Gilliandr's Blog

Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments



A historian and traveller.

Lazarus Cohen, Obituary, Montreal 1914

Montreal Daily Star, 30 November 1914, page 3

Lazarus Cohen Well Known Here, Died on Sunday

After a short illness Lazarus Cohen of L Cohen & Son, coal merchants, died yesterday at 228 Bishop Street.

Mr Cohen was born in Russian Poland in 1844 and came to Canada when about twenty years of age. Beginning his American career in Moberly, Ont., as a merchant and lumberman he established a sound business and became favourably known throughout the Sharbot Lake country.

Thirty years ago he came to Montreal.  He was deeply interested in charity work and communal affairs.  He was an officer of the McGill College Avenue Synagogue and was the president of that institution for several years.

The Hebrew Free School on St Urbain Street was erected chiefly on his initiative.  He was a benefactor of the Mount Sinai Sanatorium, a life governor of the Montreal General Hospital and a life governor of the baron de Hirsch Institute.

Besides being the senior member of L Cohen & Son, he was a member of the firm of WR Cuthbert & Co.  He was also interested in a number of dredging companies and some of the most important dredging in the St Lawrence River has been conducted under his personal supervision.

He is survived by his widow and two sons, Lyon Cohen and AZ Cohen.  The funeral took place this afternoon from the residence to the McGill College Avenue Synagogue.  Interment was in the Shaar Hashomayum Cemetery.


The Matter of Elizabeth Cutler Bennison, 1889

When there is a will – there is a way – but not always a good way


On the 3rd of January 1887, Elizabeth Bennison died aged 81.  A childless widow, she left behind a large extended family of nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews to mourn her passing, as well as an estate valued at £7340 19s 10d. In her will she left this healthy estate through a number of bequests, to nineteen different people, some of whom were servants, but most who were the children and grandchildren of two of her brothers.

Despite the dizzying number of beneficiaries and the fact that the estate was connected to that of her previously deceased husband William, the two page will is straightforward and generally simple to understand.  Before explaining the distribution of this wealth, I will first sketch out the cast of characters.

Elizabeth Cutler was born in 1806 in Sherborne, Dorset, the youngest child and only surviving daughter of the Rev John Cutler and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Guise.  At the time of her birth, her father was the headmaster of Sherborne School.  The family was quite large, with ten children born to them between 1787 and 1806.  The range shows the large gap in age between the eldest child and the youngest. Four of her siblings had died in infancy.

Family Chart 1:

Rev John Cutler (1756-1833) & Sarah Elizabeth Guise (1762-1833)

George Annesley Cutler (1787-1798)

Henry Cutler (1788-1839)

William Cutler (1791-1791)

Charlotte Ann Cutler (1792-1793)

John Cutler (1794-1843)

Rev Richard Cutler (1794-1873)

Edward Cutler (1798-1874)

Frederick Cutler (1799-1858)

Ann Cutler(?)

Elizabeth Cutler (1806-1887)


Without any diaries or other personal documents from Elizabeth and her siblings, it is difficult to judge what her relationship was with her family.  Her position as youngest and only surviving daughter was no doubt significant to how she was raised, and likely a factor that influenced the fact that she married William Bennison after the death of both of her parents.  I will leave my speculations on birth order there.

In leaving the bulk of her estate to the descendants of only two of her brothers, it is clear that she was picking favourites.  So who were they?  The first brother was John Cutler, who was born in 1794.  John first worked as a clerk in the Royal Ordnance Office at the Tower of London, and then took over the Windsor and Eton Waterworks after the death of his uncle William Henry Cutler in 1833. John acted as a witness to her marriage to William in 1835.  In John’s will (dated 1841 and probated in 1843) Elizabeth and her husband William were given guardianship of his three oldest children, despite the fact that his wife survived him.  In fact John’s will was explicit in its desire to sever the tie between mother and child, stating that his oldest children, Elizabeth, Louisa and William Henry [from here called WH 1] had to steer clear of their mother, not to visit or live nearby, in order to inherit his estate.  He lets his youngest daughter Mary stay with her mother Louisa Freak Cutler. Elizabeth Bennison was the only sibling or family member outside his wife and children whom he mentions in his will.  It is clear that he held her in high regard.

