The Origins of Cooper King
My great-great-grandfather liked an adventure and a challenge. In his 55 years Charles Cooper King (1843 – 1898) sailed to the China seas and Japan; produced paintings that have since been auctioned at Christies; lectured in diverse topics from geology, magnetism and electricity to food and foraging; published several literary works and academic papers, and painstakingly produced detailed volumes of the Cooper King family tree. These were shown to me as a child by my grandmother (Charles’ granddaughter); I have been fascinated ever since.
The volumes trace the Cooper King ancestry back to the year 1030, with informative maps, beautifully drawn sketches and ornate painted crests depicting related families, not to mention the odd knight on horseback.
The four main families which form Charles and his wife’s lineage are explored: Pigot, Garret, Cooper and King. Charles traced the earliest known ancestors, the Pigots (or Pygotts), right here to North Yorkshire. From the text it appears that in 1398 Thomas Pigot was confirmed as abbot of St Mary’s Abbey, York (located within the city’s Museum Gardens). The Pigot family were also great benefactors to Ripon Cathedral, evidenced by the carvings of the Pigot shield adorning the inside of the building.
Travelling up from London in the late 1800s, Charles visited Yorkshire to research the Pigot name, which led him to the cathedral where he sketched the locations of the family crest. Retracing his steps around 130 years later, I visited the cathedral with my family last year. Using Charles’ drawings as a guide we embarked on a treasure hunt to track down all 4 shields.
The Cooper King Shield
Given the rich historical ties to England, Yorkshire and the reference to a barrel-maker, coupled with my great-great-grandfathers approach to life, the Cooper King name fitted perfectly with our venture. Taking things one step further, we’ve chosen to use the Cooper King shield to represent us and the distillery, albeit it with a modern twist thanks to much sketching from both Abbie and our York-based designer, LazenbyBrown.
The contemporary design is based upon the Cooper King coat of arms that Charles hand-painted at the start of the first volume. The top half depicts our Yorkshire roots with the three Pigot war hammers; the cross represents the Kings; the lion represents the Garrets and the Kings. We haven’t been able to include an element from the Cooper shield as this remains a mystery yet to be solved; there’s scarce information on the Cooper pedigree in the first two volumes. Rumour has it there’s a third volume which went missing in the late 1970s, which may contain the missing pieces of the family history.
If you want to find out how Abbie and I got into the world of distilling in the first place, take a look at our adventure-themed blog here: Where It All Began.