Copestake and Mounteney Newsletter 2
Simon and Rachel Martin

21 Petticoat Lane

Higher Ince

Wigan WN2 2LH

Telephone Wigan (01942) 702594

Fax by arrangement only

E-mail [email protected]



Copestake and Mountney One Name Study

Registered with the Guild of One Name Studies

(Member 2045)


NEWSLETTER NUMBER 2:  September 2000


Sorry it has been quite a few years since newsletter 1 was sent out


GATHERING Sat 30th September 2000


Be it Known That


Ye are invited with one's family to the abode of Magister Martin at 21 Petticoat Lane, Higher Ince, Wigan, County of Lancaster from 1 of the clock after noon on the Saturday 30th September Anno Domini MM.  When there shall be a chance to meet other distant relatives and friends until 6 of the clock after noon. After which time the ale and sundry cups of sack will be broken open.




From 10am till 1pm early arrivals may wish to visit The History Shop {A sort of Record Office} in Wigan Town Centre, Library Street,  Where there is a microfilm reader and a microfiche reader booked in the name of "Simon Martin"  At 1pm you will be promptly evicted.




If planning to go to the Wigan Pier Complex and Opies Museum please allow a full day.  The Museum is open on Friday and Sunday as well as Saturday.







Wigan Tourist Board is Open 10-5pm. Phone Wigan 01942 825677.  They will post maps, accommodation guides and leaflets if you tell them what you want.


We can provide accommodation in two rooms.  First come first served.

Our Telephone Number is 01942 702594


Also the Swan and Railway Tel No from the Tourist Office and The Almond Brook 0800 118833 have been recommended but they are not in the Wigan Accommodation Guide.



Please bring food [Ladies savoury or gents sweet or a suitable drink what ever that is] or there is a Morrisons Superstore almost opposite our house.


I can pick anyone up from a bus, train or coach station upto 1pm and can deliver them back between 6-7pm or 9pm onwards.


The tourist board can send you any free general maps of the Wigan area you might  need.




I know this is short notice to most of you.  I hope therefore to have another event within the next year for which I will give more notice.  It may therefore be a good idea to wait for that one if you are travelling long distances by plane etc.


No need to RSVP just turn up. 




Jill Martin [Sister of Simon Martin] and Iain McKinstry married 22 May 1995 in Lindos, Rhodes, Greece



Catherine Coxon [Mountney of Bedfordshire parents of Beeston, Notts.] and Pierre Clarke [of French ancestry] both now of London have become engaged I am sure we all want to pass on our congratulations.









I thought I would give a brief outline of the reasons for undertaking research into the Names of Mountney and Copestake. 




My own family are descended on my mother's side from the Copestakes of Liverpool, my Great Grandfather being Henry Copestake.  I had been given various certificates of Birth,  Marriage and Death.  So I knew that Henry's parents were Richard Copestake and Mary Ann Smith but I could not find any further details other than the family myth that the Copestakes came from Dove Dale.  I searched the St Catherine's House Index to marriages from Henry's birth backwards in time and eventually whilst in Leeds Library I found the index entry I was looking for: Richard Copestake married in April to June 1855 in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.  I then checked the reference under Smiths and Mary Ann Smith was also listed with the same reference.


I eventually phoned Ashbourne Registry Office and ordered a copy of the Marriage Certificate,  which came back to say that they married in Tissington on 16 May 1855.  Well Tissington is not far from Dove Dale.  About the same time I had made contact with Lynn Taylor who had also been researching our Copestakes.




I discovered that the Mormons had indexed a lot of Derbyshire Parish Registers.  Using this index [Called the IGI] I was able to rough up a family tree which seemed to indicate that that our Copestake family came from Snelston back to a William Copestake who, seemed to have married twice, and was born in the first part of the 1700s. 


Snelston is a very small parish near the lovely village of Norbury on the Derbyshire/ Staffordshire border with the River Dove making the County boundary.  Also the Copestakes seemed to have been married into by Ann Mountany in 1818.  The Mountney name, being very unusual, allowed me in one evening to trace the Mountneys back, using the IGI,  through Snelston and Edlastone to the Derby area. In Edlastone some Mountneys were called Large Mountney, including one of my ancestors. The earliest Mountney seemed to be a 1695 marriage between Richard Mountney and Bathia Large.




A trip to Derbyshire Record Office was now needed to confirm what I suspected.  I lost my job and that was a good time to go to Derbyshire for a week.  I worked away and went through the Parish Registers of Tissington as well as the census returns and confirmed that Richard Copestake had actually come from Snelston.  I then worked on the Snelston Parish Registers only to be told they were severely damaged by a flood of Snelston Hall where they were being kept in the 1970s.  The microfilm copies were mainly un-readable.  I asked for help and was presented with the original fragments neatly bound and an ultraviolet lamp and told that all they could do.  The ink was washed off but under the lamp letters started to appear.  Almost in tears, with eye strain, I could still not confirm what the Mormons had in their index.  Was it all made up?  I went back to the index and looked at the source fiche to see where they got their information from. I discovered that the they had used the Bishop's Transcript [BTs] - a copy of the parish register sent to the Bishop every 3 years.  I confirmed the Mountneys back to 1695 when they disappeared.  On my last day I visited Derby Library and discovered a card index containing lots of Mountneys and Copestakes and copied all the entries out.  Most of the earliest Copestake entries were from Cubley and Marston Montgomery.


Because Snelston is just outside Staffordshire I looked at the Staffordshire IGI and discovered lots of Copestakes going back to 1538 in Ellastone and then assumed this was their origin, the vital link being conveniently lost somewhere in those fragments of Snelston's Parish Registers.




I decided I could not afford to go to Lichfield and decided to risk the Mormons and use their library in Liverpool.  I ordered their copy on microfilm of the Snelston BTs and waited for them to come.  Eventually I managed to get access to them from the dragon-in-charge at the Mormon Library and there were all the entries back to William Copestake. William had been overseer of the poor for Snelston and so must have been of local origin and trustworthy.  He chased one man through Staffordshire and made him take out a Bastardy Bond for the upkeep of his illegitimate child.  I was now able to confirm that William's own daughter later had a son, Henry, without the benefit of first getting married.  Henry was our direct ancestor and his illegitimate birth probably put an end to his grandfather William being overseer of the poor ever again.




Dad and I went for a trip through Staffordshire and Derbyshire looking for grave-stones.  Terrible task.  I nearly fell through some graves in the Catholic Cemetery in Alton.  We had to clear brambles and ivy off many graves.  At Ellastone, Staffordshire we must have looked like 'dodgy' characters as they took one look at us and said NO! we could not look round the church.  We got to Snelston and there were all the graves of the Mountneys together. Also in Snelston is William Copestake's grave proving he was married twice and born about 1730.




I had made lots of progress with the Mountneys during a Local History GCSE and made contact with Guy Stapleton and discovered R H Mounteney's "A Mounteney Miscellany".  I decided to register with the Guild of One Name Studies both the names of Mountney and Copestake [Not realising how many Copestakes there are in Staffordshire!] and decided if I collected them all then my William Copestake and my Magister Richard Mountney might turn up.  I advertised my interest in a booklet called "Derbyshire Families" and in various publications of Family History Societies.




Whilst in the Mormon Library in Liverpool I was talking to the assistant to the dragon-in-charge and he let on he had a friend called Mountney in Nottinghamshire. Never actually realizing that Mountneys were still in existence until this point,  I searched for Mountneys in surrounding areas to Derbyshire. I found Richard Mountney of a landed family in Leicester. I was then able to trace his ancestry back using published pedigrees to 1100AD in Old Newton, Suffolk. In an article "Who was Arnulf de Hasding"  there was some indication that the Mountneys were of Norman Blood arriving with the Conqueror; the Mountneys progenitor being William the Conqueror's half brother, Robert de Mortain.  Some recent research by Frank Dunn and others is indicating a Viking origin of the ancestry.  Also there is another dubious unproved link between Robert's mother Arlette - also William the Conqueror's mother, and the English Saxon Kings


Robert of Mortain was granted vast lands as the Domesday Book of 1086 testifies mainly Cornwall Devon, North Yorkshire and Norfolk.  He also supplied William with the ships to invade England with.  Eve Parry, a Mountney descendent says there is a tradition in her family of her ancestor providing a boat for William to aid his invasion.  Robert had a true brother [same father and mother]  in Odo [Odon] Bishop of Bayeux for whom the tapestry was made.




These vast lands where probably confiscated by the king during various rebellions possibly Henry II.  Later on the family only seems to have held lands during the later medieval period. These lands are:  Ecclesfield, where there is a Priory and Church built by the Mountneys and the family name died off into heiresses;  Mountnessing [Mountneys Essing, Gynge Mountney] where there is still a farm house called "Mountneys" and Old Newton, Suffolk which they sold.  There are some records in the Public records Office at Kew which list all these properties as being owned by the same family.  The family then seemed to buy Newbold Verdon manor in Leicestershire and spread out through Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.  The Mountneys also founded Chelmsford Grammar School and had a number of chantres set up to pray for their souls.




