Cooper Elijah (1828-1882)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by William Evans

REV. ELIJAH COOPER was born at Norton-in-Hales, in the county of Salop, on August 6, 1828, and was left motherless when only an-infant. But little of his early life is known until about the year 1841, when his father also being dead, he was left in the care of friends at Tunstall, who supplied as far as possible the place of parents to him, and who led him to worship with them in our chapel there, and also took him to the Sunday School, in which, in course of time, he became a teacher, also filling various other positions of usefulness in connection therewith. 

Other friends speaking of him say that the years before his conversion were characterized by steadiness, sobriety, and persevering industry; and that after his conversion he showed such a desire to be useful in saving others, and gave such evidence of fervent piety, and an exemplary Christian life, as to induce some of the leading officials to invite him to accompany them to their appointments, which was the means of deepening his love for souls and intensifying his desire to be useful, so that he commenced to fit himself for the work of a preacher, studying the Bible as the groundwork of the hope and practice of a truly Christian life, and adding theology and such Connexional history as came within his reach; and he made such progress with his studies that in a year and a half from the time of his conversion, his name was put on the Local Preachers’ Plan of the Tunstall Circuit, in which capacity he laboured with much zeal, earnestness, and acceptability. He was also for some time an assistant class-leader. 

In the year 1854 he received a call into the regular ministry from Birmingham Circuit, and though at the time he was engaged in a lucrative employment with a prospect of large remuneration in the future, such was his love for souls, and his zeal for the Master’s kingdom, that he sacrificed all pecuniary prospects, and was ‘not disobedient to the call.’ He was pledged at the Conference of 1855. From Birmingham he removed to Wrockwardine Wood Circuit, where he remained two years. His next station was Whitchurch; whilst here he completed his probation. He subsequently travelled in the following stations, viz.: Bishop’s Castle, Worcester, Oswestry, Dudley, Bromsgrove, Stafford, Hadnall, Old Hill, Welchpool, and Prees Green. During his last year on the latter station (1878) his health failed, and he was compelled to seek superannuation, having travelled twenty-three years.

He located in Shrewsbury Circuit, and continued to take appointments whenever his health would permit, oftentimes going when he was not able. The Rev. J. Heath, Church Stretton, writes: ‘I found in the late Rev. E. Cooper an excellent colleague, peaceable, plodding, persevering, keeping all the parts well together, and to the uttermost of his power pushing the whole along. His piety was even and deep, and in all things he was an embodiment of neatness and Christian propriety; the love of God was the ruling principle of his life. He was loyal to the Connexion, he understood well its laws, and was determined to honour them; he was a thorough disciplinarian. As a preacher he was sound and plain, always aiming to profit rather than to please. For the pulpit he ever made due preparation.’ 

Mr. Cooper’s affliction was bronchitis, which gradually took a stronger hold of his constitution, prostrating him every winter. About a week previous to his death, he had a very severe attack. He was walking in his garden when the news was brought to him of the murder of Lord Cavendish and Mr. Burke. He was deeply affected by it. He went in the house and retired to bed, and never again rose. This was on the Wednesday; he rapidly grew worse; his breathing was very difficult. On the Sunday he requested the 2 Cor. iv. to be read. When the reader came to the seventeenth verse, he stopped him, saying, ‘Yes, light affliction when compared with the weight of glory; short—only a moment—when compared with the eternity of glory.’ 

On Tuesday night, when his only daughter, a child of five years of age, was taken to him to say good-night, he clung to her very affectionately, keeping her longer than usual, telling her to be a good girl, to be kind to her mother, and she would meet him again in heaven. During the night he repeatedly asked the time, and on being told, he would say, ‘At two o’clock,’ signifying that this was the hour he should pass away. He bore all his sufferings with resignation and Christian fortitude. His sister-in-law, observing his sufferings were keen, said to him, ‘It is hard work passing through the valley.’ He replied, ‘No, not with Jesus; He has promised to be with me all the way.’ Turning to Mrs. Cooper, who was weeping by the bedside, he said, ‘Lizzie takes it hard.’ At seven minutes to two on Tuesday, May 17, 1882, he quietly fell asleep in Jesus, aged fifty-four. He now rests from his labours and his works do follow him.

Family

Elijah was born on 6 August 1828 at Norton-in-Hales, Shropshire, to parents Thomas and Sarah. he was baptised on 31 August 1828 at Norton-in-Hales.

He married Hannah Cooke (b abt1834) in early 1861 at Northwich, Cheshire.

He married Elizabeth Davies (1835-1917) in late 1874 in the Atcham Registration District, Shropshire. Census returns identify one child.

  • Sarah Elizabeth (abt1877-1944)

Elijah died on 17 May 1882, at Withington, Atcham, Shropshire.

Circuits

  • 1855 Wrockwardinewood
  • 1857 Whitchurch
  • 1859 Bishops Castle
  • 1860 Church Stretton
  • 1861 Worcester
  • 1862 Oswestry
  • 1864 Dudley
  • 1865 Bromsgrove
  • 1867 Stafford
  • 1868 Redditch
  • 1870 Hadnall
  • 1872 Old Hill
  • 1873 Uttoxeter
  • 1874 Welshpool
  • 1875 Prees Green
  • 1878 Shrewsbury (S)

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1882/690

PM Minutes 1882/12

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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