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Papers of Frederick Couper and family

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-372
Identifier: Coll-1870

Scope and Contents

The contents are arranged as follows:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Frederick Couper's testimonials
  3. Notes and documents relating to genealogy and family history
  4. Legal documents
  5. Photographs of Frederick Couper
  6. Bookkeeping notebook

A substantial archive of original manuscript correspondence, documents, photographs and printed material relating to the Scottish ancestry of the marine and civil engineer Frederick Couper, from the early 17th century onwards.

Couper, who started his commercial life as an apprentice marine engineer in the docks at Leith, Edinburgh in the 1870s, developed a strong interest his family genealogy around 1884 and the archive contains a wealth of original research material complied by him from this period. The fonds includes a manuscript book of parish register transcripts relating to the family, correspondence requesting and receiving relevant genealogical information, a solicitors document in relation to his pedigree, a manuscript book with handwritten narrative concerning an English branch of the Couper family in 17th century England.

Further material includes Frederick Couper's employment testimonials whilst an apprentice in Leith, at another Leith shipbuilders and other firms thereafter from the 1870s onwards; a printed form stating he had been made associate of the institute of civil engineers; several documents relating to the death and interment of Frederick's stillborn child in 1878; various documents relating to burial plot ownership in Warriston cemetery, Edinburgh; later material includes his correspondence in the 1920's concerning property matters.

Accompanying this are a number of Couper family original documents such as 18th century marriage certificate, early 19th century birth certificates, business card of Edinburgh solicitor, W.P. Couper and of particular interest are four land conveyancing documents on vellum relating to transfers of land at Brechin, Scotland by the Couper family dated 1530, 1616, 1650 and 1650.

Final items, presumably made by a later descendant, include late 20th-century photocopies of related family trees and a printed letter and form for consultation with the British Museum and Sotheby in relation to the early land documents described above.


  • Creation: 1530-1935


Language of Materials

Mostly English, with some Latin in the older odler documents.

Conditions Governing Access

The fonds is open, except for later genealogical trees and correspondence which are subject to Data Protection legislation as they contain personal information on individuals that may still be alive. Researchers will have to sign a Data Protection form to see these particular documents.

Biographical / Historical

Frederick Couper (fl 1870s-1920s) was a Scottish marine engineer who started his commercial life as an apprentice marine engineer in the docks at Leith, Edinburgh in the 1870s. He was an associate of the institute of civil engineers. He was still active in the 1920s.


0.15 linear metre


original order seemingly lost; loosely arranged by types of documents (not in chronological order).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in March 2018. Accession no SC-Acc-2018-0089.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Aline Brodin in May 2018, using information from the seller.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379