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William Barkley Cooper

Gov. William Barkley Cooper

  • January 19, 1841 - January 21, 1845
  • Whig
  • December 16, 1771
  • April 29, 1849
  • Delaware
  • Married three times--Nancy Jones, one child; Nelly Warren, Jane T. Palmer


WILLIAM BARKLEY COOPER, Delaware’s 24th governor, was born near Laurel, Delaware, on December 16, 1771. He served in the Delaware militia of the 5th Company of the 9th Regiment as an ensign, and later was commissioned to the Troop of Horse of the 3red Brigade as captain. Cooper entered public service with an appointment as Sussex County’s justice of the peace, a position he held from 1797 to 1805. He also served as Sussex County’s sheriff from 1808 to 1812, and in 1817 was appointed to the bench of the Common Pleas Court, serving for more than 12 years. On November 10, 1840, Cooper won election to the Delaware governorship, and on January 19, 1841, he was sworn into office. During his tenure, banks were allowed to defer cash payments, and Delaware was aligned in the U.S. Fourth Judicial District. Cooper did not seek reelection due to the 1831 Delaware Constitution that restricted a governor to one term. He finished his term on January 21, 1845, and continued to stay active in public service. On February 25, 1846, he was appointed superintendent in charge of supervising developments made in Sussex County’s Broad Creek. He served in this capacity until his death. Governor William B. Cooper passed away on April 27, 1849, and is buried at the Old Methodist Cemetery in Laurel, Delaware.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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