The Family Places Tour- Part 1 Westminster, 2014

The Family Places Tour, 2014
Part 1- Westminster

I really enjoy the television series Who do You Think You Are? because it allows the subjects, celebrities, to walk in the steps of their ancestors. They are taken to the places where they lived, worked, etc. My most recent trip to England had that kind of feel to it. I tried, where possible, to visit places associated with my most recent discoveries, the Cutlers, Windhams, and Guises.

When in England I was able to watch an episode of Who do You Think You Are? with Brian Blessed. It was the oddest of viewing experiences. Each moment for him was an over the top expression of deep connection to an ancestor, often with little to give in the way of information. For example, at Old St Pancras Church in London he was told the names of his several greats, a wedding date, and an occupation. He was enchanted, connected, thrilled. It was a lovely church (and coincidentally where Mary Cutler married Frederick Paul in 1861) and the information a great start – but connected? It would not be enough for me.

I need a bit more to get excited, and while I seriously enjoy going to these “family places”. I don’t shiver, or feel them there. It is more like a confirmation, okay; this was the place, hmmm. It is like an added layer to my research process. And of course as a historian, research makes me very happy.

So while there were no shivery moments I got a lot out of the experience. I will begin the “Gillian Family Roadshow” with St Margaret’s Church and Westminster Abbey. My cousin Susan and her husband Peter accompanied me on my London leg of the tour.

St Margarets Church (1)

We approached the Churches from the Houses of Parliament. It was here that William Windham II worked when he was MP for Norfolk, and Minister of War under Pitt. Although most of the building he would have known are now gone, it was here, this spot where it happened. It was part of his world.

St Margaret’s Church is the lovely white church next to Westminster Abbey. When the Abbey had been built the monks found the presence of the public a bit unsettling, and had St Margaret’s built. And because the Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) were nearby , well, the members came to worship here, and made it their church. I have been to Westminster Abbey a few times, and never gone into the adjoining church. I took pictures, but I didn’t really bother.

It was here that my great xs Grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Guise married the Rev John Cutler in 1786, and her sister Frances married Jean Victor Baron in 1789 and John Wright in 1801. The church has changed a bit since that time. There is a picture in the guidebook shows in 1809 there was a very large and ornate pulpit at the front of the altar area. We asked the nice man shooing the people taking pictures and he didn’t know where the marriage ceremony would have been positioned vis-à-vis the altar.

St Margaret's Church interior- postcard

St Margaret’s Church interior- postcard

This was also the church where they would have worshipped regularly. While Richard Guise would have worked at the Abbey’s services his wife and children would not likely have attended, rather they would have gone next door with other ordinary people.

Interior of St Margaret's Church dated 1809 - from guidebook

Interior of St Margaret’s Church dated 1809 – from guidebook

It was really a lovely church. I was really missing out during my last visit. Even without the family connection this church is worth a visit.

We next went next door to Westminster Abbey. After blanching at the £18 admission fee, we asked if we could visit the North Cloister without paying that fee. That is all we wanted to see after all, and amazingly enough, this was possible!

I had received the instructions to finding where Frances Guise and her father Richard were buried from Christine Reynolds (Apr 2013) who is assistant Keeper of the Muniments at the Abbey. She told me there seems not to have been a monument for him or Frances, but that he was buried near the markers of Boyd Carpenter and P Dearmer, in the second bay of the North Cloister. A very nice man in the Abbey took us there. It is a peaceful place, despite the hoards of tourists. The markers with names on them are very recent (20C). Richard died in 1806.

Richard and Frances are interred near my feet in the North Cloister

Richard and Frances are interred near my feet in the North Cloister

It was a lovely place and I am glad to have seen this area. before I left I thanked Richard for being interred there and not in the Abbey itself, thus saving Susan, Peter and I money.

Posted in British History, Family History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never Again- Honouring the First World War Centenary

As the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War is being marked around the world, I thought that I would share some of my thoughts about this war, and its legacy.


My maternal grandfather and all of his male cousins fought in this war, and Victor, his cousin, died in the conflict. The First World War marked him; and like many of his compatriots, he did not talk about it. It was indescribably horrible.

So many people died in this war. Lives were taken, altered and futures changed. In the aftermath of the war those touched by it were moved to change. They began to call the war “the war to end all wars,” and vowed “never again” and “never forget.” The great grief and the desire to see that such sacrifice was not in vain is most visible in the construction of memorials to the fallen. Every town, neighbourhood, business, and country built cenotaphs, erected plaques and named buildings in honour of the dead.

But humans are rather foolish, and very quick to forget. We haven’t learned from their blood and sacrifice. Their monuments remind us of very little; or rather we don’t internalize the message of loss. Wars continue to be waged. As we commemorate a hundred years since the start of the First World War numerous armed conflicts are underway.
How can we really mark the First World War’s centenary? I believe it is by honouring life, to learn from the enormous sacrifices made, and the loss of so many people. No issue should be resolved by the taking of lives. Rather than letting people die for a cause, give them a chance to live.