Family Tree 2:

John Cutler (1794-1843) & Louisa Freak (1806-1874)

Elizabeth Cutler Churchill Longman (1828-1915)

Fanny [Louisa] Cutler (1834-c1850)

William Henry Cutler (1835-1895) [WH1]

Mary Cutler (1836-1921)


The second brother was Henry Cutler, who was born in 1788.  He married Catherine Cole and together they had two children: William Henry [from here called WH 2] born in 1818 and Catherine born in 1819.  Henry’s wife died shortly after their daughter’s birth, so it possible that Elizabeth might have played some role in their upbringing.  WH 2 became a solicitor and practised in London.  He had a large family of ten children with his wife Emmeline O’Callaghan.  Catherine married Sprott Boyd, a Scottish doctor, and emigrated to New South Wales in 1857. They had three children John (b.1841) Robert Mitchell Boyd (b.1849) and Frances Isabella Fitzgerald (b.1848).

Family Tree 3:

Henry Cutler (1788- ) & Catherine Cole (1793-1819)

William Cutler [WH2] & Emmeline O’Callaghan      Sprott Boyd (1814- ) & Catherine Cutler (1819-1894)

Catherine (1854-1949)                                                          John Archibald (1842-1926)

Julia Ada (1855- )                                                                     Robert Mitchell (1849- )

Constance Emmeline (1857- )                                            Frances Isabelle (1848- )

William Windham Guise (1858-1934)

Edith Georgina (1858-1863)

Herbert Lygon (1862- )

Lennard (1865-1951)

Beatrice Erica (1867-1872)

Lilian Mona (1869- )

Gerald Waring (1875-1935)


In writing her will, Elizabeth appointed two men as her executor, men she must have trusted them to see that her estate was protected and her last wishes honoured.  Her first executor was Sprott Boyd.  Sprott and Catherine had returned from Australia in the 1880s with their widowed daughter, Frances and her daughter Elizabeth. Their sons had stayed behind.  By all appearances the family was living a comfortable retirement at a fashionable address in London’s Pimlico. In the 1881 census they had a housemaid, parlour maid, lady’s maid and a cook.

The second executor was Henry Lygon Cutler, the son of Elizabeth’s nephew WH 2, and Sprott’s nephew.  Henry was a solicitor like his father, and had been practising in London.  Elizabeth then,  had chosen two close relatives who were well educated and respectable to guide her estate.

The stage is set, and the characters introduced, and it is time to relate how the estate was settled out.    According to the will the money was to be distributed as follows:

Sprott Boyd Administration: Niece’s husband ½ of Mary Spencer’s trust if she dies and £100 in stock
Herbert Lygon Cutler Administration: Great-Nephew ½ of Mary Spencer’s trust if she dies and £200 in stock
Mary Ann Spencer Husband’s niece £500 in trust
Elizabeth Churchill Longman Niece 3% Annuities, £600
William Henry Cutler [1] Nephew £500
Beatrice Swinley Cutler Great-niece (daughter of WH 1] £100
Lilian Cutler Great-niece (daughter of WH 2] £300
Julia Cutler Great-niece (daughter of WH 2] £300
Constance Cutler Great-niece (daughter of WH 2] £300
Windham Cutler Great-nephew (son of WH 2) £200
Edward Samuel Carpenter   Windham Clock
Elizabeth Susan Lawrence Servant Suit of mourning and £80
Bertha Russell Servant Suit of mourning and £40
Hubert Bennison Churchill Longman Great-nephew (son of Elizabeth Churchill Longman) Inheriting her husband’s estate, and if he dies it goes to his uncle WH 1
John Archibald Boyd Great-nephew (son of Sprott Boyd) Residue of estate in equal shares with siblings
Robert Mitchell Boyd Great-nephew (son of Sprott Boyd) Residue of estate in equal shares with siblings
Frances Isabelle Fitzgerald Great-niece (daughter of Sprott Boyd) Residue of estate in equal shares with siblings


In March 1889 WH 1 acting on behalf of his sister Elizabeth Churchill Longman filed a suit in the courts against Sprott Boyd and Herbert Lygon Cutler for the recovery of the amounts due to them from the estate of Elizabeth Bennison. It appears from newspaper coverage of the case, that Herbert Cutler was responsible for the managing of the financial portion of the estate.  After selling the 3% consolidated bank annuities, Herbert had his Uncle Sprott co-sign cheques made out to WH1, his daughter Beatrice, and his sister Elizabeth, and rather than delivering them to the beneficiaries, he endorsed them with forged signatures and disappeared.  His departure was not before he destroyed all the estate’s paperwork.  And he disappeared totally, as I have been unable to find any trace of him in the genealogical record.

WH1 and Elizabeth Longman sued their cousin’s husband for their money, stating that they did not consent to the sale of the 3% stock, and that as executor, he was responsible for the sums due to them.  While the court felt that the sale of the stock was within the rights of the trustees of the stock, they agreed on the second point.  While they were sympathetic to the defendant’s position and the hardship the judgment would cause, they stated that an executor had the responsibility to distribute the sums stated in the will if the estate could cover the.  Sprott was ordered to pay £618 to Elizabeth Longman, £515 to WH1, and £103 to Beatrice Cutler.

