(3)  Sir Walter Copinger

   

The first mention we can discover of this prominent character in the family history is in an Indenture made in 1594,[1] by virtue of which he apparently became the possessor of the Manor and Castle of Cloghan in Carbery, Co. Cork.  The document is a parchment about 13 inches square, and is signed "Walter Coppinger," and sealed with a device almost obliterated, but which seems to be the head of some animal, perhaps a bull's head erased, with a star or mullet in each corner in the chief and one in the base.  On each side of the seal appears the initials "W." "C." respectively.[2]

Conveyance to Walter Copinger, 1594.

Indenture made 16 May, 36 Eliz. Betwixt Walter Coppinger fz James of Cork, gent., on one part, and Charles McCormuck McTeige McCartye and Donogho McCormucke McTeige McCartye, of Cloghrean, in Co. Corke, gent., and sons to Sir Cormucke McTeige, late of Blaerny, Knt., dec.  Witnesseth that whereas said Charles McCormucke and Donogho McCormucke, by deed dated this day haue granted to Walter Coppinger, his heirs &c., not only the manor and castel of Cloghane, with three plowlands of demesne lands in Carbry, Co Corke, and the half plowland of Ballycomane in Carbry afs'd, but all their right, &c., in the lands, &c., of Donyll McCormucke McCartye, late of Cloghane and late attainted of high treason, &c. To haue said Castel of Cloghane, &c., and half plowland of Ballycomane, rendering yearly 43s. 4d. of Ireland.  Nevertheless the said Walter C. doth covenant with said C.McC and D.McC., that if said C. and D. do pay said W.C. at the now dwelling house of John Coppinger fz. John of Corke,  before the expiration of nine years 100 pounds, money of England, from date hereof, said deed to be void.  In witness whereof, &c.,

                                               WALTER COPPINGER

(Witnesses' names on the endorsement.)

Thomas Sarsfelde, John Roche, John Coppinger
Edmonde White, John Moonut (sic.)

For the better understanding of the suit which subsequently arose between the parties, it may be well to show the devolution of the property previous to the date of the last mentioned conveyance or mortgage.  This appears very clearly from the recitals in a document still in existence.

"Whereas Queen Elizabeth, of famous memorie, by Letters Patent under her broad seale of the Kingdome, dated the 19th year of her Raigne,[3] in consideration of manie great and acceptable services vnto her highness in times of hostillity and rebellion performed and done by the said Sir Cormacke McTeige, Knt, as a speciall mark of her princelie favour and as a recompense of the great merits and service amongst other things granted vnto him the said Sir Cormacke and his heirs, all that and those the Manour and Castle of Cloghan, three plowlands thereunto belonging, and all and singular the parts and parcells, members, and appurtenances therevnto as well in desmesne as in service, and all other rents and hereditaments of whatsoever quantitie, nature, or degree now taken, accepted, or reputed as part member or hamlett hereof or held or possessed as member, part or appurtenant therevnto, situate, lying, and being in the barronie of Carrabry in the Countie of Courke, and all the halfe plowland of Ballycomene situate in the said Countie and Barronie excheted vnto the Crowne by the attainder of Danell McComake McCartie, late of Cough, attained of high treason by force and virtue whereof the said Sir Cormacke McTeige, Knt, ent'red into the said Manner, Castle, and lands and other hereditaments, and was thereof seised in his demeasne as of fee, and died of such an estate soe thereof seised after and by whose decease the said Manner, Castle, Toune, and lands and other hereditaments discended and came vnto Charles Cartie,[4] sonne and heir vnto the said Sir Cormake whose sonne and heire being thereof seised in his demeasne as of fee by his deed in due forme of lawe perfected, wherein Donoge Cormake, brother to the said Charles did ioyne, dated 16 May, 1594"

granted premises as above mentioned to Walter Copinger.

A bill was some years afterwards filed in the Court of Chancery by the above-named Charles McCormacke McTeige McCartye to set aside this deed, or rather to obtain a decree that it was intended to be by way of mortgage only. The proceedings are set forth at great length in the decree, dated the 5th December, 1633, which is preserved in the Public Record Office, Dublin.  In these proceedings McCartye's son alleges that the deed was "upon confidence and trust upon condition comprised in a defeazance signed, sealed, and delivered by the said Walter Coppinger bearinge equall date with the said deede of feoffment by which the said Walter Coppinger did by himselfe, his heirs and assigns, convenant and graunt to and with the said Charles McCormacke and the said Donogh McCormacke and euerie of them and the heirs and assigns of the said Charles McCormacke and Donogh McCormacke and eurie of them that if the said Charles McCormacke and Donogh McCormacke or one of them or the heirs or assigns of them or one of them did well and truely content, satisfie, and pay or cause to be contented, satisfied, and paid to the said Walter Coppinger, his heirs or assigns at the dwelling house of John Coppinger fitz John within the Citti of Courke," the amount advanced the premises should be reconveyed.

The Court does not seem to have given effect to the alleged deed of defeazance, for it ordered that "notwithstanding any previous order or orders to the contrary Sir Walter Coppinger should hold and enjoy all and singular the Castle and 3 plowlands of Cloghane, situate in the Barony of Carbery and Co. of Cork, and the half plowland of Ballycoman als Ballycomem with the appurtenances for ever against the plaintiff Charles McCarty."  It further ordered that the plaintiff should execute a conveyance of the said premises to the defendant Sir Walter or others to his use in consideration of £300 to be paid by instalments.

