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Mr. John Cooper [or Coupar]

John Cooper, a tenant farmer and corn merchant, was for some years a prominent citizen of Dundee, a member of the Baker Trade, and sometime Convener of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee.

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Personal details and history

Full name

John Cooper [or Coupar]

Date of birth


Place of birth

Whitewell, Tannadice, co. Angus[1]



Marital status


Name of spouse

Ann Moncur


Elizabeth Cooper (b.1851), Susan Cooper (b. 1853}, May Cooper (b. 1855), John A Cooper (b.1857), Alexander Cooper (b. 1865)

Home address

Hawkhill Place, Dundee (1853/4)[2]
Clepington, Dundee - farm (1856/7)[3]

Age at death:


Place of death:

4 South George Street, Dundee[4]

Date of death:



Western Cemetery[5]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Political affiliation

Clubs / societies

Public offices

Admitted to Baker Trade of Dundee 20-11-1856.[6] Elected Convener of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee in 1861. His obituary noted he also had a keen interest in the Harbour of Dundee.

Related subscribers

James Petrie, baker in Dundee.  After Petrie’s death in 1864, his representatives passed on the goodwill of his business to Cooper.

Alexander Clayhills, Esq., of Invergowrie – John’s father, James, undertook the management of Invergowrie Home Farm when John was a boy.


Career and worklife


Corn merchant and farmer


Owner; tenant farmer

Place of work


Work address

15 Dock Street, Dundee (1853/4)[2]
36 Castle Street, Dundee (1856/7)[3]
48 Castle Street, Dundee (1864/5)[7]
Clepington - farm tenancy[3][8]

Career to date:

John Cooper was the son of James Cooper {or Coupar as he appears in John's baptismal entry), a farmer, and Elisabeth Wilkie. He was born in 1827 at Whitewell, parish of Tannadice, Angus.[1] His father moved to the vicinity of Dundee when John was a boy and undertook the management of Invergowrie Home Farm.  As a boy and a young man John took a keen interest in farming and continued to do so after he had started business in Dundee as a corn merchant and miller.[9] By the late 1850s he was well established as a corn merchant with premises in Castle Street and had set himself up as a tenant farmer at Clepington.

More information

He married Ann Moncur who was born 1827 at Longforgan, Perthshire, and from searching census information I surmise that they had 5 children: Elizabeth Cooper (b.1851), Susan Cooper (b. 1853), May Cooper (b. 1855), John A Cooper (b.1857), Alexander Cooper (b. 1865).

In October 1861 there is a report in the Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser from the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee. The article is about the election of  John Cooper, corn merchant and a member of the Baker Trade, as Convener, describing him as a “fit and proper person to fill the highest office in the Incorporation.”[10]

Dundee Directories place John Cooper, corn merchant, at 48 Castle Street in 1864/65.

In April 1865 the Dundee People’s Journal reported that the late James Petrie of 117 Murraygate had requested that his clients, business and goodwill thereof be passed to John Cooper who “he trusts will be eminently successful in his endeavours to meet the wishes of the trade.”[11]

On 20th October 1865 John Cooper was elected Guild Brother of the Burgh of Dundee – “John Cooper, corn merchant, for self and prosperity and for having paid to the Collector ten pounds”.[12]

According to the 1865 Valuation Roll of the Burgh of Dundee  John Cooper was tenant/occupier at three properties:

  • A dwelling house, shop and bake house at 117 Murraygate, Dundee
  • Two lofts on southside Dock Street, Dundee
  • Lofts 1st, Exchange Street, Dundee.[13]

