Part 1 - Introduction


The Family of Copinger or Coppinger is of great antiquity in the County of Cork, in Ireland.  The original form of the name was Copener or Copyner.  The g was an insertion when families began to Anglicise their names.  The Meagles then became Meades, the Skiddys became Scudamores, the Copyners, Copingers.

The Copingers originally came from Denmark, and settled, probably as early as the tenth century, in the County of Cork.

In 1301, one John Copinger is named as a juror in an inquisition taken before brother William de Ross, Prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, locum tenens of the chief justiciary of Cork, on Wednesday, Vigil of St. Bartholomew, a. r. 29 [Aug. 23], Cal of Doc., Ireland, 1293-1301.

In 1308 we find one Adam Copiner mentioned in the Close Rolls 2 Ed.II., and he appears again the following year as a witness to an agreement between Maurice, son of Gerald de Staunton, and Katherine de Ruke, his wife, and Henry de Ragenlege Clerk, 3 Ed. II., the name being there spelt "Copener."

In 1319 we learn from the municipal records of Cork that Stephen Coppinger was Mayor of that City, about the period in Edward the Second's reign when the Chief Magistrate of London first adopted a similar designation.  In the Close Rolls 33 Ed. III. (1360); we find the following:-"The King to the Constable of the Staple of the City of Cork, commands that Robert Copener for certain transgressions as well to the King as his Ministers of the said Staple should be indicted, detained, and imprisoned, and for a reasonable fine set free."

So too there are entries in the Patent Rolls of Henry VI. as follows:-

1 Hen. VI., 1427.-The King on the surety of Peter Copener of the City of Cork and John Kelly of the same entrusted to  William son of Thomas Copener of the Co. Cork the guardianship of the temporalities of the Bishoprick of Cork yielding 40 shillings.-Dub. 23 March.

3 Hen. VI., 1429.-The King on the surety of William Gogan and Philip Pyll entrusted to Nicholas Bishop of Ardfert and William Copener of the Co. Cork the guardianship of the temporalities of the Bishoprick of Ross yielding yearly 20 shillings.-Dub. 2 June.

And at the same date we find William Copener mentioned as deputy guager of the wines of the County of Cork.  A branch of the family settled early in the fifteenth century at Kinsale, and another branch, perhaps somewhat earlier, in Youghal.  The following are extracts from deeds to which some of the members of the Kinsale branch were parties, and which are preserved among the Browne MSS.[1]

10 March, 1468.-Hæc indentura facta apud Cork decimo die Marcii anno Edwardo quarti, octavo, inter Will. Galwy civem Cork ex parte una, et Patricium Copner burg' de  Kynsale ex parte altera, testatur, quod predictus Will, dedit predicto Patricio, unum mess. cum pert' in strata fratrum de K. jacent in long' inter mess' dicti Will. ex parte orient' et mess' dicti P. ex parte occident' et in lat' a  strata predicta ex parte boreali usque ad mess' dicti Will. ex parte aust'.  Habend' red' annatim predicto P. duos solidos.

10 May, 1468.-S. p. et f. quod ego Thomas Miloth, marinarius vellae de Kynsall, dedi Patricio Copener, licenciam edificandi, &c., suum mess' jacens inter mess' Will. Galwy ex parte orient' et mess' meum ex parte occident', super parietem mess' mei.  Habend. dicto P. in perp'.  In cujus rei,  &c.  Datum apud Kynsall decimo die Maii, anno Edwardi quarti, octavo.   (Seal, a merchant's mark.)

22 March, 1473.-N. u. pp. me Thomam Miloyt, marinarium et Thanam ny Daly, uxorem meam, remisisse.  Pat. Copener et Margaret, uxori ejus, totum jus meum quod habeo in una pariete in burg' de K. quæ paries jacet inter meum mess' ex parte occident' et mess' P. C. ex orient' in  lat'.  In long' se extendit a stratâ regiâ ex boreali, usque ad terram Joh. Whyte ex aust'.  In cujus rei, &c.  Datum apud Kynsale, xxii die Marcii, anno Edwardi quarti, xiii˚.  Test' Domino Joh. Aelward, capellano, Tho. Martell, Maur. Ronan, Dominico Martell, Richard Roche, et aliis.

