Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Cookson (1712/13-1783)

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John Cookson, merchant, glass and iron manufacturer, mine owner, and banker

1712/3 Born the eldest son of Isaac Cookson (1679-1743) and Hannah Buston.

1728 Apprenticed to Joseph Airey, a mercer and his father's partner in the Closegate flint glasshouse.

1728 Enrolled by the Merchant Adventurers

1736 Granted leave to travel to improve his skills.

1738 Gained his freedom

1738 Became a partner (established?) in the South Shields crown glasshouse, a crown glass works at Bill Quay, South Shields.

By 1740 he had sold a sixteenth share in the business to his brother Joseph (who was living in South Shields in 1740 and may have managed the family's business interests there, which included salt pans and a ballast quay as well as the glasshouse).

1743 John Cookson married Elizabeth Lutwidge of Whitehaven.

1746 John and Joseph Cookson were listed among the six owners of the plate and crown glasshouse and salt pans at South Shields.

John developed a wide range of business interests including salt and alum refining, coal and lead mining, as well as iron and glass making, not only in Newcastle and South Shields but also in Chester-le-Street, Hexham, Cumberland, and north Yorkshire, as well as Newcastle's first bank [1].

In partnership with John Button, the son of his father's iron trade partner, Cookson built a blast furnace at Whitehill, near Chester-le-Street, with the intention of coking local coal and making steel. His other businesses included salt and alum refining and coal and lead mining as well as iron and glass making.

Mid-1750s Became one of four partners in Newcastle's first bank, which repaid Cookson's investment handsomely.

His children:

  • Isaac Cookson (1745–1831), who inherited the banking interests and the estates and mines after the death of John's wife
  • John Cookson (1754–1802), who subsequently became a London barrister
  • Thomas Cookson (1757–1775), of the Indian Civil Service,
  • Joseph Cookson (1763–1800), who subsequently became a captain in the Life Guards
  • Elizabeth Cookson, who married a London banker, Samuel Castell, in 1769
  • Hannah Cookson, who subsequently married Richard Ellison, MP for Lincoln
  • Sarah Cookson who never married

1780s Whitehill finally succeeded but as a foundry

1783 John Cookson died on 17 December

John had been a key figure in the business history of north-east England. He had diversified his father's broadening industrial interests, ensured a landed base, created new business opportunities with existing partners, developed financial stability via banking, and provided for his younger children's futures by marriage and/or careers in the established professions.

The Cookson family's interests in the coal, glass, and iron industries prospered in the early nineteenth century.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Cookson family, by J. D. Banham, ODNB [1]
  • Biography of Cookson Family, ODNB