COPE, HENRY, military officer, merchant; b. c. 1688 in England; d. in Kingston, Jamaica, on 12 July 1742.
Henry Cope was commissioned ensign in General Webb’s regiment in 1706 and served in Europe under the Duke of Marlborough. In 1715 he became a major in General Wetham’s regiment, but soon after resigned his commission. He then went to New England and formed business interests in Boston which involved trade extending to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Like most men of the period who could afford to, he spent his winters in the comfort of Boston, where he was a member of the congregation of King’s Chapel. In November 1725 he was appointed town major of Placentia (Plaisance) in Newfoundland. The duties of this appointment were not too strenuous, however, so that much of his time was spent travelling between New England, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.
On 29 Nov. 1729 Governor Richard Philipps appointed Cope a member of the Nova Scotia Council at Annapolis Royal. He thereupon presented a proposal to the governor from the Reverend Andrew Le Mercier, pastor of the French congregation in Boston, for settling 100 or more French Protestant families in Nova Scotia. The proposal was approved by the council and 5,000 acres were granted for this purpose, but the plan did not materialize. In June 1732 Cope and his Boston associates petitioned council for permission to open a colliery at Chignecto, Nova Scotia. Permission was granted and the colliery operated for a few years before being abandoned.
Cope was appointed lieutenant governor of Placentia in 1736, but little is known of his activities there. In April 1737 he was one of five commissioners from Nova Scotia nominated by the crown to arbitrate a boundary dispute between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Cope was then resident in Newfoundland, however, and did not proceed on this mission. These same five commissioners were appointed in 1740 to arbitrate a similar dispute between Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Cope was absent again, for his regiment was preparing to proceed to the West Indies.
War with Spain had broken out in 1739 and Cope had been appointed lieutenant-colonel of His Majesty’s American Regiment of Foot (26 December). This regiment was raised in New England for service in the West Indies in Admiral Edward Vernon’s projected expeditions against the Spanish Caribbean possessions. In September 1740 Cope sailed with his regiment from New York for the general rendezvous in Jamaica, and arrived there early in November. He took part in the attack on Cartagena (Colombia) in April 1741 and in the expedition against Santiago de Cuba the following August. Both attacks were failures. In March 1742 another expedition left Jamaica to attack Panama, but severe sickness among the troops forced the ships to return to Jamaica in May. Colonel Cope survived every action, but finally died of fever in Kingston on 12 July 1742. By October his regiment had become so reduced by casualties and disease that it was disbanded in Kingston.
Governor Philipps described Cope as “a person of great honour, with a good understanding and zeal for His Majesty’s service.” Another described him as “a cleare cool headed determinate gallant man, well known in North America.” Cope married Jane Patteshall, probably of Boston; they had one daughter.
Parish of Kingston (Jamaica), Burial registers, I, 13 July 1742. PANS, RG 1, 17, no.17. PRO, CO 5/41, f.13; 217/7, doc.212. [Cadwallader Colden], The letters and papers of Cadwallader Colden . . . (9v., N.Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., L-LVI (1917–23), LXVII-LXVIII (1934–35), New York, 1918–37), II, 173. N.S. Archives, III, 169, 227. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), VI, 170–71. N.Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., XXVII (1894), 400 (abstract of Cope’s will). PRO, CSP, Col., 1726–27; 1728–29; 1732; 1735–36. Records of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence plantations, in New England, ed. J. R. Bartlett (10v., Providence, R.I., 1856–65), IV, 586. Dalton, George the first’s army, II, 351. Murdoch, History of Nova-Scotia, I, 455, 519. W. Y. Baldry and A. S. White, “Gooch’s American regiment of foot, 1739–42,” Society for Army Hist. Research (London), Journal, XVI (1937), 235–39. Malcolm Storer, “Admiral Vernon’s medals, 1739–42,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., LII (1918–19).