The following entry is taken from the Council Book of Munster (British Museum, Harl. 697.)

"1603. March 4. - By the President and Council of Munster.  In the matter of controversy betwixt Bryan McOwen and Cahir O Callaghan (als. Mothern) for the Castle of Drommyne and six plowlands thereunto belonging,  referred to us by the Lord Deputy,  It is ordered that said Castle and six plowlands be sequestered to the hands of Walter Coppinger, of Cork, gent., to remain till the matter be tried as the parties have agreed to : viz. Brien, his feoffees, &c., shall make a lease of the castle, &c., to any he shall please, upon which the said lessee shall next term declare in an  .  .  .  .  in the King's Bench or Common Pleas, &c., the rest to plead the general issue, &c., the trial to proceed with all expedition, &c. Corck, 4 March, 1603.  Geo. Thornton, Nich. Walsh, Ric. Peircy, Ger. Comerford."

In 1604 his name again appears in a Bond.

23 Aug., 1604. - Coram G. Thornton, Rev. in Christo patre Dno. Willmo Epo. Cork, et Commiss. Momonię .

Daniel Donnovane, de Castle Donovane, gen      400li.      

Walterus Copinger, de civ. Cork, gen      200li.      

Jacobus Graunt, de Aghedullan, gen      200li.

Condition, that Donough McHugh McDonnell pledg of the above Danl O Donnovane, is to be enlarged, but to remain a true prisoner in Corke.  To appear after ten days' warning, &c.[5]

The next mention of Sir Walter is in a grant dated the 8 May, 1606, which is to "Walter Coppinger of Corke, gent.," for building a house.  The following license appears amongst the Patents, temp. James 1.[6]

Licence to Crooke to alienate to Copinger.

Licence to Thomas Crooke of Baltimore, in Cork co. Esq., to alienate to Fynen O'Driscoll, Knt., Walter Coppinger Esq., and Donatus otherwise Donogh O'Driscoll, gent.

Cork Co:  The whole country or cantred of Collimore otherwise O'Driscolls country, the shore and strand of the port of Baltimore, also the islands of Downegall, Capeclare, and Inispick, being part of the lands of the said cantred, with all manors, customs, privileges, &c., to the same belonging; also a market on every Saturday in Baltimore otherwise Downeyshead for a fine of 10 l str.  10 Jul. 8th James 1st.

The following year by deed dated 27 August, 1609, the Corporation of Cork mortgaged to him the prize wines, as may be seen from entries dated 29 August, 1609, and 16 June, 1612, in the Council Book of the Corporation of Cork; and on the 8th October, 1609, he was sworn Serjeant of the Mace.

On the 24 November, 1610, he joined in a petition to the Lord Deputy, &c., on behalf of the inhabitants of Carbery.

In 1612 he advanced money to Murtagh O'Driscoll, and the following is an epitome of the deed.

Mortgage of Auldcourte, &c., to Sir Walter, 1612.

"Deed poll. -  Murtagh O'Driscoll of ---- in the county of Cork - the said Murtagh O'Driscoll in consideration of £60 paid by Walter Coppinger of Cloghan, in the said Countie, Esquire, granted to said Walter Coppinger, his heirs and assigns, all that Castle, hall, and towne of Auldcourte, conteyninge two plowlands, viz., the ploweland of Derrygarrin, a quarter of a ploweland called Large (?Leigh), another quarter of a ploweland called Bannbrackenagh, and an other halfe ploweland called Gortnegarrane with all other the appurtenances, To hold same to the said Walter Coppinger, his heirs and assigns, to his and their proper use and behoofe for ever to be holden of the chieffe Lord of the Fee.  [Usual covenants.]

Dated 22nd October, 1612."

The last conveyance was by way of mortgage only, and in 1630 Dermott McMurtagh McBrien O'Driscoll, probably the son of the mortgagor, appears to have obtained a further advance.  The deed is dated 26th March, 1630 and is to the following effect:-

Further charge on Auldcourte, &c., 1630.

"Deed Poll. -  Dermott O'Driscoll, sonne ---- ---- Oldcourt in the Countie of Corke, gent. Reciting the mortgage of the 20th October,1612.  Witness that the said Dermod McMurtagh McBrien O'Driscoll in consideration of £40 paid by the said Sir Walter Coppinger, Knt., to supply his wants and urgent occasitions release to Sir Walter Coppinger of all right or claim under the condition above in the said Castle, Towne, and lands aforesaid, but subject to redemption on his paying unto the said Sir Walter Coppinger, Knight, his heirs or assigns, within his dwellinge house at Corke aforesaid, in one entire payment as well the som of six score old angels in gold or the value of them in pure silver as alsoe the som of ffourtie pounds sterling as therein mentioned.

Dated 26th March, 1630."

In the Patent and Close Rolls Chancery, Ireland, 1628, 4 Charles 1., Membran 30 is a pardon of alienation made by Mortagh M'Brine to Sir Walter Coppinger of lands in the County of Cork.  July 15.

