Saturday, 1 November 2003

Samuel Joshua Cooper: Benefactor of St Thomas Church

In the second half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century Mr Samuel Joshua Cooper was a local business man and a great benefactor to the Barnsley area, in particular to St Thomas’, the church he attended and his period of office as churchwarden (21 years) is still the longest.
Whilst in Barnsley Library Archives I found this obituary to him in the Barnsley Chronicle dated 19th July 1913.
Samuel Joshua Cooper (known as Mr S J Cooper) died at his residence at Mount Vernon on Friday at 12.30 a.m. on July 11th 1913 aged 82, (his wife having died 2 years previously).
Samuel Joshua Cooper was the son of Samuel Cooper of Park House, Barnsley who was in his day a colliery proprietor and a linen manufacturer and who died in 1849.
On the death of his father Mr Samuel Joshua Cooper inherited a considerable fortune and for some time continued to carry on a colliery at Worsborough but subsequently closed it.
He didn’t take an active part in municipal or other public affairs but was none the less interested. He tried to avoid publicity and no one knows the full extent of his generosity.
He helped the poor of Barnsley, Worsborough and Districts, giving liberally through local clergy, often remaining anonymous.
A devout churchman, those connected with the work of the church in the York and Wakefield Dioceses were familiar with him.
He lived at Mount Vernon and had estates at Snaith in the Diocese of York, often helping with central funds as well as individual parishes. Also Wakefield Diocese benefited from his generosity.
He gave endowments of £100 each to St Johns’ and St Georges’, Barnsley for Augmentations of the Living. He also helped Denby Dale.
It was mostly through his financial assistance that the new mission church of St Lukes’ Worsborough Common in the parish of St Thomas’ Worsbrough Dale, (the church Mr Cooper attended) was built.
He made a gift of £500 towards St Marys’ Church’ New Boys School in Barnsley, completed last year (1912).
He took a deep interest in education affairs and was formerly a governor of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School to which he gave £1500 for the foundation of a ‘Cooper’ Scholarship in 1893.
The most striking public gift to Barnsley and one which will stand as a lasting memory to him as a benefactor was the Nurses’ Home adjoining Beckett Hospital. This was completed and opened in 1902 at a cost of £5000.
Several months ago (1912-1913) when Barnsley Grammar School was removed from its historic premises in Church Street to new buildings in Shaw Lane Mr Cooper purchased the old school house and placed it at the disposal of the local branch of the National Reserve at a nominal rent for the Headquarters of the Club.
At this instance there is now being erected near the scene of the disaster a memorial (stone monument) to the victims of the Oaks Colliery explosion (as no steps at Ardsley had been taken towards this).
Mr Cooper some years ago was appointed to Commissioner of the Peace for the Staincross Division of the West Riding but never qualified to act as a magistrate. He was largely interested in a number of local industrial undertakings and at one time was a director of Barnsley Gas Company and other concerns.
Trustees of a charitable fund newly created called ‘The Joshua Cooper Fund’ at their meeting in Sheffield on Tuesday with the Right Rev. Lord Bishop of Sheffield in the chair, passed a resolution that they desired to place in the Barnsley Chronicle their deep sense of appreciation of the great worth of Mr Joshua Cooper of Mount Vernon.
He gave by deed dated 15th June 1912 a sum to the West Riding Charitable Society of £1000 and intended making further gifts to the same society, income being applied in assisting persons resident in what will be the Diocese of Sheffield and the Diocese of Wakefield within a 10 mile radius of the Parish Church of Barnsley.
In September 1912 Mr Cooper gave a further £1000 upon the same Trusts.
Rev. W. Elmhurst being a member of the Committee managing these Trusts with the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rector of Darfield and others.
Mr Cooper was elected a Trustee of the West Riding Miners’ Permanent Relief Society at its first Delegates’ Meeting on 18th September 1877 and continued to act as such till 1893 when he resigned having remained a life honorary member.
Internment took place at the family vault on Monday afternoon at St Thomas’ Church, Worsborough Dale. The funeral cortege being small and simple but the church being very crowded long before the arrival of the procession.
Outside the church and all the way from Mount Vernon the road was lined with men and women.  The cortege was met by Rev. W. Banham at the church. He was accompanied by most of the Vicars of Barnsley and the Rector of Barnsley.The Vicars of St Georges’ and St Johns’, St Peters’, St. Edwards’, the Rector of Darfield, the Vicar of Worsborough, the Worsborough Common Curate in Charge and the Curate of St Thomas’.
The service was simple but impressive. The coffin bore the simple inscription:
Samuel Joshua Cooper
July 11th 1913
Aged 82 years
Most of the notaries of Barnsley seemed to be present including the Mayor and members of the Elmhirst family, Dr Banham and many members of Worsborough Urban District Council.
Among many beautiful wreaths was one from Mr and Mrs Spencer Stanhope, Cannon Hall and from the Sunday School teachers at St Thomas; and many others.
Taken from Barnsley Chronicle 19th July 1913Barnsley Archives.
The following shows the Trust Funds set up by SJ Cooper within our Parish:
28 Nov 1890        Deed Poll declaring trust of Cottages on Warren Common, including Canning Street for the benefit of St Thomas Church (“Cottage a/c) the property was sold in 1938 and the proceeds invested
25 May 1903       £150 4% Preference Stock on Special Trust for upkeep of the Cooper Tomb
12 Sep 1904       £1000 on Special Trust for warming, lighting and maintenance of divine service at St James Church
08 June 1905      £2000 on Trust to supply coals & blankets for the poor
01 Aug 1905       £474.2.2 India 3½% stock added to the £1000 of 12Sep1904
20 March 1907    £500 on Special Trust for repairs to St James Church
23 Sep 1907       £1500 on Special Trust for heating, lighting, cleaning and organist salary at St James Church
30 Jan 1909        1754 Sq yards and buildings (adjacent to St James Church) on Special Trust, income to be used for salary of organist or caretaker at St James Church
07 Aug 1909       £500 on Special Trust for salary of Verger or Caretaker at St James Church
28 Aug 1908       £200 on Special Trust for repair of churches of St Thomas & St Luke (Banham Jubilee Repair Fund)
19 Sep 1911       Will extract of F Cooper, £300 for the requirements of the Chancel of St Thomas Church (choir surplices, altar cloths, furniture, organ tuning & repair)
16 Jan 1912        £500 on Special Trust for benefiting the sick and poor
21 June 1912      Conveyance and Declaration of Trust of a site for a Curate's House in Worsbrough Dale (19 Bank End Road, which was later sold, and “Melrose” 49 Mount Vernon Road was bought.  When the latter was sold the capital was kept on Trust for general church purposes)
22 July 1912       £480:13:4 invested in £600 Perpetual 3% Debenture Stock on Trust for bills on Curate's House.
05 April 1913      £2000 on Special Trust for salary of female parochial worker in memory of late F Cooper