It is possible that after this time John Cooper’s fortunes changed a little. The following newspaper reports are perhaps indicative of this.  In January 1865 the Dundee Advertiser states that Mr John Cooper was “summoned to appear as a witness before the Hypothec Commissioners.”[14] A hypothecator is defined as someone who pledged land or goods as security for a loan.  In January 1871, under the heading of “Sequestrations”, the local newspaper reported that the creditors of John Cooper, corn merchant in Dundee and farmer at Clepington, were invited to meet in Lamb’s Hotel, Reform Street, Dundee, at 12 o’clock on 2nd February 1871.[15]  In February 1872 the Dundee Courier reported that John Cooper was apprehended in Reform Street and charged by the Procurator Fiscal with “breach of trust and embezzlement”.  It appears that he had been entrusted with settling the estate of the “late Mrs Fraser but failed to properly invest the money [a sum of £600], instead appropriating it to his own purposes”.  For this he was sent to prison and fined £300.[16]

In the Dundee Directory 1878/79 both John and his son John A., Jnr., are listed as contractors and road surveyors living at Clepington farm.[17]  In the 1881 census,  John Cooper (54), farmer and contractor,  was still living at the farm at Clepington  with Ann Cooper or Moncur, also aged 54, and two children, Susan (21) and Alexander (16).  Also at the farm are David Guthrie (28), farm hand, Janet McKay (24), a domestic servant, and two more male servants, Robert Livie (19) and Alex Anderson (16). The farm had 70 acres and employed 4 men in total. It is also stated that they owned 4 horses.[18]

The 1880/81 Dundee Directory  lists his son, John A., Jr., as a contractor at Drumgeith.[19]  The 1882/83 Dundee Directory states that the above John A Cooper is a farmer at Drumgeith, Pitkerro Road.[20]

At some point after this Mr Cooper, senior, gave up his business in Dundee and for a time devoted all his attention to his farm at Clepington  which he had held for a total of about thirty years.  His obituary mentions that he acted in the capacity of Road Surveyor for some time before and after relinquishing his farm and latterly opened a large hiring and contracting establishment in Hilltown.

Mr Cooper had been ailing since November 1886  from congestion of the lungs aggravated by heart disease and he died on 2nd October 1887 at his residence in South George Street, Dundee.  Aged 61, he left a widow and family.  His occupation is given as coach proprietor.[4] [9]  John Cooper is buried in the Western Cemetery, Reg. No. 593, Lair Nos. 55abc.[5]

In the 1891  census his widow, Ann Coupar (60), is recorded as living at Fern Bank.  Also at this address were her son, John A Cooper (27), described as a horse hirer, her daughters Elizabeth Cooper (29), Susan Cooper  (28 – a barmaid), Mary Cooper (26), and another son Alexander  Cooper (25).[21]





  1. Old Parish Records. Tannadice, Angus. Birth. 1827. 321/ 30 31. ScotlandsPeople website
  2. Dundee Directory, 1853/54. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  3. Dundee Directory, 1856/57. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  4. Statutory registers. Deaths. Dundee, District of St. Andrew. 1887. ScotlandsPeople website
  5. Records of Western Cemetery burials. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
  6. Baker Trade of Dundee records.  Dundee City Archives
  7. Dundee Directory, 1864/65. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  8. Valuation roll. 1865. Burgh of Dundee. ScotlandsPeople website
  9. Obituary Notices Volume Jan, 1885-13th Oct.1908. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  10. Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser October 1861. British Newspaper Archive website.
  11. Dundee People's Journal, 22 April 1865. British Newspaper Archive website.
  12. Records of the Guildry of Dundee. Meeting of the Dean of Guild and Assessors, Guild Hall, 20/10/1865
  13. Valuation Roll 1865. Dundee. ScotlandsPeople website.
  14. Dundee Advertiser, Tuesday 3 January 1865.  The British Newspaper Archive website.
  15. Dundee Courier, Wednesday, 25 January 1871.  The British Newspaper Archive website.
  16. Dundee Courier, Saturday, 10 February 1872.  The British Newspaper Archive website.
  17. Dundee Directory, 1878/79. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  18. 1881 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcription. Clepington Farm, Dundee, St Andrew, Forfarshire(Angus), Scotland. Household members. FindMyPast website.
  19. Dundee Directory, 1880/81. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  20. Dundee Directory, 1882/83. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  21. 1891 Census Scotland. Ancestry website.


Dundee Central Library staff

The information above about John Cooper [or Coupar] has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.