Mr. George Robert Copping

George Copping (1861 – 1915), 53, was a commercial merchant and commissioned agent who traveled among Canada, the United States, and England frequently. He was president of the Reliable Knitting Company and the founder of the G. R. Copping and Sons Manufacturing Company. He was traveling aboard Lusitania with his wife Emma. Both he and his wife were lost when the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk on 7 May 1915. His body was recovered, #150.

Life


George Robert Copping was born on 18 June 1861 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the son of Edward Copping and Emma Copping (née Evans).

On 22 July 1885, George married Emma Louise Black in Guelph, Ontario. They had two sons, Norman Judson Copping and Russell Verner Copping.

Professionally, George worked first as a clerk and then as a commercial merchant and a commissioned agent. For his work, he frequently traveled among Canada, the United States, and England. In 1911, George founded the Reliance (Reliable) Knitting Company, which later closed in 2006 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. George was also the head of the Toronto firm George R. Copping and Sons, whose address was at 72 South Drive in Toronto’s south Rosedale neighborhood.

George and Emma also had a country house in Peterborough, Ontario, where they lived at 788 Aylmer St. This residence was a large house whose size was disguised by its appearance as a bungalow. Copping may also have belonged to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, as Emma had been chairwoman of the grounds committee, and he took part in lawn bowling there.

Lusitania


When World War I broke, the Coppings’ son Norman served in the Royal Grenadiers Regiment. George assisted the war effort through his business.

In the spring of 1915, George and Emma Copping booked first class (saloon) on the Cunard liner RMS Lusitania for their trip to England. Their ticket number was 13104 and they stayed in cabin E 75 on the starboard side. Their steward was Alfred Wood.

On 7 May 1915, the German submarine U-20 torpedoed and sunk the Lusitania. The ship sank in 18 minutes. George and Emma Copping were among the victims. Steward Alfred Wood recalled giving his lifejacket to Emma Copping. Percy Rogers, also of Toronto, having just swam to a collapsible boat after his lifeboat upset, saw George clinging to a rope in an exhausted state. George’s last words to Percy were, “My wife is gone and I can’t hold out much longer.”

One report had mistakenly placed George and Emma on the list of survivors, but both died in the Lusitania disaster. George’s body was recovered, #150, but Emma’s was not. George’s body was returned to New York City on Monday, 31 May 1915, on board the Lapland. His body was then returned to Toronto and buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery on 2 June 1915. His father, Edward, was 85 and present at the funeral. Emma Copping, while her body was not recovered, is memorialized on the family stone in Mount Pleasant.

A marriage from the tragedy


George and Emma’s son, Norman Copping, and his wife Virginia Norton Copping became involved with the Lusitania survivors and family association in Canada. Through this association they met Sir Albert Edward Kemp and Celia Wilson Kemp, maternal grandparents of lost Lusitania passenger John Harrison Chattan Stephens.

Norman Copping died in 1921, and Celia Wilson Kemp died in 1924. After years of working together for the association, Sir Edward Kemp and Virginia Norton Copping developed a bond though the tragedy. Sir Edward Kemp and Virginia Norton Copping married in Toronto, and they had one daughter.

Contributors
Andrew Elliot, Canada
Cherie Jones
Judith Tavares

References
Elliot, Andrew. “Home’s owner perished on passenger ship Lusitania.” The Peterborough Examiner. Web. 4 August 2011. <http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=914757>.

Jones, Cherie.  “George Robert Copping.”  Find-A-Grave.  Web. 4 August 2011.  <http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=63380067>.

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