STEPHEN COPPINGER, the peaceful chief of his name, had not been long gathered of his fathers when a delusive gleam of hope gladdened the Irish Catholics in the accession of a King of their creed. History tells us how, in an evil hour, the Irish Catholic gentry staked their fortunes on his, and how cruelly they suffered for the sake of the most wrong-headed and impolitic of all the hapless princes of the ill-fated House of Stuart.
The four outlawed brothers who suffered exile for King James were perhaps more deeply implicated than many others of their class and creed through the marriage of the eldest Thomas with Helen Galway, of Lota. Her family had taken a very strong part for the King at the very time when Thomas's father had been saved by Cromwell's powerful protection.
Stephen's grandson and namesake, in his petition in the Court of Claims, duly sets forth quite a little family history. How Stephen, his grandfather being possessed of Ballyvolane and Ballincurrig and some other lands now hard to trace, did,
"In consideracion of a marriage had between Thomas Copinger son and heire apparent of the said Stephen Copinger deceased and Helen Copinger alias Galway in the County of the City of Corke gentleman deceased and of a marriage porcion of ffive hundred and fifty pounds sterling paid to the said Stephen Coppinger deceased for settling a competent jointure on said Helen in case she should survive the said Thomas and in pursuance of articles of agremt dated the 29th day of January 1669 made between the said Stephen and Helen before the said intermarriage did alien give grant and bargain and sell enfeoffe release and confirm unto John Galway of the Citty of Corke Esqre and William Copinger of Corke Merchant and their heirs all and singular the said before mencioned townsland and premises with their appurtenances To the use of the said Stephen Copinger the ffeoffor during their natural lives and the life of the longest liver of them with and after their decease to the use of the first son of the said Thomas in tail male."
From this settlement of 1669 were unluckily excepted the lands of Ballintemple, Knockyvostragh, and Stanton's Acre, otherwise Parky Copinery, in the South Liberties, these being already settled as jointure lands on Ellice Copinger, the wife of the Chiefe of ye name. By her death they passed out of settlement, and were forfeited later on by his hapless son Thomas. Old Stephen, however, made elaborate arrangements about these lands. They were to have passed to Thomas on his mother's death, and then to his eldest son Stephen and his heirs, and failing Stephen's heirs, to Thomas's second son Edward. Poor Helen Galway's jointure was never added to the burdens of the estate, but pretty soon confiscation more than made up for it. Thomas did not marry again, and within a very few years of her death he was a banished, landless man. Thomas Copinger had evidently contrived to embroil himself in the earlier struggles against King William, for his son's petition to the Court of Claims says:
"The said Thomas Copinger being indicted and outlawed on account of the late rebellion in this kingdom his estates in all and singular the said lands and premises by the said deeds mencioned and conveyed is forfeited and vested in your Honours by the said Act during the natural life of the said Thomas and noe longer, and the claimant Stephen being no forfeiting person requests his claim to succeed to them at his father's death may be acknowledged by your Honours."
King James had a brief gleam of success when, in the March of 1689, he landed at Kinsale and proceeded to Cork, where he heard mass in the great Franciscan Priory in the north of the city which, says the Cork Remembrancer, from the strict discipline observed there, acquired the name of the "Mirror of Ireland." He was also supported through the streets of the city by two Franciscan friars, and attended by many others of the same order in their habits. In August, Lord Clare, his governor, began by committing the Protestants to St. Peter's, Christ Church, and the Court Houses. On the 10th and 11th of September several were sent to Blarney and Macroom Castles, and the Protestant merchants were freely despoiled. Monsieur Boileau, Lord Clare's assistant, was supposed to have sent off £30,000 in money and value to France. Several Williamite gentlemen from the County of Cork, who were induced to surrender under promise of good treatment, were very cruelly treated in Galway Gaol. In fact the King's adherents prepared the way in every particular for the cruel reprisals and wholesale confiscation to follow. In September, 1690, the city was besieged and obliged to surrender, and William and Mary being proclaimed, the Protestant ascendancy was finally established.
Thomas does not appear in any official capacity, nor does the name of his eldest son Stephen appear, whose claim to the reversion of the settled property had been admitted by the Court of Claims. Stephen evidently was careful to take no part in the affairs of the time.
Probably he kept abroad. His French quotations, the character of his hand-writing, the French workmanship of some of his belongings now in the writer's possession, and something quite French in his dress as shown in his portrait, also in the writer's possession, painted probably on his marriage, all point to a foreign nurture. His younger brother Edward had not the same weighty reasons for keeping quite, and lost his life for King James, in 1691, as will be duly related later. Poor Thomas had the sorrow of losing this brave boy, and being driven into exile, this time with no hope of return to his country. His wife having died in 1684, his three brothers and some of his wife's kindred were his companions in misfortune. An Inquisition was taken on his attainder, which is preserved in the Public Record Office, Dublin.
