William Cooper, the father of John Cooper (abt 1818-1905) – who is he?

John Cooper, my 3-great-grandfather was born about 1818 (Crewe Green, Cheshire) and died 1905 (Haslington, Cheshire). I cannot find a baptism for him, so who are John’s parents? From John’s marriage certificate, we know that his father’s name is William Cooper, a labourer. But which William?

When and where is John born? From the censuses, we get:
1841 census – 20y, i.e. b1816-21, Cheshire
1851 census – 30y, i.e. b1820-21, Crewe Green
1861 census – 42y, i.e. b1818-19, Crewe
1871 census – 52y, i.e. b1818-19, Crewe
1881 census – 64y, i.e. b1816-17, Crewe Green
1891 census – 76y, i.e. b1814-15, Haslington
1901 census – 83y, i.e. b1817-18, Haslington
1905 DC – 89y, i.e. b1815-16
Marriage certificate has “full age” only.

Crewe means Crewe Green at this time. By a vote of 4 to 2, we deem he was born in Crewe Green. Haslington is immediately adjacent to Crewe Green and where the boundary is might change in people’s minds, so having both is not an issue.

John seems, except for the 1901 census, to age by more than 10 years in each decade – unusual! This would suggest the earlier entries are more accurate, i.e. he was born in Crewe Green, in the parish of Barthomley, 1818-21.

Which families have a father William and children baptised in Barthomley parish? Only these two:
– William Cooper senior and Ann Hele, who married 6 July 1790.
– William Cooper junior and Martha Spode, who married 19 September, 1814.

These two are father and son.

William senior moved to the township of Crewe (Crewe Green) sometime before Joseph’s baptism in October 1807. However, their last child, Daniel, was born in 1810 when his mother, Ann Hele, was about 45-47. I therefore reckon that she was too old to have a son, John in 1815, never mind the agreed 1818-21. This family is therefore discarded.

William junior’s family was living in Haslington when Thomas was baptised in September 1815. From September 1821 to 1831, they were referred to as living in Crewe Green. The fact that they baptised a number of children, but not John, suggests he was not one of their children. However, they have children as follows:
– Thomas, baptised Sep 1815 (1y after marriage);
– Hannah, bap Sep 1821 (6y after previous child);
– Uriah, bap August 1824 (3y after previous child);
– Mary, bap Feb 1828 (3 1/2y after previous);
– William, bap Feb 1831 (3y after previous);
– Ann, bap May 1834 (3y after previous);
– Daniel, bap April 1839 (4y after previous – last known)

It is clear that 3y between births is the normal time span for this family and that it is very likely that there is a missing child born about September 1818.

Are there any other William Coopers in the area about this time? There is one born in 1800 in Alsager, but there is no evidence of him in the Barthomley or Haslington registers. He might be in the Alsager registers but it is not plausible for a local to mix up Alsager and Crewe / Haslington – especially when it’s the Crewe end of Haslington being talked about.

John Cooper therefore matches the William Cooper junior / Martha Spode family by place of birth (Crewe Green) and his father’s name – plus he matches a clear gap in their family.

Additional linkage: One of the witnesses at John’s wedding is Hannah Cooper – and the only Hannah that can be traced is a daughter to William and Martha. Of course, even if this is her, it doesn’t mean the two have to be brother and sister.

There is no other William Cooper family in the Barthomley registers. Might there be one not in the registers?

Searching the 1841 census on a keyword of Haslington, Crewe or Barthomley shows:
– William & Martha’s family;
– John & Eliza’s;
– Mary Cooper of Thomas and Mary with her son Aaron;
– Samuel & Mary at Alsager.

In the 1851, we add:
– Uriah and Mary at Haslington;
– Joseph & Ann at Over – a son of William and Ann, I believe.

Other families appear in the 1851 who are already known. In other words, there does not appear to be many, if any, Cooper families who are not somewhere in the registers.

The NECMI index lists other William Cooper marriages but the closest are some in Astbury and Audlem. All others are excluded by date or William’s trade. Again, the census shows no evidence of these having any children in the Crewe Green area.

This constitutes a reasonably exhaustive search for William Cooper families.

Are there any issues with the idea of John being part of William and Martha’s family? Two:

1) The 1841 census has John and Eliza in Winterley, living with a Thomas Cooper. The 1841 census, unlike the later ones, does not record relationships and ages of people over 15 are rounded down to the nearest 5y, so it’s difficult to tell who Thomas is. But it records John as 20 and Thomas as 15, so the most logical explanation of this, is that Thomas is John’s younger brother. If this is so, then John’s parents are unlikely to be William and Martha since they had a son Thomas who was older than John.

In fact, this 1841 census raises another issue: Where in the census is Thomas, John and Eliza’s son? He was baptised in June 1840 and is seen later on, in the 1851 census – but I cannot find him in the 1841 census in Cheshire on Ancestry. Is it possible that the “15” year old Thomas in the 1841 census, was actually a 15 month old Thomas? If so, then the toddler is recorded as an agricultural labourer – but maybe the census enumerator put “Ag Lab” in as an occupation because he noticed an apparent omission in his records, and that’s what they all were round there.

Therefore I suggest that the Thomas issue in the 1841 census is probably a mistake on the enumerator’s part and this removes any issue about a possible younger brother named Thomas.

2) Why was he not baptised?
In fact, the baptism register looks a bit odd at this time. Apparently, registers were not always filled in immediately – the minister might note the names down on slips of paper, to be copied up later. But what if the bits of paper got lost or damaged? There’s a John Cooper, baptised 15 Nov. 1818, whose entry starts out with two father’s names – Thomas and William. This is clearly an error, so the name of William is scrubbed out and John is recorded as the child of Thomas and Mary Cooper. Yet on 26 December of that year, Thomas and Mary have a further son, James, baptised. Why did they not wait and baptise both together? Was the vicar chasing them to have John baptised? Or is the correction was still wrong, and this John was actually the missing child of William and Martha? The date, November 1818, is where I believe the missing child should appear – 3y after William and Martha’s previous known child and 3y before the next.

There are no further references to a John b1818 to Thomas and Mary – though James does not appear again either.

Hence, the issue of non-baptism may be explained by an error on the 15 November 1818 baptism, which certainly started out in error.

Incidentally, George Cooper was baptised to David & Mary Cooper as a catch up baptism in Oct 1850, only 1 month before his younger brother, Thomas, so “not waiting until an imminent birth” is known.

John Cooper (b. abt 1818) is the son of William and Martha Cooper of Crewe Green / Haslington. He matches that family by father’s name and trade, and by place of birth (Crewe Green) matching their exact residence at that time. He matches a very obvious gap in that family.

I have searched the obvious sources and there is no evidence of any other family with a father named William having children in that area at that time. In fact, there are few, if any, Cooper families in the Crewe Green / Haslington area at this time that cannot be identified already.

So, not merely does John match, there are no plausible alternatives known or likely to be found.

Of the two issues, both appear to have reasonable explanations that are more likely to be true than taking the sources at face value.


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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s