Alexander Chocke, DGM

Alexander Chocke (16.?-1737), a senior official at the Exchequer and a Westminster magistrate, served as a Grand Warden in 1726 and succeeded William Cowper as Deputy Grand Master the following year.

Chocke served as Clerk of the Debentures at the Exchequer, a lucrative role yielding some £400 per annum. The position was in the gift of the Earl of Halifax, Auditor of the Exchequer. Chocke had been promoted from Clerk of the Registers and had held office in the department since the turn of the century. His obituary in the Daily Gazetteer on 24 January 1737 records ‘near forty years’ of service. Chocke featured regularly in parliamentary committees with his name recorded often in the Official Gazette. Chocke’s activities on the Middlesex and Westminster benches were also reported extensively and confirm his support for the government.

Masonically, Chocke was a member of three lodges: the Horn Tavern, close to his home at New Palace Yard; the Swan at Greenwich, where Sir James Thornhill and Joseph Highmore were members; and the Castle Inn in Highgate, where Nathaniel Blackerby was also a member.

Chocke was part of the inner circle at Grand Lodge and was chosen to attend upon the Earl of Dalkeith when the latter was appointed Grand Master and to thank him for his agreement to serve. Being selected for this role was significant and indicates that Chocke was close to Desaguliers; indeed, Chocke and his wife were godparents to Desaguliers’ children.

Chocke was appointed a Grand Warden in 1726 under Lord Inchiquin, with William Cowper as Deputy Grand Master. The following year Chocke was appointed Deputy Grand Master himself under Lord Coleraine, with Blackerby and Highmore as Grand Wardens. In the years that followed Chocke attended Grand Lodge regularly as a past Grand Officer and was a prominent supporter of Desaguliers and Payne.

With William Burdon, another magistrate and a fellow Grand Warden, Chocke was one of two squires to Sir William Morgan at the latter’s investiture in June 1725 as a Knight of the Bath. The picture shows Chocke in his ceremonial robes. The invitation to attend the investiture was probably at the instigation of the Earl of Halifax, Morgan’s brother-in-law and Chocke’s patron at the Exchequer. A significant number of those present were freemasons, including the Duke of Montagu, the Grand Master of the Order; the Duke of Richmond; the Earl of Delorraine; and the Earl of Inchiquin. Other freemasons included Martin Folkes and Thomas Hill, attending as squires to the Duke of Richmond; Col. Francis Columbine to Lord Malpas; Robert Barry to Lord Inchiquin; and Col. Daniel Houghton to the Earl of Suffolk.