See also

Rev'd Patrick COPLAND (c. 1572-aft1648)

1. Rev'd Patrick COPLAND, son of John COPLAND ( - ), was born circa 1572 in Scotland. He was a Founder of the Chair of Theology, University of Aberdeen, 1617. He appeared in the census. He celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. He died after 7 August 1648 in Bermuda. He married Dorothie UNK.

 

Patrick Copland, the son of John Copland, a merchant of the city of Edinburgh, was educated at Aberdeen grammar school and Marischal College. After a stay in England he joined the East India Company in 1612 as a chaplain (on its tenth voyage). Copland had a deep-seated belief in the power of education as a process of civilization which remained his abiding passion throughout his life. His view of the budding British Empire was symbolized by the job he did on his return home, when he was given the responsibility of educating a Bengali boy brought to Britain, both in literacy and general education and also in Christianity, with a view to using him later to assist in the conversion of his own people to the same religion. Although his view that the British were "civilising the natives", to look on this view as patronizing now is to ignore contemporary perspectives and deny Copland's unshakeable philanthropism.

His second visit to the New World, in 1621, gave him the idea for one of his life's major projects: he realized there was a total lack of schools and churches in Virginia - Copland set about raising funds and planning the country's first college. However, news of massacres in Virginia, and the dissolution of the East India Company, put an end to America's first projected college, and Copland, along with his family and others, set sail for Bermuda (then known as the Somers Islands); the East India Company had transferred ?00 to the Somers Island Company (who effectively owned the islands) to found a school there.

Copland published a sermon "Virginia's God be Thanked" in 1622, in thanksgiving for the safe arrival of the Virginia Company's ships, which became "the most valuable printed sermon in existence". He was a Presbyterian for most of his life and opposed the restoration of episcopacy (the system of church hierarchy using bishops) under King James I/VI. Copland also gave substantial sums over time for the setting up of Scotland's first Department of Theology - in his alma mater Marischal College**. He was a well-known intellectual protestant and corresponded with many well-known figures throughout the Christian world on matters of belief and faith.

In the Somers Islands, Copland veered in the direction of Congregationalism, for which belief he received a short prison sentence. On his release he decided to set up a religious community on the island of Eleuthera* (Greek word meaning freedom). Copland had come to believe in the importance of every person having the freedom to practise his own religion according to his own conscience. "Captain Sayle, afterward Governor of Carolina, and the Venerable Patrick Copeland, in his youth the friend of Nicholas Ferrar, and a preacher before the London Company in 1622, of a sermon which was printed with the title "Virginia's God be Thanked", left Bermuda with a party of sympathizers, and sailed to Eleuthera, a small isle of the Bahamas group, to establish a colony, where each person was to be at perfect liberty to worship as he pleased, without molestation from the state. The ship in which they embarked, when near their destination, struck upon a reef, and they lost much of their supplies. As soon as possible Captain Sayle built the pinnance, and with eight men steered for Virginia, and arrived there in nine days, and received succour from the Nansemond nonconformists".(Neill, Edw D. "History of Education in Virginia in the 17th Century",1867).

However, life on Eleuthera proved too difficult to sustain for them, and three years later they returned to Bermuda, where Copland died a short time later, in abject poverty.

That poverty is in a way a kind of witness to the strength of his beliefs, and the priority which he gave to the realization of his ideals and dreams over personal advancement and advantage.

* the kind of place Eleuthera was can also be guessed at from a brief snippet of information about a certain lady of Bermuda who was exiled from Bermuda to Eleuthera for adultery! Today, ironically, Eleuthera is a premier tourist destination with picture postcard beaches and every comfort known to man

** The Department of Theology - University of Aberdeen: the two ancient universities of King's College and Marischal College were united to form the University of Aberdeen in 1860. Christ's College was linked with the Faculty of Divinity after the Union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929. Thus the university was in the unique situation of being able to celebrate its 400th anniversary in 1993 and its 500th in 1995! From the foundation of King's College, the Principal was required to teach theological subjects. The oldest separate Chair of Divinity was founded in Marischal College in 1616 (by Patrick Copeland) to be followed closely by a similar foundation in King's College in 1620; these Chairs are now assigned to Church History and Systematic Theology, respectively.

