The Copeland Family

Ralph Copeland

This page outlines Ralph Copeland's family tree and contains links to pages with more information on individual family members. Ralph Copeland was the 3rd Astronomer Royal for Scotland and led a varied and adventurous life.

The information here and the associated pages has come from a variety of sources. These include the letters written to Fred Holloway, various on-line information sources such as the English, Scottish and Canadian (British Columbia) censuses and the Scotland's people birth, marriage and death records. Additional material has been gleaned from the late Hermann Bruck's (a later Astronomer Royal for Scotland) book, "The Story of Astronomy in Edinburgh".

I have since had the privilege and pleasure of speaking with his wife, Mary Bruck and discovered a wealth of additional information, including an obituary written by Copeland's good friend, Dr Dreyer and daughter Fanny Copeland's memoirs (never published) which describe a great deal more about Ralph Copeland and his family. In addition some Copeland family members have supplied additional information - not all of which is included here.

Copeland married twice, with two children from his first marriage and four from his second.

First Marriage

Copeland's first wife, Susannah Milner was also his first cousin. She died in Gottingen in 1866 of tuberculosis, 3 months after giving birth to their son Richard. Fanny Copeland (Copeland's eldest daughter by second marriage) made arrangements for her grave in Germany to be looked after in later years.

They had two children,

  • Elizabeth, was born in Gorton in 1860.
  • Richard Ralph was born in Gottingen on 11 July 1866.

    Second Marriage

    His second wife was Theodora (Anna Bertha Theodora Benfey). They married in 1871 after he had become established in Ireland with Lord Rosse.

    They had four children,

  • Fanny Susannah
  • Paula Theodora
  • Theodore Benfey
  • Agnes

    Ralph and family moved around a fair bit. By 1881 they were located at Lord Crawford's private observatory in Dun Echt (where Theodore and Agnes were born.) After his appointment as Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1889, they moved to 15 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh (the Observatory house) near the city observatory on Calton Hill.

    In 1895 they moved to the Observatory on Blackford Hill. The 1901 census shows them there (of the children only Theodore is still at home, although Agnes it turns out was visiting sister Fanny in Bedford.)

    Ralph died on 27 October 1905 as a result of heart disease and gangrene of the leg and is buried in Morningside Cemetery, Edinburgh, along with two of his daughters and his wife.