Gabriella Giovannone – Memorials
There are many memorials in Ripon Cathedral, but often we know nothing more about the people in them than what is written on their stone. One area caught my eye – a collection of memorials bearing the same name of Elliot-Cooper, and an inscription that showed that the holder had received the Victoria Cross, the...
February 3, 2023
There are many memorials in Ripon Cathedral, but often we know nothing more about the people in them than what is written on their stone. One area caught my eye – a collection of memorials bearing the same name of Elliot-Cooper, and an inscription that showed that the holder had received the Victoria Cross, the most prestigious British honour, given for valour in the face of the enemy. Two gentlemen, John Elliot and Neville Bowes Elliot Cooper looked like they were linked so I wanted to uncover their stories.
Family History: John Elliott was born in Helmsley on 11th January 1759, he was the fifth of fifteen children of John Elliott and his wife Mary Wilkinson from Topcliffe by Thirsk. As his parents could barely afford to bring up and educate him, he was given a home at Marton le Moor by his maternal grandmother Martha Lowson, a widow, who sent him to school at Dishforth. His mother’s brother John Wilkinson, successful as a businessman in London, in 1768 took over responsibility for his nephew and sent the boy to a maritime academy at Wapping to study for a naval career. In 1784 he married Isabella Todd, and they had fifteen children. He lived for a time at Elliott House (see picture right), now Holmefield House, on Harrogate Road in Ripon. He died in Ripon in 1834.
Career: In 1772 he was accepted as a midshipman in the Royal Navy and, possibly through the influence of his uncle, served as a midshipman aboard HMS Resolution during Captain Cook’s second voyage from 1772 to 1775, about which he later wrote a memoir. From 1775 to 1779 he was in the service of the East India Company. He then returned to the Royal Navy and, after passing for Lieutenant, was appointed to HMS Ajax. He was retired with the rank of Commander in 1814 and lived in Ripon until his death.
The Memorial at Ripon Cathedral: Elliott’s memorial is near the Tudor font in the nave south aisle. The last line looks as though it might have been added after the rest.
Neville Bowes Elliot Cooper
Life: Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper was born in London on 22 January 1889. From 1901–1907, he attended Eton and he was a member of the Eton College Volunteers. He also attended Sandhurst. On 9 October 1908, Elliott-Cooper joined the army as a second lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers. He served in South Africa, Mauritius and India.
A Victoria Cross Holder: Elliott-Cooper was awarded the VC for his actions on 30 November 1917, east of La Vacquerie, near Cambrai, France. Fusiliers were in a ‘desperate situation’ when the Germans were advancing across open ground. Elliott-Cooper ‘mounted the parapet’ and charged the enemy, calling for the reserve company, as well as men from the battalion headquarters, to follow him. Completely unarmed, he headed straight towards the enemy. His men followed. Elliott-Cooper, who had been ‘badly wounded in the hip joint’, was treated for his wounds at Münster.
Death and Award: Elliott-Cooper died of his wounds on 11 February 1918 in Hanover, Germany. He is buried in Hamburg Cemetery in Plot V, Row A, Grave 16. His VC was gazetted two days after his death, on 13 February 1918. His parents were presented with his VC at Buckingham Palace on 25 May 1918. He is commemorated on a Royal Fusiliers memorial, along with his brother Gilbert D’Arcy, who was wounded in August 1915 and died in 1922 as a result of these injuries. In 1973, Elliott-Cooper’s family donated his VC, DSO and MC to the Royal Fusiliers Museum, Tower of London.
John Elliott married Isabella Todd: one of their daughters was Louisa Georgiana Elliott
Louisa Georgiana Elliott married Robert Cooper: one of their sons was Robert Elliott-Cooper KCB
Robert Elliott-Cooper KCB married Fanny Leetham: Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper VC DSO MC was one of their children
Neville Bowes Elliot-Cooper was John Elliot’s great-grandson