28 Feb., 1481.-Pateat universis, &c., me Margaritam Sawter, in mea legitima viduetate, fecisse Dominum Will. Went, capellanum, in possessione unius mess' in burg' de K. per meum attornatum Will. Martell burg' dictæ villæ, jacens inter mess' quondam Joh. Odowill, fullonis, ex occident' et mess' quondam Galfridi Galwey et hered' Pat. Copner.  Tenet et rivulum communem ibidem currentem.  In cujus rei, &c. Datum apud Kinsall ult. die Feb. anno Edwardi quarti, vicessimo.

20 May, 1493.-S. p. et f. quod ego Pat. Galwy burg' de K. dedi Thomæ Copener burg' dictæ villæ, unum ortum in burg' de K.  Jacens in lat' inter ortum Thomæ Sumer ex boreali, et viam com' quæ ducit ad parcam Joh. Martell ex australi.  In long' a terrâ Thomæ de Rupe ex orient' usque ad viam com' per quam itur ad Dromdirige, ex occident'.  Habend. red' dicto Pat' G. et hered. duos sol. et sex denar. argenti.  In cupis rei, &c.  Datum apud Kinsale vicessimo die Maii, anno Henrici Septemi, octavo.  Test. Domino Phil. Copenor, Joh. Yonge, Richardo Ronane et aliis.  (Seal, a merchant's mark.)

7 May, 1507.-N. u. pp. me Patricium f. & h. Johannis Galwy, remisisse Thomæ fil' Patricii Copener et Johanne Yugmecrahe, uxori suæ, hed' quod habeo in uno orto in burg' villæ de K. in lat. inter ortum quondam Thomæ Sommyr ex boreali, et vicum communem qui ducit ad parcam Joh. Martell ex australi.  In long' a terra Thomæ de Rupe ex orient' usque ad viam per quam itur ad Dromdirige ex orient'. In cujus rei, &c. Datum apud Kinsall, vii Maii anno Henrici Septimi xxii. Test' Domino Philipo Copener, villæ vicario, Edmundo Martell, Supe, Henrico Martell, propos', Robert Martell, Andrea Roche et aliis.  (Seal, a merchant's mark.)

29 March, 1601.-N. U. pp. nos Katherinam et Annam Coppinger fil' Patricii C. de K. remisisse Pat. Browne fil' Henrici de K. merc' omne jus, quod habemus in princ' mess' patris nostre in K. quod mess' jacet inter terram dicti P. ex aust' stratam regiam voc' Freerstreat ex boriali, nec non in alio mess' in inferiori vico piscatorum, inter mess' Joh' Water ex boreali et terram Ricardi Roche fz Joh' ex aust' et vicum pisc' ex orient' et terram Ric. Roche ex occid' etiam in uno orto extra muros villæ, inter viam quæ ducit a Nicholls-gate versus Dromdirrig ex occid' et ortum Vicarii ex orient' et terram her' Tho. Young ex boreali, et angustum vicum, qui ducit a via magna ex aust', necnon vs an' red' lavand' de mess' Jacobi Morowghwe inter inf' stra' pisc' ex occid', atque inter terram Galfridi Gallwey ex boreali et terram Roberte Miaghe et aust'.  Datum apud Kinsale.

10 March, 1609.- Recd. by me Andrew Gallwey, of Cork, gent., s. and h. of Walter G., late  dec., by the hands of Patrick Browne, of K. burg., 10s. for all rents, &c., out of one mess' in the lower Fisher's street, called Thomas Coppinger's house, now the freehold of said P.

