The Times/1904/Obituary/Mr. Thompson Cooper

We regret to announce the death of Mr. Thompson Cooper, F.S.A., one of the oldest members of our staff, and almost, if not quite, the oldest member of the Reporters' Gallery. He had been at work as lately as February 18, but was unable to resume his duties on the following day, and died, after a severe bronchial attack, early on Saturday morning. Mr. Cooper came of a family at one time settled in Berkshire, and was born at Cambridge about the year 1833. His father was Mr. Charles Henry Cooper, solicitor, and Town Clerk of Cambridge, and the author of the well-known work "Athenæ Cantabridgiensis." In early life he was admitted to his father's profession; but was never, on only for a short time, in actual practice, and while still a young man he devoted himself wholly to literature and journalism. He entered the Reporters' Gallery first as a representative of the Star newspaper, and joined the Parliamentary staff of The Times in 1866. About 20 years later he was appointed to the post of summary writer in the House of Commons, and in 1893 to the same position in the House of Lords, his experience and his habitual accuracy rendering him well qualified for work of this character. Mr. Cooper, however, was more than a Parliamentary reporter. At the time of his father's death the third volume of "Athenæ Cantabrigienses" was left unfinished. This he completed and saw it through the press; and, having now acquired not only a taste for biography but materials for a new work, he published in due time a concise one-volume biographical directory of his own, which is still a popular and a valuable book of reference, especially for the lives of English celebrities. If Parliamentary reporting was his business, biography may be said to have been his hobby. His industry was such that, when the great "Dictionary of National Biography" was begun, under the editorship of the late Sir Leslie Stephen, Mr. Cooper was one of those who assisted in its preparation, and unless we are mistaken, he continued in that employment until the publication of the last of the long series of volumes. His contributions to the Dictionary, though, none of them are of the first importance, are said to outnumber those of any other writer. Modern languages and subjects rather outside the range of the ordinary readers where the chief amusements of his leisure. He was an authority, for instance, on the history and art of shorthand, and published many years ago an edition of the system (Gurney's) which he himself used; and he had a considerable knowledge of matters relating to the early printing-press. There were, indeed, few questions connected with the antiquities or the curiosities of literature on which he not able and willing either to give information or to procure it by a visit to the Reading-room of the British Museum. He was a student all his life, but was fond of society nevertheless, and had many friends, by whom he will be greatly missed, most of all by his colleagues at Westminster. Mr Cooper was married, but was left a widower late in life with two daughters.

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