It is believed that the name Hockaday or Hockerday is derived from the middle English hocedi, hokedey, the medieval festival of Hock Day (High Day) which fell on the second Tuesday after Easter. This was formerly a time at which rents and dues were paid, and from the fourteenth century it was a popular festival. The name possibly denoted someone born at this time of year.
The first recording of the name dates from 1563 in Ashwater in Devon (whose parish records start in 1539), occurring within a 40 mile radius of Bideford in Devon for a number of years after. By the 1851 census, of the 500 or so Hockadays recorded in the census, less than fifty were living outside of Devon or Cornwall, generally in Dorset or London.
The Hockerday family of this history lived in London, although there can be little doubt that their ancestors originated from Devon. They had close ties with the Bostock family through marriage, and the Hockadays appear in this story on two accounts: firstly, through Mary Ann Hockaday, the wife of James George Bostock, and secondly, through Esther Bostock (née Steward), who married Thomas Hockaday after she was widowed. The surname appears as both Hockaday and Hockerday, and given the difficulty of tracing some members of the family, was also mis-recorded with variants including Haggerty.
‘The Foundling’, an illustration from the ‘London Sketch’ of 1873