 

www.rootsweb.com Bermudian site, Jean L. Mattox: In an issue of Colonial Guide - tourist magazine I picked up a few years ago in Wmsburg, there was an article about Hopewell, Virginia. The gist of the article: "Established by Sir Thomas Dale in 1613 and was called "Bermuda Cittie". The town was situated at the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers along the southern shore. By 1619, the name had changed to Charles City Point. In 1621, the Reverend Patrick Copeland planned to build a school at Charles City Point to be called "the East Indie schoole", in honor of the donors who were to finance its establishment. The school was to be "a publique free school which being for the education of children and grounding them in principles of religion, Civility of life and humane learning". The Indian Massacre of 1622 would end all plans for this free public school." The article goes on to tell of what happened to the survivors - Copeland is not mentioned. It also reviews the history of the area and specific plantations, some of which are now, still standing, open to visitors. The area was, of course, involved in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

 

This is taken from Leonard Woolsey Bacon's "History of American Christianity"

In the year 1621, an East India Company's chaplain, the Rev. Patrick Copland, who perhaps deserves the title of the first English missionary in India, on his way back from India met, probably at the Canaries, with ships bound for Virginia with emigrants. Learning from these something of the needs of the plantation, he stirred up his fellow-passengers on the "Royal James," and raised the sum of seventy pounds, which was paid to the treasurer of the Virginia Company; and, being increased by other gifts to one hundred and twenty-five pounds, was, in consultation with Mr. Copland, appropriated for a free school to be called the "East India School."

The affairs of the colony were most promising. It was growing in population and in wealth and in the institutions of a Christian commonwealth. The territory was divided into parishes for the work of church and clergy. The stupid obstinacy of the king, against the remonstrances of the Company, perpetrated the crime of sending out a hundred convicts into the young community, extorting from Captain Smith the protest that this act "hath laid one of the finest countries of America under the just scandal of being a mere hell upon earth." The sweepings of the London and Bristol streets were exported for servants. Of darker portent, though men perceived it not, was the landing of the first cargo of negro slaves. But so grateful was the Company for the general prosperity of the colony that it appointed a thanksgiving sermon to be preached at Bow Church, April 17, 1622, by Mr. Copland, which was printed under the title, "Virginia's God Be Thanked." In July, 1622, the Company, proceeding to the execution of a long-cherished plan, chose Mr. Copland rector of the college to be built at Henrico from the endowments already provided, when news arrived of the massacre which, in March of that year, swept away one half of the four thousand colonists. All such enterprises were at once arrested.

In 1624 the long contest of the king and the court party against the Virginia Company was ended by a violent exercise of the prerogative dissolving the Company, but not until it had established free representative government in the colony. The revocation of the charter was one of the last acts of James's ignoble reign. In 1625 he died, and Charles I. became king. In 1628 "the most hot-headed and hard-hearted of prelates," William Laud, became Bishop of London, and in 1633 Archbishop of Canterbury. But the Puritan principles of duty and liberty already planted in Virginia were not destined to be eradicated.

From the year 1619, a settlement at Nansemond, near Norfolk, had prospered, and had been in relations of trade with New England. In 1642 Philip Bennett, of Nansemond, visiting Boston in his coasting vessel, bore with him a letter to the Boston church, signed by seventy-four names, stating the needs of their great county, now without a pastor, and offering a maintenance to three good ministers if they could be found. A little later William Durand, of the same county, wrote for himself and his neighbors to John Davenport, of New Haven, to whom some of them had listened gladly in London (perhaps it was when he preached the first annual sermon before the Virginia Company in 1621), speaking of "a revival of piety" among them, and urging the request that had been sent to the church in Boston. As result of this correspondence, three eminently learned and faithful ministers of New England came to Virginia, bringing letters of commendation from Governor Winthrop. But they found that Virginia, now become a royal colony, had no welcome for them. The newly arrived royal governor, Sir William Berkeley, a man after Laud's own heart, forbade their preaching; but the Catholic governor of Maryland sent them a free invitation, and one of them, removing to Annapolis with some of the Virginia Puritans, so labored in the gospel as to draw forth the public thanks of the legislative assembly.

The sequel of this story is a strange one. There must have been somewhat in the character and bearing of these silenced and banished ministers that touched the heart of Thomas Harrison, the governor's chaplain. He made a confession of his insincere dealings toward them: that while he had been showing them "a fair face" he had privately used his influence to have them silenced. He himself began to preach in that earnest way of righteousness, temperance, and judgment, which is fitted to make governors tremble, until Berkeley cast him out as a Puritan, saying that he did not wish so grave a chaplain; whereupon Harrison crossed the river to Nansemond, became pastor of the church, and mightily built up the cause which he had sought to destroy.