Early charters relating to Kinsale, in the possession of Capt. Dominick P. Ronayne Sarsfield, D.L., M.A., Doughcloyne, County of Cork.  Extracts made by Dr. Caulfield:-

10 May, 1456.-S. p. el f. quod ego Willmus' fil' Michi' Downyll de K. dedi, &c., Ricardo[2] fil' Willmi' Copiner unum mess', &c., in burgag' de K. jacens in lat' inter viam regiam anterius ex occid', et mare posterius ex orient', in long' a terra Stephani Catigane ex boreal' ad terram quondam Mich' Lawles ex aust'. Habend' in perpetuum.  Reddend' annatim quatuor denar' argenti et capit', &c. Dat' apud K. x Maii, anno Regis Henrici sexti, tricesimoquarto.  Test'.  Thoma Martell tunc proposito.  Dom' Henrico, vicario, Edmundo Roche, Thoma Whyte, Willmo' Walshe, clerico, et aliis.

23 April, 1488.-N. u. p'p' me Dom' Philip Copiner vicar' de K., f. et h. Ricardi C. remis' in perp' Maur' Ronan' burg' de K., totum jus quod habeo in duobus mess' in K., quorum unum jacet in long' a strata Regia in occid' ad terram Roberti Cothereah, quam Galfridus Galwy tenet ex orient'.  In lat' a castro Johan' Scott ex boreali, ad terram heredum Johis Galwy ex aust', altm' mes' jacet in vico piscatorum, inter viam Regiam ex aust' ad mare, boreali.  In long' a mes' Henrici Ydonyll ex occid' quod heras Johan' Galwy tenet, ad mes' ejusdem H. quod Georgius McKray tenet ex orient'.  Datum apud Kinsale xxiii. Aprilis anno R. Henrici vii., tercio.  (Seal, a merchant's mark.)

14 Jan., 1498.-P. U. p'p' me  Katerinam Yuyholyghane relict' Johan' Cormyke, constituisse Dom. Philip' Copiner vicar' de K., meum balliv' adpon' Dionisum Ronan et Anastaciam Yugcormyke ejus uxorem in seisin' unius mess' in K. jacens in long', int' mess' hed' Johis' Sawage ex occid' et mess' hedis' Fyn Omyhygan ex orient'. Dat' apud K., xvi. Jan', anno regis Henrici sept' tertio decimo.  Test' sup' dicto Dom' Phil' vic', Dom' Willo' Went, capellano, Edmundo Martell tunc proposito, et multis aliis.  (Seal, a merchant's mark.)

In 1505-6 a Richard Copener was Provost of Kinsale, in 1485 a Thomas Copinger was Seneschal to the Earl of Desmond,[3] and in 1495 a Thomas Copinger was Mayor of Cork, but it is impossible to say definitely whether they were the same individual.  In 1535 William Copinger was chosen Chief Magistrate of the City.  King Henry VIII, granted to him and his successors in the mayoralty to have borne before them within the city and liberties one decent sword, sheathed, and that the sword bearer be adorned with a remarkable cap.  Also to the said Mayor the King granted the keeping of the King's Castle of Cork until the King should signify his pleasure to the contrary, and that in the meantime no Sheriff of the County of Cork should for ever thereafter concern himself with the said Castle or anything within the said Castle.  That the mayor, bailiff, and commonality might employ an agent for them in England to provide and buy them forty suits of armour, with liberty to ship them from England to Cork without molestation.[4]

It is not unlikely that to this William Copinger the following extract from the Historic and Municipal documents of Ireland, A.D. 1172-1320[5] applies:-

"The Register of the Monastery of St. Thomas, Dublin, is a vellum volume composed of transcripts of documents connected with that house, compiled by William Copinger, of Cork, in 1526, as we learn from the following entry in large gothic letters on the first page:
'Copia vera quarandam euidenciarum monasterii Sancti Thome, martiris, iuxta Dublin,[6] extracta per me Wilhelm Copinger de Cork, sue naciones capitaneum, anno Domini millesimo quingentesimo vicisimo sexto 1526.'"

