Where are you Valentine?

Week 6: #52 Ancestors 52 Weeks: Valentine

Many years have gone by and I have not heard from you. I am disappointed and dismayed that the most important record for you (your marriage certificate) has not showed up in any of my searches. How i wish I could talk with you!

Walking down the dim halls of the archives, with the pungent odour of mildew and decay in my nostrils, I search for the scratchings on the ancient tomes that tell me of your life. It has been a long journey to return to the sad world of 1835 when Hampshire, England was in the grip of famines, uprisings and high infant mortality. I found you with your parents in the Parish Registers of birth and baptism in Redisham, Thruxton. I see you in the 1841 census for Andover, Hampshire at Portland Place with your parents, Thomas and Lucy, and brothers William and Thomas, and sister Sarah.Then as I scrolled through your family history I noticed that you were only two years old when your father, Thomas died; and only seven when your mother Lucy died.

By the time you were seven, you and your siblings were orphaned. Where did you all go then? By the time I caught up with you again in the 1851 census, you were living with John and Ann Cutting in Fyfield, Andover. Is that really you. I can see William and Thomas among the children listed here, but Sarah is missing. I note that Fyfield is just a few miles from Thruxton and Andover through which the River Anton runs. Did you still get to go swimming and fishing in the river? How did you persevere in the face of such heartache.

I kept on digging through the dusty docs, my eyes gritty from peering into the gloom, and came across your name once more in the 1861 census for Grately, Hampshire. By this time you were 23 years old and working as a Carpenter. You were a boarder in The Plough Inn, owned and operated by John Cutting. Was that the same John Cutting who brought you up after your parents died? Did he teach you the trade? I notice that there were three visitors, David and Martha Huntley, with their daughter Alma, aged 5.

This weekend, Valentines Day 2021, there are many records of Marriages made available in my favourite archives at FindMyPast and My Heritage and I have been wandering through these in vain, to find factual evidence of your marriage to Sarah Newland. Charles, it really makes it difficult to find you when the date of your birth seems to vary in the dusty docs and I don’t yet have a birth, marriage or death certificate for you. Oh how I wish that you or I were famous, and we could then be featured in Who Do You Think You Are? Some clever researchers could probably find everything I need to know about you and I could be travelling to these places where you resided. So back to the Census Hall and more trawling through the decades.

I was delighted to find your name once more squeezed in at the bottom of the Census report for 1871 in Kensington. By this time you were listed as a Carpenter aged 35 and living with your wife Sarah aged 37 and son Frank aged 1 at Ackland Road, At least I think it is Ackland Road, as the writing on this census is very hard to read.

By 1881 you and your family of five are living at 290 Portobello Road. I’ve heard of that street. I know it was famous as a market place – half-mile-long antiques market – a treasure trove for shoppers. Was your house near the markets? Did Sarah shop there? I notice that Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth Mead is now residing with you. I guess that she was then a widow. Good to know that you had the space for her at your house. The name Mead could be a clue for searching for your marriage; perhaps Sarah used her mother’s maiden name. Off to the Marriage archives. I am still searching for your Marriage. Where are you?

An interesting rabbit hole that sucked me in as I searched, was that of your son Charles Henry Cutting, marriage to Alma Annie Perrett in 1900. I notice that Sidney Herbert, his brother was in attendance along with Mary Ellen Perrett. That sent me into a backspin, as this seems to be a prior marriage for your son. I had the records for his marriage to Mary Jane Robinson (my grandmother) in 1901 and knew that this was a hasty marriage as Mary Jane was already pregnant at that time. But I did not know about Alma. Curious? More mysteries for me to discover.


My disappointment and frustration gains momentum as I search in vain for evidence of your marriage in 1868. All the other records say you were married to Sarah. But your marriage certificate to Sarah is illusive. Maybe I have the date wrong. In another Marriage Registration search index I found two Charles Cutting for 1867 in the 4th quarter of the year. One in Holborn (1b, 908) and one in Kensington (1a, 86). Which one of these is you? It costs £7 to have a PDF copy of your marriage certificate and I would like to be sure which one to request. I am almost certain it is the one from Holborn, as I see that listed for a Sarah Mead with same district and record details.

What happened to you in the years between 1867 and 1911, where I found you again in the census. Details gradually reveal themselves when I look into the Baptism records for your first born son, Frank John. Your address then was 156 Ackland Road, West Kilburn, Westminster and you were listed as a Builder. It was interesting to note the unfamiliar spelling of your surname in that record – Cuttinga!