There have been many contacts with people descended from the Mountneys of Leicestershire, Derbyshire or London and they all seem to be related and connected to the main Mountney line.  The Leicestershire Mountneys were Framework Knitters [FWK] and one of the Mountneys is thought to have been one of the first if not the first to bring Framework Knitting into Leicestershire,  There is a famous Leicestershire County Cricketer of A. Mounteney.  Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man's Merrick family also married into the Mountneys. 




What about William Copestake born about 1730?


Elaine Copestake of Derbyshire contacted me with her Copestakes of Dalton in Wigan.  We traced them back to Derbyshire.  She then went with her father to Derbyshire Record Office and went through lots of Parish Registers copying out entries trying to find her ancestor.  I asked for a copy; a large parcel arrived almost as big as those Guy Stapleton had sent.  I started working through all the entries which took about a year.  I was quite routinely working through the Cubley Parish Register extracts she had sent and there was a little register out of sequence I had not spotted before.  And there was William's christening in 1730.




By this time I had been contacted by Harold Garratt whose neighbour Elizabeth Turner was interested in her Copestake Ancestry.  She had Levi's and Daniel's so I was able to send them a good family tree going back many generations and asked them to confirm it.  Harold phoned up and asked if I had any wills.  I said I had a few extracts from the wills indexes at Lichfield Record Office [The Diocese of Lichfield covered both Derbyshire and Staffordshire]  and said I would try and get a full list sometime.  On our way back from a holiday in Lincolnshire we passed Lichfield so I popped in to the record office, drew up a list of wills, and sent them to Harold and Elizabeth and asked them to tell me which wills they wanted.  After a while the large parcel of wills arrived and we worked our way through them, Harold transcribing the difficult ones.  Then another parcel and then another parcel.  There were some Cubley and Marston Montgomery ones so I ordered them.  The Cubley wills went on holiday with us, where I spend some time working my way through them and transcribing them onto a small pocket computer.  Work got hectic and the wills were on the pocket computer for over a year before I was able to compare them with what I already had.


Meanwhile Elizabeth, being a designer desired a copy of a coat of arms for the Copestakes.  I had already seen a mention of one in the papers sent by Elaine Copestake where R Goodall had had to change his name to Goodall-Copestake to inherit all the Copestakes lands and their Coat of Arms.


Harold mentioned that there was a pedigree of Copestake of Langley [Prepared by a history of Derbyshire that was never published].  Rachel and I drove all the way early one Saturday morning to Derby to find the Library only open till lunch and no I could not photocopy the pedigrees because they were fragile.  We transcribed the pedigrees and found a reference to, and sketch of, the coat of arms.  One of the sheets of the pedigree detailed the Cubley Copestakes and my William appeared again.  I was able to take William's ancestry back to a John and Elizabeth.  But there are lots of John Copestakes but none that seemed to marry an Elizabeth.  I was stuck again.  But Elizabeth had enough with the help of Harold and an heraldic dictionary to reproduce the Copestake Coat of arms:




I had been contacted by Carole Williams whose husband Bryan is descended from the Copestakes of Ellastone, Staffordshire and we where trying to make a connection but where unable to.


Being between jobs again, I had made a start on the Wills I had copied out.  One was the Will of John Copestake, yeoman of Cubley, Derbyshire proved 29 October 1685 with a probate inventory. John mentioned his "loving wife Margery" and his son John and John's wife Elizabeth.  At last a John and Elizabeth! There was only ever one Margery Copestake and her husband John's ancestry had already been calculated back to the first Copestake entry in the Cubley Parish Registers; being the marriage on 27 June 1598 of Robert Copestake and Margaret Ryley.  The Cubley Parish Registers only start a few pages before this and the first pages are very difficult to read.




Perhaps Robert Copestake came from Staffordshire or more likely his christening is not recorded as the Cubley Parish Registers do not go back far enough.  Perhaps the first few pages of the register if scrutinised more carefullly will reveal more.  There are Bishops Transcripts for Cubley and Marston Montgomery parishes in Lichfield Record Office but they do not extend back as far as the surviving Parish Registers.  There may be manorial court records for the Cubley and Marston Montgonery areas that may record the passing of copyhold land from father to son.  I am yet to discover a likely candidate for Robert Copestake and his origin.





