Alfred Cope

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sir Alfred 'Andy' Cope
Alfred William Cope

Died13 May 1954
Other names'Mr Clements' [1]
OccupationCivil servant
TitleAssistant Under Secretary for Ireland
Political partyNational Liberal Association

Sir Alfred Cope, KCB (1877 – 13 May 1954), was a senior British civil servant.


Cope was raised in Waterloo, Lambeth, London, the eldest of eleven children born to Alfred and Margaret Cope, and nicknamed "Andy". By age 14, he was employed as an office clerk and ten years later, in 1901, he was working for the Inland Revenue.[2]

Following a career as a detective in H.M. Customs and Excise, Cope became Second Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions (1919–20). He was appointed Assistant Under-Secretary in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence in May 1920, as part of a task force appointed by Lloyd George to clean up the civil administration of Dublin Castle which was in chaos. Cope was enlisted with Sir John Anderson, the finest permanent secretary of his generation, and General Sir Nevil Macready, the best qualified army general.[3]

Cope's forensic and analytical skills were needed to get on top of the intelligence data being secured from informants about IRA activity, which was increasingly violent. Cope was needed to help collect taxes to stem the tide of civil disobedience, lawless parts of Dublin. "Many of them [British security] became just as aggressive as the Tans or Auxies".[4] Cope and the Inspector-General were deployed at the Castle to interrogate suspects.[citation needed]

The British required police to carry arms provoking a policy of violent reprisals. When RIC rep Tim Brennan had the temerity to suggest an unarmed approach with policy of support for Dominion Home Rule, Cope made it plain what London required.[5] Cope seems to have reported to the Prime Minister that General Tudor like to burn and shoot as Official Reprisals. But Cope was a friend to the ordinary rank and file, who blamed the policy outcomes on poor leadership. Yet in late 1920 the British were winning the war.[6] Although Macready banned reprisals in August 1920, the policemen that surrounded Cope still believed they 'do good'.[7] Cope had ever since her had arrived in Dublin sought to urge upon the church reconciliation: the moment De Valera walked into Portobello Barracks, he had in fact been in negotiations with Bishop Fogarty and another prelate to secure peace.[8] At the same time Cope and James MacMahon were responsible for arranging a meeting between De Valera and James Craig. De Valera resisted treaty moves, when Cope was continually meeting Collins and others.[9] Following the Treaty, Cope assisted Sir Nevil Macready in supervising the withdrawal of British forces from Ireland.


Cope received a knighthood of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in June 1922.[10]


  1. ^ ‘A great Daily Organ’: the Freeman’s Journal, 1763–1924 from History Ireland
  2. ^ Michael, Dave (2011-09-22). "Sir Alfred Cope". Some Captured History Of The Amman Valley And Its People'. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  3. ^ Townshend, Charles, The Republic, p. 138.
  4. ^ BMH WS 1268, Townshend, p. 158.
  5. ^ BMH WS 584 (Brennan) cited in Townshend, p.158.
  6. ^ Weekly Summaries, NA CO 904/149. Lowe, 'The War against the IRA', p.102; Townshend, p.163.
  7. ^ Townshend, p.167.
  8. ^ Mark Sturgis' diary, 23 June 1921. NA 30/59/4. Townshend, p. 304.
  9. ^ Townshend, p. 306.
  10. ^ A Dictionary of Irish History, D.J. Hickey & J.E. Doherty, (Gill and Macmillan, Dublin, 1980), p. 94; ISBN 0-7171-1567-4