(39)  Harold Bernard Copinger


(39) Harold Bernard Copinger

Harold Bernard Copinger was born in Manchester on 11th July 1880, and attended Manchester Grammar School between 1892 and 1895 when he received further education at Ellesmere College in Shropshire until July 1898. He studied music and at 16 years of age he played the harmonium for Sunday Schools and later, in 1900, the organ for church services. In May 1899 he started work as a law clerk to his father, Walter Arthur Copinger, and studied law.

The family home during this period was The Priory, Manchester, but there were frequent visits to Tynycoed near Dolgelly in Wales and Buxhall in Suffolk where his father owned property.

After continuing his law studies at Manchester and London he was called to the bar in 1907 at the Middle Temple, London. He worked as a barrister in Manchester and London until the outbreak of war in 1914.

On 25th January 1912 he married Helen Theresa de Caux, daughter of William de Caux of Bristol and Paris at the Catholic Apostolic Church, Gordon Square. London. Both his father and father-in-law were ministers of that church.

On May 6th 1916 he joined the army at the recruiting office at St. Paul's, London and served with the Middlesex Regiment. He trained as a signaller and reached the rank of Corporal. Medically unfit for overseas service he served at Hounslow, Dunstable, and as a signalling instructor at Tunbridge Wells. During this period he lived with his wife and two children at Southborough, Kent and Haling, Middlesex before returning to Alperton in 1919. After demobilisation at Crystal Palace in November 1919 he started work at the Colonial Office. He also worked for a time as Legal Assistant at the War Office. During staff reductions in the Civil Service in 1926 he left Government employ and started working for his father-in-law who was then resident in London. His work was closely connected with the Catholic Apostolic Church and the supply and sale of pamphlets and books connected with the church.

He wrote a book entitled "The Elzevier Press" which was published by Grafton and Co of London in 1927. The title page describes it as "A handlist of the productions of the Elzevier Presses at Leyden, Amsterdam, the Hague and Utrecht, with references to Willems, Berghman, Rahir and other bibliographers". This book running to 142 pages, is really a catalogue of the works printed by the Elzeviers in the 17th century and is a most valuable reference for bibliographers and collectors of the works of these printers. He had a fine collection of the Elzeviers himself which were eventually sold to the University of Michegan, U.S.A. in 1932. He was also a keen Collector of postage stamps of which he had 6,000 in 1939 and of coins which he gave to his cousin Hubert in 1949.

On the death of William de Caux in February 1929 Harold Bernard took over the Catholic Apostolic Church books and pamphlets and worked at the bookshop of Graf ton & Co., Great Russell St., London, until he took his own bookshop, the Bedford Bookshop, in Hand Court of Holborn, London, in July 1931. Here he not only dealt with the books of the Catholic Apostolic Church but many hundreds of other secular books.

Harold Bernard always kept up with the times, a trait inherited from his father who had a telephone installed in Moreton House where they lived in Manchester in 1907. He had a telephone at Alperton in 1922 and a wireless receiver in 1924. Although he had no desire to drive himself having little interest in things mechanical he enjoyed being driven and bought a car in 1930 when his son was 17 and old enough to drive.

In 1932 the family, now of three children, move from Alperton to Gordon Square, London, W.C.I, as both he and his son were now employed in London. The Bedford Bookshop moved to larger premises at Tavistock Place in 1935 and both his son and daughters put in some time at "the shop". The family moved back to their house in Alperton which had been let in 1936 and in 1938 the bookshop was transferred to Alperton using part of the house as, by this time, most of the business was by mail order with very little over the counter selling.

During the 1939-45 war he continued his work at Alperton keeping people supplied with books and information relating to the Catholic Apostolic Church. He sang in the choir at Gordon Square as a tenor for many years and also served as an under-deacon.

In 1946 he returned to Grafton & Co., in Bloomsbury to lend a hand for two years until his retirement in 1948. He was then able to devote more time to the Catholic Apostolic Church books and was kept very busy supplying books to people all over the world and buying collections of books from members of the church.

He suffered most of his adult life with high blood pressure and underwent an operation in the summer of 1951 from which he seemed to recover very well but on 11th October 1951 died from a heart attack at his home in Alperton.



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