In 1614 Sir Walter surrendered all his estate in the County of Cork as expressed in the document next following.  The date of the surrender is 27th June, 13th James 1., and by grant dated the succeeding day, the King granted the same to him as appears from the following:-

Grant from the King to Walter Coppinger of Cork city, esq.,
as assignee of Sir James Semple,
[7] Cork Co.

The same King made a further grant to Sir Walter the next year.  It is as follows:-

Grant from the King to Walter Coppinger of Cork, esq., assignee of  Sir James Semple, Knt., 
by deed, dated 28 Jan., 1614.  Cork Co.

The following three deeds are the documents under which Sir Walter became the possessor of property in Ballyincolly in the Barony of Barretts, Co. Cork.

Mortgage of Ballincolly to Edmond Coppinger, 1618

This mortgage was transferred to Sir Walter Copinger by the following deed in 1630.

Transfer of Last Mortgage to Sir Walter, 1630.

Robert Coppinger is a witness to the deed.

By the following deed the equity of redemption was released.

Release of equity of redemption to Sir Walter, 1630.

Among the witnesses to this deed are Edmond Coppinger and Patrick Coppenger.

In 1619 Sir Walter presented a petition to the Lords Deputy and Council on behalf of certain freeholders of Kierychurichie, Co. Cork, complaining of the conduct of Sir Dominick Sarsfield, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and was very nearly getting into trouble about the matter.  The affair is sufficiently explained by the order of the Lord Deputy and Council to the Lords, dated the 29th November, 1619, which is as follows:-

Find that the enclosed petition of Walter Coppinger in behalf of some of the freeholders of the barony of Kierychurichie, Co. Cork, complains that Sir Dominick Sarsfield, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, had procured the rent of 6s. 8d. out of every 15 ploughlands in the said barony (which by the indentures of composition in 31s Eliz. was included in a rent of 15s. for each ploughland) to be again put in charge in the Exchequer here, the one moiety thereof to be paid to His Majesty and the other to Sir Dom. Sarsfield and his heirs, by virtue of a letter obtained from His Majesty - Explain that it was only an act of duty of the King's official and that Sir Dominick Sarsfield has been wrongfully traduced by that complaint, which they think was maliciously conceived against him.  And they beseech them to take into consideration the wrong done unto him, and to send them their directions for punishment of the complainer.

Dublin Castle, November, 1619.

Signed Ol. St. John, A.T.Loftus, Canc. Thomond, Powerscourt, Wm Jones, H. Boyle, Hen. Docwra, Willm. Methwold, Fr. Aungier, J. King, Dud. Norton, Fra. Annesley.[11]

About the end of 1628 a dispute arose between Sir Walter and Sir Fynin O'Driscoll in respect of a certain deed of feoffment - the former contending that it was intended to operate as an absolute conveyance, the latter that it was intended only by way of mortgage.  Sir Fynin commenced a suit in Chancery against Sir Walter, and Donogh O'Driscoll, a son of Sir Fynin, was employed as agent for his father.  During the course of the suit the agent made several slanderous statements respecting the defendant, as appears from the award ultimately made between the parties.

The dispute was referred to Donnell O'Donovane als Donovane of Rathin in the County of Cork, gent., Florence McCartye of Brahelis, in the said County, gent., Henry Gauld of the City of Cork, Alderman, and John Burgate of Fanstowne in the County of Limerick, gent.  They made their award, which is dated the 13th April, 1629, and found that Sir Walter had "paid, defrayed, and laid out to the said Sir Fynin, and by his appointment and for him in consideration of the said estate made by the said Sir Fynin the sum of £1,693. 0. 1 sterl." and that Sir Walter had verily believed that the whole estate of inheritance was truely and justly vested in him, his heirs and assigns, nevertheless as Sir Fynin "confidently averred" before the arbitrators that he never intended the said estate to be absolute but should be by way of mortgage, and finding "the said Sir Walter inclined to give unto the said Sir Fynin all that content that he reasonably might; and of their own knowledge likewise knowing the great and decrepide age of the said Sir Fynin, together with his present disabilitie and wante of means, ordered that the said Sir Fynin, his heirs and assigns, should pay and satisfy unto the said Sir Walter, his heirs and assigns, in full payment and satisfaction of the said £1,693. 0. 1 sterl., the just and full sum of £1,300 sterl."  And that the said Sir Walter Coppinger, his heirs and assigns, should stand and be seised of all and singular the hereditaments and that the said Sir Fynin should forthwith make and perfect a good release of the premises unto the said Sir Walter, his heirs and assigns, who should thereupon make a deed of defeasance unto the said Sir Fynin, his heirs and assigns. And they add:

"And whereas wee finde that Donogh O'Driscoll, son of the said Sir Fynin, being employed as agent for the said Sir Fynin, to prosecute the said suite in Chancerie against the said Sir Walter Coppinger, hath unjustly and calamniously slandered the said Sir Walter in the pleadings concerning the premises in the said Court of Chancerie without and beyond the instructions of his father the said Sir Fynin.  We doe further hereby order and award that the said Sir Fynin shall forthwith by his letters under his hand testifie by good witnesses to be directed to the Right Hon. The Lord Chancellor certify that the said Donogh hath unjustly depraved the said Sir Walter and ----- touched his reputation and creditt in the said pleadings, And that without the privitie instructions or meaning of the said Sir Fynin."

