Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry

The Jaffrays

Eliza Ann Cooper was one of my great, great grandmothers. She was born in 1859 in Longside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland; the third child of George Cooper & Elspet Jaffray. The family can be found in the 1861 census living at Tarhendry (Tirhendry) Longside. They must have been reasonably well off, George Cooper was described as a farmer of 130 acres, employing 2 domestic servants and a ploughman.

George Cooper was almost 30 years older than his wife Elspet Jaffray and was nearly 55 by the time he married in 1854. By the 1871 census, George's farm was reduced to 80 acres, possibly because by this time he was 72 and finding it harder to maintain. Or perhaps the family had fallen on harder times, although they still employed 1 female and 2 male servants.

George died in 1879 at Tirhendry aged 80. On Hogmanay that year, his daughter Eliza Ann married John Fraser in Longside. By 1881, most of the family seemed to have moved to Aberdeen, living in two flats in a tenement at 6 Mount Street West. John & Eliza Ann Fraser were in one flat with 5 month old baby John Fraser. Elspet Cooper was living in another, slightly bigger flat, with William, Hellen & Alexander. Only George Cooper junior remained out of town, working as a farm servant in Ellon.

The Frasers must have moved to Glasgow not long after that, as Eliza had her second child George in 1882 in Govan. Sadly Eliza died only 2 years later at the age of only 25. It seems that shortly after Eliza's death, her mother and brother William must have come down to Glasgow, presumably to help John Fraser with his two young children. Unfortunately they both contracted scarlet fever and died within 3 days of each other at Sheildhall Fever Hospital in Govan. On their death certificates, their usual place of residence was given as 9 Mount Street West, Aberdeen, so they were obviously only visiting Glasgow when they were struck down by the fever. Helen Jean Cooper was left then at that address, having lost her mother, brother and sister all in the space of a month. Helen never married, but remained in Aberdeen until her death in 1940. At her death she was described as being "formerly a pianist". I don't know whether this meant she performed as a pianist or was perhaps a piano teacher.

Elspet Jaffray was born in 1828 in Old Deer, to William Jaffray and Elspet Stiven (or Stephen). The family lived at Greencroft of Skelmuir, Old Deer from at least 1841 until William's death in 1869. In 1851 William Jaffray was described as a Farmer of 50 acres employing 2 labourers. Also present in his household in 1851 was his daughter Mary's illegitimate one year old daughter - Mary Lamond. By 1861 William's fortunes had improved as he was described as a farmer of 120 acres. William died in 1869 and is buried in Old Deer. His tombstone shown below is still there.

William Jaffray's tombstone in Longside graveyard

The full tombstone reads:

"William Jaffray Farmer of Greencroft Skelmuir died 9th Sept 1869
Also Elspet Stephen his beloved wife of Stuartfield died 13th Dec 1877 aged 80
Also son Alexander Jaffray farmer of Burnend, Skelmuir died 4th Oct 1890 age 60
Also Elizabeth Jaffray at Redbogs, Blackhills died 14th Jan 1909 age 82"

William's youngest son James Jaffray married Isabella Sutherland in 1869. At some point in the early 1870s James & Isabella emigrated to Canada. There are still descendants of James & Isabella in Canada today.

The family tree below summarises what I know about the Cooper & Jaffray families. It is hopefully reasonably accurate, but if you spot any errors, or any relatives, please feel free to E-mail me

Please click on one of the red links on the tree to move to a different page.

Cooper & Jaffray Family Tree Frasers Coopers


If any of the above is of further interest, please feel free to contact me at: n.rowberry@btinternet.com

Nicky Rowberry 2012

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Peasants to Puddles - My Family History. By Nicky Rowberry