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The Hocker/Hawker Family

Part 1


The following narrative was developed from numerous primary and secondary sources. While some of the secondary sources provide contradictory information, what follows is how we see the Hocker/Hawker generations unfolding from John Hocker and Elizabeth Wright who were married around 1671 to the marriages of two of their descendents - Elizabeth Hawker, daughter of Robert Hawker and Amy Selby, to Samuel Pruitt [I] around 1720 and, seventy years later, another Elizabeth Hawker, daughter of Ambrose Cook Hawker and Lydia Butt, to William Seal, Jr. in 1790.

Was John Hocker the First of Our Line in America?

Thomas Orley Patent - 1651
Thomas Orley Patent - 1651

John Hocker, whose family was likely of German ancestry, is said to have been born around 1635 in Wales based on Hawker family accounts handed down through the generations. Many Germans migrated to Wales in the 16th century to work in the mines and the Hockers could have been part of that migration. Some family accounts say that John Hocker was kidnapped in Wales and sold to a ship's captain who was about to leave for Virginia. There is little research, however, to corroborate this Wales connection. The first confirmed record for a John Hocker/Hawker is a 1651 patent by Thomas Orley to obtain 100 acres in Northumberland Co., Va. for transporting two individuals, John Hawker and Henry Wickers, to colonial Virginia. Northumberland Co., Va. is just across the Potomac River from St. Mary's Co., Md. where, a few years later, we find John Hocker mentioned along with his wife in Thomas Diniard's 1659 last will. The key passage from the top of page 2 of the will says "... and one sowe that is there between John Hocker and myself [i.e., we share ownership] my share of it I do give to his wife furder [in Old English, this meant "further"] I do give the same woman a Bacon Hogg." Some have said that this passage indicates that John Hocker's wife's name was Furfer (see the abstract in the Maryland Calendar of Wills, Vol. 1, by Jane Baldwin, for example), but it's clear in the original script that the word furder was not capitalized and the fourth letter was a "d" and not an "f." Based on the will, we know that John Hocker was married before 1659. Some sources indicate that he married Mary Greene who was born around 1637 and was a presumed daughter of Maryland's Governor Thomas Greene. Unfortunately, we can find no evidence to support the name of his first wife.

Are Thomas Orley's 1651 headright patent and Thomas Diniard's 1659 last will enough evidence to prove the time and place of John Hocker's immigration to America and subsequent migration to Maryland? We believe the Diniard will is consistent with what we know about the subsequent movements of John Hocker and his family. However, it's possible the person named in the Orley patent is not the same John Hocker/Hawker. The date of the patent is consistent with someone migrating across the Potomac River from Virginia to southern Maryland and subsequently appearing in a legal document in St. Mary's Co., Maryland, even if John Hawker had to serve a few years as an indentured servant. However, we have found two land patents from the 1690s which may suggest both John Hawker and Henry Wickers remained in the Northern Neck area of Virginia after their immigration. Since these patents were filed more than 40 years after their assumed immigration date, it's possible one or both were either children of the principals or were not related to the individuals on the Orley patent. We have not found a similar immigration document for a John Hocker/Hawker in Maryland, at least one that would be consistent with the last will of Thomas Dinaird. Therefore, we're inclined to believe that the Orley patent is for our John Hocker.

It is not known what happened to John Hocker's first wife, but in 1671 John Hocker is said to have married Elizabeth Wright in Annapolis, Anne Arundel Co., Md. According to these reports, Elizabeth was the daughter of John Wright and Barbara Wright. We know that John, Barbara and Elizabeth Wright immigrated to Maryland in 1671 along with Thomas, William and Richard Wright based on a compilation of records titled "The Early Settlers of Maryland: an Index to Names of Immigrants, Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland." The story told by Hocker/Hawker descendants is that the Wrights were Scottish immigrants and that John Hocker paid for their transportation with the agreement that he could marry their daughter.

