COPPYN, George (d.1620), of Westminster and Dunwich, Suff.
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Family and Education
Clerk of the Crown in Chancery 1601; commr. for sale of crown lands 1607; j.p. Mdx by 1610.3
Nothing is known of Coppyn’s early life. Although at his death he still possessed a house in Dunwich, he had left the town, obtained employment in Lord Burghley’s household and was with Burghley in 1598 during his last illness. He was returned to Parliament for New Romney through the influence of Sir Robert Cecil, to whom in 1597 the warden had transferred the nomination of one burgess. Thanking the borough through his friend, John Mynge, the warden promised to talk to Cecil and to the gentleman he was to nominate in order to ensure that Romney’s Member would ‘be able to stand us in stead, and shall be willing to do it’. There was a special point in this: the Cinque Ports were fighting a lawsuit against the city of London, and their privileges in respect of the subsidy were being threatened by the hostile attitude of the chancellor of the Exchequer, (Sir) John Fortescue I.4
Coppyn continued his association with Robert Cecil, whom he warned in 1599 about rumours of an impending Spanish invasion which were spreading panic in the city. On 28 Jan. 1597 he obtained a reversion to the office of clerk of the Crown in Chancery, eventually succeeding in 1601. Possibly Coppyn’s name had been suggested by Burghley to Sir Thomas Egerton, lord keeper and master of the rolls, who had the right of appointment. Certainly, the two men had discussed ways and means of eradicating the chaos and corruption in the clerk of the Crown’s office. To what extent Coppyn succeeded in reforming this office cannot be seen, though under the guidance of Egerton, among whose followers he was henceforth to be counted, he may have gone some way towards eliminating its worst features. His duties were to make out patents for the great offices of state, for peers on their creation, and the first writs of summons to Parliament for peers, bishops and judges. Returns of MPs were filed first in this office so that lists could be made out for the House of Commons and for individual Members. He was also responsible for reading in Parliament the titles of all bills when the royal assent was given. He received a fee of £60 per annum and supplemented his other takings by writing special pardons and writs of execution on forfeited bonds of statute staple. In 1620 Chamberlain estimated that the office was worth £700 per annum. Certainly Coppyn built up a considerable estate. As early as 1597 he acquired the manor of Wood Eaton, Oxfordshire, and later purchased another Oxfordshire manor, Milton Mayne, from William Green for £1,000, and the reversion to the rectory of Clawton, Devon. On 12 July 1619 he bought a house in St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a Kensington inn called the White Hart, and lands in Kensington and Paddington, known as Notting Wood, for £1,200 from Sir Henry Rich and his wife, the widow of Sir Walter Cope, in whose will Coppyn had been named as executor.5
He died 1 Mar. 1620. His will, dated 19 Feb. and proved 6 Mar. of that year, left money to the poor of Dunwich and of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. As late as 1635 Dunwich used its share of £20 to pay a debt to the neighbouring town of Southwold. To his eldest son Robert he bequeathed his houses in St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and his properties in Kensington and Paddington. Clawton rectory was left to a younger son Thomas. The widow and the eldest son, who was a few months short of his majority, were executors, and as overseers Coppyn appointed his brother-in-law Dr. John Bowle, later bishop of Rochester, and John Wright of Gray’s Inn.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. It is unlikely that, as some pedigrees suggest, George and Robert Coppyn were sons of the George Coppyn of Dunwich who d.1545.
- 2. Beds. N. and Q. iii. 179, 198.
- 3. PRO Index, 16777, 39 Eliz. pt. 4; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 381; Add. 1580-1625, p. 497.
- 4. HMC Hatfield, vii. 429; viii. 259, 280, 285; PCC 30 Soame; New Romney recs. bdle. 54.
- 5. HMC Hatfield, ix. 282; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 353; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 554; ii. 293; C142/384/131; pat. roll 40 Eliz. pt. 2.
- 6. C142/384/131; PCC 30 Soame; HMC Var. iii. 97.