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Mary Ann’s parents

Mary Ann Myring’s birth is registered in the 4th quarter of 1845 in Sapcote which is a small town around 12 miles to the S.W. of the city of Leicester, Leicestershire, England.

She was the 4th child of 8, of William and Phoebe Myring née Tibbolds. William worked as a Framework Knitter in the burgeoning textile industry of the Midlands. Mary Ann was Baptised on 31st December 1845 at Christchurch Leicester.


3rd April 1851. At the time of the 1851 Census return, the family is living at 42 Britannia Street in the St Margaret’s area of Leicester. She is aged 5 and her parents William and Phoebe are both aged 36. William is still working as a Framework Knitter. Mary Ann’s siblings were Harriet, aged 12, John 9, Thomas 7, William 3 and Edward is 1.


3rd April 1861. At the time of the 1861 Census return, the family is living at 2 Neale Street in the St Margaret’s area of Leicester. Mary Ann is 15 and working as an Elastic Webb Weaver. Her father is lodging elsewhere in the City on the night of the census, where he was working as a Stretching Frame worker. Phoebe is head of the family (she seems to have recorded her age incorrectly). Mary Ann’s siblings were William 13, working as a brickmaker and Edward is 11, working as a Rope Spinner, Joseph is aged 9 and Henry is aged 4. They were all recorded as being born in St. Margaret’s  Leicester. Mary Ann’s other siblings, Harriet, now 22, John 19 and Thomas 17 are not at home that night.


28th January 1867 Mary Ann Myring, age 20, a Spinster, was married at the Parish Church, St Margaret’s, Leicester, to John Copeland, age 18.

John, a bachelor, of Parse St Leicester, was working as a ‘Shoe Finisher’. His father was George Copeland. Mary Ann, a spinster of Bedford Street Leicester was the daughter of William Myring. 

October 1867. Within the year, Mary Ann’s father William’s death is recorded in Leicester in Q4 1867. He was about 52 and had committed suicide. A summary of The Leicester Chronicle report on his inquest is as follows:  



The date of the notice suggests he died  Friday 11th or 18th October  1867.

In this author’s view, this devastating event must have had a profound effect on Mary Ann. Also, is it possible his mental illness was a condition that he could have passed on to Mary Ann?


13th June 1868 saw the arrival of Mary Ann and John’s first child, a daughter, Mary Ann. She was born in Leicester. Sadly, she died in 1886 aged just 17.


20th March 1870 marked the birth in Leeds, South Yorkshire, of second daughter, Harriett. It is likely John had sought work there in the Yorkshire textile industry.


3rd April 1871. The census return shows Mary Ann, aged 25, and working as a ‘cotton winder’. She declared her place of birth to be Nottingham, but this was not correct. Husband John, aged 21, is working as a ‘boot and shoe finisher’. Their children are Mary Ann, aged 2 and Harriet aged 1. The family live at 39 Waterloo Street Leeds, South Yorkshire.


15th June 1872 sees the arrival of third child, a son, George Frederick – his birth is recorded in Leeds, South Yorkshire.


29th March 1875. Daughter Elizabeth is born in Leeds, South Yorkshire.


13th July 1880. Son John is born – in Shoreditch, Middlesex. The family has moved to London.

Their son John served 12 years as a ‘stoker’ in the Royal Navy, and he retired in 1911 shortly after the April census.  Sadly he died in October that year having been admitted to Claybury Asylum in Essex. Following an Inquest, the cause of his death is recorded as:

‘General paralysis of the insane, induced by an accident injury caused by his being run over by a motor bus on May 22nd’ – (1911)


15th March 1881 Mary Ann’s daughter Annie is born while the family live at 46 Sewell Road, Battersea, Surrey.

3rd April 1881. The census return shows Mary Ann and John living at 6 Lark Row, Hackney, Middlesex. Mary Ann is 35 as is husband John, who is working as a ‘shoe finisher’ . At home is son George aged 8, Elizabeth 6 and John 1. By using Elizabeth and John’s year and places of birth as a benchmark,  it seems likely the family moved to London between 1875 and 1880.


20th December 1883 was when Mary Ann’s mother Phoebe died in Leicester aged 66.

In this author’s view, yet another devastating event in Mary Ann’s life might well have ‘tipped’ her over the edge. Her first admission to an asylum followed within 6 years.

13th December 1889

According to its admissions book, Mary Ann, aged 44, was taken into Hanwell Asylum in 1889, it is recorded as 13th December, but a subsequent record suggests her ‘sectioning’ was ordered as early as June in that year.

