Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

William Francis COOPER (1891–1917)

William Francis Cooper was born in Finstock in 1891, the son of William Cooper (born in Headington Quarry in 1865 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 6 June) and Cecilia Maria Pantin or Paintin (born in Finstock in 1870/1 and baptised at Finstock Church on 5 February 1871).

William's mother Cecilia gave birth to an illegitimate child, Beatrice, when she was only fourteen (a note in the baptismal register reads “Mother not more than 15 years old”):

  • Beatrice Rosetta Paintin (later known as Cooper), born in Finstock in 1885 and baptised there on 25 November 1885).

Cecilia worked as a gloveress, and on at Finstock church on 29 May 1890 she was married to William Cooper senior. Her daughter Beatrice was then four years old, and henceforth bore the surname Cooper. They had the following children:

  • William Francis Cooper junior (born in Finstock on 16 July 1891 and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford on 9 September 1891)
  • Kate Cooper (born in Headington Quarry in 1894)
  • Nellie Margery Cooper (born in Headington Quarry in 1896)
  • Lily Cecilia Cooper (born in Headington Quarry in 1898/9)
  • Gilbert Percival Cooper (born in Headington Quarry on 19 October 1900 and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford on 4 December)
  • Anne Maria Cooper (born in Headington Quarry on 18 December 1903, baptised as an “adult” at the age of 12 at St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington on 23 September 1916).

At the time of the 1891 census William’s father, William Cooper senior (25) was working as a brickmaker and living near the Six Bells Inn at Headington Quarry with his wife Cecilia (20) and her daughter Beatrice (5). Cecilia probably went back to to her family home at Finstock later that year to give birth to William.

In 1901 William (9) was living in Quarry High Street (then known as Main Street) with his father William (35), who was described as a stone sawyer, his mother Cecilia (30), and his younger siblings Kate (6), Nellie (4), Lily (2), and Percival (five months). His sister Beatrice (15) had already left home and was working as a general servant to a family in St Mary’s Road in east Oxford.

Three years after the census, William’s father died at the age of 39, and was buried in Headington Quarry Methodist churchyard on 13 March 1904.

By 1911 William (19) was a compositor on the monotype staff of Oxford University Press and living in Quarry High Street with his mother Cecilia (42) and his sisters Beatrice (25) and Kate (16) , who were all working as laundresses, and his younger siblings Lily (12), Gilbert (10) and Anne (7). William’s grandfather, Eli Paintin (65), was visiting the family: he was a widower, who was still working on a farm.

By 1915 the family had moved to Stile Road, which was also in Headington Quarry parish, and it appears that Eli Paintin moved in permanently with them, because he died there at the age of 69 and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 27 March 1915. Their address was also given as Stile Road on 23 September 1916, when William’s twelve-year-old sister Annie Maria was baptised at St Andrew’s Church.

Poppy In the First World War William Francis Cooper volunteered to enlist on 4 June 1915 and served as a Private the Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 240338). He was in the 4th Reserve Battalion in England until February 1916

Cooper inspecting cars

 

He was then in the 3/4th Reserve Battalion in England, working in the Oxford Motor Transport Volunteer Corps.

 

The photograph on the left shows Cooper at work in St Giles, Oxford in July 1917. The caption reads:

“On Sunday morning a detachment of the Motor Transport Volunteer Corps was inspected in St Giles by Brigadier-General T. Calley. The photograph shows the General, attended by Mr H. S. Critchley, acting C.O., Lieutenant A. D. Godley, and Captain W. F. Cooper, inspecting the cars.”

Cooper was then sent to the Front with the 1/1st Bucks Battalion of the OBLI, and was killed in action in Belgium at the at the age of 26 at the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) on 16 August 1917.

His burial place is unknown, but he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium, on the Oxford University Press war memorial, and on the stone plaque in the porch of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry.

William Cooper on OUP memorial

Cooper’s name on Tyne Cot Memorial

Above: William Cooper's name on the Oxford University
Press war memorial
Right: His name on the Tyne Cot Memorial
(photograph kindly supplied by British War Graves)


Postscript

Quarry memorial

William’s mother
  • Mrs Cecilia Maria Cooper died at 11 Stile Road at the age of 81 and her funeral was at Headington Quarry Methodist Church on 26 November 1952.
William’s siblings
  • Beatrice Rosetta Cooper (born 1885) died at the age of 52 in the fourth quarter of 1938 in the Oxford registration district and was buried in Headington Quarry Methodist churchyard.
  • Kate Cooper (born 1894) married Frank Herbert Iberson, a chemist at 74 High Street, Oxford, at St Andrew’s Church on 5 August 1917. They do not appear to have had any children.
  • Nellie Margery Cooper (born 1896) married Ronald Ninian Walker at St Andrew’s Church on 16 August 1919. He worked as a postman, and they were living at 3 Holyoake Road in 1920. Their son Gordon Macdonald Walker was born on 10 September 1920 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 24 October.
  • Lily Violet Cooper (born 1897) married the labourer Ernest Frank Robbins in the first quarter of 1920 in the Headington registration district. They lived at 4 St Andrew’s Road until about 1926, and then moved into one of the new council houses in Barton Road. They had the following children:
    Leslie Frank Robbins (female) (born on 30 April 1920 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 6 June)
    Francis Henry Robins (born on 14 February 1922 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 26 March)
    Ronald Keith Robbins (born on 13 January 1923 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 5 August)
    Ernest Edward Robbins (born on 1 July 1924 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 7 September)
    Tony Robbins (born on 5 August 1925 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 4 October)
    Marjorie Joyce Robbins (born on 24 March 1927 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 8 June)
    Daphne Viola Robbins (born on 5 January 1929 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on on 5 March).

See also

Back to Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website