A few months later the Nansemond people had the opportunity of giving succor and hospitality to a shipwrecked company of nine people, who had been cast away, with loss of all their goods, in sailing from the Bermudas to found a new settlement on one of the Bahamas. Among the party was an aged and venerable man, that same Patrick Copland who twenty-five years before had interested himself in the passing party of emigrants. This was indeed entertaining an angel. Mr. Copland had long been a nonconformist minister at the Bermudas, and he listened to the complaints that were made to him of the persecution to which the people were subjected by the malignant Berkeley. A free invitation was given to the Nansemond church to go with their guests to the new settlement of Eleuthera, in which freedom of conscience and non-interference of the magistrate with the church were secured by charter. Mr. Harrison proceeded to Boston to take counsel of the churches over this proposition. The people were advised by their Boston brethren to remain in their lot until their case should become intolerable. Mr. Harrison went on to London, where a number of things had happened since Berkeley's appointment. The king had ceased to be; but an order from the Council of State was sent to Berkeley, sharply reprimanding him for his course, and directing him to restore Mr. Harrison to his parish. But Mr. Harrison did not return. He fulfilled an honorable career as incumbent of a London parish, as chaplain to Henry Cromwell, viceroy of Ireland, and as a hunted and persecuted preacher in the evil days after the Restoration. But the "poetic justice" with which this curious dramatic episode should conclude is not reached until Berkeley is compelled to surrender his jurisdiction to the Commonwealth, and Richard Bennett, one of the banished Puritans of Nansemond, is chosen by the Assembly of Burgesses to be governor in his stead.

 

From the University of Aberdeen (a booklet of theirs):

Religious and cultural links between Aberdeen
and America began early in the seventeenth century.
The learned Patrick Copland (c. 1572–
1651), born in Aberdeen and educated at Marischal
College, after a period as preacher to the
navy and fleet of the East India Company, taught
in Virginia, where he attempted to found a college
at Henrico for the education of the children
of Native Americans. After his intentions were
disappointed, he became a missionary settler
first in Bermuda, then in Eleuthera (Bahamas).
From ‘my house in Paget’s Towne in Summer
Islands’ [Bermuda], he wrote back to Aberdeen to
reprove the authorities of Marischal College for
their failure to acknowledge his gift of two thousand
marks ‘for the … Divinitie and Hebrew
reader in your schooles’.

 

Letters of Patrick Copland
Patrick Copland
The William and Mary Quarterly, 2nd Ser., Vol. 9, No. 4 (Oct., 1929), pp. 300-302
doi:10.2307/1919386
This article consists of 3 page(s).

 

A History of American Christianity, by Leonard Woolsey Bacon

A few months later the Nansemond people had the [Pg 50]opportunity of giving succor and hospitality to a shipwrecked company of nine people, who had been cast away, with loss of all their goods, in sailing from the Bermudas to found a new settlement on one of the Bahamas. Among the party was an aged and venerable man, that same Patrick Copland who twenty-five years before had interested himself in the passing party of emigrants. This was indeed entertaining an angel. Mr. Copland had long been a nonconformist minister at the Bermudas, and he listened to the complaints that were made to him of the persecution to which the people were subjected by the malignant Berkeley. A free invitation was given to the Nansemond church to go with their guests to the new settlement of Eleuthera, in which freedom of conscience and non-interference of the magistrate with the church were secured by charter.[50:1] Mr. Harrison proceeded to Boston to take counsel of the churches over this proposition. The people were advised by their Boston brethren to remain in their lot until their case should become intolerable. Mr. Harrison went on to London, where a number of things had happened since Berkeley's appointment. The king had ceased to be; but an order from the Council of State was sent to Berkeley, sharply reprimanding him for his course, and directing him to restore Mr. Harrison to his parish. But Mr. Harrison did not return. He fulfilled an honorable career as incumbent of a London parish, as chaplain to Henry Cromwell, viceroy of Ireland, and as a hunted and persecuted preacher in the evil days after the Restoration. But the "poetic justice" with which this curious dramatic episode should conclude is not reached until Berkeley is compelled to surrender his jurisdiction to the Commonwealth, and Richard Bennett, one of the [Pg 51]banished Puritans of Nansemond, is chosen by the Assembly of Burgesses to be governor in his stead.[51:1]

