Coppinger of Barryscourt, Letters, 1740-1843

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitleCoppinger of Barryscourt, Letters, 1740-1843
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/U405
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1740-56; 1784-85; 1827-43 [1797]
Extent Medium90 items


Creator(s): Coppinger family of Barryscourt

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Coppingers of Barryscourt were one of the leading Catholic landowning and clerical families in Cork in the era of the Penal Laws, which restricted Catholic civil liberties (c1695-1827). A Stephen Coppinger, having fled to France following the defeat of the Catholic King James II by King William of Orange in the 1690s, returned to Ireland in the early 1700s, leasing lands at Barryscourt from the earl of Barrymore. The family farmed extensive estates at Barryscourt and at Ballyvolane, Co Cork. Unusually, the Coppingers held the right to present parish priests to the Catholic parishes of St Mary’s, Shandon, and SS Peter and Paul, both in Cork city, a privilege enjoyed since medieval times but which was to fall into abeyance in the late eighteenth century, and to be finally extinguished in the early nineteenth century (see item U405/6). The William Coppinger to whom most of the present letters were addressed seems to have been Stephen’s son, and flourished in the middle of the eighteenth century. He was apparently succeeded successively by his son and grandson, both William, the latter inheriting a heavily indebted estate in 1816. The elder William was connected through marriage and kinship to many other leading Catholic landowning families, including the Butlers of Kilcash, the Galweys of Lota, and the Sarsfields of Ducloyne. His brother Joseph was a prominent merchant, engaged especially in the wine trade, based at Cork. His grandson William (1779-1863) was a friend of Daniel O’Connell, his sister being married to the Liberator’s brother. He never married, and on his death his estates, including one at Ballylean, Co Clare, passed to his nephew, Morgan John O’Connell. William’s brother Thomas achieved prominence as a miller, with mills in the nearby town of Midleton. Throughout the generations, several family members became priests, with one, William Coppinger (cousin of the younger owner of Barryscourt), becoming Catholic bishop of Cloyne and Ross, serving in that office from 1791 to 1831.
  • Archival History ↴

    Donated in 2009. Formerly located at Bailick Cottage, Ballinacurra, Co Cork, onetime residence of a Coppinger descendant who possessed the material.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Coppinger family of Barryscourt ↴

    Of the ninety letters present, seventy-nine are addressed to the elder William Coppinger, and range in date from 1740 to 1756. Only two are addressed to his son William (1784-85). Of the remaining letters, only one, from Daniel O’Connell, is addressed to the younger William Coppinger (1832). Three are directed to his brother Thomas, all from bishops. The letter from Bishop Collins of Ross is of particular interest, as in it he explains in detail the reasons why he must decline to support publicly the Catholic candidate in a forthcoming election (U405/87). One letter is addressed to ‘L’Abbé’ Stephen Coppinger, and one to Bishop William Coppinger (both 1827). A copy of a letter from Edmund Burke to Dr Hussey, Bishop of Waterford, is also present (1797). In it, Burke advises against the use by Catholic bishops of seals showing arms and a mitre, noting that ‘malignant enemies’ might interpret such use as implying a claim to temporalities held by the bishops of the Established Church (U405/82). The latest item present is a letter to a James Power, apparently a Coppinger relative, from Mary Coppinger, in Lucca, Italy (1843).

    The elder William Coppinger’s main correspondents were his brother Joseph (‘Joe’, the Cork wine merchant), his brother-in-law John Galwey of Carrigg, his nephew Stephen Coppinger, his cousin John Crotty of Ballygallane, various Gould cousins in east Cork, Dr MacKenna regarding parish clergy, and a Francis Flaherty of Agliss to whom William owed some money. The letters concern family affairs and relationships, religious piety, land, trade, and, occasionally, the politics of the day. As an example of their content, there are a few letters touching on each of the following subjects: Stephen Coppinger’s attempt to recover the residual estate of his brother who died in Sweden (U405/19, 21, 28); William Coppinger’s salting and barrelling of herring for sale by his brother Joe (U405/4, 14, 25, 27, 30, 42, 56); and John Galwey’s efforts to find an appropriate school for his son Billy (U405/50, 63, 64). William’s struggle with depression (e.g. U405/6, 10), and the births and illnesses of children (e.g. U405/41, 52) are recurring themes.

    Education isn’t easy to get. I pay a lot of attention to it as I believe that it’s very important for future. But, when I must write my essay I always go to this service. I don’t like writing at all and try to avoid it every time. This platform provides the best help with such type of tasks.

    The letters have been arranged in chronological order. A number of undated letters (No.s 73-79), all seemingly from the 1750s, have been placed after the last dated letter from the 1750s and before the next dated letter, which is from 1784. An ‘Index Note’ indicating which letters are from which correspondent precedes the descriptive list of letters below.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    i Letters to William Coppinger I, 1740-56
    ii Letters to William Coppinger II, 1784-85
    iii Letters to William Coppinger III, his brother Thomas, and to other Coppinger
    relatives, 1827-43 [1797]

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open by appointment to those holding a current readers ticket.
Creation Dates1740-56; 1784-85; 1827-43 [1797]
Extent Medium90 items
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialIE CCCA/U229 Exham Flynn Solicitors’ Papers. This collection contains many letters and legal documents of the three William Coppingers, including an 1801 lease of the Barryscourt estate, leased from the earls of Barrymore (U229/102/1). Several documents relate to the right to present priests to the parishes of St Mary’s, Shandon, and SS Peter and Paul (e.g., U229/100/21, /34).

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteTimmy O'Connor
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions2009