(33) Arms of the Family


After mature consideration the only conclusion we can arrive at is that the original arms of the family were those appearing as the frontispiece. [As shown at the head of the Home Page. DPC.]  These arms were borne by all the Irish Copingers except the Coppingers of Ballyvolane and their offshoots, and also by the Copingers of Suffolk and Kent.  The Carhue Coppingers have assumed the arms of the Ballyvolane Coppingers.  The device given as the frontispiece is, it is conceived, older in character and more honourable (heraldically speaking) than the arms given as the frontispiece to the second part [Bull's Head couped at the neck, 2nd from left on Home page.  DPC].  In Glover's Roll (temp. Hen. III.) only three animals are named, the Lion, the Leopard, and the Boar.  The two first being one and the same animal, and the third contributing but his head to the catalogue of charges.  And at no time previous to the 16th century is the list of animals borne as charges a long one.  In heraldry it is well-known that there are three kinds of charges, viz.:  Honourable Ordinaries, Sub-ordinaries, and Common Charges.  The ordinaries are of the simplest form, and of the most ancient usage, those of a simpler design being considered the more honourable. Now, in the arms forming the frontispiece, we have both the bend and the fesse, two out of the nine honourable ordinaries.  The Copinger arms are often described as "bendy of 6 or. and gules;" but though two bends can be borne on the same shield, where there are more than two, they are properly termed bendlets.  It may be mentioned here that the Bend is supposed to represent a scarf or shoulder belt. and the fesse the military girdle worn round the waist by mediŠval warriors.  The first showing the original bearer to have been valiant in war, and one who mounted the enemy's walls, the second showing that the warrior had performed some special service in the wars, it being usual for kings and generals, on such extraordinary occasions, to reward their followers with these military belts in token thereof.  Or, or gold, the metal of the shield, is said to represent wisdom, riches, and generosity, though it is truly the symbol of truth.  Azure or blue, the colour of the fesse, is said to be in heraldry the symbol of a godly disposition, and of a heavenly mind; gules, or red, the colour of the bends or bendlets, is in heraldry the symbol of strength and courage;  and argent, or silver, the metal of the plates, the symbol of innocency, and love.  The probability is that a branch of the Coppingers settled at Ballyvolane at a very early date, and they seem to have adopted the bull's head as a device.  It is said by some to have been a Danish device, but there is no sufficient evidence of this.  Probably the bull's head was first borne on a standard and subsequently adopted as armorial bearings.

There is no record of the actual use of the bull's head by way or armorial bearings prior to the 18th century.  Every Will in the Public Record Office, Dublin, made and proved by Copingers or Coppingers prior to 1800 has been inspected, and the first Will sealed with the bull's head is that of John Coppinger, dated 1st September, 1725, who was a grandson of Alderman John Copinger, and it is attached to certain letters of Stephen Copinger, the Jacobite Refugee in 1727, and also to the Will, dated 7th July, 1750, of Thomas Coppinger, who died at Gottenburgh.  None of the Wills here specified are of Coppingers of Ballyvolane.

There are several MSS., however, in the British Museum in which the bull's head is specified as the arms of the family at a much earlier date.  The earliest discovered is 1603, and will be found amongst the Add. MSS., No. 6,096, entitled "Arms of all the Nobility and Gentry of Ireland, 1603," under the head "Copinger."  It will also be found in two other places amongst the same MSS., viz., No. 5,866, entitled "Alphabet of Names and Arms of certain Nobility and Gentry of Ireland;" and No. 14,318, entitled "Arms chiefly of Irish Families, alphabetically arranged to letter D, 17th century," where under "Coppinger of Crosshaven, in the co. Cork, Sir John, Knight," appear no arms, but a crest somewhat like a bull's head.  So also in two places amongst the Harl. MSS. the same device will be found, viz., in No. 1,351, entitled "Arms of Irish Nobility and Gentry," under the head "Copinger," and in No. 2,120 (40) "Book of Arms of Irish Nobility and Gentry and other outlandish arms, by Poynings."

On the other hand, the arms placed as the frontispiece appear also in most of the MSS. in which the bull's head is given as a device of the family, as, for instance, in the MSS. above referred to, Add. MSS. 5,866, and Harl. MSS. 2,120.  In fact there is only one place where the bull's head stands alone, and that is the Add. MSS. 6,096.  In addition to these places, the arms placed as the frontispiece are stated to be those of the Copinger family in various other MSS., amongst which may be specified, Harl. MSS. 1,441 (40), "Alphabet of Arms of Irish Gentry," under the head "Copinger," Harl. MSS. 807, "Pedigree and Arms relating to numerous ancient families."  Harl. MSS. 1177,1560,1820 &c., &c.

