Cooper Henley (Handley/Handy).


Born in Yorkshire, circa 1753—Died in the Colony 1788.


Cooper was involved with two companions in a highway robbery in Wiltshire and theft of L1. For this, all three were sentenced to death on 8 March 1783 at New Sarum (Salisbury), reprieved to seven years transportation to America on 21 April. Sent to a Thames hulk, Henley and one of his companions were ordered to the Mercury transport for America on 26 March 1784.


After the ship had been brought into Torbay by mutinous convicts, Henley was one of the 66 captured by Helena and held overnight on 13 April in a small boat moored under the stern of Helena (his companion in crime was not among the escapers). Next day they were taken by boat to Topsham and committed to gaol in Exeter on the 16th.


Henley was among the large number of mutineers who were not tried but remanded to their former orders. At the end of June 1784 he was sent to the Dunkirk hulk, aged 30, where (wrote the superintendent) he “behaves remarkably well”. On 11 March he was discharged to Friendship where Ralph Clark listed him as discharged to Friendship where Ralph Clark listed him as aged 33, a weaver born in Yorkshire.


At Port Jackson on 21 October 1788, Henley was sent with a party of marines to gather wild vegetables and sweet tea at Botany Bay, and was caught by Aborigines when he

strayed away from the guard of marines. “Cupper Handley… was Barberasley Killed by the natives at Botany Bay where they ware a going for greens.” wrote Easty. His reputation for good behavior had continued in the colony. “He had been looked upon as a good man,” wrote Collins,  “no complaint having been made of him since his landing…




To The Memory of

Cooper Henley.


Far away from the highway days;

Cooper found himself in a totally new environment.

One could say, “A Splendid Country”

Died 0n 21 October 1788.



Founders of Australia.


Verse: J Mortimer # 6409.  



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters