Land Deed of Henry Copping
Organization: Rawdon Historical Society
Address: 3460 Cedar Street, Rawdon, QC J0K 1S0
Contact: Beverly Prud’homme, beblagrave(a)bell.net
Description: The 1860 Land Deed of Henry Copping, Rawdon, Quebec.
Year made: 1860
Made by: Unknown
Provenance: Rawdon, Quebec
Size: 38 cm x 48.2 cm
Photos: (1-2) Copping Land Deed, by Richard Prud’homme; (3-4) Photograph of Henry Copping, and approach to Copping farm in the summer. Courtesy Beverly Prud’homme.
Land Deed of Henry Copping
The Copping family was among the earliest families to settle in Rawdon, Quebec, the first township established north of the seigneuries of the St. Lawrence River. In 1799, the region was opened to settlement. The area attracted colonists mostly from Ireland and England and the United States because of the availability of land for farming. Although Rawdon had little to offer in the way of good fertile land or business opportunities, the prospect of owning land and being independent was enough of a draw for many immigrants to Quebec. The region retained its primarily Irish background until the 1840s when French-speaking settlers moved into the district and began to establish small businesses and industries.
The story of the Copping family perhaps best represents the typical experience of many English-speaking settlers in Quebec after the Constitutional Act of 1791, which opened up land beyond the seigneuries initially to British, Irish and American settlers. George Copping was born June 11, 1780, in Hatfield, Broad Oak, Essex County, England. He married Elizabeth Saggers on June 5, 1806, in London, England. With four little boys in tow, ranging in age from three months to four years, the Copping family left London, England on May 5, 1811, on board the “SS Lively.” Two months later, they landed at the busy port of Quebec City on July 1st , 1811.
The family spent four years in the Quebec City area where two more children were added to the family. Sometime before November 1816, the family relocated to Montreal and again, three more Copping children were born. Prior to September 1823 the family made a final move to Rawdon (about 60 kilometres north of Montreal), then in the very early throes of settlement. The family settled on Lot 26 of the 6th Range in the recently surveyed Rawdon Township. The last two children were born to the Copping family in their Rawdon home.
George and Elizabeth settled well in their new region and, in addition to running their own farm and raising 11 children, they were very involved in their community. George Copping was active in the establishment of a school. The first known school house opened in the summer of 1825, in temporary quarters, under the governance of the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning.
George also participated in the development of the Anglican Church. The earliest church in Rawdon was the Anglican Mission, led by the Reverend James Edmund Burton who had been sent out by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in London to minister to the area. The first Anglican Church was built on Lot 22 of the 2nd range in what is now St-Ligouri. George and his sons were involved in the building of two subsequent Anglican Churches in Rawdon. A frame church was built in the village on Church Street. This was replaced by the present stone church, which has been in constant use since its construction in 1857–1861. The building has been designated a historical site and is undergoing restoration at the moment. George also held a position on a committee dedicated to settling local disputes. Minor cases were judged by this group of local citizens and more serious problems, such as murder, were referred to a higher court.
As both Elizabeth and George were literate, they were often called upon to assist their community and hold positions of importance. George was frequently asked to read and write letters and documents for his neighbours. Elizabeth Copping took on a role as a midwife and nurse in her community and was called out to attend to births, serious illness, or grave accidents. Among other incidents, she was credited with saving the life of a little girl seriously scalded by boiling water. George and at least four of his sons served in the local militia.
The family prospered over the years and when he was able, George and Elizabeth's son Henry Thomas Copping purchased a lot of his own behind his parent's land on May 22, 1860. Life continued for the Copping family and they faced the milestones of life including births, marriages and deaths together as a family.
Henry's son Harry took over the family farm but died of pneumonia as a young man, leaving a wife with six small children between the ages of six months and 14. Mary McClatchy Copping had to face life without a husband. With typical Irish fortitude, Mary raised her children and nursed tuberculosis patients sent from the Montreal General Hospital to “Clarence House,” her home in Rawdon, to recuperate in clean country air. It was a tribute to Mary's superior housekeeping and cuisine that none of her family contracted the highly infectious disease.
Today both Copping farms, Charles’ and Henry's, are abandoned. The buildings on Henry's farm have long since disappeared, ravaged by flames more than 50 years ago. A few years ago I clambered up onto the hill behind where the farm buildings once stood. On a rocky patch, known by family and friends as “the rocks,” I tried to imagine the farm as it was when Henry purchased the lot, and as it was when my grandfather was growing up there.
Before my eyes, the view was pretty much the land as it had been. The farm has returned to its original state, minus the large, old hardwoods which are still in their youth. A patch of rhubarb, a few wild roses and a minor, rock strewn indentation where the house stood are all that are left to remind us of the struggles and pleasures experienced there so many years ago. Even the road that led to the farm has completely grown over.
As for the time when my grandfather was there, old family photos of the farm and its people floated across my memory and I wondered just what Henry would have thought. Would he have appreciated the present neglect, the waste and disregard for so many years of hard work and sacrifice, or would he have accepted that his efforts were just a temporary accomplishment subject to the passage of time?
Rawdon Quebec http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rawdon,_Quebec
Beverly Prud'homme, Rawdon, the Hills of Home: A History of the Old Rawdon Township, http://rawdonhistoricalsociety.com/rawdon/briefhistory-rawdon.htm
To Learn More
A Statistical Survey by Surveyor Joseph Bouchette 1824 (PAC Microfilm C2502, page 13058).The Census of 1825 for Rawdon (PAC Microfilm C718).
Beverly Prud’homme is a member of the Rawdon Historical Society and the great-great-granddaughter of Henry Thomas Copping.