1862, Aug. - Rev. William COPELAND is missing in a swamp.

MOSQUITO PLAINS. (From our own correspondent.) August 29th 1862.
A painful sensation has been created throughout this district during the past few days, by the tidings that the Rev. Mr. Copeland, Church of England Clergyman for the Border district, was supposed to have met his death by drowning. It appears that the Rev. gentleman had left the homestead of Mr. Hamilton on Tuesday last, 19th inst. at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, in order to proceed to Kirbybolite, a distance of 12 miles. He had arrived within a short distance of the home of Mr. H. L. McLeod, Beneyo, when he had evidently mistaken the way, and tried to cross a large swamp lying before him. Into this swamp he had proceeded for about 70 yards, when the wheels of his buggy got fast upon a stump, and his traces were broken. The water at this spot was 4 feet deep. The rev. gentleman must then have got into the water, unharnessed his horse, and let him go, as next day he was found quietly feeding upon the bank with a piece of rope round his neck. The buggy was discovered by a blackfellow, with the harness all carefully put up in it, and the rev. gentleman's coat and top coat folded up in the hood. The probability is, that Mr. C. on making these arrangements, tried to make, his way out of the swamp in the direction of the lights at Mr. McLeod's, and perished in the deep water which lay between that and the spot where the buggy was found. Every effort has been made up to the present time by Messrs. McLeod and Hamilton, and parties from the stations of Messrs. J. Gordon and J. Affleck, to discover the fate of the missing gentleman. But though the swamp has been dragged and searched in all directions so far as the depth of the water would allow, it still so far remains a mystery, though scarce a doubt remains but that he is drowned.
"The Border Watch" (Mount Gambier, SA) Friday, 29th August 1862.

1862, Sep. - Rev. William COPELAND's body found in the swamp.

MOSQUITO PLAINS. September 8th, 1862.
Any doubts that might have been entertained as to the fate of the Rev. Mr. Copeland, have now been set at rest by the discovery of the rev. gentleman's body in the Benyeo Swamp, near to the residence of H. McLeod, Esq. It was discovered on Wednesday morning last by the searchers, floating in six feet of water. It had thus been 14 days in the water. A smart thunderstorm passed over the district on Tuesday night, and no doubt contributed materially in rendering the body buoyant. On getting the body ashore it presented a very ghastly appearance, and the features were scarcely recognisable. The hat was firmly fixed upon the head, and the spectacles were still over the eyes. The Coroner was to have held an inquest upon the body yesterday, but we have not as yet heard the verdict, though we have no doubt it will be one of accidental drowning. The body after the inquest is to be transmitted to Melbourne for interment.
"The Border Watch" (Mount Gambier, SA) Friday, 12th September 1862.

1862, Sep. 10th - Inquest into death of Rev. William COPELAND

The Argus reports as follows :--An inquest was held on the 10th instant, at Benyeo, by Dr. Radford, the district coroner, on the body of the Rev. William Copeland, M.A. Much interest was excited by the inquiry, owing to the distressing circumstances attending his death. The Rev. Dr. Russell and several friends of the deceased were present at the investigation. The Rev W. Copeland was travelling on the evening of the 19th of August from Bringalbert to Benyeo, a distance of about twelve miles. He left the latter station about four o'clock, and it is thought, as he generally drove slowly, that he would reach Benyeo about seven o'clock. On approaching the station, he took the lower road used in summer, but in flood-time covered with water. There was an upper road avoiding the swamp altogether. The roads not being distinctly marked, it is very easy to mistake the one for the other in the dark. The road taken led into the swamp, and deceased seemed to have caught the buggy wheel against a stump, and to have broken a trace. In this dilemma, he must have unharnessed the horse, and released him, and then placed his coats on the seat of the carriage, together with his valise, and attempted to walk out of the swamp. He had good lamps alight, and these probably deceived him as to the edge of the swamp, as he went into deeper water. Mr. Copeland was a good swimmer. On the 20th of August, a native boy told Hawkinson, a carpenter on Benyeo, he had seen Mr. Copeland's buggy in the swamp, where it was found, with the coats folded as above stated, and immediate search was made, but the body was not found till the 4th of September. The evidence went to show that cooeying or crying was heard, more or less, from seven o'clock to eleven, on the evening of the 19th of August, but no notice was taken of it, the parties excusing themselves by stating that they supposed it to come from blacks. The cries were heard by six individuals. The owner of the station, Mr. Hugh M'Leod, was from home. The coroner, having summed up the evidence, pointed out the great want of humanity in letting any person continue calling for assistance for so many hours without attention, and said he believed had it been otherwise, the deceased would not have perished. The jury returned a verdict "That deceased was accidentally drowned," adding a rider, "that they thought all the parties hearing the cries, without giving assistance, were highly to blame."
"The Argus" (Melbourne, Vic.) Saturday, 22nd September 1862.

