JAMES 'THOMAS' HOOPER & SELINA BANKS
Research is very limited into the life and times of James 'Thomas' Hooper. James Hooper was born about 1777 in South Molton in Devon. He was baptised by his parents, Abraham and Catherine, on the 30th March 1777 in South Molton. Selina Hooper. According to Selina's poor law records James was the son of Abraham and Catherine Hooper. He is mostly recorded as James but the odd record does indicate his name as Thomas which is the reason I have listed him as James Thomas Hooper. Selina Hooper states her husband, James Hooper, died on the 1st December 1828 in Bethnal Green, when she was seeking parish relief in 1833. James Hooper married Selina Banks on the 21st May 1804 in Hackney, London after banns were read on the 7th, 14th and 24th August 1803 in Hackney. Witnesses on the marriage record were H Banks and T Hooper. The H Banks could be either a male or female, brother, father, mother or sister. As yet I have been unable to clarify this. A Thomas Hooper married Sarah Banks on the 17th February 1806 in Hackney and one of the witnesses for this marriage was H Banks again. It is probable Thomas and James Hooper were related and probable that Sarah and Selina Banks were also related. I have found two births in this village which fit with James's age when he died. James Hooper ..... and John Hooper ... baptized by parents ...... He is listed as James in this record also.Due to names listed on various certificates being different it is unclear which is correct. In fact I do not think Rosa Spital, as indicated on John Thomas Hooper's death certificate was his mothers name. My research has lead me to believe his mother was Selina Hooper (nee Banks). Poor house records for Selina says her husband James Hooper was from South Moulton, Devonshire.
Gibraltar Walk - Bethnal Green as seen in two photographs. One was taken c.1910 (left) and the other in recent years c.2000 (right)
James Hooper's son John Thomas Hooper married Rebecca Page in 1849 and his address is given as 9 Gibraltar Walk, Bethnal Green, London. Rebecca was the daughter of shoemaker William Page and Sophia Sifton. When son John was born, in 1826, Bethnal Green was said to be a pretty place with decent Cottages and with garden beds of flowers. We know that James died on the ... according to Selina Hooper's poor law record. James grew up in .... An article in Victorian London, by John Timbs in 1867, describes Bethnal Green as .... 'The area formed a densely-crowded district. Among the inhabitants were street vendors of every kind, travelers to fairs, tramps, shoplifters and pickpockets, dog fanciers and dog stealers. It abounds with young Arabs of the streets, and its outward moral degradation is at once apparent to any who passes that way'. In 1841 the population of Bethnal Green was 74,988. The following description of Gibraltar Walk in 1871 was taken from The Builder dated 28th January 1871. 'Gibraltar Walk dips down into a hollow from Bethnal Green Road, and here and there are brokers, furniture-dealers, bird-fanciers, and cage makers. If their health is good, they must have iron constitutions. The Bethnal Green vestry ought to take a walk round this quarter, and see whether its condition will have any effect on stirring them into action; but those last-named places are beauty itself compared with other unmentionable localities, where the 'social evil' and smallpox are killing and damning souls together'.
On the Bethnal Green map above the bottom circle shows Gibraltar Walk where James & Selina Hooper lived & the top circle shows Wellington Row where their son and daughter inlaw, John Thomas & Rebecca, lived when their daughter, Sophia, was born.
James Hooper was a plasterer by trade. The method of producing ornamental plasterwork was done in two ways: It would be run in place (or on a bench on site); Or cast in molds in a workshop. Plain plaster molding without surface ornamentation was usually created directly on the wall, or run on a flat surface such as a plasterers work bench and attached to the wall after it had set. Ornament such as coffering for ceilings, centers for light fixtures (ornament medallions), brackets, dentils, or columns, were cast in hide glues (gelatin) or plaster molds in an off-site shop, often in more than one piece, then assembled and installed in the building. English craftsmen were in high demand and this offered them unparalleled opportunity. The plaster trade must have provided a reasonable living for James because his son, John Thomas followed in his father's footsteps and also became a plasterer. At the time of John's marriage to Rebecca Page in 1849 both he and his father, James's occupations are given as plasterers.
This photograph is taken of a shop filled with plaster casts. The Hooper men may have been involved in making simular plaster work or they could also have been doing the plaster work directly onto walls.
It is not known what became of James & Rosa Hooper. No mention of a Rosa Spital/Hooper can be found in the records even taking into account various ways of spelling Spital e.g. Spittle, Spitle etc. I can find no marriage for them, no death nor any other children. It is only because of the New Zealand death certificate that we know her name to be Rosa and her surname as formerly being Spital [sic]. We do know that on the 1849 marriage certificate for John Thomas Hooper's marriage to Rebecca his father is not listed as deceased. Was he still alive and if so where was James & Rosa at this time? We have no known picture's of James and Rosa nor do I have any further information on Rosa Spital's side of the family. If anyone can help please email : email@example.com as any information or certificates would be a great help in finding out more.
JAMES JOHN HOOPER & ROSA SPITAL'S CHILDREN
1) John Thomas Hooper (abt 1824-1904)
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