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The Scottish Nation

COUPAR, LORD, a title in the peerage of Scotland (attainted in 1746) conferred in 1607, on the Hon. James Elphinston, second son of James first Lord Balmerinoch, by his second wife Marjory, daughter of Hugh Maxwell of Tealing. On the distribution made by James the Sixth of the lands which fell to the crown on the dissolution of the religious houses, after the Reformation, his majesty erected the Cistertian abbey of Coupar in Angus into a temporal lordship in his favour, by the title of Lord Coupar, and the heirs male of his body, which failing, to his father and his heirs male and entail, by royal charter, dated 20th December 1607. His name after this often occurs in the rolls of parliament, the influence and superior talents of his elder brother, Lord Balmerinoch, having forced him into notice. In January 1645 he was one of the committee of four of each of the three estates sent by the parliament to Perth to assist General Baillie in opposing the progress of the marquis of Montrose, and on the subsequent 29th November, he was one of the commissioners appointed to be judges of the processes of all delinquents cited by the estates, with power to examine witnesses, &c. On 7th June 1649, his lordship was constituted one of the extraordinary lords of session, in room of his brother, Lord Balmerinoch, deceased. Speaking of this appointment, Sir James Balfour says: “The Lord Balmerinoch’s extraordinary place of the session they have bestowed on his brother, the Lord Coupar, whose head will not fill his brother’s hat.” [Annals, vol. iii. page 390.] The following epitaph, quoted in Brunton and Haig’s Lives of the Senators of the College of Justice, from the Balfour MS., A. 7. 34, in the Advocates’ Library, is to the same effect:

                        “Fy upon death.
                        He’s worse than a trooper,
                        That took from us, Balmerinoch,
                        And left that howlet Coupar.”

In 1650 Lord Coupar was appointed a colonel of one of the regiments of foot for the county of Perth, raised to resist Cromwell, and for his loyalty a fine of three thousand pounds was imposed upon him by that personage, 12th April 1654. He married, first, Margaret, daughter of Sir James Halyburton of Pitcur; secondly, Lady Marion Ogilvy, eldest daughter of James, second earl of Airlie, who afterwards became the wife of John, third Lord Lindores; but had no issue by either wife. He died in 1669.

      A curious decision of the court of session, in a case in which his lordship was concerned, preserved by Lord Stair, and quoted by Douglas, in his Peerage (vol. i. p. 363, note, Wood’s edition), was given 3d July 1662. Lord Coupar, sitting in parliament, taking out his watch, handed it to Lord Pitsligo, who refusing to restore it, an action was brought for the value. Lord Pitsligo said that Lord Coupar having put his watch in his hand to see what hour it was, Lord Sinclair putting forth his hand for a sight of the watch, Lord Pitsligo put it into Lord Sinclair’s hand, in the presence of Lord Coupar, without contradiction, which must necessarily import his consent. Lord Coupar answered, that they being then sitting in parliament, his silence could not import a consent. The Lords repelled Lord Pitsligo’s defence, and found him liable in the value of the watch.

      The title and estates of the first Lord Coupar devolved upon his nephew, John, third Lord Balmerinoch, whose grandson, John, fifth Lord Balmerinoch, on being appointed a lord of session, 5th June 1714, assumed the title of Lord Coupar. The titles were forfeited by his half-brother, Arthur, fourth Lord Coupar and sixth Lord Balmerinoch, in 1746. – See BALMERINO, Baron, ante, and ELPHINSTON, ARTHUR.

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