(6)  Robert Copinger


He was an Alderman of the City of Cork.  He seems to have given a sum of £65 to Morris Roch, Alderman, Mayor of the Staple, for the office of the Clerkship of the Staple; for by an entry in the Council Book, 9 December, 1633, there is the following statement: "It was agreed by the Maior, &c., that Morris Roch, Ald., Maior of the staple, shall pay Patrick Meade, Doctor the sum of 40 pounds ster. as part payment of 60 pounds the Corporation oweth him for his annuity for the six years past out of the 65 pounds that said Morris Roch received at the hands of Robert Copinger, for the office of the Clerkship of the Staple, and we promise to bear Morris and his Constables harmless concerning the sale of the said office, &c."  He was probably the sheriff of the county in 1633, and together with Edward Gould the following year proceeded against James Roch Fitz Patrick, of Cork, Merchant.  In the decree which is dated 17 November, 1634, both Robert Copinger and Edward Gould are described as late Sheriffs of the City of Cork.  The subject matter of the suit was certain moneys, and it has no particular interest.  In 1636, May 13, Sir Robert was sworn a freeman of the City of Cork, paying as a councillor's son 20s.

In 1641 he was at a fair near Ennis in Clare when the Catholics rose and besieged Ballyalla Castle at the time of the great Catholic rising.  He does not seem to have known anything about the row, but is simply mentioned by a contemporary writer as a credible eye witness  of events.  The tract referring to this is published by the Camden Society.  It is there stated on the evidence of Maurice Cuffe, the besieged Protestant inhabitant, that on the 1st of November, 1641, word was sent from Limerick to Robert Copinger, Esq., being at the Fair of Clare Castle, near Ennis, of the rising of the Catholics. 

"He [Lord Thormond] waiting till the end of the month to rise and Now the companies were billeted on these garrisons and on the Home keepers and the money fully collected and paid unto Robert Coppinger, Esq., according to His Lordship's order but how disposed of is not to me known, but paid it was with a second collection of 12d per ploughland to make pikes and other arms."

Smith, in his History of Cork (vol. ii., p. 114) quoting from the Cox MSS., says, " 1634. This year Sir Roger Coppinger, Mayor of Cork, carried away the City Charter and also the sword and mace."  There are a few mistakes here - Sir Robert is meant for Sir Roger - 1644 is intended for 1643.  As the date and the name are so far removed from the true ones, so perhaps the so-called facts may equally be removed from accuracy. Mr. Smith, in the same volume last quoted from, p. 153 says,

"In 1644 the new Mayor, Robert Coppinger, combined with the Irish to betray the town; for which purpose they drew down an army towards the English garrisons about the middle of March, but before the plot could be executed, Coppinger the Mayor being confident of success, despised Lord Inchiquin's authority, by opposing the levies granted for supporting the English soldiers whereupon his Lordship very opportunely committed him, which occasioned the rebels to withdraw their forces; and at the same time the Irish, by an ingenious stratagem, were turned out of the city."

The way in which Sir Robert Copinger was taken in by the Parliamentarians is well described in MacCarthy's History of Cork.[1]  He says - At this time Sir Robert Copinger was Mayor of Cork.  He was a staunch Catholic and an enthusiastic Royalist. Through the intervention of one "Father Mathew" (how curiously the name sounds in this connexion!) he had arranged with the Confederation that the King's General, MacCarthy, Lord Muskerry, should take possession of Cork.  Muskerry was on his march, when the plot was baffled by a counterplot so striking in its circumstances, that no story of our civic history would be complete without it.

