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Bio

Benjamin Franklin Cocker
Hinsdale and Demmon, History of the University of Michigan 242

Benjamin Franklin Cocker was born at Almondbury, Yorkshire, England, in 1821. He obtained a fair English education in King James's Grammar School, and commenced life as a woolen manufacturer.

On account of impaired health he immigrated to Australia in 1850 and engaged in a prosperous and lucrative business in Launceston and Melbourne. Caught in the great panic of 1856, he was almost ruined financially. He saved enough from the wreck of his fortunes to buy a small trading vessel, in which he embarked on a voyage to New Zealand and the Fiji and Friendly Islands.

In Fiji he made the acquaintance of John Hunt, James Calvert, and William Wilson, early English Wesleyan missionaries. On his way back to Australia he was shipwrecked off the island of Tonga, but he and the crew were rescued and conveyed to Sydney.

He now decided to embark with his family for the United States of America, the objective point being Adrian, Michigan, where a Methodist clergyman lived whose acquaintance he had made in Australia, and who had promised him aid. Having reached his destination, he decided to carry out a cherished conviction that he should become a preacher of the gospel. In due time he was licensed by the Methodist Episcopal Church and began to preach in the small village of Palmyra, Michigan, in 1857.

His success as a preacher was soon assured and he filled successively the best places in the gift of the Detroit Conference. Through his contributions to "The Methodist Quarterly" his power of abstruse metaphysical reasoning had become known, and when in 1869 the chair of Philosophy in the University of Michigan fell vacant, he was called to fill it.

He now had leisure to formulate the results of his wide experiences and studies, and published a number of volumes: "Christianity and Greek Philosophy" (1870); "Lectures on the Truth of the Christian Religion" (1873); "Theistic Conception of the World" (1875); "Evidences of Christianity" (1882); and "Students' Hand book of Philosophy" (1881-1882).

He died at Ann Arbor, April 8, 1883. He received the degree of Master of Arts from Wesleyan University in 1864, of Doctor of Divinity from DePauw University in I870, and of Doctor of Laws from Victoria University, Canada, in 1876.