Among those taking the "ote of the citessyns and cœs of the Cite of Cork and the towne of Kinsali," 15 October, 1500, appears a "Petrus Copener" and among the Fiants of Henry VIII. we find in the year 1541 an order of the Lord Deputy and Council that the monastery of friars of Athenry being situated amongst the Irishry be not dissolved, but that Adam Copynger, the custos, and his brethren shall adopt a secular habit. (7 July xxxiii.)  During this same King's reign a suit was instituted by William Copynger, of Cork, gent., against Thomas Fagan, of the same place, merchant, in respect of a certain boundary wall, when it was decided that the said wall between the tenements of the parties in Cork should be a party wall, and each party should have a moiety thereof - and the defendant was ordered to pay the plaintiff's costs.  A commission was also to be issued for further investigation of the matter in dispute.  Among the Fiants of Edward VI. in 1547 appears the presentation of Richard Copinger Clerk to the archdeaconry of Cork and to the rectory of Holy Trinity in Cork, vacant by the death of George Roche, 15 January, 1---.  from a decree made 4 July, 2 Elizabeth, it appears that a suit had been instituted by John Miagh, of Cork, gent., son and heir to William Miagh, son and heir to John Miagh, son and heir to William Miagh, as plaintiff, against James Roche, William Skiddy, Richard Roche, Richard Coppinger, parson of Christ's Church, Piers Coppinger, of Cork, merchant, parishioners of Christ Church, Cork, and the proctors of same, as defendants, and it was ordered that the plaintiff should have and enjoy to him and his heirs a moiety of a Piscarie or Weir called the great Werre in Loughinnohen, within the haven of Cork, until such times as the said Court took further order therein.  And should also have all such evidences, muniments, and other writings as defendants had of the great John Meagh, and 20 barrels of herrings or their just value, and for his costs 40s. sterling.

Starting with Stephen Copinger, who represented the City of Cork in the first Irish Parliament of Queen Elizabeth, held at Dublin 1560,[7] and who was twice Mayor of Cork in 1564[8] and 1572, we find his descendants branch off into four principal divisions.[9] The first and second branches descending from Stephen's grandson James Copinger, the third and fourth branches from Stephen's grandson Alderman John Copinger, the first branch descending through James's eldest son Sir Walter Copinger, the second through James's third son Richard Copinger, the third descending through John's second son Dominick Copinger, and the fourth branch through John's fourth son Thomas Copinger.

The first branch continued in the County of Cork, at Cloghan Castle, Copinger's Court, Rincolisky, and Lissapoole, for eight generations from Stephen, when their estates were forfeited, and John Copinger left Cork and settled first at Roscoff in Brittany, and ultimately at Trewhiddle, Co. Cornwall, and is now represented in England by Walter Arthur Copinger, of the Priory, Manchester, and Tynycoed Tower, Co. Merioneth.

The second branch continued in the County of Cork for eleven generations, living mostly at Peafield, and is now represented by Richard John Copinger, of that place.

The third branch continued in the same county at Glaunephrieghane or Glenville for seven generations, when Maurice Copinger, Sergeant-at-Law, sold the estate and went to Dublin, and is now represented by Lt.-Col. Henry Copinger, of Park Lodge, Kingston-on-Thames, County of Surrey.

The fourth branch originally settled at Carhue and Leemount, and still continues in the County of Cork.  It is now represented by Capt. Thomas Stephen Coppinger, of Leemount.

The first, second, and third branches have retained the one "p" and use the same arms; except a junior offshoot of the first branch, the descendants of Daniel Laurent Edward Copinger, who have assumed an additional "p" and the arms of the Barryscourt branch of the family known as the "bull's head." The fourth branch have likewise assumed an additional "p" and have taken the arms of the Barryscourt Coppingers.  In the letters of administration granted to "John Copinger of Laymount, Co. Cork, Esq.," as late as 1779, and to "Stephen Copinger of Carhue, Co. Cork, Esq.," as late as 1780, the names are spelt with one "p" only.  The name, however, is indifferently spelt in the earliest documents extant.

