William, 1701

1701 (Cirencester) – 1765 (Kensworth, Herts)

William Pittman was baptised at Cirencester in 1701, the son of John Pittman, an innholder (previously a baker). William’s mother is not named, but was presumably John’s third wife, Hester Stock (their marriage having been at Cirencester on 1st April 1697). After his baptism and his father’s death the same year, William seemed to disappear. Eventually we traced him: he had been educated at Eton College from 1714, then at King’s College Cambridge, gaining a BA in 1725, later becoming an MA, and DD. He was ordained priest in 1730, and spent his working life on the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire/Buckinghamshire borders: he was schoolmaster at Markyate (otherwise known as Market Street) and curate of both Markyate and Caddington.

Coppin’s school building as it was in the early 20th century

William ran Coppin’s School in Markyate, which had been founded in 1666 through the will of Thomas Coppin of Markyate Cell, a local manor house. The boarding school (in the High Street) occupied a building which had once been an inn known as the Mermaid, and continued until the late nineteenth century. William wrote a Latin grammar, “A Compendious Introduction to the Latin Tongue”, which was published in 1752. The preface (actually headed “Advertisement”) suggests that using “English Rules” is an improvent on the “old Way” of teaching Latin:

“The following Collection of Grammar was made with a View to the Ease of the Teacher, as well as Learner; how far this End is attained Experience only will evince; but those Gentlemen, who prefer teaching Latin by English Rules (as no doubt many do) will here find what is necessary for their Purpose; and others, who choose rather the old Way, will, I hope, have no reason to complain, if they find it somewhat shorter and smoother.”

William was married twice: in 1733 to a widow, Mary Baldwyn (who died in 1749), and in 1752 to Sarah Olyffe. William and Mary’s first son, John, went on to take the surname Coppin in 1781, as did his son John Coppin Pittman (who thus became John Coppin Pittman Coppin). The change was in order to fulfil the terms of an inheritance, and led to William’s descendants through his son and grandson John bearing the surname Coppin, whilst other descendants kept the surname Pittman.

William Pittman died in 1765, and was buried at Kensworth on 25 August.

Markyate church in the early 20th century

Mary Baldwyn (née ——)     18 December 1733     Kensworth

John          1734 – 1784
William    c1735 – 1735

Sarah Olyffe     1752     London (St Lawrence Jewry)

Sarah       1753 – 1831
Mary        1754 – 1831
William    1756 – 1812
Oliffe       1759 – 1759