The Walking Parson’s Brothers

Thomas Walter Bevan COOPER received a licence to marry Mary Anne PEGLER on 27 April 1842. I have found sources indicating that they had four children – and experienced some difficulty in deciding what names to give them.

The birth and death of their first child, a girl, were registered in the same quarter of 1844, her Christian name in both instances represented by a hyphen in the GRO Index. The following year they registered the birth of a boy, Charles Alfred. He was Charles at age 6 but died as John Charles Cooper in 1910.

Indecision by the parents in 1848 condemned the next boy to an official welcome as a hyphen. He would rise above the inauspicious start by becoming an Alderman and later Mayor of London, a knight, and a Baronet two years before his death in 1922.

The child who later wandered around Europe, when he was not tending his Filey flock, also began life as a hyphen in 1850, just Arthur at the census a year later, and acquiring the middle name ‘Nevile’ sometime after that.

Of the three brothers, John Charles had the shortest life. In his twenties, he suffered an attack of rheumatic fever ‘which left him with a weak heart’. He was able to work as a commercial clerk in the Insurance firm of James Hartley, Cooper & Co., but retired in his mid-fifties. He didn’t marry but neither did he shut himself away from society.

…when in London [he] had attended St Michael’s Church, Star Street, Paddington, where he taught a large class of boys. To start the boys in life, to befriend them in their trouble, to watch over them in their temptations, was the work to which he devoted nearly every spare moment from his busy life. The boys thus helped by him were numerous enough to form a club of their own.

Driffield Times, 12 February 1910

A cold spell in January 1910 initiated an attack of bronchitis that he couldn’t shake off. He died at the end of that month in Worthing, aged 64. His body was brought to Filey for burial in his mother’s grave. Chief mourners were brothers Arthur Nevile and Edward Ernest, accompanied by their wives, but also present were some of the Old Boys from St Michael’s, and servants from Alderman Cooper’s mansion at Berrydown Court, Hampshire.

D389_COOPERmarya_20191111_fst

Edward Ernest would claim his education began at a dame’s school run by Horatia Nelson. (See the postscript at the end of Horatia Nelson: Who Was My Mother?) Whatever, he was clearly a bright lad, following his older brother into Insurance but rising to a significantly higher position than John Charles to accrue a fortune worth £28 million today. His interests away from money-making saw him become Chairman of the Royal Academy of Music and Vice-President of the Royal College of Organists. He sang in the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir for many years. He was elected an Alderman in 1909, was Lord Mayor of London in 1912-13, knighted in 1913 and created a baronet in 1920.

COOPERedwde_ChristsHosp
An oil painting by J Riviere of Sir Edward Ernest Cooper, Governor, Almoner and Vice-Chairman of Council. Photo credit: Christ’s Hospital Foundation.

Find Ernest Edward on FamilySearch.

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