of Stockport & Whitepoole, Cheshire

Elcocke - a Cheshire Family

The Elcocke name has been associated with the County of Cheshire for many hundreds of years.

The Lordship of the Manor of Whitepoole (near Nantwich) passed to the Elcocke family in the early 16th Century during the reign of Henry VIII, by the marriage of Alexander Elcocke (Mayor of Stockport in 1549) to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cranage whose family, at that time held the Manor of Whitepoole.   The title itself is ancient, being traceable back to the Doomsday Book of 1086.

The Manorial Title and other lands around the Nantwich area subsequently remained in the Elcocke family for three hundred years before passing through marriage in the 19th Century to the Massey household - another long-standing family of Cheshire stock.

Elcocke is a relatively rare family name in the United Kingdom and has undergone a number of spelling modifications throughout the centuries.

Ellcocke, Elcocke and Elcock are all variants, but Elcocke is the name to which the Arms were granted in 1613 - some four hundred years ago.  This is regarded as the ancient family name and therefore is revived and restored by the current senior male descendant on the paternal line who, it is believed, is the sole remaining bearer in the United Kingdom of the name in this original spelling.

For the avoidance of doubt, Pedigree has been reconfirmed via research commissioned with the Royal College of Arms and Debrett's.

The Elcocke line is not so much aristocratic as essentially a lineage of educated Englishmen and women whose contributions to the history of the United Kingdom though modest, are a microcosm of the development of the country and a reflection of those who strived to carve out the land we call "home" today.

From establishing one of the first joint-stock companies in Britain at the height of the 16th Century silk weaving industry, to practicing lawyers, multi-generational graduates of St John's College, Cambridge, Town and City Mayors, and rural Clergy - the Elcocke family history is not one of glamour, but solid endeavour and steady progression.

Branches of the family did indeed prosper - some of the family moved to Yorkshire where William (Elcock) Weddell (b 1736) - the son of Richard Elcock Weddell assumed the ownership from his father of Newby Hall, North Yorkshire.  Both father and son had changed their Elcock family name to 'Weddell' as a condition for enjoying a substantial inheritance from an uncle, Thomas Weddell of Earswick.

Benefiting from the generous legacy of his great uncle, William (Elcock) Weddell (one of many Elcock Alumni of St John's College,  Cambridge) progressed from a fledgling career as a junior Gray's Inn lawyer to becoming a significant landowner, renowned collector of antiquities, and long-serving Member of Parliament. 

Amongst the artefacts acquired whilst on his  Grand Tour of Europe, the Barberini Venus (bought by William Elcock Weddell from the Florentine Barberini family circa 1765) stands out.  Sold at auction in 2002 to part-fund restoration of Newby Hall, this Hellenistic marble sculpture now resides in Qatar, belonging to a member of the Qatari Royal Family.

Contemporaneous branches of the 19th Century Elcock family can be found in several far-flung locations.  In the USA, in Hazardville, Connecticut, the Elcock family were key in the development of the gunpowder industry, having imported skills and know-how from the strategically important gunpowder mills of Tonbridge and surrounding areas in Kent, where Elcocks were both Clergymen and gunpowder  manufacturers.   That expertise also went to Scotland, to the Clyde Mills at Dunoon, Argyll where one Henry Elcock was the general manager and from there, to South Wales for supplying the explosives used in blasting the coal deposits that helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution. 

A further family branch is to be found in Barbados where, true to the altruistic nature which seems to run in the family, Reynold Alleyne Elcock, 19th Century owner of the Mount Wilson Plantation, afforded his slaves the opportunity to purchase land through an allotment system, whereby he bequeathed annuities of GBP5 each.  This was one of only two such instances of this era where a landowner enabled his slaves to achieve freehold possession of land.  "Rock Village" was thus established to become the first "Free Village" on the Island of Barbados.   The family name of Elcock, having been adopted by numbers of these first "Freemen" is now commonly found across the Island.

The Elcock name (and a variant of the Arms) can be found in Ireland and additionally, through the extensive involvement of the Elcock family in the gunpowder manufacturing industry, in South Wales and Argyll, Scotland.  However, the distribution remains relatively small, and the 'Elcocke' root-name until revived by the current holder had been rendered all but extinct.