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Copley of Sprotborough


The Copleys inherited Sprotborough through the marriage of Sir William Copley and Dorothy Fitzwilliam, aunt and co-heiress of William Fitzwilliam who died in 1516, last of the male line of the Fitzwilliams of Sprotborough. The other Fitzwilliam co-heiress married first, Sir Henry Savile of Thornhill and second, Richard Gascoigne.

Pedigree of Copley of Sprotborough

Source:Visitation of Yorkshire, Sir.William Dugdale, A.D. 1665 and 1666

Godfrey Copley (d1677) who succeeded to the estates in the mid 17th century, was created a baronet in 1661 and was a Justice of the Peace during Charles I's reign. His son, Godfrey, founder of the Copley medal, was made a baronet 17 June 1661, and was M.P. for Aldborough in 1678 and 1681. Copley became second baronet on his father's death about 1684. Of his early life nothing is known. He was elected M.P. for Thirsk in every parliament between 1695 and his death. He enlarged the estate and built a new mansion house at Sprotborough. He married, first, Catherine, daughter of John Purcell of Nantriba, Montgomeryshire; and secondly, in 1700, Gertrude, daughter of Sir John Carew of Antony, Cornwall. Copley died at Red Lion Square, London, on 9 April 1709 of a ‘quinsy’, or inflammation of the throat, which was considered to be a rare ailment, and was buried at Sprotborough on 23 April. In his will of 14 October 1704 he made substantial financial provision for his second wife and his daughter, Catherine, as well as leaving £100 to the Royal Society for the benefit of scientific knowledge. Although the first financial award was not made until 1731, in 1736 the society decided to use the bequest to fund an annual gold medal award, named after Copley. In time the Copley medal became regarded as the highest scientific distinction bestowed by the society, and is still awarded to this day. Copley's estates were put in trust for his cousin, Lionel Copley, though they were eventually inherited by Copley's grandson Joseph Moyle, the son of Catherine, who took his grandfather's surname by act of parliament.

William Copley was the father of Sir Godfrey Copley died 1677. William Copley's name appeared as one of the 105 of the 'nobility and gentry' of the County of York who resolved on 13 February 1642/3 to subscribe a total of £24,000 for the defence of the County. Copley is listed as a subscriber in the sum of £300. Parliament subsequently took action against those it defined as 'delinquents', that is, who took the side of the royalists in the civil wars of the 1640s, and pursued them with financial penalties.

Sprotborough Hall

In the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Sprotborough are several monuments of the Fitzwilliams and Copleys.

Ann Copley married Emmanuel Mote of Melton-on-the-Hill on 7th November, 1617, at Sprotborough.

Thomas Howard of Worksop (d 09.11.1689) married Elizabeth Mary Savile, (Mary Savile of Copley), born 1663-1732, daughter of Sir John Savile, Bart of Copley.

Richard Elmhirst of Houndhill died in 1673 leaving a young son who died shortly after and a daughter, Elizabeth, who married John Copley of Nether Hall to whose family Houndhill then passed.

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