Friday, January 23, 2009

It's a rich man's world

South Bridge Street, Edinburgh, 1837

It’s only a guess, but my suspicion is that the notice below is in regards to Thomas Erskine Sutherland, as Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850) clearly had money post-1821 (see, for instance, his commissioning of paintings of himself, and his second wife and new daughter). And while the post office directory also doesn’t have any TS merchants listed, TES is referred to in some parish records as a merchant.

The Edinburgh Advertiser, 16 Nov 1821

MR. SUTHERLAND having executed a trust-deed for behoof of his creditors in favour of MR. GEORGE PICKARD, and MR. WILLIAM HALL, Merchants in Edinburgh, the Trustees request that the creditors who have not already lodged their claims with affadavits, will transmit them to their Warehouse, No. 82, South Bridge, Edinburgh, on or before the 3rd January next; under certification, that the Creditors neglecting to do so, will not receive any share of the dividend to be made within fourteen days thereafter. EDINBURGH, 13th No. 1821

The notice was reprinted. Sadly, if it is TES, it means his son inherited more than just his name—financial acumen was clearly not their strong point.


Edinburgh University

In combing through the post office directories for early Edinburgh, I stumbled across something interesting. It appears Thomas Sutherland's (1772-1850) eldest son and namesake, TS, Jr. (1797-1880) was undeniably less proficient at his father’s trade than his younger brother George (who would continue as a tailor in Canada). In the years 1825-1826 when the Sutherland family was residing at Drummond Street, a TS advertised himself as a writing master at their home address. It seems highly unlikely that this was the father, given his success as a merchant tailor. But imparting literacy (or penmanship) must not have been sufficiently lucrative or compelling; in 1827 and 1828 TS, Jr. was once again listed as residing at their home address. Occupation: tobacconist. The Canadian mythology about his life in Edinburgh, however, is far more romantic. Winning Pendergast recalls being told “that he was a highly educated gentleman, that he spoke seven languages, and had been a professor of languages at Edinburgh University.” There’s no evidence of any of this. But it is clear that TS the younger continued his literary endeavors in Canada, as there he earned the appellation “the poet of Moore.” This complements the occupation ascribed to him in the 1871 census: gentleman.

Calling small capitalists!

Moore Museum, Mooretown, Ontario

It is not enough that Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850) founded Mooretown—then known as Sutherland’s Landing. He also worked to people it by recruiting individuals and families. On the front page of the December 17th, 1836 issue of The Scotsman TS published the following:

THE SUBSCRIBER requests most seriously to call the attention of his late fellow citizens of Edinburgh, Leith, and vicinity; of respectable persons possessing limited incomes of ₤ 50 to ₤ 150 per annum, of half-pay officers, and small capitalists, as well as of tradesmen of all descriptions, who, in many instances, find it difficult at home to maintain appearances, or, in homely phrase, to make “both ends meet,” to the following statement of facts, by which it may be seen that many have it is their power vastly to improve their circumstances, and add greatly to the comfort of themselves and families, by a change of country to one of the finest in the globe….

Sutherland goes on to describe the settlement at length, as well as its inhabitants and trade routes. He also lists references for his character, among them Archibald Geikie, Sr. & Jr.

Geikie, Sr. would live to regret his endorsement of Sutherland—an acrimonious exchange of letters between he and Sutherland which occurred following Geikie, Sr.’s migration to Sutherland’s settlement in Canada has been preserved. Among the charges? Sutherland did not adequately appreciate the issues of The Scotsman Geikie made available to him. Geikie, Jr.’s son, [John] Cunningham Geikie, would go on to immortalize the settlement in his novel, Life in the Woods: A True Story of the Canadian Bush (London: W. Isbister & Co., 1873). The novel has recently been reissued. It can also be read online here. (Thank you to Kathy Witheridge for sharing an article which links Geikie and Sutherland.)

