Cockram, William

Also known as: Bill Cockram

Collection date: Sept 1904

Area: Devon


William (Bill) Cockram at Rackenford, North Devon (1870-1950): age 34, 1 song 13 Sept 1904: ‘Brennan on the Moor’ (FT426) is a chorus song about a fearless highwayman in Ireland. There’s no indication that Bill was related to singer Emily Cockram and the name is common in North Devon.

Bill Cockram’s details are a bit sketchy. It’s likely that he was born at Exeter St Thomas Apr qr 1870 (ref 5b 71), eldest son of Edmund Cockram, sawyer and his wife Rhoda (née Bryant). In 1891 Bill was a farm servant on a farm in Rose Ash and seems to have married a girl called Annie Heale in June qr 1893 (S Molton 5b 679). She had died by the time of the 1901 census in which William was listed (RG13/2140 f32 p2) as a widower and a boarder in Rackenford at the house of Lewis Palfrey (husband of singer Sarah Ann Palfrey). William was working as an agricultural labourer and boarding at the Bell Inn in Rackenford in 1911. In 1939 he was living as a boarder at The Club in Rackenford. That register shows his date of birth as 23/2/1870. Bill seems to have led a somewhat shifting life and his choice of song is perhaps a reflection of that. He died Oct qr 1950 (Barnstaple 7a 295).

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