George Cope Cope was initiated into the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London on 18 June 1895. He chose the Latin motto ‘Pax nobis ille’. His address while he was a member was 14 Pembridge Square London. He didn’t ever take his initiation any further.
George Cope was a member of the Irish landed gentry, a member of the Cope family of county Armagh. His father, John Alexander Mainley Pinniger had married Georgina Garland in 1848. Georgina’s mother, Anna, was the daughter of Nicholas Archdall Cope of Drumilly. When Anna Cope Garland died in May 1867 John and Georgina Pinniger inherited her estate at Drumilly on condition that they change their surname to Cope, which they did in August of that year.
John Alexander Mainley Pinniger (later Cope) was a solicitor, originally working for a firm in Gray’s Inn but later as a partner in Messrs Cope, Rose and Pearson of 26 St George Street Westminster. He was the personal legal advisor to the Sackville-West family who owned Knole House in Kent, and his other clients included members of the Tyzack banking family. He also acted as solicitor to the pioneer of international communication by telegraph, John Watkins Brett - something of an onerous task, it seems, as Brett’s cable-laying companies seemed to have had more than their share of financial crises. However, through his involvement with Brett, John Pinniger, later Cope, got to know the directors of the various companies Brett founded to lay cables across the UK, under the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic to Canada; the directors included several men whose children became members of the Golden Dawn. The Pinniger family also knew John Lettsom Elliot and his family. John Lettsom Elliot managed the Elliot brewery in Pimlico. Perhaps John Pinniger was the brewery’s solicitor; or the families may just have been friendly. John Lettsom Elliot’s grandson, Hugh Elliot, was a member of the Golden Dawn.
John Pinniger, later Cope, and Georgina had three daughters, and four sons of whom George was the youngest, baptised as George Cope Pinniger on 29 July 1855 in the church at Parkstone near Bournemouth. I can’t find the family on the 1861 census, I suppose they were visiting relatives in Ireland. I can’t find George on the 1871 census either, but his family were in their house at 4 Cambridge Square in the triangle between Edgeware Road and Hyde Park, in one of the best-served households of any GD member. John A M Cope employed a butler, a footman and a lady’s maid; as well as a governess for George’s sisters, a cook, a nurse, two housemaids and a kitchen maid. Victorian servants may have been badly paid on the whole, especially the female ones, but this was still serious expenditure on the part of George’s parents.
I don’t know where the boy now known as George Cope Cope went to school, but in 1873 he followed his elder brothers Edgar and Frederick to Pembroke College Cambridge; the fourth brother, Arthur, didn’t go to university but joined his father’s firm and qualified as a solicitor. George graduated in 1877, and - again like brother Edgar - qualified as a barrister in 1879, becoming a member of the Inner Temple. He had offices at 12 King’s Bench Walk in the Inner Temple precinct and earned his living at the Surrey court sessions for many years but I do question his commitment to his profession. He didn’t rise through the legal hierarchy, never became a King’s Counsel (they earn the highest fees) or a judge; never took on the kind of case that was reported in the Press; and may have all but retired while still quite young.
In November 1871 John A M Cope was appointed a JP for the county of Armagh, so he had to spend some weeks of each year carrying out his duties as a magistrate there, but the the family home was still in London, at 14 Pembridge Square, north of Notting Hill Gate, where John Cope died in 1892. Although George Cope gave his mother’s home as his address when he joined the GD, he wasn’t actually living there by then. According to a memoir by the social reformer Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, he was living in a block of flats in Somerset Terrace Euston Road with a friend, John Greenhalgh, who was on a long leave from his job as a judge in Burma. Two of their neighbours in the block of flats were Emmeline Pethick (not married to Lawrence yet) and her friend Mary Neal. Emmeline and Mary both did voluntary work at the West London Mission in Marylebone, and after getting to know them, George Cope started to volunteer there too, at the children’s club they ran. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence’s memoir is written with a great deal of hindsight, in the mid-1930s. She describes the George Cope she knew in the mid-1890s as wanting to “to turn to the simple life as a change” having got bored, as she had done, with the social round. Emmeline describes how George’s “Irish wit and irrepressible gaiety” and his “leadership against all restriction and restraint” made him very popular with the children; and says that if ever there was trouble at the girls’ club, George Cope Cope was likely to have caused it. I’m not sure, from this account, how far Emmeline approved of George Cope’s anarchic behaviour but she couldn’t help but admire an “innate sense of harmony and beauty” that she felt that he had.
