(12)  William Coppinger

William Copinger of Barryscourt, on his father's death succeeded to the leasehold property, and, in 1768, by the death of his niece, Mrs. Howard, he also succeeded to the old family estate.  His brother John, in his Will, had specially commended to him the dying man's wife, and there seems to have been a friendly spirit always, despite his natural delight in acquiring wealth, even by his niece's death.  The bereaved mother leaves his son some valuable gifts, with very kindly words.  He married his cousin Elizabeth Galway of Lota, and had an immense family, who followed the usual careers.  The squire, the merchants, the farmers, and there was one soldier, a son Richard, who died at Prague in the Austrian service; of course his daughters married their connections, but one of his daughters had the unusual distinction of being one of the four young ladies who, in defiance of the penal laws, became nuns in Nano Nagle's Ursuline Convent, founded there in defiance of still unrepealed penal laws, and by running no inconsiderable risk was the first foundation since the Williamite persecutions.

William Coppinger seems to have been educated abroad, and was very conversant with the French language.  His French Testament, with "William Coppinger his book" written across the title page, and many other foreign books of his, are still in existence.  The Three Williams, father, son, grandson, wrote such different hands, their books cannot be mistaken.

He and his wife seem to have been kindly, hospitable, lavish people, like most of their clan and country; but they possessed the great merit of open, avowed, and devoted attachment to their ancient faith during the dark days, when that faith was specially contemned.  They had, luckily enough, "conforming kindred," but their own sincere and avowed Catholicity was above reproach.

Sisters, aunts, great aunts &c., had intermarried with Norman Nagles, Roches, Rochfords, Ronaynes, with genuinely Celtic O'Briens as with English Sarsfields, but until William's son married the daughter of Stanislaus McMahon of Clenagh, no Mrs. Coppinger of Barryscourt had been of Celtic blood.  The Galways of Lota - a branch off de Burgos, taking their new name because one Sir John was Governor of Galway in the reign of Henry V. - were of Norman stock, but had married much among the old native Irish.

William of Barryscourt, and Elizabeth his wife, were second cousins thus - Thomas Coppinger, the exile, had married Helen Galway of Lota, daughter of Edward Galway and Catherine White of Monaster-na-coir, in the Barony of Imokelly, Co. Cork.

Edward, by his first wife Ellen, daughter of Alderman Ignatius Goold of the City of Cork, had had a son John who married Elizabeth Meade, sister of Sir John Meade of Ballymarple, Co. Cork, M. P. for Cork.  Their daughter Mary married Michael Grace of Shehena, ancestor of the present two families of Grace, and their only son, the father of Mrs. Coppinger of Barryscourt, "married Mary Butler, only daughter of Colonel John Butler of West Court, in the County of Kilkenny, second son of the Honorable Richard Butler, of Kilcash, in the County of Tipperary, only brother of James, the first Duke of Ormonde."

This "Honble Richard" was the well-known Colonel Richard Butler, a leader of the Confederate Catholics in 1641, and a staunch Catholic, unlike his politic and Protestant brother.

This grand-daughter, Mary Butler, having married John Galway, had two sons, John and Richard, and three daughters - Elizabeth, who married her second cousin William Coppinger of Barryscourt, grandson to the above-mentioned Thomas Coppinger; the 2nd sister Helen married Sir John Esmonde, of Clonegall, and her 3rd sister Mary married Mr. Colclough Byrne, of the Co. Wicklow.  The Kavanaghs of Borris were connected with the Kilcash Butlers; and Mrs. Coppinger's first cousin, William Galway, married Margaret Kavanagh.  The Kilcash and West Court Butlers were much intermarried with their clansmen the Butlers, Lords Cahir and Dunboyne, and, in fact, Esmondes and Butlers were connected and intermarried in the most bewildering manner, so that the Squire of Barryscourt and his wife counted kith and kin with the most respectable Catholic families, among whom they enjoyed a good deal of visiting and sport.  Their eldest son Stephen, a clever and promising lad, died while on a visit to Kilkenny Castle, and is buried in Kilkenny.

