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Mr. and Mrs. Cope

(Fred Flint, tailor)

Mrs. Cope, who with her husband lived in the cottage opposite the first water works reservoir, worked for Sudbury’s, and it was a regular thing to see her coming down the Twitchell bringing her work to Mrs. Fish. Her pussy-cat accompanied her mistress, and it was a fine sight to see tall Mrs. Cope walking stately along in her pattens, and pussy walking behind her. When they reached the cottage in Queen Street, pussy would vault over the wall into Green’s garden (now Walker’s), and wait there until Mrs. Cope came out of the cottage, when pussy would reappear and fall into line behind her mistress.

Mrs. Cope was an old Ilkestonian, and very often had some quaint sayings. I remember one day, mother and I having been for a walk, returned past the Cope’s door. Mrs. Cope, seeing us, came out, and began to chat. Presently she turned to mother and said, ‘Isn’t mother on’t dot yit?’.

Seeing that we could not understand her, she said ‘I mane is’t mother livin’ yit?’

Mrs Cope was an old Ilkestonian by residence rather than birth, having been born Ann Parrot in Basford about 1791, daughter of Edward and Mary (nee Godber). There she married framework knitter John Bostock in 1814 and the couple moved to Ilkeston a few years after the marriage. There were at least eight children of this marriage.

John Bostock died in December 1832, aged 41 – he broke his neck when he fell down the stairs at the White Swan Inn at Belper.

Just over three years later Ann married ‘corporal’ Samuel Cope.

Mr. Cope was a quiet old man, and both he and his wife were regular attendants at the South Street Chapel. ‘Daddy’ Cope, as we called him, sat upstairs in a pew against a south window. Mrs. Cope sat downstairs on a form.

One Sunday morning the sun was shining rather strongly on Daddy’s bald head, so he got up to draw down the blind, but unfortunately it came off the rack and fell into Daddy’s arms. Poor fellow, there he stood with the blind in his arms, not knowing what to do with it. At last a kind friend went and relieved him of his burden.

A labourer by trade, Samuel Cope had attested for the Fourth Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Artillery at Derby in May 1811 when he gave his age as 18.
He then served as a gunner for over 14 years and as a bombardier for over ten years, until his discharge in October 1835. During that time he served two years in the Iberian Peninsula – and was in action at the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814, the final action of the Peninsula War, — three years in Gibraltar, six years in Canada, and in Halifax four years and three months, the remainder at home, giving him a reckonable service of nearly 25 years.
On his discharge, worn out and permanently unfit for service, he was suffering – and had suffered for several years — from chronic rheumatism, ‘not attributable to neglect, design, vice, or intemperance’. He had weakness in his loins, occasioned chiefly by over-exertion, first in Spain and then in Nova Scotia, while lifting heavy ordnance.
He left with his name recorded in the Good Conduct Book but never in the Defaulter’s Book, and with a very good character, serving as the captain of his detachment.
At the time of his discharge, Samuel was 44 years old, 5 feet 8½ inches tall, with grey hair, hazel eyes and a fair complexion.

He had a daughter by a previous marriage — Ann, born in St Johns, New Brunswick, in 1833.

In 1841 the Cope family was living in Pimlico together with Sarah Bostock, Ann’s daughter by her first marriage, and they were there ten years later.

Sarah married Joseph Richardson in February 1853.

‘Daddy’ Samuel Cope was also a teacher at the Wesleyan school — along with Joseph Carrier, Richard Daykin, John Childs, James Butt, Wheatley Straw and Isaac Gregory. His life in the army may have contributed to him being a strict disciplinarian not reluctant to use the cane, and consequently not much favoured by the children.

John Cartwright had a painful reason to remember Samuel.
‘During service one Sunday morning, I well recollect a smart piece of work being done by the ex-soldier, who, standing behind me, cane in hand, observed some lad misbehaving himself, and in striking at the offender, he smote me accidentally across the cheek!’
But John acknowledged him as sincere in his efforts and worthy of respect.
Old Samuel ‘always gave out one hymn, and always sung the same tune. I believe the hymn he used to be so fond of was……..

Up unto Thee, our living Head, Let us in all things grow;
‘Till Thou hast made me free indeed, And spotless here below.’ … as An Old Scholar recalled.

One Saturday night in August 1860 a valuable pear tree standing in Samuel’s Pimlico garden was stripped of almost all its fruit…about two pecks disappeared, just over nine litres. Such scrumping appeared common at the time and this theft was even more impudent as Samuel’s house stood in the garden, overlooking the said tree.

Samuel and Ann continued to live in the Pimlico/Lawn area until their deaths there in September 1877 and October 1878 respectively.