The small mourning cover that initiated this search to find out more about Cooper Searle was addressed to Mrs. Cooper Searle, and it has a copy of the 2d double lined outer oval dull violet-mauve perf. 13 (Bell design, Type II) Victorian stamp of 1878. The postmark is the barred numeral 21, Type A2 which shows that it originated from Broadmeadows, 20 km north of Melbourne’s G.P.O. (Figure 1).
The origin is confirmed on the reverse with a BROADMEADOWS/ SE 1/ 80/ VICTORIA postmark, as well as a transit mark the same day of MELBOURNE/ 3V/ SP 1/ 80 as well as a partial postmark of the receiving office of CARLTON . The address for Mrs. Cooper is given as No 2 Darling Terrace, Drummond Street, Carlton, Melbourne (Figure 2).
The State Library of Victoria was able to confirm that numbers 1 to 5 Darling Terrace, Drummond Street, Carlton were listed in 1878, 1880 and 1882, but none of the residents’ names matched Cooper Searle. It was suggested that perhaps Mrs Cooper Searle may have been staying with friends at that address in 1878.
A search of the internet for Cooper Searle produced only 2 potential pieces of information of interest. An advertisement for the New Queen’s Theatre Adelaide for Wednesday 10th February 1847 (and one night only) described a “new and splendid ORRERY which will be accompanied with a LECTURE ON ASTRONOMY, by Mr COOPER SEARLE, the diagrams illustrate upon a grand scale of magnitude, and accurately delineate the most striking and interesting Phenomena of the Heavens”. The lecture was given, supported by transparent diagrams, but unfortunately, all did not go well as there was general dissatisfaction for the orrery was not delivered (Figure 3).
The second site found was a genealogical one of possible relation to Cooper Searle, and it had a request as follows: “Seeking any/all information on Searles from England. These Searles had “Cooper” as a middle name. Rev. Thomas Cooper Searle (1820) migrated from England to Australia and had married twice.” It went on to state that he “had finally landed in Hawaii (1870) where he died on August 1876 in Lahaina, Maui ……There are descendants of this Searle in Australia, Hawaii, and California. Rev. Searle had a brother who moved to France (Richard Cooper Searle) and had his family in and around Paris.”
The author of the email request and co-author of this paper (Danny Kalama of Hawaii), as well as Merrill Lowenstein of the State Library of Victoria, and the editor of the Journal to which the paper was eventually submitted confirmed the possibility that the mourning cover and the Reverend were linked. Even without definitive proof, it makes a good story, worthy of telling!
The editor wrote: “the State Library of SA has a diary of Cooper Searle…..being a journal of a voyage from London to Hobart in the ‘Haidee’ by Searle in 1842. It also includes ledger entries for his school in Adelaide 1848. …..His occupation is shown as a Teacher.” No listing of his being a clergyman or interested in Astronomy was found, but my thoughts were that an association of all three (Reverend, teacher, astronomy interest) was not unlikely. Within a few days, the first 2 associations were confirmed by Danny Kalama, who has since been responsible for supplying an extensive review of his family, of which the following is only a summary of the Australian side of the family. The Reverend Thomas Cooper Searle was Danny’s great, great, great, great grand father.
“As far as I know he was an Episcopalian Priest ordained in England and originally sent to Tasmania by the Church to pay penance for his indebtedness to creditors in England. Rev Searle and his pregnant wife, Ellen Fridlington (born 1816; married 5 August 1841; died 1854) left London on Board the HMS Haidee on 29 April 1842. During their voyage, Ellen gave birth to a stillborn boy on 31 July 1842….they (arrived in) Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 23 August 1842.” In 1843 he held 2 positions as a Catechist and a certificate shows him as a Religious Instructor. In 1845 his daughter Mary Jane was born at New Town (east of Hobart Town) and in the same year he was imprisoned for 4 months on account of indebtedness. In 1846 they moved to South Australia; in March 1846 Mary Jane died; Sarah Ellen was born 4 March 1846 and Richard was born in 1849, both in Adelaide, and both birth certificates showed Rev. Searle as a schoolmaster.
In 1853, the Bishop of Melbourne appointed Rev. Searle as Lay Reader at Sandhurst (later Bendigo, Victoria) in the Diocese of Melbourne. In 1854 his wife Ellen died at the age of 38 of dysentery at Heathcoate, Victoria; the death certificate showed Rev. Searle as Officiating Minister of Christ Church, Heathcoate. In December 1854 he was ordained as Episcopal Deacon at Cathedral Church of St. James in Melbourne. In March 1856 he married Elizabeth (Cooper) Searle and in 1857 their daughter Annie was born, at St. Marks Parsonage, Collingwood.
The peripatetic Reverend served in Bendigo 1858 during the Gold Rush, and also in Ballarat, but he resigned from his last position because of certain charges that were brought against him in 1860. The same year his son John was born and subsequently he held positions in Kyneton (1861), and Maldon (1862) and there he became a Minister at a school for 81 boys and 57 girls. He resigned from Maldon in 1864 because of ill health and went to New Zealand until December 1865. In November 1864 he had a document of indebtedness served by 19 creditors totaling in excess of £222 – his address was then shown as Invercargill, in the South Island, N.Z. In 1866 he officiated at a wedding of his daughter Sarah Ellen in Bowen, Queensland: his home address was shown in 1868 as Brisbane, on the birth certificate of his grandson.
In July 1870, he wrote to his daughter ‘Nelly’, Sarah Ellen Cooper (Searle) Greaves from his hotel room in Sydney prior to his sailing, with his 2 sons (Richard 21 and John 9) for Hawaii, whereas his wife, Elizabeth and daughters, Sarah Ellen and Annie stayed in Australia, living at Glenora, Tasmania. He opened the Waimea School for Boys in Hawaii (which became the Hawaii Preparatory Academy of to-day), and he died in August 1876. His wife and daughter were supposed to join the Reverend in Hawaii but never did, and Elizabeth died on 6 June 1900 in Kapunda S.A. John, at the age of 19. visited his family in Australia, but stayed for only a few weeks, feeling a family outcast. There is no absolute proof, but evidence exists that Elizabeth Cooper Searle was the recipient of the mourning cover, which may have been a very belated letter on the death of her husband, the Reverend Thomas Cooper Searle.
This paper was co-authored with Danny Kalama, Laie, Hawaii, and was published in the N.S.W. Philatelist November 2005, pp. 10-13.