Cocker, James (1862-1935)

The Rev J Cocker
'Life in Blossomby moved slowly along'
'The old minister was a faithful Shepherd'

James was born at Calver on 14th June 1862, and died in New Zealand, about 1935.

James was stationed at Ashburton and Fielding before moving to New Zealand in 1898. Whilst in Wangamma, New Zealand he wrote a collection of short stories Blossomby Idylls.  The book dedicated to his wife was published in New Zealand in 1903. The book portrays sketches of village life and character; some of which, the author himself says, “.. have already appeared in various magazines – The Aldersgate and Messenger (England) and the G.T. Watchword (N.Z.).”

The sketches were written after an absence of 14 years, and the author “ventures to hope, are true to life, their counterparts having been familiar in youth, when the memory, like wax, retains every impression”.

Of the village he says, “Its life was slow and monotonous. Its old -fashioned houses were built before the days of jerry building, and nothing less than a severe earth-quake could shake them down”.

Of the people he reports that “The people of the surrounding villages spoke of Blossomby residents as Psalm-singers, Methodists and Ranters, and whilst these names were intended to be expressions of ridicule, they were in reality so many compliments to the religious life of the village”.

He goes on to say “Blossomby Methodists demanded that its minister should be a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost”.  Much depended upon the first impression that a new minister made.  “If he gave offence on the first Sunday, it would take him long to regain the ground he had lost, if indeed, he ever did regain it.”


  • 1891 Ashburton
  • 1895 Fielding
  • 1898 Wangamma
  • 1904 Wellington
  • 1909 Auckland
  • 1913 disappears according to Leary



W. Leary,  Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990.

Bloomsbury Idylls, Waganui, 1903

Methodist Minutes 1936/17


Comments about this page

  • This is a little garbled. He arrived in New Zealand about September 1890. His first posting there was to Ashburton, in the South Island; he was married there in 1892, shortly after a brief spell acting as a stand-in in Auckland in the North Island.
    In early 1895 he was moved to Feilding (the correct spelling), 100 miles north of Wellington in the North Island. Three years later he went to open a new mission in Wanganui (the correct spelling at the time – it’s now Whanganui), a little further north-west on the coast. Praise for his efforts there may be read here
    In 1904 he moved to Wellington, the capital, from where in 1908 he was sent to London for the British Conference. On his return he was despatched to Auckland; he was still there in 1913 (and by now president of the Auckland Prohibition League and editor of the PM magazine) when the Primitive Methodists reunited with the mainstream Methodist church.
    He then moved to Christchurch to open a new mission for the reunited church. At the time of his death in Masterton on 6 March 1935 he was working to promote temperance, the YMCA and the Masterton Methodists Children Home.
    Thanks to the free PapersPast website it’s possible to find just about everywhere he went and the topic of just about every sermon he ever gave, for would-be biographers!

    By John (16/10/2021)

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