1 Rachel Wearing a Laura  Ashley Dress at our Wedding

The Oxford Concise Dictionary of National Biography gives:

Ashley, Laura (1925-1985) , dress designer, interior decorator, and entrepreneur; born Laura Mountney; educated at Elmwood School, Croydon, and Aberdare Secretarial School; left school at 16 to work as secretary in City of London; in latter years of 1939-45 war served in the WRNS; met Bernard Albert Ashley whom she married in 1949; designed tea-towels which he printed on a machine he had designed in an attic in Pimlico; moved to Machynlleth in Montgomeryshire, 1963, and later to old railway station at village of Carno; built up a large business in a depressed area with grants from government; eventually Ashley's shops set up in four continents, developing into an international company with an annual turnover of  130 million; moving abroad to develop business in Europe, the Ashleys lived in a French chateau in Picardy and had a town-house in Brussels; Bernard Ashley knighted, 1987.  [There are some records of Mountney Ltd in the Public Record Office at Kew, - Simon]




Mounteney (or Mountney ), Richard (1707-1768) , Irish judge and classical scholar; fellow, King's College, Cambridge, 1728; MA, 1735; admitted Lincoln's Inn, 1725; called to the bar, 1732; baron of the Irish Exchequer, 1741-68; edited Demosthenes (1731). [The Oxford Concise Dictionary of National Biography] Copies of this book have been discovered in Manchester Central Library and John Rylands Library, Deansgate Manchester.  It is all Greek to me [No really is in Ancient Greek and Latin!]




Some of the Copestakes were potters.  Here is some of their handiwork















{There is a bigger article on him in "A Mounteney Miscellany")

Jephson, Arthur Jermy Mounteney (1858-1908) , explorer; accompanied (Sir) H. M. *Stanley through forests to Lake Albert for relief of Emin Pasha, 1888; imprisoned with Emin at Dufile, Aug. 1888; rejoined Stanley at Kavali (Feb. 1889), and subsequently rescued Emin; queen's messenger, 1895; published Emin Pasha and the Rebellion at the Equator (1890), and native folk tales. ). [The Oxford Concise Dictionary of National Biography]











Simon gets in the Newspaper


There is an article last year about Simon Martin, his ancestors and the bell of the Ebba Brahe in an issue of last year's Manchester Evening News.  Simon still has some copies if anyone would like one.


WHAT IS THIS POT? --------------


Yes it was made by Copestakes!


But what is it used for?


Answer later.





Since August 1999 there has been a monthly newsheet e-mailed by Simon to those who have e-mail.


It is not pretty like this newsletter it is heavy and scholarly, but has been well received.  Be warned it runs often over 26 pages so I cannot post copies out unless you have a computer and want to send me a floppy disc and a stamped addressed envelope every month. 


If you are on e-mail and would like to subscribe then please state Copestake, Mountney or both in an e-mail to [email protected] 




Fancy a trip to Derbyshire/ Staffordshire to see Ellastone, Snelston, Edlaston, Cubley and Dove Dale;

or even a trip to Ecclesfield Parish Church and Priory?


Simon is hoping to have trips to these places either on an individual basis or as a group.




This Newsletter has been made possible by a working party who are hoping to produce some publications and organise other events.  If you want to join please tell Simon who will add you to the mailing list and you can have your say, but you need not do anything unless you really want to.


At some point we may launch a Copestake Society and a Mountney Society



Due to generous donations from many correspondents this newsletter has been fully funded.  I am always happy to receive donations to the "Fighting Fund", cheques payable to "S. Martin".  We are hoping to publish a substantial publication soon and funding may be needed.


In addition there is a Probate inventory of one of the earliest Copestakes in York Minster Library, a photograph of it has been quoted at 20.  This would be very useful for Harold, Carole and Simon's research into the early Copestakes


Also there are always wills and certificates which Simon is collecting.  A full list of known pre 1858 Probate records are available from Simon Martin at 2.50 for either the Mountney list or the Copestake list.  Copies of wills themselves and various transcripts prepared by Simon, Harold or Carole are also available from Simon.


This is not a demand for money.  You owe me nothing.  Do not feel pressurised to give any money at all.


POTTY COPESTAKES  Answer to What is this?


No it is not a gravy boat! but a "A large white vase, 12 1/2" wide in total, 4" deep and 6" tall. Impressed on the base No. 24"  I am impressed.  Perhaps flowers were cut shorter in the past.




This newsletter has been thrown together over one Saturday.  The following articles did not make it this time mainly for technical reasons.


Eve Parry - a fascinating article on Ashbourne Grammar School and a corrupt Large Mountney who was the school master.


A transcript of a Mountney Will From Rosamund du Cane.


A photo of me and Brian Williams in Ellastone Graveyard as a taster for what is to come.


I also hope to have some photos of Ecclesfield to advertise the Ecclesfield trip.


A short article from Lynn Taylor


A death at Sea


A trombone player in the 1970s


An article on our current thinking on the origin of the Copestakes.


I can provide details/ photocopies if you want them.  Simon


Simon Martin and Contributors 2000 Except for the articles from the Oxford Concise Dictionary of National Biography and the pots.

Proof read by Rachel Martin all remaining errors remain as Simon's responsibility.


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(c) Simon Martin, Last Updated 3 March 2002