1869 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anthony Copley

Thomas Corser, in Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 4 (1869) 459-60.



Anthony Copley, the writer of this scarce volume, was the third son of Sir Thomas Copley of Gatton in the county of Surrey, and of Roughay in the county of Sussex, who was knighted and created a Baron by the King of France, and made Grand Master of the Maes by King Philips of Spain. He was one of the chief of the Roman Catholic exiles in the reign of Elizabeth; Camden styles him "e primariis inter profugos Anglos." Anthony was born about the year 1567. In 1582, being then a student of Furnival's Inn, "he stole away," and joined his father and mother at Rouen, where he stayed until his father's death in 1584, partly in the service of the Prince of Parma in the Low Countries, and partly at Rome, until 1590. On his return to England he seems to have been immediately arrested as a Popish recusant, and, although soon set a liberty, appears to have been an object of great suspicion to the Government, and to have been in prison several times during the remainder of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Topliffe, in a letter to the Queen, dated June 22nd, 1592 (given in Strype's Annals, vol. iv. No. LXXXIX.), speaks of him as "the most desperate youth that lived." His published works, however, breathe the most fervent loyalty and devotion to the Queen. In addition to his poems, Copley took part in the controversy between the Jesuits and the Secular clergy, and wrote two pamphlets on the side of the Seculars, respectively entitled, An aunswere to a letter of a Jesuitical Gentleman by his cosin Maister A. C., 1601, pp. 122; Another letter of Maister A. C. to his Dis-jesuited Kinsman concerning the Appeal, State, Jesuits, &c. printed in 1602, 4to; also a third letter of his Apologetical for himself, &c. 1602, 4to, pp. 53. No writer has connected these pamphlets with Anthony Copley, or has indeed at all referred to the first of them. The second is noticed by Lowndes, under "C. (A.)," as quoted by Ant. Wood.

On the accession to the crown of King James, Anthony Copley was concerned in the plot for placing Lady Arabella Stuart on the throne. He and the other conspirators were tried and condemned to death (see State Trials), but Copley was afterwards pardoned, having made a confession relating to the history of the plot, which is printed in extenso in the appendix to vol. iv. of Tierney's edition of Dodd's Church History. Beyond this time we have been unable to trace any further particulars of his history, but, as the present poem was his latest known publication, we may conclude that he did not survive much longer. His younger brother, John Copley, left the Church of Rome for that of England, and became rector of Pluckley, in Kent, and died at an advanced age in 1662. He published in 1612, Doctrinall and Morall Observations concerning religion, wherein the Author declareth the reasons of his late unenforced departure from the Church of Rome, &c. By John Copley, M.A. Seminary Priest, 1612, 4to. For most of the particulars relating to the personal history of Anthony Copley we have been indebted to the kindness of Richard Copley Christie, Esq., of Manchester, Barrister-at-Law, to whom, for his obliging information, we beg to tender our sincere thanks.