CUPPER (COUPER), Richard (by 1519-83/84), of London; Powick and Worcester, Worcs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1519, 5th s. of Thomas Cupper of ‘Stevington, Salop’ by Isabella, da. of one Cooke of ‘Baynton, Salop.’ educ. ?Queens’, Camb. BA 1524/25, ?I. Temple. m. disp. 8 June 1545, Anne, da. of Robert Pakington of London, s.p.2

Offices Held

?Christmas butler, I. Temple 1549, 1552, 1554, 1555.

?Bailiff of abbey’s liberty, Burton-upon-Trent Staffs. by 1535; ?dep. clerk of the peace, Staffs. until 1536; Servant, household of Chancellor Audley in 1541; jt. (with Arthur Stourton) bailiff, manor of Kenilworth, Warws. 1546; receiver-gen. to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Lords Paget of Beaudesert by 1546-71, to Anne, Lady Paget by 1565; commr. chantries, Herefs. Worcs. 1546, Salop, Staffs. 1548; surveyor, ct. augmentations, Salop 29 Apr. 1547-54, the Exchequer 1554-d.; receiver, duchy of Lancaster, Leics. In 1551-2 and 1580-1, Second clerk of the treasury, ct. common pleas by 1558, prothonotary 5 Oct. 1558.3


Although the origins and early life of Richard Cupper are not easy to trace, for he had many contemporary namesakes, the fact that his own name rarely appears as Couper or Cowper, and never in papers originating in his various offices, makes it less difficult to distinguish him from the numerous bearers of the name in these forms, most of whom were in any case of humble stock whereas he was styled gentleman or esquire. Of two men of that quality with whom he might be identified, the first, a Somerset justice of the peace who died in 1566, is the less likely on the ground that Cupper’s service under successive Pagets and in various offices appears to have continued beyond that time, and it is with the second, a Worcestershire gentleman whose death occurred about the time that Cupper’s name disappears from the records, that he is more readily identified.4

Cupper may have been the ‘Richard Cowper’ educated at Cambridge at the same time as William Paget as well as the ‘Richard Cooper’ found later at the Inner Temple, where Thomas Audley I was a leading figure. In 1536 Audley told Cromwell that after a charge of extortion he had examined one Richard Cupper and on finding him ‘little learned in the law’ had replaced him as deputy clerk of the peace for Staffordshire. The man in question appealed to Cromwell for redress, and although the minister took no action Audley himself may have done so, for in 1541 a Richard Cupper, gentleman, was assessed at £40 in lands as a member of the chancellor’s household; Audley could also have helped Cupper to obtain a place in the court of augmentations, where a ‘Mr. Cowper’ was at work as early as 1538. The fact that Cupper was occasionally associated with his superior in the court, Thomas Pope, perhaps as Pope’s assistant, makes it likely that John Berwick was referring to him and not his brother Walter when writing to the Earl of Hertford in 1544 about woods which Hertford wished to buy. Cupper used his position to acquire land in Shropshire and Worcestershire from the crown, making his first known purchase there for £336 in 1544 In the following year he married an heiress who some days before had been allowed by the aldermen of London to marry at her pleasure: her decision was evidently accepted by her family as Cupper was soon involved in the affairs of the Baldwins and Pakingtons. A year later he and John Arscott concluded an exchange of lands between the King and Bishop Sampson of Lichfield by which the King received the manor of Beaudesert: as the manor was shortly afterwards conveyed to Sir William Paget the transaction is likely to have strengthened Cupper’s link with Paget and Staffordshire. The surviving accounts in his name for Paget’s estates begin at Michaelmas 1546 and there is no earlier evidence of a relationship between them: the ‘Mr. Coper’ who in 1535 was bailiff of a franchise held by Burton abbey and later by Paget was perhaps a local man.5

