Memorial of Mrs Martha Cockshott

The Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine July 1889

Martha Cockshott, born at Dockroyd in 1812, was the daughter of the late Mr and Mrs John Sugden, who were godly Methodists. They came from Haworth, and brought with them the holy fervour which had been kindled in the hearts of their parents by the ministry of the sainted Grimshaw. Methodism was introduced by them into Oakworth; and it is principally through the influence of the Sugden family, that it has ever since been such a power for good in the neighbourhood. Mr John Sugden, was the first class leader in Oakworth, the Class being held at his own house. Martha Sugden was thus from her earliest days surrounded with religious influences, brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. She joined her father’s Class at the age of eleven years, but it was not till she had passed the age of twenty that she realized the joy of conscious acceptance with God. It was in the class meeting, during a blessed revival of religion. Her gladness was now as great as her grief had been deep and prolonged. She was for fifty six years a consistent member of the Wesleyan-Methodist Church.

   She was married in 1845 to John Cockshott, of Keighley, where she lived during her married life. Her husband was a successful Class leader, of high Christian character. The family worship, which was a marked feature of Mrs Cockshott’s early home, was equally characteristic of the home of her married life. She and her husband, by prayer, precept and example, commanded their household to serve the Lord. She was left a widow with five children in 1866, and soon afterwards returned to Oakworth, where she continued to the end of life.

   She was remarkable for depth of conviction, profound knowledge of the World of God, delight in secret prayer, love for the house of God and the communion of saints. It was a habit of her life, even to the last, to rise early to read and meditate on the Scriptures, and to enjoy prolonged intercourse with God. Her “delight was in the law of the Lord” and the duties of every day were “sanctified by the Word of God and prayer”. She had a church in her house, as the Dockroyd Class, which had been commenced by her father, continued to be held in her home. Several times she was requested to become its leader, but while she always declined that position, her influence was felt by every member of the Class. In sickness, when unable to be present in the meeting she would have the intervening doors opened, so that she might hear the singing and prayers, and so share in the holy fellowship.

   In the home, her piety was most conspicuous. The traditions and practices of the godly Sugden family for three generations were preserved in that happy household. The Rev. Richard Allen wrote “The ministers residing at Oakworth must all entertain a pleasant memory of the home at Dockroyd, with its ever-cheerful welcome. The refinement, culture, order, bountifulness and piety of that home, with a dash of Yorkshire heartiness, were manifest for all who were privileged with its entrance.” Nor were ministers only impressed with the deep piety of the mother of that Christian family. A lady-friend beautifully expresses what many others have felt: “I wonder if you know what a charm your mother’s character had even on those who knew her only slightly. To us who delight to think she numbered us among her friends, her gentle yet firm courage in upholding her convictions was very stimulating. She always seemed a force on the side of righteousness. She reminded of the hymn:

“Let all thy converse be sincere,

Thy conscience as the non-day clear”

Kindness to the poor, especially to the poor of Christ’s flock, was a marked feature of her character. She sought out “the fatherless and widows in their affliction”, and ministered alike to their temporal and spiritual comfort. She was indeed “a widow well reported of her good works”.

   Her resignation under bereavement, and her child-like trust in God during prolonged personal suffering, was manifest. Unselfish ion her sorrow, kindly and lovingly thinking of others, she magnified the sustaining grace of God. During her last illness she was deprived of the power of speech; but the calm peace, the grateful look, told of heart-felt thanks which she could not speak. At intervals, when utterance was given her, she was heard repeating verses of her favourite hymns: “Jesu, lover of my soul!” and “Rock of Ages, cleft for me!” The twenty third Psalm, which so often had been her song in the house of her pilgrimage, gave her comfort in the prospect of death, and furnished her latest utterance. She died at Oakworth, on 19th July 1888, in the seventy sixth year of her age.

   The Rev. R. W. Little writes:

“From my first interview with Mrs Cockshott to the day of her death, I have a very high estimate of her Christian worth. Her convictions of right were so clear and strong that she made her personality felt by all; she showed a deep knowledge of God’s truth, sincere love of prayer, a fervent desire to meet in fellowship with other Christians, in which I know she often joined when her body was extremely weak. Her motherly affection was most conspicuous, manifesting itself especially in a true, tender and lively interest for the welfare of her children.”

