Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lady Catherine Booth Wharton

I showed you one of my more handsome forefathers a few blogs back.  It's always good to give a balance in life.  Here is a photo of my great great grandmother, Lady Catherine Booth Wharton.

There is not a lot of information that has come to light, but it is known that when she married my great great grandfather Cooper, it was with considerable reservation she left England to come to the wilds of North America.  Apparently she did come to Parry Sound eventually, but then refused to move further north along the Great North Road, a colonization road out into the wilderness of McKellar.

 This may possibly be her wedding day, on June 30th, 1852, judging by the clothing ensemble.  

Unfortunately a picture has never surfaced of her husband. 

What follows now are some of the notes I have on Lady Catherine and her husband Richard Cooper from various researchers and other sources:


Catherine was always referred to as 'Lady'  Catherine Booth Wharton by Lillian Bell, nee Cooper
from Along Memory Lane with the Hagerman People Volume I


From the Parry Sound North Star, Wednesday, July 13, 1994, by John Macfie

English immigrant Richard Cooper and his son Thomas Richard landed in Parry Sound when the town was in its infancy.  A tinsmith by trade, Richard found employment for a while with "Governor" William Beatty, sawmill owner, general merchant and town father.  About 1870 he joined the land rush up the newly surveyed Great North Colonization Road and where the ox trail crossed a cool creek a mile or so south of Dunchurch, he claimed his homestead.  That stream which bisected his 120 acre lot as it wound its way to Whitestone Lake, has been known since settlement days as The Jordan.  Whether it was Cooper or some thirsty wayfarer who blessed the stream with its Biblical name is now forgotten, but Cooper's Hill where southbound travelers leaving its valley often had to rest their horses, certainly does commemorate Richard Cooper - even though improvements to Highway 124 have now all but leveled it, and only the oldest citizens still refer to its former location as Cooper's Hill.

LCBW and daughter

Once settled, Cooper sent for his wife Catherine and their daughter, who had remained behind in England.  Family lore has it that Catherine was so appalled by conditions here that she quickly returned to England, but in the end came back to stay - perhaps after her husband promised to give up trying to make a farm out of his rough and rocky location, and return to making a living as a craftsman.
The school's initial intake of pupils, including Arthur Millin's daughter Mary, and to continue the story I quote from a memoir she wrote nearly 50 years later.

" All they needed now was a teacher.  So they thought Mr Cooper (an old English gentleman) would just suit for the job, so they engaged him to take charge of the school.  And the school was opened in the fall of 1875 if I remember right.  With a row of girls and boys sitting close together holding books and slates in their hands.  And Mr Cooper undertook to make seats and desks while he taught us, brought his tools and glue to put up a work bench to the side of the school.  So he would give us a lesson and his glue pot on the stove  and go to his carpentering.  Thus we learned our lessons ... as a general thing he was quiet and patient with us but 'woe be unto' the one who dared to try his patience too much for he always kept a birch limb by him."

(see perhaps my urge to beat insolent school children is genetic)


from Kirk Quinn - cousin and Cooper researcher:

To the best of my knowledge, few if any of the descendants of Richard Cooper (born in 1818) have a great amount of information concerning the Coopers in England. Many may know that both Richard and his wife Catherine were from Cloughton, Yorkshire and their children were born in Hunmanby, Yorkshire; that Richard was a tinsmith before he was a school teacher in Dunchurch, Ontario; and that ‘Lady’ Catherine Booth Wharton came from a family with marine interests.

Census records list Thomas’ son, Richard Cooper, as a blacksmith, tinsmith, and ironmonger - all attributing to his metal working skills. Richard is noted in Hunmanby history as instrumental in bringing gas lighting to the town. In 1852 he married Catherine Wharton in their home town of Cloughton, Yorkshire. Catherine Booth Wharton had been born in 1817 to a Yorkshire shipbuilder named William Wharton and his wife Catherine Hill. Richard and Catherine were married in the Cloughton Chapel on June 30, 1852. (A copy of the Marriage Registration Record exists).

In 1855 their first son was born in Hunmanby. Thomas William Cooper was named after both of his grandfathers.


from the Ottawa Mormon Family Historical Research Centre

Catherine's death certificate is on file # 011718 on microfilm.

following facts:

-died Sept 03, 1888
-73 years old
-born in Cloughton, England
-died of old age diarrhea for 10 days
-Church of England 


That doesn't seem a very dignified epitaph for the matriarch of the Cooper clan, but it is about all the information that has presented itself. 

As mentioned Lady Catherine died on September 3, 1888, and is buried in Parry Sound, Ontario, in the Upper Hillcrest Cemetery beside her late husband Richard Cooper.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

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