Cooper Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Cooper Meaning
is an English occupational name for a maker and repairer of wooden
vessels such as barrels, tubs, buckets, casks, and vats.
It comes
from the Middle English couper, cowper (and also from
the Middle Dutch kuper, a derivative of kup ‘tub’,
‘container’, which was borrowed independently into English as coop).
Cooper may in fact also be an anglicized form of the Dutch Kuiper or Coper (meaning a buyer or
merchant).The prevalence of this surname bears witness to the fact that it was
one of the chief specialist trades in the Middle Ages in Europe.
Cooper and Cowper are the two main spellings of the
surname. William Cowper, the 18th century poet, always insisted
that his
name should be pronounced “Cooper.”

Cooper Resources on

Select Cooper Ancestry

England. A Cooper family, originally Cupper, acquired the
Pawlett manor in Somerset in 1531 and later married into the wealthy
family. From the Ashley Coopers came:

  • the 17th century politician Anthony Ashley
    Cooper, the first Earl of Shaftesbury, who was a prominent politician
    England at the time of the Restoration.
  • and his 19th century namesake, the
    seventh Earl of Sheftesbury, a leader in the movement for factory and
    child labor

SE England.
John Cowper was married at Strood in Sussex in 1467 and was
the ancestor of the Cowpers of
in London:

  • John Cowper,
    Sheriff of London and resident of Cornhill in 1551
  • and Sir William Cowper who acquired Ratling
    Court at Nonington in Kent in 1628.

William Cowper of this family was Britain’s
first Lord Chancellor in the early 1700’s and was made Earl Cowper. From this family also came the Rev. John
Cowper, rector at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, and his son William
Cowper the

There were later Coopers at
Berkhamsted, beginning with William Cooper who had arrived in the town
Shropshire in 1842. His invention of a
sheep dip, to solve the problem of sheep scab, ended up being sold
around the
world. Production continued with the
family for almost a century until it began to be replaced by synthetic

East Anglia.
from the Norfolk village of Hingham date from the 1360’s. Anthony and Thomas Cooper
emigrated from there
to New England in the 1630’s
. Another line moved to Norwich
where Samuel
Cooper was a surgeon and his grandson Sir Aston Paston Cooper, born at
Hall in 1768, a more famous surgeon.
The Cooper name remained at Hingham.
Billy Cooper, born into a large family of late 19th century
there, was well-known locally for playing the dulcimer musical

Coopers from Bracondale in
Norfolk have been traced back to the early 1600’s. From this line
came, via
King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan, Sir Alfred Cooper, a
fashionable doctor in Victorian society, and the diplomat and writer

Coopers at South Weston in
Oxfordshire date from the 1500’s. Thomas
Cooper was a Parliamentary officer during the Civil War.
A later Thomas Cooper was Lord of the Manor
at South Weston in 1790. Frank Cooper was the 19th century Oxford shopkeeper
whose wife Sarah devised the famous formula for Frank Cooper’s Oxford

Grey Cooper, the son
of a Newcastle physician who had married into the powerful
Northumberland Grey
family, had an extended Parliamentary career in the late 1700’s. He claimed a baronetcy, perhaps dubiously, as
did his son the Rev. William Cooper who married the Jewess heiress
Franks in the early 1800’s. She brought
with her Isleworth House in London and plantations in Jamaica. But the male line here died out in 1835.

By the late 19th century it was more London and the southeast and
Yorkshire where Coopers were most to be found.

Scotland. The
Cooper name
has cropped up mainly in the northeast, in Aberdeenshire.
A John Cupar held lands there in the late
13th century. One family history in
Clatt dates back to 1690; another in Old Deer to 1799.

The town of Coupar in
Fife may have been the origin of some Couper families.
William Couper, born in Edinburgh, was
appointed the Bishop of Galloway in 1612.

Ireland. There was a notable Anglo-Irish Cooper family
descended from the Royalist Austin
. He had moved his family in 1661 from their farm
at Byfleet in
Surrey to a purchased estate in county Wicklow. A descendant was
early 20th century adventurer and raconteur Captain Dick Cooper

Another Cooper, Edward Cooper who had fought in Ireland
under Cromwell, took possession of the Marktree estate in Sligo in 1663. He lost it during the troubles which followed
but regained it in 1690. A descendant
built an observatory on the castle grounds in 1830. Markree
Castle now operates
as a hotel by the 10th generation of Coopers to live there.

