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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS THIRTY SEVEN: Elisha and Tryphena Cooper

Eric Trudgill    -    6 June 2016

Elisha Cooper, born about 1770, married a Tryphena who according to the gypsiologists was a Lovell. They baptised the following children: Elisha junior in Moreton in the Marsh, Glos in 1795, Finetta (usually Trinity) in Littleton, Mdx in 1797, John (the Famous Fighting Jack) in Old Windsor, Berks in 1799, Thomas (another fighter) in Old Windsor in 1801, and Daniel in Walthamstow, Essex in 1809. To these we can add Solomon, aged 25 and born in Old Windsor, when interrogated on a vagrancy charge in 1815 in Boreham, Essex with Trinity aged 16 and Dickie aged 8, all children of Elisha Cooper, a ratcatcher born in Hayes, Kent; with them were Solomonís wife, Kissee White (baptised in Wokingham, Berks in 1785 daughter of Henry and Syberina) and their two children, unnamed but perhaps Duke christened in Harrow, Mdx in 1807 and Forrestina christened in Walthamstow in 1809.

We seem to be missing a child of Elisha and Tryphena born about 1792 between Solomon and Elisha junior, though there may of course have been a mis-carriage. The gypsiologists thought Elisha had a Duke, and this would be logical since Elisha, it transpires, was in 1791 arrested with, and presumably friends with, Joseph Lee son of the famous Duke Lee hanged in 1766. It may be the Dickie Cooper aged 8 in 1815 was a mis-recorded Dukey, though itís just as likely he was mis-recorded as a son of Elisha, since Solomonís Duke would have been eight in 1815 and it would be logical for Elisha about 1792 to name a son Duke to honour his friendís father and more logical for Solomon in 1807 to name a son Duke to honour his immediately younger brother than his fatherís friendís father.

We also seem to be missing a child of Elisha and Tryphena born about 1804 between Thomas and Dickie (assuming the latter was their son). This gap should surely be filled by James Cooper baptised in Bedfont, Mdx in 1804 son of Elisha and Britannia: Bedfont is close to Littleton and Old Windsor, where Elisha christened his three previous children, Trinity, Jack and Thomas; and Britannia may have been Tryphena using an alternate forename, or a priest may have misunderstood what he was being told or, entering the baptism in the register some time later, mis-read a hastily scribbled Trifaina.

Elisha and Tryphenaís grandchildren are also problematic. Solomon and Kissee/Keziah may have stopped procreating very early for some reason, but they may have had more children after 1815: for example, the William Cooper who married Hannah Russell and supplied a spouse, Lavinia, for Solomon son of Solomon and Kisseeís Duke, and a travel companion, Counselletta, for Patience daughter of Solomon and Kisseeís Duke. Elisha junior may by an Ann have had the Caroline Cooper christened in Clapham, Surrey in 1812 (labourer), and the Sidney Cooper, born about 1816 and husband of Lucy Gaskin, who christened a Tryphena (a significant family forename) in 1836 in Stepney St Dunstan, Mdx (a family church).

Finetta/Trinity married John (Gypsy) Stephens in Littleton in 1817, and christened a Thomas, Caroline, Charlotte and Kissee (family names) in family churches in Essex 1819-29, and after a curious gap christened an Ada Tryphena in Stepney St Dunstan in 1840. Fighting Jack married Charlotte Lee, daughter of David and Sophia, in 1815, and christened an Oliver in 1820, but no other child, it seems, before he was transported in 1840. His brother Thomas married Phoebe (Caroline) Smith daughter of Ferdinand, and had a Trenit (Trinity) christened in 1826, a Lydia christened in 1831, and had a John born about 1833 around the time Thomas himself was transported.

James, baptised in 1804, perhaps married an Ann and christened a Susephy in Walthamstow, a family church, in 1831. Itís tempting to see him as the James Cooper who married Harriet Lee, the sister of his sister-in-law Charlotte, but this would make him 14 years younger than his wife and barely sixteen at the baptism of their first known child. And Iíve found no plausible wives or offspring for Elisha and Tryphenaís Dickie/Dukey and Daniel. Thereís a lot of work still to do on this famous Gypsy family.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill