Henrye Cooper

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Henrye Cooper's Geni Profile

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Henrye Cooper

Death: Died
Cause of death: Drowning
Place of Burial: Grinton, North Yorkshire, UK
Immediate Family:

Father of Phillis Cooper; Georg Cooper; Elizabeth Cooper; Isabell Cooper and Edward Cooper

Managed by: Susan Jane Timberlake
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Henrye Cooper

Henrye (c 1620-1658) Henrye is the earliest recorded Cooper in Swalesdale. He first is found baptizing his son Edward in 1645. The earliest church records in Muker (which is the parish at the upper part of Swalesdale) were made in 1638 and in Grinton at the lower end in 1640. So it is unlikely that anyone earlier than Henrye will be found. Work continues so it may be possible to prove the link down from Henrye (1620) to William (1685) and on to Matthew (1747).


At present, the earliest proven ancestor (ie we have copies of birth and marriage records to prove lineage from him to the present) is Matthew whose earliest record is his marriage in 1775 in Muker in Swalesdale, one of the dales in North Yorkshire. At the time he was living in a tiny hamlet of 14 dwellings called Ivelet, about 1 ¾ miles from Muker. Although no trace has been found of his baptism, it is very likely that Matthew was the son of William Cooper.

William died in Ivelet in 1779 and in view of the smallness of Ivelet, it is most unlikely that two families of the same name could have lived there unless they were related. William was born in 1717 in another Hamlet called Potting, (1 and a quarter miles from Ivelet) His wife Margaret died in 1796 also in Ivelet so it seems reasonable to assume she lived with her son and his family.

That William was the son of another William married in Potting in 1711 and died in another tiny village nearby called Blades (2 miles from Potting).

There are other branches of Coopers in Swalesdale, all children of the William living in Potting in 1711 registering marriages and the baptisms of their children: 2 in Gunnerside, 1 in Grinton, but none in Ivelet itself. Pending proof otherwise, it is the present working assumption therefore that this William is our earliest ancestor. Given that men then were married at about 21-25, it is reasonable to take 1687-1691 as his likely date of birth.

As will be seen hereunder, the only occupation in Swalesdale at the time was lead mining and in the 1600’s, the mines being worked were lower down the valley, near Grinton. It could be, therefore,, that the first William was the son of Georg. Georg was married in Grinton in 1673. There are no records of any other Coopers having children in Swalesdale at the time. It could also be that Georg was the son of Henrye who lived in Healaugh. Healaugh is a mining village 2 and a half miles further still down the valley from Blades and only 2 miles from Grinton.

Alternatives are: 1/ That Matthew came with a James Cooper over the Moors from Gt Strickland in Westmorland in the 1760’s or 1770’s. James is on record that he came to Redmire cum Bolton just over the Moors from Swalesdale in Wensleydale. He was a joiner as was his father, but 2 brothers coming to the district might have been expected to settle closer together and both, like their father, to have been joiners. 2/ The first William who was based in Potting and married in 1711 is most likely to be our first Matthew’s grandfather having regard to the concentration of Coopers in Ivelet, but William may have come to Swalesdale to work in the mines there from some other part of the country. There are 2 possible other tracings of the origins of that first William. In 1689, a William Cooper was baptized in Sessay near Thirsk and another in the same year at Askham Bryan near York. While either of these is possible, he could have come from just anywhere.

To string a hypothesis and a story together, the following is based on the presumption that Henrye is the earliest ancestor.

the middle of the 1600’s, only mining and agriculture were the two occupations in Swalesdale. Only the flood plain of Swale had been claimed from Moorland. This land was divided into small irregularly shaped fields given over to oats, potatoes, some cattle and some sheep. The weather in the valley has always been unpredictable, so getting a crop was uncertain. Most locals therefore worked well to find lead ore of which there was a great deal. In the early days the ore was found at or close to the surface. Lead mining in Swalesdale was taking place in greatest concentration near Grinton where there was a smelting Mill. The mines that were being worked were south of the River Swale. The mining techniques (before the use of blasting) were either shallow shafts or hushing. Water was always a problem in the early days when vertical shafts filled with water and miners were perpetually in wet clothes in unventilated tunnels using dim tallow lights. When possible hushing was preferred where a stream or other water source would be held back behind a dam above a likely crack or fault in the limestone. Heavy rocks would be pick-axed free and the surface generally broken up. When the water was released from the dam, it would wash the lighter materials away and the heavy lead ore would be retained behind a barrier lower down the hillside.

Henrye lived at Healaugh just north of the River and he would have walked to work often wading through the river because the bridge was a long detour. He would have been dressed in rough clothes and taken with him some oatcake or coarse bread. Henrye had 5 children baptized at the church at Grinton as follows: Edward b18/5/1645, d at Heaulaugh, buried Grinton 12/2/1700) Eliz b 24/1/1647 (she married Robt Richardson 25/11/1677 at Grinton) Isabell b 23/3/1651 Georg c 1652 (see under) Phylliss 18/3/1655 Henry was found drowned in the swale and was buried at Grinton on 21/6/1658. Even in summer, the Swale will rise suddenly following a storm. Was Henrye drowned on his way home from work too tired to go round by the bridge? Did he dive in to wash himself after work on a warm summer evening/ Was he fishing for food for the family? When he died, his eldest boy, Edward, was 13, Phyllis only 3 When the lead ore had been extracted, it was further broken down by hand and made ready for smelting. This work called ‘dressing the ore’, was done by women and young boys. Edward was probably already working when his father died. Boys started working in the mines then aged between 10-12 years. His widow, would have worked at the mine with Edward dressing the ore. Despite the hardship, the six of them survived.

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Henrye Cooper's Timeline

January 24, 1645
Age 25
March 18, 1645
Age 25
March 23, 1645
Age 25
May 18, 1645
Age 25
Age 25
June 21, 1658
Age 38
Grinton, North Yorkshire, UK
June 1658
Age 38