The Deed of Defeasance is dated the 14th April, 1629, and made between Sir Walter Coppinger of Cloghane, in the County of Cork, Knight, of the one part, and Sir Fynin O'Driscoll of Bally Island, in the County aforesaid, Knight, on the other part.

We have now to consider the various statements as to Sir Walter's connection with the English settlers at Baltimore.

He certainly caused much commotion among them in 1629.  Accounts of his proceedings, which were said to be very high handed, will be found in Smith's History of Cork, vol. i., p. 268, and Gibson's History of Cork, also in Bennett's History of Bandon.  The following account is mostly taken from Smith's work:- The first English plantation made here (Baltimore) was by Sir Thomas Crook,[12] who took a lease of it for twenty-one years, from Sir Fineen O'Driscol.  He settled a colony of English Protestants in the place, and procured a new charter of incorporation from King James 1.  The members consisted of a sovereign and free burgesses.  He divided the town into several tenements, with lots for gardens; and gave to each inhabitant convenient land for building and grazing, estating them in leases for his own time; and to encourage them to build and plant, he procured a patent for the town, to him and his heirs forever, and promised to make over to each of the tenants an estate in fee farm of the proportion he held; but death prevented his undertaking.

After his decease, and before the lease to him was expired, Sir Walter Copinger, a native of the country, and a recusant, prosecuted a title, and without any of the English inhabitants being called to answer, got by reference an order out of the Chancery, against the heirs of Sir Fineen O'Driscol, whereby the possession that had continued for 300 years in him and his predecessors was ordered to be recovered; and thereby the patent of the heir of Sir Thomas Crook was suspended.  Upon this the sovereign of Baltimore, on behalf of himself, the burgesses, and inhabitants, with the heir of Sir Fineen O'Driscol, applied to the government for relief.[13]  They proved that they had made a civil plantation of English Protestants there; that His Majesty had incorporated them; that Sir Thomas Crook had shewed them a patent, whereby the town was granted to him and his heirs, and that he had promised to estate them and their heirs, in consideration of which they had expended £2,000 in buildings and other improvements; but that Sir Walter Copinger had got possession of the castle of Baltimore, intending to bring Irish into the place and remove all the English inhabitants.  The Lords Justices summoned Sir Walter to answer this complaint, and all he endeavoured to shew was that the inhabitants had not laid out the sum mentioned in their remonstrance; upon which the Lords Justices issued a commission to Sir William Hall, Mr. Henry Becher, and Mr. Barham, to examine what expenses the townsmen had been at and to return them an exact account of the same; and Sir Walter was dismissed upon his promise to reinstate all the English, at such rents (upon a return of the valuation) as the Council Board should think proper.  The substance of this return was that the English had erected sixty new houses in the place, and that they had bestowed in building and enclosing £1,642. 15s. 7d., which account was no sooner given than Sir Walter Copinger, contrary to his promise at the Council Board, contracted with the above-named Mr. Becher, and granted him a lease of the whole, without any reserve to the inhabitants who had laid out their money; which occasioned another complaint to the government from the sovereign; and Sir Walter was again summoned to appear, which for some time he postponed, and for his contempt was confined in the castle of Dublin.  Mr. Becher being one of the commissioners was judged as culpable as Copinger, and was sent for to answer before the board.  He made his addresses, privately to the Earl of Cork, then one of the Lord Justices, who advised him either to surrender his lease to Copinger so as he might be able to perform his promise, or to estate the tenants during his own term, which last Becher complied with; but would not give up any part of the fishery, a point the townsmen insisted upon; so that the matter was brought a third time before the Council, where many voices were given for Becher's being committed to the castle.  But the Earl of Cork (who was his friend) moved, that since the place was come into the hands of an English gentleman, who had been a favourer of civil plantations, and that the season for fishing was come, they might be all licensed home, where they might amicably make up matters among themselves; which the Lord Chancellor, whose turn was to speak next, assented to, and so the affair ended.

Although Becher promised to estate the planters during his own term, yet he must either have neglected to do so, or his own term must have been very short, for (in 1636) we find that Sir Walter Copinger, by indenture of lease bearing date 30th June, granted the castle, village, and town of Baltimore, together with three carucates of land, to Mr. Thomas Bennett of Bandon Bridge.

This is the substance of the accounts to be found in the various works which refer to the so-called "high-handed" proceedings of Sir Walter, but the statements are by no means accurate, as original documents, still in existence, go far to show.  The property on which the settlers planted themselves no doubt originally belonged to Sir Fynin O'Driscoll.  As early as 1608 part of the property, however, included in the lease was mortgaged by Donogh O'Driscoll to Sir Walter Copinger.  Sir Thomas Crook never took a lease for twenty-one years, as is usually alleged.  He obtained a grant from the Crown, and appears in 1610 to have joined Sir Fynen and Sir Walter in demising the property to Mr. T. Bennett for twenty-one years.  Sir Walter Copinger two years later obtained from Sir Thomas Crook a grant of the reversion in fee expectant upon Bennett's demise.  The following documents show this to be the true state of the case, and consequently put Sir Walter's conduct in a very different light to what it had been commonly regarded in.

Conveyance of Baltimore Castle and other property in Carbery to Sir Walter, 1608.

