Charles De Kay Cooper


Albany physician Charles De Kay Cooper was born in 1769. He was said to have been the fourth of the ten sons of Rhinebeck physician Dr. Ananias Cooper and his wife, Elizabeth De Kay Cooper. This Cooper family was of English/New England ancestry and perhaps migrated to Long Island and then to Dutchess County by the 1750s.

Charles is said to have been sent to New York City to study medicine under one "Dr. Crosby."

Perhaps he was in Albany as early as 1788, when a "Dr. Cooper's" personal property was valued on a first ward assessment roll under the house of the widow of the recently deceased Dr. Henry Van Dyck. By 1791, Cooper had settled in Albany where he was confirmed in St. Peter's Episcopal Church. In 1792 he began to practice medicine. He married young Margaret Vernor, the adopted daughter of future New York State Lieutenant Governor John Tayler. The marriage produced a number of children - two of whom became prominent Albany residents. His daughter married the son of Eliphalet Nott. A number of same-named descendants are historically visible.

These Coopers lived in the home of his famous father-in-law at 50 State Street until Tayler's death in 1829. They then moved to 66 North Pearl Street.

In January 1793, he was one of those who made an inventory of the estate of Robert Henry, Jr.

In 1794, he was appointed "health officer" of the Albany port by Governor George Clinton.

Probably following Tayler, he served as Indian agent and was involved in numerous real estate transactions - some of them regarding Revolutionary War land grants.

Publication of a letter Cooper wrote in the Albany Register in April 1804 has been credited with provoking the duel that resulted in the death of Alexander Hamilton.

By that time, he had turned from medicine to politics. He served as a judge of the county court, clerk, and in 1817, was appointed Secretary of State. He later was elected to the city council. Over several decades, he was an officer of an number of Albany-based, civic organizations.

Charles De Kay Cooper died in January 1831 and was buried in the Dutch church cemetery. He was "noted as a man of remarkable physical force, great influence and high sense of honor." He had lived sixty one years. His will passed probate in 1834.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Charles De Kay Cooper is CAP biography number 462. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. The main collection of his papers is at the New York State Library. A sketch of him appears in NEA.

Traditional source-identified material on Cooper and his family has been copied here in the name of accessibility: What follows first has appeared in a number of sources and appears to have been derivative of a published address before the Dutchess County Medical Society in 1906. It read "Cooper, Ananias. The doctors Cooper were all descendants of John Cooper, of Olney, Buckinghampshire, England, who came to America in the ship Hopewell, in 1635, and settled at Lynn, Mass. We first find Dr. Ananias at Bridge Hampton, L. I., in 1755. In 1757 he lived in the Cooper House, on the west side of the Post Road, one mile above Rhinebeck. In 1759 he charged the county ten shillings for doctoring a soldier, the first charge made by a doctor against the county for professional work done. This soldier must have been in the French and Indian War. He was a member of Assembly, 1779-80. He died April 4th, 1797. He had a son, Dr. Charles De Kay Cooper, of Albany." (page 44)

NEA: Excerpted from New England in Albany and presented here for accessibility: "Charles D. Cooper, the 4th of 10 sons of Dr. Ananias Cooper; b. Rhinebeck, N. Y. 1769; ancestors among the early English Puritans of Mass.; d. Albany, Jan. 30, 1831. Came to Albany as physician in 1792; health officer, 1794- 98; interested himself in politics; held offices of county clerk and county judge some years; also Indian agent; was Secretary of State 1817. Noted as a man of remarkable physical force, great influence and high sense of honor. Gen. John Taylor Cooper of Albany, and Rev. Charles D. Cooper of Philadelphia, are his sons."

Dr. Crosby = at this point, an unknown physician as he does not seem to have been in NYC during the 1780s or early 90s.

His portrait was painted by Ezra Ames.

first posted 9/30/07; last updated 5/8/15