A descendent of One of Earliest Settlers in Blessington Pays Us a Visit
Recently, Michael Cooper from Sydney Australia paid a brief visit to Blessington and met two of our members, Kathy Trant and Janet Halligan. Michael is researching his family history and particularly wished to obtain a lead on Austin Cooper or his immediate descendents. Of great interest to us was the fact that in the 1660s Austin Cooper, on the invitation of Michael Boyle, the founder of Blessington, came to work on the layout of the gardens attached to Blessington House. Austin Cooper was born at Hampton Court where his father held a position under Charles I and later he acquired property in Byfleet, Surrey, which he sold for £1,500 before coming to Blessington when he was about 40 years. He was married to a niece of Erasmus Smith, noted for his endowment of schools for the education of his Irish tenants. Austin Cooper had a family of seven boys, three of whom married and had families. Joseph was keeper of Richmond Park in London, while the other two acquired land in the Blessington area - Thomas held land near Drogheda as well as in Aghfarrel near Manor Kilbride, while Austin was based in Butterhill close to Blessington. The latter married Susanna, daughter of Ephraim Rainsford, whose family had a long association with the area and who operated the mill at Blessington into the 18th century. Samuel Cooper a son of Austin and Susanna, retained the land in Butterhill and had five daughters and three sons. One of these, Joseph, settled in Barn Hall near Leixlip and it is from this branch of the family that Michael Cooper, our recent visitor to Blessington, is descended.
We were able to tell Michael, that Thomas Cooper, a son of the first Austin to settle in Ireland, attended the dedication of St Mary's Church in Blessington in September 1683. Another descendant was christened in St Mary's in the early decades of the 17th century. Thereafter, the Blessington end of the story dies out.
We were pleased to welcome Michael to Blessington and his story corroborates the theory that many families were brought over from England by Michael Boyle to settle on his newly acquired Blessington estate.