And so it ended.  There is no indication that Sprott failed to reimburse his wife’s cousins.  The newspaper coverage concentrated on the most spectacular nature of the theft – after all it was a lot of money, and he had been in a position of trust, there is a far more spectacular story of a family in turmoil.  In knowing the relationship between the executors and legatees, plaintiffs and defendants, it speaks to a far deeper wound to the family.  Herbert stole money from the estate of his great-aunt, he deprived his cousins of their inheritance, and left his uncle holding the bag.  And then he disappeared, destroying the estate papers before he left, which no doubt had an effect the dispursal of the rest of the estate, which impacted more cousins and siblings. Cousin sued cousin, and in the end it was more than just money.


  • National Archives, Probate 11/1979
  • Western Daily Press, 20 March 1889, page 3
  • Bristol Mercury, 30 March 1889, page 8
  • The Law Times Reports of Cases Decided in the House of Lords, the Privy Council, the Court of Appeal, the Chancery Division, the Queen’s Bench, the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division, and the Court for the Consideration of Crown cases Reserved, Vol LX from March to August 1889, London, Horace Cox, page 859.
  • The Admission Registers of St Paul’s School from 1748 to 1846, edited with Biographical Notices and Notes on the Earlier Masters and Scholars of the School from the Time of its Foundation, Rev Robert Barlow Gardiner, London, George Bell and Sons, 1884, page 359.
  • 1881 Census, St Giles in the Fields, London
  • 1891 Census, Bath, Somerset
  • 1881 Census, Westminster
  • Will of Elizabeth Bennison, Principal Registry, 1885
  • Burke’s Distinguished Families of America, London, Burke’s Peerage Ltd, page 2573-4
  • England-Wales National Probate Calendar, 1887.

Archives contain the darndest things….1938

I was doing research in the Archives today and came across this letter.  While the file is not restricted, I have taken the liberty of editing out the author’s name.

RG 3 Vol 2188 File 11-23-6 Pt 1

Viking, Alberta

March 21, 1938

The Postmaster General,

Ottawa, Canada

Dear Sir,

I was to receive a set of ten Sex-books free if I enrolled for a course of Health and Strength building from Charles Atlas in New York within a certain time.

This I did and I have wrote him asking for the books.  He replied, saying, that due to a recent Canadian ruling his books could not be sent to Canada as they were not allowed across the Canadian Border.

Is this so?  I can’t see why these books should not be allowed in Canada as there are sex-books sold here as well as in the States.

Will you please answer this letter as soon as possible.

I understand there is no duty on gifts, so would these books come free of duty?  as they were to be a gift.

Yours truly,


April 6th, 1938


Box 52,

Viking, Alberta

Dear Sir,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 21st ultimo respecting the importation into Canada of books relating to a course of Health and Strength Building by Charles Atlas, New York.

In Reply, I may say that as this is a matter coming under the jurisdiction of the Department of National Revenue, we have transferred your letter to that department for attention.

Yours Truly,


Oldest Lady in Glengarry, 1869

Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 23 May 1869, page 2


A Scoto-Canadian paper says: “In Glengarry (Canada) there is at present living a woman who is 126 years of age.  Her name is Anne Campbell.  She was born in the Island of Skye, in the parish of Brakadale.  At the age of 85 she emigrated to Canada, where, if she survives till next fall, she will have lived 42 years, making her age 127 years.  During all this time she has never had occasion to seek medical aid, nor has she ever as much as tasted medicine.  She is still in possession of all her faculties.”

Cercle Canadien of Beauharnois, 1878

Montreal Gazette, 4 January 1878, page 4


Cercle Canadien of Beauharnois


The performances given by this Club at the town of Beauharnois on the 26th and 27th ultimo received full and hearty applause.  The comical pieces, “La Conversion d’un Pecheu” and “La Chambre a deux lits,” were loudly cheered and deserve a special mention.  MM J Deslauriers and M Payan, who acted in these two dramas, contributed greatly to amuse the audience and to render the entertainment most creditable. “Le Duel a Poudre” was received with shouts of enjoyment and laughter, particularly by the ladies, who showed how they sympathised with the unfortunate fate of “Pelo de Patauville” rendered by MA Painchaud.  A number of amateurs gave their services, and a large crowd was present in the hall.  The band of the 64th Batallion performed its portion of the soiree in very good style. The object of this performance was for charitable purposes and for the maintenance of the Club.  “Le Cercle Canadien” recruits its members amongst the most intellectual youth of Beauharnois and the most influential citizens of the locality.  The Club since its formation has always stood in high esteem in the county of Beauharnois, and every one hopes that it will have a long life.  The patriotic object which associates its members is fully rewarded by the deep consideration which it enjoys in this part of the Province of Quebec.