Posted in 20C, Commemoration, Social commentary | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mapping the Windham-Guise-Cutler Families in London, 2014

I was thinking about how the Windhams, Guises, and Cutlers seemed, to a great extent, live not far from each other, or, chose to inhabit certain sections of London. So, I decided to map them out on Google Maps. Now, a lot of the addresses are approximations because the London of the late 18th to mid 19th century does not necessarily translate well to 21st century London, but there are clues.


I should admit that I think a lot of John Cutler living in Camberwell has a lot to do with the fact that his wife’s family, the Freaks, lived in that area. However, a lot of histories of the area he lived in describe it in glowing terms as part of the new middling developments in the London area, so it could also have a lot to do with class, income and the ability to buy a bigger house.

I will soon make a Freak Cutler map to compliment this map.

You can access this map here

Posted in 19C, British History, England, Family History, Genealogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Montreal Athletic Games, 1843

Montreal Gazette, 30 September 1843, page 2
Athletic Games

Second Day

The weather was still more favourable this day than on yesterday, and the sports commenced with—

Steeple race, over 4 feet hurdles, 200 yards – Won by Ed. Lamontagne; second Aug. Lamontagne. Six competitors started.

Quoiting – Won by J McNider; second E Hagan. 10 competitors.

Short foot-racer, 120 yards – Won by F Lamontagne; second A Lamontagne; third E Courselle. 15 competitors.

Pulling heavy ball (24 lbs) – Won by Captain Young: distance thrown, 25 feet 9 inches. Second Mr Casey, 10 competitors.

Running hop step and leap- Won by M Ryan, distance 33 feet 2 inches. Six competitors.

Standing hop, step and leap – Won by Mr Ryan, 25 feet. Eleven competitors.

Long foot-race (one mile) Won by Osetakets (Indian); second Tatieshensers (do); third Aneratenhoe (do). Eleven competitors.

Wrestling, collar and elbow – take by Escott (without contest).

The running in the short foot-race was very fine; and the short hurdle-race was won by Mr Lamontagne, in a manner that would do credit to any sporting district, even in the old country. In the long foot-race, the Indians left all the competition far behind; but probably the chief sport of the day was the playing of the Indian national game of Lacrosse, by a number of young Indians, and some young gentlemen who joined them. It is, undoubtedly, the most beautiful game of the kind we have ever seen; and the activity, grace, swiftness, and strength displayed by the players equally delighted and astonished us. Besides the game mentioned above, there was a pig-race, in which a soldier was the winner; and the victor in the wrestling prize having walked off so easily with his booty, a private match was got up in which the champion, a big man, was beaten, with all the ease in the world by a little Dutch-built Irishman, of the name of O’Connor. There was another wrestling match between two soldiers, but it created no sport. With this last, the amusement of the day ended. We may as well mention here, that Captain Young, the winner of the prize for the heavy ball, handsomely gave it up to the Committee.

We regret that, not withstanding the fineness of the weather, the attendance was not so great as might have been expected. We trust, however, that the gentlemen who so strenuously exerted themselves to get up the present games will not be disconcerted, but persevere in their praise worthy undertaking of introducing these good old healthy amusements of our fathers among us. That they will both continue their exertion and meet with final success we feel persuaded. We cannot close these few remarks without mentioning the Secretary, Mr Myers Solomons, whose activity, good humour, firmness, and love of fair play were so conspicuous throughout the continuance of the games; and whose zeal and attention were so instrumental in getting them up.

Posted in 19C, Canada, sports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Etiquette on eating oranges and lettuce, 1922

Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage by Emily Post, New York and London, Funk & Wagnalls Co, 1922/37.


In well appointed houses a silver-bladed knife should be given you with all leafy salads, but if you happen to be given none, you do the best you can by cutting each leaf into very small pieces and eating it in postage-stamp samples. At all events, beware of rolling the fork and wrapping springy leaves around the fork in a spiral.


Never suck an orange in a restaurant, or at a table anywhere – unless at a picnic. You can peel it and divide sections and eat it in your fingers; or cut it in half and eat with a spoon, or cut it in any way you like best. My own favourite way is to cut off the rind with a sharp knife, then holding the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, cut the peeled orange in half crossways and cut into small pieces and eat with a fork.

Posted in 20C, Social commentary | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

And then there were dinosaurs (WE Cutler)

And then there were dinosaurs

One of the wonders of doing my family history has been the contributions made by others to my research. I have received a number of really great contacts, and help from my blog readers. It has been awesome. I thought that I would share one of the stories coming from my research and someone else’s research coming together.
To start with, I will recap my Cutler family tree as it relates to this story.

and then there were

William Henry Cutler, the brother to my Great-great-great grandmother Mary Cutler, was married to Emily Taylor, and they had twelve children. But being a man who clearly could multi-task, he also had two children with Roberta McKenzie Watson. One of them was William Edmond Cutler, who was born 23 July 1878 in London. His brother was Henry Clarence Cutler, who was born in 1880.