The hero of this latter plot was Captain Muschamp, governor of the Fort of Cork - that same fort, "close to the South Gate," which Mayor Sarsfield had demolished, but which had since been rebuilt "to overawe the citizens."  Muschamp was a Parliamentarian, and had resolved to hand over Cork to the King's enemies.  Now it happened that one hot July evening in this year (1644) Captain Muschamp went out for a walk.  He strolled into the city.  As he passed South Gate fort, it was observed that the gallant captain was, what men would now called, "screwed."  But, as I suppose, there was nothing unusual in this, he was allowed to pass.  He "toddled on" to the Mayor's house. "Master Mayor" was at home.  Some of the leading magistrates were dining with him. The captain, "being in a merry humour," invited himself to join them.  Sir Robert hospitably assented.  Muschamp was, "after the Irish fashion, kindly entertained." "Divers cups," says the chronicler, "of sack, claret, and usquebaugh passed round to welcome him."  "Sitting at dinner," the chronicler goes on to say, "they discoursed of the distractions of the time."  Opinions differing, and the usquebaugh being strong, the argument grew warm.  At length the captain insolently said that he was against the King whose coat he wore, and that if the citizens did not "take the covenant," he would, with the "great ordnance in the fort, beat down all the houses in Cork about their ears."  This was too much.  The magistrates rose. They said he had spoken treason, and should answer for it.  They ordered his arrest.  He was brought before the governor. The governor complimented the magistrates on their loyalty, lamented that an officer in such trust should so commit himself, and arranged for his trial by court-martial.  In a few days Muschamp was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged outside the walls at Gallows-green.  The governor invited the mayor, magistrates, and leading citizens to be present at the execution.  Accordingly, at the appointed time, the prisoner was brought forth to die.  The mayor, the sheriffs, the principal merchants, and the city guard of musqueteers attended.  Few persons of any rank remained within the walls.  All streamed out through the South Gate, passed the fort, on to Gallows-green.  But here the scene changed.  Captain Muschamp was set a liberty.  The mayor, the sheriffs, the magistrates, and "all the chiefest citizens" were seized, and hustled off to prison in the fort hard by.  Muschamp took possession of the city gates, raised the drawbridges, refused readmission to the city guard and to the citizens - became, in fact, master of Cork.  The disaster was complete and irretrievable.  A list of over two hundred "chiefest citizens" thus expelled is extant.  It includes all the old civic names, commencing with Sir Robert Copinger and David Sarsfield, Lord Kilmallock. Subsequently a few were allowed to return, on condition of taking the covenant and renouncing their faith.  But the vast majority preferred to wander off houseless, homeless, landless.  They deposited the city mace and other civic insignia with the Lord Lieutenant.  There was no Mayor of Cork for ten years afterwards, and no Catholic mayor for two hundred years.

The expulsion of the Irish is somewhat differently related in the Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland, which is taken from the Carte Papers.[2]  Mr. Prendergast there says, "Sending for the mayor and corporation at 6 in the morning on 26 July, under pretence that he (the Earl of Inchiquin) has to make a journey to Doneraile, and would speak with them before his departure, he got them into his garden and there kept them surrounded by soldiers, horse and foot, with lighted matches.  Then, attended only by the sheriffs, he proceeded through the streets ordering all the Irish inhabitants (as they were called) both old men and young men, to withdraw out of the city, which done, he ordered out the clergy, and also the women of what quality soever, but to carry nothing with them, his lordship observing, in answer to the remonstrance of the mayor, 'that if they were all lords they must all begone.'  While thus detained, the troops with their petronels ready spanned in their hands, were driving the rest of the inhabitants out of the city, locking up their houses and taking their keys into their keeping; so that in 2 or 3 hours' time the city was depopulated, and not an Irish inhabitant left therein, and they and their wives and their children left with no other lodging but under hedges and ditches, being not able to put one bit into their mouths.  When Inchiquin returned again to the King's interest in 1648, the Irish inhabitants, or such of them as survived, were let back, but only to be again driven out on the revolt of the English garrison to Cromwell, 23rd Oct., 1649, when they were plundered of all that ever they had, insomuch as for the space of twenty-four hours one did not know the miseries of the other, by which means (says Philip Martel in his petition of 22 December, 1649) "the poor inhabitants have a greater sense of the last than of the former plundering."  By a report of the Duke of Ormond, the Earl of Anglesey, and Sir George Hamilton, made by the direction of the King upon the petition of the expelled inhabitants, it was certified that the ancient natives of Cork had at all times from the breaking out of the troubles and disturbances acted with and for the English interest equally with the English Protestants, that when they were put out of their houses and from their habitations, they to hold still firm to their loyalty, had immediate recourse, and only refuge by their mayor Robert Copinger, to the Lord Marquis of Ormond, as the proper centre, in whose hands they deposited the badges of their privileges - namely, the sword, mace, and cap of maintenance; and his Lordship in acknowledgement of such faithful and loyal deportment, knighted the said Robert Copinger; and then promised in the behalf of his late Majesty to render unto them in seasonable time the said sword, and mace, and cap of maintenance, and to testify to their advantage how properly they had deposited the same in due time.[3]  In the records of St. Mary, Shandon, Cork, there is the following entry:-