Release of reversion in Baltimore Castle and other property in Carbery to Sir Walter, 1610.

Further deed to Sir Walter in 1612.

Deed Poll - Thomas Crooke, of Dawneshead, in the County of Corcke, Esquire, Reciting Deed of 20 June, 1610, as in last deed, Witness that Thomas Crooke granted and released unto the said William Coppinger (sic.), his heires and assignes, "All my whole estate, right, title, clayme, interest, and demand whatsoever, which I the said Thomas have or of right out to have of, in, and to the revcon and revcons of all and singular the premises, and everie part or parcell thereof dependinge or expectant upon the said demise of which revcon, I, the said Thomas Crooke, doe acknowledge the said Walter to be seised at the sealinge hereof, by virtue of a former graunt thereof to him made by me, the said Thomas, To hould unto him the said Walter, his heires and assignes for ever, to the onely use, benefitt and behooffe of him the said Walter, his heires and assignes for ever."

Dated the 10th November, in the yeare of James of England the 9th and of Scotland the 45th.

The following is a copy of the Petition which the English Planters presented to the Privy Council, in 1618, and which is preserved amongst State Papers[14]

April, 1618 - Petition of James Spencer and other English Inhabitants of a plantation in Carbrie, county Cork, to the Privy Council.

Whereas Sir John Skinner, Knt., deceased, Tho. Crook, and John Winthropp, Tho. Notte, and Jas. Salmon, gent, and many other English gentlemen, about ten years since purchased several parcels of land lying in the barony of Carbrie, in County Cork, with resolution at their great charge to erect several English towns, plant several colonies of English people, and settle God's true religion, and own subjection to His Majesty in those parts; divers Irish recusants have combined themselves to oppose the said plantation, amongst whom one Walter Coppinger, of Cloghan, gent., was and is the principal.  In pursuit of which design they have for these ten years past sought by manifold unlawful means to banish all the English people out of those parts, and by their continual corrupt and violent courses have undone many, and extremely dampnified others of the said English inhabitants, whereof divers former complaints having been made to their Lordships by several petitions of multitudes of Englishmen, and seconded by reports in writing from the Lord President and council of the province of Munster, they were pleased to give orders at sundry times for prevention of the said practices, of the Lord Deputy and the Lord President, whereupon the said Coppinger, and divers of his confederates, have been censured in the Star Chamber there, for procuring multitudes of indictments of treasons, felonies, riots, and other crimes to be found against the said English inhabitants, upon some feigned surmises and corrupt oaths, with practices by popish juries, and for committing bloody riots upon them to weary them from those parts.  Notwithstanding all which discoveries and punishments, the said Coppinger continuing his malicious and covetous desire to supplant the said plantationers and get their possessions, has by very many forgeries, champerties, maintainers, and other like corrupt and unlawful courses (for which he is yet uncensured) gotten several pretended titles to all their lands, under colour whereof he continues these unjust vexations to their excessive damage, and many of their utter undoings, unless their Lordships shall afford them relief in their accustomed justice and wisdom.  For redress whereof, and for the full discovery of the said popish conspiracy against the planting of English protestants in those parts, and for the prevention thereof, and for the discovery of many other practices of the said Coppinger's, whereby he has unlawfully gotten into the possession of many lands of very great value, belonging of right to His Majesty, to the Church, and to many of His Highness's subjects in those parts, and for the restoring thereof as of right they ought, and that the said English inhabitants, upon full discovery of the premises, may have the benefit of their Lordship's former orders for their protection against future oppression.  Pray them to grant a commission to some understanding commissioners in those parts, to examine such witnesses as shall be nominated unto them upon the articles hereunto annexed, and to return their depositions to them, and also to require the Lord Deputy of Ireland, or the Lord President of Munster, without delay to send the said Coppinger before their Lordships to answer to the premesis.

The dispute was one undoubtedly as to the right of the Land, but was fermented by the objection which the "mere Irish" naturally have to be "improved" out of their estates. A Plantation of English in West Carbery was no doubt an excellent idea, but hardly one in which the owners of the lands there should so rejoice, as to gladly and peacefully part with their estates in furtherance of.

Among Lord Cork's papers at Lismore Castle, is the following, which bears out the conclusion we have arrived at as above:-

"The suffraine and burgesses of Baltimore, consisting of many English Protestant families, were at great charges in building and planting there, to the value of £2,000 at least, in confidence of enjoying their estate, promised and derived to them from Sir Thomas Crooke, bart., deceased, whose interest therein being avoided by a title gained therein by Sir Walter Coppinger, Knight, from some natives thereabouts, hath occasioned controversies between them and Sir Walter Coppinger wherein we (out of reasons of state) have interposed the authority of this board, principally aiming at the strengthening and serving of the poor; the suffraine and burgesses do offer, if there may be secured unto them, that notwithstanding the late disaster befallen them, they will contribute, in a good measure, towards the building of a fort, or blockhouse, there, which they will guard at their own charge, so that his Majesty will be pleased to assign them some ordnance for their better strength." [15]

By a submission to arbitration, dated the 29th January, 1625, and entered on the Council Book of the Corporation of Youghal, Sir Walter was appointed an arbitrator on the part of the defendant in a suit, in the Chancery of Ireland, between David Poer, of Shangarrie, Esq., and David Barry fitz Richard of Baltimore, gent, concerning Baltimore als Ballimacure.

