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.