Thompson Cooper

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Thompson Cooper (8 January 1837, Cambridge – 5 March 1904, London) was an English journalist, man of letters, and compiler of reference works. He became a specialist in biographical information, and is noted as the most prolific contributor to the Victorian era Dictionary of National Biography , for which he wrote 1423 entries. [1]

Cambridge City and non-metropolitan district in England

Cambridge is a university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of London. At the United Kingdom Census 2011, its population was 123,867 including 24,506 students. Cambridge became an important trading centre during the Roman and Viking ages, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area as early as the Bronze Age. The first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although modern city status was not officially conferred until 1951.

<i>Dictionary of National Biography</i> multi-volume reference work

The Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published since 1885. The updated Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) was published on 23 September 2004 in 60 volumes and online, with 50,113 biographical articles covering 54,922 lives.



Thompson Cooper was the son of Charles Henry Cooper, a Cambridge solicitor and antiquarian. Educated privately in Cambridge, Cooper was nominally articled to his father, and joined him in his antiquarian pursuits. [2] He became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries aged 23, and at some point converted to Roman Catholicism. [2]

Charles Henry Cooper was an English antiquarian.

As a young man, he was a parliamentary reporter, and developed an interest in shorthand. His Parliamentary Short-Hand was published in 1858. Cooper became sub-editor on the Daily Telegraph in 1861, and the paper's parliamentary reporter in 1862. In 1866 he began a long connection with The Times : he was the paper's parliamentary reporter 1866–1886, its summary-writer for the House of Commons 1886–98, and from 1898 its summary-writer for the House of Lords. [2]

<i>The Times</i> British newspaper, founded 1785

The Times is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register, adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by News Corp. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently, and have only had common ownership since 1967.

House of Commons of the United Kingdom lower house in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Officially, the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House.

House of Lords upper house in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Officially, the full name of the house is the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.

Reference works

With his father Charles Henry Cooper he compiled Athenae Cantabrigienses, a biographical work covering alumni of the University of Cambridge.

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

The Register and Magazine of Biography (1869) was a short-lived periodical venture for John Gough Nichols, covering contemporary biography only, and lasting six months. [3] A New Biographical Dictionary appeared in 1873, and was subsequently developed under various titles. [4]

John Gough Nichols English printer and antiquary

John Gough Nichols (1806–1873) was an English printer and antiquary, the third generation in a family publishing business with strong connection to learned antiquarianism.

Men of Mark: A Gallery of Contemporary Portraits was a series of photographic portraits, accompanied by short biographies from Cooper. [5] It was published from 1876 to 1883.

Cooper therefore brought considerable experience to the DNB when it launched in the 1880s. [1] He played a general editorial role as "compiler of the lists of names to be treated under B and future letters", but his speciality as a contributor was "Roman Catholic divines and writers". [6] He was also a prolific contributor to the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

He was buried in Norwood Cemetery. [7]


  1. 1 2; other sources say 1422.
  2. 1 2 3 A. A. Brodribb, ‘Cooper, Thompson (1837–1904)’, rev. G. Martin Murphy, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 11 October 2008
  3. Julian Pooley, The Nichols Archive Project and its Value for Leicester Historians (PDF), p. 9.
  4. Men of the Time: a Dictionary of Contemporaries; Biographical Dictionary. Containing Concise Notices (upwards of 15,000) of Eminent Persons of all Ages and Countries.
  5. Quicklist of Cartoons
  6. Sidney Lee, 'Statistical Account' of the DNB, 1900, p. lxiii
  7. "The Late Mr. Thompson Cooper" (37338). London: The Times. 10 March 1904. p. 9; col F. Retrieved 11 October 2008.

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