Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870

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Epithet: Surgeon

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000572.0x000340

Jonathan Couch was an English naturalist and physician from the fishing village of Polperro in Cornwall.

From the description of Papers, 1840-1870. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 173466245

In many ways, Jonathan Couch was a prototype of the Victorian provincial naturalist, a trained physician whose eclectic, but intensely local interests ran from the life sciences to geology, folk beliefs, and local history. The only child of Richard Couch and Phillipa Minards, Couch was born on March 15, 1789, at Polperro, a fishing village on the Cornish coast. After receiving a sound classical education at the Dame School and later at Bodmin Grammar School, Couch began a medical apprenticeship under Dr. John Rice of East Looe in 1803, and from 1808 to 1810, he completed his medical studies at the united St. Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital in London. Returning to Polperro to practice medicine, Couch seldom again left Cornwall.

Despite the burdens of a busy medical practice, Couch began exploring an array of topics of antiquarian and natural historical interest from almost the moment of his return home. Bracketed by a profoundly local perspective, his interests ran the gamut from history and archaeology to Cornish folk beliefs, dialect, and the local flora and fauna. He became best known for his work on the life-blood of Polperro, its fisheries. Training the local fishermen to make natural historical observations and to assist him in bringing in rare specimens, Couch dissected and illustrated hundreds of fish over more than three decades of research, taking meticulous care to depict the colors of the live fish as accurately as possible. In recognition of his contributions, he was made a fellow of the Linnaean Society.

Couch was a regular contributor to several journals, including the Imperial Magazine, the Transactions and Proceedings of the Linnaean Society, and the Annals and Magazine of Natural History . His major publications include A Cornish Fauna (Truro, 1838, 1841), a three-volume translation of Pliny's Natural History (London, 1847-1849) published by the Wernerian Club of London, and the posthumously published The History of Polperro (Truro, 1871). His most important publication was the exhaustive four-volume History of the Fishes of the British Islands (London, 1860-1865), a seminal work that contained over 250 colored plates.

Thrice married, Couch was followed in medicine by all three of his sons, and his eldest son, Richard Quiller Couch, became a noted naturalist in his own right. Couch died in Polperro in 1870 at the age of 81.

From the guide to the Jonathan Couch Papers, 1839-1891, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870. [Natural history of Cornish fishes. Pen and ink drawings from the ms.] [microform]. Princeton University Library
creatorOf Cooper, Astley, Sir, 1768-1841. Mr. Cooper's and Mr. Cline's lectures on anatomy - the autumnal course, 1808, begun Oct. 1 : with medical extracts and cases beginning at page 219 / taken by Jonathan Couch. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Library. Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection. 1668-1983. American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Jonathan Couch Papers, 1839-1891 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870. Papers, 1840-1870. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Bewick, Thomas. History of British birds : manuscript, 1797-1822 and undated. Houghton Library
creatorOf Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870. The natural history of cornish fishes : manuscript, 1844. Princeton University Library
creatorOf Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870. Notebook of medical lectures, 1808-1847 London, Middlesex Co., England. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Rutherforth, T. (Thomas), 1712-1771. Rutherforth's physicks : manuscript, [ca. 1748] Houghton Library
creatorOf Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870. The natural history of Cornish fishes / by Jonathan Couch. American Museum of Natural History
referencedIn (I. ff. 446). 22 Jan.-15 Mar. 1852.includes:f. 1 Bishop Wearmouth, Durham: Petition to the Postmaster General: 1852. f. 3 James Robertson, of Calcutta: Petition for a place in the General Post Office: 1852. f. 5 Frank Farnan: Letter to the Postmast... British Library
creatorOf Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870. Notes on the habits of British stalk eyed crustacean animals. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Bewick, Thomas, 1753-1828. Thomas Bewick collection, 1818-1826. Princeton University Library
creatorOf Couch, Jonathan, 1789-1870. Allen's lectures on experimental philosophy : with the signals made at the signal stations : at the end, annals of George the fourth / Jonathan Couch ; Polperro, Cornwall. Bakken Library & Museum of Electricity In Life, Bakken Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873 person
associatedWith Allen, William. person
associatedWith Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820 person
correspondedWith Bewick, Thomas, 1753-1828. person
associatedWith Cline, Henry, 1750-1827. person
associatedWith Cooper, Astley, Sir, 1768-1841. person
associatedWith Cooper, Thomas, 1759-1839 person
associatedWith Couch, William person
associatedWith Coues, Elliott, 1842-1899 person
associatedWith Cowper, B. Harris, (Benjamin Harris) person
associatedWith Cuvier, Georges, Baron, 1769-1832 person
associatedWith Darlington, William, 1782-1863 person
associatedWith Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882 person
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Dunn, Matthais. person
associatedWith Dunn, Matthias person
associatedWith Edison, Thomas A., (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Everett, Edward, 1794-1865 person
associatedWith Exeter, Jonathan person
associatedWith Fitch, John person
associatedWith Fulcher, Thomas person
associatedWith Genth, F. A., (Frederick Augustus), 1820-1893 person
associatedWith George IV, King of Great Britain, 1762-1830. person
associatedWith Gray, Asa, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 person
associatedWith Greenough, George Bellas, 1778-1855 person
associatedWith Harding, Warren G. person
associatedWith Hardy, James person
associatedWith Herschel, John F. W. (John Frederick William), Sir, 1792-1871. person
associatedWith Hocken, Edward Octavius person
associatedWith Moxon, Charles person
associatedWith Moxon, Charles. person
associatedWith Munford, George. person
associatedWith Munford, George, 1794-1871 person
associatedWith Newcomb, Simon person
associatedWith Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727 person
associatedWith Peach, Charles William, 1800-1886 person
associatedWith Pliny, the Elder. person
associatedWith Pliny the Younger person
associatedWith Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851 person
associatedWith Rittenhouse, David, 1732-1796 person
associatedWith Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813 person
associatedWith Rutherforth, T. (Thomas), 1712-1771. person
associatedWith Saunders, Robert person
associatedWith Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864 person
associatedWith Seybert, Adam, 1773-1825 person
associatedWith Slater, J. W., (John William) person
associatedWith Sole, Edward person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Stevens, Henry person
associatedWith Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872 person
associatedWith Thomson, Charles, 1729-1824 person
associatedWith Tregenna, Mr. person
associatedWith Trelawny, Anne person
correspondedWith Unidentified correspondent person
associatedWith Von Kienbusch, Carl Otto Kretzschmar, 1884-1976, person
associatedWith Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865 person
associatedWith Watkins, Henry person
associatedWith Watkins, Henry. person
associatedWith Wayne, Anthony person
associatedWith Wernerian Club person
associatedWith Wernerian Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Wernerian Club (London, England) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Stirling, Scotland
Bishop Wearmouth, Durham
Sheffield, Yorkshire
Birkenhead, Cheshire
Great Britain
Malmesbury, Wiltshire
Wissett, Suffolk
England--Cornwall (County)
England--Cornwall (County)
Beyond Early America
Developmental biology
Evolution (Biology)
Fishery law and legislation
Human evolution
Natural history
Natural history
Public health
Signals and signaling


Birth 1789-03-15

Death 1870-04-13




Ark ID: w6891qrb

SNAC ID: 21809408