She married twice, the second time to an older man

Back in the 1980s I quizzed Nana about her ancestors, and this was the only story she had about any of her great grandparents. No names, no dates, no locations. Just one fascinating line.

Fast forward thirty plus years. I’d done a bit more research by then and knew I was looking for a couple with the surname Cooper (whilst a fairly common occupational surname I am grateful that it isn’t as prevalent as Smith!). The pandemic shut us all into our homes, and I got serious about family history.  Where else to start but to find out more about the woman who “married twice, the second time to an older man.” Her story did not disappoint and along the way, she also became the ancestor on which I honed my genealogy research skills which combined made her one of my favourite ancestors and you can hear me talk to her story in these two podcasts waffle free family stories and journeys into genealogy).

So let me introduce you to Hannah Demaine, my great, great, great grandmother through my Nana father’s mother, Sarah (Cooper). Hannah was born in Otley on 6 May 1837 the eighth of nine children born to Sarah (Swire) & Joseph Demaine. Joseph was an iterant agricultural labourer for much of his life and at the time the family were living on Bondgate. These days it’s a lovely little terraced street of shops including the delicious Bondgate Bakery but at the time it would have been dirty and crowded.

Hannah was illiterate. Schooling was not yet mandatory, and cost likely prohibited any of the children from attending. Certainly, William the eldest son never learnt to write so it wasn’t just the girls who missed out. As the only daughter still left at home by 1841, Hannah would have been helping her mother with the washing, cooking, and cleaning from an early age.

By time of her marriage in 1861, Hannah was living in Farfield on the outskirts of Addingham. For 55 years or more, Joseph, Hannah’s father, had toiled for others, but finally he had secured a farm and became his own boss supported in 1861 by his youngest son, Amos, and later by his eldest son, William.

Addingham was primarily a textile town and had gone through a period of severe decline as this work became increasingly mechanised affecting at least two of her brothers (George & Albert) who had worked as a woolsorter and woolcomber respectively.

“John Cunliffe, cloth manufacturer, and John Cockshott, glazier and wool-stapler, leased land on the side of the Wharfe and built a spinning mill in [Addingham] 1788 -1789. It enabled yarn to be spun more quickly than by hand and so increased the production of cloth. A weir was constructed on the river and a wheel installed to provide the power. It was the first successful worsted mill in the world. The first piece of worsted yarn to be seen in Bradford market was made by John Cunliffe at Low Mill. In a sense, it was the birthplace of the Bradford Worsted Trade. At the same time, others were looking at cotton and there were a number of small calico manufacturers who probably employed people with jennies to spin for them. High Mill, Town Head Mill and Fentimans (later a sawmill) were built shortly afterwards, all for spinning and the handloom weavers were kept pretty busy. There were many small workshops, and many weavers cottages built three stories high – two for domestic use and the top floors to house the looms, with inter-connecting doors along the row (e.g. in Stockinger Lane). There were other, similar, cottages with the top floors used for warehouses with cranes and pulleys over the large outside doors.

In 1831-41 there was a decline in the population and the census returns state that this was owing to the closure of Low Mill. In the 1851 census, so many houses at Low Mill were empty that it must have remained closed until after that time. By 1861 handloom weavers had practically disappeared. Samuel Cunliffe Lister re-opened Low Mill, putting Addingham back in its prosperous position” (from

The Lowcock family from Addingham were also engaged in a combination of agriculture and textile work. Whilst Edward, the head of the household, was technically a farmer, he had only 13 acres of land and supplemented his income by weaving worsted on a hand loom. Timothy, too, Edward’s son, seemed to take what work he could with his occupation being variously listed as hand loom weaver, labourer and farmer. And so it was that Hannah met Timothy.

Parish register entry for Hannah Demaine’s first marriage to Timothy Lowcock in 1861.

There’s very little to show of Hannah’s first marriage to Timothy Lowcock. Married on 1 January 1861 at St Peter’s in Addingham, Timothy was recorded as living with his parents in the 1861 census. Hannah is missing. I have reluctantly concluded that the Timothy’s 29-year-old sister, Hannah, who had brought her illegitimate child back home to live his grandparents has caused the enumerator to exclude our Hannah from being counted. Such are trials of researching our female ancestors.

As for living happily ever after, well “ever”, in Hannah’s case, was very short-lived. Timothy died of consumption on 21 December 1861, something he’d been diagnosed with for twelve months. Was Hannah aware of this when she married him? And, more importantly, was this it? Married and widowed within a year. Hannah moved back to live with her parents.  

Timothy Lowcock’s death certificate from 1861

Hannah may have taken more than a new surname from this first marriage. The Lowcocks appeared to be staunch Wesleyan Methodists. Timothy, his parents, his sister Hannah and her son William and his wife and child are all memorialised on one stone in the Addingham Methodist Church cemetery. Neither the Demaines nor the Coopers appeared to have Methodist associations, yet Hannah’s second marriage took place in Otley’s Wesleyan chapel. I can only think that she adopted the Lowcock family’s religion. 

Moving back in with her parents was also to positively shape the second half of Hannah’s life. For Joseph was to switch farms for one in Askwith.  Hannah moved not into the tiny terrace in Otley, but onto a 50-acre farm in Askwith.

It was in Askwith that Hannah met “the older man,” John Cooper. John was born in Farnley in 1820. His father, Francis, was variously described as a joiner, carpenter and then gamekeeper. Francis & his wife, Sarah (Stubbs) had at least ten children and the dangers of childbirth should have meant Sarah was the first to die. But, no, it was Francis who died at the relatively young age of 39 in 1825, leaving Sarah with a young family to support.  Sarah must have had some fun for a half-sibling, Harriet, appeared on the scene in 1828. Henry (the eldest son) took care of his mother, but the rest of the family scattered to make their own way in the world. Thankfully for us, John’s sister Ann had married a farmer in Askwith which meant a place for John to work and was also where he met the young widow, Harriet.

Certificate from Hannah’s second marriage to John Cooper in 1873.

On 2 August 1873, 36-year-old Hannah married 52-year-old John. Two children swiftly followed, Sarah (our ancestor) in 1875 and Mary Ann in 1876.

I really hope this marriage wasn’t all about the farm, but John undoubtably benefited from an elderly father-in-law with only a middle-aged unmarried son at home. After Joseph died, William & John continued to run the farm together until John died in June 1893 aged 72. Then, when daughter Sarah married Thomas Booth in 1895, he moved in too. Hannah continued to live with her daughter until 1914 when she died, aged 77, from “malignant disease of the stomach and exhaustion”. Hannah, my favourite ancestor, is buried at Weston Church.

With much gratitude to Nana for gifting me an intriguing line about her great grandmother and to Hannah herself for being one of my wonderful widow ancestors.

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