COOPER was an occupational name 'a maker and seller of wooden caskets or tubs' a common and early trade name leaving many descendants. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Early records of the name mention Cupere (without surname) 1176 County Surrey. Henry le Cupper was documented in the County of Nottingham, 1273. Willelmus Couper of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert Cupper was the bailiff of Yarmouth in the year of 1425. William Cooper married Winifred Cope at St. Michaels, Cornhill, London in 1607. James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), a writer of stories dealing especially with the Red Indians. A notable member of this name was Sir Astley Cooper (1768-1841) an English surgeon, born a clergyman's son, at Norfolk. After studying at London and Edinburgh, he lectured at St. Thomas's Hospital, London (1789). In 1800, he became surgeon to Guy's Hospital, and in 1820 he removed a tumour from the head of King George 1V. He was made a Baronet and in 1828 was appointed sergeant-surgeon to the King. This English occupational name has been prominent among the Anglo-Irish gentry since the mid-seventeenth century in four counties, particularly in County Sligo. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (Mansion House, Bengeworth, descended from an ancient family who possessed estates in Co. Oxford of which family was Thomas Cooper, colonel in Oliver Cromwell's army, by whom he was called to the Upper House in 1685.)
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