Mary Cockley (1826 - 1905)
     the Witch of Burnham, Creeksea, Ostend, Essex, England

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Mary Sadler   ( 1826 - 1905 )

The Witch of
Burnham ~ Creeksea ~ Ostend
Essex, England

Wife of William Cockley
~ the Coal Porter ~

 

 

~ 1826

1.          MARY SADLER  was born in Burnham, Essex and was baptized 07 May 1826 at the church in Burnham.

Father:          William Sadler

Mother:        Jane Perry                   click here:  To see more about the parents

 

Mary’s father, William Sadler, was a Fisherman in Creeksea and Burnham, Essex.

 

 

~ 1841

In 1841, Mary Sadler, age 15, was living with her parents at Ferry Cottage in Creeksea, Essex.

From the 1841 census of Creeksea:

Name - Age Sex - Profession - Born in County ?

Ferry Cottage

William Sadler        35 M     Sailor       y
Jane           Do          30 F                        y
Mary          Do          15 F                         y
William     Do          12 M                       y
Matha        Do          10 F                        y
Sarah         Do            7 F                         y
Elizabeth  Do            5 F                         y
Michael     Do            2 M                       y
Amos         Do            1 M                        y

 

~ 1848

Mary Sadler married WILLIAM COCKLEY in the 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep) of 1848 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

From the England & Wales Marriage Index:

Name:      Mary Sadler / William Cockley
Date:        Jul-Aug-Sep  1848
District:    Maldon
County:    Essex
Volume:   12     Page:  217

 

William Cockley was born ca. 1816 in Tollesbury, Essex.

In the 1851 census he was described as born in “Grt. Gotham” (Grt. Totham?), Essex.

 

~ 1850

William and Mary Cockley's son, Daniel Cockley, was born ca. 1850 in Burnham, Essex.

 

~ 1851

In 1851, William and Mary Cockley were living on High Street in Burnham, Essex.  William was a Coal Porter.

From the 1851 census of Burnham:

Name - Relationship – Married or Single – Age – Sex – Profession – Birthplace

High Street

William Cockley    Head   Mar   34 M   Coal Porter            Essex   Grt Gotham
Mary           do         Wife    Mar   25 F                                       do       Burnham
Daniel         do         Son                 1 M                                       do           do

 

~ 1852

William and Mary Cockley's son, William Cockley, was born ca. 1852 in Burnham, Essex

 

~ 1853

William and Mary Cockley's son, Daniel Cockley, died in the 1st Quarter (Jan-Feb-Mar) of 1853 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

 

~ 1855

William and Mary Cockley's daughter, Louisa J. Cockley, was born in the 4th Quarter (Oct-Nov-Dec) of 1855 in Burnham, Essex.

 

~ 1858

William and Mary Cockley's daughter, Elizabeth Cockley, was born in the 1st quarter (Jan-Feb-Mar) of 1858 in Burnham, Essex.

 

~ 1860

William and Mary Cockley's daughter, Harriet Cockley, was born in the 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep) of 1860 in Burnham, Essex.

 

~ 1861

In 1861, William and Mary Cockley were living on High Street in Burnham, Essex.  William was a Coal Porter.

From the 1861 census of Burnham:

Name - Relationship – Married or Single – Age – Sex – Profession – Birthplace

High St

William Cockley   Head   Mar  45 M   Coal Porter             Tollsbury   Essex
Mary            do        Wife   Mar  34 F                                      Burnham      do
William       do        Son                9 M   Scholar                           do            do
Louisa          do       daur               5 F           do                             do            do
Elizabeth     do          do                3 F                                             do           do
Harriet        do          do               10 mo  F                                     do           do

 

~ 1862

William and Mary Cockley's son, John Cockley, was born in the 2nd Quarter (Apr-May-Jun) of 1862 in Burnham, Essex.

 

~ 1866

William and Mary Cockley's son, Frederick Cockley, was born ca. 1866 in Burnham, Essex.

 

~ 1867

William and Mary Cockley's daughter, Sophia Eliza Cockley, was born in the 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep) of 1867 in Burnham, Essex.

