Return to Subscriber listings and search...

Thomas Couper Esquire

One of the most distinguished and influential of Dundee's public men. He was thoroughly acquainted with the shipping business and was to be found to the fore in every patriotic or benevolent movement in the town.

Subscription value in 1863:

£30

Relative to inflation up to 2019:

£3000

Relative to income compared to 2019:

£24000

Click Image to Enlarge

Personal details and history

Full name

Thomas Couper

Date of birth

12-05-1817[1]

Place of birth

Dundee[1]

Gender

Male

Marital status

Married 1843[2]

Name of spouse

Hannah Millar[2]

Children

John Guthrie (b.1845),[3] Ann Guthrie (b.1847),[4] Thomas (b.1852),[5] Charles (b.1852)[5] and Hannah (b.1855).[6]

Home address

75 Seagate, Dundee, c.1842-1843.[7]
172 Perth Road, Dundee, c.1846-1850.[8]
6 Shore Terrace, c.1853-1859.[9]
Cherry Bank, Dundee, c.1861-1862.[10]
31 Magdalen Yard Road, Dundee, c.1864-1868.[11]
33 Magdalen Yard Road, Dundee, c.1869-1870.[12]
Dudhope House, Dundee, c.1871-1880.[13]

Age at death:

Place of death:

At home (Dudhope House, Dundee)[14]

Date of death:

18-02-1880[14]

Buried:

Western Cemetery[15]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Couper was a member of the Free Church of Scotland and was an officebearer at St. John's Church (Small's Wynd).[16]

Political affiliation

Unknown

Clubs / societies

Couper was a prominent figure in the community of Dundee and supported many different causes including the erection of a statue in honour of Robert Burns and the restoration of the Old Steeple Church (to which he donated one guinea). Dundee ,Perth and London Shipping Co. also transported the new bells for the church from London to Dundee free of charge.[17] Representative of the Guildry on Harbour Trust.[18] Convener of the Lighting and Pilotage Commitee[18] and promoted light signals at night to avoid collisions at sea.[19] Senior manager of the Public Library at 16 St. Clement's Lane, c.1842-1843.[7] Trustee of the Merchant Seamen's Fund, c.1844-1845.[20] Harbour Trustees representing the Guildry, c.1850.[21] Member of Joint Committee of Harbour Trustees and Fraternity of Masters and Seamen in Dundee for regulating the Pilotage of the Tay, c.1850.[21] Ordinary director, East of Scotland Life Assurance Co., c.1850.[21] Director, Dundee branch of the Colonial Life Assurance Co., c.1853-1862.[22] Commissioner, Union Association of Underwriters, c.1853-1854.[23] Trustee, Dundee Property & Investment Co., c.1853-1875.[24] Director, Dundee & Arbroath Railway Co., c.1856-1862.[25] Director, Scottish Sea Insurance Co., c.1858-1862.[26] Director, Dundee Chamber of Commerce, c.1861-1865.[27] Chairman, Dundee Shipping Insurance Association, c.1861-862.[10] Committee member, Hawkhill Bowling Club, c.1861-1862.[10] Commissioner, Dundee Shipping & Dundee Shipping Freight Insurance Associations, c.1864-1880.[28] Director, Dundee New Gas-Light Co., c.1864-1868.[11] Director, Dundee board, Northern Assurance (Fire & Life), c.1867-1880.[29] Elected member, Local Marine Board, .1867-1880[29] Local committee of Dundee branch, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, c.1867-1877.[30] Director, Northern Marine Insurance Co., c.1869-1880.[31] Vice President, Dundee Bible Society (Auxiliary to the National Bible Society of Scotland), c.1869-1880.[31] Member of general and executive committees, Mars Training Ship, c.1871-1880.[32] Commissioner, East of Scotland Shipowners Mutual Protection Association, c.1874-1877.[33] Commissioner, Union Steamship Mutual Insurance Association/Union Iron Steamship Mutual Insurance Association of Dundee, c.1874-1880.[34] President, Dundee Boys & Girls Religious Association, c.1874-1880.[34] Council member, Dundee Chess Club, c.1874-1880.[34] Director, Dundee Mortgage & Trust Investment Co. Ltd., c.1876-1880.[35] Director, Oregon & Washington Trust Investment Co. Ltd., c.1876-1880.[35] Harbour Trustee for shipowners, c.1876-1880.[35] Couper also attended many social events such as the Thistle Hall Concerts over which he presided in 1874.[36]

Public offices

None known

Related subscribers

Subscriber no.66 – Pat Low – Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co. employee.

Subscriber no.75 – James R. Fleming – Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co. employee.