Geikie’s work is obviously a fiction, but it is worth comparing his vision of Sutherland’s settlement with the one TS forwarded above:

“…, it was a straggling collection of wooden houses of all sizes and shapes, a large one next to a miserable one-storey shell, placed with its end to the street. There were a few brick houses, but only a few. The streets were like a newly-ploughed field in rainy-weather, for mud, the waggons often sinking almost to the axles in it. There was no gas, and the pavements were both few and bad. It has come to be a fine place now, but to us it seemed very wretched.” (page 20)

False advertising, perhaps.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Wives of Thomas Sutherland

Grace Hogg (abt. 1777-1853)
Painting by David Scott of Edinburgh (1806-1849)

It seems highly probable that all but one of the children attributed to Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850) and Grace Hogg (abt. 1777-1853) are not, in fact, hers. According to a family history, TS and GH had three sons (Alexander, George and Edward) and two daughters (Thomas-Ann and Grace). However, the dates of birth for three of these individuals precede the marriage of TS and Grace by some time.

Namely, in very neat handwriting, the parish record for May 15, 1825 in Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland reads:

Thomas Sutherland, tailor, College (?) parish & Grace Hogg same parish
Daug. Of Geo. Hogg …no objections.

This marriage occurred closely after the death of TS’s first wife, Elizabeth Beddoes, on Aug 23, 1824, as reported in The Scotsman. What this record also suggests is that the daughter of TS, Grace, was probably not born May 14, 1824, but rather in 1826. One could try to argue that she, too, might have been the daughter of Beddoes, but given that Beddoes was born about 1760, it seems highly unlikely.

In short, it appears the following are the children of TS and Beddoes:
Thomas Sutherland (1797-1880) “poet of Moore
Richard Sutherland (Sept. 25, 1802- March 27, 1822) died in Edinburgh of “decay”
Alexander Sutherland (1804-1840)
Laura Alison Sutherland (1805-1894)
George Sutherland (bet. 1811/1816-1888)
Thomas-Ann Sutherland (1812-1902)
…and John Sutherland (abt. 1807-Nov. 12, 1826), previously unmentioned, but whose death record lists TS as his father and gives the address (2 Drummond) at which the family resided at the time. Cause of death: typhus.

This means in all probability the only child of TS and Grace Hogg is Grace Sutherland (abt. 1826-1861).

Edward Sutherland (bef.1827-bef. 1833) A family record has him dying before 1833, but I've found no further concrete information about his date of birth.

While some may have felt it was sufficient to present the marriage record as proof the GH was not the mother of many of the children attributed to her, it would have been premature. The family records are in such conflict with census records (and the names of the children so common) that it was necessary to establish in other ways that TS was married to both women (hence the usefulness of the post office directories in establishing residency). I will note that the dates of birth of the children may be off here—the census and death records are inconsistent, and I haven’t bothered double checking them all. And as of yet birth or christening records have not been uncovered.

Thank you to Kathy Witheridge for directing me to the Sutherland histories available through the Lambton County Branch of the OGS. See especially, The Sutherland Saga by Winning Pendergast.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thomas Sutherland Emigrates

Blind Asylum, 58 Nicolson Street, 1820

It’s all due to this notice, which appeared in The Scotsman, Saturday, 8th December 1832, that I’m able to state with confidence that the Thomas Sutherland who was the proprietor of Sutherland and Son, Tailors, at 47 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh was the TS (married to Grace Hogg) who came to Canada in 1833 to found Mooretown:

SUTHERLAND & SON, TAILORS, 47, Nicolson Street, having made arrangements to leave this country for America in April next, will be glad to make arrangements with a respectable person to succeed them, upon very favorable terms, as little more than the value of Counters, Shelving, &c. will be expected. The rent is moderate, and the business has been long established. Applications by post must be paid.
Edinburgh, 8th Dec. 1832.

As per a Sutherland history, “The family left Leith, Scotland, on April 25, 1833, aboard the ship European, commanded by Captain Andrew Scott of Leith, arriving in Quebec City on June 21, 1833.” The departure of the European under Scott, bound for Quebec with passengers, is confirmed in the April 27th issue of The Scotsman (though it gives the date as the 26th), with 155 passengers, as per Les Écossais: The Pioneer Scots of Lower Canada, 1763-1855. According to the Montreal Gazette, “Passengers - In the European, from Leith, Mr. and Mrs. Sutherland of Edinburgh, with 4 sons and 3 daughters” (thanks to Kathy Witheridge for sharing the Gazette reference).

