|Died||13 April 1870 81) (aged|
Jonathan Couch (15 March 1789 – 13 April 1870) was a Cornish naturalist, the only child of Richard and Philippa Couch, of a family long resident at Polperro, a small fishing village between Looe and Fowey, on the south coast of Cornwall.A blue plaque on the wall of Warren cottage commemorates his birthplace.
After receiving a sound classical education in Cornish schools, and some years' pupillage with two local medical men, he entered the united hospitals of Guy's and St. Thomas's in 1808, and in 1809 or early in 1810 returned to Polperro, which he was rarely to leave, dying on 13 April 1870, aged 81. For sixty years he was the doctor and trusted adviser of the village and neighbourhood, and used with remarkable shrewdness and perseverance the great opportunities afforded to a naturalist at Polperro.
He trained in succession a large number of fishermen to aid him in his pursuits, and the observations made at and near Polperro during his lifetime and since his death have not been equalled in value at any British station. He was in correspondence with many of the foremost naturalists, and especially rendered aid to Thomas Bewick and to William Yarrell. Another correspondent was Thomas Edward, of Banff, who sent him numerous fish specimens whose identification was doubtful.Among his local fellow-workers and coadjutors, each of them notable, were C. W. Peach, Matthias Dunn, and William Loughrin.
Couch's principal work was done in ichthyology. In 1835 he obtained a prize offered by Mr. J. Buller of Morval for the best natural history of the pilchard, printed in the third report of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, and also separately. He had before this given much assistance to Bewick in his British Quadrupeds, as well as in relation to his projected Natural History of British Fishes, and Yarrell was still more indebted to him in his British Fishes, to all three editions of which (1836, 1841, and 1859) Couch was a copious contributor.
His Cornish Fauna , (part i. 1838, part ii. 1841), completed by his son Richard Quiller Couch in 1844, was another valuable piece of work. But his magnum opus was A History of the Fishes of the British Islands, with coloured illustrations from his own drawings, (4 vols., London, 1860–65). This is a storehouse of information, carefully collected and sifted, as to the habits of fishes, and in many cases the illustrations give unique representations of the vivid natural colours of fishes while yet alive or immediately after death. A multitude of shorter papers and notes on natural history were contributed by Couch to the Imperial Magazine, edited by his friend Samuel Drew, from 1819 to 1830, the Transactions and Proceedings of the Linnean Society , the Magazine of Natural History, the Reports of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall , the Reports of the British Association , Annals of Natural History, the Transactions of the Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society , the Zoologist, the Intellectual Observer, &c., which are recorded in Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, (i. 89–92, and iii. 1138), and in the History of Polperro (a less complete list). He also contributed to Land and Water, under the signature 'Video.'
His Illustrations of Instinct, deduced from the Habits of British Animals, (1847), is a very interesting book. He translated Pliny's Natural History , with notes, and vols. i. and ii. and parts i. to v. of vol. iii. were published by the Wernerian Club, (1847–50). He left behind him in manuscript Notes and Extracts on Subjects of Natural History, and bearing on the ancient condition of the Science, now in the library of the Royal Institution of Cornwall; A Treatise on Dreams; Historical Biographies of Animals known to the Ancients; Materials for a History of the British Cetacea; A Journal of Natural History, being the result of my own observations or derived from living testimony, (1805–70, 12 vols.; figures of Cornish shells, coloured); A Natural History of Cornish Fishes, with pen-and-ink and coloured figures, (1836), in the library of the Linnean Society. This is the volume employed by Yarrell in his British Fishes, and quoted by him as 'Couch's MSS.' Dr. F. Day published a series of most interesting extracts from Couch's manuscript journals in Land and Water from 11 August 1883 to 29 March 1884.Other albums of his original drawings of fishes are in the John Rylands Library, and the Natural History Museum As a local naturalist whose conscientious and loving observation of nature has made a lasting impression on science, he deserves to rank beside Gilbert White.
Couch was a Methodist of the Free Church. His sincere religious views tinctured much of his writing and influenced his social conduct. Couch was an excellent local antiquary, as to words, customs, and remains. The History of Polperro, (1871), issued after his death by his son, T. Q. Couch, is his chief work in this department. The stories in this book were re-used by Louisa Sarah Ann Parr in her successful novel about smuggling titled Adam and Eve.
Couch left three sons by his second wife: Richard Quiller, Thomas Quiller (father of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch), and John Quiller, who all became surgeons (Quiller being their mother's maiden name and Quiller's House the family residence). Thomas practised successfully at Bodmin, and died on 23 October 1884, aged 58. He was a constant contributor to Notes and Queries , two series of his articles, The Folklore of a Cornish Village, 1855 and 1857, being incorporated in the History of Polperro to which he contributed a sketch of his father's life. The welfare of the fishermen and the prosperity of the fisheries were equally his care. He also published lists of local words in the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (1864 and 1870), afterwards expanded and included in a Glossary of Words in Use in Cornwall, issued by the English Dialect Society in 1880. He did some useful preparatory work in Cornish bibliography, afterwards incorporated in the Bibliotheca Cornubiensis (Academy, 1 Nov. 1884, p. 289).
