 the family moved to an (as yet, undiscovered) address in Islington, and lived there until they were due to leave for the Cape Colony in early 1820. The severe winter delayed their departure when the river Thames froze. As the family was unable to embark on their ship on the appointed date, they stayed with Ann HANCOCK’s brother, Thomas KENNEDY and his family, at 125 Fetter Lane in the City of London.
James HANCOCK’s sister, Mary, accompanied the family to the Cape Colony where she married a widower, Charles Thomas CROFT, firstly on board ship, then again in Salem.
The TS Aurora, with the HANCOCK family group on board, eventually left from Deptford on 6 February 1820, and, after some further delay, from Gravesend on 15 February 1820. The James HANCOCK family adventure had begun.
1820 Settler, part of
Hezekiah Sephton's party in the ship Aurora (344 passengers).
Departed from London on 15 February 1820. Arrived at Simon's Bay 1 May 1820.
Arrived at final destination of Algoa Bay, Cape Colony on 15 May 1820.
James Hancock was a china painter. He founded an art school in Grahamstown.
James Hancock was a Wesleyan lay preacher. In 1833, he had a street named after him (Hancock Street) in Port Elizabeth.
Founded a school in Grahamstown. James was a potter from Staffordshire. Settled at Salem, moved to Grahamstown, and later to Port Elizabeth where he had a pottery and also ran a school. His sister, Mary, 32, also accompanied him to the Cape Colony.
The story of James Hancock and his family is told in the book "Hancock's Drift" by Frederic Whinchcombe Powell.
(Click on the image of the book cover for further details.)
1. Name of the Deceased: James Hancock
2. Birth-place of the Deceased: Born in England
3. Names of the Parents of the Deceased: The late James Hancock and M... Hancock
4. Age of the Deceased: 61 years 3 months and 20 days
5. Condition in life: Messenger to the first of the Resident Magistrate of Port Elizabeth
6. Married or unmarried, Widower or Widow: Married to Ann Hancock born Kennedy
7. The Day of the decease: in the 20th August 1837
8. At what House, or where the Person died: At his Residence ... at Port Elizabeth
9. Names of the Children of Deceased, and whether Minors or Majors: ...
10. Whether Deceased has left any Property, and of what kind: ...
Land and movable property
His will is apparently in the Cape Town Archives.
DESCRIPTION HANCOCK, JAMES. WILL.
REMARKS FILED 1837.
Grahamstown Journal, September 1837
Died at Port Elizabeth on Sunday 27th August 1837 after a painful and lingering illness, Mr. James HANCOCK, aged 62 years. He was a member of the Wesleyan Society for many years, he died, as he had lived, an ornament to his Christian Profession. His end was Peace.
A HISTORY OF ST. MARY’S CEMETERY, PORT ELIZABETH
(Post by Liz Eshmade, eGGSA, 19 January 2016)
Algoa Bay was almost devoid of people when, in 1799, the British Army constructed the Fort on the hill overlooking the sea. The spot, which was to serve the military forces stationed here, was chosen because it was on the slope of a hill close to the beach and was surrounded with shrubbery, which gave it an air of peaceful tranquility.
There are no records of internments prior to the cemetery being given over to St. Mary’s church but we do know that there was a small section where civilians were buried and that is probably where some of the 1820 Settlers, who died soon after landing, were buried. There are also very likely to be passing ship’s crew members and perhaps even victims of early unchartered wrecks, which may have occurred before 1820.
There are no gravestones or memorials extant for this period at all. Very likely there would have been cairns and wooden crosses, none of which would have stood the passing of the years.
St. Mary’s Church was built in 1825 and a portion of the cemetery was given over to the church to use for burials under “certain conditions”, which we do not know today. In 1845/46 the vestry minutes inform us that the cemetery was surveyed and laid out into plots and in the process some of the “natural and picturesque shrubbery” had to be removed, much to public regret. The ground appears to have been sold off in a very haphazard manner with plot 1 being next to plot 365. However, this may have been the result of people being buried among the military graves already existing. The cemetery was consecrated by Bishop Grey on 30 August 1850 when he came to celebrate the first Confirmations in the new church.
There was then no wall around the cemetery and the wagons and carts used to drive through it as a short cut to the fording place on the Baakens River. As early as 1847 letters were appearing in the Herald complaining about the condition of the cemetery and the damage being done to it by the wagon traffic. 1849 saw the first floods and the Baakens come down for the first time since the establishment of the town. It is not known if the wall had already been built and if not what damage was caused to the cemetery. By the next serious floods in 1867, which saw massive destruction in South End, there was already a wall In place and this may have saved the cemetery from huge damage. Also, after this flood, the municipality ordered that all graves be dug a minimum of 2m deep as there were a number of coffins exposed after the rains and could cause health problems to the surrounding community.
In January 1898 this cemetery was closed for new internments except for those who had space in family plots. By then even the pathways between the original plots had been sold off. The last known internment was of ashes in the nineteen sixties. Complete neglect seems to have followed on the closure and by 1962 journalists were commenting on the broken and splintered gravestones ,the weeds and general overgrowth. It had become a place for the children in South End to play in and for vagrants to live in. There was then little interest in the ancestors or the first inhabitants of this city!
In 1963 the Historical Society recommended certain proposals to upgrade the cemetery and some of the ideas were carried out but careless felling of oversized trees caused more damage and the work was halted before it was finished.
In the 1970’s South Union Street and St. Mary’s Lane disappeared into the new Freeway and the cemetery gate was moved to Valley Road. No cemetery land was reclaimed for this project.
In 1990 a project to record the remaining gravestones in this cemetery was completed (in the days before digital cameras!) and by then a number of the stones had completely worn away into holes and others had lost their inscriptions. In 2000 another sweep was made to see what was left and the destruction by the weather and man (but mainly the weather) was serious enough to make us realize how fortunate it was that we had recorded that cemetery when we did.
In 2013 a walk through this old place revealed a large number of people living there, nearly all the metal grave surrounds had been ripped out to sell and large numbers of the graves were in a bad condition. Some of the large trees had fallen and the whole area was so thick with dead leaves that it was not possible to see those gravestones which had been laid flat.
Briefly then, you will not find any gravestones here prior to 1845 (with one exception and that is William Long, the Captain of the Locust, who was buried in the military section in 1822 and whose gravestone was attached to the boundary wall in an experiment at some time in the 1960’s, to see if it would be a good idea to move all the remaining gravestones to the walls) and there are no gravestones here beyond 1895.