brian mckay's family tree
George Sutter (4)
George Sutter (4)
George Sutter is a bit of an enigma. By all accounts he was not a very pleasant man. At least two of his children appeared to disown him in their adult lives by stating him to be deceased on their wedding certificates, when he was in fact still living. It may well be that they had not seen their father in many years and just assumed him to be deceased, but they would seem to have had good reason to have disowned him. Their mother, Helen Smith, George's wife, died when some of the children were still comparatively young and some of them had to be put in a home because their father was unable or unwilling to care for them (see Robert Deans Sutter's page for more details).
For ages, George's birth had proved hard to trace. According to all of the censuses from 1861 to 1901, he was born in England which explains why it was difficult, but it did cloud his origins somewhat. However, after many years of searching and acting on a tip from a friend, I finally found his birth record.
On top of all this George died in the house of another woman, one Violet McKenzie of Comiston Road - at the time his usual residence was Grove Street, Edinburgh. Perhaps all very innocent, especially as he was aged 70 at the time, but my mother's words reminds us of his reputation - "the only time he came home was to 'bairn' his wife" My mum claimed that her father, Robert Deans Sutter, used these words.
We'll never know the truth. George may just have been a working man of his time, but his name is muddied in our family.
KEY EVENTS AND DATES
George Sutter was born in Howden Pans, Northumberland. His father was also George Sutter (5), a shoemaker and his mother, Robina Kerr, formerly Linsey Kerr. His father was the informant.
The Census tells us that George, aged 3, lived at 12 Stormont Street, St. Enoch in Glasgow. Also living there were his parents George and Robina Sutter and sisters Annie aged 7 and Margaret aged 1. The family obviously moved about somewhat. Robina and George had been married in Dalkeith and Annie had been born there also, but of course George was born in England and Margaret was born in Glasgow.
By this time the family had moved back to Dalkeith - Robertson's Close. On the night of the Census only George and Margaret lived there with their mother Robina. Robina was noted as the Head of the household, suggesting that George's father, George Sutter (5), had either parted from Robina or had died. (At this stage we have not found any record of Robina's husband's death and the census describes Robina's condition as married and not widowed!)
22nd April 1876
George's grandmother, Margaret Kerr (Paterson), died in Dalkeith. Her death certificate shows that George reported her death and that he lived at Robertson Close, Dalkeith at the time.
George, now aged 23, was still living with his mother, but by now was the only one of Robina's children still doing so. They were still living at Robertson's Close in Dalkeith, George's occupation was Corn Miller.
30th June 1882
George married Helen Smith in Dalkeith. Aged 25, George was still employed as a Corn Miller and still lived in Dalkeith. The marriage was conducted according to the rites of the United Presbyterian Church. Helen was aged 24 and also lived in Dalkeith.
2nd April 1883
George's first son, Alexander Kerr Sutter, was born at 6.15 a.m. at 176 High Street, Dalkeith. George's occupation was still that of a Corn Miller. George reported the birth to the Registrar.
5th June 1885
His second son, Andrew Smith Sutter, was born at 7.15 a.m. at 31 Balbirnie Place in Edinburgh. George was now a Grain Miller and again he reported the birth.
24th January 1887
The first tragedy in George's life that we know of was beginning to unfold with the birth of his son George again at Balbirnie Place. George was present at the birth. Sadly though George 'junior' died shortly after his birth, the cause being described as 'Premature Birth'. George reported both events to the Registrar the following day. Curiously though, the Registrar names on the two certificates were different - T. H. Menzies for the birth and Angus Matheson for the death.
7th January 1888
Twins George Lindsay Sutter and William Murray Sutter were born at 12 Noon and 12.45 p.m. respectively. Again the births took place at Balbirnie Place and George was present.
14th January 1888
George must have thought there was a curse on naming his offspring after himself when for the second time a son called George died in infancy. This time after 7 days (although curiously the death certificate gives the age as 12 days). The cause of death this time was 'Twin Birth Ination'.
5th September 1890
3rd time lucky - the third George and the second George Lindsay was born at 3 a.m. in 174 Scotland Street Glasgow. George was present and reported the birth to the Registrar. By this time George was a Journeyman Grain Miller and my assumption is that they had moved to Glasgow for a better job??
George now aged 33, lives at 174 Scotland Street, Tradeston, Glasgow. The house has two rooms with one or more windows and living there with him are his wife Helen and their children Alexander, Andrew S., William M. and George L. Also living there was a William Scott described as a cousin.
21st May 1893
Robert Deans Sutter, the last of George's children and my grandfather, was born at 3.45 p.m. in 67 Seamore Street, Glasgow. George was a Journeyman Grain Miller.
4th July 1896
George's only daughter Elizabeth Agnes Murray Sutter was born at 2.15 a.m. in Hillview Cottage, Hawick. This time the birth was not reported by George but by Agnes Lambert, who is described as 'Grand Aunt'. As can be seen from the 1891census entry above, George had been living with his wife as late as then, but my assumption is that by 1896 Helen has moved back to her place of origin, probably as a result of her parting with her husband.
By the time of this Census, George and Helen were definitely living apart. George is recorded as being a Boarder at a Lodging House in Burgess Street, South Leith and as being 'Single' (divorced perhaps?). He was aged 43 and was still employed as a Grainmiller. Interestingly, for the first time a middle name is ascribed to George - Scott - thus cementing the link to his grandparents George Souter and Ann Scott.
29th March 1928
George died aged 70 at 144 Comiston Road. The enigma continues though. The informant of George's death was Violet S. McKenzie of 144 Comiston Road and there has always been a question mark over this - was Violet George's fancy woman or, was their a hospital or nursing home at that address (a bit of investigative work required here). George's usual residence was in fact 72 Grove Street, Edinburgh which is between Haymarket and Fountainbridge. At his death George's occupation was reported to be a Dock Labourer. He died of quite a variety of things - Malignant Disease of the Prostrate, Bilateral Hydronephrosis, Chronic Bronchitis, Valvular Disease of the Heart.
So did George deserve his bad press? Probably yes. He was present at the births of most of his children and does seem to have been in steady employment. Possibly he was badly affected by the deaths in infancy of two of his children. Nevertheless, the reports of his behaviour as indicated in the records of Quarriers Homes, where his children went in to care, would seem to suggest he was a thoroughly bad lot (see Robert Deans Sutter's record). It really is tempting to think of his 'friendship with Violet as being something scandalous, but the chances are there is a perfectly good explanation.