While John and Elizabeth (Wright) Hocker seem to be the prime contenders as the first Hockers/Hawkers of our line in colonial America, another contender is being considered by some researchers: Thomas Hocker and Patience Needham. There are many inconsistencies in the accounts of these two individuals including their ages, when and where they were married and who they married. Some even say Thomas was just another name used by John Hocker. Others suggest that John and Thomas were brothers. We also find accounts of Thomas and Patience living in several different locations during widely varying time periods. Reviewing the records of "The Early Settlers of Maryland" referenced above, we see an account that Henry Needham "immigrated [to Maryland in] 1659, and died prior to 1663, leaving a widow, Patience, who married 2ndly --- Hawker." Looking at the Hawkers in this same document, we see that Thomas Hawker was "Transported [to Maryland in] 1659 [as a] Servant" [it should be noted that "servant" and "person" were used interchangeably at times in immigration records]. Patience Hawker is listed above Thomas Hawker as someone who was "Transported 1659, Widow of Henry Needham." Since no other Hawkers are listed in this document, we suspect that Thomas and Patience were the ones who married around 1663. At this time, we find no records that place Thomas Hawker and Patience Needham in either St. Mary's or Prince George's County, Maryland, making it difficult to identify them as the parents of any of the four individuals generally listed as the children of John and Elizabeth Hocker.

While it's not known whether John Hocker and his first wife had any children, most sources indicate, without supporting primary records, that John Hocker and Elizabeth (Wright) Hocker were the parents of the following four individuals whose lives are well-documented in colonial Maryland records:

Because their birth dates are estimates and their parents are not documented in any records we have found, it may be that not all the individuals above were siblings. However, we are confident, based on what we know about their later lives, that they were related and, for now, like others, assume that John Hocker and Elizabeth Wright were their parents. If we had to name the child with the most tenuous connection to John and Elizabeth Hocker, it would be Margaret Hocker. However, there is an abstract of a 1718 record that gives us some confidence that she was their daughter. Unfortunately, we have not found the original document, but we are confident that its contents, originally found on the website, Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia's Northern Neck Counties, and reproduced on a Hocker family website, can be trusted as accurate.

According to the lease abstract, on July 18, 1718, Henry Lowe of Kent Co., Md. leased a 74 acre parcel to John Madden, a planter living in Prince George's Co., Md. The parcel was described as being in Western Branch Manor [assumed to reference the Western Branch of the Patuxent River where other documents related to the Wrights and Hawkers are found], formerly laid out for john Right [Wright] and "bounded by another parcel laid out for John Right and Jonathan Simmons." The lease was "for the natural lives of John Maddin, Elizabeth Hawkes, and Margaret Hooke." We are confident that Elizabeth Hawkes refers to John Wright's daughter who was the widow of John Hocker. We believe that Margaret Hooke refers to their daughter, Margaret Hocker, who was said to have married James Hook, one of two sons of Thomas Hook who died in Prince George's County in 1698. One Hocker researcher believes that John Madden, Jonathan Simmons, Elizabeth (Wright) Hawker/Hocker and Margaret (Hocker) Hook were linked together through marriages and land holdings related to Thomas Hook, his widow Annaple, and his son James Hook. He also believes the purpose of this lease was to ensure that Elizabeth Hocker/Hawker would have a home for herself and the many children she likely had to care for after the deaths of family members including her son Robert Hocker, a widower, who died in 1711 and left four very young children (see Hawker, Part 2). We're not sure why Margaret Hook(e) appeared on this lease since, by all accounts, her husband James Hook was still alive when this lease was recorded. However, according to some sources, under English law "these [types of] leases were usually for the lives of three specified people." Margaret (Hocker) Hook, as a family member, may have been chosen as that third person. We know James Hook married a Margaret around 1708, but researchers are split on whether Margaret's maiden name was Madden, Thrasher or Hocker/Hawker. We know that Nicholas Hawker, Elizabeth Hawker's son and Margaret's brother, appeared on deeds with James Hook in later years when the Pruitts, Hawkers and Hooks lived in Rock Creek Parish in western Prince George's Co., Md. The 1718 lease and the Hawker/Hook deeds are strong evidence that James Hook's wife was Margaret Hocker, but more research will be required before a final determination can be made.

While we may not have a complete understanding of the relationships of the children of John Hocker and Elizabeth Wright, we are very confident that the Pruiett side of our family can trace its ancestry back to Robert Hocker/Hawker and the Parker side can trace its ancestry back to Nicholas Hocker/Hawker. We'll explore those relationships next.

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