Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Baronet

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Copley Medal awarded to Dmitri Mendeleev in 1905

Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Baronet FRS (/ˈkɒpli/; c. 1653 – 9 April 1709) was a wealthy English landowner, art-collector and public figure, who lived at Sprotbrough House, near Doncaster in South Yorkshire.

Copley was the son of Sir Godfrey Copley (1623–1677), who was created baronet by King Charles II in 1661, and he succeeded to his father's title and estates in 1678. In 1677 he had immediately followed his father as High Sheriff of Yorkshire.

He was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1691.[1] He is remembered mainly because he provided a bequest of £100 to the society in London in 1709, which provided the funding for an annual award, the Copley Medal, the Society's premier award for scientific achievement. It is Britain's oldest scientific honour, a prestigious forerunner of the Nobel Prize, "in trust for the Royal Society of London for improving natural knowledge."

He served as Member of Parliament for Aldborough from 1679 to 1685 and for Thirsk from 1695 to 1709, and also served as commissioner of public accounts and controller of the accounts of the army.[2]

Copley was a major landowner in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, holding lands in Sprotbrough, Newton, Cusworth, Cadeby, Wildthorpe, Loversall, Doncaster, Bentley and Warmsworth, among other places.

He died at his Westminster house in 1709 and was buried at Sprotbrough. He had married twice: firstly Catherine, daughter of John Pucell of Natribia, Montgomeryshire (they had one daughter, Catherine) and secondly Gertrude, daughter of Sir John Carew of Anthony, Cornwall. With no male heir the baronetcy became extinct. The estates were left to a distant cousin Lionel after whom they passed in 1766 to Copley's grandson, son of his daughter Catherine, who had married Joseph Moyle of Beke, Cornwall. Their son Joseph Moyle, who was Clerk of the Signet, changed his surname to Copley by Act of Parliament on inheriting the Sprotbrough estate and was created a baronet in 1778. [3]


  1. ^ "Library and Archive catalog". Retrieved 2011-05-15. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "COPLEY, Sir Godfrey, 2nd Bt. (c.1653-1709), of Sprotborough, Yorks". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  3. ^ Debrett, John. Debrett's Baronetage of England. p. 211. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir John Reresby, Bt
Henry Arthington
Member of Parliament for Aldborough
With: Henry Arthington 1679
Sir Brian Stapylton, Bt 1679–1681<
Sir John Reresby, Bt 1681–1685
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Wentworth
Sir Roger Strickland
Preceded by
Thomas Frankland
Richard Staines
Member of Parliament for Thirsk
1695 – 1707
With: Richard Staines 1695–1698
Sir Thomas Frankland, Bt from 1698
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Thirsk
1707 – 1709
With: Sir Thomas Frankland, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Frankland, Bt
Leonard Smelt
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Godfrey Copley
(of Sprotborough)