Is your surname Hancock?

Research the Hancock family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Thomas Hancock

Birthplace: Dublin, Leinster, Eastern and Midland, Ireland
Death: April 23, 1893 (85)
Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Place of Burial: Remuera, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Hancock and Catharine Hancock
Husband of Mary Ann Hancock and Hannah Hancock
Father of Sarah Mackey; Catherine Mayall; John Hancock; Harriett Jagger; Elizabeth Keane and 3 others
Brother of William Hancock; John Hancock; Ann Hancock and Rachel Hancock

Managed by: Lorraine Elizabeth Watchorn
Last Updated:

About Thomas Hancock

1827; Thomas married Hannah Mitchell on 19 August 1827 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. Note spelling of surname as Hencock (Ref: England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 December 2014), Thomas Hencock and Hannah Mitchell, 19 Aug 1827; citing Halifax, York, England, reference 247; FHL microfilm 990,601.)

1841: Left England for Melbourne with his wife and five children, making a good voyage aboard the "Wallace". Departed Liverpool, England on 18 August 1841, arriving into Port Phillip, Australia on 27 November 1841 under Captain Andrew Maine. The family is listed as passengers as follows"

  • Thomas Hancock 34 hus (family 22) Chester
  • Hannah Hancock 32 wife of Thomas (family 22)
  • Sarah Hancock 12 dau of Thomas (family 22)
  • Catherine Hancock 10 dau of Thomas (family 22)
  • John Hancock 7 son of Thomas (family 22)
  • Harriet Hancock 5 dau of Thomas (family 22)
  • Betty Hancock 2 dau of Thomas (family 22)
Ref: []
  • Boarded the barque "Bellena" again, arriving in NZ 1841. Voyage described as stormy. They left Melbourne with 90 head of working bullocks aboard. When they were within 500 miles of NZ they were driven back by contrary winds to Twofold Bay. They stayed there for three weeks, to refit and get provisions. Of their 90 head of bullocks, only 7 remained.

1840s: Arriving in New Zealand, Thomas found Auckland a "queer place". The only wooden building was that of Hennry the Jew. It was an eating house near the present site of the Bank of NZ. At that time a creek flowed down Queen Street. It was called Ligar's Canal and was bridged across by planks. Now a spot at the corner of Jean Batten Place and Shortland Street

Finding no work in Auckland, they accepted proferred emplyment at sawmills to be established at MercuryBay. After 3 weeks of hardship, the family moved to Tairua "for a few weeks"

There was a sawmill run by Webster, an American trader. Their accommodation was a leaky raupo hut; with no food and Hannah ill and about to have a baby, life was a little desperate. Webster had stores, but refused to sell to Thomas who threatened Webster with a pistol to his head, forcing Webster to relent. Webster gave Thomas some work making boxes for the Maori trade, but the wages he paid were very small.

1841: Taken to Tauranga, where they left the ship and lodged at a hut belonging to the trader Farrar. At Te Papa, Thomas found employment with Archdeacon Brown (wages = 12 shillings a week., plus house, except when he made repairs to Mission vessels at 36 shillings a week.

During his stay at Te Papa, the Maoris of the district became unsettled; the threats to Mission stores, of which Thomas was in charge, and to his family, disturbed him. He took the advice of a friendly native and left the Mission for Auckland, a storm-tossed voyage of 3 weeks.

In Auckland, Thomas found casual employment, including digging for Archdeacon Brown at his house in Parnell. He and another man, named Flatt, dug it for 1 shilling and sixpence a rood.

With capital he still had, Thomas purchased a quarter acre allotment and skillion in Hobson Street, a horse and cart, with the remaining 5 pounds being spent on fodder. Thomas mentions the difficulties of life in Auckland, due mainly to "the war". However, in time he acquired 4 cows, selling milk at a shilling a quart. Carting jobs brought in a few shillings. A contract with Auckland's principal merchant, one Polack, assured better prospects. In fact, Polack advised Thomas to buy more land, and advanced him the money for the purchase.

Sadly the good times came to an end and competition forced him out of business.

With a partner, Thomas opened a General Store, extending it to include a timber yard and wharf, but Gold Rush to California left them with uncollected debts - and Thomas joined the gold seekers.

After twelve months separation from his wife and family, and failing fortunes, led Thomas back to Auckland. However the conditions on his return were such, that he decided to return to California, this time taking his family with him. In spite of prosperity, cholera drove them back to NZ once again. He sold his property in San Francisco for 200 pounds. Two years later the same property was acquired by the cityfor a water works at 20,000 pounds.

However back in NZ, the great Depression still hovered over Auckland. Settling his family, Thomas journeyed to the goldfields in Australia where he entered into business and began to brew beer. However the vicissitudes of fortune left him penniless and once again he returned to what was now his home town of Auckland. This time he undertook the business he had found so rewarding in Victoria, the brewing of beer.