TS was already located at 91 Nicolson Street by 1806, as the Post Office Directory of that year lists a “Thomas Sutherland Tailor.” In 1810 he relocated to 12 Nicolson Street, and the following year to 23, where he was still located in 1827. An 1824 advertisement gives the occupation as tailor and clothier. By 1829 the business had expanded to “Sutherland and Son.” That Sutherland relocated frequently is not surprising; many merchants and craftsmen relocated regularly, due to fluctuating finances or conflicts with landlords (see, for instance, members of Scotland’s Book Trade).

It seems likely that Sutherland was in pursuit of the best deal, but did not want to move too far for risk of losing his clients. He was clearly invested in a competetive marketplace for renters, as demonstrated by an announcement in The Scotsman dated July 6, 1831. The piece opens:

THE COMMITTEE of the INHABITANTS beg earnestly to call the attention of the Householders and Proprietors of Edinburgh, to the Petitions to the House of Lords and Commons, against the Improvement Tax, which lie for signature at the following places: — Mr. William Tait, 78, Prince’s Street; Mr. Adam Stewart, 38, Howe Street; Mr James Affleck, Clerk Street; Mr. Chambers, bookseller, 23, Broughton Street; Mr Thomas Sutherland, 47, Nicolson Street; Mr John Boyd, 37 George Street, and Mr Weston, Bookseller, Lothian Street.

While 47 Nicolson was a residential address, TS clearly had his home elsewhere (more on that later). We know a bit about this, his final store, because a later landlord, William Darling, altered the property from what it had been at the time of TS’s tenancy, “A dwelling-house bounded on the east by Nicolson Street and on the north by Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, consisting of four stories, one of which has a sunk story with an area in front.” Darling converted the street flat into a shop in 1843, which suggests it had not formally been one before.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TS fights the Sheriff (sort of)

It seems likely that this is Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850), it certainly doesn't seem out of character. Furthermore, he is the only Thomas Sutherland, merchant tailor--or tailor of any kind--of whom I can find a record of in Edinburgh at the time:

The Scots Revised Reports, [Court of Session]: Faculty Collection, 1807-1825

No. 168 F.C. N.S. VII 666 19 Jan. 1825

Thomas Sutherland and others, pursuers Solicitor-General (Hope), Shav,
WALTER S. MORSON, Defender. — Walker Baird.
Minor — Cautioner — Personal Objection. — Circumstances in which minority was sustained to set aside a cautionary obligation, although the party pleading it had previously made a declaration in writing that he was a major, and, in consequence, had obtained a degree of doctor of medicine.

Samuel Sheriff, a friend and fellow student of the defender, contracted various debts to tradesmen in Edinburgh, and among these to the pursuer, a merchant tailor, and to others for whom the pursuer acted as assignee. Sheriff, upon obtaining his degree a - doctor of medicine, invited a party of his friends to dinner, and among others, the defender, Mr. Morson. During the evening, the pursuer, who, with some other creditors of Mr. Sheriff, had taken out a warrant against him as in meditatione fugue, made their appearance at Mr. Sheriff’s lodgings, and intimated their intention of putting the warrant in execution, unless security was given by some of the party for payment of the debt. Upon this the defender granted the following obligation: — "1st August 1822. — I hereby become bound to pay, or see paid, the following sums due by Dr. Sheriff to the following persons. To Thomas Sutherland, twenty-six pounds sixteen shillings. Mr. James Mellis, twenty-five pounds four shillings. Mr. Purves eighty-seven pounds. Mr. Rose twenty-eight pounds fourteen shillings. Mr. Forrest fourteen pounds three shillings. Expences [sic] two pounds shillings; and that within six weeks of this date.”

Sheriff afterwards left Scotland; and an action was raised against Morson by Sutherland for himself, and as assignee for the other creditors, for payment….

Morson was, in all probability, Walter Skerrett Morson (1802, Antigua-1830, Newcastle), who studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. His family was prominent in Montserrat, and Morson appears to have had success in his short career as a doctor; at least one source claims he was “physician to the late Princess Sophia, daughter of George III.” Sophia could have been a very interesting patient given the rumours of her “indiscretions.” But those would have preceded Morson’s arrival on the scene. Given that at his premature death he left at least four children behind, it is to be hoped he had developed a better grasp of finances.