(I should mention that with this family, this was not the first illegitimate birth- it seems like a bit of a tradition)

I found out about William Edmond from Andrew in England, who was most interested in William’s paleontological work, he found me through this blog, using the key words of Louisa Freak Cutler (WE’s grandmother).

Image from Tyrell Museum of Paleotology

Image from Tyrell Museum of Paleotology

While a David Spalding’s Into the Dinosaur’ Graveyard, says that William moved to Canada as a child, from evidence I have been able to turn up, and Andrew has, he actually moved to Canada as an adult. The 1921 Census says he came here in 1897 (age 19). He made his living as a palaeontologist in the badlands. He was actually quite known in the dinosaur industry of the time, and collected bones which now are in the collections of the Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology, and the Natural History Museum in London, among others.

See: article 1
article 2

When the First World War began, he took time off his dinosaur quests, and enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving at Ypres, where he was wounded. He survived the First World War, and returned to Alberta to resume his digging.

Service record from Library and Archives Canada

Service record from Library and Archives Canada

Around 1921 he returned to the UK and was hired by the Natural History Museum to search for dinosaurs in Africa. Off he went, with his assistant Louis Leakey, to Tanginyika in 1924. Cutler died there of ‘Blackwater fever.’

What I have found in the historical Record:

1891 Census living at 23 Notting Hill in Kensington with his brother Clarence H Cutler, both listed as sons presumably of the man living at 22 Notting Hill, who is listed as “head” James WH Avery. Visitor listed in 23 Notting Hill called John NJ Watson, age 45.
1900 From New York to Liverpool, William E Cutler, Rancher.
1909-10 Electoral Roll for North Division, Maitland Park- 11690 Cutler, William Edmund, 2 Thurlow Terrace.
1910 – April 29, Empress of Ireland from St John to Liverpool, William Cutler, English age 32, tourist.
1919- Nominal Roll of men to be discharged in Canada, William Cutler. Arrive St John.
1921 Census living in Macleod, Alberta, as a lodger in the household of Harry Nash, came to Canada in 1897, lists his job as forest ranger, and earned 372$ in the last 12 months.
1924 Arrival at Liverpool from New York, William Edmund Cutler, Geologist, address care of Director of British Museum of Natural History, London, Canadian.

I had an interesting talk with Andrew about WE Cutler, and of course his relationship with the family. He and his brother were baptized as Cutlers, so were acknowledged by their father, if not raised by him. Also it is interesting to note that WE’s brother Henry named his son after his father. Not much is really known, and it is not certain that he knew his Aunt Mary Paulin in British Columbia when he moved to Canada. Or did he? It is possible, and would certainly have been a useful contact to have.

Cutler appears to have had an education, although it is not clear where or to what level he achieved. One of his jobs was with the University of Manitoba, but not sure what his qualifications were. The Badlands of Alberta were literally the Wild West, and many people of great and dubious qualifications were there digging up bones for the world’s museums and collectors. That WE Cutler is still known among these circles means he was not bad at what he did.

What is really cool is that there is a dinosaur named after him, the ‘Scolosaurus Cutleri.’

Scolosaurus Cutleri

Scolosaurus Cutleri

There is so much more to learn! I know that there is a planned biography underway on WE Cutler, which I am looking forward to. The more I learn about the Cutler family, the more fascinated I become.

Posted in 20C, British History, Canada, Family History, Genealogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poem from the Disgusted Wife to her Husband, 1844

Montreal Gazette, 29 May 1844, page 3


(The disgusted wife to her husband)

You promised to leave off your smoking;
The day I consented to wed.
How little I thought you were joking;
How fondly believed what you said!
Then, alas! How completely you sold me,
With blandishments artful and vain;
When you emptied your snuff-box, and told me
You never would fill it again!

Those fumes, so oppressive, from puffing,
Say, what is the solace that flows?
And whence the enjoyment of stuffing;
A parcel of dust in your nose?
By the habits you thus are pursuing
There can be no pleasure conferr’d;
How irrational, then, is so doing!
Now it is not very absurd?

Cigars come to threepence each, nearly,
And sixpence an ounce is your snuff;
Consider how much then, you yearly
Must waste on that horrible stuff.
Why the sums in tobacco you spend, love,
The wealth in your snuff-box, you sink,
Would procure me of dresses no end, love,
And keep me in gloves; only think!

What’s worse, for your person I tremble,
‘Tis going as fast as it can;
Oh! How should you like to resemble
A smoky and snuffy old man!
Then resign, at the call of Affection,
The habits I cannot endure;
Or you’ll spoil both your nose and complexion,
And ruin your teeth, I am sure.

Posted in 19C, Canada, Social commentary | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment