Sir Anthony COPE of Hanwell, Knight


Born: ABT 1496, Bedhampton, Grimsbury, Northampton, England

Died: 5 Jan 1550/51, Hanwell, Hampshire, England

Buried: Hanwell, Hampshire, England

Father: William COPE of Grimsby and Hanwell (Sir Knight) (See his Biography)

Mother: Jane SPENCER

Married: Jane CRUWYS (dau. of Matthew Cruwys of Pynne) 4 Aug 1518


1. Edward COPE (m. Elizabeth Mohun)

2. Anne COPE (m. Kenelm Digby)

Sir Anthony Cope, Chamberlain to Queen Catherine Parr, an ardent Protestant, an evidence that he was not twenty-six years old at his father's death in 1513; and he must have been married before 1518, for his son was thirty-three years of age when he succeeded him. It appears from the will of his grandfather, John Spencer, that his mother was married before 1496, and he was her eldest son. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford; and on the completion of his studies in that University, travelled into France, Germany, and Italy.

He visited the various Universities in those countries; and associating with the learned men and distinguished scholars who at that period were attached to these foreign schools of learning, 'became an accomplished gentleman, and one of the most learned men of the period in which he lived'. (as Anthony Wood informs us)

Indeed, his proficiency in learning must have been remarkable at a very early age; for it was sufficient to be celebrated in a Latin Epigram 'made in his praise', by the famous poet and epigrammatist Spagnoli, or, as he was more generally designated, Johannes Baptista Mantuanus, who died in 1516, when Anthony Cope was yet a very young man. Pits, who inserts a biographical notice of Anthony Cope in his work on the writers of England, styles him, 'vir musarum amantissimus'.

On his return from abroad, he seems to have been attached to the Court of Henry VIII; and he succeeded to the estate and mansion of Hanwell, which had been bequeathed to him by his father on his attaining his twenty-sixth year. In common with others about the Court, he shared in the distribution of the lands of the monasteries; for in the year 1536 he had a grant of the Priory of Broke, or Brook, in Rutlandshire, with the manor there, and other lands.

He married Jane, dau. of Matthew Crews, or rather Cruwys, of Pynne, in Stoke English, in Devonshire, who was a younger son of the ancient family of Cruwys of Cruwys-Morchard, in that county.

Sir Anthony Cope's opinions were in favour of the religious changes which made the period in which he lived the most remarkable in modern history. "Indeque tandem bonorum virorum auditor non obliviosus factus, ad divinam legem se convertit", says Bale, a contemporary writer.

He no doubt visited the University of Wittenberg, where Luther at this time occupied the chairs of Philosophy and Divinity, and Melancthon was professor of Greek. He must have been acquainted with Erasmus, who, at this period, was dividing his time between the universities of England and the continent. In 1540 he had a quarrel with the Vicar of Banbury. The case came before the Privy Council; the Vicar was bound over in a recognizance with surety, and Sir Anthony Cope received "hearty commendations, ... with an honest advice to bestow his learning in place and time convenient".

Soon after the formation of Queen Catherine Parr's household, about 1543, he was appointed her Vice-Chamberlain. He afterwards became her Principal, or Lord Chamberlain. Witness the following epigram, addressed to him by Parkhurst, afterwards Bishop of Norwich:

"Ad D. Anthonium Copum Summum
Reginae Catharinae cubicularium

He was attached to the household of this Queen until her death in 1548. It was in the beginning of this, the last year of her life, that he offered her his work on the Psalms as a New Year's gift. The full title is, `A Godly Meditation upon xx. select and chosen Psalmes of the Prophet David, as wel necessary to al them that are desirous to have ye darke wordes of the Prophet declared and made playn: as also fruitfull to suche as delyte in the contemplation of the spiritual meanyng of them. Compiled and set furth by Sir Anthony Cope, Knight.

A little before the publication of this work, he had been knighted by the young Edward VI, who conferred that honour on him at Westminster, 24 Nov 1547. In the same year he was appointed one of the Visitors of the dioceses of Canterbury, Rochester, Chichester, and Winchester, under a royal commission 'for the better reformation of religion'; and the next year he was selected as Sheriff of his county of Oxford (then joined in shrievalty with Berkshire), displacing in that office, a zealous agent of the papal power in England, Sir Francis Englefield. The honour and employment he obtained on the accession of King Edward VI, and the confidential situation he held near Queen Catherine Parr, are corroborative evidences of the sincerity of his attachment to the Communion of the Reformed Church of England.

The rest of his life he seems to have passed in privacy, most probably at his seat of Hanwell, where his will is dated, and where he died on the 5 Jan 1551. According to the directions of his will, he was buried in the Chancel of the parish church of Hanwell; but no monument or inscription now exists to his memory.

It appears that Anthony Cope was the author of many works. Most of these have been lost, but one other, however, of his literary productions has been preserved; namely, a work entitled, 'The history of two most noble Captains of the World, Anniball and Scipio, of theire dyvers battailes and victories', which he published in 1544. This book, as it were of ancient chivalry, seems to have become popular, not only with the soldiers of his own day, but with those of Queen Elizabeth's reign.

His grandson, Sir Anthony Cope, was one of the first baronets created by King James. The baronets of Bramshill, in northern Hampshire, are derived from Sir Anthony and the younger branch. They have numbered among them many men of whose memory our entire house may be justly proud.



Sir W. H. Cope: Introduction to "Cope on the Psalms"


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