In 1630 he and Sir William Sarsfield, Knt., and Sir John fitz Gerrald, Knt., with the consent of the Mayor of Cork, were put in election for Mayoralty for that City.

By an order of the Lords Justice and Council dated 18th March, 1630, Sir Walter Copinger was one of the commissioners for the County of Cork appointed to regulate the selling and storing of corn, and to whom power was given to enter into all,

"manner of haggards, granaries, sellers, &c., and search what quantity may be in any such, and make a reasonable estimate of the quantity of barrels that may be in them, what number of persons are depending on such cornmaster, what is to be allowed for the provision of their houses until next corn harvest, the overplus to be sent to the next market weekly, or city or corporate town, to be set down in open market without any forestalling, until the market bell be rung, requiring all cornmasters, &c., that they allow said commissioners to enter their haggards, &c. for estimating the corn in same, &c., and if any refuse they cause them to be apprehended and committed to the common goal.  And we command all persons not be presume to export any corn, grain, meal, flour, baked or otherwise - except for provision of sea - out of this kingdom, at their peril, also requiring all officers of the different ports and creeks, &c., to take special care that no corn, &c., be put on board any ship, &c., other than bread for their reasonable provision, &c."

The order arose in consequence of there being a dearth of grain in England.

Sir Walter Copinger appears from the following document to have been a guardian, together with Sir William Sarsfield, Knt., Sir Randall Clayton, Knt., and Phillipp Perceval, Esq., of Andrew Barrett.

30 Sept., 1630.  Indenture betwixt Sir Will. Sarsfield, Knight, Sir Randall Clayton, Knt., Sir Walter Coppinger, Knt., and Phillipp Perceval, Esq., Guardians of Andrew Barrett, nowe his matre's ward as one p'te and David Terry fz. David of C. Ald. of other parte.  Witness that sd Sr W.S., Sr R. C., Sr W. C., and P. P. hath set unto sd D. T. all the townes, lands, &c., of and in Irishcarry, Garracragh, Carigeknarme, Monesleigh, Audlamane, Ardrone, and Caulcbridogie, Cont. 3 p'lands situate in Barretts as same is anciently, to have unto sd D. T. for a tearme of 7 years  Yielding to sd W. S., R. C., W. C., and P. P. the sum of three score and ten pounds yearly, and tenants residing thereon doeing suite and service to the manner of Castle more as often as summoned thereto, and to the mill of Magullyne as occasion shall require, &c.

In 1633 Dominick Roche, Alderman of the city of Cork, preferred a petition to Sir Edward Harris, Knt., and Sir William Reves, Knt., being lords Justices of the Assize, holden for the city and county, against the Corporation, concerning certain losses he alleged he had sustained in consequence of divers bridges and other works undertaken on behalf of the Corporation.  By mutual consent the matter was referred to the arbitration of Sir Walter Copinger and Henry Gould, Alderman.  The award, which is somewhat curious, is entered in the Council Book of the Corporation of Cork, under the date 16th September, 1633.  It is as follows:-[16]

"Upon examination of the difference between Domk Roche, Ald., and the Maior, &c., we find that said Domk Roche hath honestly demeaned himself, and had sustained the losses of 200 pounds sterl; nevertheless, having consideration of the poverty of the means of the Corporation to support their great charge, and for a full conclusion of all the controversy, we order that the said Dominick Roche, and his assigns, shall have the benefit of the customs of the ports of the city for one year more, to begin at the end of this former years, paying for said year 50 pounds for the use of the Corporation, viz., 20 pounds at Easter, 1634, 20 pounds 15th Aug. that year, and 10 pounds at Christmas next, and we order an entry to be made in the court book of the City for performance thereof."

            WALTER COPINGER.            HENRY GOULD.

In 1634 Sir Walter made a settlement of a portion of his property.  This document is recorded in Deeds and Wills, R.O., Co. Cork, pars. 2, p.431, and is preserved in the Public Record Office, Dublin.  The following is a copy of this valuable document:-

Conveyance and settlement of 2nd December,1634, by Sir Walter.

Sir Walter Copinger married Margaret Sarsfield, the daughter of William Sarsfield, chief of the name mentioned in the settlements of Sarsfield Court, 14th October, 1620.  The titles of Earl of Lucan, Viscount of Kilmallock, and Premier Baronet of Ireland, were borne by different branches of this illustrious family.  Margaret's father, William, was the son of Thomas, who presented to the Rectory of Glynmair or Glanman, 7th November, 1582.  Thomas Sarsfield was the son of William, the son of Edmond, the son of Thomas, the son of Geoffrey and Jeanie Martyn, his wife.  Geoffrey was the son of William, who entailed the manors of Glynmair and Calysil, with the advowson and right of patronage of the church of Glynmair, 10th July, 1420.  This William was the son of Richard, the son of Peter, the son of David de Saresfeld and Annabella, his wife.  This David de Saresfeld lived in the end of the 13th century and was seized of the manors of Glanmair and Calysil, with the advowson and the right of patronage of the church of Glanmair, which was entailed by a settlement dated the 4th June, 1327.  He was a descendant of Thomas de Sarsfield, "Premier porte banniere du Roi, Henry II.," A. D. 1172.

