National Records of Scotland

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Archibald Scott Couper (1831-1892)

Archibald Scott Couper (1831-1892)

Chemist

Archibald Scott Couper studied chemistry in Berlin and Paris. He wrote papers on the bromide derivatives of benzene, the constitution of salicylic acid and a new theory on the linking of carbon atoms. Another scientist working on the latter, published first and took the acclaim. Archibald Scott Couper retumed to Edinburgh to work with Lyon Playfair but his health broke down and he was admitted to an asylum. From 1862 onwards he was cared for by his mother and an attendant. Many years later his work was re-discovered and acknowledged. A plaque on his home in Kirkintilloch was erected by public subscription to mark the centenary of his birth. It celebrates his 'pioneering contributions to chemical theory'.

Birth in 1831

Archibald Scott Couper was born at 6 pm on 31 March 1831, the son of Archibald Couper, manufacturer and Helen Dollar. The entry in the Register of Neglected Entries (RNE) for Kirkintilloch gives the date of registration as 19 September 1862 on 'the authority of a related warrant by Robert Hunter Esquire, Sheriff of Dumbartonshire'. It has been signed by Robert Adams, registrar and George Seton, Secretary on behalf of the Registrar General and initialled by the examiner.

Birth entry for Archibald Scott Couper

Birth entry for Archibald Scott Couper (100 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 498/4, page 1

1841, 1851 and 1871 to 1891 censuses

In 1841 Archibald Cooper, 9, was enumerated with his parents at Townhead, Cooper's Land. The census return for the parish of Kirkintilloch shows that his father was a cotton manufacturer and that all three were born in the county ('Y').

1841 census return for Archibald Scott Couper

1841 census return for Archibald Scott Couper (47 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/498/10, page 5

In 1851 Arch[ibal]d Cooper, 19, student was enumerated with his parents at Townhead. The census return for Kirkintilloch records that his father was a manufacturer of cotton goods employing between 80 to 100 men.

1851 census return for Archibald Scott Couper

1851 census return for Archibald Scott Couper (23 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/498/8, page 5

In 1871 Arch[ibal]d S Couper, 40, chemist, was enumerated at the family home with his mother Helen Dollar Cooper, a companion and a servant. He is recorded as 'lunatic'. The contemporary definition of this term was a case where the infirmity has been acquired during life.

1871 census return for Archibald Scott Couper (39 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1871/498/7, page 5

In 1881 Arch[ibal]d S Couper, 50, was enumerated at the same address. The household now included his aunt, Janet Dollar, who was 'blind' and George Edward, gentleman's attendant.

1881 census return for Archibald Scott Couper (47 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1881/498/1, page 17

In 1891 Arch[ibal]d Scott Couper, 60 was enumerated at Laurel Bank. The census return for Kirkintilloch leaves his occupation blank (as in the 1881 census above).

1891 census return for Archibald Scott Couper (37 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1891/498/1, page 31

Death in 1892

Archibald Scott Couper, 60, died at 8 pm on 11 March 1892. The entry in the statutory register for Kirkintilloch gives the place of death as Laurel Bank and the cause of death as diabetes. It doesn't record a rank or profession. The informant was George Edward, assistant, who was 'present' at the death.Death entry for Archibald Scott Couper

Death entry for Archibald Scott Couper (54 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1892/498/64

Testament of Archibald Scott Couper

Archibald Scott Couper died intestate but an inventory of his estate was registered at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on 6 September 1892 (SC65/34/37, pages 264-268).

Detail from inventory for Archibald Scott Couper (73 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC65/34/37, page 264

Five years later an additional inventory was registered at the same court (SC64/34/43, pages 208-211). This covered the interest in his father's trust estate from 1896.

Detail from additional inventory for Archibald Scott Couper (78 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC65/34/43, page 209