America. Early Coopers came to
New England.

New England. Two John Coopers here

  • John Cooper from Buckinghamshire who came to
    America with his family on the Hopewell in 1635. He was a
    member of the
    party who set off from New England in 1640 to start a new colony at
    on Long Island.
  • and another John Cooper, this time from Suffolk, who was
    at the First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1668 until his
    death in
    1691. His home, built there in 1681, has been preserved as a

It was either James or William Cooper from Stratford
upon Avon who, arriving in America around 1680, was the forebear of the
James Fenimore
. In a letter of
1848, he wrote that his descent ran: “William (immigrant), James,
James, William, James Fenimore Cooper.”
His father William founded Cooperstown, the home of baseball, in
New York.

David Cooper was
either born in Virginia or arrived there from England.
He settled in South Carolina in the 1760’s.
His grandsons Malachi and Edward Cooper took
the Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky in 1790. Later Coopers of this line were staunch
Baptists who were active in the anti-slavery movement of the mid-19th
century. There followed John Sherman
Cooper, US
Senator for Kentucky between 1946 and 1973.

Another Cooper line in Virginia,
starting in Henry county in the 1750’s, migrated with Thomas Cooper to
county, Georgia in the 1790’s.

Jesse Cooper was born in Virginia in 1783.
He moved to Alabama in the early 1800’s and his son later
settled in
Mississippi. Wyatt Cooper, born there in
1927, made it as a writer and became socialite Gloria Vanderbilt’s
husband in 1963. Their son is the CNN
news presenter Anderson Cooper.

Peter Cooper, the American inventor and industrialist, was
born in New York City in 1791 of mixed Dutch, English and Huguenot
ancestry. His line went back to Obadiah Cooper, a tailor in
Albany in
the early 1700’s. The Cooper Union was Peter
Cooper’s main
legacy to New York
. Daniel Cooper,
who laid out the town of Dayton, Ohio in 1795, was also of Dutch
ancestry. Hermanus Kuiper, a Dutch arrival
in the
1870’s, became Herman Cooper in Holland, Michigan

South Africa.
Dr. Charles Cooper
came to South Africa from London with his wife Sarah in 1816, four
years before
the 1820 settlers. They made their home
at Somerset on the Eastern Cape.

Australia. Robert Cooper, a prosperous
London publican,
was convicted of receiving stolen goods and transported to Australia on
the Earl Spencer in 1813. Five
years later he received a conditional
pardon and prospered in Sydney. In 1824
he was granted land rights to the Willeroo estate in the Goubourn area
of NSW. His sons James and Francis
developed this
land as a sheep station. Willeroo
remained with the Cooper family until 1914.

Thomas Cooper, a shoemaker by trade, arrived in South Australia from
Yorkshire in 1852. Ten years later he
started brewing beer in an experimental way, using his wife Anne’s
recipe. It took twenty years of trial
before Thomas was able to perfect the art of brewing at his Leabrook
plant in
the Adelaide suburbs. Thomas died in
1897. Cooper’s is now the largest
Australian brewery, still largely owned by the Cooper family.


Cooper Miscellany

The Cowpers of Cornhill in London.  These Cowpers, pronounced Cooper, may possibly trace their
ancestry back to Simon Cowper, Sheriff of London in the year 1310.  A clearer line comes from John Cowper who
married Joan Stanbridge, the heiress of Strood near Slinfold in Sussex,
in 1467.  John seems to have died young and
married again, her children by the second marriage adopting the Cowper
name.  One line of these Cowpers remained
at Strood.

The line from William Cowper established
itself in London.  Alderman John Cowper
of St. Michaels, Cornhill was Sheriff of London in 1551.
His son Sir William acquired Ratling Court at
Nonington in Kent in 1628 and, for his Royalist support, was later made
baronet.  After the Royalist defeat in
the Civil War, Sir William and his son John were imprisoned for a time
at Ely
House.  John died during his
confinement.  But Sir William lived to
see the Restoration.

Coopers of Hingham.  The Coopers have been recorded
at Hingham in mid-Norfolk since the 1360’s.
Cooper died in 1469 and left behind two legacies, one for gilding a
statue of
St. Peter and another for contributing to the construction of the
Chapel.  Joan Cooper married Robert
Lincoln (a forebear of Abraham Lincoln) in 1524.