1702.  The hospital in Shandon parish.  One Stephen Skiddy long since settled 24 pounds per an. (payable  by the Company of Vintners in London out of a certain house in that city) upon the Mayor and Corporation of Corke, to be bestowed by them upon 10 poor people, which they accordingly did.  The said annuity of 24li. per an. was duly paid to the year 1644; and what was farther due to the year 1660, Sir Robert Coppinger the last Papist Mayor got into his hands and never accounted for it.

Sir Robert's will is dated 10 March,1671, and is sealed with the old arms of the family, the crest being the leg in armour.  It is as follows:-

Will of Sir Robert Copinger, Knt., 1671.

In the name of God.  Amen.  I, Sir Robert Coppinger, late of the Cittie of Cork, Knight, and Alderman, being now weake of body, yett of perfect sense and memory (the Almightie be thanked) and knowing nothing more certain than death and more uncertaine than the hour thereof, doe make and ordaine this my last will and testament in manner and forme following:

First, I commend my soule vnto ye hands of Almightie God, hopeing assuredly through ye onely merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour and redeemer, to be made partaker of life euerlasting, and my body to ye earth whereof it is made and ye same to be buried in Christ Church in Corke where my father and ancestors were formerly buried, if by God's grace and my friends meanes it may be soe permitted, if not, that then my body to be buried where it shall seem fit to my nephew David Martell and my friends.  As for my reall and personall estate I leaue and bequeath in manner and form following, first I doe hereby freely, clearly, willingly, and absolutely nominat, ordaine, and appointe my godson John Martell fitz Phillip to be my lawfull heire, hereby revoking,recalling, anulling, and making voide all and all manner of will and wills, testament and testaments, by me ye said Sir Robt Coppinger or in my name made or ordained at any time before ye date hereof now declaring, making, and ordaining this to be my said last will and testament which I doe hereby desire and will, may be observed and duely pformed in all pointes in manner as is herin declared, that is to say, I doe bequeath, devise, leaue, give, grant, and absolutely confirm all and singular my reall estate in Castle, Townes, lands, tenements, and hereditaments, as well within ye Cittie of Corke as in ye suburbs, liberties, and Countie of ye said Cittie of Corke as in ye Countie of Corke at large in as large and ample a manner as if I had herin specified every particular thereof, and in what countie or counties ye same doth lay vnto my said godson and heire John Martell and his brother Philip Martell and to their heirs males and to ye survivor of them and his heirs males, in case ye one should die without heirs males in as large an ample and manner as ye same or any pte thereof was held or injoyed by me at any time heretofore, togeather with all ye estate, right, title, interest, use, possession, reversion, remainder, claime, pretention, power of entrie redemption and demand whatsoeuer, which I now have  or att any time heretofore had to any such estate to be by them held and injoyed in manner following, that is to say, two partes thereof by the said John Martell and his heirs males, and ye other third pte by his said brother Philip Martell and his heirs males, and for want of heirs males of them or of either of them my will is that ye said estate shall revert and come to my nephew Thomas Coppinger and Stephen Coppinger his sonn and their heirs males lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male to John Coppinger fitz Edmond and his heirs males lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male to his the said John Coppinger's second brother and his heirs males lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male, soe to his third brother, and for want of such issue male to John Coppinger fitz Thomas, grandchild to Sir John Coppinger, Knight, decd and his heirs males lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male to Dominick Sarsfield als Sarsfield and his heirs male lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male to the heirs male of Wm Archdeacon lawfully begotten or to be begotten on the boddy of his now wife Margarett Archdeacon als Coppinger, and for want of such issue male to Stephen Coppinger chiefe of ye name and his heirs male lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male to Robert Coppinger fitz Dominick and his heirs males lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male to Dominick Coppinger fitz Dominick and his heirs male lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male the said estate to revert and to come to me ye said Sir Robt Coppinger's rightfull heirs for ever. Item - I devise, leave, and bequeath all and singular all my personal estate, bonds, debts, Statute Judgments, and all and singular my goods and chattels in generall vnto the said John Martell and his brother Phillip Martell, who I doe hereby constitute, nominate, ordaine, and appointe to be my executors of this my last will and testament.

