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Saturday, 8 September 2012


I’ve written before about Killenure Castle, my ancestral home. Sadly for me (and the rest of the Cooper diaspora) it had to be sold out of the family in 1963, after 217 years of occupation.

The Coopers had already been in Ireland for more than 100 years when, in 1746, my 5x great grandfather William George Cooper leased Killenure in Co Tipperary from the Coppinger family who were using it as a hunting lodge. Before then the Cooper family homes had been the houses of Beamore in Co Meath and Butterhill in Co Wicklow.

William George Cooper (1721-1769)

William’s relocation to a new county was prompted, as all of mine have ever been, by a new job. In 1745 he was appointed to the post of Diocesan Registrar by the new Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel, Arthur Price (who himself had only been appointed the previous year). The Registry is the administrative office of any Diocese, the repository of all church papers including title deeds and other Episcopal records.

Cashel is an ancient Christian centre. Very briefly, Ireland was originally divided north and south between the archbishoprics of Armagh and Cashel, jurisdictions established in the year 1111. Henry VIII extended his 1534 Protestant Reformation of the Church of England to Ireland in 1541. The upshot was, from 1567, parallel Protestant and Roman Catholic archbishoprics. The Irish ruling class with its English roots were known as the Protestant Ascendancy and the Anglican Church of Ireland was the official church of state (despite the fact that the majority of the Irish population remained resolutely Catholic).

Cashel’s Anglican Cathedral , Co Tipperary
commissioned by Archbishop Price in 1749 
to replace the ancient cathedral on Cashel Rock 
(which he gutted and unroofed to prevent its re-use)

The Diocesan Registrar played a vital part the financial well-being of the Church of Ireland. Records were important because the C of I was funded in large part by tithes, proportions of income paid by all households regardless of faith – an arrangement unsurprisingly unpopular with the Catholic majority, as a future Cooper and his cousin found out to their cost. William Cooper’s brother John was a Chief Clerk in the Dublin Treasury, and perhaps William too acquired skills there which made him a suitable candidate for the Cashel post. His membership of the Protestant Ascendancy was probably a more crucial factor.

William’s role at Cashel moved him very quickly to the heart of local society. The same year that he acquired Killenure he retired from the Registry to concentrate on his new estate. A year later, in 1747, he married Jane Wayland, my 5x great grandmonther, whose father Henry owned the neighbouring estate of Kilmore to the south of William’s (having, according to the family historian Richard Austin-Cooper, also recently moved to the area with Archbishop Price). The Killenure Coopers had arrived.

Killenure Castle, Co Tipperary
my 5x great grandparents’ home, former stronghold of the O’Dwyer Clan until Oliver Cromwell dispossessed them of it in the 1650s

Archbishop Price remained in office until his death in 1752. He was the son of the vicar of Kildrought near Dublin, and before he took holy orders Arthur Price ran the town’s brewery. His production manager there was a certain Richard Guinness, and the two men became great friends and business partners, to the extent that Guinness may even have named his son after Price, who became the boy’s godfather.

When the archbishop died, he left £100 to Richard’s son, whose name was Arthur Guinness, to fund the expansion of the brewery which Arthur was by now running with his brother. Arthur soon struck out on his own and in 1759 bought a small brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin. The rest is history.

Arthur Guinness (1724-1803)


  1. Is there a portrait of Jane Wayland Cooper?, I descend from Henry Wayland through his son Nevil.

  2. Hi Ronald, if there is I don't have it, I'm afraid.


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