Robert Cooper – Pioneer of Burrill Lake
Robert James Cooper was a Pioneer of the Burrill Lake in the Ulladulla District on the South Coast. He was born 26 Sept 1830 at his home Juniper Hall Paddington. He was the first son of Robert Cooper and his wife Catherine Newell nee Rutter. His father died in 1848 when Robert was 18 years old.
His mother remarried a very close family friend Thomas Chapman of Brisbane Cottage Kiama. Catherine Newell Chapman nee Cooper nee Rutter died 16 July 1860 and is buried in Kendalls Cemetery Kiama.
Robert James Cooper spent some schooling at Sydney Grammar School. When Thomas Chapman who later became Robert’s step father visited England in 1843 he took Robert then aged 13 years to Europe to finish his education. He trained as an engineer at Newcastle-on-Tyne and became a licensed Surveyor.
Many of the early maps and plans of Ulladulla & Milton bear his name. When Robert returned to Sydney he worked for Peter Nicol Russell. He left Sydney and took up land at Burrill Lake. Also living in the Ulladulla District were many Cooper cousins – Kendall, Ewin, Wilford and Rutters. Including Robert’s sister Cecila Sophia Cooper who married their half cousin John Jewell Rutter. Robert married Mary Anne Ilett on 2 Sept 1871 at Milton. She was the daughter of Thomas ans Sarah Ilett, Farmer of Ulladulla.
Robert Cooper was an Alderman on the Ulladulla Council for many years, holding the position of Mayor in 1896. In 1878 Robert also became a member of the local Masonic Lodge along with his brother-in-law John Jewel Rutter. Robert called his Burrill Property Mia Mia, located on cnr Kendall Cresent and McDonald Parade.
A photo C.1897 is owned by a Rutter descendant showing both Rutters and Coopers at the front of the home. This Burrill property was in his wife’s name Mary Anne nee Ilett.
In 1874 Robert Cooper inherited 100acres and House at Rocky Point – Sans Souci, from Thomas Chapman. Cecilia (Robert’s sister) also herited some and and money from Chapman who was their Step Father. On the Ulladulla 1879 Land holdings Robert had a leasehold on Breeza, exact location unknown. 1885 has him at The Hutt 40 acres 3 horses 27 cattle 18 pigs. The Hut was located near the corner of Woodstock and Crooybar Rds Milton.
The first petition for a school at Burrill Lake dates back to Dec 11 1896. Robert was one of its promoters. The school was erected at the parents expense on crown land adjacent to Robert Coopers property. Oscar Cooper – Robert’s son was recorded as on the the first pupils. Robert’s son Volney Oscar Cooper born 26.2.1885 Burrill Lake later married his Rutter cousin Charlotte Marian Kendall (daughter of Robert Chapman Kendall and Marian Bullard).
Robert James Cooper died 20 September 1910, his children were still in the district. His daughter Sarah Catherine Cecile Cooper married Horace Sydney Cowley Cooper her Rutter cousin. Their first child Robert Cowley Cooper was baptized 24.1.1910 at St Peters and Paul Milton Church of England. Cooper Street in Burrill Lake is named after Robert & his wife Mary.
Photo: Robert James Cooper and his son Robert Cooper III
Children of ROBERT JAMES COOPER and MARY ANN ILETT.
1. AARON COOPER born 22 Jun 1876, Burrill Lake, died 22 Jun 1876, Milton – Buried Woodstock Congregational Cemetery Milton.
2. ROBERT THOMAS WALTER COOPER born 23-Jun-1878, Braidwood know as Boss Cooper.
3. SARAH CATHERINE CECILIA COOPER born 2-Oct-1879, m Horace Sydney Cowley Cooper.
4. VOLNEY OSCAR COOPER born 26-Feb-1885, Burrill Lake m. Charlotte Marian Kendall.
Researched by Cathy Dunn, Great Great granddaughter of John Jewell Rutter.