Early Days

As mentioned in Foster Budworth's story, Thomas Todd Cooley's parents were John Cooley or Cowley and Sarah Morris.

Research of this generation has now taken us back to the period covering the late 1700's through to the mid 1800's. This was the time of the Industrial Revolution, the reign of "Mad" King George III, and the Battle of Waterloo.

John & Sarah Cooley (nee Morris)

The "Thomas Todd Cooley story" continues:
Thomas Cooley's parents were probably John (Cowley in the I.G.I.) and Sarah nee Morris. As Thomas's first child was named Sarah Morris Cooley this seems a reasonable assumption. John and Sarah were married at St. Mary's Church, Marylebone on 28 May 1799. A daughter, Martha Morris, mother Elizabeth Sarah, was baptised there on 1 April 1803 while Thomas was born on 6 August 1805, presumably at Little Gaddesden if his Convict Record is correct, though there is no trace of his baptism there in the Parish Records.

If John and Sarah were living in London at the time of Thomas's birth (married in Marylebone in 1799 and living in East Street in 1823) it is possible that Sarah was either visiting her parents in Little Gaddesden when he was born or that she went there specifically to have the baby. Alternatively, though if John found a wife in London they may not have moved there permanently until after 1805.

Two baptisms of a Sarah Morris are recorded in the I.G.I. One was on 8 October 1775, parents Thomas and Mary and the other on 9 February 1777, parents William and Elizabeth. Both occurred in Marylebone. She could have been either of these.

Other than Martha Morris no brothers or sisters of Thomas Cooley have been traced with the possible exception of Anstis Caroline Jane. Anstis was a family name, her parents were a John and Sarah and she was baptised in St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch, the parish church for Finsbury Market. The date of her baptism, however, was 29 April 1830 when John and Sarah would have been in their mid-50s but it could have been an adult baptism.

The death of a John Cooley aged 70 was registered in the Berkhamstead District (in which Little Gaddesden is located) in June 1845. (Formal registration started in July 1837.) It seems likely that he was Thomas's father who would by then have been retired and may have been a widower. John Cowley's parents were probably Nehemiah Cooley and Anstiss nee Todd, the source of Thomas Todd Cooley's middle name in later life. They were married in Little Gaddesden on 15 December 1774. He was a blacksmith and his name appears in the Militia Lists of 1778 - 82 as an able-bodied man available for military service. From the date of his burial at Little Gaddesden on 19 December 1830 aged 80 he must have been born in 1750. Strangely he was not baptised until 6 November 1830, only a few weeks before his death. There are no memorial stones to any Cooleys in Little Gaddesden churchyard.

From the date of Anstiss' burial at Little Gaddesden on 21 January 1841 aged 87 she must have been born in 1753. Her name appears as the occupant of one of 3 cottages in Little Gaddesden in the mid-18th Century. These cottages still stand being now converted into one house. At the time of her death she was said to be a resident of Frithsden.

Records of known children of Nehemiah and Anstiss list James, William, Charles Easter and Sarah. They were baptised in 1787, 1790, 1792 and 1795 respectively, Charles at Easter-time. This leaves a large gap of 13 years between the marriage in 1774 and the first known child James in 1787. It seems logical that John Cowley, baptised in 1775 and Sarah Cowley, baptised in 1778, both at Little Gaddesden, should fill part of this gap. Though the Parish Records do not show the names of their parents Little Gaddesden was and still is a small village and the coincidence of the name Todd points to this as a reasonable deduction.

18th Century Cooleys

Pre-dating Nehemiah and Anstiss were two more Nehemiahs who it seems likely, because of the name, were his father and grandfather. The father, if he was such, was born around 1715, being buried aged about 65 on 13 August 1780 when he was recorded as "a pauper of Ivinghoe". He was probably married in the 1740s, certainly to a lady named Sarah, maiden name unknown, who was buried in 1776. This Nehemiah also was baptised only a month before his burial, on 16 July 1780. Grandfather Nehemiah married Sara Rolfe on 31 May 1711. He was described as "of Tring" when he was buried at Aston Ivinghoe on 22 February 1759 in his 70s. He was thus born around 1685. Sara was buried on 17 October 1748.

If all of these suppositions about the 3 Nehemiahs and John Cowley are correct the Cooley line has now been traced back to the days of the Stuarts, of the Catholic King James 11 (1685), William (of Orange) and Mary (1689) and the rebuilding of London by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of September 1666.

Of the supposed brothers and sisters of John Cowley, James married Margaret Clifton on 11 July 1806 at Little Gaddesden. They had 6 children baptised between 1808 and 1825, Thomas, Martha, Hannah, William, Sarah and George. Thomas died aged 1. Charles Easter married Ann Tomlin on 30 November 1825 and they had a daughter Eliza Ann baptised at Little Gaddesden 12 November 1826. Charles was a clerk at Frithsden, part of the Ashridge Estate, so clearly was an educated man. Sarah was buried at Little Gaddesden on 15 January 1796 a year to the day after her baptism.

The 1841 Census of Frithsden, which is only a few miles from Little Gaddesden, shows James, a Labourer, aged 50. In this, the first census, ages were rounded up or down to the nearest 5 so this was probably the son of Nehemiah, Thomas's brother, now a widower and actually aged 53. Living with him were a Sarah aged 20 and a George aged 15, probably his own two youngest children actually aged 24 and 16 respectively. There was also an Emma, aged 10, who was possibly his grand-daughter actually aged 7, baptised at Bushey on 16 March 1834 with parents William and Elizabeth. A fourth child, Daniel aged 15, cannot be traced. As Anstis was shown to be a resident of Frithsden when she died in 1841 (but before the census) perhaps she, a widow of some 10 years, was living with her son James at the time.

c2008 Kerrie Blyth | megroloz.com | privacy

[XHTML 1.0] [CSS]