The following inscription appears on a chalice according to Windele:

"Dna Margareta Sarsfield me fieri fecit pro fribus minoribus de Shandon, Anno Domini 1627, orate pro ea, et pro marito ejus Waltro Coppinger."

In the same year Sir Walter erected at Kilmallock, Co. Cork, a monument in testimony of his affection to John Verdon and his widow Alice Haly.[17]  The former died 19th August, 1614, aged 63, and the latter 20th October, 1626.  The tomb can still be seen, and is known as the Tomb of the Knight of the Golden Spur.  The following is the inscription:-

D. Walterus Coppinger

Eques Auratus hoc funeris et amoris monumentum posuit D. 1627 Domino Joanni Verduno ejusque relictę D. Alsonę Haly, conjugi suę. Dom. Verdon. Obiit Aug. 10, 1614 Ętatis suę 63. D. Alsona Haly Obiit October 20, 1626.  Ętatis suę 60.

Surjite mortui, venite ad judicium.

The following account appears of Sir Walter and his Castle, known formerly as "Copinger's Folly." in Dr. Donovan's interesting Sketches in Carbery.

At the head of the valley through which the Rowry river runs, and about half-a-mile from Milcove, stand the ruins of Ballyverine House, or Copinger's Court as it is more familiarly called, which, according to Smith, during the 18th century was the largest house in Carbery, and which, according to popular tradition, had a chimney for every month, a door for every week, and a window for every day in the year.

Whether we are to give credence to the latter statement or not must be a matter for consideration, but still there is strong evidence from observing the ruins as they exist at present that the house must have been originally one of large proportions, and that the proprietor must have been a man of considerable wealth and influence.

Copinger's Court was built in the early part of the 17th century; its architecture, as we can discover at a glance, was of the Elizabethan style.  We still perceive the pointed gables, numerous prominent octagonal chimney shafts, and the various windows, which formerly it is to be presumed were richly mullioned.  The walls which enclose the court-yard still remain - the yard itself has been converted into a cornfield.  Within the building all the floors have disappeared; the outer walls of the edifice alone remain - the ruin, however, showing through the trees as we descend Rowry Hill, has a quaint and romantic appearance, which awakens immediately our interest in historic and legendary lore.

Towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign, A.D. 1601, as was previously mentioned, the Spaniards landed in Kinsale, upon which all the western chieftains joined them, amongst others Sir Fineen O'Driscoll.  After the overthrow of the Spaniards Sir Fineen's territories were forfeited to the Crown, but before this event took place, being a clever diplomatist, he contrived to recover the good graces of the Queen by entertaining the English fleet at Baltimore.

"When the Queen, being informed of it," says Smith, "pardoned his joining the Spaniards, and sent for him to Court, but before he arrived the Queen died, and during his absence the greater part of his possessions were intruded into by Sir Walter Copinger, which caused this ancient family (the O'Driscolls) to fall to decay."

Sir Fineen is said to have died in England just as he was about to start for home.  His death is however shrouded in mystery.

To recapitulate somewhat, in order to explain matters thoroughly.

After O'Driscoll's death Copinger prosecuted his title to the estate, and by clever management and the production of legal documents of a very questionable value, however, he contrived, by reference, to get an order out of Chancery against the heirs of Sir Fineen O'Driscoll.

O'Driscoll, some years before his death, had granted a lease of Baltimore for twenty-one years to Sir Thomas Crook, who planted an English colony there, and procured a charter of incorporation from James I.  Copinger was not allowed to remain quietly in possession.

The sovereign of Baltimore applied to the government for relief.  The Lords Justices issued a commission, and Copinger, in spite of his diplomatic skill and legal documents, had to deliver up possession, and was subsequently confined in Dublin Castle for contempt of orders. It is to be presumed, however, that during his short tenure he managed to amass a considerable fortune.  Copinger had luck, nevertheless, in leaving at that particular crisis, as in a few years afterwards (1631) Baltimore was sacked by the Algerines, and all the inhabitants taken into captivity.

We will now follow Sir Walter to his handsome residence at Ballyverine, where he spent the remainder of his days.  He intended building a market town in the vicinity of the court, and another intention of his was to convert the Rowry stream into a canal, which would be navigable for vessels from Milcove to the town, which by that means would become a place of some mercantile importance.

All his plans were upset by the wars of 1641, when the house was attacked by an armed force, ransacked, and partially burnt down.  After this event we lose sight of Copinger, so far as being unable to learn from recorded history any further particulars connected with his life.

From tradition the following information referring to his acts has been handed down to us. During his residence at Rowry he was chiefly distinguished by his tyrannical qualities. No Russian nobleman of former times lorded it over his serfs with such despotic sway as Copinger over the surrounding peasantry.

At the time when the events we are now describing were being enacted, the spirit of feudalism, which was on the decline in England, flourished as strongly in Ireland as it did in England and France during the 12th and 13th centuries.  All authority, and the enjoyment of the luxuries and goods of life, were centred in a favoured few whom hereditary title, the right of conquest, or fortuitous circumstances, as in Copinger's case, had raised to an exalted position.  In England at this period the bulk of the people were emerging, slowly but steadily, from the ignoble vassalage and degeneracy which feudalism had stamped on them during the Dark Ages.  In Ireland, however, where surrounding circumstances were of a different character, the people either groaned in silence beneath the heavy chains which held them "in durance vile," or rushed at times, wildly and ineffectually, into conflicts with superior force and skill.

Stories are related of Copinger which seem incredible at the present day, and which, no doubt, are somewhat exaggerated.  He is said to have possessed in the district, which he ruled as a local despot, the power of life and death over the people.  It is related how he had a yard-arm extended from one of the gable-ends of the mansion, which served the purpose of a gallows, wherewith to hang the victims of his unlicensed power.  Stories are also told of a dark dungeon beneath the basement storey of the Court, where prisoners pined for years in wretchedness and chains.

The way in which he closed his career is said to have been the following:- On one occasion Copinger, in a rage, made a vow that he would execute some obnoxious individual as soon as he returned from prayers.  The day happened to be Sunday.  He did not wish to carry out the sentence without first attending to his devotions, so religious a character was he. Report goes on to say that Copinger, when leaving the Church, suddenly dropped dead in a fit, brought on by violence of passion, and the people believed at the time that it was a visitation of Providence which cut him off in the midst of his designs.

After his death the estate passed in fragments into the hands of several new owners.  The Kilfinane and Rowry portion was purchased by Mr. Thomas Becher, of Sherkin, in 1698, and now belongs, in fee., to Sir Henry Becher; another portion was held by a Mr. James Somerville, in right of his wife.

An air of romantic interest has been attached to Copinger's Court, by means of a story published some years ago in the Eagle, and written by a gentleman of considerable literary and scientific acquirements, living in the neighbourhood of Skibbereen.

Sir Walter had a daughter, named Johan, who married Richard Roche, eldest surviving son and heir of David Roche of Kinsale, sometime sovereign of the same (who was the eldest son of Richard Roche, fourth son of Philip Roche of Kinsale), by Ellen, daughter of William Coggan, alias Cogan, of Bearnehely, in the County of Cork.   David Roche died at Kinsale, 1st February, 1637, and was interred in the Parish Church of Kinsale. These particulars appear in the funeral entry of David, registered in the College of Arms, Dublin, on the 16th November, 1638.  Fun. Entrs., vol. vii, p. 322.

Sir Walter died in 1639[18] and was buried according to the Will of his Grandson James in Christ Church, Cork.  See the footnote to the Will of James Copinger dated 1665.


[1] Unless indeed he be the person referred to in the Inventory of the goods of Christopher Galwey of Cork, Alderman, made 16th July, 1582:- "Walter Coppinger hath the cover of my small cup for aquavitę, in pawn of three yards of baize."

[2] The deed was probably executed in duplicate, or what is more likely there were two parts, the part containing the grant to Sir Walter being an absolute conveyance, the part retained by the McCarthies containing a condition converting the absolute grant into a mortgage.  The latter is the document here copied.

[3] There is an inquisition upon Donnell MacCormuck McCarthy de Cloghan, in com, Cork, gent., of the 25th February, 14 Elizabeth.  See the Fiants of Elizabeth, 1577, under the date 6 October xix., is the grant to Cormock McTeig McCartie, of the whole preceptory of [Morne] alias Manymonge, alias Manister ne monye, Co. Cork, &c., &c.  It includes "the Manor and Castle of Clowghan, Co. Cork, and three carucates of its demesne land, and half a carue of land in Ballicoman possessions of Donald McCormock McCartie of Clowghan, in Carbry, Co. Cork, attainted."

[4] He was so called by the English; his correct name was Cormocke Oge Carty. See Pac. Hibern., vol. i., p. 58.

[5] Dr. Caulfield's Council Book of Kinsale, Appendix A.

[6] Calendar of Patents (folio) Roll temp. James 1., p. 169.

[7] Or Sempell, of Beltrois, knt., a Tuesday market and fair on the Vigil day and morrow of St. Martin, was granted to Sir Walter in respect of Kilbrittan, and a Monday market and a fair, on 15th May, and the day following, in respect of Gortnecloghie, on the 27th June, 1615.  Brit. Mus., Eger. MSS., 76.

[11] Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, 1615-25.

[12] MSS. in Lismore Castle. 

[13] From the original petition to the Earl of Cork and Lord Chancellor Ely, Lords Justices at Lismore.

[14] Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, 1615-1625, pp. 190-1.

[15] Lords Cork and Loftus' Letter to the Lords in England.  No.395

[16] Under the entries on the dates following, reference is made to Sir Walter in the Council Book: - 1609, 29th January and 8th October; 1611, 23rd August; 1612, 26th June; 1613, 9th June and 24th September; 1620, 20th March; 1630, 2nd July; 1633, 20th September; 1638, 17th April and 27th August.

[17] The Halys were connected with the Copingers, for James Haly of Cork married Johanna Copinger, daughter of Alderman Copinger, and after his marriage made a settlement, by way of feoffment, dated 2nd May 1618, of amongst other premises "a stone house or tenement now in tenure or occupation of William Roche fitz Andrew, situate, lyeinge, and beinge in the parish of Christ Church, in the City of Corke," to John Coppinger of Cork, alderman, and Dominick Roch, alderman.  The witnesses to the declaration of uses are Thomas Coppinger and John Coppinger.

[18]  Inquis. 4 October 1639, No. 561.


           

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