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Who was William Cowper?
William Cowper was the fourth child of Rev. John Cowper, Chaplain to George II. He was born in Great Berkhamsted; however his older siblings died and his mother Anne died in childbirth when his brother John was born; William was not yet six years old. He was sent to Dr Pittman’s Boarding School where he was severely bullied for two years until his persecutor was expelled.
When he was ten he went to Westminster School where his interest in the Classics was fostered. He left Westminster and was articled to Mr Chapman. He spent much time at his uncle Ashley’s house in Southampton Row with fellow clerk Edward Thurlow – later to become Lord Chancellor – where according to Cowper they spent a great deal of time “constantly employed from morning to night in giggling and making giggle” the daughters of the house.
Later he was admitted to the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in 1754. He founded the Nonsense Club, a society of Westminster men who dined weekly and produced ballads – “two or three becoming popular“