My maternal grandmother Catherine Cosgrove was just 7 months old when she lost her father. Patrick Cosgrove was just 38 years old when he died of smallpox in Belvedere Hospital in Glasgow. Patrick and his wife, Sarah Helferty were married in 1888 and Catherine was their only child. Sarah remarried and her second husband was the man who raised my granny and that is why I would like to tell his story here.
Edward Cooper was born in May 1862 in Kilbeggan, Westmeath, Ireland to David Cooper and Bridget Killion (there are many different spellings of the surname). He was baptised on 28 May as you can see from the record below.
David and Bridget were married on 1861 in the parish of Kilcloon. A second son, Thomas was born in 1864. Shortly after the family made the decision to leave Ireland for better opportunities in Scotland and so by the time their third child was born in 1866 they were living in Old Monkland, Lanarkshire. The baby did not survive and the birth and death are registered with no forename. Stephen was born in 1866 followed by David in 1869 then William in 1872. When daughter Jane was born in December 1874 the family were living village of Newmains where David found employment in the Coltness Ironworks.
Tragically, there were complications in the birth of their daughter and just days after she held her little girl for the first time Bridget died. Jane too was very weak and she passed away just a week later.
So Edward was now just 11 years old and he had lost his mother and two siblings. As the oldest son his childhood would have ended pretty abruptly. It would not be long before he was in full time employment.
Another boy of a similar age living in Newmains at that time was my great grandfather, Patrick Cosgrove. He was also born in Ireland and came to Newmains in the 1870s. Like Edward his family faced more than their fair share of tragedy. The two may have been close friends as children.
Edward’s father remarried. The marriage lasted a number of years but eventually the new wife left the family home. Edward lost another sibling with the death of David in 1879. Maybe living at home just became too difficult and by the time of the 1881 census Edward had left home. He is recorded as a lodger with a family in the Monkland area where he was employed as a coal miner.
Like Patrick Cosgrove, Edward decided to seek his fortune in Dundee. There were opportunities in the jute industry and many Irish immigrants found work in the mills. The best of the work was actually for women and the area of Lochee became a very female dominated place. Perhaps Patrick and Edward travelled there together. I don’t know for sure but I do know that they lived close to each other. In 1887 Edward married Agnes Sweeney. In 1888 Patrick married Sarah Helferty. Both marriages took place at the church in Lochee. I paid a visit to the church and you can read about that here.
Between 1888 and 1895 Edward and Agnes had 4 children; Bridget, David, Sarah and James. Edward had returned to Newmains with his new bride prior to the birth of Bridget. They settled in to family life but times were hard and on more than one occasion Edward had to turn to the parish for help. The Poorhouse records show a number of applications in Edward’s name.
Patrick Cosgrove also returned to Newmains with his wife. Edward and Patrick it seems were sometimes friends and sometimes enemies. Click this link for an example of a time when they were not best friends. Neither were they strangers to the law. I previously posted about Patrick being involved in a serious assault. You can read about that here. Edward Cooper was a co-accused in the case.
This report from 1896 showed that even the wives had their moments!
In September 1897 when their youngest son, James was just 2 years old Agnes passed away leaving Edward with a very young family to take care of. James died in 1900.
By that time Patrick and Sarah had left Newmains and were living in Glasgow with Sarah’s family where my granny was born in July 1900. In the 1901 census, which was after Patrick’s death, Sarah was living with her sister and family. It could not have been an ideal situation but she still had Patrick’s family in Newmains so it made sense to return. Edward was someone she had known a long time. They were both widowed young and they became a couple. A year after Patrick’s death Sarah and Edward were married. It was very common at that time to have a marriage so soon after the death of a spouse. As a woman alone with a young child Sarah would have struggled and Edward needed help with his children. Of course it is to be hoped that they found love in this second marriage.
My granny was raised by her stepfather along with three step siblings. Edward and Sarah went on to have three children together; Arthur, Mary and Edward. Edward died at just two months old.
With 6 children in the house it would have been a busy place. I don’t know how they all got on as a “blended family”. From what my mother recalls my granny was very fond of Edward. Sarah died in 1921 before my mother was born but she did know Edward who was a regular visitor to their house.
Edward died in 1939. He is buried along with Sarah in Cambusnethan Cemetery. The photo shows the area where the grave is situated but there is no headstone to mark it. It does make me sad to find the graves without a headstone. I discovered that three of his grandchildren who died before him are also buried in this plot adding yet more sadness to what was a tough life.
I’ve come to know quite a lot about my great grandfather Cosgrove and his family but I think it is important to know about the family that my granny was a part of from such a young age. Edward is definitely part of my family tree.
6 thoughts on “My Granny’s Other Dad – Edward Cooper 1862-1939”
A lovely story Paula. Excellent insight to what was a very complicated life in those days.
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Thanks Allan. I think of granny as an only child but she grew up as pet of a bigger family.
never knew of my mothers side my gran died when i was 10 months old in 1950 she was married to a Phillips
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Hi Hugh. Was your granny Bridget Cooper? I do have some info on your family going back on the Cooper side. Edward was my granny’s stepfather so I wanted to know a bit about that side too.
my mum’s name was Bridget her brothers were Edward and David all gone now i think my grans name was Bridget her brother David died late 50s early 60s and all his family have also gone now
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Bridget Phillips was one of 7 children I believe. Her mum Bridget Cooper was one of 4 children Edward Cooper had by his first wife. She had 3 half siblings and my granny was her stepsister. If you let me have your email through the contact page I can send you some more info.