|Lord Mayor of the City of London|
|Died||20 October 1626|
Comb Nevill, Kingston, Surrey, England
He was the second son of William Cokayne of Baddesley Ensor, Warwickshire, merchant of London, sometime governor of the Eastland Company, by Elizabeth, daughter of Roger Medcalfe of Meriden, Warwickshire; and was descended from William Cokayne of Sturston, Derbyshire, a younger son of Sir John Cokayne of Ashbourne in that county. Apprenticed at Christmas 1582 to his father, he was made free of the Skinners' Company by patrimony on 28 March 1590. On his father's death on 28 November 1599 he took over the running of his company.
On 8 January 1613, Cockayne, who was already the first Governor of The Irish Society, was appointed the first Governor of Londonderry. It was due to the development directed by The Irish Society towards rebuilding and expanding the city, that it was renamed Londonderry in honour of the capital and colonisation from London. On 8 June 1616, he was dubbed a knight by King James I.
During Cockayne's mayoralty (1619-20) King James visited St Paul's Cathedral with a view to raising money to complete the spire, and was received by Cockayne in great state. A pageant entitled "The Triumphs of Love and Antiquity" was performed. After the pageant, the marriage between Charles Howard and Cockayne's daughter Mary was celebrated. During this time, King James I frequently consulted him, both in the privy council and privately.
In 1614, while serving as governor of the Eastland Company of English merchants, Cockayne devised a plan to dye and dress English cloth, England's main export at the time, before shipping it abroad. Cockayne convinced James I to grant him a monopoly on cloth exports as a part of this plan, intended to increase the profits of English merchants, while boosting royal customs duties through bypassing Dutch merchants. The scheme failed as the Dutch refused to purchase finished cloth and instead engaged in a trade war with England. As a result, the English cloth trade was depressed for decades.
William Baffin was equipped for one of his northern voyages by Cockayne and others of the Merchant Adventurers' Company and a harbour in Greenland was named in his honour, called 'Cockin's Sound' on the Admiralty chart.
He bought estates at Denchworth, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire); Elmesthorpe, Leicestershire and Rushton Hall in Rushton, Northamptonshire which were later the homes of his descendants. He gave each of his six daughters £10,000 on marriage, leaving his son an annual rent roll of above £12,000.
He died on 20 October 1626, in his sixty-sixth year, at his manor house at Comb Nevill in Kingston, Surrey, and was buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral, where his funeral sermon was preached by John Donne and a monument was raised to him. The grave and monument were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. His name appears on a modern monument in the crypt, listing important graves lost in the fire.
He married Mary Morris on 22 June 1596 in London, and they had seven children together:
His widow remarried, 6 July 1630, Henry Carey, 4th Baron Hunsdon, 1st Earl of Dover, and, dying 24 December 1648, was buried with her first husband at St. Paul's.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Clerke, Agnes Mary (1887). "Cokayne, William". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 11. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 176-177.