Walter Arthur Copinger (1847-1910), jurist and author, was born on 14 April 1847 in Clapham. He was educated at a private school in Brighton and University College, Durham. He left Durham without completing his course and entered a solicitor's office in London. In 1866 he was admitted a student of the Middle Temple, and was called to the bar on 26 January 1869. The following year he published his Law of copyright in works of literature and art. He settled in Manchester and began practising as an equity draftsman and conveyancer, and in the chancery court of the county palatine of Lancaster. Amid his professional work Copinger continued to write on legal subjects, particularly on conveyancing. In 1876 he published An essay on the abolition of capital punishment. In 1888 he was appointed lecturer in law at Owens College, Manchester, and in 1892 he became dean of the faculty of law in the Victoria University. He received the Lambeth degree of doctor of laws from Archbishop Benson in 1889, and an MA from the Victoria University of Manchester in 1905. He was president of the Manchester Law Society's library.
Copinger was a keen bibliographer, and it was largely due to his efforts, supported by Richard Copley Christie, that the Bibliographical Society was founded in London in 1892. He was the Society's first president, and held the office for four years. Between 1895 and 1898 he published his most important bibliographical work, the Supplement to Hain's Repertorium bibliographicum, comprising 7,000 corrections of and additions to the collations of fifteenth-century works described or mentioned by Ludwig Hain, and a list of nearly 6,000 works not referred to by him. Copinger contributed several papers to the Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, including an exhaustive monograph on the fifteenth-century printed editions of Virgil. In 1892 he published a bibliographical account of 124 incunabula editions of the Latin Bible. He set up a small press at The Priory, Greenheys, Manchester, at which he printed four bibliographical works for private circulation.
Copinger was also keenly interested in genealogy, heraldry, and manorial history. His last years were devoted almost exclusively to the history of Suffolk. Between 1902 and his death he produced a stream of works on this subject, including a five-volume general history of Suffolk and a work on the manors of Suffolk which ran to seven volumes. Another interest was theology. The work which Copinger valued most among his writings was his huge treatise on A treatise on predestination, election, and grace, historical, doctrinal, and practical (1889). He was an ardent book collector and accumulated a considerable library. He died at his home in Lower Broughton, Salford, on 13 March 1910.
Source: Henry Guppy, 'Copinger, Walter Arthur (1847-1910)', rev. Catherine Pease-Watkin, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press - http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/32559.