The family patriarch Robert Corker of Manchester, in the English county of Lancashire, married his first wife Elizabeth Collumbell at Manchester Cathedral on 13 November 1623. He married his second wife, Anne Jackson, at Prestbury, a village near Macclesfield, Cheshire, on 11 June 1632. Two of their sons – Edward Corker, born 1636, and Thomas Corker, born 1638 – settled in Dublin, Ireland (1).
Edward Corker and Thomas Corker were admitted freemen of Dublin, in 1661 and 1663 respectively, as members of the merchants’ guild (2).
Edward Corker (1636–1702) founded a sugar refinery in partnership with John Waller. The business was described in State Papers for Ireland dated 3 January 1668: (3)
Corker and Waller set forth by their petition that they have set up the manufacture of refining sugar in Ireland, and are the first persons to bring in that sort of manufacture to that kingdom. In their first attempt to do the same they lost two ships upon that coast laden with ‘utensells’ prepared for the work, worth £1,200. Besides that they have been at great charge in bringing the same to such perfection that they are able to refine more sugars yearly than in that our kingdom is expended and to sell them at easier rates than the like commodity can be imported from abroad.
In 1668 Edward Corker financed the rebuilding of the church at Carrickbrennan, the early name of Monkstown, near Dublin. An account states that the church had a weathercock with the initials E.C. [Edward Corker] and the date 1668 (4).
Edward Corker was Registrar in Court of Chancery in Dublin 16 June 1669. In the Irish Parliament he served as MP for Ratoath 1692–93, 1695–99 (5).
He married Hester (Esther), the daughter of Sir Daniel Bellingham, the Lord Mayor of Dublin 1665–66. Children of Edward Corker and his wife Esther baptised at St Michan’s Church, Dublin were a son Bellingham (29 May 1683) and a daughter Arabella (30 November 1685) (6).
Edward Corker died 31 March 1702. He was buried at St Werburgh’s Church, Dublin, where a monument to his memory was installed (7).
Edward’s brother, the Dublin merchant Thomas Corker, married Abigail, the daughter of John Chambre of Stormanstown, County Louth. Thomas and Abigail Corker had four sons: Edward, born about 1666, Chambre, born 1677, Thomas, and William.
Edward Corker (ca. 1666–1734) had an active military career. In 1689 he was Ensign in Earl of Meath’s Regiment of Foot (previously commanded by Sir John Edgeworth, and later 18th Royal Irish). On 1 July 1690 the Earl of Meath’s regiment participated in the battle of the Boyne. Edward Corker was Captain-Lieutenant in Colonel Frederick Hamilton’s Regiment 24 August 1693 and Captain 20 August 1694. There is a record that Edward Corker was at the siege of Namur (in present-day Belgium) (8).
Edward Corker sat in the Irish Parliament from 1713, until his death in January 1734, as MP for Rathcormack (County Cork) 1713–14, Midleton (County Cork) 1715–27, and Clonmines (County Wexford) 1727–34 (9). Edward Corker was High Sheriff of County Cork in 1719.
He married Margaret, the daughter of Peter Wallis of Shanagarry, County Cork. Possibly it is this alliance that founded the ‘Corkers of Cork’. The home of Edward and Margaret Corker became Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork (10).
Margaret Corker, who died July 1721, was commemorated with a monument in St Colman’s Cathedral, Cloyne, County Cork (11). There is no record of surviving children from her marriage. The parish register of St Werburgh’s Church, Dublin records that Edward Corker, Esq., aged 67, of Eustace Street, was buried 29 January 1733/4 (12).
The will of Edward Corker, written in 1725, named his brother Chambre Corker of Falmouth and his ‘cousin’ Robert Corker also of Falmouth in the English county of Cornwall (13). Robert Corker (1668–1731) was five times Mayor of Falmouth in 1697, 1705, 1709, 1717 and 1724, and Chambre Corker (1677–1747) was twice Mayor of Falmouth in 1716 and 1723 (14).
The family relationship may be that Edward Corker was the first cousin of Robert Corker’s father, Thomas Corker. That is, Edward Corker, Chambre Corker and Thomas Corker were all grandsons of Robert Corker of Manchester.
The Cornish Corkers
Thomas Corker, from Connellstown, County Meath in Ireland, travelled at sea as a ship’s doctor. In early 1667 his ship sailed unexpectedly into Falmouth harbour on the south coast of Cornwall. Possibly, on a return voyage from the West Indies, the ship was forced into Falmouth by a winter storm. Thomas Corker decided to stay and on 25 April 1667 he married Jane, the daughter of the Falmouth merchant John Newman (15).
The children of Thomas and Jane Corker baptised at the church of King Charles the Martyr, Falmouth were Robert (29 January 1668), Thomas (4 February 1670), Jane (8 April 1672), and Anne (12 October 1674) (16).
