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Mary Burnett (Cooper)

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: July 19, 1706 (84)
Southampton, Suffolk County, New York, Now United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Cooper of the Hopewell and Wibroe (Griggs) Cooper
Wife of Thomas Burnett, Jr.
Mother of John Burnett; Joel Burnett; Esther Leamyng; Aaron Harris Burnett (Sr); Merrium Fithian and 6 others
Sister of Ann Phillips; John Cooper, III; Thomas Cooper; Samuel Cooper; Martha Cooper and 5 others
Half sister of Henry Pierson, of Southampton

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Burnett

Mary Cooper was baptized on 12 Aug 1621 in Olney, Buckinghamshire, daughter of John Cooper and Wibroe Griggs. She emigrated on the Hopewell, 1635, to Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony with her parents. She was not named in her father's 1662 will.

Perhaps she was the Mary "Pierson" who was the wife of Thomas Burnett, Jr. ; her half brother was Henry Pierson.

disputed origins


So either Mary Cooper had died prior to her fathers death in 1662 but with no record, or, she was alive but for some reason left out of her father will. But if left out of her father will, why? Was it something she her husband had done? I searched the records again for all mentions of Thomas Burnet and found something very interesting. According to the First Book of Records of the Town of Southampton (Hedges, Pelletreau, Foster, 1874) there are at least three incidents that ended up in court between John Cooper and Thomas Burnet. On two of those occasions, John Cooper was charged with battery on the person of Thomas Burnet. Battery was an almost unheard of occurrence in puritan Southampton so this seems significant. Clearly Deacon Cooper had a serious issue with Thomas Burnet. None of the records gave a reason why he attacked Thomas Burnet, just that he did. Could they have been father and son-in-law? Thomas and Mary Burnet did name their first son John. Could this possibly have been after John Cooper? The question is then was John Cooper dislike of Thomas Burnet cause enough for him to leave his daughter Mary and her children out of his will, assuming they were married?

In the book: The Records for the Court of Sessions of Southampton County in the Province of New York 1670-1688, by Thomas W. Cooper, Heritage Books, 1993, pages 73-75, is the inventory of John Cooper, Jr., Mary's brother, taken when he died intestate some 15 years after his father. In that inventory is an item, the only one without a value; "one bed ofMaryes given her by her father". This inventory was taken by five people, one of whom was Thomas Cooper, brother to John (and Mary). This is also the only item in the inventory showing ownership of an item by someone other than the deceased John. If Mary had been deceased before her brother, why identify the bed as belonging to Mary? A reasonable interpretation is that John had been holding this bed for his sister Mary. If so, Mary was alive in 1677. This also further supports the idea that there was some longstanding disagreement between Mary Cooper and her father John Cooper in that she had not (as of her brother death) yet accepted the bed.

There is still another account from the records of Southampton showing that Henry Pierson, the town clerk, was directed to act on behalf of the family of Thomas Burnet and required any purchase Thomas made of over 5 had to be approved by him. Apparently Thomas was more generous with his money than his peers thought he should be. There is no indication of how long Henry Pierson overseeing of Thomas spending lasted, but it the only incident of its kind in the early records. It seems to indicate a special relationship between Henry Pierson and Thomas Burnet. If they were brothers-in-law Henry would be looking out for his sister family and their assets which, based on Thomas will were significant. Thomas had done fairly well for his family in Southampton. How much of that is attributable to Henry Pierson is unclear but may have been a factor. Henry died in 1680, just four years before Thomas did.

In summary, I thought it more than coincidental that Howell had mistakenly misplaced two Mary Piersons, the first who Thomas Burnet did not marry in 1663 and the second Mary Pierson (he presumed was Mary Coopers married name) who did not marry Henry Pierson (she could not have). I also have a nagging feeling that among the bits and pieces Howell collected for his history was one he missed, misinterpreted, or second-guessed. That being that Mary, if a sister to Henry Pierson could easily have been assumed to have been surnamed Pierson, especially if the original source was unaware they were half-siblings. Otherwise why was Howell looking 600 miles away from Southampton to a place Thomas Burnet had not been for 20 years for a Mary Pierson when there was a Mary (Pierson) Cooper in Southampton right under his nose? But there are more parts to this puzzle.Mary Cooper was unaccounted for in early Southampton records as Mary Cooper. She was not mentioned in her fathers will but was mentioned in her brother will in 1677. There is the fact that Thomas Burnet and John Cooper had some longstanding disagreement. Then Henry Pierson was overseeing Thomas' spending. Each of these indirect (with regards to Mary Cooper) pieces of evidence could easily have more than one explanation, but collectively they all have one possible explanation in common - that Mary Cooper was the wife of Thomas Burnet. All the above sources are quoted so that if you or anyone else wants to follow up on them you can. I may also be able to help in cases where you can find a particular source locally as I have copies of most of them here. Any questions or comments are welcome.

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Mary Burnett's Timeline

August 12, 1621
Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
August 12, 1621
Olney, Buckingham, England
Age 25
Long Island
Age 26
Southampton, Suffolk, NY, USA
Age 31
Southampton, Long Island, NY

Southampton, Long Island, Suffolk Co., NY (probably)

Age 33
Long Island, New York, United States
Age 34
Long Island
October 20, 1657
Age 36
Suffolk, Livingston, NY, USA