Cooper - Skaife


Cooper PAF Tree

Skaife PAF Tree




Between them, Ann Eliza Cooper and her sister Hannah Skaife gave birth to, and raised, 10 boys, the sons of Thomas Hamilton, between 1869 and 1896.

Ann Eliza was born in 1850 and Hannah in 1860 in Cheetham, Manchester, to Thomas Cooper and Ann Tomlinson. They both ended up in Glasgow - Ann Eliza arriving around 1870 and Hannah Skaife in the early 1880s. A third sister, Mary Ellen (known as Polly) married George Taylor in Glasgow in 1886 and lived near her siblings in Shawlands.

Thomas Cooper was only 45 when he died at his place of work, the Union - he was a workhouse overseer - in Ashton under Lyne in 1867. His father Francis, also an overseer, had died 5 years earlier. But when he arrived in Manchester between 1823 and 1825 he was in the food business - on his youngest son’s baptismal record he is described as a bread baker.  He may have broadened this into victualling - from 1851 to 1856 his son Thomas was a grocer & provision dealer with a shop in central Manchester, possibly in Red Bank. 


The Coopers came from a number of villages located on the western rim of the Vale of York. Thomas was born in 1823 in Ripley, an estate village to the north of Harrogate, also the birthplace of his 3 older siblings. There are a number of Cooper records for the Ripley / Hampsthwaite area around the end of the 18th Century but most appear to refer to another family. For example, a Francis Cooper was born in Ripley in 1812 to John Cooper, who was born in 1783 to Francis Cooper and Catherine Swale.


Our Francis Cooper was listed as a farmer in Baines's Directory and Gazetteer of 1822 for Ripley. There is evidence that he lived there: he had given Ripley as his address five years earlier when, on 27 June 1817, he reported that his horse had been stolen from Thorpe Lodge, a house in Littlethorpe, which is a hamlet on the east side of Ripon.
The Lodge may have been rented out while he farmed in Ripley. We know Francis was the owner because in February 1823, he advertised for sale or let a substantial house in Littlethorpe. The family was evidently preparing to pack up and leave for Manchester.


Seven years earlier in 1816, Francis had married Jane Skaife at Ripon Cathedral, giving him a likely birth date in the early 1790s. When he died in Manchester in 1862 his age on burial was 66, suggesting a birth in 1796. In the 1861 census for North Deighton, he was a 65 year-old official in the Poor Law Union, Manchester. His birthplace was given as Winkslow. This is a misprint for Winksley, a village to the west of Ripon - Francis was baptised there on 24 January 1796, the son of a Francis Cooper. Two years earlier, a daughter - Sarah - had been christened to Francis Cooper but in Littlethorpe. The Coopers seem to have spent two or three years in Winksley before returning to Littlethorpe where at least 5 more children were born.


This Francis Cooper, known as junior, was baptised in Littlethorpe in 1772, the firstborn child of Francis Cooper (senior) and Elizabeth Allanson. The Coopers were probably farmers - in 1798 Francis was tenant of an allotment that was owned by a Mrs Allanson; she was probably a member of the Aislabie family of Studley Royal and a local benefactor. Her husband was Charles Allanson, MP for Ripon. A connection between these two and the Elizabeth Allanson who married Francis Cooper would seem possible but is as yet unproven. The Allanson name was evidently well respected by the Coopers - it was used as the middle name of at least 3 of their children and is a useful means of tracking the family.
Francis senior was himself a proprietor of a small plot of land, which in 1798 was occupied by his son, Francis junior. He was registered in Littlethorpe as a voter - meaning he was a freeholder - in 1807.


Francis Cooper senior died in Littlethorpe at the age of 73. This gives a birth date in 1744. Unfortunately, the records for this period in Ripon are extremely sparse. The only known father and son pair of Francis Coopers came from the nearby parish of Little Ouseburn, just 10 miles SE of Littlethorpe. The son was baptised there on 17 December 1744, the father on 3 November 1715. He married Mary Gatenby in Little Ouseburn on 17 December 1740 and his four known children were born there between 1742 and 1749. His burial in Ripon Cathedral was recorded on 24 March 1786 but there is no grave or inscription extant.
How and when the Coopers came to move from Little Ouseburn to Littlethorpe is not known. However, the Gatenby family had interests in property in Littlethorpe, specifically at Chapel Garths, thereby providing a tenuous connection between the two parishes. And there was a possible connection with the parish of Kirby Wiske, near Thirsk - it was where Mary Gatenby came from: the entry in the Kirby Wiske marriage register has her marrying Francis Couper of Letteleston, presumably Little Ouseburn.


Jane Skaife was the daughter of Thomas Skaife of Braisty Woods, near Pateley Bridge. Thomas owned land in Littlethorpe, though it is not known when he took up residence there - the 1798 Land Tax Redemption book shows his son Allason as the occupant. Jane was likely to have been living there when she married Francis Cooper in 1816. Baines's 1823 Trades Directory shows Thomas at Littlethorpe as a Gentleman. He died there in 1836.


According to the Scaife Sentinel website, the Braisty Woods Skaifes could have been descended from Thomas Schayf de Ingerthorpe (six miles from Braisty), who according to a deed made in 1293, gave two pence per year to the porter at the gates of Fountains Abbey for the relief of the poor. In the 15th century, Scaifes at Brimham (just north of Braisty) were described as "Keepers of the Abbot's sheep", so Fountains Abbey was of key significance to the history of the family. At the Dissolution, the Skaifes secured substantial future gains by converting their tenancy at Braisty Woods to freehold. This supported the family (which was headed by a succession of men called Thomas) for the next three hundred years. A branch moved to Manchester in the mid-19th Century and the Braisty property finally passed out of the Scaife family in 1869.