John Copleston was a younger branch of the numerous family of that name in Devonshire, all of whom sprung from the ancient Manor of Copleston, in that county. Copleston lived at Pynes, near Exeter, which he inherited from his grandfather.
He engaged in the service of Parliament, although others of his name and family were Royalists. He commanded a regiment many years, and served in Ireland under Philip, Lord Lisle, during the years 1646 and 1647. He was Sheriff of Devon in 1655, and, having a regiment also under his command, was active in the support of Cromwell's government, especially during Penruddock's Uprising. For his service he was knighted at Whitehall on 1 June 1655 by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. He afterwards sat in the Second and Third Protectorate parliaments for Barnstaple.
- Hughes 1830, pp. 343 (footnote).
- There is a letter from him to the protector, in the third volume of Thurloe's State Papers, dated Exon, 10 March 1654, detailing the measures he had adopted for securing the peace of the county of Devon (Hughes 1830, p. 344 (footnote)).
- Hughes 1830, pp. 343–344 (footnote).
- Hughes, John, ed. (1830), The Boscobel tracts: relating to the escape of Charles the Second after the battle of Worcester, and his subsequent adventures, W. Blackwood & sons, pp. 343–344
- Noble, Mark (1784), Memoirs of several persons and families who by females are allied to, or descended from the protectorate-house of Cromwell: chiefly collected from original papers and records, to which is added a catalogue of such persons who were raised to honors or great employments by the Cromwells, with the lives of many of them, 2 (3rd ed.), London: Pearson and Rollason, sold by R. Baldwin, p. 538
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