  • Note: 'The above was given to me by Thomas's great grand daughter, Alberta.'

According to records kept at the Lion headquarters library in East Tāmaki, Thomas Hancock bought an inn, the Captain Cook Brewery in Khyber Pass Road, from a Thomas Roach for £3,000 in 1859 (the interest on the mortgage of 10.5%). The brewing had been neglected, to be revived as the business picked up, and Thomas Hancock, making use of a plentiful supply of pure spring water on the site, began brewing beer in sheds behind the inn while his daughters were serving in the bar. The fame of his brew spread and he became a supplier. When competitors sought to cut off his supplies of malt and hops, Thomas found a good friend in David Nathan who supplied him with credit. In time he had reduced his mortgage £1,500. He soon had “a modest little model brewery” with the addition of malting houses a few years later. “There was then hardly any business attached to the house….but I stuck to it …” wrote Hancock at the time. “When the Taranaki war broke out, there was a stir amongst the troops and Thomas began to make a little more money. "After awhile I began brewing for my own house. The beer grew in favour and became well patronised. Gradually it got a good reputation." Thomas managed to keep out of debt, lived economically and saved all he could. After a while he built a malt-house, and soon cleared from £100 to £200 a year by it. He built another, and so things went on. Thomas gave credit to the kindness of Mr Nathan in trusting him.

1868: Thomas takes son in law, Samuel Jagger into the business, forming a partnership.

1870: On his 70th birthday, in 1876, Thomas retired, selling his business to his son-in-law Samual Jagger, who he had taken into partnership.

By 1871, the Captain Cook Brewery was firmly established and run by his son-in-law Samuel Jagger.

1882: Jagger constructed new brick buildings for the brewery including a five-storey tower. These were designed by Stephenson, of the firm Baildon and Stephenson and after completion, in 1884, the statue of Captain Cook was mounted on the roof above the main entrance.

1885: Thomas Hancock Of Hawthorne Place, Carlton Gore Road, Auckland.

1893: On the 23rd April 1893, Thomas died. He was buried in St Mark's Churchyard, Remuera Road, Auckland.

In 1969 three bronze castings were made of the statue for the Cook bi-centenary. One now stands on Kaiti Hill, Gisborne, above the site of Cook’s first landing in 1769; one is at James Cook High School in Manurewa; and one now stands outside the new Lion manufacturing facility in East Tāmaki.

Jagger died in 1890 and the brewery was taken over by Moss Davis who had been in partnership since 1885. This new owner eventually amalgamated with other brewers to form NZ Breweries and this eventually became known as Lion Breweries.

After Thomas's death, in 1893, there was family conflict with regard to his will. This resulted in the Supreme Court case as reported in the following article: SUPREME COURT. Auckland Star, Volume XXIV, Issue 202, 26 August 1893, Page 5 Article can be viewed in the Media Tab above, appearing in list of documentation.

Of Worthy Note 1: Incidentally, Michael Joseph Savage, who became NZ's first Labour Prime Minister, was employed as a cellarman in Hancock's Brewery, Auckland, a job which he retained until his election to Parliament.. However this would have been after 1907 by which time Thomas Hancock had passed away.

Of Worthy Note 2: Publication available through Waikato University Hancock heritage: Thomas Hancock 1813-1898: his ancestry and his descendants. (This is not "our Thomas Hancock)

This publication is of "our" Thomas Hancock - An account of his life as told by the man himself has been published. For details see:

Of Worthy Note 3: Hancock derived from the personal name "Hann," itself a form of the early Johan or John. The suffix "cock," a nickname for a young lad, was an affectionate ending of French origin which began to appear in England in the 13th century. - from

Of Worthy Note 4 1940: A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography page 544 and 545 describes Michael Joseph Savage (the first NZ Labour Party Prime Minister) as working at Hancock's Brewery

  • "Savage remained in Auckland and found employment as a cellarman in Hancock's brewery. There he was employed throughout the remainder of his life as a worker, and for eight years he walked to and fro every day between Herne Bay and Khyber Pass. His settled position enabled him to take a new interest in workingclass politics, and he was an active trades unionist...". This is confirmed in Michael Savage's biography at, Savage "secured employment as a cellarman at the Captain Cook Brewery in Newmarket. He impressed workmates as quiet and studious, and spent much of his money on radical literature." Hancock's Brewery and the Captain Cook Brewery were the same establishment that had previously been owned by Thomas Hancock.
view all 13

Thomas Hancock's Timeline

June 12, 1807
Dublin, Leinster, Eastern and Midland, Ireland
November 22, 1829
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
January 30, 1832
County Mayo, Ireland
April 6, 1834
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
May 10, 1836
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
October 23, 1839
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
March 25, 1845
Tauranga, Tauranga City, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand