Cookson, James (DNB00)

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COOKSON, JAMES (1752–1835), divine, was a native of Martindale, Westmoreland. He received his academical education at Queen's College, Oxford, as a member of which house he proceeded B.A. on 13 June 1781, and M.A. on 13 July 1786. Meanwhile he had been instituted, in September 1775, on his own petition, to the rectory of Colmer with Priors Dean, Hampshire, to which he was inducted the following October. He was also for many years curate of the neighbouring village of Steep, and about 1796 was presented to the vicarage of Harting, Sussex. Popular report says that he was put into the last-named living as a locum tenens only, and that when asked to resign he said ‘his conscience did not allow him to do so.’

Despite the cares of three parishes some miles apart, Cookson found time for writing. He published, first, ‘Thoughts on Polygamy, suggested by the dictates of Scripture, Nature, Reason, and Common-sense; with a description of Marriage and its obligations; a contemplation of our National System of Laws relative thereto; and particularly, an examination of 26 Geo. II, ch. 33, commonly called the Marriage Act. Including remarks on Thelyphthora [by the Rev. Martin Madan] and its scheme, with some hints for the prevention of Prostitution. … In two parts,’ 8vo, Winchester, 1782. His next work was ‘A New Family Prayer-Book. … Elucidated with explanatory notes and observations on an entire new plan,’ 8vo, Winchester, 1783 (3rd ed. 1786). This was followed by ‘The Universal Family Bible … illustrated with notes and observations,’ fol. London, 1784. Between the appearance of the last two works Cookson had become master of Churcher's College, Petersfield, at which place he died on 6 Jan. 1835, aged 83, and was buried on the 12th in the chancel of Colmer church. He was of eccentric habits, and is said once to have announced in church, ‘I have forgotten my sermon, but I will read you a true account of the battle of Waterloo.’ In 1814 he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

[Hervey's Hist. of Colmer and Priors Dean, pp. 190–4; information from the vicar of Harting; Gent. Mag. 1835, iii. 441; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.]

G. G.