Acock’s Green Star v St George’s Wanderers, Birmingham, 1881

Birmingham Daily Post, 30 December 1881, page 5



Acock’s Green Star v St George’s Wanderers – This match was played on the ground of the former club, at Acock’s Green on Tuesday.  The home team kicked off at 3 pm, uphill.  The Star only played nine men.  After a pleasant match, the Acock’s Green Star were victorious by eight goals to none.  Acock’s Green Star: Goal Taylor; back F Pauline; half-back, Hart; forwards, Adams, Langley, EA Pauline (Captain), Neale, Stevens and Bradburn.  Wanderers: Goal, Tandy; backs, Ashton and Griffiths; half-back Ashton; forwards, Truman (captain), Cook, Dial, Underhill, James, Butler and Bidmer.

Acock’s Green Star v. St George’s Rangers – This match was played at Acock’s Green on Tuesday, and, after a well-contested game, ended in favour of the Rangers by one goal to none.  Acock’s Green Star: Goal, Adams; back, F Pauline; half-backs F Jenkins, Hart and Stephens; forwards Langley, Bradburn, Pauline (Captain), A Jenkins, Taylor and Stevens.

Service Clubs hold Annual Ball, Victoria, 1924

Victoria Colonist, 8 Feb 1924, page 7


Service Clubs to Hold Annual Ball

Gyro Orchestra will furnish music for Fete at Empress on March 3 – Gyros Offer ideas


The service clubs of Victoria will hold their first annual ball on Monday evening, March 2 in the Empress Hotel Ballroom, Gyro George Paulin told members of the Victoria Gyro Club, at their weekly luncheon gathering yesterday noon in the Hudson’s Bay private dining room.  The Kumtukians, Gyros, Kiwanians and Rotarians are joining together to make this function one of the outstanding affairs of its kind of the season.

Mr Paulin told the Gyros that dancing at the Service Club’s Ball would be held from 9 to 2 am, and the music would be provided by the Gyro Orchestra under the leadership of Gyro Chris Wade.  Supper will be served during the evening.  Messrs George Paulin, Frank Hurton and Earl Duke are representing the Gyro Club on the joint service clubs’ committee which is arranging the ball.

The Gyros are enthusiastically behind the Service Club Ball, and will do all in their power to make it a conspicuous success.  The first suggestion of a combined service clubs function was sponsored by the Gyro Club several months ago, and President Finland stated that it was unfortunate that the service clubs had not had such entertainments in the past.

The luncheon was observed as members’ day, and many and varied suggestions of promoting the organisation’s welfare were received. The need of a class for encouraging members in public speaking, the necessity of the hold of introduction stunts, the inauguration of stunts in the weekly luncheon programme, and the advisability of all members wearing their badges at luncheons, were ideas amongst others, advanced for consideration.

Temperance Among the Indians, St Francis, Quebec, 1878

Montreal Gazette, 22 Jan 1878, page 2


Temperance Among the Indians

A very interesting temperance meeting was held among the Indians of St Francis on Friday last, January 18th.  For a number of years the Church of England has been laboring in that place, and there, as everywhere else, the influence of the Gospel has been neutralized by the thirst of the Indian for intoxicating drinks.  By the efforts of the Revds Octave and Alfred Fortin a beautiful brick church and a comfortable parsonage have been erected in the village.  Through intercourse with the neighbouring French and travel in the United States most of the Indians have acquired a limited knowledge of both English and French.  It is nevertheless, very difficult to reach many of them, especially the young, except through the medium of their own language.  And that has been another serious drawback to the work of the church.  The meeting was called by the Rev Edouard Roy, the present incumbent, and the late director of the Sabrevois College.  The Rev Edwin Benedict, the incumbent of Bristol, PQ and the Rev LN Tucker, the curate at Sorel, occupied seats in the chancel, while about one hundred persons occupied the pews of the church.  The majority of those present were Protestant Indians; there was, however, besides these a goodly number of Roman Catholic Indians and Roman Catholic French-Canadians.  After prayer and singing, the Rev E Roy made a short address and introduced the Rev LN Tucker, who spoke in French.  In the course of an earnest address, the reverend gentleman showed the evils, physical, moral and spiritual, resulting from intemperance, and urged upon his hearers, as men and as Christians, to renounce the death-fraught cup.  The Rev E Benedict next spoke in Indian.  This young man is a native of St Francis, and an Indian.  He studied for some time in the Sabrevois institution, and after undergoing a thorough course of theological training in the Divinity School in Faribault, Minnesota, was admitted on the 17th of June last by Bishop Whipple to the office of Deacon.  For half an hour Mr Benedict kept the audience spell-bound.  He showed, in the most eloquent terms, that alcohol is neither food to nourish the body nor medicine to cure its ailments, but that it is a mere stimulant; that man for the good of his body and of his mind should be temperate in the use of all things; and that the first of God’s creatures dishonors his Maker when he degrades himself to the condition of a drunkard.  The Rev Mr Tucker again came forward to speak in English.  He alluded in fitting terms, to the greatness, moral and material, of the old Indian tribes, and urged upon his hearers, as individuals, to emulate the virtues and the honor of their ancestors, and to break from the degrading bonds of intemperance.  The meeting, as a whole, was a great success.  Hymns in English, in French and in Indian were sung in very good style.  And the Indians and the white men returned to their homes, some resolved to sign the pledge, and all deeply impressed and edified by the words of counsel and of exhortation they had heard.

