Martha Cooper, nee Spode – what happened to her?


St. Bertoline’s at Barthomley, where William and Martha married in 1814 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My 4 great grandparents on the Cooper line were William Cooper (1792-1852) and Martha Spode (b abt 1793 in Sandbach, Cheshire). They married 19 September 1814 in Barthomley, Cheshire; had 8 children (known to me); and William was killed by a cart in Haslington 20 December 1852. Martha’s fate, however, was unknown to me as there was no local burial for her that I could find, nor a local remarriage. And not only was her fate was unknown, so was her origin because I couldn’t find a baptism for her.

At least, her fate was unknown until I found a “Suggested Record” on Ancestry for her.

Ancestry was suggesting that an 1861 census schedule for a Martha Turner might be for her. Now, where the name has changed, it’s fairly certain that Ancestry is making that suggestion because of what’s in someone’s family tree. And that might be good or bad data. But a swift check of that tree, led me to Staffordshire BMD, where I found these index entries for 1854:

Name                             Name                              Church / Register Office    Registers At                   Reference
COOPER    Martha     TURNER    Edward     Madeley, All Saints    Newcastle-Under-Lyme     C16/1/139
SPODE       Martha     TURNER    Edward     Madeley, All Saints    Newcastle-Under-Lyme     C16/1/139

Notice the double bride – normally this means a bride whose surname is different from her father’s. And there couldn’t be many women whose name had been (in some order) Martha Cooper and Martha Spode – except for my 4G granny Cooper. So, before long, my cheque was in the post to get that certificate and its full details. And it was only after I’d posted the form, that I realised I was going to get not only (I hoped) proof of Martha’s fate, but also, as this was a post-1837 marriage, the name of her father to (I hoped) solve her origin as well.

Madeley church.

All Saints, Madeley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And when the certificate did arrive, yes, it was clearly her. She had married Edward Turner, a widower and bricklayer, at All Saints, Madeley, Staffordshire, on 19 September 1854. Should you be interested, my logic is this – the Martha on the certificate matches William’s widow by:

  •  marital status (widow) in 1854;
  •  married name (Cooper);
  •  maiden name (Spode);

No ages are written. A witness is Charles Charity – this is the name of Martha Cooper’s son-in-law. In the 1851 census, the name Charles Charity occurs only in Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Rutland and Cheshire. There are two in Cheshire – the Martha’s son-in-law and his own son. Therefore, it is very likely that this is the same Charles (not even his son, who would only be 5 or 6 at the time of the wedding).

Is there any other Martha Spode who married a Cooper in or around Cheshire? While FamilySearch is not complete for Staffordshire, it is reasonably complete for North Staffordshire pre-1837 back to (say) the 1780s. There are no Martha Spode marriages in FamilySearch for the era 1754-1854 in Staffordshire, only two in Cheshire – and only one of them (ours) is a Cooper marriage. Hence, a reasonable conclusion is that there is only the one Martha Spode / Cooper marriage in Cheshire or Staffordshire in this pre-1837 era – ours. Also, FreeBMD has no such marriage in the 1837-1854 era anywhere. Hence, we can say that there is no other Martha Spode who married a Cooper in or around Cheshire.

So, it is reasonable to conclude by match and lack of alternative, that this marriage is for the widow of William Cooper (1792-1852). My 4G grandmother….

Of course, that’s not the end of the story. I now knew that her father was Thomas Spode, a shoemaker, but not which Thomas Spode of those in (presumably) Sandbach. And the odd thing about Martha and Edward’s marriage certificate was that both claimed to be resident in Madeley. Highly unlikely as Martha was a long-term resident in Haslington and the couple can still be seen there in later censuses. Those are topics for another day – Sandbach involves parish clerks who aren’t consistent spellers and the Madeley residency appears to involve tragedy and perhaps a family split.


Staffordshire Register Offices & All Saints (Madeley, Staffordshire): Marriage certificate for Edward Turner & Martha Cooper (nee Spode), 19 September 1854, All Saints (Madeley, Staffordshire), (this is a certified facsimile copy, made 24 October 2012), Staffordshire Register Offices, C16/1/139

About brucefuimus

Retired IT professional; family historian and mathematician by training.
This entry was posted in Cooper, Family history, Haslington and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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