Ever Heard Of The Hanwell Asylum? | Londonist


3rd April 1891 Census return shows Mary Ann’s husband John, aged 44, is living with Alice White nee’ Ashworth, a widow, Aged 27. John and Mary Ann’s children are with them – John 11. Hannah 9 – also Alice’s children Phillip 8. Alice 6 and Dorothea 3. John and Alice also had a child together, Grace, who was 2 months old at this time.

Alice’s late husband was Harry Tranfield White, who had been admitted to Bethnal Asylum on 22nd  January 1890 (where he died 24th March 1892)

See notes below.


27th August 1901 Mary Ann is admitted to Manor Asylum Epsom.

The visitors Book for Manor Asylum shows her husband John, and her son George had visited her – and George attended her funeral.

27th August 1901

She had been in an Infirmary (probably Hanwell) prior to her eventual transfer to Manor Asylum. Her admission record shows her age as 53 on admittance on 27th August 1901. It also shows ‘date of order 12th June 1889’ which is 6 months before her admission to Hanwell.

Manor Asylum Epsom early 1900’s


9th September 1907. The visitor’s book indicates her husband John had visited her, but it also shows the return of a letter sent to him by the Asylum and it was marked ‘not known’. This was because John died 3rd November 1902 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

Medical Notes

Her admission examination notes describe Mary Ann as being ‘stout’ and her teeth being ‘bad’, her sight as ‘bad’ but her hearing as ‘good’. At age 53 at the time, none of that would be thought as unusual.

Sadly, her mental condition is described as ‘much demented, does not know day of the week, how long she has been here, what her age is, where she came from. Is dull, unintelligent’.

The examination notes continue ‘Harbours delusions, says she took some pieces of paper to the houses of parliament to prove that a sum of money was coming back to her, but was told the pieces of paper were worthless – last night fancied someone was in the chimney and heard a voice saying “pray for me” – when returning from the steam boat she saw people looking at her and two came to meet her twitching their faces and with their hands in their pocket, as though they going to get something out.

‘John Copeland (husband) states that three weeks ago she developed symptoms of insanity now has delusions says there are robbers in the house, that medicine prescribed by a doctor is poison & refuses to take it that a large sum of money has been left for her went to the houses of parliament to pursue it, also fancied on Monday night a dead soldier was in the chimney’.

Bearing in mind John was already living with Alice by this time, it is likely he’d visited her at Hanwell Asylum.

The next section of her admission examination notes says.

Cause: hereditary (Maybe the doctor knew of her father’s suicide?)

Duration 3 weeks’ (That fits with her husband’s account)

Ongoing hospitalisation treatment and care.

After admission, her daily examination records are a very sad litany of her condition and words such as ‘feeble minded’ and ‘sometimes abusive’ or ‘lost to her own thoughts’ and ‘no idea of her surroundings’ etc., appeared in her notes most days up to the day she died.

Extract – Death Statement for Coroner

Transcript:  Statement to the Coroner

Mary Ann Copeland aged 69 years.

Time and date of death: 08:45 29th October 1915


Occupation : Washing

Primary cause of death: Senile Decay.

Secondary causes: Cancer of the breast & Vascular Disease of the heart.

All of the above were suffered for an indefinite time.

A post-mortem was carried out which confirmed the above.

Whether or not mechanical restraint was applied in the 7 days prior to death. Answered: No.

Author’s note

My research is available for viewing at www.ancestry.com and the tree is named ‘Horton Cemetery Copeland nee’ Myring’  and the site owner is ‘YFHResearch’. There is a lot of further information about her extended family available and much more to be explored. Poor Mary Ann’s early years were unremarkable, but when her father committed suicide it seems that she and many people associated with her were beset by tragedy.

From a Copeland family member- Rhoda Copeland

You have John Copeland (1849-1902) in your Horton Cemetery Copeland tree. John is my great-grandfather, and I have done a lot of research on him & his family line. It is complicated!

John married Mary Ann Myring(1845-1915) and had children Mary Ann, Harriet, George, Elizabeth, John and Annie (Hannah). Mary Ann was admitted to an institution.

John Copeland then met Alice Maude, whose husband, Harry White, was in the same institution. They got together and quickly started producing children: Grace 1, Frederick Charles, Grace 2, Evelina, Albert & Phyllis.

When John died in 1902, Alice reverted to her previous married name of White and also changed the surnames of her Copeland children to White. Phyllis was born after John’s death and was registered as White.

Alice had 3 children with Harry White: Philip, Alice and Dorothea. The 1891 Census has them living together with his kids, her kids and their first Grace. For some reason, Albert, who was only 2 when his father died, continued using Copeland as his surname.

Regards Rhoda Copeland

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