The Acock family
Acocks Green History Society regularly receives enquiries from people wishing to know if they are descended from the Acocks of Acocks Green. As far as we know, this is the only place in England where this family has produced a place name. It is natural therefore, for people researching their family history to look towards Acocks Green as the source of their ancestors. Unfortunately, in many cases this will be a false trail. The Acock family first appeared in records in Yardley and Sheldon, both now part of Birmingham, in 1420, but disappeared from this locality in the eighteenth century. They bought an estate at the south-eastern end of the area, which can be seen on the map extract here. The earliest reference we know of to the place name Acocks Green comes from the Yardley Parish Register of 1604. We would very much like to establish what happened to the family after they left this area, and would welcome any information. We would like to be able to include firm information on this website, if possible. Our e-mail address is on the Society's homepage.
Acocks Green House was knocked down in 1956/7, when the estate was sold to the City for municipal housing. The building had been used as a club for a number of years. Before that it was a private house. The 1847 Tithe Apportionment shows the house and lands surrounding as occupied by a John Mumford. The site of Acocks Green House is in front of 26-30 Bericote Croft, off Woodcock Lane. It is not in the centre of Acocks Green. One may ask why the Acock family gave its name to the area, when the house was some distance away. The answer probably lies in the making of the Warwick Road turnpike in the eighteenth century. The tollgate was by the Dolphin Inn, useful as a coaching stop, and Acocks Green House was across the road. The coaching stop was named Acocks Green. When the Warwick and Birmingham Canal Company surveyed the area in 1792, it not only named the house as Haycocks Green, but also the nearby settlement. When the railway was built in 1852, it adopted the name for the coaching stop, although the station was much nearer to the former hamlet of Westley Brook, which is the present centre. The presence of the station led to the building of houses and churches nearby, which are regarded as old Acocks Green today. In some ways this is a much more obvious centre, as five roads meet here. Curiously, the Green in the centre is a former tram terminus of 1932, and so never was the Green by the family house out near the City boundary, although it is common even for local people to equate the family and the open area with this circular traffic island. Really, Acocks Green is a creation of the Victorian period above all, with inter-war municipal housing dominating later changes. Part of the 1886 O.S. map can be seen here, which shows the position of Acocks Green House over to the right, with the current centre top left.
Our interest locally ends for the most part with the departure of the Acock family. We have put together a number of pointers to help people decide whether it is worth them making a journey to Birmingham, but have not presented any data later than 1800.
The most important thing to bear in mind is that the Acock family did not originate in Acocks Green. Families with that or similar names can be found elsewhere from the early sixteenth century, and from the length and breadth of the country before 1700. We have produced some lists of locations, based on the International Genealogical Index, to show how widely it may be necessary to search. Our lists only go up to 1700.
Those using the Internet may find a lot of relevant information using the IGI. However, it needs to be borne in mind that it provides only a part of the parish records. Vicars were under no obligation to make their registers available, and many refused to do so. Also, there are more Baptism/Christening records available than marriages or burials. This reflects the purposes of the compilers of the IGI.
Spelling provides another complication. In Yardley, the records are almost entirely of Acock and Acocke. The other local records, especially the Birmingham records include a lot of other spellings, which we have included there as possibilities. Examples of records which it might be necessary to search are Acok, Acoke, Acokes, Acoks, Akoc, Acocks, Akok, Akokke, Acokk, Alcock, Alcocke, Alcockes, Allcock, Allcocke, Allcockes, Aucock, Aucocke, Aucockes, Avcock, Avcocke, Avcockes, Aucock, Aucocke, Aucockes, Awcock, Awcocke, Awcockes, Awcok, Awcoke, etc. etc. The IGI also includes Adcock and other similar names.
Our page of references to the family in the Birmingham area before 1800 can be found here.
We have not attempted to make sense of the data presented here, but hope it is useful to enquirers who may have the resources to make links and build a structure from the records.
There is a project attempting to confirm Acock lineages using DNA. It provides a modern angle on resolving the issues around genealogy. This link is provided for information only, and does not imply any partnership or endorsement.