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch was a Cornish writer who published using the pseudonym Q. Although a prolific novelist, he is remembered mainly for the monumental publication The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 and for his literary criticism. He influenced many who never met him, including American writer Helene Hanff, author of 84, Charing Cross Road and its sequel, Q's Legacy. His Oxford Book of English Verse was a favourite of John Mortimer's fictional character Horace Rumpole.
Thomas Bewick was an English wood-engraver and natural history author. Early in his career he took on all kinds of work such as engraving cutlery, making the wood blocks for advertisements, and illustrating children's books. He gradually turned to illustrating, writing and publishing his own books, gaining an adult audience for the fine illustrations in A History of Quadrupeds.
Thomas Pennant was a Welsh naturalist, traveller, writer and antiquarian. He was born and lived his whole life at his family estate, Downing Hall near Whitford, Flintshire, in Wales.
Sir William Jardine, 7th Baronet of Applegarth FRS FRSE FLS FSA was a Scottish naturalist. He is known for his editing of a long series of natural history books, The Naturalist's Library.
Prideaux John Selby FRSE FLS was an English ornithologist, botanist and natural history artist.
William Yarrell was an English zoologist, prolific writer, bookseller and naturalist admired by his contemporaries for his precise scientific work.
Polperro is a large village, civil parish, and fishing harbour within the Polperro Heritage Coastline in south Cornwall, England. Its population is around 1,554.
Talland is a hamlet and ecclesiastical parish between Looe and Polperro on the south coast of Cornwall. It is in the civil parish of Lansallos and consists of a church, the Old Vicarage (Talland) and a few houses.
The field elm cultivar Ulmus minor 'Stricta', known as Cornish elm, was commonly found in South West England and Brittany until the arrival of Dutch elm disease in the late 1960s. The origin of Cornish elm in England remains a matter of contention. It is commonly assumed to have been introduced from Brittany. It is also considered possible that the tree may have survived the ice ages on lands to the south of Cornwall long since lost to the sea. Henry thought it "probably native in the south of Ireland". Dr Max Coleman of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, arguing in his 2002 paper on British elms that there was no clear distinction between species and subspecies, suggested that known or suspected clones of Ulmus minor, once cultivated and named, should be treated as cultivars, preferred the designation U. minor 'Stricta' to Ulmus minor var. stricta. The DNA of 'Stricta' has been investigated and the cultivar is now known to be a clone.
Nickanan Night is a Cornish feast, traditionally held during Shrovetide, specifically on the Monday before Lent.
Cornish mythology is the folk tradition and mythology of the Cornish people. It consists partly of folk traditions developed in Cornwall and partly of traditions developed by Britons elsewhere before the end of the first millennium, often shared with those of the Breton and Welsh peoples. Some of this contains remnants of the mythology of pre-Christian Britain.
Joan the Wad is a mythological character in Cornish folklore. She is the Queen of the Pixies, which are tiny mythical creatures usually associated with the counties of Cornwall and Devon in England.
Richard Quiller Couch,, British naturalist, eldest son of Jonathan Couch, was born at Polperro, Cornwall, UK on 14 March 1816. After receiving a medical education under his father and at Guy's Hospital, London, where he gained several honours and prizes and obtained the ordinary medical qualifications, he returned to Polperro to assist his father, and employed his leisure in careful zoological study.
Fishing in Cornwall, England, UK, has traditionally been one of the main elements of the economy of the county. Pilchard fishing and processing was a thriving industry in Cornwall from around 1750 to around 1880, after which it went into an almost terminal decline. During the 20th century the varieties of fish taken became much more diverse and crustaceans such as crab and lobster are now significant. Much of the catch is exported to France due to the higher prices obtainable there. Though fishing has been significantly damaged by overfishing, the Southwest Handline Fishermen's Association has started to revive the fishing industry. As of 2007, stocks are improving. The Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee is one of 12 such committees responsible for managing the corresponding Sea Fisheries District. The Isles of Scilly Sea Fisheries Committee is responsible for the Scilly district.
Couch is a surname. It has two different origins. It is a Cornish name thought to have derived from Cornish "cough" (red) and to have been a nickname for a redheaded man. The Cornish surname appears in 1160 as "Coh" and over the centuries as "Coch," "Cogh," "Cooch," "Cough," "Cuche," "Cowche," "Cowtch," "Coutch," etc., until the spelling became standardized in recent centuries, generally as "Couch." There is also an English name Couch which probably originated as a name for a maker of beds or bedding. The English surname has variant forms Coucha, Couche, Coucher, Couchman and Cowcha.
The Natural History of Ireland is a four volume work by William Thompson. The first three volumes were published by Reeve and Benham, London between 1849 and 1851. Volume 4 was published by Henry G. Bohn, London in 1856. The Natural History of Ireland is very influential of later developments.
William Yarrell's A History of British Birds was first published as a whole in three volumes in 1843, having been serialized, three sheets every two months, over the previous six years. It is not a history of ornithology but a natural history, a handbook or field guide systematically describing every species of bird known to occur in Britain. A separate article of about six pages, containing an image, a description, and an account of worldwide distribution, together with reports of behaviour, is provided for each species.
Emily Stackhouse was a 19th-century Cornish botanical artist and plant collector. She collected and painted flowers and mosses throughout the British isles, and her work was widely reproduced in a series of popular books issued by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Many of her watercolours show that she had collected and depicted specific plants years earlier than their accredited discovery in Cornwall, and it is now acknowledged that she collected and classified nearly all of the British mosses.