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The Scottish Nation

COOPER, COWPER, or COUPER, a surname derived from the parish of Cupar in Fife. In ancient documents the name is variously spelled, and appears under the several forms of Cupir, Culpyre, Cypre, Cyprum, Cowpar, and Coupar. The etymology of the name is uncertain, but the word is apparently Celtic, and probably bore reference to the ancient castle or the rising ground on which it was situated.

      A family of this name, styled of Gogar, possessed a baronetcy of Nova Scotia, conferred in 1638, on John Cooper, Esq., who married Christian, daughter of Robert Skene, Esq. of Halliards. Among those who were killed with the earl of Haddington, at the blowing up of the castle of Douglas, 30th August 1640, was John Couper of Gogar. In 1640, John Cooper, probably his son, was one of the commissioners of the Scots parliament who approved of the treaty of Ripon. The first baronet was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John Cooper, at whose death, towards the close of the seventeenth century, without male issue, the title became dormant, but was revived by his great-grandnephew, 1st August 1775, Sir Grey Cooper, who represented Rochester in parliament in 1765, and was an energetic supporter of the marquis of Rockingham, under whose administration, as well as under those of the duke of Grafton and Lord North, he was secretary to the treasury. In 1783 he was appointed one of the commissioners of the treasury, and in April 1796, sworn a member of the privy council. On the death of the seventh baronet, Sir Frederick Cooper, unmarried, in 1850, the title became extinct.


      A family of the name of Cowper have occupied the same farm on the Abercrombie estate in Fife for more than three hundred years, and it is thought that it is of this family that Cowper the poet of Olney thus writes to Mrs. Courtenay, one of his friends: “While Pitcairne whistles for his family estate in Fifeshire, he will do well if he will sound a few notes for me. I am originally of the same shire, and a family of my name is still there.” [New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. ix., page 344, Note, article ABERCROMBIE.]

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