- Seymour S. Cohen
Cooper, Thomas (22 October 1759–11 May 1839), lawyer, chemist, and educator, was born in London, England, the son of Thomas Cooper, a relatively wealthy landowner. The name of his mother is not known. Young Cooper attended University College at Oxford, where he was grounded in the classics. He left the university in 1779, refusing to sign the thirty-nine Articles of Faith required for a formal degree. In that year he married Alice Greenwood and attended medical courses in London in 1780. The couple, who eventually had five children, moved to Manchester. Cooper undertook some clinical work and was active in the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society; he was elected vice president in 1785. A growing familiarity with chemistry led him to join a firm of calico-printers near Bolton, his subsequent home. The discovery of the bleaching activity of chlorine in 1785 led Cooper to explore the production of the agent with James Watt. He practiced industrial bleaching successfully for some three years before 1793, when a depression in British trade caused the bankruptcy of his firm....