With winking casement sheen,
Seem in the summer light to drowse
And dream of what has been
Writing about Oliver Cope, my mind has always been on Avebury and its history in the 17th century, when Cope dwelt in the village with his family. Would the stones have been hidden by trees, would the inner circle of the henge been covered with a patchwork of small gardens, picket fencing to keep a few sheep in. Aubrey would have visited in the first half of the century, Stukeley later, we have Stukeley's drawings depicting fallen stones; how would Oliver's three children played about these stones. How would they have been viewed? these pagan relicts from the past.
We have the emergence of Quakerism all through this century, a simplifying of the Anglican religion of the time causing unrest and dissent. What makes people go against the accepted 'norm' the so called Puritans. History is a vast web of human thinking and imagination, we can trace some of the pathways by that which is left, but this new movement of Quakerism did it inspire Oliver to buy land in the new Eden of America, unspoilt, untrammelled by religious thought, new churches to be built, new philosophies to be worked out, the hard back breaking work to till the soil and live in a simple manner. No, Oliver our tailor from Avebury, seems an unlikely man to breakout of the mould of tradition, that he did showed courage, and one thing that seems so poignant is his last will as he left his horses and land to his wife and family in this far off land at Naamede Creek, away from the Wiltshire countryside.
Oliver Cope's last will; 1697
I, Oliver Cope, now of y countie of New Castle, being weak in body ie but of sound and disposing mind and memory, praised be y lorde for it make and ordain this last will................
Item; I give and bequeath that what horses and mares my daughters have, shall be and remaine their own.
I give and bequeth unto my daughter Ruth, three wether sheep, and one ewe and lamb
To my son William, one ewe and lamb, and as for my stock of cattle, I will that
my wife shall one half of them, and y other half of y cattle chall be equallie
divided between my foure children.
I give to my son William £17
I give to my daughter Ruth, £3.10s.
I give and bequeath to my son John, y old bay mare and her two colts
I give more to my other son William, all my other horses and mares
I give and bequeath y one-half of all remaining part of my estate, both real and
personal, between my foure children - my two sons to have a double share of it
I give one horse to my wfe. The other half of my estate, I give and bequeath
unto my wife during her widowhood. When I make my full and sole and if my wife happen to marry that then part shall be equallie divided between my foure children........
In the year of our lord 1697 - Oliver Cope
Also signed by Rebecca Cope