The upbringing of the children, who were young when their father died, was supervised by their uncle John Newman, junior. The Corker boys were expected to earn their living and make their own success in life. At the age of fourteen Thomas Corker was sent to the Guinea Coast of western Africa as an apprentice to the Royal African Company. His older brother Robert Corker trained as an apprentice to Bryan Rogers, the leading Falmouth merchant (17).
In 1708 Robert Corker donated money for improvements to the Falmouth church of King Charles the Martyr where he had been baptised 40 years earlier (18).
It has already been mentioned that Robert Corker served five terms as Mayor of Falmouth. He also held other offices. He was Receiver-General of the Duchy of Cornwall from 1708 to 1712 and again from 1720 to his death in 1731; and MP for Bossiney in north Cornwall from 1722 to 1731. Robert Corker, Esq. was buried 5 March 1731 at St Margaret’s Church, the parish church of the House of Commons in London, located by Westminster Abbey (19).
The Royal African Company promoted Thomas Corker, the younger brother of Robert, to Agent at the Company fort of York Island in the estuary of the river Sherbro in Sierra Leone. He married an African princess. Their sons were in a privileged position: through their mother they inherited a claim to the chiefdom and from their father they had an introduction to the English mercantile world (20).
In 1700 Thomas Corker made a business trip to Falmouth where he died on the 10th of September, only 30 years old. The Falmouth church of King Charles the Martyr has a ‘Baroque marble and freestone monument’ with an inscription that gives a memorial to Thomas Corker (21).
An interesting feature of the monument is the display of the Corker coat-of-arms at the top. The design matches the coat-of-arms granted to the Dublin Corkers to provide a confirmation of the family connection.
Thomas Corker’s Euro-African sons established a family dynasty in Sierra Leone. The spelling of the family surname became Caulker (possibly the result of a clerical mistake that became permanent).
A Corker family history is documented in Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 1937, Irish Supplement. This source records the antecedents of Major-General Thomas Martin Corker.
(1) A source of Corker family history is
Burke’s Landed Gentry (1937, Irish Supplement).
of Dublin online database , Dublin City Archives.
Calendar of the State Papers relating to Ireland, 1666–1669,
edited by Robert Pentland Mahaffy, London, 1908, p. 561 (available at
State Papers Online
(4) Francis Elrington Ball, A history of the County Dublin; the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century, Dublin, 1902, p. 42 (Internet Archive ). In the 1780s plans were started for the building of a new, larger Monkstown Church on a different site; the church built in 1668 by Edward Corker was left to become a ruin.
(5) Career details for Edward Corker are given in: Edith Mary Johnston-Liik, History of the Irish parliament, 1692–1800, 2002, Vol. 3, pp. 508–9. This reference gives a military career for Edward Corker that should be attributed to his nephew Edward Corker.
(6) Irish Genealogy . Pages of the transcribed parish register can be viewed.
(8) Corker may have been with Colonel Frederick Hamilton’s Regiment documented in the report: An exact account of the siege of Namur; with a perfect diary of the Campagne in Flanders, from the King's departure ... May the 12th to his return to London, Octob. 11th, 1695, p. 37 (Google eBook online).
The Corker connection to Ballymaloe is mentioned in
Charles Smith, The ancient and present state of the county and
city of Cork, 1815, pp. 131–132 (Google eBook online).
(11) C. M. Tenison, ‘Cork M.P.’s, 1559–1800’, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1895, p. 234 (Google eBook online); Richard Caulfield, Annals of the Cathedral of St Coleman, Cloyne, Cork, 1882 (Internet Archive ).
(12) Irish Genealogy . Online images of the parish register can be viewed.
The will of Colonel Edward Corker of Ballymaloe [Shanagarry, County Cork]
(14) A list of Mayors of Falmouth is in Susan E. Gay, Old Falmouth, 1903, p. 239 (Internet Archive ).
(15) An account of Thomas Corker and his family is given in Nigel Tattersfield, The Forgotten Trade: Comprising the Log of the Daniel and Henry of 1700 and Accounts of the Slave Trade From the Minor Ports of England 1698–1725, London, 1991, pp. 309–19.
(16) In the Falmouth parish register the family surname was spelled as Calker or Calkar and there appear to be some mistakes in recording names. From online databases (FamilySearch Historical Records; and FreeREG) baptisms at King Charles the Martyr, Falmouth, for the children of Thomas and Jane Corker were transcribed as:
It seems likely that the father’s name of Robert was referring to Thomas and the mother’s name of Anne was referring to Jane. Possibly the clerk who maintained the parish registers was careless in his work.
Corker , The History of Parliament: the
House of Commons 1715–1754.
(21) Description of the church of King Charles the Martyr, Falmouth at the Images of England website.
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