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John (Stumpy) Cooper





John (Stumpy) Cooper

I am still not certain of Stumpys parentage ! Its seems almost without doubt that he descends from the same Line as Matthias Cooper the "Royal Rat Catcher" but with so many sons having sons with names repeated down through the generations it is open to debate, but a few clues make me lean more towards certain siblings, firstly names that were used only by some siblings ,and areas travelled and family connections via marrage etc .


Various records found


Police Gazett 1899 Wareham*

Frank Herford alias John Cooper age about 50 For non payment of fines etc .

*Note* (Gypsy) Lost right hand .



1. Prison Record, Dorchester, Dorset, Prison Register.

"YEAR.  1869(Also had 1873?)WHEN RECEIVED.Oct-19

NAME.Cooper, John

OFFENCE.Lighting a fire near highway/PARISH. Farnham, Surrey

TRADE. Sweep AGE.28


HAIR.dark brown/EYES. very dark hazel/COMPLEXION.Swarthy


MARKS.Slight Cut right corner right eye/   Cut broken joint 1st finger left hand

(lost right hand in 1871 now 1873) (other information difficult to read - see image)

REMARKS. 1 Time."



2. Prison Record, Dorchester, Dorset, Prison Register.

"YEAR. 1873 -WHEN RECEIVED.  Feb/24

NAME.    Cooper, John

OFFENCE. Lighting a fire near highway

PARISH. Farnham, Surrey//TRADE. Gipsey


(19th Oct'r 1869) REMARKS.2nd Time."


Name: John Cooper Age:28

Birth Year: abt 1841

Received Date: 19 Oct 1869

Place of Origin: Farnham, Surrey

Record Type: Description of Prisoners Book

Year Range: 1868-1872 Reference Number:NG PR1 D3 3


Name: John Cooper

Age: 35

Birth Year: abt 1842

Received Date: 28 Feb 1877

Place of Origin: Farnham, Surrey

Record Type: Description of Prisoners Book

Year Range: 1872-1879

Reference Number: NG PR1 D3 4



3. Newspaper Report.

"The Western Gazette. Friday, 28th February 1873. DORSETSHIRE.

COMMITTED TO THE COUNTY PRISON. - Charles and William Alner, stealing harness, &c., at Dawlish - assizes. George Batten, stealing a saw at Sherbourne - six weeks’ hard labour. John Cooper and Henry Stanley, lighting a fire near the highway at Radipole - 21 days’ hard labour."



4. Prison Record, Dorchester, Dorset, Prison Register.


NAME. Cooper, John


PARISH.Farnham, Surrey


(24 Feb, 1873)REMARKS.3rd Time."


Name: John Cooper Age:31/Birth Year:/abt 1842/Received Date:24 Feb 1873

Record Type: Prisoner Register

Year Range: 1872-1879 Reference Number:NG PR1 D2 10


Police Gazett 1899 Wareham*

Frank Herford alias John Cooper age about 50 For non payment of fines etc .

Said Gypsy lost right hand  ( I think this is misheard and could be Harfield as  married into the Cooper family)


Apart from Stumpys partner Matilda being found in Census with her children from a previous union (Blundy) and thanks to info from John Russell we believe her parents to be Thomas White & Louisa Hughes again this is assumption on our part) Stumpy has remained elusive however Mark HUghes has found this census entry ( again this is just speculative)

Mark thinks this is Stumpy in 1891* Perranzabuloe, Cornwall  (*And he says ignore birth places for now?) Said Gipsies

John Kirper widow/abt 1843 Somerset Head

John Kirper abt 1868 St Just, Cornwall, Son

Leynard Kirper abt 1875 St Verrver, Cornwall Son

Matthew Kirper abt 1879 St Verrver, Cornwall, Son

Harriett Kirper abt 1871 St Verrver, Cornwall, Daughter


On page before also Gipsies Job Orchard 62 widow and kids Job/Annie and Sophia


Mark Hughes has a possible alternative birth for him :-

Wilts PRs  John Cooper Nov 18th 1846 to Jesse and Levanthian .travellers .

 (I myself do not think Stumpy is a son of Oliver and Genty but have no doubt he is indeed fom same Cooper line and at this moment would agree with Mark that the above baptism is a possibility)


From the Late T.Lee  :-1-2-2010.Email (Despite having this info since 2010 I did not use as speculative but thought can be now used for more insight)

COOPER, 'Stumpy' Jack


The folklore tells of his parents splitting up and of Stumpy being placed in the Gypsy Asylum and Industrial School [JGLS(3)4:117] where he probably learned about reading and writing. His parents, Oliver and Genty, did indeed split up each marrying somebody else. Stumpy spent most of his life in Wiltshire and Hampshire. He repeatedly visited Holybourne where, in 1915, three of his removed cousins, all descendants of Jesse COOPER snr, were married on the same day. Their descent is largely recorded in 1871WIL-1941/61/28, 1881WIL-1201/97/24 and 1881WIL-2064/80/7.


Jesse was the son of James COOPER and his wife Harriet LEE while Harriet’s sister, Charlotte LEE, married James’s brother, John COOPER known as ‘fighting’ Jack and soStumpy’s grandfather was the noted pugilist who also appears to have been literate. (At the very least fighting Jack COOPER dictated some highly literate letters.)


Harriet LEE was baptised 1790; Charlotte Lee was baptised 1796; John COOPER snr was baptised in 1799. Here are the relevant details for Stumpy and Jesse snr. Even if you are reluctant to accept the first one, below, there is plenty of folklore evidence to establish that Jack senior named his son after Tom OLIVER.


SRY Egham bp6/2/1820 Oliver s/o John/Charlotte COOPER, labourer.

MDX Acton St Mary bp27/4/1823 (b23/4/1823) Jesse s/o James/Harriet COOPER, gipsy.

EX Buckhurst Hill St John bp26/7/1840 (3 weeks) John s/o Oliver/Gentila COOPER, gipsy wanderer, the child born in the forest.

MDX Stepney St Dunstan bp20/2/1842 John s/o Oliver/Genty COOPER, dealer of Stepney.

MDX Stepney St Dunstan bp20/2/1842 John s/o Duke/Eliza COOPER, lamp lighter of Stepney.


The last two above baptisms throw a spanner in the works. Evidently Oliver is visiting his uncle Duke and both have a son called ‘John’. For Oliver this could be the same child (who became Stumpy) being baptised a second time. Duke’s occupation, ‘lamp-lighter’, indicates that he was settled down and his son, John, is shown living with him at Bethnal Green Middlesex in 1851 in what appears to be a settled marriage. Duke died 13 January 1874 at London Hospital while his son, Solomon, lived most of his life in Essex. The gist of this is that John, son of Duke, does not fit in with the folklore that is attributed to Stumpy so he could not be the same person.END OF EMAIL*





24 feb 1899 stumpy John C

This is a follow up article to add further info gleaned from various sources some consists of newly found records.

Fellow researcher Mark Hughes has found what he thinks may be the baptism for John Cooper known as "Stumpy Jack"  due to a accident in early life that caused him to lose his right hand, as always when not 100% it is left open  for correction and amendment.Thanks to a friend I have I believe at last a photo of "Stumpy" I have shown it to his great grandaughter Kim Hughes  who has said its the image of her g/dad ! so that backs up my thoughts as in the picture is clearly a stump for  his right hand and also a pet Raven sat on the tilt cart which was mentioned in a JGLS Article and from family lore.