Corker Family


The Corker Family
Clock & Watch Makers of Staffordshire and London

Parish records reveal that as early as 1730 a Corker family was settled in Uttoxeter, a town in the English county of Staffordshire.

The wedding of Daniel Corker and Sarah Matthews was celebrated at Uttoxeter on 12 December 1773. Sarah Corker, who lived to the age of 83, was buried on 9 January 1828 at St Mary’s Church, Stafford, the county town of Staffordshire. Her will named four surviving sons: John, Thomas, Joseph, and Daniel, and one daughter, Rosamond, the wife of William Matthews. Her son Nathaniel Corker had predeceased her. Another son had died in infancy.

The marriage licence, issued 5 December 1773, gave the information that Daniel Corker was employed as a "cork cutter". Cork, imported into England, was cut for various uses including bottle stoppers and inner soles for shoes. It seems to be a coincidence that the Corker name matched the occupation. Daniel’s father John Corker based his business as a cork cutter in Uttoxeter where he raised his family with his wife Rosamond.

When Daniel Corker died in 1787, at the young age of 36, his oldest son John was 12 years old and his youngest son Daniel had just had his first birthday. None of the Corker boys became cork cutters – the trade of their father and Corker grandfather – they all trained for other professions.

Joseph Corker set up business as a whitesmith (a craftsman who may work with tin, silver, pewter and other metals) in Market Place, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire (see the 1846 directory by William White in the History, gazetteer, and directory of Leicestershire, Google Book online). In the 1861 census his address was Pegg’s Yard, Market Street, Ashby-de-la-Zouch. The census return reported that he was aged 81, born in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.

The two oldest Corker brothers were listed in the 1818 Staffordshire general & commercial directory, compiled by W. Parson and T. Bradshaw (Google Book online):
    John Corker, watch maker and silversmith, Red Lion Square, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and
    Thomas Corker, clock and watch maker, Greengate Street, Stafford.

John Corker of Newcastle-under-Lyme, aged 64, was buried at St Mary’s Church, in his birthplace of Uttoxeter, on 3 January 1840. His wife Mary had been buried at the same church three years earlier.

In 1792 Thomas Corker was apprenticed as a "watch finisher" to the master James Hartwell of Uttoxeter (Apprentices of Great Britain, Society of Genealogists). Two sons of Thomas Corker carried on the family business of clock and watch makers in the town of Stafford. The 1851 directory for Stafford, in William White’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Staffordshire, listed the watch & clock makers:
    John Corker, 15 Greengate Street, and
    Thomas Corker, 31 Greengate Street.

On 8 May 1869 a notice about the closing of the business was printed in the Staffordshire Advertiser (Historical British Newspapers, FindMyPast website):

Borough of Stafford – Clock and Watch Maker's Business.
To be disposed of, the business of a
Clock and Watch Maker, for 50 years carried on
in Greengate Street, Stafford. Given up in consequence of the
illness of the proprietor. For particulars and to treat, apply
to Mr. Corker, Greengate Street, Stafford.

The two Corker brothers, Nathaniel and Daniel, ventured to the great metropolis of London where they married two sisters, the daughters of Samuel Shipston and his wife Jane. Nathaniel Corker married Sarah Shipston in 1808. Three years later, in 1811, Nathaniel’s younger brother Daniel Corker married Sarah’s younger sister Elizabeth Shipston. Both weddings took place at the London church of St Katherine Coleman.

In 1808 Nathaniel Corker was running a business as a "hair dresser and dealer in perfumery" at the address 10 King’s Place, Commercial Road (insurance records of the Sun Fire Office, London Metropolitan Archives, The National Archives online catalogue).

Commercial Road, in the east end of London, laid out in 1803, was built through open fields from Whitechapel to Limehouse to connect the recently opened West India Docks to the City of London (Wapping and Limehouse , The London Docklands Development Corporation). King’s Place was a block on the south side of Commercial Road at the cross street of Batty Street.

The block opposite King’s Place, on the north side of Commercial Road, named Langley Place, was where Daniel Corker established a clock and watch maker’s shop. (The names of King’s Place and Langley Place were later abolished and an orderly system of new numbers were assigned to the shops and houses along Commercial Road).

Daniel Corker’s sons and nephew continued in the watchmaking trade. In December 1823 Nathaniel Shipston Corker, the son of Nathaniel and Sarah Corker, became an apprentice watchmaker to Thomas Drysdale who was a member of the Goldsmith’s Company of London (Freedom of the City Admission Papers, London Metropolitan Archives, Ancestry website). Six months earlier, Nathaniel had turned fourteen years old.

