Christmas is a time for family games and puzzles. Mine centred on William Cooksey, the second husband of Hannah Miller (nee Mallin), who was himself a widower. Having trawled trade directories for Staffordshire (concentrating on West Bromwich, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Tipton), I had begun to develop a theory about William’s business activity as, at first, a Nail Ironmonger and, later, a Grocer and Tea Dealer. There were other Cooksey businesses, too: Samuel Cooksey and Joseph Cooksey. Were they all three related?
Yet William’s family – his parents and siblings – remain a mystery. So too does the central question: were his first wife, Sarah Mallin and his second wife, Hannah Miller (nee Mallin) related and if so how?
So, the Christmas puzzle I set myself was to compile as much evidence as I could and, by inspecting it, to see what I could learn. To that end, I listed all the Staffordshire-born, males by the name of Cooksey in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. This I cross-referenced to likely births and marriages in the IGI (all the while recognising the risk, even the inevitability of error.) Building this database turned into a mammoth task, just completed the day before the end of the holiday. As yet, I have not properly inspected the data for any emerging ‘pictures’. However, first indications are that the work has drawn a blank; I am no wiser about who William Cooksey was.
Perhaps I should return to Mallin and undertake the same task?