John B. R. Cooper

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John Bautista Rogers Cooper
Born September 11, 1791
Died June 2, 1872
San Francisco, California
Occupation Sea Captain, Landowner
Known for Early Monterey, California pioneer
Spouse(s) Encarnacion Vallejo
Parents Thomas Cooper and Anne Rogers

John Bautista Rogers Cooper (September 11, 1791, Alderney - June 2, 1872, San Francisco, California) was born in England and raised in Massachusetts. He came to California as master of the ship Rover, and was a pre-gold rush pioneer of Monterey, California. He married General Vallejo’s sister Encarnacion Vallejo and acquired extensive land holdings.

Early life[edit]

John Bautista Rogers Cooper was born on the island of Alderney the son of Thomas Cooper and Anne Rogers. [1] He came to the United States, when a boy,with his mother. Captain Cooper was a half-brother of Thomas O. Larkin, their mother having been twice married.[2]

After moving to Boston with his mother, he traveled extensively, first attending school in Charleston and then serving as second mate on a missionary trip to the Hawaiian Islands. He came to Monterey as master of his own vessel, the trading schooner Rover, in 1823.[3]


Upon his arrival in Monterey, he made arrangements with Governor Luis Arguello to sail to China on a trade mission. After coming back, he and Arguello quarreled over what he should receive for his work. He eventually won the money that he asked for, but not without first losing his ship. Although he sold his vessel to Governor Arguello, he continued in command of her, making trips to China and elsewhere.

In 1826, he opened a general merchandise store in Monterey. Becoming acquainted with the Vallejo family, he first asked the hand in marriage of one of the daughters, Magdalena, who refused him and married Antonio del Valle. Cooper married Encarnacion Vallejo, sister of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo in 1827 and became a naturalized Mexican in 1830.

Captain Cooper continued his seafaring life for many years; eventually, however, he acquired land, and gradually quit the sea. Although from 1839 to 1844 he made many trips to the Mexican coast and to the Islands, in command of a vessel belonging to the Government called the Californian, which carried mail, prisoners, and government officials from Monterey to Mexico. In 1846 he made a voyage to Peru, and in 1849 he went as master of the Eveline to China.[4]

Land grants[edit]

Cooper acquired Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo in 1829. Another early California English-speaker, the Irishman John Milligan (or Mulligan), had a house on the rancho (labeled "Casa de Milligan" on the diseño). Cooper received a second grant in 1833, when Governor José Figueroa granted him Rancho El Molino. In 1840, Cooper traded Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo for Juan Alvarado's Rancho El Sur. Alvarado was a nephew of Encarnacion Vallejo Cooper. Also in 1840, Governor Alvarado granted him Rancho Punta de Quentin, which later became the site of San Quentin State Prison. Cooper built a mansion out at the point. Cooper and Pablo de la Guerra were granted Rancho Nicasio by Governor Manuel Micheltorena in 1844. He sold his interests in both Marin County ranchos in 1850.

Final years[edit]

From 1850, Captain Cooper lived with his family in Monterey, and was appointed in 1851 to the post of Monterey Harbormaster. In 1865 he moved to San Francisco, where he died in 1872.[5] Cooper's eldest daughter, Ana Maria de Guadalupe, married Herman Wohler, a German who had come to California in 1848. Cooper's daughter Amelia, married Eusebio Joseph Molera in 1875.[6]


  1. ^ Harlan Hague, David J. Langum, 1995, Thomas O. Larkin: A Life of Patriotism and Profit in Old California, University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 978-0-8061-2733-0
  2. ^ The Cooper Family
  3. ^ Luther A. Ingersoll, 1893, Monterey-San Francisco County CA Archives Biographies, The Lewis Publishing Company.
  4. ^ John Woolfendon and Amelie Elkinton,1983, Cooper: Juan Batista Rogers Cooper, Boxwood Press.
  5. ^ Captain John Rogers Cooper (1792-1872)
  6. ^ E.J. Molera (1846-1932)