Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Pretty Lady in a Pretty Photo ...

Photographs. Old photographs. Other people's old photographs. Often unlabelled.

As I look through the thousands of 1860s and 1870s photos that used to be found in musty boxes in delicious little 'antique' shops, and which now flood the web via e-bay and other like sites, I have more than once wondered 'who were these people?'. Many will remain mysteries, but some have scribbled names on the back. So, this morning, I decided to take one with a legible inscription and see if I could discover anything about the person.

This was the one that I picked. Taken by Mr W W Winter of Midland Road, Derby 'patronised by the Queen', and labelled 'Jane Cooper, née Bannister'.

Well, with that much information, Jane was easy to find. She was the daughter of Mr James Bannister, jeweller, and she became the wife of another jeweller, John Owen Cooper, 2 August 1869 at Normanton.

Mr Bannister lived in Litchurch, next the grocer's shop in Strutt Street, with his large brood of children -- Ann, Susannah, Mary, Fanny, James, John, Jane, Frederic and Clara -- and, so the 1861 census tells us, employed one man and one boy in his silversmithery. His wife Ann, who is with the family in 1851 (32, Siddal's Lane, Derby) had died in the interim.

The regulation time after their marriage, Jane gave birth to Lillian Jenny Cooper (Lyndhurst Road, Camberwell 20 May 1870) and now my tale turns short. For pretty Jane died in Lower Broughton, Manchester, aged 24, 4 April 1874. John seemingly remarried, but himself died in 1883.

Lillian was luckier. She was brought up by Uncle Arthur and his unmarried sister, Ellen, married another uncle, Gurth Cooper (only a year older then she), a paint and colour merchant at 15 Cheapside, Derby, and they bred and lived happily into my lifetime ... He died 3 October 1948 and she 2 March 1954 ... and they lie together in Mickleover Churchyard.

I suppose it must have been the heirs of their seemingly childless daughter, Norah (Mrs William Alfred Welch, b 8 June 1907; d 1995), who got rid of the family photos. Sad, because the handwriting on the back of the photo is surely more recent than the photo itself, someone must have cared for it not too long ago ...

Ah, well ...

PS The sweetest moment is this search was when I found Mr Gurth Cooper, the artists' supplies merchant, as chief judge of the 'Eggs' section at the local Show. He was an avid fowl fancier, I see.

STOP PRESS: I turn the page and there is Lillian! I was right! Someone IS throwing out the family album!

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