Ancestors in Hiding!

Week #7: #52Ancestors52Weeks : Unusual Source(s)

Revealing my true Ancestors!

The branches of my family tree had become tangled and needed pruning. Ancestors from the Cutting Line (my maternal ancestors) were clamouring for my attention. Some had remained hidden from view for some time! I had made some assumptions that the information I had for my great grandparents was correct. It was not! That was the reason I could not find the vital information about a missing marriage certificate. Who really was my great grandfather? Who did he marry? How many children? Where did they live? All of this was needing an overhaul and a fresh start. You can see my story about the rabbit holes in my research here.

The only thing to do was to call for help and to start to build a new tree for this branch of my family. Luckily help was at hand from my go to Genealogist pal, Val Wilkinson. Val sourced the correct information to unravel this mystery and we then recorded a video tutorial to show how that was done. In preparing for this video tutorial, both of us sourced information from the usual and the unusual. For me the unusual source was a message from another Genealogist connection in Ancestry (only located yesterday) who I had contacted some time back – I thought we shared a common ancestor. Their response matched what Val had researched and uncovered – it was Harry Cutting married to Emma Cutting who was my true great grandfather.

The important lessons for me included the following:

  • Begin with verified facts
  • Check the source for each fact
  • Add ancestors one by one
  • Add BMD data for each ancestor
  • Expand  the  tree with  known relationships

The first two points are the best starting points for those seeking their true ancestors. Work backwards from known facts and then scope your search based on the questions you have formulated. In my case knowing that my grandfather’s middle name was Newland, we needed to look at his Baptism record to find his parents names.

baptism in the parish of Norbiton, Surrey
Charles Harry Newland Cutting – Birth 5 Feb 1878, Baptism 5 May 1878, Parents Harry & Emma Cutting of London Road. Builder.

Next the research revealed that elusive marriage certificate I had been seeking. On this document is displayed the fathers’ names and occupations. Now I could add John Cutting and Charles Newland to my tree. Some further sleuthing from another unusual source can be done to find the District Church of Norbiton. Find a Church in UK. (Note: Showing 31 churches near Kingston Hill)

Marriage solemnized at The District Church, Norbiton
Married June 10th 1867 (Harry aged 22, Emma aged 21) Living at Park Road. Fathers John Cutting, Carpenter and Charles Newland, Cordwainer.

This vital information enabled further search among the Census records and one of those stood out for me; the 1911 census in which the number of children born, still living and deceased at that date are displayed. My great grandparents had 12 children and 5 of them had died.

Harry and Emma Cutting, 13 Park Road, Kingston Hill, Census 1911 (12 births, 6 living, 6 deceased)

A surprise!

On closer inspection of the list of children in this household, I noticed Andrew Ralph Cutting, aged 24, single. He is my great Uncle, and I had been searching for information about him for some time. His occupation at this time was Insurance Surveyor. My cousins told me that great Uncle Andy was also an opera singer. More details on that occupation would be worth finding out about. So I am tracing Uncle Andy back through time to find out what years he may have been performing. My search so far has taken me to the National Archives at Kew, UK to find his service record number LONDON 3/3594, as an Able Seaman Leading Seaman in World War 1. He was busy as an Able Seaman from 1914 to his discharge in 17 May 1919, but I am still on the trail of his life as an Opera Singer. My next unusual source might be located in The Stage, Dramatic and Musical Journal collections. This publication is to be found in the British Newspaper Archive.

I found out about its existence through another portal in FindMyPast that I had not explored before: the Stories. In here are links to typical events and news items throughout the life of my ancestor. Scrolling through these with interest I found reference to The Stage publication and proceeded to explore. But without any definite evidence of Uncle Andy’s operatic appearances, this will be like finding a needle in a haystack. I suspect that we need to search in the 1920-1930 time period, and most likely in London.

One thing I can do is ask for help again from members of Family History and Genealogy communities in social media. Where else can I search for Opera Singers in the 1920-1930 era in London?

PS: That was extremely helpful – within the last 24 hours two responses have helped to locate Andrew Ralph Cutting on the stage in a production of The Mikado in 1924 for the Alliance Assurance Dramatic Society. This link took me to a page in the National Portrait Gallery.

Next on my list of discoveries will be information about the lives of my great aunts and great uncles from this family. I would like to find out the cause of death for the 6 children of this family listed as deceased on the 1911 census. There is lots more to discover.

The final resting place for my true maternal great grandparents is in the Kingston Cemetery, Surbiton, Surrey. A visit to Billion Graves to locate a picture of the headstone, and a quick photographic enhancement reveals Emma and Harry together again. Emma died at the age of 66 and Harry died at the age of 72.

But wait there is someone else mentioned on this headstone and I cannot read that part of the engraving. Can you?

Your thoughts are welcomed here!

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