Every now and then an individual from the past catches your attention and demands further research. Such is the case with my great grandfather’s second wife Mary Still. Though by the time they were married she was Mary Blair. Mary was born in 1826, and died in 1911; she had three children, and outlived four husbands. Mary Still was born in 1826 in that north-east corner of the Weald where East Sussex meets Kent, and she remained confused for the rest of her life about which village or county she had been born in. Her parents were John Still, a wheelwright, and Susannah Burrage who had married on the 7th September 1806 in Kemsing in Kent. Their first two children, Sarah and Ann were born in Woolwich, and it's possible that John put his woodworking skills to good use in the dockyards there. By the time Ann was baptised at the age of four in 1818, along with new sister Triphena, the family focus had moved back to the Weald. Ann and Triphena were baptised in Ashurst, as was their brother William. Triphena and William later give their places of birth respectively as Withyham and Blackham. Mary Still was baptised in Speldhurst on the 16th August 1835 along with her sister Harriet who had been born in 1829, and Denny Bottom or Rusthall near Tunbridge Wells remained the family home for about the next three decades. Mary subsequently gives her place of birth as Blackham, or Speldhurst or Tunbridge or Tonbridge, with counties being either Kent or Sussex for each! By the time of the 1841 census Susannah had been widowed, and she is living in Rusthall with her son William and daughters Mary and Harriet. Ellen Still, aged 1, and living at the same address is the illegitimate daughter of Triphena, baptised as Ellen Stone Still in Speldhurst on the 10th of May 1840. Triphena can't be far away, for in 1851 she is working as a nursemaid in Tonbridge, and appears to have died in Marylebone in 1856. By 1841 Sarah Still was married to James Brown and Ann Still to Peter Gibbs, and they are both living in Rusthall with their new families. William married Susan Beales in Marylebone on the 1st January 1851, and Harriet married George Whibley on the 9th November 1851 in Speldhurst. In 1841 Mary Still also appears on the census as a female servant at the George & Dragon in Speldhurst, and - with shades of Dilly Court's novel The Swan Maid (which I wrote off at the time of reading as romantic nonsense!) - by 1851 she's a Lady's Maid to Sophia, the wife of the Rector of Broseley in Shropshire, Orlando W. W. Forester, or Orlando Weld-Forester, 4th Baron Forester, known until 1886 as the Honourable Orlando Weld-Forester. However, she appears on this census as married and with the surname Cutton. Husband no. 1: John Barford Cutton Mary married John Barford Cutton on the 1st September 1845 in Marylebone. He gives his occupation as servant, and says his father is Thomas Cutton, farmer; they both give St. Mary's district as their address. In 1851 John is not with Mary as he is a patient in hospital in Brighton, with the occupation Butler. His birthplace is given as Hellingley in Sussex, though this turns out to be completely wrong, and it would appear that whoever transcribed the list of patients for the census, literally got their lines crossed. John died in Speldhurst on the 17th December that same year from phthisis; aged 26, he is a servant, and his death was registered by his mother-in-law, Susan Still. His name and the Brighton/Speldhurst connection moves us rapidly into Upstairs Downstairs territory through the green baize door, and we have to go back to Cambridge in the early 19th century to understand what is happening. Thomas Cutton, John’s father, variously referred to as a Farmer, Dairyman or Cowkeeper, died in Cambridge on 7th November 1837. He committed suicide by “Taking poison whilst in an unsound state of mind”; he was 66. At the inquest, as reported in the Cambridge Chronicle, it was stated that he had taken “5 drachms of laudanum” and “was in embarrassed circumstances”. His will appointed William Barford, his brother-in-law, the husband of his wife’s sister, as executor and trustee. Thomas Cutton had married Sarah Quick on the 12th October 1803 in Chatteris in Cambridgeshire. They had five children born between 1814 and 1825; the gap between their marriage, and the birth of their first child would suggest perhaps that Thomas had a military career and was involved in the Peninsula War. William Barford married Elizabeth Quick on the 28th February 1814 in Barnwell in Cambridge, perhaps similarly returning from the conflict; they don’t appear to have had any children. Thomas and Sarah’s children were: Thomas, born in 1814; Charlotte born in 1819, and died in 1834; William born in 1821 and Elizabeth born in 1823. John, their youngest child was born on the 18th September 1825 and baptised at St Andrew the Less in Cambridge on the 9th October that year, while his father’s business was still thriving; he was only 12 when his father died. I haven’t seen Thomas Cutton’s will, just the entry in the Index to the Death Duty registers available on FindMyPast, but it appears that his wife was still alive in September 1838 when his “Neat household furniture, 3 fine cows, horses, swine, carts, harness &c.” were sold by auction “upon the premises, in the occupation of Mrs. Cutton”; and “The house and extensive business premises suitable for a milkman or jobber in a large way, are to be LET, with immediate possession.”  Poor Sarah, at the age of 54, all her furniture, including a “capital eight-day clock”, her bedding and cooking utensils, is to go under the hammer; but where did she go? I can find no further record of her, not in the registers or censuses. By the time of the 1841 census all the Cutton children have left Cambridge for London, and they are all in service in one form or another. Thomas is living in Davies Street, in the parish of St George Hanover Square, as servant to John Nevill. William is in the same parish in Hamilton Place, one of the servants of the Earl of Eldon; he was to marry Caroline Fletcher in 1847. Elizabeth, with her new husband Thomas Mahon whom she had married in Norwich, is nearby in Stafford Place; although in the census her husband says he is independent, in the marriage register he’d described himself as a Servant. John Cutton is in Portland Place in Brighton, a neighbour to William and Elizabeth Barford, they are all servants, but with no obvious master. William Barford had obviously pulled strings to get Thomas Cutton’s children into suitable employment. For some reason, John Cutton underwent a second baptism on the 16th March 1841 in Speldhurst; I can only assume it was to take on the middle name of Barford in acknowledgment of his patron. He gives his correct birthday, but the year is down as 1823; was he trying to make himself two years older, or was it just a slip of the pen? In addition, he also states his mother’s name to be Mary Ann; did he really know her? There is some mystery surrounding this Mrs Cutton. So why Speldhurst? The answer lies in Thomas Cutton’s employer John Nevill; he was in 1841, just The Honourable Reverend John Nevill, who had been Vicar of Frant from 1817 to 1818, and Rector of Otley in Suffolk and of Burgh Apton with Holveston in Norfolk from 1818 to 1831, and Chaplain to The Prince Regent. He served in the Peninsular War, had been badly wounded, and never married. Upon the death of his father in 1843 he became the 3rd Earl of Abergavenny, and their family home was Eridge Castle at Frant, near Tunbridge Wells and Speldhurst, though he spent much time in Brighton. Sadly, he was only to enjoy the Earldom for two years as he died in 1845, but a legal dispute that arose over the phrasing of his will casts much light on William and Elizabeth Barford and the Cuttons. John, late Earl of Abergavenny, who died on the 12th of April, 1845, by his will, dated in October, 1843, gave his personal estate to his executors upon trust to pay thereout his debts and funeral expenses, and then the following legacies, namely, £500 to his valet William Barford, and the like sum to his wife; and, in the event of the death of either in his the testator's lifetime, the survivor to have both sums; to Mrs Freestone, his cook, £300; to his butler, Thomas Cutting, £100; to William Cutting and George Lamb, both in his service, £100 each. Then followed these words: - "And to each person as a servant in my domestic establishment at the time of my decease a year's wages beyond what shall be due to him or her for wages." Brighton Gazette 02 May 1850 The case arose when the head-gardener at Eridge Castle on a weekly hiring claimed a year's wages (£70) under the words of the Earl's will, and at the time this article was written no decision had yet been reached on this matter. However, we can now place William Barford as John Nevill’s valet - and he had probably served him during the Peninsular War as well – and his wife Elizabeth as his housekeeper. They are both minding his Brighton property at the time of the 1841 census; Hannah Freestone is in residence there also, as is John Cutton, who is not mentioned in the will, but who perhaps also benefitted under its terms. Thomas Cutton was in London in 1841 with John Nevill; he married Sarah Pilgrim on the 27th June 1841 in the parish church of St Giles in the Fields, shortly after the census. She was from Norwich and Thomas had probably met her when John Nevill was rector of Bergh Apton; they had a daughter Sarah Ann Pilgrim born in Norwich on the 11th July 1832 and baptised on the 15th July, and a son Thomas Cutton Pilgrim, born on the 2nd July 1835 and baptised in St James Piccadilly on the 27th September. William Cutton seems to have joined John Nevill’s staff after 1841, but must have been highly regarded to be remembered in his will. This newspaper article is not the only instance of the name Cutton being rendered as Cutting. By the time of the 1851 census William Barford and his wife Elizabeth have a place of their own in Brighton, 6 Seymour Street, and he describes himself as a retired servant. Thomas Cutton stayed in Brighton as well, with his wife and daughter, (there is no further mention of his son Thomas after his baptism), invested in property, being a land and estate agent, and an active member of the community. William Cutton went back to London, married in 1847, and died in 1854. Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Mahon spent some time in Ireland before returning to Norfolk and running the Golden Lion Hotel in Hunstanton. Mary Still’s separation from her husband John Barford Cutton at the time of the 1851 census, especially when he was so ill, seems strange, and even more so when you discover that they had a daughter born in London around the time of their marriage in 1845, who does not appear to have been baptised or had her birth registered. Sophia Cutton first properly makes an appearance on her wedding in 1862 in Croydon to John Price, when she states her father to be John Barford Cutton, Butler. The witnesses at this ceremony, William Blair and Ellen Stone Still, link Mary Still’s early life with her next marriage. Where Sophia is for the censuses of 1851 and 1861 is another one of those mysteries; she’s not with any Still family member, did she perhaps go with John’s sister Elizabeth to Ireland? Susannah, Mary’s mother, had moved to Croydon by the time of her death in 1863, and her widowed daughter Sarah, Mary’s sister, had married the widower Thomas Price there in 1853; it was his son John from his first marriage who married Sophia Cutton. Continued …
Bradley families: the Smarts Mary Still 1
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