 

~ 1871

In 1871, William and Mary Cockley were living in The Quay in Burnham, Essex.  William was a Coal Porter.

From the 1871 census of Burnham:

Name - Relationship – Married or Single – Age – Sex – Profession – Birthplace

The Quay

William Cockley      Head   Mar  55 M   Coal Porter                Essex   Tollesbury
Mary            “            Wife      “      43 F                                             “       Burnham
Louisa          “            Daur:           15 F      Hawker                          “             “
Elizabeth Cockley   Daur:           13 F                                          Essex   Burnham
Harriett        “              “                 11 F                                               “             “
John             “            Son                9 M                                             “             “
Frederick    “               “                   5 M                                             “             “
Sophia         “            Daur:             4 F                                              “             “
William       “            Son               20 M    Mariner                         “             “

 

~ 1877

William and Mary Cockley's son, William Cockley, died at the age of 26 years in the 2nd Quarter (Apr-May-Jun) of 1877 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

 

~ 1878

William Cockley died at the age of 65 years in the 2nd Quarter (Apr-May-Jun) of 1878 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

From the England & Wales Death Index:

Name:      William Cockley
Date:        Apr-May-Jun  1878
Age:         65
District:    Maldon
County:    Essex
Volume:   4a     Page:  172

 

Mary Cockley remained a widow for the next 27 years until her death.

 

~ 1881

In 1881, Mary Cockley, a widow, was living at Oyster Pit Yard in Burnham, Essex.  She was described as a Coal Porter’s Widow.

From the 1881 census of Burnham:

Name - Relationship – Married or Single – Age – Sex – Profession – Birthplace

Oyster Pit Yard

Mary Cockley  Head       Widow   54 F   Coal Porter’s Widow      Essex  Burnham
Harriet     Do   Daur        Unm      20 F   Domestic Servt                   “              “
John         Do   Son           Unm      19 M   Gardener                             “              “
Frederick Do     “                             15 M    Ag  Labr                              “              “
Sophia      Do   Daur                       13 F                                                   “              “
John Palmer   Boarder   Unm     49 M   Coal Porter                      Suffolk  Ipswich

 

~ also in 1881

Mary Cockley's daughter, Harriet Cockley, died at the age of 21 years in the 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep) of 1881 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

 

~ 1891

In 1891, Mary Cockley, a widow, was living on High Street in Burnham, Essex.

From the 1891 census of Burnham:

Name - Relationship – Married or Single – Age – Sex – Profession – Birthplace

High St         3 - Number of rooms occupied if less than five

Mary Cockley    Head    Wid   65 F                                                  Burnham           Essex
John        “          Son         S      29 M   Labourer     Employed                “                   “
Frederick  “       Son          S      25 M         “              Employed                “                   “
Ethel          “       G Daur              4 F                                                  Maldon Union  Essex
John Palmer    Lodger    S      60 M   Labourer     Employed      Ipswich              Suffolk

 

~ between 1891 and 1901

Somewhere between 1891 and 1901, Mary Cockley and some of her family moved from Burnham to Creeksea, Essex again.

 

~ 1901

In 1901, Mary Cockley, a widow, was living on Burnham Road in Creeksea, Essex.

From the 1901 census of Creeksea:

Name - Relationship – Married or Single – Age – Sex – Profession – Birthplace

Burnham Road     4 - Number of Rooms occupied if less than five.

Mary Cockley            Head Widow   75 F                                                                Burnham  Essex
John Cockley             Son        S         39 M   Coal Porter                     Worker    Burnham      do
Frederick Cockley    Son         S         35 M   Coal Porter                     Worker    Burnham      do

(the following is the next family on the same page)

Burnham Road       4 - Number of Rooms occupied if less than five.