 The PCC still holds all the capital from these funds, though after reorganisation only two remain as Trust Funds: The Curate’s House Fund (currently valued around £80,000) and The Fanny & Samuel Joshua Cooper Memorial Fund (£75,000).  Nearly all the capital is now held in shares with the Church of England Central Board of Finance and the total value of the Cooper Investments (including the two just mentioned) is around £200,000 (helped by the excellent growth for the CBF shares between 1990 and 2000).  The investments provide a steady income of around £10,000 for Church funds – 90 years after his death we still have good reason to be grateful to Mr Cooper.  The Cooper Tomb has recently been tidied up and can be found at the East End of St Thomas’ Church.        
J Meek & G Holmes


I write this on the first day of really miserable weather – cold, grey and drizzly – that I can remember for months and months.  How long will it take, I wonder, to get back into the habit of complaining that our weather is always awful?
Through the summer I have taken advantage of the opportunity to play tennis over at the Barnsley Tennis Club over at Wilthorpe.  As Brits we complain about our tennis players almost as much as we do about the climate, but tennis is a great game to play (and not as humbling as golf).
On a par with the tennis is the cycle ride home.  It’s a stiff climb up to the hospital and a bit of a slog around Pogmoor Road and then up Broadway.  But as soon as you move from Keresforth Hall Road to Genn Lane it’s like a dream.  Apart from being pleasantly downhill nearly all the way, the views to the south and west are magnificent especially when the sun is just setting away over the Pennines.  You can briefly pick out the wind turbines that are above Ingbirchworth and the now nationally famous Wentworth Castle sits proudly above the misty valley which is striped with long dusky shadows.
On such a late summer evening as you race along on a bike you can feel the heat radiating out from the wall and the black tarmac of the road – heat that has been stored up throughout the long sunny day.  But then you pass Ouslethwaite and descending more steeply you approach the sharp bend at the bottom of Cromwell Mount.  Here the wall seems to step back slightly and a broad depression runs from somewhere near Highstone Farm all the way down to the reservoir.  The effect is a distinct drop in the temperature of the air, together with a chilled cabbagey smell from whatever was grown in the field above the road.  The sudden transition is a wonderful sensation and one I think you only get when riding a bike at evening.  Though it does remind me of when I used to get home from school in Cambridge and stopping only to put on shorts and pick up a towel, run over the river footbridge and along to the outdoor pool on Jesus’ Green – diving into the cold water without a second thought.
What would life be without contrast?  We may not welcome all the changes that come our way.  Often we would prefer to stay with the long stored up cosiness of familiarity.  But life is movement and change – to resist change is to be its victim but to be immersed in it and attempt to shape the future is to live with hope.