   The Rev. Richard Allen says:

“My acquaintance with Mrs Cockshott extended over the three years of very happy labour in the Haworth and Oakworth Circuit; and growing knowledge produced growing esteem and regard, more so than in almost anyone I knew. Her character unfolded itself slowly, but with ever-increasing interest and attractiveness, like her own native hills, you must live among them, not for a few days, but amid the varieties of spring, summer, autumn and winter, to understand and appreciate their charms. It was during my residence that Mrs Cockshott’s first serious illness happened, and death came very near. She realised the danger, but was calm and restful, trusting on the everlasting Rock!

   The Rev. William J. Brown says:

“Mrs Cockshott was one of the most excellent women I have known. My intercourse with her began in 1862, and for nineteen years has been most intimate, affording unusual opportunities for knowing her in her home and family life. Her piety was deep, quiet, unobtrusive, showing itself more in the solicitudes of affection for the members of Christ’s flock, than in public work and service. In common with her brothers and sisters of the Sugden family, a noble band, to whom Methodism in Oakworth and the neighbourhood owes so much, loyalty to and reverence for the Wesleyan Church were conspicuous traits in her character, and Wesleyan ministers ever found a warm welcome to her fireside. Losing her husband while her children were young, she regarded her responsibilities towards them with a discerning, unwearied and loving anxiety. Those who, like myself, knew the home life at Dockroyd, are best able to gauge and appreciate the untiring devotion with which she strove to mould the characters of her sons and daughters, to train them for God, and to attach them in sympathy and effort to the Church of which herself was so consistent a member. Utterly destitute of pride, she endeavoured to walk in generous and self-sacrificing goodwill towards all who needed her counsel and help. There was a charm in her character which will linger long in my memory. “Her children rise up, and call her blessed”. Their devotion to her during the later years of her life, when she knew much of illness and weakness, was the rich repayment of her own affectionate care in earlier years. Their ministrations of love, delicate, patient, constant, I have never seen exceeded. Thus, in a good old age, mourned with a tender and chastened sorrow by the children who revere her memory, by the friends who esteemed her for her high Christian qualities, and by the poor who were gladdened by her quiet benevolence, she passed into the blessed and immortal life.”

Mrs Martha Cockshott, of East Royd, Dockroyd was interred in the Sugden Vault on 24th July 1888, five days after her death. The Certificate of Registry of Death shown below which confirms her death, address and age shows her death was registered on 20th July 1888, the day after her death.

The document shown below was discovered within a box of burial records and is not present in any other documents relating to the graveyard. It is the only record showing who is buried in the Sugden Vault.

For the sake of clarity the listed names are as follows:

19 J      Elizabeth Sugden                                  Vale Mill            Age 1             12th August 1848 

            John Sugden (Infant of Wm Sugden)     Thornton                                  5th February 1850

            Infant (Wm Sugdens)                                                                            16th June 1857

20 J      Jas. Henry (Infant of Jas. Sugden)          Dockroyd                  1              14th January 1856

20 M    Jonas Sugden                                       Oakworth House      57             6th February 1857

            Eliza Sugden                                        Dockroyd                40              20th February 1863

            John Cockshott                                     Keighley                 49              27th June 1866

            John Sugden                                         Dockroyd                62              27th November 1866

            Susannah Sugden                                 Keighley                                   2nd March 1867

            James Sugden                                      Dockroyd                53              30th November 1867     Betty Sugden                                                Dockroyd                58              9th November 1872       John Craven                                         Dockroyd                47              30th September 1873     William Sugden                                    Dockroyd                68              20th January 1877

            Eliza Sugden                                        Dockroyd                61              27th July 1877

            Wm Henry Sugden                               Dockroyd                28              10th June 1881

            Robert N Sugden                                  Dockroyd                73              28th January 1885

  The burial register also lists four members of the Cockshott branch of the family as below. This also names John Cockshott as the owner of grave plot 19M

   This gives a grand total of 20 people buried in the Sugden Vault of which five were infants. Even though the family were the wealthiest in Oakworth they still suffered from infant deaths in the same proportion as the rest of the community. With the first burial taking place in 1848, just four years after the graveyard was purchased, it would indicate the work on building the vault was started soon after the initial purchase date.