In my last post, I talked about finally finding out what happened to my 4 great grandmother, Martha Cooper, nee Spode. She married Edward Turner, widower and bricklayer, at All Saints, Madeley, Staffordshire, on 19 September 1854. On the marriage certificate, both claimed to be resident in Madeley – but Martha was a long-term resident in Haslington and the couple can still be seen there in later censuses. Did Edward come from Madeley? Or were there other reasons for the couple to travel nearly ten miles?
It turned out my instincts were correct: behind the marriage lay a story of tragedy – and perhaps even family feud.
Edward Turner had been born at Balterley on 11 October 1807 to Randle and Hannah Turner. Edward, a bricklayer like his father, did not marry until 14 February 1849, when he went up the aisle at St. Bertoline’s, Barthomley, with Jane Cateram, who was herself about 37.
The couple settled in Haslington and I have found no trace of any children in the parish registers until Hannah was born in (so far as I can see) April 1854. But what should have been a happy event turned into tragedy as Jane died on 1 May 1854 after ten days suffering from a bilious fever – it may well be that she never recovered from the birth. Their daughter, Hannah, was baptised the day before Jane’s death. The Haslington register records it as a private baptism on the Sunday, so one can imagine Edward frantically seeking out the priest after the morning service, asking him to come round and let his wife see her daughter baptised.
Edward, a working man, was now faced with the prospect of looking after an infant. What help he could call on, we don’t know, but it is perhaps no wonder that Edward looked for a new wife and on 19 September 1854, he married my (widowed) 4G grandmother, Martha Cooper. However, as his first wife had only died in May, there would, no doubt, be several who would mutter that this was too soon. His choice of bride was probably also controversial – while he was 46 (and Jane had been 42 at her death), Martha was a widow nearly 60 years old. No wonder then that they slipped out of Haslington and down to Madeley to be married away from any wagging tongues.
There was, it turned out, perhaps another reason for Edward to be concerned about his reception in the Haslington area. The 1851 census shows Edward and his then wife, Jane, living in Haslington with Jane’s 82 year old widowed mother, Jane Cateram (Caterham on the census). The elder Jane is described as an annuitant and after her death on 2 December 1851, she left all her estate to young Jane, Edward’s wife, “in consideration and as [compensation] for her kind attention, loss of time and trouble she has had with me during my illness”. When the estate was probated in the following January, it was described as being under £200 in value, which was not a trivial amount of money. Of course, this doesn’t say what the actual value was but Chester Diocese’s procedures described a will as either a “will infra” (worth less than £40) or a “will supra” (worth more than £40). As this was a “will supra“, we do know that the value was therefore between £40 and £200 in 1852.
But how much is that in today’s terms? The “Measuring Worth” website gives us two ways to answer that question. One is to use things like the Retail Price Index to work out how much stuff could be bought in 1852 with that money, and how much money would be needed today to buy the same amount of stuff. But, that might miss the point because wages have gone up in real terms. So the other way is to compare the 1852 value to typical wages, then find what sum of money today bears the same relation to today’s typical wages. This “prestige value” is perhaps a better way of sizing the windfall that came to Jane and Edward.
On that basis, the figure of £200 in 1852 corresponded in 2010 to either £16,900 (the purchasing power) or £212,000 (the “prestige value” of the cash). Even the lower limit of £40 corresponds to £42,400 in 2010’s “prestige value”.
So, while we don’t know the exact value, it’s clear that Jane Cateram left a handsome legacy to her daughter at the begininng of 1852. And just over two years later, whatever was left was going to Edward, to be shared with his new wife. Were there any Cateram family members around to be annoyed at their mother’s money leaving the family? Quite possibly – I haven’t checked properly, but John and Jane Cateram seem to have had six children baptised in Haslington, including young Jane, Edward’s future wife, and it looks like up to four of them survived.
So perhaps it’s no wonder that Edward and Martha moved south for their wedding, where the banns could be read out of earshot of wagging tongues in Haslington and the rest of the Cateram family.
And their future? They did return and live in Haslington, albeit virtually next door to one of Martha’s sons, Uriah Cooper, who’d been a witness at his mother’s marriage to Edward. Little Hannah was with them at the 1861 census. Edward died 14 May 1873, having suffered paralysis for two years – probably the effects of a stroke. Martha lived seven more years before dying 24 March 1880 of “natural decay”. It does seem like the Coopers looked out for Martha and her husband – Edward’s death was registered by a Sarah “Sopken”, who is probably Sarah Lofkin, a daughter of Uriah Cooper, while Martha’s was registered by a George Cooper, who’d been present, and Martha had at least two grandsons of that name.
- St. Bertoline’s (Barthomley, Cheshire), baptism for Edward Turner, 8 November 1807; Combined Register 1789-1808 (digital image in “The Cheshire Collection, Church of England Parish Registers 1538-1910”, FindMyPast).
Text From Source: Born the 11th of October
- St. Bertoline’s (Barthomley, Cheshire), entry for Edward Turner & Jane Cateram, 14 February 1849; “Register of marriages 1837-1874 No 4 St Bertoline’s Barthomley” (digital image in “The Cheshire Collection, Church of England Parish Registers 1538-1910”, FindMyPast).
- St. Matthew’s (Haslington, Cheshire), entry for Hannah Turner, 30 April 1854; “Register of Baptisms in the Chapelry of Haslington” Nov 1837- Jan 1907 (digital image in “The Cheshire Collection, Church of England Parish Registers 1538-1910”, FindMyPast). no. 396.
- Cheshire Register Offices, death certificate for Jane Turner, 1 May 1854, Crewe (originally Wybunbury) sub-district (This is a certified copy, made 30 October 2012).
- 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).
- General Register Office (England & Wales), schedule for Edward & Jane Turner, Haslington, 1851 Census (digital image of original published in “1851 England Census [database on-line]”).
- Transcribed by the Consistory Court of Chester, Grant of Probate dated 27 April 1852 with Will and Testament of Jane Catram of Haslington dated 28 October 1851 (digital image in “Cheshire Wills and Probate”, FindMyPast).
- Cheshire Register Offices, death certificate for Edward Turner, 14 May 1873, Crewe (originally Wybunbury) sub-district (This is a certified copy, made 30 October 2012).
- Cheshire Register Offices, death certificate for Martha Turner, 24 March 1880, Crewe (originally Wybunbury) sub-district (This is a certified copy, made 30 October 2012).