COOPER, Sir John, 1st Bt. (1597-1631), of Rockbourne, Hants and Thornton's Alley, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. 24 Oct. 1597,1 o.s. of Sir John Cooper† of Pawlett, Som. and Margaret, da. and coh. of Anthony Skutt of Stanton Drew, Som. m. (1) 1 Jan. 1617, Anne (d. 20 July 1628), da. and h. of Sir Anthony Ashley†, 1st bt., of Wimborne St. Giles, Dorset and High Holborn, Mdx., 2s. 1da.; (2) settlement 12 Mar. 1629, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Baptist Hicks*, 1st Visct. Campden, wid. of Sir Charles Morrison* of Cassiobury, Herts., s.p.2 suc. fa. 1610;3 cr. bt. 4 July 1622;4 kntd. 10 July 1622.5 d. 23 Mar. 1631.6

Offices Held

Commr. piracy, Dorset 1622;7 j.p. Hants 1623-d., Wilts. 1623-at least 1625, Dorset 1628-d.;8 freeman, Poole 1625;9 commr. Forced Loan, Hants 1626-7,10 martial law 1627,11 oyer and terminer, Western and Home circs. 1629-d.,12 swans, W. Country 1629, sewers, Wilts., Hants 1629.13


Cooper’s grandfather, a paymaster in Henry VIII’s service, bought Pawlett manor in about 1530. The family prospered, and Cooper’s father, a soldier who sat for Whitchurch in 1584 and 1586, died in 1610 owning nearly 7,000 acres in Somerset and Hampshire, including the Rockbourne estate which he had only recently purchased. Cooper was then still a minor, but his wardship was acquired by an uncle for £324 after a sweetener of £600 was paid to lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†).14 His connection with Dorset dated from his marriage to Sir Anthony Ashley’s only child, but initially he played little part in local affairs. In 1623 he was living with his father-in-law in St. Giles-in-the-Fields.15

Cooper was probably recommended to the electors of Poole in 1625 by his wife’s uncle, Sir Francis Ashley*. He is not known to have contributed to debate during the first Caroline Parliament, and was appointed only to legislative committees concerned with larceny, benefit of clergy, and concealed Crown lands (25 June). Later that year, he was assessed at £50 for a Privy Seal loan. Cooper again sat for Poole in 1628, this time failing to attract a single appointment. However, on 9 Feb. 1629 he confirmed the allegations of Catholic sympathies levelled by his friend Sir Daniel Norton* at Bishop Neile of Winchester.16

Despite his hostility to popery, Cooper displayed no obvious puritan leanings, being ‘of an easy and an affable nature’ and a compulsive gambler. His first wife died of smallpox in 1628, shortly after succeeding to the Ashley estate, and Cooper, who was reputedly ‘very lovely and graceful both in face and person’, married again to another wealthy widow. According to family tradition he kept three houses fully furnished and staffed, and exercised great hospitality at each of them.17 He died of consumption in 1631 at Cassiobury, his wife’s jointure estate, and was buried at Wimborne St. Giles, leaving debts computed at £40,000 or more. His widow took as her third husband a younger son of Edward Alford*. Sir Daniel Norton acted as guardian to his son and heir, Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper†, who sat for Tewkesbury in the Short Parliament, and who, as 1st earl of Shaftesbury, became one of the leading politicians of the Restoration era.18

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Sales of Wards ed. M.J. Hawkins (Som. Rec. Soc. lxvii), 16.
  • 2. CB, i. 199; Collins, Peerage, iii. 546; Dorset RO, Wimborne St. Giles par. reg.; Add. 40627, f. 118.
  • 3. Sales of Wards, 16.
  • 4. CB, i. 199.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 179.
  • 6. CB, i. 199.
  • 7. C181/3, f. 72v.
  • 8. C231/4, ff. 154, 249; C66/2367, 2527.
  • 9. Hutchins, Dorset, i. 32.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; C193/12/2, f. 51.
  • 11. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 440.
  • 12. C181/3, f. 259; 181/4, ff. 13v, 70v, 72.
  • 13. C181/4, ff. 2, 17v.
  • 14. Collins, Peerage, iii. 545; HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 648; Sales of Wards, 16-17; M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 46.
  • 15. J. Parton, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, 354.
  • 16. Procs. 1625, pp. 245-6; Add. 21922, f. 16; CD 1629, pp. 133, 180.
  • 17. W.D. Christie, Life of Shaftesbury, i. app. 1, pp. iv-vi; Add. 40629, f. 128; 40630, f. 96.
  • 18. Christie, i. app. 2, p. xxvi; Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 595; CB, i. 199; E112/173/30.