This sense of beauty must have been challenged by the things George Cope learned at the West London Mission about the lives of the children who spent their leisure hours there. Through Emmeline Pethick and Mary Neal he met other men and women with strong views on the social issues of the day. In 1897 he sent his first letters to the Times, querying a recent decision made by the military hierarchy in India to close its lock hospitals, where prostitutes had been imprisoned while being treated for venereal diseases given them by their soldier clients. George was only asking whether there was any actual evidence for the argument being put forward by the military, that the lock hospital system didn’t work. However, his letter seems to have hit an exposed nerve amongst the members of the committee which had taken the decision, two of whom wrote to the Times vigorously defending the committee’s choice but in the process making it fairly clear that they had not gathered any evidence as to whether lock hospitals worked before the decision was made. The correspondence ended with George Cope pointing out that, without any data on the subject, the opponents of the decision that had been taken were finding it very difficult to argue their case. In this, George Cope was not just thinking about the situation in India, I’m sure: the Contagious Diseases Acts, under which the lock hospital system operated, also applied in the UK, in military and non-military situations, and were being bitterly attacked by women campaigners as enshrining the sexual double-standard and treating the ill like criminals.
George Cope’s initiation into the GD happened around the time he met Emmeline Pethick and Mary Neal, and was another attempt to break out into new territory with his life outside his work as a barrister. Hugh Elliot was a member of the same barristers’ chambers as Cope at 12 King’s Walk in the Inner Temple - he’d probably joined that chambers because Elliots knew the Copes. He was initiated into the GD a few months before George Cope Cope and almost certainly was the man who recommended Cope as a suitable initiate. However, the GD didn’t work for George Cope Cope; unlike Elliot, he gave it up shortly after being initiated. With John Greenhalgh, he continued to try out the simple life. On the day of the 1901 census, they were sharing a cottage (on holiday, I think, as both are described as “visitors” and there is no head of household) at 65 Broadmoor, Wotton, Dorking, surrounded by housholds headed by either a gardener, an agricultural labourer, or a gamekeeper. And he continued his involvement in social issues to the extent of dipping a toe in local politics. In 1902 he stood in a bye-election at St Pancras Board of Guardians, as a Liberal candidate, against Edith Mary Rendel. Unfortunately his decision to stand caused consternation and division in his own party. The members had no problem with him declaring that he would campaign against the interference of central government in local decision-making. However, a lot of them really didn’t like his decision to make arguing against compulsory vaccination an important feature of his campaign speeches. And a further group would have preferred a woman candidate, if they could have found one; some even wrote to Miss Rendel saying how much they hoped she would win. She did win, and I can’t find any evidence that George Cope stood as a political candidate any other time. However, his involvement in social issues continued and he kept the friends he had made in campaigning circles. When Margaret Macdonald, of the Women’s Industrial Council, died in 1911 he was on the committee of friends and colleagues that worked to set up a suitable memorial to her work as a collector of statistics on women’s employment and working conditions.
John Greenhalgh’s long leave seems to have turned into a decision to take early retirement and remain in England. He organised holidays for working people; and acted as advisor to tenants’ associations. He and George Cope continued to share flats, probably for nearly a decade - in 1897 they were living at 20 Endsleigh Terrace, Duke’s Road - but in 1906 George Cope got married, at the age of 51. His bride was a widow of nearly his own age, Maria Catherine Christian. Born Maria Catherine Pittar, she was the daughter of Sir Thomas Pittar, a civil servant in the Board of Customs department. In 1882 she had married Richard Christian, who was a lawyer and perhaps known to George Cope from those days, but he had died aged only 41 in 1895; they had had no children.
