It was my parents who first started doing genealogy. I was interested in it myself, but they were the ones who started doing the research. And this was done back before the internet. When you had to write away by snail mail every time you wanted a certificate for a particular relative – if they even were your relative – in some cases you wouldn’t know until you got the certificate, as is the case still today. I only started about 2009, and things had become fantastically different by then. The internet has evolved so that we have a whole world of research at our fingertips.
Dad is a proud Northerner. He was born in Burnley, Lancashire, and immigrated to New Zealand in the 1950’s. He had lost touch with his family once he did so. It’s a sad story of a broken home and a split family. But he still has his Burnley roots, and that’s where his family has always been. Or so he thought. It was not long after he started researching things that he found a very different story.
My Grandfather – Dads father, Charles Wallace Cooper was born in Burnley in 1894. When Dad went back one more generation, he discovered his Grandfather who he never met, William John Cooper, was born in Montreal, Canada. The son of a British soldier by the name of William James Cooper. Further research revealed that while William James was born in the UK, he was not born up north at all. He was born in Clerkenwell, Greater London, in 1861. With his mothers family also being Burnley ‘immigrants’, originally coming from Devon, the north / south thing was blown wide open. William James’ father, also William Cooper, was a Goldsmith / Gold Chain Maker in Clerkenwell, London. Here Dad hits a brick wall that he was not able to get past. I did get past it eventually, but it took a long, long time & a lot of research, a little speculation and even a DNA test to confirm some facts.
So, that’s where my journey began. At a brick wall in ‘Victorian’ Clerkenwell, London (Southern) England. With a paid up membership on the Ancestry website, I was on my way.