Mary Prayle            Head   Widow   42 F                                                               Chelmsford  Essex
George Prayle         Son        S           16 M   Bricklayers Labourer   Worker    Burnham       do
Morris Prayle         Son         S           15 M   Bricklayers Labourer   Worker    Burnham       do
Edward Prayle       Son         S           13 M                                                              Burnham        do
James Prayle          Son         S             8 M                                                              Burnham       do
James Harvey        Lodger    S           28 M   Brick maker                  Worker    Bradwell         do

 

The second family in the 1901 census listing is the Playle family.  In this census the family is listed as “Prayle” but upon checking the earlier censuses, the name is actually “Playle”.

You will see below why I mentioned the Playle family.

 

~ 1905

Mary Cockley died at the age of 81 years in the 2nd Quarter (Apr-May-Jun) of 1905 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

From the England & Wales death Index:

Name:      Mary Cockley
Date:        Apr-May-Jun  1905
Age:         81
District:    Maldon
County:    Essex
Volume:   4a     Page:  306

 

Her actual age would put her more to the age of 79 base on her baptism date.

 

 

~ 1962

Eric Maple published his article "The Witches of Dengie" that appeared in the Autumn 1962 issue of the Folklore, Volume 73.

In this article he mentioned about the Witch Mary Cockley of Ostend, near Burnham-on-Crouch.

Eric Maple in 1960 interviewed a Mr. Playle who remembered Mary Cockley when he was a boy.

From the article "The Witches of Dengie", by Eric Maple: 

Pages 178 to 180

"In the year 1960 I completed an investigation of the witchcraft traditions of the Dengie Hundred of South-East Essex….

Several other villages of the Hundred boasted their witches towards the close of the last century.  At Ostend, near Burnham-on-Crouch, lived Mary Cockley, a woman who was feared for her power of ill wishing.

Mr. Playle of this village remembers how as a boy he refused to run an errand for her and was threatened with: 'You'll come home wetter than when you set out!'  In fact he fell into a pond and almost drowned.

On returning home he was met by the jeers of the witch which so enraged his mother that she struck her with a house flannel.  His mother was immediately taken ill, but whether from an evil spell or merely the effect of terror Mr. Playle cannot be sure."

 

As you can see that the Mr. Playle mentioned by Eric Maple in his 1962 article is most likely one of the sons of widow Mary "Prayle", the family that was listed next to Mary Cockley's  family in the 1901 census.

Listed in the 1901 census were George age 16, Morris age 15, Edward age 13, and James age 8.  So one of these Playle sons was the one that Witch Mary Cockley dealt with.

 

 

Children of William and Mary (Sadler) Cockley

 

2.          DANIEL COCKLEY  was born ca. 1850 in Burnham, Essex.

In 1851, Daniel Cockley, age 1, was living with his parents on High Street in Burnham, Essex (see above under the parents for census details).

 

Daniel Cockley died in the 1st Quarter (Jan-Feb-Mar) of 1853 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

From the England & Wales Death Index:

Name:       Daniel Cockley
Date:         Jan-Feb-Mar  1853
District:    Maldon
County:    Essex
Volume:   4a     Page:  115

 

 

3.          WILLIAM COCKLEY  was born ca. 1852 in Burnham, Essex.

In 1861, William Cockley, age 9, a scholar, was living with his parents on High Street in Burnham, Essex (see above under the parents for census details).

In 1871, William Cockley, age 20, was living with his parents in The Quay in Burnham, Essex.  William was a Mariner (see above under the parents for census details).

 

William Cockley died at the age of 26 years in the 2nd Quarter (Apr-May-Jun) of 1877 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

From the England & Wales Death Index:

Name:      William Cockley
Year:        Apr-May-Jun  1877
Age:         26
District:    Maldon
County:    Essex
Volume:   4a     Page:  166

 

 

4.  +      LOUISA J. COCKLEY  was born in the 4th Quarter (Oct-Nov-Dec) of 1855 in Burnham, Essex.

Louisa married Walter Snow.

Click here: to see page on Louisa Cockley.

 

 

5.  +      ELIZABETH COCKLEY  was born in the 1st quarter (Jan-Feb-Mar) of 1858 in Burnham, Essex.

Elizabeth married William James Vinton.

Click here: to see page on Elizabeth Cockley.

 

 

6.          HARRIET COCKLEY  was born in the 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep) of 1860 in Burnham, Essex.

