My connection to the Cupples family begins with Alexander Cupples, my 5th great-grandfather, who was born in Ireland in 1784. Many genealogists following the Cupples line from Ireland have Alexander listed as the son of Alexander Cupples and his wife, Agnes Young, however the information cannot be verified so I decided to remove it from my tree for now.
On 22 September 1809, Alexander married Elizabeth Shaw in Cumbernauld, Scotland, and the couple went on to have at least ten children: five sons and five daughters. The eldest four children were born in Cumbernauld indicating the family stayed in that area until at least 1820 as the fifth child, Mary Ann, my 4th great-grandmother, was born in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, that year.
The 1841 UK Census indicates Alexander, a coal hawker, was living in the village of Camelon with his wife, Elizabeth, five of their children, and a granddaughter named Betty Gray, aged 3 years. The daughter of Mary Ann, Betty was my 3rd great-grandmother and she was living with her grandparents as her mother had recently married her second husband, George Fearns.
Elizabeth Shaw passed away before the 1851 UK Census and before Statutory Records came into existence so I have been unable to confirm her date of death. However, Alexander is still living in Camelon on the 1851 UK Census, along with the aforementioned granddaughter, Betty, now aged 13 years, and a grandson, James McGhee, aged 3 years, who appears to be the illegitimate son of Alexander’s youngest daughter, Jean. Alexander is listed as being aged 60 years in the census but he was actually 67 years.
The Cupples family would become heavily involved in the coal industry over the generations and I’m assuming this is what precipitated the family moving to Falkirk in the first place. Falkirk, which lies in the Forth Valley in Central Scotland, has existed since before the Roman era and the Antonine Wall, delineating the northern frontier of the Roman Empire between the Firth of Forth and Firth of Clyde, can still be seen today. However, it was the Industrial Age which really put Falkirk on the map as the town became Scotland’s earliest major centre of the iron-casting industry with the renowned Carron Iron Works whose goods were carried along the canal networks.
There were several collieries around the area, particularly in the nearby village of Slamannan which would eventually become the home of Alexander’s sons, Robert and Alexander, and their families. Alexander’s occupation would eventually lead to health problems as his death certificate revealed he had been suffering from lung problems for a number of years before his death, aged 72 years, on 8 June 1856. Frustratingly, the names of his parents were not recorded on his death certificate which means the surviving children did not know their names.
Summary of Children
Agnes Cupples (1810-1837)
Agnes was born on 2 June 1810 in Cumbernauld and she married Alexander Grosart in Falkirk on 17 June 1832. Agnes and Alexander went on to have three daughters: Elizabeth (1833-?), Ann Binney (1835–1843) and Agnes Cupples (1837–?).
I don’t have much information on this family but I believe all three of the daughters died in childhood. Agnes died on 13 June 1837, aged 27 years, and her husband, Alexander, went on to take a second wife, Janet Baird, on 17 September 1837. Alexander and Janet had one son, Alexander, but he may have died in childhood as well.
Robert Cupples (1812-1899)
Robert was born on 7 June 1812 in Cumbernauld and married Catherine Forrester in Falkirk on 24 January 1840. Robert and Catherine would eventually settle in the village of Slamannan and raise a large family. Robert and Catherine’s children married but many moved to other areas of Scotland or emigrated to the United States. Robert died on 4 February 1899, aged 86 years, and his wife, Catherine, died, aged 82 years, on 30 November 1904.
Children: Alexander (1841–1870); Jane (1843–1924); Elizabeth Shaw (1845–1918); Margaret (1847–1928); Agnes (1849–?); Mary (1851–1926); William Forrester (1853–1938); Robert (1855–1933); Peter Granton Forrester (1858–1935); John (1860–1917); Catherine Forrester (1862–1948); Thomas Forrester (1867–1946)
John Cupples (1814)
John was born on 7 June 1814 in Cumbernauld but no further info is known.
James Cupples (1816-1891)
James was born in Cumbernauld on 28 April 1816 and married Elizabeth Feggans in Edinburgh on 18 June 1841. Unlike the rest of his siblings, James settled his family in Lanarkshire where he worked as a nail maker.
