George and Thomas Cooper were sons of Thomas and Eleanor Cooper, a non-conformist family and grocers and drapers in Melksham. George Cooper was born 5th July 1807 and baptised in Melksham on 16th August. He died in Melksham on 14th Sept. 1840 after a short illness, "much regretted and esteemed for his social qualities." Thomas Cooper, Wine & Spirit Merchant of Melksham, George's younger brother, was born in Melksham on 2nd April 1809 and baptised 2nd of July. Thomas and George Cooper's only sister Jemima Cooper was born 15th May 1813 and baptised in Broughton Gifford, she married William Clarke in 1838. She died age 42 on 30th Jan. 1856 at Bourton, Bishop's Cannings, near Devizes.
On the night of 6th March 1827 thieves broke into the musical instrument shop of Mr. Cochrane and the same night an unsuccessful attempt was made on the shop of Mrs. E. Cooper, grocer & draper. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 08 March 1827).
In March 1832, John Mundy, Ezekiel Redman and Job Cottle were committed to the Devizes House of Correction for twenty days each for willfully breaking the windows of George and Thomas Cooper. (Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - Thursday 15 March 1832).
And in 1833: "On Monday last, Melksham fair-day, a fellow, names James Nicholson, went into the shop of Messrs. Cooper, at Melksham, and asked if he could be obliged of one of the new shillings for an old one. Miss Cooper, who was present, took some money from her pocket for the purpose of seeing whether she had a new shilling or not: amongst the change was a sovereign. This fellow no sooner espied, than he seized it , and exclaiming "I have got it!" ran off. He was, however, immediately pursued, and overtaken, and has since been committed to Devizes Old Bridewell." (Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 05 August 1833).
In 1837: "The spirit cellars of Messrs. Cooper of Melksham were broken into during the night of Friday last, and about 9 gallons of spirits stolen therefrom. The thief effected and entrance by making an aperture in the wall." The goods stolen were a copper measure and a quantity of Rum, Shrub (an alcoholic herbal cordial originally produced in Devon & Cornwall by mixing sugar and citrus rinds with brandy or rum, it is said often made by smugglers to disguise contamination by seawater) and Peppermint to the value of £4. (Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - Thursday 16 March 1837 and Wiltshire Independent - Thursday 16 March 1837).
Eleanor, the Cooper's mother, died on the 8th of August 1843, aged 71, at the house of her son. Thomas Cooper carried on the grocer and drapery business alongside the wine and spirit merchant trade developed by his brother and himself. He married Anne Hulbert early in 1847, registered in Bradford on Avon, and they had a son George Hulbert Cooper in 1847, baptised in West Lavington on 13th Jan. 1848. Sadly Anne, Thomas's wife, died on 12th January, the day before the baptism of their son, aged just 29, likely from complications arising from George's birth. Thomas Cooper died on 7th March 1857 in Melksham aged 47. He left his housekeeper Sophia Stacey an annunity of £20 a year and his estate in trust for his orphaned son.
|2 & 4 Gallon Saltglaze Stone Jars.|
|Impressed: G. & T.
COOPER / Brandy Merchants / MELKSHAM.
Potter: Bristol?. 2 gal. = fragment only.
|4 Gallon Pale Saltglaze Stone Jar.|
|Impressed: 4 / G. & T.
Cooper / Brandy Merchants / Melksham.
|2 Gallon Stone Jar|
THOs. COOPER / Brandy
Merchant / MELKSHAM.
Potter: Price & Sons Stoneware Bristol.(diamond mark).