Paget doubtless had a hand in Cupper’s election to the Parliament of 1547, in which he sat for Leominster with William Crowche, a receiver employed by the Protector Somerset and perhaps already, like Cupper, a surveyor in the augmentations. Cupper’s connexion with the Pakingtons, who owned land in Herefordshire, and in particular with (Sir) John Pakington, a member of the council in the marches, probably assisted his return, as may have his recent survey of the chantries there. The Journal throws no light on his part in this Parliament but he presumably supported the private Act (3 and 4 Edw. VI, no. 25) passed during the third session enabling Paget to acquire the churchyard at West Drayton in exchange for other property. By the time of the following Parliament Paget was in disgrace, and Cupper is not known to have been reelected. When his master was dismissed as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster he seems to have lost his own appointment there, but this was to be restored to him later. The advent of Mary saw a revival of Paget’s fortunes and Cupper’s re-appearance in Parliament. That it was he, and not the Somerset justice or a Wiltshire kinsman (d. 30 Oct. 1558), who sat for Old Sarum in the Queen’s second parliament is clear from the identity of his fellow-Member, who was Edmund Twyneho, another of Paget’s servants and also a colleague in the duchy: the names of both men were inserted in a different hand on the return. In the last Parliament of the reign Cupper sat for Lichfield, a borough enfranchised at Paget’s request and in the vicinity of his house at Beaudesert.6

For as long as Cupper remained in the service of Paget and his family he lived in the parish of St. Clement Dane’s, either in Paget House or nearby. His last service to his master was to oversee Paget’s will, and he was to perform the same duty for the heir, Henry Paget. Within three years of Henry Paget’s death he was replaced as the family’s receiver-general and surveyor, but despite this he continued to advise Henry’s widow (even after her marriage to Edward Carey) and to act as a trustee for the family until the early 1580s. His closing years seem to have been spent in retirement at Powick managing his property and supervising the work in his gardens. It was there that he made his will, dated only 1582, asking to be buried in the chancel of the church. After remembering the poor in several parishes in Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire (including Burton-upon-Trent and Lichfield) and Worcestershire, and prisoners in London and Worcester, he provided for his servants and numerous relatives. He left to his ‘good friend’ Edmund Plowden a goblet, and to the 3rd Lord Paget and his mother some plate. He also thought that he still owed 40s. to the stonemason who carved the tomb of (Sir) John Baldwin and remedied this omission. On 18 Sept. 1583 he made further provision for his servants and relatives, and named his brother John Cupper and his niece Catherine, the wife of George Christopher, as executors and Edmund Colles as overseer. As his brother died in February 1584 his will was proved by his nephew Vincent and his niece on 10 Dec. 1584.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: Elizabeth McIntyre / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from his standing as surety for Thomas Pope in 1540. Vis. Oxon (Harl. Soc. v), 204; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 103; Mar. Lic. Fac. Off. (Harl. Soc. xxiv), 4.
  • 3. Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. (n.s.) 1907, pp. 160-1; LP Hen. VIII, xi, xxi; NRA 0010 passim; information from C. J. Harrison; Somerville, Duchy, i. 572; Rep. R. Comm. of 1552 (Archs. of Brit. Hist. and Culture iii), 53, 104; CPR 1548-9, p. 137; 1557-8, p. 400; 1569-72, p. 198; 1572-5, p. 57.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iv-vi, xiii-xvii, xix; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. (n.s.) 1901, p. 227; 1902, pp. 249, 271, 321-2; 1907, p. 20; 1926, p. 36; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. iii. 254; CPR, 1547-8 to 1569-72 passim.; C142/122/16, 143/23; PCC 19 Welles, 27 Crymes; Somerville, i. 608; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc.) i. 353.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xiii, xvi, xix-xxi; HMC Bath, iv. 90-91; CPR, 1547-8, p. 11; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 10, ff. 24, 240v; 11, f. 195; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. (n.s.) 1907, pp. 160-1; Staffs. Rec. Soc. 1939, pp. 10, 138, 153-5, 157; S.W. Hutchinson, Archdeaconry of Stoke-on-Trent, 10-11.
  • 6. E163/12/17, no. 57; Somerville, i. 572; C142/132/202; 219/22/91.
  • 7. Staffs. RO, EPC2/2, no. 20, f.1v; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xii. 234-5; (n.s.) 1926, p. 92; CPR, 1554-5, p. 347; 1558-60, pp. 132, 154; 1560-3, pp. 132, 200, 551; PCC 27 Chayre, 11 Sheffelde, 29 Watson; VCH Worcs. iv. 188; C142/209/17.