The following account of William Coppinger, Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne and Ross, is taken from the Notes to Rev. Dr. Hutch's Life of Nano Nagle.
"William Coppinger, a scion of one of the oldest Catholic Houses in the South of Ireland, was born in St. Finbaxis Parish, Cork, in the year 1753. Prohibited by the Penal Laws from obtaining a liberal education at home, he studied successfully on the continent. Arrived at manhood he resolved to follow the profession of arms and solicited a commission in the French service, in which were so many distinguished Irishmen. Some friends dissuaded him and he became a priest in Ireland. He entered the Irish College, Paris, and after a brilliant scholastic career was ordained priest in 1780. He at once became curate in his native parish, was very soon made Parish Priest of Passage and Vicar General of Cork Diocese. The venerable Bishop of Cloyne, Dr. McKenna, begged him of the Holy See as coadjutor. Dr. Moylan, Bishop of Cork, supported the request, and in 1788, 8 years from his ordination, Bishop Coppinger was consecrated. Lord Chancellor Redesdale wanted to make out that the Catholic Clergy in Ireland were not recognised as existing by law. Practically this was to a certain extent true, but in the strict letter of the law it was false. Bishop Coppinger asserted in a pamphlet that the Chancellor was ignorant of the laws he was paid to administer. This exposure afforded much merriment to Curran and other legal wits. In 1798 the Orange faction was wild with the spirit of fanaticism, and to escape insult and perhaps death at their hands, Dr. Coppinger had to fly from Youghal to a remote corner of the Diocese. Despite the turmoil of the times he continued to administer the affairs of his Diocese with great zeal and benefit to religion. He was a determined opponent of the Veto. It was his hand drew up the resolution against the measure adopted in the Synod of 1808, by 23 Prelates - 3 dissenting. 'It is the decided opinion of the Roman Catholic Prelates of Ireland that it is inexpedient to introduce any alteration in the canonical mode long experience has proved to be unexceptionably wise and salutary.'
Besides several pamphlets and letters on the topics of the day, Bishop Coppinger has left a translation of the Imitation of Christ, a general catechism, and a brief Memoir of Nano Nagle. He died in 1830, and is buried in Queenstown Cathederal."
His near relative, Dr. Coppinger, formerly of Queenstown, possesses an oil-painting of him in his ecclesiastical garb, and Mrs. Coppinger of Rossmore possesses a miniature set as a brooch representing him in the lay garb of his youth, a handsome young man with a long oval face, powdered hair, and a lavendar-coloured silk coat. It looks like French work.
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