From the England & Wales Birth Index:

Name:                              Harriet Cockly
Date:                                Jul-Aug-Sep  1860
Registration District:    Maldon
County:                           Essex
Volume:                          4a
Page:                                175

 

In 1861, Harriet Cockley, age 10 months, was living with her parents on High Street in Burnham, Essex (see above under the parents for census details).

In 1871, Harriet Cockley, age 11, was living with her parents in The Quay in Burnham, Essex (see above under the parents for census details).

In 1881, Harriet Cockley, age 20, was living with her widowed mother at Oyster Pit Yard in Burnham, Essex.  Harriet was a Domestic Servant (see above under the parents for census details).

 

Harriet Cockley died at the age of 21 years in the 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep) of 1881 in the Maldon registration district of Essex.

From the England & Wales Death Index:

Name:      Harriet Cockley
Date:        Jul-Aug-Sep  1881
Age:         21
District:    Maldon
County:    Essex
Volume:   4a     Page:  197

 

 

7.          JOHN COCKLEY  was born in the 2nd Quarter (Apr-May-Jun) of 1862 in Burnham, Essex.

From the England & Wales Birth Index:

Name:   John Cockley
Date:   Apr-May-Jun  1862
Registration District:   Maldon
County:   Essex
Volume:   4a
Page:  205

 

In 1871, John Cockley, age 9, was living with his parents in The Quay in Burnham, Essex (see above under the parents for census details).

In 1881, John Cockley, age 19, was living with his widowed mother at Oyster Pit Yard in Burnham, Essex.  John was a Gardener (see above under the parents for census details).

In 1891, John Cockley, age 29, was living with his widowed mother on High Street in Burnham, Essex.  John was a Labourer (see above under the parents for census details).

Somewhere between 1891 and 1901, the Cockley family moved from Burnham to Creeksea, Essex.

In 1901, John Cockley, age 39, was living with his widowed mother on Burnham Road in Creeksea, Essex.  John was a Coal Porter (see above under the parents for census details).

 

 

8.          FREDERICK COCKLEY  was born ca. 1866 in Burnham, Essex.

In 1871, Frederick Cockley, age 5, was living with his parents in The Quay in Burnham, Essex (see above under the parents for census details).

In 1881, Frederick Cockley, age 15, was living with his widowed mother at Oyster Pit Yard in Burnham, Essex.  John was an Agricultural Laborer (see above under the parents for census details).

In 1891, Frederick Cockley, age 25, was living with his widowed mother on High Street in Burnham, Essex.  John was a Labourer (see above under the parents for census details).

Somewhere between 1891 and 1901, the Cockley family moved from Burnham to Creeksea, Essex.

In 1901, Frederick Cockley, age 35, was living with his widowed mother on Burnham Road in Creeksea, Essex.  Frederick was a Coal Porter (see above under the parents for census details).

 

 

9.  +      SOPHIA ELIZA COCKLEY  was born in the 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep) of 1867 in Burnham, Essex.

Sophia married Henry Clayden.

Click here: to see page on Sophia Cockley.

 

 

 

Sources:

1.     1826 baptism of Mary Sadler.  Burnham, Essex, England.  Online at familysearch.org.  Indexing project (batch) no. I03393-1, Source film no. 1702193.  Searched on June 9, 2011 Thursday 1:50 PM.

2.     1841 Census of England, Essex, Creeksea, District 3, Image No. 4, Ancestry.com.  Public Record Office reference: HO 107/327/14, Original Page No. 8, Stamped Page No. 7, Household of William Sadler.   Searched on April 16, 2010 Friday 12:30 PM.

3.    1848 marriage of Mary Sadler and William Cockley.  England & Wales, Marriage Index online at Ancestry.com. Date Jul-Aug-Sep 1848, District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 12, Page 217.  Searched on April 16, 2010 Friday 12:32 PM.

4.     1851 Census of England, Essex, Burnham, District 1b, Image No. 7, Ancestry.com.  Public Record Office reference: H.O. 107 / 1778, Original Page No. 7, No. of Householder’s Schedule 21, Household of William Cockley.   Searched on April 16, 2010 Friday 12:27 PM.