[1] Extracted from Dr. Caufield's Appendix to the Council Book of the Corporation of Kinsale

[2].In the Galway Roll, an original MS. in the possesion of Dr. Caulfield of Cork, which contains "The verye trywe copie of Morys Ronan's Rentayel concerning his landes and tenements in Kynsale," appears the following: "Richard Copner's house, in Ficherstreet," and Richard Copner's house, by skot hys."

[3] Smith's History of Kerry, 1774, p.251.

[4] Westminster, 11 Mar. 28 Henry VIII. 1537.  In the testimony of the exemption of Skiddy's lands, near Cork, from the imposition of coyne and livery, &c., given in the 37 Henry VIII., appears the name of Williame Copynger, Recorder of Corke.  His name at the foot of the document being signed 'Willms Copyng.'  The document is printed at length in Appendix N. to Dr. Caulfield's Corporation Book of Kinsale.

[5] Edited by J.T. Gilbert, F.S.A. London 1870

[6] The Abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin, had large possessions in the County of Cork.  An inquisition of the year 1583, finds that on 24th January in the thirteenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, a grant was made to John Fitz Edward Fitzgerald and Thomas Copynger, gent., of the rectories of Ballymartyr, Etesbake, Corriboe, Castrocorre, and Ballianan, in the County of Cork, part of the possessions of the Abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin, for the term of twenty-one years, at the annual rent of five pounds ten shillings Irish money.  Whit. and Walsh's Dublin, vol.i., p.341 Fiants Eliz., 1570.

[7] See MS. published by the Irish Archaeological Society, vol. ii., p.137.  The entry on the roll 2 Eliz. is "Stephanus Copynger, gener." There were probably two Stephen Copingers living about this time.  This very year a Stephen Copinger was Recorder of Cork, and in a document signed by him on 14th October, 1560, mention is made of Patrick Coppinger, son and heir of Thomas Coppinger of Youghall.  The document is as follows:- 4 Oct., 1560.  Memorandum, there is a contencon betwixt David  fitz Tyrry of Cork and Patrick Coppinger, son and heir of Thomas Coppinger of Youghall deceased, for the right of a lane and a half of messuage in same cittie, which lane and half doth lie in breadth from the house of said David near to house wherin Patrick Walshe now dwelleth in south, and in length from Queen's Street on east to Queen's wall on west, the said David with the consent of his grandfather, James Roche of Cork and said Patrick have submitted to the awarde of us Stephen Coppinger, Recorder of Corke, and George Skiddi of same.  And we examining their evidences on either side, have determined that said David Tyrry shall possess said lane and halfe against said Patrick.  And further that said Patrick shall make such sufficient estate unto said David as counsel of said David shall devise, and that said David Tyrry shall pay unto said Patrick Coppinger thirtie pounds, &c. 

In the Inventory of the goods of William Verdon, taken 3rd March 1567, appears the following: "Mr. Stephen Coppinger's silver cup owes iiili.  vs.  viiid.  old money, and vis.  viiid.  current money of England, besides vs.  viiid.  old money to Pyirs Myaghe for a barrel of beer."

[8] This same year Thomas Coppinger was Mayor of Youghall, he being elected the second time in 1573.

[9] The Coppingers of Ballyvolane and Barryscourt also claim descent from the same Stephen Copinger, M.P.  In a letter from the late William Coppinger of Ballyvolane and Barryscourt, dated the 2nd March, 1857, to his cousin the late Thomas Coppinger of Rossmore, he says (inter alia) "Stephen Coppinger my ancestor was with John Meagh or Meade, ancestor of the present Earl of Clanwilliam, Member of Parliament for the City of Cork in 1560. . . . .  This was the first Parliament of Queen Elizabeth."


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