I haven’t been able to find out very much about George Cope Cope after his marriage. I presume he continued to work as a barrister, but the Probate Registry records for him and his wife show that they were comfortably off and he may have retired from legal work. He and Maria Catherine set up house as a married couple at 2 Harley Gardens London SW10, in the district between the Brompton and Fulham Roads. They also kept the house called Darnhills, at Radlett in Hertfordshire, where Maria Catherine had lived before they had married, although on the day of the 1911 census, they were visiting Maria Catherine’s in-laws from her first marriage.
Maria Catherine died in February 1921 leaving George Cope a childless widower.
In 1927 a new series of letters from George Cope to the Times began to appear, one or two a year, beginning with a set on the Oxford v Cambridge university match, hying back to the 1870s when he had been a Cambridge undergraduate. There’s no evidence that he played in the Cambridge team so he must have watched, noting down the batting and bowling statistics, which he had kept ever since. In 1928 he sent in letters about the Jesus College rowing team of 1877, and in 1929 he commented on a recent article in the Times which had listed some members of that team who were now judges in the High Court. In 1929 he changed subjects from sport to politics, commenting rather dourly on the poor arithmetical sense displayed by those who had panicked when early counting in the General Election which had taken place on 30 May 1929 had showed the Labour Party in the lead. The final result was a hung parliament.
According to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, George Cope pursued the harmony and beauty she saw in him by writing poetry. I’m sorry to say I haven’t been able to find any published poetry by him; perhaps he just showed his verses to his friends. However, in his last ever letter to the Times, he contributed his own theory as to the meaning of the enigmatic last two lines of Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn:
Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
I took the text of Ode from Oxford Book of English Verse, 1919 edition, edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch, which is now on the web.
The letter on Keat’s Ode appeared in the Times on 29 August 1930. George Cope Cope died on 28 February 1931 and was buried at Radlett.
BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.
Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914. The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.
Catalogues: British Library; Freemasons’ Library.
Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources. I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.
Sources for George Cope Cope:
The Pinniger/Cope connection:
Website www.igp-web.com/igparchives/ire/armagh/cemeteries/loughgall.txt, part of the Ireland Genealogy Project for details of Anna Garland Cope.
London Gazette 16 Aug 1867 p4548 and Edinburgh Gazette 20 Aug 1867 p956 for the change of surname from Pinniger to Cope and also details of the descent of Georgina Pinniger from Anna Garland Cope.
Armagh, City of Light and Learning by Joe Hynes and Maureen Campbell, published 1997 by Cottage Publications of Donaghadee Northern Ireland. P38 says that the association of the Cope family with the city of Armagh goes back to Anthony Cope of Hanwell Oxfordshire who was created 1st baronet in 1611. He had bought the two manors of Derrycreevy and Drumilly, which were inherited by his sons Richard and Anthony.
Armorial Families: A Directory of Gentlemen of Coat-Armour Volume 1, published 1929, edited by Arthur C Fox-Davies. P428: George Cope Cope, born 1855; married 1906 Maria Catherine, daughter of Thomas John Pittar and widow of Richard Christian of Radlett Hertfordshire. Currently (that is, 1929) living at 2 Harley Gardens SW10.
At //henlyfamilytreeguide.com is a note of the baptism of John Alexander Mainley Pinniger, on 20 Sep 1824 in Chippenham Wiltshire; his parents are Broome Pinniger and wife Martha.
John A M Pinniger as a solicitor:
Via www.nationalarchives.gov.uk to document lists for the East Sussex Record Office and the London Metropolitan Archive. For the life of John Watkins Brett go to //atlantic-cable/com, the website of the History of the Atlantic Cable and Undersea Communications; a very detailed biography by Steven Roberts.
His involvement in a firm proposing to lay a cable from New South Wales to London: Sydney Morning Herald of 22 May 1857 p2 and 30 Oct 1857 p4.