Of course this is a brief triumph. With the restoration of the Stuarts, Berkeley comes back into power as royal governor, and for many years afflicts the colony with his malignant Toryism. The last state is worse than the first; for during the days of the Commonwealth old soldiers of the king's army had come to Virginia in such numbers as to form an appreciable and not wholly admirable element in the population. Surrounded by such society, the governor was encouraged to indulge his natural disposition to bigotry and tyranny. Under such a nursing father the interests of the kingdom of Christ fared as might have been expected. Rigorous measures were instituted for the suppression of nonconformity, Quaker preachers were severely dealt with, and clergymen, such as they were, were imposed upon the more or less reluctant parishes. But though the governor held the right of presentation, the vestry of each parish asserted and maintained the right of induction or of refusing to induct. Without the consent of these representatives of the people the candidate could secure for himself no more than the people should from year to year consent to allow him. It was the only protection of the people from absolute spiritual despotism. The power might be used to repel a too faithful pastor, but if there was sometimes a temptation to this, the occasion was far more frequent for putting the people's reprobation upon the unfaithful and unfit. The colony, growing in wealth and population, soon became infested with a rabble of worthless and scandalous priests. In a report which has been often quoted, Governor [Pg 52]Berkeley, after giving account of the material prosperity of the colony, sums up, under date of 1671, the results of his fostering care over its spiritual interests in these words: "There are forty-eight parishes, and the ministers well paid. The clergy by my consent would be better if they would pray oftener and preach less. But of all other commodities, so of this, the worst are sent us. But I thank God there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have, these hundred years."

The scandal of the Virginia clergy went on from bad to worse. Whatever could be done by the courage and earnestness of one man was done by Dr. Blair, who arrived in 1689 with limited powers as commissary of the Bishop of London, and for more than fifty years struggled against adverse influences to recover the church from its degradation. He succeeded in getting a charter for William and Mary College, but the generous endowments of the institution were wasted, and the college languished in doing the work of a grammar school. Something was accomplished in the way of discipline, though the cane of Governor Nicholson over the back of an insolent priest was doubtless more effective than the commissary's admonitions. But discipline, while it may do something toward abating scandals, cannot create life from the dead; and the church established in Virginia had hardly more than a name to live. Its best estate is described by Spotswood, the best of the royal governors, when, looking on the outward appearance, he reported: "This government is in perfect peace and tranquillity, under a due obedience to the royal authority and a gentlemanly conformity to the Church of England." The poor man was soon to find how uncertain is the peace and tranquillity that is founded on "a gentlemanly conformity." The most honorable page in his record is the story of his effort [Pg 53]for the education of Indian children. His honest attempt at reformation in the church brought him into collision not only with the worthless among the clergy, but also on the one hand with the parish vestries, and on the other hand with Commissary Blair. But all along the "gentlemanly conformity" was undisturbed. A parish of French Huguenots was early established in Henrico County, and in 1713 a parish of German exiles on the Rappahannock, and these were expressly excepted from the Act of Uniformity. Aside from these, the chief departures from the enforced uniformity of worship throughout the colony in the early years of the eighteenth century were found in a few meetings of persecuted and vilified Quakers and Baptists. The government and clergy had little notion of the significance of a slender stream of Scotch-Irish emigration which, as early as 1720, began to flow into the valley of the Shenandoah. So cheap a defense against the perils that threatened from the western frontier it would have been folly to discourage by odious religious proscription. The reasonable anxiety of the clergy as to what might come of this invasion of a sturdy and uncompromising Puritanism struggled without permanent success against the obvious interest of the commonwealth. The addition of this new and potent element to the Christian population of the seaboard colonies was part of the unrecognized preparation for the Great Awakening.

 

Dorothie UNK and Patrick COPLAND had the following children:

 

Mary COPLAND ( -aft1677). Mary married John TAYLOR after [Julian] 5 April 1634 in Paget, Bermuda. She married Philip LEA before [Julian] 25 January 1651. She died after 27 December 1677 in Bermuda.

Kesiah COPLAND ( -aft1712). Kesiah died after 1712 in Bermuda.

Alexander COPLAND ( - )

Second Generation

2. John COPLAND was a Merchant Burgess of Aberdeen.

 

John COPLAND had the following children:

 

1

Patrick COPLAND (c. 1572-aft1648)