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Bluff Head Cove - Part 4

James Ivany

(from The Fisherman's Advocate, February 19, 1965)



I said at the end of Part Three that I was going to take a short cut to the coming of Absalom Cooper. But before I do let me try to explain the worth of the Cooper coat of arms, of which I hold three in my possession. Of course it will prolong the story, but I hope it will be as interesting and educational to readers - especially those of the Newfoundland Cooper clan - as it has been to me.

Should one wonder why the "Three", the answer has already been given in the fact that the tremendous host of Coopers in the world today are not the posterity of one man, but many different clans.

However, in the Thorndike-Barnhart Dictionary, coat of arms is defined as a shield or the drawing of a shield with pictures and designs painted on it.

Long, long ago, in the middle ages, the shield was commonly used in warfare not only as a symbol to distinguish one fighting side from another, but was also held in front of the body to prevent a deadly thrust of the long spear. The coat of arms, with the shield, was given and worn in the form of a badge for distinguished deeds such as bravery, heroism or merit.

An erroneous idea is entertained by some that heraldic symbols denote an aristocratic or exclusive class. On the contrary, these badges of distinction were the reward for personal merit and could be secured by the humblest as well as the highest. Their only use or value today is they are kept as cherished souvenirs or testimonials of bravery, heroism and meritorious deeds of one's ancestors; and they appeal to the intelligent and enlightened descendants of these distinguished families, as the valiant and self-sacrificing acts of our generation would appeal to our descendants after we have passed on into the silent land of the dead.

Two of the coat of arms which I have belong to the two Cooper clans whose first descendants came to Central America early in the seventeenth century; and their succeeding descendants are now living in eastern and southern United States like Virginia, and North and South Carolina. But the other one, really and truly belongs to the Cooper clan that now seems to have ended its pilgrimage on the shores of Newfoundland and parts of Nova Scotia.

I picked up its trace, first, away back in the reign of King Charles II, in 1661. It was then in the possession of Anthony Ashley Cooper who was made Earl of Shaftesbury as a favor or reward for political reasons - one in particular in championing the bringing back of Charles II from the Continent where he had fled after the battle of Naseby. But Anthony didn't earn it. It was given to him by his grandfather in 1631, when Anthony was 10 years old. It was awarded to John Cooper for miraculously saving a child from drowning in the water of the deep river Severn.

I don't suppose a written description of mine will be of much help to one in realizing its real beauty and glamour - but there is no harm in trying.

No doubt being under glass and frame - as I have it - adds much to it lustrous appearance. But also, in photographic or painted sketch - without the glass and frame - it has a charming appeal.

The thin edge of the shield, which is draped at the top and half-way down on each side with an attractive and sprawling scroll, is shaped like a titanic "U" with a sharp curved point at central bottom. its flat surface is of argent or silver color with the image of three courageous looking bulls sketched in black. There are two at the top - and one at the center bottom. they all have the same pose of self defence or defiance against anything that may come as hurtful, undesirable and unwanted. And on the blood red crest of the helmet and a little above the octopus looking scroll, there stands another bull of the same color and pose. In a sense these four bulls are the most important part of the coat of arms; for they are there to represent courage, which is an assumed inheritance of Newfoundland Coopers and their offsprings under any other name.

(To be continued)

Return to Bluff Head Cove Index

Page Transcribed by: James Butler 1998
Page Revised: July 2002 (Terry Piercey)


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