Item - I doe hereby devise, bequeath, give, grant, and confirm my messuage or stone house within ye cittie of Corke aforesaid, wherein I lately liued to ye said John Coppinger fitz Thomas as and to his heirs males lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue male to revert and to come to me ye said Robt Coppinger's rightfull and lawfull heirs for euer.

Item - I devise and bequeath to my cousin Theobald Nashe and his children the sum of tenn pounds.

Item - I bequeath to John Sullivane ye sonne of Genett Nash ye sume of Fortie shillings ster. to make him a gold ring.

Item - I bequeath to Leonard Nash and his children ye sume of fortie shillings ster.  I bequeath to John Young and his brother Thomas Young and their children four pounds sterl. Item - I bequeath to Margaret Roch fitz David towards her perferment ye sum of tenn pounds ster.  Item - I bequeath to Thomas fitz Phillip Heanessy formerly servt to meselfe and to my wife for his faithfull service towards vs ye sume of fortie shillings ster.  Item - I bequeath to Leigh Ring formerly my servant ye sume of fortie shilling sterl.  Item - I bequeath to Ellen nij Syebane als Gallway, widdow, ye sume of fortie shilling sterl.  Item - I leave and bequeath vnto Cate Sarsfield fitz Edmond the sume of fiue pounds sterling. Item - I leaue and bequeathe vnto Margaret Archdeacon fitz Wm, my wife goddaughter, towards her perferment ye sume of ---- ster. ye afforesaid seuerall legacies to be paid out of ye issue and profitts of my afforesaid estate.  Item - my will is that my funerall expenses and all such debts as I owe be first paid by my said executors out of my said estate before they dispose of any parte of the issues and profitts thereof to any other use or uses whatsoeuer.  Item - I doe hereby constitute, nominate, ordaine, and appointe Wm Hore, Esq., John Meade fitz Wm, Esq., and Michael Goul, Esq., ouerseers of this my last will and testament carefully see ye same performed and duely executed by my said Executors in all points and according to ye purporte hereof and likewise to ouersee that ye same may be duely performed in all points according to ye purporte and true meaning of a deed of feoffment by me to be made and perfected to certain feoffees ---- by me to be named therein to ye use of this my last Will and testament and to noe other use or uses whatsoeuer.  In testimony this to be my last Will and Testament I have hereunto sett my hand and seal this 10th daii March, Anno Dom. 1671.

Signed, sealed, and published in 

presence of vs whose names ensue.      
Da: Martell                        ROBT COPPINGER.      
E. M.


[1] Page 38 - 41.

[2] "A relation of the passadges between the Lord Inchiquin and the Mayor and aldermen of Corke, upon his lodps expelling the Irish inhabitants of the citty, subscribed by Robert Coppinger, Mayor, and John Galwaye, Sheriffe, July, 1644." Carte Papers, vol. xi., 402.

[3] Report dated 13 Feb., 1661, liber D of a series of volumes, folio, relating to the Act of Settlement, in the Record Tower, Dublin Castle, cited Prendergast's Cromwellian Settlement.



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