It seems less likely that Sheriff “stuck” Morson with the bill, and more likely that he was aware of Morson’s status as a minor who could not be held responsible for the debts. Evidence points to the original debtor being Dr. Samuel Marchant Sheriff (1799-1839) of Antigua (son of Samuel Harman Sheriff, brother-in-law to Dr. Anthony Musgrave, treasurer of Antigua, 1825- 1852, uncle to colonial administrator Sir Anthony Musgrave). If so, Morson was less the gallant friend who covered his friend’s financial obligations, and more the conspirator. This seems supported by the very fact that the case went to trial. Ultimately, the fact that this young man choose to frequent this TS's shop suggests he was a tailor whose services and wares were appreciated by the upper-middle classes.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The kindness of strangers

Sutherland Tartan

It behooves me to point to this great site: for Canongate resources. Thanks to whomever it is that is busy transcribing and posting!

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

Old Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh

Random Thomas Sutherlands of Edinburgh of the relevant period.

1. Thomas Sutherland, Butcher
Reported in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine‎, 1818:
“At Edinburgh, in the 68th year of her age, Mrs Anne Sutherland, widow of Thomas Sutherland, late butcher in Edinburgh.” The post office directory lists TS sometimes as a butcher, sometimes as a flesher (same thing, but the latter sounds far more interesting) on a Charles Street throughout the early years of the nineteenth century.

2. Thomas Sutherland, Laborer
Thomas Sutherland (Newhaven) dies May 18, 1841, dies in Royal Infirmary from fever, age 28. No address or family noted.

3. Thomas Sutherland, Oenologist
I want to believe this one is TS (1772-1850); certainly his fondness for a well-stocked cellar is noted elsewhere.
“Thomas Sutherland was admitted into the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, January 6, 1827, on account of a wound by a piece of a broken wine bottle. The radial artery was implicated where it passes betwixt the metacarpal bones of the thumb and forefinger, to join the deep palmar arch. The vessel was tied on the proximal side of the opening, and it being found impossible to discover the other end, a piece of sponge was introduced into the wound. On the 11 th, bleeding occurred from the part of the vessel which had been tied. The wound was enlarged, and the artery tied above and below. The original wound then took to bleeding. It bled repeatedly, on the 14th, and again on the 15th. The hand had become swollen, and a quantity of matter had collected. An attempt was made, by cutting up the original wound, to expose and tie the bleeding vessel; but on account of the sloughy state of the parts the ligature would not keep its hold. The humeral was then tied by Sir George Ballingall, and there was no further trouble; the patient made a rapid recovery.”
-- Medico-chirurgical Transactions
, Medical and Chirurgical Society of London

4. Thomas Sutherland, Bibliophile
In 1824 a Thomas Sutherland of Edinburgh was one of the subscribers to the novel Adolphe and Selanie, or the Power of Attachment ; a Moral Tale, founded on Facts, written by Henri Leopold Dubois, who identified himself as a “Teacher of the French Language.” The subscription list is interesting for the notable presence of members of the Scottish legal establishment and other “professional worthies.” For those wondering what it meant to publish a novel by subscription, generally authors would pre-sell copies of their unpublished works in order to gain enough capital to publish them. The names of purchasers would be included, serving as a kind of endorsement. Of course, inclusion of names was at the discretion of the author, who might edit the lists in later editions in order to disassociate themself from public figures who had fallen out of favor.

Whether or not Sutherland enjoyed the novel is unknown—what is known is that a reviewer for The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany panned it, describing “friends, whose lengthened visages but too plainly told their disappointment and chagrin for the utter loss of their seven shilling and sixpence (such is the price of the bagatelle) and the exertions they made to extract from the volume something like an equivalent for their time and their cash. But GULLED was too legibly imprinted on their foreheads.” (March 1825).

5. Thomas Sutherland, Soldier
A Thomas Sutherland, born in Edinburgh, served in the 75th Foot Regiment, also known as Abercromby's Highlanders, after their commander, Robert Abercromby of Tullibody. He survived to be discharged at age 43. His service record is covered by the years 1813-1838, and can be ordered.

Thomas Erskine Sutherland (March 1, 1770-December 28, 1826)

A reminder: this is not TS (1772-1850); while researching him, I came across information about this fellow and thus have assembled it. That said, if you have something to add or refute, please feel free to contact me.

