Copeland, William John (DNB00)

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COPELAND, WILLIAM JOHN (1804–1885), scholar and divine, was the son of William Copeland, surgeon, of Chigwell, Essex, where he was born on 1 Sept. 1804. When eleven years old he was admitted at St. Paul's School (11 Sept. 1815), and while there won the English verse prize (1823) and the high master's prize for the best Latin essay (1824). In the latter year he proceeded with a Pauline exhibition to Trinity College, Oxford, and, like another distinguished sympathiser with tractarian doctrines, was first a scholar and then a fellow of that college. Trinity College ranked second to Oriel only in sympathy with the Oxford movement, and Copeland, though never wavering in his attachment to the English church, entered into close connection with all the leading tractarians of the university. While at college he was ill and took no honours; but he was always known as one of the best Latin scholars at Oxford. His degrees were B.A. 1829, M.A. 1831, and B.D. 1840, and he was duly elected to a fellowship. In 1829 he was ordained to the curacy of St. Olave, Jewry; for the next three years he was curate of Hackney; and in 1832 he went to Oxford, where he remained until he accepted, in 1849, the college living of Farnham, Essex. This was his sole preferment in the church, and after a long illness he died at the rectory on 26 Aug. 1885. He never neglected his parochial duties, and he rebuilt the parish church with extreme care of design and execution.

Copeland was gifted with a keen sense of humour and with strong sympathies, which attracted to him a host of friends. He collected materials for, if he did not actually begin to write, a history of the tractarian movement; and as he possessed a tenacious memory, and had been intimately allied with the leaders of the cause, he would have completed the task to perfection. Newman dedicated to Copeland his ‘Sermons on Subjects of the Day’ as the kindest of friends, and Copeland edited eight volumes of Newman's ‘Parochial and Plain Sermons’ (1868), an edition which was more than once reprinted, besides printing a valuable volume of selections from the same series of discourses. The ‘Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle to the Ephesians’ were translated by Copeland, and included in the fifth volume of the ‘Library of the Fathers;’ and Mozley says that Copeland contributed to the ‘Tracts for the Times.’ Part of his library passed, through the agency of his nephew, W. Copeland Borlase, formerly M.P. for St. Austell, Cornwall, to the National Liberal Club.

[Gardiner's St. Paul's School, 253, 403, 424, 427; T. Mozley's Reminiscences, ii. 3; Guardian, 2 Sept. 1885, p. 1294.]

W. P. C.