So on into the 1880s my sleuthing takes me. This decade occurred at the core period of the Second Industrial Revolution. I wonder what time saving devices were available to you then. What world events were impacting on people in your era?

By the 1890s I note that this is the time when the Boer Wars were rising. You were then in your 50s and I note from the 1891 census for Quarley, Southampton that you and Sarah have taken over the Crown Inn as Proprietors. What on earth made you suddenly change direction from the Building trade to the Victuallers trade? Or is this another couple? It seems to be you two. Same birth place and the ages are correct. Did you take over from John Cutting? That reminds me that I need to ask you about your feeling at the time you were awarded the Freedom of the City of London for your services during the Boer War as a member of the Imperial Volunteers? War time memories would probably have been painful for you to relate. My bet is that they haunted you for some time since your time in South Africa. But I just bet that you were proud of your Freedom of the City. I know I am. I have the certificate framed and hanging on my wall.

My search for you in the 1901 census revealed you (aged 66) living at 11 Wyndham Road, Kingston, Surrey and you were listed as a Carpenter again. One boarder and one visitor were listed here with you; Lucy Patterson and Marianne Collely. Obviously your property was substantial enough to support a boarder. But there is no sign of Sarah on that census. Where was she on that night of census? Was she visiting other family?

My next question for you is : How did you and Sarah live out the rest of your time together? It would have been devastating to lose your Valentine on the 12th April 1916. You were able to live on until 1923 in relative comfort in Kingston. Perhaps you were supported by your children. I hope so. I cannot wait to find you in the 1921 census records when they are released.

There is evidence in the 1939 Register that your son (also Charles Henry) was living at number 96 St Stephen’s Avenue, Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith And Fulham. Who is that woman Alma B Cutting living at this same address. She is just 31 one years old and is listed as Admin, Newspaper. Is she a daughter-in-law? Is this the Alma who was living at the Plough Inn in 1861. No it cannot be. That Alma was born in 1855; this Alma was born in 1908. But maybe there is another rabbit hole for me to dive into and find out more about any links between Alma Huntley, Alma Perrett and Alma Cutting.

Final Epitaph:

When Charles Henry Cutting was born in 1837 in Hampshire, England, his father, Thomas, was 46 and his mother, Lucy, was 46. He married Sarah Mead Newland in 1868. They had five children during their marriage. He died on February 25, 1923, in London, London, England, at the age of 86, and was buried in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England.


Now I have found your final resting place, and I see that you are here in the Surbiton Cemetery along with Sarah. And Edie Cutting; yet another mystery person to research. Edie Cutting died at the age of seven, on 27 September 1912. It is her name at the top of your gravestone! Was she your grandchild?

Taking a side step into the records for your other children, I located Edith as the daughter of your son Sidney Herbert. What a tragedy in your family to lose this little girl so young. I can almost hear your weeping as if I were standing by your grave. Edie meant a great deal to you both, especially as I run my fingers over the chiselled words and read the top of the gravestone, In Memory Of Edie Cutting, your pet name for her.

Whilst I was visiting the records for Edith F Cutting, I did find out a little more about her. She was born in April 1905 and baptised as Edith Florrie Cutting. But now it raises another question, how did she die?

Dear Great Grandfather Charles, if I could just talk with you for a little while, I could solve all the mysteries of you that I have encountered. What else can you tell me? What was your Valentine Sarah like?

Thanks for being my Valentine for 14 February 2021!

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for the inspiration to write this Valentine Post. Thank you to Lynne Palermo for the inspiration to include the backstory, the descriptions with all senses.

4 thoughts on “Where are you Valentine?

  1. What an incredible amount of work you went to to discover your family background. I’ve dabbled a bit myself and know how difficult it can be and how information seems to change a bit from record to record. My father actually changed his own name and birth date legally so he was three years older with a different name, but same initials. Long after his death at a family reunion of a branch of the family I’d only met once before in my life, fifty years before, I discovered that the record he’d found and changed himself to reflect was actually of a stillborn infant born to his parents three years before his birth that evidently he’d never been told about and so thought was his own record. Ah that tricky past!!!!


    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts here! I must have missed seeing this 3 months ago! Apologies for my late reply! Your fathers story of his misguided name change is sad! Secrets often prevent the truth emerging!


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