Cope, George Cope (1855–1931), barrister

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Cope, George Cope (1855–1931), barrister

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  • George Cope Pinniger

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George Cope Cope was born George Cope Pinniger at Parkstone near Poole on 12 July 1855 and baptised there on 29 July. He was the son of John Alexander Mainley Pinniger (1826–1892) and his wife Georgina Catherine, who had been married at Dublin in 1848. His father was born at Chippenham and educated at Harrow, and became a solicitor in London and later JP and High Sheriff of Co. Armagh. His mother was the daughter of Nathaniel Garland (1775–1845), a mercer, and Anne Cope, of Drummilly (or Drumilly), Loughgall, Co. Armagh. Two years after Nathaniel Garland’s death his widow was granted a royal licence to resume her maiden surname in order to inherit the Cope family estate at Drummilly, and when she died in 1867 the estate passed to Georgina Pinniger, whose husband assumed the name Cope by royal licence on 10 August 1867.

George Cope Cope was admitted a pensioner at Pembroke College, Cambridge, on 1 October 1873 (when his father’s addresses were given as London and Drummilly), and obtained his BA in 1877. In the meantime he had been admitted at the Inner Temple on 12 May 1876, and in May 1877 he took part in the general examinations of students of the Inns of Court, passing a ‘satisfactory examination in Roman law only’. He was called to the Bar in 1879 and practised on the Surrey Sessions for some years. In 1885 his professional address was Lamb Buildings, Temple, but by 19 February 1898 he was working at 12 King’s Bench Walk.

In 1891 Cope (aged 36) was still living with his parents at 14 Pembridge Square, Kensington, but by 1897 he had removed to 20 Endsleigh Terrace, adjacent to Somerset Terrace, in Duke’s Road, St Pancras. This is the flat he was sharing with John H. Greenhalgh, another barrister (see below), when the two men became acquainted with Emmeline Pethick and Mary Neal and became involved in social work, and this meeting may have influenced his decision to retire from the law. In Emmeline’s words, the two men were at this time ‘men of leisure’ (My Part in a Changing World, p. 113), but Greenhalgh, at least, had originally intended to take only a temporary break from his legal work in Burma. Of Cope she recalled: ‘He had been a popular man in society, but had become tired of it and wanted to turn to the simple life as a change. He was beloved by all, and especially by our young people and children, because of his Irish wit and irrepressible gaiety and because of his leadership against all restriction and restraint. If ever there was any disorder in the Club when there should have been attention, one could be pretty sure that he was the entertaining cause of it.’ In 1899 Cope and Greenhalgh stood as Progressives in the vestry election for St Pancras.

Letters from Cope to The Times indicate that he took an interest in subjects such as the health of the army in India (1897), as well as cricket statistics and other sporting records. From at least 1898 he was involved with the British Committee of the International Federation for the Abolition of State Regulation of Vice, a connection that was kept up till at least 1914, and at various times in the next few years he was involved in meetings of the Women’s Industrial Council, the Society of Women Journalists, and the Police and Public Vigilance Committee. In 1907 he published a volume of Poems (London: Elkin Matthews), which Emmeline found ‘charming’, observing that ‘there is no doubt that his innate sense of harmony and beauty made him sensitive to the ugly conditions of the world, and drove him to that active expression of brotherhood which he found in the contacts made possible in our little settlement’.

Some time between 1901 and 1904 Cope moved to 16 Somerset Terrace, and in the twenties he was living at 2 Harley Gardens, London SW10. He died on 28 February 1931 and was buried at Aldenham church, Radlett.


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