Edmund Cokayne or Cockayne, depending on the source and your own preference, is buried in St Oswald’s Church, Ashbourne but he lived near Alport at Harthill Hall. His parents were Sir John Cokayne and Cecilia Vernon. Sir John Cokayne was John of Gaunt’s steward for the duke’s estates north of the Trent – so very much part of the Lancaster Affinity. As might be expected the family including Edmund were MPs for Derbyshire.
He fought at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 against Hotspur. In July of that year the Percy family which had initially supported Henry of Bolingbroke against his cousin Richard II rebelled against Henry and joined with Owain Glyndwr. Henry IV had been king since 1399 whilst his cousin starved to death in Pontefract Castle. The Percys now stated that Henry had declared the throne illegally. The aim of the Percys and the rebels was to kill Henry and his son in order to put Edmund Mortimer, the earl of March on the throne. Mortimer was descended from Edward III’s second son, Lionel of Antwerp, so had a better claim than Henry. In addition Mortimer had been Richard II’s heir.
Edmund Cokayne’s family owed their position in society to the House of Lancaster. They had risen to be de facto lords of the manor based on their service to John of Gaunt. He was part of the 11,000 to 14,000 men who joined battle on behalf of Henry IV. Depending on the numbers there were either 10,000 or 15,000 on the rebel side. The battle of Shrewsbury was fought on the 21st July 1403.
Edmund was knighted on the field of battle by Henry IV and died an hour later. His body was returned to Ashbourne where he was buried alongside his father in the Boothby Chapel in St Oswald’s Church. The Cokayne coat of arms can be found alongside other arms in Battlefield Church, Shrewsbury.
Edmund’s brother and son would continue to serve the house of Lancaster.