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The Dockray Family Tree
 
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JAMES DOCKRAY
Born  22 JUL 1832
Died  26 OCT 1888
 
MARGARET HARRISON DOCKRAY
Born 26 FEB 1835
Died 23 FEB 1908
 
 
Arrived in New York 12 OCT 1871. Buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Kinderhook, Columbia Co., N.Y.
 
 
The Story
 
 

The Dockray history starts with the birth of James Dockray on July 22, 1832 somewhere in northern England. This date was taken from the family Bible, current owner unknown. The first official document on file is a "certified copy of an entry of marriage" obtained from the General Register Office in London, England. It records the marriage of James Dockray and Margaret Harrison on February 26, 1853 in the Register Office in the District of Carlisle, Cumberland County, England. The document further states that James was 21 years old and was a belt maker by trade. Margaret was 19 years old. Both are said to be living in Warwick Bridge at the time. The marriage was witnessed by Andrew Forsythe and Jane Harrison. Peter Dockray, James' father, is listed as deceased. He had been a butcher. The bride's father was Joseph Harrison, a dyer by trade. The relationship of Jane Harrison to Margaret is not given but it could be assumed that she was her mother. Of course, she could also have been an older sister. James Dockray signed the document with his own name. Both Margaret and Jane signed with an X.

The only political subdivision mentioned on the marriage certificate that can be located on modern maps that are available to the author is Carlisle. This is a town 10 miles or less from the Scottish border on the west coast of England. A family legend has it that Margaret Harrison was from Scotland. This is probably true but it cannot be documented from entries in various Federal Census reports wherein "country of origin" was given. As the years went by, and given the errors usually found in every census, the reports of place of birth became confused. Both James and Margaret are variously stated as being born in England and Scotland, depending on the particular census and the family member giving the report to the enumerator.

There is a village named Dockray in the Lake District of northern England, not far from Carlisle. However, it has been reported by an unrelated Dockray who personally visited the area that there is no evidence of Dockrays having lived in these villages; ie, no gravestones, etc.

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History and Coat of Arms - Click to Enlarge

From Federal Census reports it was evident that the Dockray family migrated to America in 1871. This is in conflict with an entry in the family Bible which states that they came to America in 1869. The exact phraseology used in this statement is not known to the author. The only plausible explanation for this discrepancy is that James may have come to America in 1869 to make arrangements for him and the family to emigrate at a later time. This is hardly likely in view of the high cost and the hardship associated with crossing the Atlantic two extra times. This conflict of information may never be explained. However, no evidence of any member of this Dockray family living in America has been found in the 1870 census reports.

In view of all of this, an intensive search was made of the 1871 Passenger Arrival Lists for the Port of New York. It was found that James and Margaret Dockray, with 7 children ranging in age, from 1 to 16 years of age arrived in New York on October 12, 1871. Two of the children were Joseph and Launcelot, known by the author to be ancestors of the Hart family on the Dockray line. They came to this country aboard the SS City of Washington, Thomas C. Jones, Master, out of Liverpool, England.

Steamship "City of Washington"

Another family legend stated that the Dockrays crossed the ocean on "a side wheeled steamer that sank on the return trip". The records on the SS City of Washington state that she was "an iron screw steamer" that sank on July 5, 1873. The differences between legend and fact are not great and are explainable in view of the passing of many years and a tendency on everyone's part to embelish a story with repeated telling.

The SS City of Washington was a combination sailing ship/steamer with 1 stack and three masts. A crude picture of the vessel is on file. She was built in Glasgow, Scotland by Tod and McGregor for passenger service between Liverpool and New York. originally about 300 feet long, in 1869 she was lengthened to 357.7 feet. The records state that "The City of Washington suffered from constant and unexplained bad luck for the whole of her career". The general sequence of events was to break a propeller shaft and then lose the rudder, not long after leaving port. The ship could proceed under sail when steam power failed but at least one crossing lasted as long as 40 days under these conditions. On July 5, 1873, 1 year and 9 months after the Dockrays crossed the ocean on her, she went aground between the cities of Liverpool and Shelburn onthe coast of Nova Scotia and became a total loss. Fortunately, there was no loss of life. The ship was only 18 years old at the time.

Upon arriving in America, the Dockray family settled in Valatie, Kinderhook Township, Columbia County, New York. Valatie is a small village a few miles southeast of Albany in a relatively rural setting. The 1875 New York State census states that the family lived in a "wood" house valued at $1200. James was listed as "Boss in mill". There were eight children living at home, ages 1 through 20. It was learned later that a son Philip was born in 1873 and died before 1875. Also, a daughter, Florence Violet, was born in 1880, the last of the children to be born to this family. In all, a total of 10 children have been accounted for. In the 1900 Federal Census, Margaret, at age 65, stated that she had born 11 children. It must be concluded that another child was born in England and died at an early age or did not emigrate with the rest of the family.

