Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Story of the Coupe Family................. another from Tony Goluding

This story developed out of another I am researching which for me encapsulates the most fascinating and important aspect of history as a subject. How we are all intricately bound up with each other and with the events large and small which shape all our lives. 

I have been conscious for some time that I had not recorded the stories of any Roman Catholic Soldiers from the Chorlton-cum-Hardy area who were casualties in the Great War. In an effort to locate some of these men I began to investigate the roll on St Bede's College Memorial. There I found three members of the Coupe family (of the well known old furniture shop!). Two were from the First World War and one from the second.

Private Noel Peter Coupe:-
(K.i.A. 3/7/1916 France)
Lance Corporal Basil Coupe:-
(Died 17/7/1916 France)
Flight Sergeant Leonard Peter Coupe:-
(K.i.A.  20/12/1943)

Noel Peter Coupe was  born in Sale during the June quarter of 1899 and a pupil of St.Bede's Roman Catholic Grammar school when he enlisted (very probably under age) along with his elder brother Basil into the so-called "Public Schools Battalion", the 20th Royal Fusiliers. Basil, who was born in Brooklands in 1893, a fellow old boy of St. Bede’s, was to die also on the Somme before the end of that fateful July. The brothers were two of the family of 6 sons and one daughter of Peter and Louisa Margaret (nee. Wilton).

Peter and Louisa married in 1879 and in 1911 lived with their children at 37, Manley Road, Whalley Range later they had moved to 29, Dartmouth Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Peter Coupe was a commercial traveler in the furniture trade a calling later followed by his eldest son Vincent Bernard who, having survived war service in the Royal Fusiliers and the Labour Corps, was to open a large shop on the corner of Manchester and Wilbraham Roads. Another of Peter's six sons, Leonard had died, at the tragically young age of 25, on the 23rd. November, 1913 just months after marrying Madelaine Patricia O'Connor. Then in 1919, Herman Francis one of the remaining brothers emigrated to New Zealand with his new bride Wynneford (Née. Holland) who he had married in Hastings, Sussex in the March quarter of that year.

Vincent Bernard Coupe was the eldest son of Peter and Louisa born on 5th February, 1886 in Manchester. He married Margaret Eleanor (nee. Ritchie) in Liverpool during the June quarter of 1920 and as stated followed his father into the furniture and carpets business. By 1939 he had settled in Manchester Road No 23 (which had a Chorlton-cum-Hardy Labour Party - community hall in a neighbouring garden)

(21A. Manchester Road - A.E.Landers - M.18059)

Adjacent to where the family shop was located for many years. The 1939 register shows Vincent's mother living with him, his father having died in 1925 not long after retiring to Prestbury, Cheshire.
Leonard Peter , the only child of Vincent and Margaret, was serving as an air bomber with R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve, attached to the 428 Sqdn. Royal Canadian Air Force, when he was killed, aged 21, just before Christmas 1943. He is interred in the Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Leonard Peter also attended St. Bede's Grammar School.

Interestingly, whilst Vincent Bernard did not pass away until May of 1974, the business seems to have been run by his wife judging by the signage on the shop frontage.

 There are a few other records which reveal some more of this interesting family's history viz.
1) The baptismal records of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Ashton-upon-Mersey include three of Peter and Louisa's children :-
Leonard - born 5th. April, 1888.
Herman Francis - born 22nd. June, 1890. &
Basil - born 27th. January, 1893.

2) Census returns show Peter and Louisa moving from South Villa, Poplar Grove, Sale, and Cheshire in 1891 to Lythm on the Fylde coast of Lancashire in the 1901 census, which also reveals the 15 year old Vincent as apprenticed to a furniture dealer. 1911 shows them at their Whalley Range address.

3) Peter and Louisa were married in 1879 in the Chorlton district and possibly had an earlier child who died as a baby. The records have a boy, named George Vincent, both born and died in the Chorlton district in the June quarter of 1882 with a burial in a community grave of Southern Cemetery on 20th. June of that year.

4) Herman Francis and his wife appear on the electoral roll of Auckland, New Zealand for 1925.  These antipodean records also indicate that Herman Francis died in Victoria, Australia, in 1968. After appearing on a ships passenger list of 9th. June, 1922 travelling to Quebec, Canada with two young daughters aged 1 and 2 Mrs. W. Coupe drops out of the records I've consulted. Revealingly this passenger list gives her address whilst in the U.K. as 29, Dartmouth Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

5) Vincent Bernard's war record reveals that he enlisted in the same unit as his two younger brothers on 13th December, 1915 before being transferred to the Labour Corps. He saw service in France and was Discharged (with a Silver War Badge) as "unfit for further service as a result of impairment through wounds received ----" on 20th September, 1918.

6) Peter Coupe was born in 1860 at Fulwod, Preston, Lancashire his father, Joseph, being a corn miller and publican. Peter's wife Louisa was born in Patricroft, Nr. Eccles and the couple’s first home was with Louisa's widowed mother, Jane, at 55, Carter Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock.

7) A 1933 directory has Vincent and Margaret located at 4, Abbotsford Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

8) Mary Ethel, born Manchester December quarter, 1883 Peter and Louisa's first (surviving) child and only daughter trained as a teacher and remained single all her life. She died in 1964 and was buried on 16th. May, in the same grave in Southern Cemetery as her brother had been more than half a century before. This grave H. 1121 in the Roman Catholic section also saw the interments of her parents: Peter on 28th. March, 1925 and Louisa on 10th. March, 1948.  In a separate grave G.492 lie the remains of Vincent Bernard, buried 14th.May, 1974 and Margaret Eleanor, buried 13th. March, 1963.

© Tony Goulding, 2016

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; the Coupe family business, A E Lander, 1959, m18269, St. Bede's College 1910, m66019 and 21A.Manchester Road, A.E.Landers - m18059 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,


  1. My husband worked at M.E. Coupe's from 1962-2004. Vincent B.(Vinnie) clearly moved further down Manchester Road as after our marriage in early 1963 we lived in the top flat of 25 Manchester Road: a double fronted semi at the end of the road, now the precinct car park. He also owned 27 Manchester Road and rented the top and middle flats and used the ground floor for storage. Vinnie lived in the bottom flat of 25 and a nephew by marriage, who also worked at the corner shop lived with his family in the middle flat. We moved with Vinnie to Ryebank Road in 1964 living on the 1st floor until we moved again in 1965. Further to the above. Vinnie's 1st wife was Margaret Eleanor Coupe, hence the name above the shop. Vinnie remarried in 1965 but it was his son Michael Coupe that took over the shop until he sold it to Croma. Mike has since died.