An Inquisition was also taken at the Guild Hall, Cork, on the 13th of March, 1693, before Thomas Brown, Deputy Escheator of the Province of Munster; Percy Freke, Francis Bernard, Esquires; Jonathan Perry, and William Roberts, Gentleman, to inquire into treasons and felonies committed by Dominick Sarsfield, of Sarsfield Court, and Thomas Coppinger, of Ballyvolane, Esquires, since the 13th of May, 1688, and whether they were attached, and for what offences, and it was found on the oaths of Patrick Ronayne, of the City of Cork, Merchant, that the said Dominick Sarsfield and Thomas Coppinger were, upon the 11th of June, in the 3rd year of the reign of King William and Queen Mary, outlawed for treason by them committed.
Thomas Coppinger's life interest in his property was sold to H. Galway and the proceeds seized, while Ballintemple and the unsettled property of every description were utterly confiscated and lost for ever. As Stephen was only entitled to the property in remainder expectant on his father Thomas's decease, it is not easy to derive how they lived, unless indeed they had been able to save some money and valuables from the wreck of their fortune. Stephen and John both farmed pretty extensively when they got back to Ireland, but there is nothing to indicate that they had ever tried any other kind of employment. There is no exact proof of the date of Thomas's death. He lived up to, and probably past, the first year or two of the new century, for he seems to have executed a family settlement in 1700, the year previous to his son Stephen's marriage, and in 1701 his life interest in the settled property was sold by the Master of Forfeited Estates in Ireland. No trace of this settlement, however, is now to be found, though the late William Coppinger of Barryscourt had it in 1844, when he wrote thus concerning it to a distant kinsman : "In the settlement of my own immediate branch of the date of A.D. 1700, neither my father nor myself have ever been able to trace the descendants of some of the heads of families named in that settlement." In a subsequent letter to the same individual dated the 28th June, 1843, the old squire wrote : "I belive I have already stated to you that in my great-grandfather's settlements there are three persons or four named in the entail whose descendants, if there were any, I have never been able to trace; and in a list of the inhabitants of the City of Cork in 1637, there are 37 heads of families of Coppingers named, of whose issue there is scarcely now a trace." He should have written "List of Catholic inhabitants of Cork." Lists of Catholics were not unfrequently taken, doubtless with a view to the future mulcting of Papists. There is a tradition that Thomas Coppinger died at La Rochelle, in France, and was buried there, but the inscription on the tomb raised by the late Mr. Coppinger on the site of the old tomb in Temple Curraheen Churchyard, near Killacloyne, enumerates him among those buried in the vault beneath. Perhaps his children brought over his remains; and as brothers, grandsons, and cousins were merchants on an extensive scale, there would not have been very great difficulty or cost in doing so.
The forfeitures of Thomas are stated to have been as follows :-
North suburbs of Cork and Barrymore, £74. 6s.
South Liberties, £112; set at £50.
For life, City of Cork, £38; set at £25.
From a MS. preserved in the British Museum, the forfeited lands of Thomas are thus set out :-
|St. Finbary's -||Ballycurrig arable and meadow||188||3||24||200||3||24|
|"||Coppinger's Stang arable||12||0||0|
|"||Of the same arable||12||0||0||178||3||24|
|Rathcony -||Ballycollick arable &c.||148||3||32|
|Shandon -||Ballyvolane arable &c.||177||2||24|
|Carritoole -||Garraincline arable meadow and pasture||99||1||8|
A list of claims contained in a MS. in King's Inn, Dublin, varies much from the above. In each case Thomas is said to claim a life estate only.
Number of Acres - Irish
|A waste plott of ground
in the Northern Liberties
Coppinger's 2 acres
in the North suburbs of Cork
and the South part of
Nos 765 and 766 in the claims made to the Chichester House Commissioners are in respect of leases held from Thomas Coppinger.Thomas's four daughters all married; the eldest to Conor O'Brien, of Kilcor, a gentleman of very ancient and honourable lineage. Their descendant, Cornelius O'Brien, late of Kilcor, Co. Cork, is still living and married to his cousin, Katherine Coppinger, of Rossmore. His property was sold in the Encumbered Estates Court, and his only daughter Cornelia, is married to W. O'Brien, Esquire, of Mitchelstown. She possesses an antique diamond ring, solidly and somewhat rudely set, and four times given by O'Briens of Kilcor to brides of the Coppinger family.
 Enrolment of Claims to Trustees, 1688, Lib. T. Ste. Copinger, No.2979, Record Office of Ireland.
 Add MSS., 17,508.
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