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Ballycopeland, County Down


Ir. Baile Chóplainn ‘Copeland’s townland’


O’Donovan correctly identified the second element of this name as the surname Copeland which derives from the Norman surname de Coupland.  In the late 12th century William and Henry de Couplan "were among John de Courcy's most prominent sub-tenants in Ulster" (Duffy 1995, 20). Named as Willelmo and Henrico de Couplan, they acted as witnesses for two de Courcy charters, including one for the priory of St. Andrew in Ards or Black Abbey (Cartae Dun. §§4, 5, 7, 420-1, 1183 AD).  This family also appears to have given its name to the Copeland Islands in the neighbouring parish of Bangor.  There is also a Copeland Water near Carrickfergus, Co Antrim. 

The surname is a "habitation name from Copeland in Cumb.[erland] or Coupland in Northumb.[erland], both so called from ON kaupland bought land, a feature worthy of note during the early Middle Ages, when land was rarely sold, but rather held by feudal tenure and handed down from one generation to the next" (Hanks & Hodges 1988, 122).  Since the members of this family who came to East Ulster with de Courcy are known to be of nobility from Cumberland, there can be little doubt that the surname originates in this case from the barony of Copeland in Cumberland.  Seán Duffy suggests that their seat may have been "the massive motte that overlooks the harbour at Donaghadee" (loc. cit.). Ballycopeland windmill was built in 1785 and served as the principal grain-mill in the Donaghadee district (W.G. Pollock 1975: Six Miles from Bangor - The Story of Donaghadee, p.54).


McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 12; Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 181; with additions PT, 2012

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Ballicoppland1605CPR Jas I 73a
Ballicopland1617CPR Jas I 326a
Balle Copland1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xliv
Ballecopland1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xlii
Ballycopland1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xxxiv
Ballecopland1627CPR Chas I 230
Ballycopland1636Inq. Ult. (Down) $75 Car. I
Ballycoplan1650cInq. Ult. (Down) $109 Car. I
Ballycoplan1659cCensus 1659 93
Ballecopeland1661BSD 88
Ballycopeland1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E 167, E 24
Ballycopeland1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E 167, E 24
Copeland''s town1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E 167, E 24
~Baile Chóplainn ""Copeland''s townland""1999Dict. Ulst. PN 12
Ards Lower
Parish in 1851
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