Sir Aston Cockayne, 1st Baronet (1608–1684)[1] was, in his day, a well-known Cavalier and a minor literary figure, now best remembered as a friend of Philip Massinger, John Fletcher, Michael Drayton, Richard Brome, Thomas Randolph, and other writers of his generation.[2]

Sir Aston Cockayne
1st Baronet Cockayne of Ashbourne
Sir Aston Cockayne.jpg
Engraving of Sir Aston Cockayne, 1st Baronet. (1608–1684)
Full name
Sir Aston Cockayne
Titles and styles
BornBaptised 20 December 1608
Ashbourne Hall (unproven- see talkpage)
Noble familyCockayne
Spouse(s)Mary Kniveton (daughter of Sir William Kniveton)
FatherSir Thomas Cockayne
MotherLady Anne Stanhope (daughter of Sir John Stanhope)
OccupationBaronet, Landowner, Cavalier, Poet and Writer.


Cockayne coat of arms

Aston Cockayne was the son of Thomas Cockayne and Ann, the daughter of Sir John Stanhope; Cockayne was born at Ashbourne Hall in Derbyshire, and baptised on 20 December 1608.[3] He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge,[4] the University of Oxford, and at the Inns of Court. Like many other aristocrats of his time, he travelled through Europe in his youth, spending much of 1632 in France and Italy;[3] like a few, he became fluent in their languages, and translated works of literature into English.[citation needed]

Cockayne was a Roman Catholic, and like other Catholics in his country in his era, was active in resistance against the Church of England and the social order that supported it. On 10 January 1641 Charles I elevated him to baronet. During the English Civil War he took the Royalist side.[3] He joined the future Charles II in exile for a time.[citation needed] For much of the English Interregnum he lived on his estate of Pooley Hall, at Polesworth in Warwickshire.[3]

Cockayne was a cousin of the poet Charles Cotton (1630–87), and had connections with Cotton's circle, which included Izaak Walton (1598–1683).[citation needed]

Cockayne held the lands and Lordships of the Manors of Pooley in Warwickshire, and of Ashbourne. But in his later years he suffered financially,[3] due to gambling.[citation needed] He sold Ashbourne Hall to Sir William Boothby (see Boothby baronets), in 1671 to pay creditors,[3] and the family subsequently lost his manor at Pooley Hall in Warwickshire. He died in poverty.[citation needed]


Cockayne is the author of A Masque at Bretbie, which was performed on Twelfth Night of the Christmas season in 1639, and of Small Poems of Divers Sorts, published in 1658. He also wrote plays: The Obstinate Lady, a comedy (first printed 1657), and Trappolin Suppos'd a Prince, a tragicomedy (printed 1658); and The Tragedy of Ovid (or Ovid's Tragedy) (printed 1662). All three were published in one volume by Francis Kirkman in 1669. His works and his surviving letters constitute still-useful sources of information on the social and cultural affairs of mid-17th-century England.[citation needed]

Cockayne's Small Poems collection of 1658 included verses to Humphrey Moseley, publisher of the 1647 Beaumont and Fletcher folio. In that poem, Cockayne, a friend to both Massinger and Fletcher, noted that Massinger was part-author of many plays in the 1647 Beaumont and Fletcher folio—which eventually inspired a sweeping examination of the authorship problem in the canon of John Fletcher and his various collaborators.[5] He dedicated his tragedy on Ovid, to his cousin Charles Cotton.[citation needed]


He married Mary Kniveton, daughter of Sir Gilbert Kniveton Baronet,[3] High Sheriff of Derbyshire.[citation needed]

Aston and Mary had 3 children: A son, who died in his father's lifetime, leaving no issue; and two daughters, Mary and Isabella, who were co-heiresses. [3]

Aston's titles and Lordships passed to main Cockayne family line; to Caleb Cockayne the male representative of the family proceeding from the sons of Sir Edward Cockayne, Sir Aston's grandfather.



  1. ^ Also spelt Aston Cokain
  2. ^ Maidment & Logan 1967, p. [page needed].
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h A. E. Cockayne 1863, p. 223.
  4. ^ "Cokayne, Aston (CKN624A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ McGee, C.E., Magnusson, A. Lynne, eds., The Elizabethan Theatre XV: PART I: Collective Invention and Collaboration, (Meany, Toronto, 2002); various articles.


  • Maidment, James; Logan, William Hugh, eds. (1967). Dramatic Works of Sir Aston Cokain, Edinburgh, William Paterson, 1875. New York: Ayer Co.

Further readingEdit

  • Garrett, Martin (2004). "Sir Aston Cokaine". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Cockayne
Lord of Ashbourne Hall
Succeeded by
Sir Caleb Cockayne
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Cockayne
Lord of Pooley Hall
Succeeded by
Sir Caleb Cockayne
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Baronet Cockayne of Ashbourne
Succeeded by
Sir Caleb Cockayne