These arms also appear on seals attached to the Wills of James Coppinger, dated 1635, Dominick Copinger, dated 30th October, 1642, Joanna Coppinger, 16th February, 1665, and Sir Robert Copinger, 10th March, 1671; and on the tombstone to the Verdons, at Kilmallock, county Cork, erected by Sir Walter Copinger.  A beautiful impression of these arms appears on a seal attached to a conveyance by Walter Copinger to his son Dominick in 1679, preserved in the Public Record Office, Dublin, amongst the Chichester House papers.  The Will of Dominick Copinger, dated 8th May, 1688, is sealed with the leg in armour only.

In conclusion, it may be mentioned that in two MSS. (Add. 5,866 and Harl. 2,120 (40)), besides the arms given above appears a device assigned to the family of three birds, apparently parrots; and that in the following MSS., which have been searched for the purpose, no arms whatever are assigned to the family:-

Add. MSS, M.B. 5,522. "Arms of Irish Nobility and Gentry."
" 14,298-9. "Arms and Crests of Suffolk Families, 17th century," 2 vols.
" 14,830-1. Arms and Crests of Different Families, with dates of Grants and Confirmation," 2 vols., 1748.
" 15,096. "A Few Arms of Irish Families," 17th century.
Harl. MSS. 1,359. "Grants of Arms."
" 1,365. "Arms of many families bearing Barres."
" 1,386. "Arms of Knights created by Sir Wm. Russell, Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1st September, 1594."
" 1,438. "Grants of Arms."
" 4,024. "Arms of Irish Nobility and Gentry."
" 4,039. "Arms of Irish Families, by W. Terry."
" 4,040.                "                           "
" 4,623. "Arms of Irish Nobility and Gentry."

The following are the various differences in the arms of the family assigned by different authorities:

Copinger (Kent).

Arms. Bendy of six, Or. and gules, over all a fesse az. charged with three plates.
Crest.  A ram's head, sa. 

Copinger (Norfolk).

Arms.   Or. three bends, gu. a fesse vert (or gu.).
Crest.  A falcon's leg, belled and wing conjoined, p.p.r. 

Copinger (London).

Arms.   Bendy of six, or. and gules, on a fesse az. three plates, all within a border of the second.
Crest.  A buck's head arg. 

Copinger (Kent).

Arms.   Arg. four bends gules. 

Coppinger or Copinger (Ireland).

Arms  Three bendlets gu., a fesse sa.
Crest.  A dexter hand p.p.r. verted or, holding a holly branch vert.

Copinger (Suffolk).

Arms.   Bendy of six or. and gu. on a fesse az., three bezants, within a bordure of the third. 

Copinger (Buxhall, Co. Suffolk).

Arms.   Bendy of eight or. and gu., on a fesse vert., three plates, all within a border purpure.

Crest.  A goat's head erased, sa. 

Copinger (Lord Mayor, 1512).

Arms.   Bendy of six or. and gu. on a cheveron az., three plates within a border purp.

Coppinger (Ballyvolane).[1]

Arms.   Az. a bull's head couped at the neck between three stars of eight points radiant.
Crest.  A demi-lion rampant.

[1] The above note of arms was sent by the author, in proof, to Mr. V.J. Coppinger, Barrister-at- law, a member of the Ballyvolane branch of the family, and the following is a copy of a letter of  his on returning same, which it seems but right to be here given:-

                                5, Pembroke Road, Dublin,
                                Saturday, January 12th, 1884.

My Dear Sir, - I return you at once, as you desire, the proof-sheet of that portion of your  forthcoming work relating to the Arms of the several Copinger and Coppinger families that I  received this morning from you.  I have no copy of the plate of the Arms of my ancestors, the  Coppingers of Ballyvolane, which is to appear in your book; and do not know whether it  corresponds exactly with the engraving of the simple Bull's Head surmounted by the crest of the  demi-lion rampant, as given in the second volume of Mr. Burke's "History of the Commoners," or, on the other hand, contains in addition thereto, upon the shield, three stars, - which I take to  be the more perfect form.  A very perfect impression of the seal of the John Coppinger of  Ballyvolane, whose daughter, by his second marriage, was the first wife of the eleventh Duke of  Norfolk, giving the Arms in what I describe as their more perfect form, is to be found attached to  the Marriage Licence Bond (Cloyne Diocese), dated 3rd July, 1731, now in the Irish Public Record  Office, entered into on the occasion of the marriage of his sister Helen with David Nihell. I find,  too, on referring to my note-book, that in a pedigree of Jacob Roche, of Martinique, which I have  seen at the office of the Ulster Herald, dated 3rd May, 1725, the Arms of his great-great-grandmother, Catherine Coppinger, are there described as follows :-

"Az. a bull's head, couped at the neck, between three stars of eight points radiant." I may add that the bull's head appears in every extant representation or description of the  Arms of the Ballyvolane family, without exception; and that it seems to me that this must be taken  to be, in some way, associated with the word "Ballyvolane" [Hibernice, "Bull Town"], the name  of the townland near the City of Cork which belonged to my ancestors as far back as documentary evidence reaches, and is supposed to have been held by them since Danish times.

                                Yours very sincerely,
                                VALENTINE J. COPPINGER.


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