5.    1853 death of Daniel Cockley.  England & Wales Death Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Jan-Feb-Mar 1853, District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 115.  Searched on April 23, 2010 Friday 8:13 PM.

6.     1855 birth of Louisa Cockley.  England & Wales Death Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Oct-Nov-Dec 1855, Registration District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 154.  Searched on June 17, 2011 Friday 4:31 PM.

7.     1858 birth of Elizabeth Cockley.  England & Wales Birth Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Jan-Feb-Mar  1858, Registration District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 182.  Searched on June 17, 2011 Friday 4:31 PM.

8.     1860 birth of Harriet Cockly.  England & Wales Birth Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Jul-Aug-Sep  1860, Registration District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 175.  Searched on June 17, 2011 Friday 4:31 PM.

9.     1861 Census of England, Essex, Burnham, District 2h, Image No. 16, Ancestry.com.  Public Record Office reference: R.G. 9 1087, Original Page No. 16, No. of Schedule 86, Household of William Cockley.   Searched on April 20, 2010 Tuesday 9:26 PM.

10.     1862 birth of John Cockley.  England & Wales Birth Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Apr-May-Jun  1862, Registration District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 205.  Searched on June 17, 2011 Friday 4:31 PM.

11.     1867 birth of Sophia Eliza Cockley.  England & Wales Birth Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Jul-Aug-Sep  1867, Registration District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 227.  Searched on June 17, 2011 Friday 4:31 PM.

12.     1871 Census of England, Essex, Burnham, District 2, Image Nos. 19 & 20, Ancestry.com.  Public Record Office reference: R.G. 10 1671, Original Page Nos. 19 & 20, Stamped Page No. 34, No. of Schedule 109, Household of William Cockley.   Searched on April 21, 2010 Wednesday 3:30 PM.

13.    1877 death of William Cockley.  England & Wales Death Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Apr-May-Jun 1877, age 26, District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 166.  Searched on April 23, 2010 Friday 8:16 PM.

14.    1878 death of William Cockley.  England & Wales Death Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Apr-May-Jun 1878, age 65, District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 172.  Searched on April 21, 2010 Wednesday 4:05 PM.

15.     1881 Census of England, Essex, Burnham, District 2, Image No. 39, Ancestry.com.  Public Record Office reference: RG 11 / 1773, Original Page No. 38, No. of Schedule 198, Household of Mary Cockley.   Searched on April 21, 2010 Wednesday 3:57 PM.

16.    1881 death of Harriet Cockley.  England & Wales Death Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Jun-Jul-Aug 1881, age 21, District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 197.  Searched on April 22, 2010 Thursday 4:34 PM.

17.     1891 Census of England, Essex, Burnham, District 2, Image No. 4, Ancestry.com.  Public Record Office reference: RG 12 / 1395, Original Page No. 4, No. of Schedule 21, Household of Mary Cockley.  Searched on April 16, 2010 Friday 1:11 PM.

18.     1901 Census of England, Essex, Creeksea, District 3, Image No. 1, Ancestry.com.  Public Record Office reference: RG 13 / 1688, Original Page No. 1, Stamped Page No. 5, No. of Schedule 4 & 5, Household of Mary Cockley and Mary Prayle (Playle).  Searched on April 16, 2010 Friday 1:19 PM.

19.    1905 death of Mary Cockley.  England & Wales Death Index online at Ancestry.com.  Date Apr-May-Jun 1905, age 81, District Maldon, County Essex, Volume 4a, Page 306.  Searched on April 16, 2010 Friday 1:07 PM.

20.     1962  Mary Cockley mentioned in the article 'The Witches of Dengie' by Eric Maple.  Magazine - Folklore Volume 73 Autumn 1962.  Pages 178-180.  From my own copy of the magazine purchased December 5, 2009 Saturday.

 

 

1st Publication on June 18, 2011 Saturday  4:58 PM

 

Researched and Compiled by William Wallworth

 

 

 

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