John Cooper was head assistant at Lincoln Grammar School before he and his wife, Jane, came to live at Stansfield Hall, Todmorden in late 1850. They had been married for about 4 years.
He established a small boarding school at the Hall.
On 27th December 1850, Mrs Cooper gave birth to their second child, a son. She seemed well but suddenly became ill.
Before she died, Mrs Cooper told a servant, Mary Holden of Stansfield, that she had been ill and her mouth had been sore since her husband gave her a powder which he claimed to have brought from the doctor and which he gave to his wife in preserves.
The doctor, Mr Cockroft, said that he had never sent any powders and Mr Cooper said that he had never given his wife a powder, only a little preserve.
On 1st January 1851, Mrs Cooper asked her husband to fetch the doctor but he was gone a long time and returned to say that he had lost his way.
Mrs Cooper died on the 2nd January in great pain and vomiting.
At the Coroner's Inquest, witnesses said that they had seen Cooper mixing powder with preserves, and had seen 2 pots marked Poison.
Evidence at the Inquest included a bundle of around 50 letters between Mr Cooper and Miss Annie Eckersley, daughter of a Methodist minister from Alford, Lincolnshire. Some of the letters began
My dear, dear, dearest Annie
were also shown at the inquest. These suggested that Cooper and Eckersley had
made an engagement
Mrs Cooper's body was exhumed.
An analysis of the contents of Mrs Cooper's stomach showed no signs of poison, and her stomach exhibited a healthy appearance. The jury returned their verdict that
the deceased died from natural causes produced by puerperal fever
Page Ref: X81
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