The Spectator volume 45 1872 on p831, a group of legal notices includes one issued by J A Mainley Cope on behalf of Messrs Cope, Rose and Pearson, solicitors, of 26 St George Street Westminster.
The Economist 1874 p150, a page of legal notices has one issued by J A Mainley Cope on behalf of Messrs Cope, Rose and Pearson solicitors of 26 St George Street Westminster.
The Pinniger/Cope family’s connection with the Elliots
Lettsom: His Life, Times, Friends and Descendants by James Johnston Abraham. Published London: William Heinemann Medical Books Ltd 1933. On p475 reference to a letter from George Cope Cope to the Times on 16 October 1926 in which he mentioned knowing John Lettsom Elliot very well when he was younger. John Lettsom Elliot was Hugh Elliot’s grandfather. I have to say that on 9 November 2013 I looked for Cope’s letter in the Times Digital Archive and couldn’t find it; a bit puzzled about that.
George Cope’s professional life:
Alumni Cantabrigiensis 1752-1900 Part 2 Volume 2 p132 George Cope Cope who went to Pembroke College in 1873. Born 12 July 1855 at Parkstone Dorset. Graduated with a BA 1877. Began study at the Inner Temple May 1876; called to the bar 1879. Barrister on the Surrey sessions “for some years”.
Times Saturday 14 June 1879 p5c Legal Education: a list of men who had recently passed the bar exams included George Cope Cope of the Inner Temple.
Times 18 Nov 1879 p11f a list of men called to the bar (that is, qualifying to practice law) included George Cope Cope BA Cambridge, of the Inner Temple.
Men at the Bar: A Biographical Hand-List of the Members of the Various Inns of Court by Joseph Foster, published 1885. P99 has Edgar Broome Cope, called to bar January 1875 eldest son of John Alexander Mainley Cope of Drummilly (sic), Loughall. Now (1885) at the high court in Lahore. Also p99 George Cope BA Pembroke College Cambridge, called to the bar 17 November 1879, fourth son of J A M Cope; born 12 July 1855.
I only looked at one Law List: 1895 p52 in the list of Counsel (that is, barristers): George Cope Cope Inner Temple, working on the Surrey sessions and with offices at 12 King’s Bench Walk.
George Cope’s obituary in Times 3 March 1931 speaks also of his brother Frederick L Cope p132, also a graduate of Pembroke College. Frederick Cope was ordained a Church of England priest and held various livings in the Durham area before being sent to the Falkland Islands in 1906, dying on the islands in 1910. The Times obituary drew on Burke’s Landed Gentry’s Irish Supplement for its information on George Cope Cope’s family: his father John Alexander M Pinniger married Georgina Cope of Drummilly county Armagh and took the surname Cope, by royal licence, on 10 August 1857. There was no mention in the obituary of George Cope’s involvement with the West London Mission or of his having any knowledge of the Contagious Diseases Acts and their effects.
My Part in a Changing World by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence though if you want to look at this book at the British Library, be aware that the BL has got her surname wrong, spelling it PethWick. Published London: Victor Gollancz 1938 pp112-113.
The lock hospital dispute:
Times 17 Aug 1897 p6, letter dated 16 Aug 1897 from George C Cope: The Health of the Army in India, though it wasn’t the start of the correspondence on this subject, Cope himself was replying to a letter published in Times on 12 Aug  written by someone calling himself only
Two replies both Times Sat 21 Aug 1897 p13, from Major General Richard Dashwood; and a man calling himself ‘Senior’, though he does describe himself as an Indian Army officer.
Cope replied to Dashwood and ‘Senior’; in Times Tue 24 Aug 1897 p6. And also on that day the Times published a letter from Colonel A G Wymen querying something alleged by ‘Senior’ is his letter.
Another letter from Cope in Times Tue 31 Aug 1897 p8
And a reply from Dashwood, now not bothering to conceal his annoyance; published in Times Wed 1 Sep 1897 p2
The correspondence ended with a final letter form Cope published Times Tue 7 Sep 1897 p9 saying that Dashwood had ignored his two requests for details of any research that had been done on the efficiency of voluntary lock hospitals. Cope therefore concludes that no such research has been done. IF any such research has been done, Dashwood and those who agree with his point of view are not aware of it.
