Author: Sandra Copas
Date published: 04/05/2012
© Sandra Copas

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©Sandra Copas

Albert, born May 31st 1854, was the youngest of 12 children born to James Copas (1811 – 1887) and Mary, nee Witts (1810 – 1881). James was a haulier and coal merchant and Albert became a carman and carried on the coal business[1].


Albert married Caroline Hibbert in 1878. Her family came from Chieveley and lived near Snelsmore Common. Between1881 – 1901, the census shows them living in Wharf Road Newbury. They had nine children and suffered the loss of three of them under the age of 3, and later their daughter Amelia Kate died just a day after her father in 1922, Caroline died a year later. Their second daughter, Alberta May (1883 – 1946) went into service and in 1911 was with the Hobson family in Melton Mowbray.


Their second son Francis Victor “Frank” (1887 – 1951) became a butcher working for Liddiards and later for the Cuffs in Inches Yard, Newbury. Frank was a driver in the RASC during the First World War. He married Daisy Annie Hartridge (1887 – 1955), who was born in Bromley, Kent. Her father Raymond was a Master Butcher with his own shop in Palace Road Her mother Eliza nee Fairman, came from Barming in Kent. Sadly shed died when Daisy was only 21/2 years old. Daisy was a ladies maid, caring for her mistress’s clothes and travelling with the family to London for the season. (It’s said that she and Frank met when he was delivering meat to the household). They were married at Aston Tirrold in the church next to the Manor house where she was employed. Lady Eleanor Cross was one of the witnesses to their marriage.


Frank and Daisy made their home at 78 Gloucester Road Newbury, and their three children were born there. Robert James “Bob” (1918 – 1984), Cynthia Mary (1921 – 2010) and Katherine May (1923 - ). Later they moved to 21 Rectory Close.


Bob went to the council primary school and St Bartholomew’s Grammar School as it then was. In 1935 he was apprenticed to learn the trade of gas fitter. He left the Corporation of Newbury Gas Department in 1939 to join the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm as an Aircraft Mechanic. He had some great memories of times abroad in Ceylon, Malta and the West Indies. On home leave he met his future wife, Kathleen Blake, daughter of Steven Blake and Gertrude Pretoria May, nee Brace. Her family lived in Holborn London, but her class had been evacuated to Newbury and she was placed with a couple in Salcombe Road. She went to school in the Temperance Hall in Northcroft Lane and later worked in the “Empire” and “Tudor” Cafes. They began married life in a caravan on a farm near Haverford West.


Bob was released from Naval Service in April 1953, and they moved back to Rectory Close, where their two children were born in 1953 and 1957. Bob worked at Opperman Gears and then took on running a newsagent in Morden Surrey during the early 1960s. They returned to live in East Ilsley and Kingsclere with Bob travelling to work as an electrical contractor.


He had a passion for cars, probably fired by his uncle and cousins, Fred Bert, and Geoff Morris, who were in the motor trade, with Bert being a motor mechanic for the racing driver Raymond Mays. At one time he restored a rare Autovia, which had the numberplate ASA 1. He died at home suffering from lung cancer.


Kath was a wonderful mother and excellent cook. She enjoyed many years with her friends on the kitchen staff at Cheam School, Headley. She died from a heart attack in 2003.


Cynthia went to Newbury Girls High School, and, after leaving school, she worked as a librarian at Boots the Chemists in Newbury. She always had a great love of books and poetry. She was called up in 1941, joining the RAF and spent time in Ireland, Italy and Egypt. She met her husband Oscar “Brum” Thurling in the Sergeants Mess 51 MT Company. Brum was a rear gunner on Lancasters, 218 squadron, but stayed on in the Middle East helping to get people and equipment home after the war ended. They were married at St Nicolas Church Newbury in 1949.


They lived in Rugby where Brum served as a policeman and planned to sail to Australia, instead they bought a huge old house in Swan Street Kingsclere which they restored. Brum worked as an electrician but also had a marvellous talent for carpentry and woodwork. Cynthia worked for “Mr Harry” in the accounts department of Dolton’s corn merchants in Newbury, and later as planning clerk and registrar of births deaths and marriages for Kingsclere and Whitchurch Rural District Council.


They moved down to Cornwall in the early 1970s, fulfilling a dream of living by the sea running a B & B, the Post Office stores and working at Bedruthan Steps Hotel. Brum died from cancer in 1996.


Katherine won a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital Hertford under the “West’s Gift”. This took her away from her family during 1933 – 1939 but she has an enduring appreciation of all that school gave her not least developing her musical talents and she was head music girl. She has enjoyed being a choir member and church organist throughout her life. Her first job was as a clerk for the Prudential Insurance Company at their offices in Cheap Street Newbury.


Katherine was called up in 1943 and trained as a wireless mechanic. She was posted to RAF Benson in 1944, and having volunteered to serve overseas, she went on the last convoy to Egypt, working on aircraft there which were sold to the French Air Force.