Expecting a lot from the new couple! Harry and Megan, 2017

Yesterday Clarence House announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Megan Markle, capping off weeks of speculation in the press about the status of their relationship.  They are engaged, which is wonderful news – after all who doesn’t like to hear about a couple in love?  And in times of especially scary and bad news, it makes a pleasant change.  I, for one, am pleased for them.

But I must say that in watching the way in which the news discusses the couple – I find it problematic.  While both seem to be rather sensible about the public fuss surrounding them, it just seems that they are facing so many unreasonable expectations.

To some degree, this is true for all newly engaged couples.  Society seems to expect that once a couple have announced their intention to stay together for the rest of their lives, that they must have developed some well-honed and well-thought out life plan, one which naturally fits into society’s predominant view of how married couples function.  You will live together, she takes his name, and naturally the required number of children will be born – the white picket fence view of normalcy.

It is still surprising to me that people who have themselves gone through the whole engagement/marriage deal without a great degree of forethought and planning, somehow expect other couples to conform to this model.

For Prince Harry, these expectations are amplified because he is a public figure, and also because his position as a member of the British royal family.  His marriage choices, and ultimately his potential offspring impact the smooth operation of the constitutional monarchy for the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and various other countries in the Commonwealth.

He and Megan now are required to navigate the expectations of a very vocal public and press, who feel that they have a say in how they choose to life their lives together.  Questions which all newly engaged couples seem to get, like – ‘do you want a family?’ are weighted with more importance.  Even more personal questions are asked which are really no one’s business but the couple’s, but are somehow justified by their position in the royal family and the public sphere.

In their interview with the press after the announcement they seemed to deal well with the scrutiny, and I hope, in their eyes, managed to maintain a level of personal privacy that they were comfortable with.  But it is just the beginning of what will be a circus leading up to their wedding.

While both stated that they ignored the press reports of their relationship, good and bad, they still live within the society that produces it, and they will still encounter people who pay it more mind in their daily lives, whether they want to or not.  There will be pressures of varying sorts to have children, wear certain clothes, behave in certain ways.  It all begins now, and will ramp up for the wedding in May, and of course beyond.

We only have to look at the scrutiny on his brother William’s marriage.  Everyone was ga-ga for his choice, and then there was the pressure for the first pregnancy –after all there was the need for the heir, then the second pregnancy.  When it was announced that Catherine was expecting their third child, well then there was the criticism – shouldn’t they limit their family?  And of course there is the bump watch – look at her tummy – is she pregnant?  How pregnant is she?  Maybe it is twins?  Isn’t she big?  She should give birth now –really?  Is she really wearing that?  What are they naming their child (have you placed your bet?).  It is an unparalleled level of scrutiny, and most of it is intrusive and can be rather unkind.  All things Harry and Megan can look forward to.

I am sure a lot of people are saying to themselves that I am a bit of a hypocrite; after all I follow the Royal Family rather intensely, and do collect rather tacky souvenir items that have their images on them.  Mea culpa.  But I like to think that I have a line I don’t cross, which is impinging on their personal lives, and making strong judgements on things that are not my business.  They are entitled to a private life.  What they choose to share is enough.  And I guess that is what this post is about.  They deserve some privacy.

I understand the nature of their constitutional role, and that unfortunately their reproductive lives plays a part in this, but I am loathe to say that I have a right to know all the intimate details of their lives.  I don’t.  I dream of a time when we as a public are a lot kinder to people in the public eye, and we don’t add such extra pressures on them.  Living a good life is challenge enough.

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