James Couper (1839-1916)

Mr James Couper of Craigforth, Stirling was a Company Director living on private means.

Figure 1. Portrait of the late Charles Tennant by Andrew Geddes. © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

The Portrait of the late Charles Tennant by Andrew Geddes was received by Glasgow Corporation in 1920. It had been bequeathed by his grandson, James Couper, to his wife Jane as life rent (2) and under the terms of his Will, after her death, was then to be given by his Trustees to Glasgow Corporation.

Figure 2. Statue of Charles Tennant and Obelisk for William Couper. Image © F J Dryburgh

James Couper was born on 13 September 1839 (3) the son of John Couper MD MRCP, Regius Professor of Materia Medica at Glasgow University (4) and his wife Charlotte Couper. His mother was the daughter of Charles Tennant (5) and his father was the son of Tennant’s great friend and associate, William Couper. (6)

The monuments to these men are side by side in the Necropolis in Glasgow. (7)

In the 1871 Census James Couper is living in Glasgow but visiting his parents and he is a manufacturing chemist. (8) James Couper moved to Craigforth in Stirling in1873 as a tenant and eventually as owner in 1904. (9)  In the 1881 Census he is listed as a manufacturing chemist, his wife is Jane, he has two sons, and 8 servants are listed. (10)  Craigforth is an impressive country house now on the M9 looking towards Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. Couper was a director of the Steel Company of Scotland and of Messrs Ogston and Tennant. (11) He and his wife were active in local society and contributed to charitable and civic activities in Stirling. (12) In 1878, James and Jane gave the Bishop’s Chair to the newly established Episcopal Church of The Holy Trinity in Stirling. (13)

He was a Director of Stirling Royal Infirmary and of The Albert Hall Company while these were being built. (14)

He died in the Central Hotel in Glasgow on 13 June 1916. (15)

His funeral was attended by many people including his nephew Mr. Charles Tennant Couper. He is buried in Logie cemetery. (16)

Charles Tennant (1768-1838) was a bleacher from Ayrshire with bleach fields in Darnley. (17)  There is a watercolour of the bleach fields by an unknown artist in the collection of Lady Maxwell in Pollok House, Glasgow (18) and a map from 1791 showing their location in the East Renfrewshire Public Library in Giffnock. (19) He went on to develop the first chemical method of bleaching using bleaching powder and to establish the St Rollox works in Glasgow, the first great chemical works in the world. (20)  His son John Tennant (21) developed the firm and built Tennant’s Stalk- a huge chimney in the North of Glasgow. His son was Sir Charles Tennant, an art collector, Liberal politician and industrialist. He was the founder of a family well known in social and political circles. (22) (23)   In 1926 the business became part of Imperial Chemical Industries and in 2008 became part of Atezo Nobel. (24)

References

  1. Archives of Glasgow Museums
  2. National Records of Scotland Wills and Testaments  1916
  3. National Records of Scotland Statutory Births 1839
  4. John Couper The University of Glasgow Story.  https://universitystory.gla.ac.uk/people
  5. National Records of Scotland Wills and Testaments  1840
  6. John Couper The University of Glasgow Story.  https://universitystory.gla.ac.uk/people
  7. The Glasgow Necropolis. http://www.glasgownecropolis.org
  8. National Records of Scotland census 1871
  9. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 3 March 1916. Obituary of James Couper
  10. National Records of Scotland census 1881
  11. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 3 March 1916. Obituary of James Couper
  12. Personal communication Stirling librarian
  13. http://www.holytrinitystirling.org
  14. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 3 March 1916. Obituary of James Couper
  15. National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths 1916
  16. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 16 March 1916. Funeral of James Couper
  17. Massie, Alan. Glasgow Portraits of a City. London: Barrie and Jenkins,1989
  18. Watercolour of Mr Charles Tennant’s Bleachfields, artist unknown, held in Pollok House, Glasgow.
  19. Map of East Renfrewshire, 1791 showing Mr Tennant’s Bleachfields held in the East Renfrewshire Public Library, Giffnock
  20. Massie, Alan. Glasgow Portraits of a City. London: Barrie and Jenkins,1989
  21. Lindsey, Christopher F. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2014.
  22. Sir Charles Tennant Wikipaedia
  23. Ibid
  24. ibid

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.