Children: Elizabeth (1844); Alexander (1846-1861); Margaret (1850); Agnes (1852-1934); Catherine (1856-1859); James (1858-1859); James (1860-1891); Mary (1863-1944)
Mary Ann Cupples (1820-1896)
Mary Ann was the first child to be born in Falkirk, however I have been unable to find her exact date of birth which is annoying since she is my 4th great-grandmother. Mary Ann married her first husband, Robert James Gray, on 07 March 1836 and they had one child, Elizabeth, born in 1838. Elizabeth, known as Betty, was raised by her grandparents as her father died when she was young.
Mary Ann married her second husband, George Fearns, on 25 January 1841 and she gave birth to a second daughter, Mary, on 29 October 1841. Sadly, Mary Ann was destined to be widowed again when George died the same year they were married. I do not have an exact date for George’s death and his daughter seems to have been raised by his family.
Mary Ann married her third husband, Robert McMurray, on 4 May 1846 and went on to have 7 more children. After Robert’s death on 24 February 1885, Mary Ann was listed on the 1891 UK Census as living alone in Kerse Lane Parsonage as she seems to have outlived most of her children. However, Mary Ann’s sister, Isabella, was listed as living in the same building, albeit a different house. Mary Ann died, aged 76 years, on 25 August 1896 in the Falkirk Poorhouse and her parents were listed as unknown which is really sad.
Children (1st marriage): Elizabeth (1838-1896)
Children (2nd marriage): Mary (1841-1913)
Children (3rd marriage): William (1846-1913), Agnes (1848-1856), Elizabeth (1850-1877), Alexander (1855), Agnes (1856-1891), Robert (1859), John (1861-1864).
Elizabeth Cupples (1824-1895)
Elizabeth was born in Falkirk in 1824 and married John Young on 28 December 1840. Elizabeth and John remained in the Falkirk area for 20 years, after which they moved to Lanarkshire for the next 20 years. After John’s death in 1877, Elizabeth returned to the Falkirk area with her youngest two daughters and settled in Slamannan. Elizabeth died, aged 71 years, on 29 January 1895.
Children: William (1843); Elizabeth (1846–1903); Margaret (1850–1863); Agnes (1853); Jane (1854–1935); John (1857–1946); Alexander (1861–1863); Margaret Gillespie (1868)
Isabella Cupples (1826-1902)
Isabella was born in Falkirk in 1826 and married her first husband, William Dawson Kippen, on 27 October 1849 and they had 3 children. After William’s death on 21 March 1858, Isabella married an Irishman called James Dimmey on 10 December 1860. Isabella and James had a daughter, Isabella, but she died, aged 24 years, on 21 July 1886.
After James’s death in 1888, Isabella is listed as living in the household of her daughter, Jane, in the 1901 UK Census and is employed as a servant despite being 75 years. Isabella died, aged 76 years, on 5 February 1902.
Children (1st Marriage): John (1850-1863); Elizabeth (1854-1925); Jane (1857-1910).
Children (2nd Marriage): Isabella (1861-1886)
Jean Cupples (1826-1882)
Jean was born in Falkirk on 10 March 1826 and married William Laird on 16 April 1848. Jean and William remained in the Falkirk area where they raised their seven children.
Jean also had an illegitimate son, James McGhee, who was born in 1846. I have no record of who his father was but his surname is an obvious clue. His death certificate lists his parents as James McGhee and Jean (Cupples) McGhee but there is no evidence of a marriage. James was raised by his maternal grandparents.
Children: Elizabeth (1851-1901); Margaret (1855-1940); Alexander (1857-1907); Annie (1859); Jane (1864); Mary Ann (1866); Robert (1868-1925).
Alexander Cupples (1828-1828)
Died in infancy.
Alexander Cupples (1830-1890)
Alexander was born in Falkirk on 7 November 1830 and he married Ann Campbell on 26 February 1854.
Alexander and Ann lived in Lanarkshire for a while before settling in Slamannan where they raised their eleven children. In a similar way to his older brother, Robert, most of Alexander’s children would leave the area for elsewhere, including emigrating to the United States.
Children: Alexander (1853–1890); William (1855–1910); John (1857–1858); James (1858–1919); Jane Allan (1861–1937); Elizabeth Shaw (1863–1928); Robert (1865–1886); John (1867–1937); Ann (1870); Agnes (1872–1915); and, Thomas (1874–1926).