Cooper, Austin (b. c.1614, d. a.1690), gardener and strongman, inherited property from his father at Byfleet in Surrey. His father or another relative is said to have held a court appointment under Charles I. Cooper purchased land in England from a Cromwellian soldier. Despite being a royalist, he was obliged to forfeit this property after the restoration of the monarchy. He sold up his possessions about 1661 and with the resultant £1,500 bought property at Butterhill, near Blessington, Co. Wicklow. He was employed by Archbishop Michael Boyle (qv) on his Blessington estate, and helped to create one of the finest baroque gardens in Ireland. Its greenhouse was one of the first places where fruit was grown out of season in Ireland, and Cooper is credited with overseeing the achievement. The formal avenues and canals typical of gardens of the period are visible now only in aerial photographs, since the house and gardens were abandoned in the late eighteenth century. Cooper was renowned for his strength and was known as ‘Austin the Settler’, perhaps because of his habit of settling arguments by seizing two men, slapping them together and then discarding them on a dunghill. By holding onto the back of a horse-drawn cart he could prevent the vehicle from moving. He married Mary, daughter of Henry Dodson of Kingston-on-Thames. Her uncle was Erasmus Smith (qv). Austin and Mary Cooper had six sons and three daughters. His date of death is unknown, but seems to have been before 1690.
Burke, LGI, 81–2; R. A. Cooper, ‘Genealogical notes on the (Austin) Cooper family in Ireland, 1660–1960’, Irish Genealogist, vol. iii, no. ix (1964), 351–5; Edward Malins and the Knight of Glin, Lost demesnes: Irish landscape gardening 1660–1845 (1976), 30, 126–7; Keith Lamb and Patrick Bowe, A history of gardening in Ireland (1995), 24; Richard Austin-Cooper, Butterhill and beyond . . . (1991, privately printed); Eileen Reilly, ‘Brief history of Blessington demesne’, http://www.mglarc.com/projects/blessington.htm (accessed Dec. 2005)