Britten’s index of Former Clock & Watchmakers and Their Work, published in 1894 (Google Book online), included the London names:

Daniel Corker 18 Commercial Road, Whitechapel 1820
Daniel Corker 18 Langley Place, Commercial Road     1835–1842
Nathaniel Corker     48 South Moulton [Molton] Street 1842

The two entries for Daniel were the same Daniel Corker born in Uttoxeter. Nathaniel was Daniel’s nephew.

Commercial Road, London

A Regency mahogany
arched top mantel clock,
with a signed 8" painted convex dial,
18 inches high.

Bonhams Auction Sale ,
25 September 2013

Daniel Corker passed away in January 1860. He had been a clock and watchmaker at 18 Langley Place, Commercial Road for over 45 years (an insurance policy dated 13 July 1812 for Daniel Corker, watchmaker, 18 Commercial Road near Greenfield Street, is in the records of the Sun Fire Office, London Metropolitan Archives, The National Archives online catalogue).

In the 1850s Daniel’s son Edward Samuel Corker, also a skilled watchmaker, lived with his wife Mary Ann and young children in the Commercial Road area near his parents. The Corker children were christened at St Dunstan’s Church, Stepney.

On census day 7 April 1861 Edward Samuel Corker was now the head of the watchmaking business his father had operated at 18 Langley Place, Commercial Road. His sister Sarah and brother Alfred, both unmarried, were also living at home. A short time later, Edward and his family moved a short distance further east to 16 Warkworth Terrace, on the north side of Commercial Road at the cross street of Margaret Street (later renamed to Lowell Street) – just east of where Regent’s Canal connects to Limehouse Basin.

In the 1860s Edward’s cousin Nathaniel Shipston Corker could be found at his watchmaking shop on Kensington High Street in west London (see The Goldsmiths’, jewellers’, silversmiths’, watchmakers’, opticians’, and cutlers’ directory for London, 1863, Google Book online).

Daniel Shipston Corker, the older brother of Edward Samuel Corker, became the proprieter of a watchmaker’s shop on the High Street, Tooting-Graveney, where he and his wife Emily raised their family. Tooting-Graveney, also known as Lower Tooting, is now part of the borough of Wandsworth in south London. Over the years 1850 to 1891 Daniel Shipston Corker had a succession of appointments, not all consecutively, as the "clock-winder" for Tooting-Graveney. His duties were "to keep wound and in good repair the tower and gallery clock" (William Edward Morden, The History of Tooting-Graveney, 1897, p. 334, Internet Archive ).

The Corker Family in Census Returns

Outline Descendant Tree

An Old Churchyard Memorial at St Mary's Church, Uttoxeter
Francis Redfern, History and antiquities of the town and neighbourhood of Uttoxeter, 1886, pp. 236–7 (Internet Archive ), gives a description of a churchyard memorial dedicated to a son and a daughter of John and Mary Corker:

Many interesting incidents are related respecting the conspicuous monument, surmounted by a resemblance of flame, typical of love, which stands at the south of the church, and is surrounded by massive iron railings – how deep and enduring in its sorrow after their death was the affection of the mother whose two children had been entombed underneath – how bitterly she wept at the tomb long after their death, and kissed its very stones, consecrated as they were by holding the ashes of those she so deeply loved – how frequently she had the sepulchre opened to see the mere but sacred dust of all that she esteemed precious in this world, and so showing how hard it is to part with dear ones even when God calls them to a better sphere. . . . One of these was a son, and the other a daughter, and the following are the inscriptions to each respectfully:
Sacred to John Fox Corker, son of John and Mary Corker, of Newcastle, born May 10th 1801, died July 12th, 1807.
      Sweet interesting boy, how ardent
      Thy wish to live, veiling thy sufferings
      In cheerful smiles, and as nature ebb'd
      In melody of song the bright ethereal spark evanescent.

Sacred to Elizabeth Fox Corker, daughter of John and Mary Corker, of Newcastle, born January 28th, 1806, died July 12th, 1822.
      Most beauteous she was, and gifted
      With every charm the muses could inspire;
      In song, in music, and in eloquence
      She formed a star; and when she fled
      Within her tomb, nature made her bower
      To shed the sorrowing tear.

The family of Corker owned property in Uttoxeter Market Place, now in the possession of Mr. Fearn.

Copyright © WhistlerHistory, April 2016.