brian mckay's family tree
Robert Deans Sutter
Robert Deans Sutter
Robert Deans Sutter was my 'Granddad' and he was great at it. Whatever his faults as a parent and as a person (and there were some), he made a great job of being a Granddad. He could be stern and let us know when he was displeased, but he also spoiled us and created adventures for us.
Synonymous with Granddad was Victoria Cottage in Moffat. For all the time I knew him, apart from the last few months of his life, Granddad lived in Moffat. We used to spend nearly all of our summers down there with him and my Mum - Dad came down some weekends. The cottage was small and we (Rab and I) slept in the attic. There was a skylight in the attic through which the moon shone and we could hear the owls hooting at night. The garden was quite small with a rose bush in the middle and a large patch of foxgloves on the left hand side looking out, but it was a real adventure playground for us. Strangely, when at Sunday School we were told the story of the Garden of Eden, I always imagined it to look like the garden at Victoria Cottage. Looking back, it was probably the only garden I had any real experience of, so perhaps it was not too surprising that I related Eden to it.
Granddad had an old fashioned roll top bureau and a swivel chair which, when we turned it upside down, we pretended was the steering wheel of a ship. Granddad's favourite trick was to perch his glasses above his forehead and pretend he had lost them. "They're on your head Granddad" we'd scream, but he'd pretend he couldn't hear or couldn't understand. (I do that now with my own grandchildren.)
He used to take us for long walks in the woods or down to the boating lake in the park. Saturday night was always down to the High Street where the local pipe band played stationed by the Ram statue. Great days. we still go down to Moffat now and then and I make a point of driving through it whenever I journey down to or back from England.
KEY EVENTS AND DATES
21st May 1893
Robert was born at 3.45 p.m. in 67 Seamore Street, Glasgow. His parents were George Sutter (4), a Journeyman Grain Miller and Helen Smith. By the time Robert was born, his parents had already had 6 children, although at least two had died.
4th July 1896
Robert's only sister, Elizabeth Agnes Murray Sutter, was born in Hillview Cottage, Hawick.
I mentioned elsewhere how Robert's father was rarely at home and how it seemed that his children were moved about somewhat. This Census record seems to bear that out. Robert, aged 7, was living with his maternal grandfather, Andrew Smith on the night of the Census, as was his brother, Andrew (15) and sister, Elizabeth (4). They were living at Ormisbank Cottage, Waverley Road, Dalkeith.
Andrew Sutter was employed as a "Gardener (Domestic)" and was aged 68. Also living there was Agnes Smith, Andrew's daughter, a spinster aged 39 and employed as a housekeeper. It says she worked at home, so presumably kept house for Andrew.
By now, Robert, aged 17, had moved to stay with another relative; this time his Uncle Robert Smith(37), living at 111 Cardross Street, Dennistoun, Glasgow, (Parliamentary constituency of St. Rollox.) Also living there was his Aunt, Agnes Smith, aged 47 and still a spinster. Robert was now in work and was employed as a 'Sugar Boiler' in a Confectionary. He was recorded as having been born in Glasgow, Lanark.
10th January 1917
Robert married Margaret McQueen (3), aged 23, at Park Manse, Helensburgh according to the rites of the United Free Church. At the time Robert, aged 24, was a Chauffeur Private with the British Expeditionary Force in France - and so was presumably home on leave. Helen lived at 19 William Street, Helensburgh. Interestingly, Robert's father George Sutter is recorded on the marriage certificate as being 'deceased', even although he was very much alive at the time. it can only be speculation, but there is a strong possibility that Robert had disowned his father because of the way he appears to have treated his wife and his children. The witnesses were Thomas Niven and Agnes Mungal Copeland.
21st February 1920
Robert's first son, Robert Smith Sutter, was born at 65 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh. Robert was the informant and according to the birth certificate he was present at his son's birth. Sadly, he was also at his death five days later, also at West Clyde Street, when he died as a result of 'malformation of the heart'. At the time Robert was employed as a Telephonist by the Post Office.
8th May 1921
Robert's 2nd son, William Deans Sutter, was born at 251 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow. Once again the informant was Robert himself, although the birth certificate does not state that he was present at the birth. Despite William's birth taking place in Glasgow, Robert's domicile is given as 65 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh. Don't know if there is any significance in this, although Robert's sister Elizabeth, may have lived in Blythswood at the time (she had married there a month earlier) and his brother Andrew had also lived there.
25th February 1925
Robert's daughter, Margaret Helen Sutter (my mum) was born at 14 Mackie Avenue, Port Glasgow. Again Robert was the informant and he was present. At this time, he was still employed by the Post Office in the Engineering Department.
2nd January 1927
Robert had another daughter, Rona Deans Sutter, born on this date, again at 14 Mackie Avenue, Port Glasgow. Robert was again the informant and was present. Still with the Post Office, Robert was then described as a Store Keeper.
14th February 1932
Robert's 3rd daughter, Elizabeth Smith Sutter (my Auntie Betty) was born, again at 14 Mackie Avenue. Robert was now a Post Office Linesman, but this time was not the informant. The informant was actually described as a neighbour - Williamina K. Patterson of 7 Broadshaw Avenue, Port Glasgow. So probably Robert was overseas at the time.
30th April 1932
Robert's wife Margaret died at home having suffered for 3 months from Mitral Stenosis, perhaps due to complications with her pregnancy? Robert was not the informant of his wife's death, so was probably out of the country again (had he ever got back after Elizabeth's birth?) . The informant was in fact one of Robert's brothers, but as his name is recorded as A. Sutter, I'm not sure whether it was Andrew or Alexander. At this time Robert's occupation was Telephone Engineer.
17th March 1950
Robert's daughter, Margaret (Mum), married Alexander Gillespie McKay, at South Leith Parish Church, Leith on 17th March 1950.
14th January 1960
Robert's daughter Rona died of Barbiturate Poisoning at the age of 33. The certificate doesn't actually say it was suicide, but that's what my parents told me many years later. Granddad was, I think, pretty ill at the time, so I'm not sure he was aware of it.
20th April 1960
Robert died aged 66, at 1.45 a.m. at Edenhall Hospital, Inveresk (just on the outskirts of Musselburgh). The cause of his death was recorded as Cerebral Thrombosis and Hypostatic Pneumonia. The certificate noted that his usual residence was 18 West Bowling Green Street, Leith. That was our house - I can remember Granddad staying with us and not being at all well. I didn't really understand what was wrong with him, although I remember I was aware that he had suffered from something called 'a stroke' or a 'shock' as my Dad called it. Granddad got pretty ill when he was with us - he couldn't walk or talk and he couldn't feed himself. I can remember him lying in bed in the same room as my brother Rab and I slept in. I don't think I was unnerved with this, just that I was sad that my Granddad, who I loved, was so ill. Later, I can remember going to Edenhall hospital on the bus with my Mum, a number of times, to see Granddad, but I don't think he really knew us. When he died, I don't think Mum and Dad told us right away, but they had to eventually and I can remember feeling sad and cried, but not a lot - 9 year old children are pretty resilient.
I don't recall equating the two experiences, but my brother Ronald was born less than a month before Granddad died, but I don't think he would have been well enough to have known him.
Robert Deans Sutter is buried in Warriston Cemetery beside his daughters Rona and Margaret (Mum). My Dad's ashes are also interred in the same burial plot.