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Thank you for visiting our Family web site which we have dedicated to our hobby of genealogy. Please take a look at the family tree which spans eleven generations descending from John Coppin, and Abigail of Cardinham, Cornwall who were married circa 1705. The tree contains more than four thousand eight hundred persons and is regularly updated. If you find any discrepancies or have anything to add please let us know.
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A Brief History of the Cornish Coppin's .
Cardinham and the Coppin Family
The surname is common enough in eastern England but much rarer in the west, so that it seems probable that all the Cornish Coppins had a common ancestor. In the Cornwall Muster Roll of 1569 (edited by H.L. Douch, Bristol, 1984), which covers the whole county, the surname Coppin appears but once: John Coppyn of Cardenham [sic] is listed as an able archer.
According to C.W. Bardsley (A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, London, 1901, reprinted Baltimore, 1980) Coppin is an early French equivalent of Italian Coppo, the nickname of Jacob, with diminutive Coppin, as in (for example) Robin. Bardsley then cites several examples of the surname Coppin in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, all from eastern England. Nevertheless, the fact that a great many Celtic (and therefore Cornish) surnames are patronymic lends weight to the theory that the earliest Coppin ancestor was the son of the smaller or younger of two Jacobs. Alternatively, the surname Coppin may derive from Old English copp, meaning a top or head of anything. If so, it may simply mean one who dwelt at or near the summit of a hill (M.A. Lower, Dictionary of Family Names, London, 1860). Since Cardinham lies on the southern edge of the hilly country known as Bodmin Moor, this, too, is a plausible derivation for the Coppin of this booklet. H. Harrison (Surnames of the United Kingdom, London, 1912, reprinted Baltimore, 1969) gives both the Jacob derivation and an extension of the derivation from copp: by adding Old English eng (meadow), he has Coppin as the dweller by the hill-meadow. From copp comes the word Coppin itself, a conical ball of thread on a spindle (Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, Edinburgh, 1972), which leads Lower to give Coppin as the source of the surname Coppinger (presumably one who had the care or production of yarn), a suggestion Bardsley (Op. Cit.) found ridiculous, though it cannot entirely be ruled out that the surname Coppin is connected with the spinning of yarn. The earliest documentary evidence of a Coppin holding land in Cardinham dates from 1522. In that year King Henry VIII raised a loan from all landowners, and a John Coppyng is recorded in Cardinham holding land to the value of 10s and goods to the value £4 (Cornwall Military Survey 1522, ed. T.L. Stoate, 1987, p 63). The same figure for goods appears against the name of John Coppyng of Cardinham in 1525 (Cornwall subsidies in the reign of Henry VIII, ed. T.L. Stoate). Almost certainly the same John Coppyng is listed as a tinner 'full harnessed' inhabiting Cardinham in the Tinners Muster Roll of c. 1535 (Cornwall Military Survey 1522, p 171). Coppins are recorded further afield in 1543: Thomas Copan [sic] of the 'Burg de Bodmin' is given a tax assessment £2 on goods, while in 'Bruard' [St Breward], Richard Coppyn's tax assessment is £1 on goods (Cornwall subsidies in the reign of Henry VIII). The earliest will of a Coppin in the Cornwall Calendar of Wills is that of Roger Coppin of Cardynham, proved 1570-1; the will itself is alas lost. The sixteenth-century wills or administrations of two further Coppins from Cardinham are recorded in the calendar, and there are another three from the seventeenth century. There survives an inventory (dated 20 Nov 1637) of the goods of 'Rodger Coppyn, of the title of Cardinham, late deceased', and two copies of an inventory of the goods of Hugh Coppin of the borough of Bodmin, dated 12 Nov 1646. In 1700, administration of the estate of Hugh Coppin the Younger of Cardinham was granted to John Coppin, yeoman of Cardinham (who may well have been the John Coppin, husband of Abigail, who heads our family tree), Hugh Coppin, yeoman of Cardinham, and an illegible name which may have been William Coppin
A vital source of information begins in 1701 with the earliest surviving parish register of St Meubred's Church, Cardinham. A small proportion of The Bishop's Transcripts of earlier Cardinham registers do survive (1613-4, 1638, and 1663-73). Amongst them are recorded the baptisms of William Copping the son of Roger Copping (26 Dec 1614) and Joan Copping daughter of Richard Copping and Ruffilla [?] (7 Sep 1663), as well as the burial of John Copping servant to Nicholas Rowe (25 Dec 1614) and the marriage of Hugo [sic] Coppin to Maria Henwood (23 Nov[?] 1665). Phillimore's Cornwall Marriages Vol. IV has William Pengelly married to Jone Copin at Cardinham, 23 Jul 1694 (p.57).
It seems probable that members of the Coppin family held land in Cardinham from the Middle Ages, thereby linking themselves under the feudal system to the provision of services and obligations, some military, others involving varying degrees of labour-service. As one of the largest Honours in Cornwall, Cardinham was expected to provide seventy-one knights for the Crown. Unlike much of Cornwall, the Honour of Cardinham did not belong to the Duchy of Cornwall. From 1259 until about 1500 it was in the hands of the Dinham family (Lake's Parochial History of the County of Cornwall, Joseph Polsue, Truro, 1867-72, reprinted 1974: Vol. I, p 197). If the tenure enjoyed by the Coppins was the same as that of tenants of the Duchy, then it seems likely that the Coppins were the highest of the three classes of tenants, the villeins. Villeins held their land by hereditary right and paid a fixed rent, although their possessions technically belonged to their lord (A History of Cornwall, Ian Soulsby, Chichester, 1986: p 47). Polsue tells an interesting tale of Cardinham tenure:
The manor of Cardinham was customary, copyhold, or freehold lands for life, and there was a peculiar tenure respecting widows who forfeited their lands in case they deviated from the paths of chastity; but who might again recover them by submitting to the following penance. She had to attend the manor court riding upon a black sheep, and while in this position she confessed her incontinency to the steward in a sort of slang doggerel, and, pleading the penance, prayed that she might have her lands again. This ceremony being performed, the steward was bound by the custom to re-admit her to her free-bench. Polsue continues that the penance was incepted at the Norman Conquest and last used about 1770 (Op. Cit., p 198).
Mixed farming prevailed in mediaeval Cornwall, although the further east, the more likely the emphasis would be on livestock. Animals would be moved on to upland moors during the summer months and transferred to lowland pastures for the winter; Cardinham parish contains both types of land. The main arable crops were wheat and oats, but barley, rye, and peas were also commonly grown. Woodland provided fuel, charcoal, and also grazing ('pannage') for pigs. Farming remained the principal source of employment and wealth in Cornwall until, as Richard Carew put it in his Survey of Cornwall of 1602, 'the Cornish people gave themselves principally, and in a manner wholly, to the seeking of tin and neglected husbandry' (Soulsby, Op. Cit., pp 46, 47, 65). Tin and copper mining expanded until the mid-nineteenth century; upon the industry's contraction, many Cornishmen emigrated. The coming of the railway in 1859 and fast dual-carriageway roads at the end of the twentieth century have led to a large-scale Cornish tourist industry. Although there are no farms managed by Coppins in Cardinham today, the long tradition of Coppin farmers is maintained in the adjacent parish of Helland to this day.
by Peter David Smith
of Cowley, Oxford.
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