She met her husband, Norman Stanley Colhoun, working in the same unit and they married in Heliopolis in 1946. After the war, they spent some time with Stanley’s family in Ireland, and then returned to England. Stanley went to Norfolk to train as a teacher, for which he gained an excellent reputation over the years. Katherine worked in local government, taking up posts of committee clerk at Kingsclere and Whitchurch RDC and registrar of births deaths and marriages for Newbury. They retired to Cornwall in the late 1970s, enjoying walking their dogs, golf and being involved with their church at St Mawgan. Stanley died of a heart attack in 1987.



Albert and Caroline’s daughter Caroline Maud (1889 – 1950) married Rupert Eustace Scott in 1912. Rupert was then “in insurance”. His father Walter was at that time agrocer but in 1891 his occupation was noted as brewer’s shoveller. The Scott family were living in Gordon Villas, Greenham, then just a few doors away from Albert’s brother, Henry Copas, a chairmaker. In 1901Rupert’s family were living in Jubilee Road. Walter was at 8 Green Lane Newbury, when he died in 1923.His Widow Ellen Mary was at 51 St Georges Avenue Newbury on her death in 1932.


Caroline  and Rupert had 5 children, Raymond (1915 – 2002), Phyllis (1918 – 1979), Eileen Mary (1920 – 1922), Derek (1922 – 2001), and Beryl (1924 – 1978). Rupert became shop manager and buyer at the ironmongers Edwards and Godding in Newbury. They moved to Horsham, Sussex, continuing his interests in that line of business. Caroline was killed in a car accident near Winchester (reported in the “Newbury Weekly News”) and was buried alongside their infant daughter in the family grave at Newtown Road Cemetery.


Albert’s sister Elizabeth (1851 – 1900) married Henry James Alma Dolton (1854 -1904) in 1880.Henry came from Portsea Island and was a musician and in the Rifle Brigade. Their twin daughters died within hours of birth in 1887, and they had a son, Henry James, who was born at home in Corn Exchange Yard, Newbury in 1889. They were living near her parents at 2 Exchange Buildings in 1891 where Elizabeth’s occupation is given as dressmaker. Some tragedy, possibly a railway accident, left Henry disabled. He is given as “former Railway Guard”, on their daughter’s birth certificate, but in 1901 he was a street musician, and died at the Union Workhouse, Newbury. They were both buried in Newtown Road Cemetery.


Albert’s brother Henry (1844 – 1923) married Eleanor Payne (1847 – 1900) in 1870. Henry was in the chairmaking business, and some of their produce was sent up to London by barge each week.  (It is said that some of the rush seated chairs went to Westminster Abbey). Eleanor’s father was also a chairmaker, and they carried on their trade at Greenham Wharf and West Mills Newbury. They had four children; Kate (b 1871), Henry “Harry” Willie (b 1873), Rose (b 1875), and Lilian “Lily” (b 1880).

Kate married Arthur Hall of York Road in 1904, and Lily married Reginald Legg of London in 1905.

In 1901 the family was living at Harris Cottages near the “Red House” pub, Bone Lane. Henry was still working as a carpenter, his son Harry was a cabinet turner, and Rose a dressmaker.

(It is said that Harry emigrated to Canada, but returned to live at Paradise Lane Bucklebury, marrying Bessie and having 5 children)

[1] Kelly’s Directory 1891 lists              Copas Albert, Coal Merchant, Railway Station and Wharf Road

                                                                Copas Henry, Chairmaker  Greenham Mills Lane

                                                                Copas William, beer retailer, London Road Speenhamland


Albert Copas                                                                                                  (grave: W24)


Albert was born on 31st. May, 1854 to James and Mary nee Witts. His family came from Cookham and Thatcham, Berkshire and Mary’s family came from Manton, Wiltshire. James was a haulier and coal merchant and Albert became a carman and carried on the coal business.


Albert married Caroline Hibbert on 22nd. April, 1878. Between 1881-1901 the census shows them living in Wharf Road, Newbury. Later, they were at 18 Berkeley Road, Newbury, with their coal yard across the road where Garland Court now stands.


They had nine children and suffered the loss of three of them under the age of 3.


Their children:


Albert Edward Copas 1879-1882.


Mary Elizabeth 1881-1969, married Frederick James Morris. They had three children – Albert James “Bert” 1909-1963; Marjorie Joan 1912-2008 ? ; Geoffrey George 1916-1996.


Alberta May 1883-1946.


Florence Gertrude 1885-1885 (died aged 6 weeks)


Francis Victor “Frank” 1887-1951, married Daisy Annie Hartridge. They had three children – Robert James 1918-1984; Cynthia Mary 1921-2010; Katherine May 1923-2015.


Caroline Maud 1889-1950, married Rupert Eustace Scott. They had four children – Raymond 1915-2002; Phyllis Copas 1918-1979; Derek 1922- 2001; Beryl 1924 - 1978.


Beatrice Alice 1891-1893.


Amelia Kate 1894-1922.


Margaret Anne 1896-1984, married Thomas Brown. They had four children – Avis Margaret 1922 - ?; Edward (?); Marion (?); Erica (?).


(These people are buried in Newtown Road Cemetery.)

Photo: Albert and Caroline Copas


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