1862, Sep. - Inquest into death of Rev. William COPELAND

DIGBY.--September 15th, 1862.
The Inquest on the body of the late Rev. Mr. Copeland, was conducted last week at Benyeo by Mr. Coronor Radford, when the startling facts were elicited that no fewer than five persons repeatedly heard the unfortunate gentlman cooeying from 7 to 10 o'clock p.m., and that not one of them attempted to render the slightest assistance ; if this had not been stated on oath, it would be incredible that such a thing could occur in a Christian country, and we venture to say that in no other part if the Colony,would a person be permitted to cooey for a few minutes only, with out aid "being promply rendered, even though he might be only a Hawker or a tramp." The jury returned a verdict of "Accidently Drowned," adding a rider that there had been culpable neglect, and that could they have attached blame to any particular person, they would have returned a verdict of manslaughter."
"Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser" (Vic.) Thursday, 18th September 1862.

1862, Sep. - Death of Rev. William COPELAND, the Coroner was not pleased.

The Coroner, Dr. Radford, of Casterton, who held the inquest on the body of the Rev. Mr. Copeland, very severely reprimanded the workpeople on Mr. McLeod's station for behaving with such culpable indifference on the night on which the rev. gentleman met his death. It appeared that they heard "cooeying" at intervals from 7 o'clock p.m. till 11 at night, yet took not the slightest notice of it. They excused themselves by stating that they thought it was blacks-a party of whom were camped a little further off in the same direction. We may mention that Mr. McLeod himself was from home on the night in question, else in all probability the fate of the rev. gentleman would have been different. We sincerely hope that no such case may occur in the future, when the cries of distress from a suffering fellow-being will be listened to with apathy and indifference.
"The Border Watch" (Mount Gambier, SA) Friday, 19th September 1862.

1862, Sep. - Rev. William COPELAND, burial in Melbourne.

The remains of the late Rev. William Copeland, who was accidentally drowned in a waterhole in a swamp near Benyeo, were interred yesterday, in the Melbourne General Cemetery.
The body had been brought by train from Ballarat on the previous day, and was placed in St. James' Cathedral until yesterday afternoon, when it was removed to its final resting-place. The Bishop of Melbourne, the Dean, and several of the clergy of the Church of England, and ministers of other denominations, as well as a large number of laymen, were present at the interment, as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased. The funeral cortege comprised a hearse, four mourning coaches, and about thirty other vehicles. The burial service was read by the bishop. Mr. Copeland, whose melancholy fate has occasioned deep regret amongst all who knew him, was forty-one years of age.
"The Argus" (Melbourne, Vic.) Saturday, 20th September 1862.

1862, Sep. - Rev. William COPELAND, burial in Melbourne.

The remains of this unfortunate gentleman, whose distressing death caused such a painful sensation in the Western district, were interred in the Melbourne General Cemetery on Friday last. The Bishop, the Dean, and several of the clergy of the Church of England, and ministers of other denominations, as well as a large number of laymen, were present. The burial service was read by the Bishop. Mr. Copeland, who was much respected in the district which he served, was only forty-one years of age.
"The Border Watch" (Mount Gambier, SA) Friday, 10th October 1862.

