John Coupland was connected with the Tory press in Southampton for over forty years. He came to Southampton in 1823 to conduct the Southampton Herald, which first appeared in July of that year.
He had served his printing apprenticeship, as a compositor, to William Keene of Catherine Street, Strand, London, printer of the British Monitor, a strongly anti-radical Sunday newspaper edited by Lewis Goldsmith. This was a baptism of fire in a rabidly political environment. Coupland became foreman in the works and reader for the press. In January 1826 Coupland purchased the Southampton Herald from the original printers, publishers and part proprietors, E Skelton and Co, following the bankruptcy of the firm. Coupland's imprint first appeared on the paper on 16 January 1826.
The Herald seamlessly became the Hampshire Advertiser in September 1827. Coupland continued as proprietor - for a time in partnership with Captain John Ralph Engledue - and publisher until he sold out to the Hampshire Advertiser County Newspaper and Printing and Publishing Co Ltd in 1864. As proprietor of the leading Conservative paper in the town and neighbourhood - indeed arguably in the south of England - Coupland played a pivotal role in the development of the Conservative Party. He had no pretensions to be a public writer, but was a patron to a generation of journalists. As he himself said: "he never could master the construction of sentences, albeit he was positively sure he was one of the best judges of a sentence when it was placed before him" (quoted in his obituary in the Hampshire Advertiser, February 1868).
John Coupland was born c.1799 in Boxworth, Cambridgeshire. His wife Harriet, born in Chichester, Sussex, was (according to the ages recorded at death) 19 years his senior: an age gap that successive censuses sought to minimize. She died, aged 85, on 14 June 1865. They had two daughters:
1) Harriet Alice Brooks. Baptized 17 March 1828 in Holy Rood Church. Married John Parsons Rubie, then a land steward of Fonthill Gifford in Wiltshire but previously partner in a shipbuilding works in Northam, on 30 May 1855 in St Luke's Church.
2) Mary Terry. Baptized 20 June 1830 in Holy Rood Church. Married Andrew Malcolm Lockie, a Commander in the P&O, on 16 June 1862 in St Luke's Church.
In their early years in Southampton, John and Harriet lived above the Hampshire Advertiser premises in High Street. In the late 1830s or early 1840s they moved to 178 High Street. Directories of 1851 and 1853 list them in Highfield, at Glen Cottage, a substantially-built brick 4-bedroomed villa standing in about three-quarters of an acre of grounds comprising brew house, coach house, 2-stalled stable, cow house and garden. It was here that his mother, Alice Coupland, died on 10 July 1852, aged 83. By 1855 the family are back in Southampton, living at 16 Cranbury Place (later christened Newtown House by Coupland) in Chamberlayne Town, next to St Luke's Church. It was here that both Harriet and John Coupland died: the former, on 14 June 1865, aged 85; the latter, after a long illness, on 9 February 1868, aged 69. He was buried, by the side of the remains of his mother, in South Stoneham churchyard. At probate his effects were valued at “under £4,000”. His will remembered three political friends: the surgeons John Wiblin and Patrick Mackey and the solicitor Walter Abraham Lomer. The latter is a link to the earliest of the Southampton Tory newspapers, the Southampton Luminary, founded by William Lomer junior.
John Coupland was a newspaperman and a Tory above all else: "as staunch, unflinching and uncompromising a Conservative - Tory, if you will - as ever breathed" according to his obituarist. But he had other interests in a very full life. In the early days he was a volunteer in the North Hants Yeomanry Cavalry, serving in Sir William Heathcote's troop. He was an active Mason, serving for successive years as Master of the Lodge of Peace and Harmony. He published two songs: Faith, Hope, and Charity and The Old Manor Farm. Both were set to music by Philip Klitz, the former being a favourite at Masonic festivals. In October 1854 he was granted a patent for the “preparation and manufacture of a pulp to supersede the use of rags and similar fibres in the manufacture of paper”. In June 1837 he took up the Southampton Club, Library and bookselling business of Mr Joyce at 169 High Street. For several years he was joint proprietor with Mr Nightingale of this firm of booksellers and circulating library run from the Advertiser's premises. In 1863 he became a director of the Southampton Imperial Hotel Company.
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