Helping hands helping one another with our family history & genealogy research.
I hope some kind soul here can help me with my brick wall.
My g. grandfather was Joseph COOPER who in Jun 1884 gave his DOB on his RM enlistment papers as Dec 1865 Hanley Staffs. At his marriage in 1891 his father was given as James COOPER.( so if there was a name change father went along with it at the wedding). I can find no trace of either who fit the bill before 1891.
From family rumour of a name change, I have a Joseph CHARLESTON(var. spellings) b 13 Jan 1866 Hanley, son of James. He is with his parents in 1871 census, and present at his mother Esther's death in 19 Brighton St Shelton, in July 1878
Then I have what I think is him 1881 census as an inmate of Fair Green Staffs*, at the Hardwicke reformatory School, Gloucs. No luck trying to get records from there. After that he disappears altogether.
*There was Far Green coalfield by Hanley -his father worked in coal mines
His father James remarried a Mary Ann COOPER in 1882.
Therefore, I feel I have the right person - how can I prove he changed his name to when he enlisted? And why would he, he was of age to enlist? Is there any record that could place him beween 1881 and 1884?
Seem like a lot to ask, any suggestions welcomed. many thanks
I found a Joseph Cooper in a family tree on Ancestory.com. It states:
Birth December 19, 1865, Hanley, Staffordshire, England
Marriage to Elizabeth Paulina Hoile - Nov 2, 1891
Death Feb 3, 1940 Walmer, Kent, England
Child from marriage: Joseph Henry Robert Cooper
Birth 16 DEC 1892 in Lower Walmer, Kent, England
Death 15 DEC 1958 in Royal Berks hospital, Reading
I can look further if this is the right direction
Hi Judie thanks for your reply.
Yes, that's the correct Joseph Cooper, my g. grandfather. I have him from his enlistment in 1884 onwards. it's the 'before enlistment' that's proving a problem
Sometimes, if a man had been in legal trouble (i.e. reform school) they would adhocly change their names when the enlisted. I know this to be true as I transcribe WW1 war documents for the Canadian National Archives and run across it all the time. I would suspect that Joseph Cooper spent at least 4 yrs in reform school and upon coming out took his stepmothers name to have a fresh start.
just speculation though....
he would have been what I guess we would nowadays call a juvenile offender. He is not in any criminal records for Staffs or Gloucs. Did they have different courts for younger people?
I also have looked at the tree on Ancestry but also viewed the bmd index as you have a date of birth as December 1865. It would not be unusual for a Birth in December to show up in the next quarter. I find a birth for Joseph Cooper Jan-Mar 1866 District Stoke upon Trent vol 6b page 191. Note: Hanley is in this district. So from what you state this would seem to be the most appropriate birth for him. By purchasing his birth record you will get the fathers name and occupation as well as the maiden name of the mother along with her forename. I would think that you would have to start here to prove this is your Joseph Cooper or not.
Looking at the census records there is a Jospeh Cooper born Hanley abt 1866 which fits his birth in December 1865 and he resides with his parents on the 1871 and 1881 census. On both censuses his parents are listed as Thomas Cooper a butcher and his wife Lucy. So from what you know you would rule this one out then. I see another Joseph Cooper on the 1871 census listed as a grandson in the household of James Cooper and this may well be him. A daughter of James resides in the household by the name of Ceclia. Until you get his birth record sorted it will be difficult to be sure who is who. I hope I have not muddied the waters for you but the above bmd index is the only one that fits for the information you have supplied.
Hello bcrick, thank you also for replying and your suggestions.
I have already checked and ruled out those Joseph Coopers so unfortunately so joy there.
There is a family rumour that a name change occurred and Charleston was given as the alternative. I have several records that would fit for the above mentioned Charleston family. It seems odd that Joseph Charlston disappears after the 1881 census and we take up Joseph Cooper in 1884.
It's just being abe to prove it beyond doubt that's proving difficult and I've run out of ideas.
All but impossible to "prove it beyond doubt" unless there's a deed poll in the London Gazette. Probably the best you can say is that on the balance of probabilities Joseph Charlston is the same person as Joseph Cooper
Hi David thanks for your reply, It's beginning to seem as that's the best I'll ever be able to do.