1886. - Memorial to Rev. William COPELAND in his first parish at Whittlesea.

Christchurch, Whittlesea. The tablet to the memory of the Rev. W. Copeland is fixed to the chancel gable, and is of white marble, inscribed as follows :--
"Sacred to the memory of the Rev. W. COPELAND, first minister of this parish, who departed this life on 19th August, 1862, aged 42 years. This servant of God was drowned in a swamp, near Harrow, while engaged in his ministerial labours. Bessed are the dead which die in the Lord ; they rest from their labonrs, and their works do follow them. This tablet was erected by a number of his friends who knew his real worth, and whose memory will be held in everlasting remembrance."
A white stone baptismal font also bears the following inscription :--
"In memory of the Rev. William Copeland. Suffer little children to come unto me."
"Mercury and Weekly Courier" (Vic.) Friday, 12th February 1886.

1937. - Whittlesea History : Rev. William COPELAND first Anglican Minister at Whittlesea.

"Advertiser" (Hurstbridge, Vic.) Friday, 12th November 1937.
Special Whittlesea Cenetenary Issue. THE FIRST CHURCHES.
CHRIST CHURCH. The Anglican Church in Whittlesea goes back to a date much earlier than the erection of the church. Before the separation of Port Phillip from New South Wales, grants were made by the government for school and church purposes. That allotted to the Church of England was the half block bounded by Lime, Laurel, and Church streets, right back to the Presbyterian Church boundary. This land was granted for the purpose of erecting a church school, and master's house. The school house came into being in 1854, and the first master being Mr. G. A. Cookson. In 1854 the school building was licensed as a place of worship by Bishop Perry, and remained as such until the opening of Christ Church in 1866. The first minister of the district was the Rev. Wm. Copeland, whose home was situated on the east of the Yan Yean Reservoir. He ministered to the spiritual needs of the people at Merriang and Donnybrook. Mr. Copeland was later moved to Harrow, in Western Victoria where he met an untimely end by drowning as he returned from a wedding during a very wet season. It is a remarkable coincidence that the wedding from which he was returning was Mrs. Morandir's, known to Whittlesea residents thirty years ago. Although Mr. Copeland never ministered in Christ Church, being drowned before its erection, a tablet has been erected, to his memory. After the grants from Sydney of the land for church purposes, a Mr. Wills, a pioneer of the district gave fifteen acres of land for the erection of a church and vicarage, which is in use to the present. Mr. Copeland was succeeded by Rev. W. McJennert for a short time, then Rev. H. C. E. Morris; of Christ Church Cathedral, Ballarat. Rev. T. R. Neville, who is the only vicar to be buried in the local cemetery, then Rev. B. N. White, 1887 ; Rev. J. T. Spurling, 1889 ; Rev. J. A. Priestley, 1891 ; Rev. W. St. John Chase, 1894 ; Rev. H. F. Miller, 1896 ; Rev E. C. Knox, 1898 ; Rev. E. C. Thompson 1903 ; Rev. G. Chapman 1906; Rev. W. D. James, 1915 ; Rev. T. H. R. Croker, 1919 ; Rev. L. B. Meredith, 1924 ; Rev. A. J. Pearce, 1925 ; Rev. E. A. Freeman, 1931 ; Rev. R. J. Rowell, 1931 ; Rev. A. D. Page, 1935. Of these only Rev. E. C. Thompson, Chaplain to the Hospital, and assistant Precentor of St. Paul's Cathedral, Rev. A. J. Pearce, retired, Rev. A. E. Freeman (retired), and Rev. R. J. Rowell, Priest at St. James' Old Cathedral, are living now.
"Advertiser" (Hurstbridge, Vic.) Friday, 12th November 1937.