History books concerned with the Kinderhook area tell that much of the industry of the region was concerned with textiles. James Dockray took employment in one of the many small mills that were in operation in Valatie. These mills used water power supplied by a small stream flowing westward into the Hudson River. It would be expected that James had been employed in the textile industry in England, even though the "belt maker" trade listed on the marriage record and the "joiner" given as his occupation on the Passenger Arrival List are not recognizable by the author as job titles for a textile mill employee. However, textile manufacture was an important industry in England and the immigrants generally gravitated to jobs with which they were familiar. The 1880 Federal Census indicated that all of the Dockray children 14 years of age and older also were working in the "cotton mills".

The history books indicate that, even in 1871, the small mills were feeling the pressure of the industrial revolution as they were being replaced by larger, more efficient mills that were closer to transportation centers. Apparently, one by one, the small mills closed down. As a result, after 13 years residence in Valatie, in 1884 the Dockray family moved to Kearny, New Jersey. There James opened a butcher shop, apparently falling back on experience gained from working with his father who was listed as a butcher on James' marriage record.

When the family moved away, a family plot was kept in the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Valatie. Nine of the family are buried there including the parents, James (age 57) and Margaret (age 73), and the oldest son, Peter and Peter's wife, Mary Simpson. It is of interest to note that Peter's headstone is inscribed "Erected in memory of their sup't by the employees of the Lawton Spinning Co., Woonsocket, R. I.". The vital statistics that have been collected for this family are tabulated on Family Group Sheet in the Appendix.

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The sixth child born to James and Margaret Dockray was a son, Launcelot. He was born in England in 1869 and at age 4 emigrated to America with the family. Launcelot grew up in Valatie and apparently worked in the mills with the other children. He moved to New Jersey at age 17.

The first record we have of the Launcelot Dockray family is from the 1900 Federal Census report. At that time, they lived in East Newark on North 3rd Street. Launcelot had married Minnie Parks in 1892. The Parks family lived in Hackettstown, N. J., a rural area some 40 to 45 miles west of Newark. The circumstances leading to Launcelot meeting and marrying this "country girl" are not known.

In 1900, the family consisted of Launcelot and Minnie and three children, a son, Wesley, and two daughters, Ada May and Pearl. No other children were to be born to this Dockray family. However, living with them at this time were Sarah Parks, mother of Minnie, and Fern Parks, age 11, sister of Minnie. The vital statistics collected on this family are given on Family Group Sheet in the Appendix.

Launcelot's occupation was given as "Carder thread mill". Obviously, he had obtained employment related to his work in the cotton mill in Valatie. It is known that ultimately (and perhaps in 1900), Launcelot worked for the Clark Thread Co. where he eventually held a very responsible position, overseeing the activities of a large number of employees.

The family also lived elsewhere in the New Jersey metropolitan area but eventually moved into a home at 144 Kearny Avenue, Kearny, N. J. where they lived the later days of their lives. Launcelot Dockray passed away on April 18, 1930 at age 62 of a prostate infection. He is buried in the Hackettstown Union Cemetery, as is his wife Minnie, who died on August 26, 1958 at age 85 in Sanford, Vlusia, Florida.

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The eldest son, Wesley, married Helen Cunningham and had three children, Lance, Eugene, and Isabel. Eugene was killed in WW II in the Pacific. Isabel married John V Silliman and had two children. Lance married Ethel Carlson and had two children, Gary and Ralph.

Gary married Karen Ann Richardson and had two children, Bevin and Brian. Karen died in 1972 and Gary remarried Carole DeJure Smith and adopted her two children, Edward and Elizabeth. Gary and Carole were divorced in 1996.

Bevin married Matthew Gove and has three children, Ryan Christopher, Anna Kathleen and Julia Elizabeth. She was divorced in 2014. Brian Dockray married Jaimie Fried and has twin girls, Evelyn Grace and Kaela Anne. Edward has been married, divorced and has one child, Nathaniel. Elizabeth is married to Steven Wood with no children. Gary lives in the Palm Beach, FL. Bevin lives in Fairfield Connecticut. Brian and Jaimie live Westport CT. Edward lives in Oakland CA and Elizabeth and Steve live in Portsmouth NH.

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