Kent England Research
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Kent England Research   

Genealogical Research in Kent, England, specialising in South West Kent

George Frederick Copus married Ellen Welch in Lambeth in 1893. As already noted, over 500 persons named Copus or Copas are listed in the national index to the 1901 Census. Among these were, in the Lambeth area alone, over 20 persons whose surname was spelt Copus (as opposed to Copas or any other variant spelling, that is). Most, though not quite all, of these were fairly closely connected with my ancestral family. They included George Frederick Copus (aged 32, Assistant Accountant, New Zealand Government) and his wife Ellen (aged 32), both born in Lambeth. Their two children listed were Gladys Copus (2) and Leslie Welch Copus (1), both born in Camberwell - my great-aunt and grandfather, respectively. They were living at 1 Cormont Road, Camberwell (RG 13/420/folio 10), and also present was Ellen's mother Mary Welch, aged 69, born in Rockbourne, Hampshire.

These placenames are of some interest. George Frederick Copus called his first house in Kent "Rockbourne" (built in 1907, when he moved out of London to Orpington, now in the London Borough of Bromley) and the other, built after his retirement in 1924, "Cormont". Mary Welch, whose husband James Welch had died in 1895, continued living with George Frederick and Ellen Copus until her death in Orpington in 1916, aged 83.

Cyrus and Louisa Copus were still living at 22 Clapham Road, Kennington, in 1901 (RG 13/413/folio 62), Cyrus being still an Undertaker. This family business continued until 1964, after which, most of the business records were deposited by Will Copus with the Lambeth Archives Department. These are now held at the Minet Library and the catalogue, now available on the "Access to Archives" website, gives some detail of the 13 items in this small collection - see The covering dates given are 1842-1940, the earliest volumes dating from before the time when the Copus family took over this business.

Just one ledger - now rather tatty, but full of character and interest - remains in the family. Perhaps the reason for its being retained when the other items were deposited was that (it appears) it is the latest in date of these records, covering as it does the period up to the last days of the business in 1964, while the deposited records (according to the catalogue) end in 1940. Headed "Stock Book, K. Copus & Sons, 1 Upper Dorset Place, Kennington Road", it includes pictures of bedsteads, and rough details of orders for furniture, 1874-1876; and lists of funerals carried out, 1872-1876 (giving some considerable detail) and 1895-1964 (giving bare details only - names, dates and fees and expenses). Finally, at the back, there are patterns and other rough notes on furniture. The K. Copus mentioned was my great-great-great-grandmother Kezia Copus (née Baker, born in Gloucester in 1808, who married Charles Copus as his second wife at St. Mary, Bryanston Square, Marylebone, in 1827). She died in Kennington in 1869, aged 61.

This account book of the undertaking business includes references to quite a number of members of the extended family whose funerals were handled by the firm. Family names mentioned include Anley, Beer, Carley and Welch, as well as Copus. In February 1949, for instance, the funeral of Walter Henry Copus is recorded (total cost £35/14/6). Sadly, the death of this favourite brother so affected my great-grandfather George Frederick Copus that his own health declined rapidly, and his funeral in turn (at a cost of £66/5/7) is recorded just four days after Walter's. The funeral of George Frederick Copus' widow Ellen, who died in Orpington at the age of 89, is also mentioned, in December 1957 (total cost £70/12/-). Altogether, this volume is rather interesting and unusual, and has already proved helpful in piecing together some of the history of this particular Copus family.

In memory of Rachel Copus (1960-2003).

Matthew Copus
307 Dale Street
Kent ME4 6QR