Career and worklife

Occupation

Manager of shipping company and Shipowner[37]

Employment

Manager[37]

Place of work

Dundee, Perth and London Shipping Company[37]

Work address

45 Exchange Street, Dundee, c.1842-1845.[38]
4 Mid Shore, Dundee, c.1853-1859.[9]
5 Shore Terrace, Dundee, c.1861-1880.[39]

Career to date:

Couper began his career in service of the shipowner John Thain.[18] In 1842 he was described as a shipbroker with an office at 45 Exchange Street.[38] In 1844 he became the sole manager of Dundee and Hull Shipping Company in succession to Robert Christie and Charles Fleming,[18] a post he combined with that of manager of the Dundee, Perth and London Shipping Company when Mr. Marshall resigned in 1852.[40][18] In around 1857 the Dundee and Hull Shipping Co. merged with the Dundee, Perth and London Shipping Co.[18] The joining of the companies was covered in the local press along with several other joining companies.[41] Couper was also a shipowner in his own right and had the following vessels: Ariel, built 1839 (c.1850);[21] Blossom, built 1852 (c.1858-1865);[42] Dawn, built 1858 (c.1861-1877);[43] and Neried, built 1866 (1867-1875).[44]

More information

Thomas Couper was born in Dundee in 1817, the son of John Cooper and Ann Guthrie.[1] He married Hannah Millar in 1843[2] and they had five children, including twin boys. He was thoroughly acquainted with the shipping business and managed the Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co. to the great advantage of its shareholders.[16]

He supported a number of local and national causes. In 1870 he was involved in the local efforts to look after the widows and orphans left after the loss of the HMS Captain.[45] In 1872, he chaired a psalmody lecture and demonstration in Free St. Paul’s Church, which featured a large choir drawn from the Free Church congregations of Dundee and Broughty Ferry.[46] He also contributed a guinea to the restoration of the bells in the Old Steeple and arranged for them to be transported from London, by Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co. vessel, free of charge.[17] He presided over the Thistle Hall Concert in 1874 at which “all the singers were well received” during what was described as a “capital programme.”[36] He was in the forefront of the efforts to have a Burns statue erected in Dundee and his last public appearance was at the Kinnaird Hall to promote the project.[18] He quoted the late Rev George Gilfillan in his efforts to sway the audience.[47] The statue now stands outside the McManus (Albert Institute), a tribute to Burns and also enthusiasts like Couper. His death was also commemorated in verse by an anonymous poet.[18]

Couper continued working and holding most of his public offices until November 1878.[18] He died in 1880[14] and was considered to be “one of the best and most respected of our citizens.”[16] He was “one of the most distinguished and influential public men” and “in every movement of a patriotic or benevolent kind, he was found in the front ranks and his genial and cordial manner commended any cause which he espoused.”[16] He was also a popular and effective public speaker.[16]

 

Sources

  1. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 12 May 1817. 282/100 231. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Banns. 13 July 1843. 282/230 91. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Baptism. 30 November 1845. 282/190 237. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Baptism. October 1847. 282/190 305. ScotlandsPeople website.
  5. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Baptism. 24 October 1852. 282/200 94. ScotlandsPeople website.
  6. Statutory Registers. Dundee Second District. Birth. 1855. 282/2 268. ScotlandsPeople website.
  7. Dundee Directory, 1842-43. Local Studies, central Library, Dundee.
  8. Dundee Directories, 1842-1850. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  9. Dundee Directories, 1853-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  10. Dundee Directory, 1861-62. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  11. Dundee Directories6 1864-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  12. Dundee Directory, 1869-70. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  13. Dundee Directories, 1871-1879. Local Studies, central Library, Dundee.
  14. Statutory Registers. St. Mary, Dundee. Death. 18 February 1880. 282/2 149. ScotlandsPeople website.
  15. Index to Western Cemetery Lairholders. Compartment 10 Lair 31 a,g. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
  16. Dundee Courier and Argus, 19 February 1880. British Newspaper Archive website.
  17. Dundee Courier and Argus, 23 May 1873. British Newspaper Archive website.
  18. Dundee Obituary Book Vol.1 1869-1894, p.51. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  19. Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 30 September 1845. British Newspaper Archive website.
  20. Dundee Directory, 1844-45. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  21. Dundee Directory, 1850. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  22. Dundee Directories, 1853-1862. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  23. Dundee Directory, 1853-54. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  24. Dundee Directories, 1853-1875. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  25. Dundee Directories, 1856-1862. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  26. Dundee Directories, 1858-1862. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  27. Dundee Directories, 1861-1865. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  28. Dundee Directories, 1864-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  29. Dundee Directories, 1867-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  30. Dundee Directories, 1867-1877. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  31. Dundee Directories, 1869-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  32. Dundee Directories, 1871-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  33. Dundee Directories, 1874-1877. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  34. Dundee Directories, 1874-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  35. Dundee Directories, 1876-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  36. Dundee Courier, 14 December 1874. British Newspaper Archive website.
  37. Dundee Directories, 1853-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  38. Dundee Directories, 1842-1845. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  39. Dundee Directories, 1861-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  40. Dundee Directories, 1853-1857. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  41. Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 6 January 1857. British Newspaper Archive website.
  42. Dundee Directories, 1858-1865. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  43. Dundee Directories, 1861-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  44. Dundee Directories, 1867-1875. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  45. Dundee Courier, 28 September 1870. British Newspaper Archive website.
  46. Dundee Courier, 2 April 1872. British Newspaper Archive website.
  47. Dundee Courier, 16 October 1877. British Newspaper Archive website.

The information above about Thomas Couper 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.