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.
One of my more recent successes regarding George (and potentially others) is that, by subscribing to Ancestry.com, in May 2022, I have found a number of Electoral Roll entries for him. Some of them are definitely him, because addresses agree with ones I already have. The others are more difficult to be certain of, but the chances are they are his and I've included them in the 'Key Events and Dates' section below. Unfortunately, the images don't reproduce very well.
Through the Electoral Roll entries, I found that he lived at 72 Grove Street for a few years before his death in 1928. He was still living there at the time of his death, although he actually died elsewhere, at 144 Comiston Road, Edinburgh. Further research revealed that, in 1928 numbers 70, 72, 74 and 76 Grove Street was the site of a "superior lodging house for working men". This makes sense as the various Electoral Roll records we have when George lived at 72 Grove Street, shows that at least 120 people (mostly men) lived in 72 alone. The same building is now Brooks Hotel. Click her for further information.
When I first discovered George's death record and found that he had died in a different place from his place of residence and that his death had been informed by a Violet S McKenzie of 144 Comiston Road, I had speculated that Violet might have been a 'love interest'. It turns out, though, that 144 Comiston Road was actually the address of a geriatric annexe (and later 'The Workhouse'), of Edinburgh City Hospital. It seems that the use of 144 on death certificates was commonplace as a way of disguising that a person had died in 'The Workhouse. See here for more information. It was fun to think of George still dallying with the ladies, particularly, as 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 full truth of what George was like as a man. He may simply have been a working man of his time, but his name is muddied in our family.
KEY EVENTS AND DATES
Birth - 28/06/1857
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.
Census - 1861
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.
Census - 1871
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!)
Death of Margaret Kerr (George's Maternal Grandmother) - 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.
Census - 1881
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.
Marriage - 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.
Birth of Son, Alexander Kerr Sutter - 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.
Birth of Son, Andrew Smith Sutter - 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.
Birth and Death of Son, George - 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, at Balbirnie Place. George (4) 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.
Electoral Roll - 1887/88
According to a record found in Ancestry.com, George Sutter was living at 31 Balbirnie Place, Edinburgh in the Municipal Ward of St George's. This is the same address he had been living in, at least since 1885 when his son, Alexander, was born.
Birth of Twin Sons, George Lindsay Sutter and William Murray Sutter - 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.
Death of Son, George Lindsay Sutter - 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'.
Birth of Son, George Lindsay Sutter - 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??
Census - 1891
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.
Electoral Roll - 1892/93
This record shows that George has moved to 67 Seamore Street in the Eleventh Ward of Glasgow, Lanarkshire. His occupation was Miller and he was described as "Tenant and Occupant".
Electoral Roll - 1894
The record is identical to the one for 1893.
Birth of Son, Robert Deans Sutter - 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.
Birth of Daughter, Elizabeth Agnes Murray Sutter - 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.
Census - 1901
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.
Death of Wife, Helen Sutter (nee Smith) - 12th June 1903
George's wife, Helen, died somewhat prematurely at 6.10 p.m. at 147 Comely Park Street, Glasgow. She died from Chronic Interstitial Rephritis and Uralmic coma. Her death was reported by her son Alexander and George's continuing existence was acknowledged through the description of Helen's condition as "married", i.e. not 'widowed'.
Electoral Roll - 1918/19
This record covers the period of 1st October 1918 to 15th March 1919. It shows George Sutter staying at 6 Argyle Street in the Burgh of Leith and that he was a Labourer. At this point, it is not certain that this our George, but it is possible.
Electoral Roll - 1919
This record shows the same as the one above for 1918/19, i.e. George Sutter was staying at 6 Argyle Street in the Burgh of Leith and that he was a Labourer. At this point, it is not certain that this our George, but it is possible.
Electoral Roll - 1919/20
George continued to live at 6 Argyle Street and was a labourer.
Electoral Roll - 1920
This record shows George Sutter staying at 6 Argyle Street in the Burgh of Leith. At this point, it is not certain that this our George, but it is possible.
Electoral Roll - 1921/22
This record shows George Sutter was then staying at 27 Marshall Street in the Municipal Burgh of St Giles, Edinburgh. As with his later residence in Grove Street, this address has multi-occupancy, so may have been a lodging house. In this case there is no indication of occupation, but nor was that shown for anyone else on that page.
Electoral Roll - 1924
Still at 27 Marshall Street
Electoral Roll - 1924/25
This record shows that George was still living at 27 Marshall Street..
Electoral Roll - 1925
This record shows that George is still living at 27 Marshall Street.
Electoral Roll - 1925/26
George is still living at 27 Marshall Street
Electoral Roll - 1926
In this case George is listed on a page under the heading - "LIST OF PERSONS NO LONGER QUALIFIED AS ELECTORS". This is how he was recorded in 1929, but that would have been because he was deceased by then. Obviously that was not the case this time, so my assumption is that he had probably moved to Grove Street by then; certainly he shows up living in Grove Street in the 1927 record.
Electoral Roll - 1927
According to a record found in Ancestry.com, George Sutter was living at 72 Grove Street in Edinburgh, in the Dalry Municipal Ward. This is the same address quoted as his 'usual residence' on his death certificate.
Electoral Roll - 1927/28
George is still living at 72 Grove Street.
Death - 29th March 1928
George died aged 70 at 144 Comiston Road, although his 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.
Electoral Roll - 1928/29
As George died on 29th March 1928, the chances are he was already deceased when this Roll was published. However, unlike one of the previous Rolls straddling two years, this one does not give the start and end dates, so I can't be sure. In this record George is still shown as living at 72 Grove Street, in the Municipal Ward of Dalry, Edinburgh.
Electoral Roll - 1929
Although George had died by this time, his name was still recorded in the Electoral Roll against Grove Street. He was listed under the heading of ....
"LIST OF PERSONS NO LONGER QUALIFIED AS ELECTORS"
So, did George deserve his bad press? Probably YES. In his defence, he was present at the births of most of his children and he does seem to have been in steady employment for most of his life. Possibly though, he was 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 into care, would seem to suggest he was a thoroughly bad lot, (see Robert Deans Sutter's page). It really was tempting to think of Violet S McKenzie as being one side of a scandalous relationship (as I did for some time), but the truth is probably that she was a member of staff at the Workhouse.