There's a story in my family, and there's no way of saying whether it's true or false, but
I firmly believe that my great Uncle, FREDERICK GEORGE COOPER, born 3/2/1888, sailed with The Titanic as a member of the crew and died when it sank.
I have checked the crew list and one entry reads:-
J. COOPER Trimmer AGE 25 SOUTHAMPTON 27 Pound St. Southampton.
The 1912/13 KELLY'S DIRECTORY for Southampton states that, 27 POUND St. was the residence of JAMES COOPER, and he was my Grandfather, so he couldn't have sailed.
According to the only surviving male member of his generation, my Great Uncle EDWARD THOMAS COOPER, known as "TED"' told me in 1977 that my grandfather JAMES COOPER had "signed on" as a crewmember, received a pay book, came off the ship, maybe for a last night drink. and eventually his brother FREDERICK GEORGE COOPER took the book and went on board.
JAMES, born 14/4/1886, was married in 1911 to Alice Wilkins, their first child Winifred was born on 24/1/1912 at 27 Pound Street according to the birth certificate. My Father FREDERICK WILLIAM GEORGE COOPER was born on 16/10/1915. There were a total of eleven children born to James and Alice between 1912 and 1931.
The Southampton Record Office have a number of books relating to the Titanic Relief Fund payments. One book is missing so information on the initial ruling is not available, but on 13/12/1918 the meeting permitted a 12 month continuation of payments to Emily the partially dependant sister and her mother, of 3 shillings per week. The meeting on 12/12/1919 permitted the payment to continue until 31/12/1920. There were no further applications as far as 1938,
Case number 67 was related to his father Henry. and case number 76 to his mother Maria.
Maria died 13/3/1927 in Southampton, Henry died 14/9/1942. Emily died age 42 on 14/8/1934
My Grandfather James Cooper born 14th April 1986 moved his family from Southampton to Portsmouth about 1929 and died there on 21st May 1950 and is buried in Kingston cemetery Portsmouth....but....
then again, I expect a lot of families tell the same or similar story.
And another thought,... If my grandfather had sailed in April 1912, I would not be here to tell you this story and you would not be reading this page.
Frederick George Cooper Trimmer
Mr Frederick George Cooper “James Cooper”
On 6 April 1912 "James Cooper" signed on for the maiden voyage of the Titanic as a trimmer. His local address was 27 Pound Street in Shirley, Southampton and he could expect monthly wages of £5, 10s. His previous ship had been the Olympic.
James Edward Cooper had been born in Southampton on 14 April 1886 and was the son of Henry Cooper (b. 5 November 1857 in Botley), a house painter, and the former Maria Lock (b. circa 1859 in Bishops Waltham), Hampshire natives who had married in 1883.
One of fifteen children, Cooper’s siblings were: Henry (b. 1884), Ellen (b. 1885), Frederick George (b. 1888), Ursula Fanny (b. 1889), Harriett Lilian Annie (b. 1890), Emily Maria (b. 1891), Agnes Florence (b. 1892), Thomas Edward (b. 1894), Sydney (b. 1895), Edith (b. 1896), Frank (b. 1898), Alice Lilian (b. 1899), Alfred Charles (b. 1900) and Elizabeth (b. 1903).
James spent his early life in the Southampton area and by 1911 his parents and siblings lived at 71 Manor Road in Itchen. He had gone to sea at a young age and during the mid-part of the 1910s worked as a trimmer aboard the Walmer Castle, later serving aboard the Balmoral Castle in early 1910, both ships of the Union Castle Line.
He had married in early 1911 to Alice Wilkins (b. 19 July 1890) and in January 1912 the couple welcomed their first child, Winifred. The family did indeed make their home at 27 Pound Street in Shirley, as is shown on the 1912 street directory.
However, the daughter born to James and Alice Cooper was not to be their last; they would go on to have eleven children between then and 1931. James Cooper lived a long life and later left the sea, working as a house painter and living for many years in Portsmouth. He died in 1950.
The real James Cooper almost certainly did sign-on for the maiden voyage of the Titanic and family lore has it that after signing-on, he possibly went ashore to enjoy a few sociable drinks before sailing. He eventually did not join the ship but one other from his family did, taking his place and travelling under his name, his younger brother Frederick.
Frederick George Cooper had been born in Northam, Southampton on 3 February 1888; by 1911 he still lived with his parents at 71 Manor Road in Itchen and was described as an unmarried ship’s trimmer for the Union Castle Line.
Fred’s signature from his army papers
Prior to going to sea Cooper had, in January 1909, enlisted with the British Army; he was described as having brown hair, blue eyes and standing at 5’ 5¼” and weighing 138 ½ lbs. He had a 35” waist, 38” chest and size 7 feet. He trained at Netley and remained as a private in the army reserve until his death, his discharge stating:
Frederick Cooper, under the guise of his elder brother James, died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
Frederick’s parents benefited from the Titanic Relief Fund; his mother Maria died in March 1927 aged 68 whilst his father died in September 1942 aged 84.