Lady Cooper’s Letter

Sir Edward Ernest COOPER, Baronet, left all his estate (apart from some modest personal bequests) to his wife, Charlotte Leonora. They didn’t have children, so the baronetcy became extinct, but that didn’t preclude Charlotte from living out her days as a Lady. A very rich one.

In April 1925, three years after her husband’s death, Lady Cooper made a gift of £500 to her nephew, Oswald Cooper, the Walking Parson’s second son. The money was to help him to pay the expenses of an illness. You may remember he had been seriously wounded while serving in the Dardanelles during the Great War. This illness may have been a long-term consequence of that trauma. Oswald phoned to thank her and she said that he should let her know if he needed any more money.

The following August Mr. Cooper wrote that he would be grateful if she would let him have £500, as his expenses had been very heavy. Lady Cooper replied on the following day: “Your letter saying that you are restored to health is indeed good news. I can let you have the £500 with pleasure, but suppose you repay this sum after my death to my niece, Betty Crampton. The former £500, of course, look upon as a gift. Just give me your word, and this is enough.

Mr Cooper replied, thanking her for the money…and adding, “Of course I will repay it to Betty Crampton.”

Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer, 20 October 1932

It seems that Oswald was in no hurry to keep his word and about six months after Lady Cooper’s death her executor and residuary legatee, Oliver Walter WRIGHT, attempted to reclaim the £500 through the courts. His action failed.

Mr Justice Swift said that as the action was not begun within six years of the loan being made, the claim was statute-barred, and there would be judgment for the defendant, with costs.

Leeds Mercury 20 October 1932

I wonder if Betty received the £500 eventually. (Think £33,000 in today’s money.)

The Reverend Canon Arthur Nevile Cooper died in 1943 and left £31,118 duty paid (over £1.4 million at today’s value). His wife Maude was the sole beneficiary. I guess the children had to wait. That Oswald ended up in the rather spacious Willersley House suggests he didn’t do too badly in his declining years.

I went looking for Betty, without success. I found two possible candidates but neither rang truly enough to offer here. Charlotte Leonora had eleven siblings. Her parents were accomplished. At the 1861 census, her father Thomas James Crampton described himself as a Schoolmaster, Professor of Music and Writer in General Literature. His second wife, Sarah Elizabeth née PIGGOTT, was listed as Principal of a Ladies School and Organist. For all that, I had to create IDs for most of the families.  (Charlotte had three half-siblings.) Find them on the Shared Tree.

I haven’t been able to discover a photograph of Lady Cooper but there are two pictures of her home, Berrydown Court, here. You will find several more of the Lutyens designed house if you search!

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