There were two Cooper families who left Hingham, Norfolk for
Massachusetts in the 1630’s.

Anthony Cooper arrived
in Massachusetts in 1635 with his wife, four sons, four daughters, and
servants.  The family was granted a house
lot in Hingham. The names of only five children are known – John,
Jeremy, Deborah and Sarah. They were all born in England, but only the
four were baptized in Hingham, Norfolk.

Thomas Cooper came in 1638 on the Diligent
with his wife and daughters Rachel and Elizabeth.  This
family too was granted land in
Hingham.  They moved to Rehoboth in 1643.

The Coopers and the Ashley-Coopers.  Richard Cupper or Cooper from London had acquired the
Pawlett manor in Somerset in 1531.  His
grandson Sir John Cooper married
a daughter of Sir Anthony Ashley
thereby inherited their family estate at Wimborne St. Giles in Dorset.  That was where they lived and that was where
their son Anthony Ashley-Cooper, later the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, was

Austin Cooper in Wicklow.  Austin Cooper had brought his family from England in 1661 to
Butterhill in county Wicklow to start a new life as yeoman farmers
there.  He was quite a character if the
quote about him is true:

“Austin Cooper was famed for his feats of strength,
such as taking two men, one in each hand, slapping them together and
them on a dunghill!  If he held on to a
cart, the horse could not go.  And he
might be taking a man in one hand, pulling down his breeches with the
then butting his backside in the river Weye.”

might have earned this
reputation when he was laying out the garden at Blessington for his
the Archbishop of Dublin.  Austin Cooper
was the first of more than twenty Austin Coopers of his family in

The Ancestry of James Fenimore Cooper.  In 1879 William Wager Cooper compiled a Cooper
genealogy going back to immigrant James Cooper and including the family
Judge William Cooper, the founder of Cooperstown, New York.  The New York State Historical Association
published the genealogy in its annual proceedings of 1917.

Cooper had died in Albany in 1809 as a
result of a blow from behind given by a political opponent.  He and his wife Elizabeth (nee Fenimore) were
buried in Christ church cemetery in Cooperstown.

writer James Fenimore Cooper was born
James Cooper in 1789 (he added the Fenimore later after his father’s
the eighth and last of their surviving children.  He
gained fame as an author of fiction about
the American frontier.  Like his parents,
he was buried in Christ church cemetery in Cooperstown.

Peter Cook’s Legacies in New York.  Peter Cook had for many years held an interest in public
education and decided to establish his own free institute, the Cooper
for adult education in Manhattan.  He
completed his building in 1859 at a cost of $600,000.
Cooper Union offered open-admission night
classes for men and women alike.

The new
institution soon became an important part of the community and has
so.   Today Cooper Union is recognized
one of the leading American colleges in the fields of architecture,
engineering, and art.  Carrying on Peter
Cooper’s belief that college education should be free, the Cooper Union
to award all its students full scholarships until 2014.

Aside from Cooper Union,
Peter Cook is also remembered by Cooper Square, the Peter Cooper
Station post
office and the Peter Cook Village apartment complex in Manhattan and by
Peter Cooper Elementary School in Ringwood, New Jersey.



Cooper Names

  • Thomas Cooper was a 16th century English bishop, lexicographer, and writer.
  • William Cowper was a popular
    nature poet of the 18th century.
  • James Fenimore Cooper was an
    early 19th century American writer, best known for The Last of the Mohicans.
  • Duff Cooper was a British
    diplomat, Cabinet member, and writer in the first half of the 20th
    century. His wife Lady Diana Cooper was a well-known English socialite.
  • Gary Cooper was a well-known
    American actor perhaps best known for his performance in High Noon.
  • Henry Cooper was British
    heavyweight boxing champion in the 1960’s.
  • Anderson Cooper, the CNN news
    reporter, is the son of the socialite Gloria Vanderbilt.

Select Cooper Numbers Today

  • 161,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Sussex)
  • 101,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 68,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Cooper and Like Surnames   

The various medieval trades and occupations were a source of surnames as John the baker would over time would become known as John Baker.  Some skilled craftsmen – such as chandlers, fletchers and turners – were able to form guilds, protective organizations, and style themselves Worshipful Companies.  These are some of the occupational surnames that you can check out.



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