George Cope’s foray into politics:
Times Monday 10 March 1902 p14 The Vaccination Question in St Pancras: a report on the bye-election campaign in No 7 Ward, Borough of St Pancras Board of Guardians, caused by the death of Edith Gresham. George Cope of 20 Endsleigh Terrace, described as a barrister, was standing as a Liberal, with an endorsement from the South St Pancras Liberal and Radical Association. However, the Times noted that not all Liberals were that enthusiastic about him as he was making it plain he was standing on a platform of being against compulsory vaccination. The was also taking a stand against the “undue” interference by central government in local government affairs. A lot of local Liberals had said since his candidacy was agreed, that if they’d known he was against compuls vaccination, they wldn’t have supported him as a candidate. Standing against him was Edith Mary Rendel. Some Liberals had come out as preferring a woman Poor Law Board representative, because if Cope was elected, the number of women on the Board would be reduced (the Times noted that it was already at a pretty low level). One Liberal had written to Rendel apologising that he had promised be to vote for Cope when he would actually rather she won, as he believed that much Poor Law work was best carried out by women.
NB there was no further comment on the bye-election in the Times, and searching on ‘George Cope’ I didn’t find an article on the result of the bye-election, either. However, the sources below make it clear that Rendel won it:
Report of Proceedings of the International Congress for the Welfare and Protection...of Children; held at the Guildhall (City of London) May 1906. Via googlebooks, saw the copy now in the Reese Library, University of California. A list of those who attended included “Miss E Rendel (St Pancras)”.
Report of Proceedings of the National Conference on Infantile (sic) Mortality held Caxton Hall Westminster, March 1908. Miss E M “Rendell” represented St Pancras Board of Guardians at the conference.
Via its epage to the Univeristy of Birmingham Research Archive. Rendel’s name had come up in a PhD thesis 1991 by Kenneth H Brill, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, which referred to Rendel running a day nursery in St Pancras. I couldn’t see any dates connection with this, but I think that she must have been doing it before she stood as a Poor Law Board candidate, and that it was what her reputation was based on in the bye-election.
George Cope’s friend John Greenhalgh:
Saturday Review volume 97; I couldn’t see the year from googlebooks’ snippet. On p277 a letter from John H Greenhalgh: A Seaside Hotel for Working People.
Practical Housing published 1908 by Garden City Press. On pvii a list, not in alphabetical order, all male, all either MP’s or representatives of housing groups; perhaps subscribers, or attenders at a conference? The list includes John H Greenhalgh as representative of Hampstead Tenants Ltd. On pxxi his name comes up again, again in a list, probably of committee members this time, as ta secretary is named.
Town Planning Conference held in London 10-15 October 1910, its Transactions volume 1, published 1911 by the Royal Institute of British Architects. I couldn’t see the page number on google’s snippet but th list was very similar to that in Practical Housing and again Greenhalgh is representing Hampstead Tenants Ltd.
Times Mon 18 Dec 1911 p10 The Margaret Macdonald Memorial. A report of a meeting of her friends and acquaintances, held on 13 November , at which they tried to decide on a suitable memorial to her. Three ideas were considered:
Option One was a sculpture
But a lot of people at the meeting felt that a practical project would be a more fitting way to commemorate her.
Option Two was donating more money to the Baby Clinic already set up and working as a memorial to Margaret’s friend Mary Middleton.
Option Three was particularly preferred by people who knew her in Leicester. They suggested raising money to pay for a new ward at Leicester Children’s Hospital.
At the end of the meeting, the issue was still undecided but while everyone was still making up their minds, the Appeal had been launched. George C Cope was on the Memorial Executive Committee; his name was 6th on the list of signatures to the Appeal letter. Another member of it was T Fisher Unwin, founder of Stanley Unwin the publishing firm.
