Corker Family


The Origins of the Corker Name

The Oxford English Dictionary gives a definition of cork as "a purple or red dye-stuff obtained from certain lichens growing on rocks in Scotland and the north of England". In Gaelic and Irish corcur, meaning "purple" derived from the Latin purpur, was the name for the lichen yielding a purple dye.

In early England, as an occupational surname, the name Corker identified a person who was a dyer of cloth with ‘cork’ (J. R. Dolan, English Ancestral Names: The Evolution of the Surname from Medieval Occupations, New York, 1972, pp. 131 & 139; and Percy Hide Reaney, A Dictionary of English Surnames, online edition). Name variations included Corck, Cork, Corke, and Corklittster.


There is a record that in 1385 "William the Corker" lived at Litherland, in the English county of Lancashire, a short distance north of Liverpool. In 1408 Richard, the son of William the Corker, had property in the area. In 1506 Richard Corker, the son of Hugh, owned land in Litherland (Litherland, A History of the County of Lancaster , Vol. 3, pp. 95–98, footnote 26, Victoria County History).

A document for property in Woolton, a district of Liverpool, dated 22 July 1414 recorded that John Totty the chaplain occupied a house "by the gift of John le Corker in Magna Wolleton". The property was granted to the heirs of John le Corker by Cecilia his wife and "Richard le Corker and his heirs, and the right and nearest heirs of William le Corker del Forde" (deeds of the Norris, or Norreys, family of Speke Hall, Lancashire, Special Collections & Archives , University of Liverpool).

The Corker association with the Liverpool area continued – in 1514 William Corker was a constable of Much Woolton (Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire for the Year 1887, Vol. 39, 1889, p. 161, Google Book online).

The Corker surname was present in the town of Manchester in the 15th century, and continued there (Richard McKinley, The Surnames of Lancashire, London, 1981, p. 43).

The research by a Corker family historian found that in 1350 Corkers were burgesses [residents] in Manchester. In 1632 the court leet records of Manchester named Charles Corker as one of the two constables (Major-General Thomas Martin Corker, ‘Corker, An Old Northumbrian Family’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol. 28, 1925, pp. 89–92).

Ulverston, formerly in Lancashire, now part of Cumbria, was a centre for the Corker family. A local historian, noting that the Corker name was ‘closely related to the town for five centuries’, described selected members of the family (Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley, Chronicles of the Town & Church of Ulverston, 1885, p. 46, Google Book online):
      Thomas Corker, coroner of Furness, died in 1430
            [from the Oxford English Dictionary, in old England, a coroner was
            an officer charged with maintaining the rights of crown property];
      John Corker, "bailister" [bailiff] of Ulverston, died in 1557; and
      Thomas Corker was the Ulverston registrar [keeper of parish records] in the 1650s.

Nevill Hall, a manor in Ulverston, was owned by the Nevill family until a setback in their fortunes in 1569. In 1585 Francis Corker was among the Liberi Tenantes (a type of property owner) of the manor. The Corkers lived at Nevill Hall for some time until the death of Francis Corker in 1688 (Ibid., p. 46; additional comment on the Corkers is in Ulverston, A History of the County of Lancaster , Vol. 8, pp. 348–356, Victoria County History).

Ashslack, near Ulverston, was the home to a Corker family as documented in some Lancashire wills (Lancashire Archives online catalogue ):

Testator Probate Date
John Corker, a clothweaver of Ashslack,
    Furness Fells, Colton
20 Sep 1686
Richard Corker of Ashslack and
    Barkhousebank, Colton
20 Jan 1705
John Corker of Ashslack, Colton 22 Apr 1724

Corker Lane, running by Ash Slack in the parish of Colton, is marked on a modern day Ordnance Survey map (Grid Reference: SD324895):

A view of Corker Lane near Ulverston
    Yew Beck where it flows under Corker Lane
Photograph © mauldy taken 31 May 2006, The Geograph Britain and Ireland project .

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