Mr. Valentine J. Coppinger has a boyish letter of his to his father written from West Court, Co. Kilkenny, the seat of his grand uncle Richard Butler, in 1750, full of greetings from a houseful of relatives.  He writes:-

Dear papa,

My uncle has employed me to have the honour of thanking you for your last letter which I received yesterday and we are very glad to hear by it that mama and you are so well & that Aunt Sarsfield is Better, I should have done myself this honnour of obeying your commands before had not my uncle told me Yt the Postage of the Letter would Cost more than it was worth.  Doctor McEnery went to the Desert the other Day & we received an account just now yt he was very ill. Sr Jhon, my Aunt Esmonde, Uncle Dick, & Aunt Molly came here the thenth & Aunt molly staid behind them, they told us that Grandmama is much better.  She & cousn Butler send their Blessings to you, my Uncle & Aunts, Mrs. Everards, Aunt Mollys, Miss Fitz Geralds complyments to you.  They are all well thank God.  Pray give my duty to Mama, Uncle & Aunt Sarsfield, my Uncle & Aunt Joe, & Uncle & Aunt Coppinger of Grannacloyne, & my love to my Brors & sister.  Uncle Butler writes in this letter.  Therefore you will excuse me from saying any more but assuring you Dearest papa of my being

your most Dutyfull son
  & obedient humble servant

On the back is a letter from his grand uncle Butler.  He sends his best wishes to "Bess" and the Children; and of the boy Stephen he writes:-

"I must confess I should concent to part with him if you had agreed to Sir Thomas' proposal of sending him abroad or rather to have him bred to figures and mathematicks which he has a great genius for, and may be of service to him, but I think it a pity to have him sent to a poor Irish school master at this time of his life which may be so much better employed."

This is written in 1750.

The first William of Barryscourt lived so long that his son was quite a settled man when he married his distant kinswoman, the young Clare heiress.  A prayer-book, given by this father to this his eldest son, is still in existence.  The first page bore in differing hands and faded ink the following touching inscriptions.  Written on top is:-

William Coppinger, Junr.,
his prayer-book, given him by his
father at Barryscourt,
the 1st of February, 1768.

Then in the writing of the young wife he married nine years later.

God gave him the grace to make right use of it.

Then in the writing of their daughter Elizabeth, afterwards Mrs. John O'Connell of Grenagh

Toujours souvenez
Voas de moi votre
três chère fille.
E. Coppinger.

The last writer died (aged 81) 96 years all but a couple of months after the book was given by the father to the son.

Owing to the dispersion and loss of the papers there are but few particulars to give about the first William of Barryscourt.  He and his wife spent a good deal of money, and so did his son and his wife; so that the third and last William came in for so incumbered a heritage the entire of his long life  had to be devoted to saving it.  The first William lived to sign his son's marriage treaty, though he made his Will years before.  It is dated the 15th August, 1775, and in it he gives unto his "dearly beloved wife, Elizabeth Coppinger, that part of my leasehold interest in Barryscourt, called the demesne, containing about 200 acres, be the same more or less, with the buildings and improvements thereon, for and during such and so many years of the terme to come therein as she shall happen to live - she paying thereout an acreable proportion only of the rent payable out of the whole."  He also left to his wife his chaise, three of his best draft horses, and twelve cows, such as she should choose; and also, during her life only, all his household goods and furniture of every kind and sort.  He bequeathed unto his son John his farm called Waterstammer, as he then enjoyed the same, and all his interest therein.  He also bequeathed unto his said son John £1000; and to his son Thomas £600.  He left his son Richard to purchase a Captain's commission, £300.  He left his son Joseph £600, and the like sum to his son James.  To his daughter, Mary O'Brien, as being already provided for, he left one shilling and no more; and to his daughter Elizabeth, one shilling and no more, for the like reason. He bequeathed to his niece Eliza, the interest on £200 at 5 per cent. during her life; and his said son Thomas his farm called the Race Course, and that part of his farm at Barryscourt called the Mullanes[1] and all his estate and interest therein, he paying a proportionable acreable rent for the said part of Barryscourt called the Mullanes, agreeable to the rent payable out of the whole and as all the rest, residue, and remainder of all his real and personal estate, effects, and worldly substance of what kind and nature soever he gave the same to his eldest son, William Coppinger, his heirs, executors, and assigns for ever.  And he appointed his said son William sole executor of his Will.

Mrs. Coppinger of Rossmore writes as follows concerning Elizabeth Galway, William Coppinger's wife:-

"The first William's wife (Elizabeth Galway of Lota) was a nice old lady.  I have heard tell of her visits to Rossmore nearly a century ago to her second son Tom.  She was so precise and neat-looking in her black silk gown, with her gold-headed cane and spotless crimped cap.  I often fancy I see the polite old dame, as I have heard her described. It was her ancestor first carried an umbrella in the streets of Cork, or drove a coach there.  I must say the former was a peaceful weapon to brandish.  It was in 1780 that my grandfather left Barryscourt and went to live at Rossmore, which he took from Emily, Countess of Barrymore, the guardian of her son Richard during his minority." 

Thomas William Coppinger made his Will in 1775; he was certainly living two years later, as he figures in the marriage treaty of his son William with the pretty, slender, graceful heiress Jane McMahon, of Clenagh, who was married in 1777.

[1] This is a hilly piece of land - name derived from Irish word mullagh or summit.

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This page was last updated on 31 August 2016. 

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