Some further information on Margaret MacDonald:
Home Industries of Women in London, Report of an Inquiry by the Investigation Committee of the Women’s Industrial Council (Great Britain) 1908 and published by the Council. The authors were Margaret MacDonald and B L Hutchins.
On the Women’s Industrial Council from Women’s Library website at //calmarchive.londonmet.ac.uk, which begins by saying that as at 2006, no archive of the WIC’s papers is known to them. The website manages a small paragraph on the WIC just the same: it was founded in 1894 and still operative in 1917. Its function was collecting data to argue for lessening women’s working hours; improving their working conditions; and recruiting more inspectors for factories where they worked. Members of the WIC gave evidence to Parliamentary committees several times. Leading members of the WIC were: Clementine Black; Margaret Bondfield; Margaret MacDonald; B L Hutchins; Catherine Webb. It had a jnl: The Women’s Indl News.
George Cope’s father-in-law:
Re Thomas Pittar: Chemist and Druggist volume 101 1924 p123 has an obituary of Sir Thomas J Pittar KCB CMG, who had died on 20 July. He was a former chairman of the Board of Customs, having worked in that department all his career, working his way up from a clerk.
George Cope’s sporting letters to the Times. There are none before 1927.
Times Friday 1 July 1927 p17 letter from George C Cope at 2 Harley Gardens SW10, referring to the Time’s coverage of the recent Oxford v Cambridge university cricket match (which now had quite a long tradition behind it). Cope remembered a match in 1877 in which F M Buckland’s performance was particularly notable. His reminiscences received a reply, published in Times Thursday 7 July 1927 p12 from F M Buckland’s son, F E Buckland, making a small correction to Cope’s figures f the 1877 match, by saying his father had been 117 not out, not 114 not out as Cope’s letter had said.
Times Monday 23 July 1928 p10 letter from George C Cope, 2 Harley Gardens; with more statistics on Oxford v Cambridge university cricket.
Times Sat 29 December 1928 p4 letter from George C Cope at 2 Harley Gardens, again about the Cambridge University cricket team of the late 1870s, linking the prominence of men from Jesus College in it, to the brilliance of the College’s contemporary rowing team. This got a response published in the Times on Thursday 31 January 1929 p5 from a Steve Fairbairn, who was an undergraduate at Jesus College in the early 1880s; written from the Golf Hotel, St Jean de Luz.
Times Saturday 16 March 1929 p13 letter dated 14 March  from George Cope Cope at 2 Harley Gardens, referring to a recent Times article on the Boat Race; in which Times had noted the number of team members from 70 years before who were now gracing the High Court. George Cope Cope added some more names.
Times Monday 3 June 1929 p12 letter from George Cope Cope, undated but same address, in which he criticises the number of people panicking at the amount of votes the Labour Party had got in early counting. Cope says that the arithmetic of the panickers “is not apparently that taught in schools”.
Times Tuesday 3 March 1931 p1 death notices include one for George Cope Cope of 2 Harley Gardens SW10. He’d died on 28 February . The only family details are that he was the 4th son of J A M Cope of Drummilly county Armagh. The funeral would be at Aldenham Church Radlett.
Probate Registry: George Cope Cope of 2 Harley Gardens Middlesex had died on 28 February 1931 at 5 Collingham Gardens Middlesex. Probate granted London 14 April 1931 to Harold Burn Hopgood, solicitor; and Arthur Vere Rolleston Woods. Personal effects: £20593/9/1.
Sources I checked for any poetry published by George Cope:
Mid-Victorian Poety 1860-79: An Annotated Biobibliography by Catherine W Reilly p108.
Late Victorian Poetry 1880-99: An Annotated Biobibliography by Catherine W Reilly; no entry p106 for Cope.
And Oxford Companion to 20th Century Poetry in England ed Ian Hamilton. Oxford: OUP 1994 p99 the only Cope is Wendy.
His letter on Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn appeared in the Times Fri 29 Aug 1930 p8 and was the last letter by him to appear in the paper.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
9 November 2013