Thomas Coupe

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Thomas Coupe
Thomas Coupe.jpg
Born 1818 (1818)
New Brunswick, Canada
Died December 27, 1875 (1875-12-28)
Whidbey Island, Washington
Nationality American
Occupation Ship's Captain
Known for Captain of several sailing ships, early settler of Whidbey island

Captain Thomas Coupe (1818 – December 27, 1875) was a ship's captain and early settler of Whidbey Island.

Thomas Coupe was born in New Brunswick, Canada [1] and began going to sea at the age of 12. Coupe sailed the North American Atlantic Coast until the early 1850s. Coupe sailed to the Puget Sound area in 1852 on the sailing vessel Success, a ship in which he was half owner.[2]

The Whidbey Island home of Thomas Coupe, photographed in 2010
Thomas Coupe grave marker

Under the Donation Land Claim Act, Coupe established a 320 acre claim in the central part of Whidbey Island upon which the present town of Coupeville now stands.

Aside from the founding of Coupeville, Coupe is perhaps best known for having sailed a full-rigged ship through Deception Pass, famously claimed to being the only such passage through the pass without the aid of steam or modern engines.[3]

Coupe was also the sailing master on the Jefferson Davis, the first revenue cutter on Puget Sound. Coupe retired to his farm on Whidbey Island, remaining there until his death in 1875. He is buried in the Sunnyside Cemetery in the central Whidbey Island area.[4]

Coupe had a son, George M. Coupe, also a ship captain and engineer.


  1. ^ 1870 US Census
  2. ^ Lewis & Dryden's marine history of the Pacific Northwest, E. W. Wright, 1895
  3. ^ Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, History & Culture section at National Park Service website,, last accessed January 2011
  4. ^