COOPER, John (1552-1610), of Pawlett, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 24 Sept. 1552, s. of John Cooper of Winscombe by Jane, da. of Sir John Kingsmill of Sydmonton, Hants. m. Martha, da. of Anthony Skutt of Stanton Drew, 1s. 4da. suc. fa. 1566. Kntd. by 1603.1

Offices Held

Gent. pens. 1583;2 j.p. Som. 1591.


Though there were two other John Coopers—a son of John Cowper of Ditcham and a Serjeant Cooper, one of those asked by the Privy Council in 1588 to prepare bills for the next Parliament3—it is reasonably certain that the Whitchurch MP was John Cooper of Pawlett, nephew of John Kingsmill, chancellor of the bishop of Winchester.

Cooper was a soldier, a dependant of Sir John Norris who encouraged him to join the group of gentlemen who undertook to colonize Munster and provide forces to defend it. While in Ireland in the summer of 1586, Cooper received a grant of land in Cork, but was almost immediately dispossessed of it by Sir Warham St. Leger, who claimed it in mortgage from the previous owner, the Earl of Desmond. Cooper now became disillusioned with the project, returned to England and took his case to the Privy Council. The dispute lasted until 1593, when the Council suggested that, if no other solution could be found, Cooper and St. Leger should divide the land. Cooper had in the meantime served under Sir John Norris in the expedition to Portugal in 1589, and had distinguished himself at the battle of the Groyne.

In 1608 he purchased the manor of Rockbourne, Hants, from the heir of Francis Keilway, planning to rebuild the house. Work was still incomplete when he made his will, 5 Nov. 1610, and he arranged for it to be continued during the years of his son’s minority, under the supervision of his executors—his brother George, and his friends George Roynon, William Lyde and Roger Teage. He provided marriage portions of £1,500 each for his three unmarried daughters and £700 for his married daughter, if her husband would grant her the jointure that Cooper suggested. He appointed a tutor for his son, arranging that he should spend one year in the country, another at Oxford, three years in France and the remainder of his minority, if possible, in the service of ‘the prince’. He made small bequests to his servants and to the poor, and provided money to build tombs for his father and mother at Winscombe, for his brother Maurice at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and for himself at Rockbourne. The will was contested by the children, judgment being given in favour of the executors. Cooper died 25 Nov. 1610. His son Sir John married a daughter of Sir Anthony Ashley, who inherited an estate at Wimborne St. Giles, in Dorset, where they lived and where their son Anthony, later 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, was born. The ruins of Cooper’s house at Rockbourne survive.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Collins, Peerage, iii. 545; C142/143/23; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 48; Som. Wills, ed. Brown, i. 19; iv. 28.
  • 2. E407/1/15-40.
  • 3. APC, xvi. 417; PCC 17 Dixy, 107 Soame.
  • 4. CSP Ire. 1586-8, pp. 243, 271, 450, 508; 1588-92, pp. 15, 74-5, 131, 485, 590; 1592-6, pp. 32-3, 89; APC, xxii. 445, 554; Lansd. 113, f. 148; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 596; VCH Hants, iv. 583; PCC 108 Wood, 103 Fenner; CP, xi. 642; C142/313/103.