Here’s what I know of Thomas Erskine Sutherland: he was, according to the admittedly unreliable IGI, born March 1, 1770, Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, to William Sutherland and Isobell Noble. He received an education at Heriot's Hospital, a charitable school found in the seventeenth century to educate “puir, fitherless bairns.” I haven’t looked for his parents’ obituaries, but by the late eighteenth century Sutherland need not have been an orphan to attend the school—as its finances became secure, the school admitted other needy children.

As of 1794 there is a TS, haberdasher, at North Bridge Street, Edinburgh, whose custom is valued enough that a vendor wishes people to know that this TS buys his materials from him (see The Edinburgh Advertiser, March 25, 1794). And this address seems to remain consistent--a post office directory places him there in 1809, when he would have lready begun his family. There is a marriage record for TES to Margaret Watson, daughter of Alexander, June 9, 1793, in Edinburgh City, Midlothian. Appropriately, he passed his name on to what was probably his first child, Thomas Erskine Sutherland II, born in Edinburgh City, Midlothian, May 18, 1794. A short time later, TES received the popular vote in an election. James David Marwick in Sketch of the History of the High Constables of Edinburgh, reports: “Thomas Sutherland, haberdasher. Elected Clerk Apr. 18. 1798.” We can assume that this is him because of an 1821 record from the Scottish Record Society (Roll of Edinburgh Burgesses and Guild-Brethren, 1406-1841) which survives in the Scottish Record Society and identifies TES as a haberdasher. While there seem to be a surplus of Edinburgh tailors of the era with the last name Sutherland, this is the only haberdasher I’ve encountered. (Note: in the UK a haberdasher was a different entity than a tailor or men's outfitter; it is in only in the US that the meaning shifts.)

TES clearly established himself as a man of some note—his second marriage in 1809 was reported in both the Gentleman’s Magazine and The Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany: “Thomas Erskine Sutherland, esq. of Edinburgh, to Miss Highley, of Fleet-street.” It is possible that Miss Highley was related to Samuel Highly, the well-known bookseller who had a shop on Fleet Street at that time. A cursory search revealed no trace of the fate of his first wife, but it was not unusual for women to die in childbirth or as a result of it.

TESII was not Sutherland’s only child. His son, Samuel Sutherland, according to one source, diedOctober 25, 1848 in “Vandreal, Canada”-- which could be a mistranscription of Montreal. And it seems likely that TES was the father of the ten year old girl, Heriot Sutherland, who died “of decline” Nov 2, 1826, “an inmate of the Merchants [Maiden] Hospital, daughter of Thomas Sutherland, of Post Office.” The Merchant Maiden Hospital was also a charitable school, this one founded by Mary Erskine in 1694. It is notable that both Heriot and TES carry the names of those who founded charitable schools from which they could benefit; clearly this was a family which valued education in the face of adversity.

If Heriot was indeed his daughter, the family would soon be dealt a double blow. Slightly less than two months later a report was issued: “Dec 29,1826, Mr. Thomas Erskine Sutherland, Clerk, Post Office age 55, James Street, decline.” (Though Steven gives his date of death as the 28th). His death was reported in Blackwood's Magazine, 1827 as “Mr Thomas Erskine Sutherland, late merchant in Edinburgh.” The will of his son, Thomas Erskine Sutherland, Merchant in Edinburgh (dated 25 June 1845) survives in the National Archives. Unfortunately, it appears that TESII, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a “merchant and haberdasher” was not financially savvy: under the heading of “Scots Bankrupt” in the September 21st, 1844 issue of The Scotsman is an invitation to his creditors to “meet in the Old Signet Hall, Royal Exchange there, 8th October, at two o’clock.” It was the second such notice to appear, the first doing so August 17, 1844.

Notably, TES’s date of death precludes his being the TS who “was admitted into the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, January 6, 1827, on account of a wound by a piece of a broken wine bottle.” But it leaves his son in the running. Given his less-than-stellar Christmas, TESII had good reason to have a few drinks. Happily, whichever TS it was, the doctors were able to save his hand.

Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850)

Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850)

Note: subsequent entries provide evidence which resolves this confusion. See especially "The Wives of Thomas Sutherland."

Currently, I’m trying to sort out a particular historical mess, namely, if two Thomas Sutherlands of late seventeenth century Edinburgh have become conflated in the historical record, or, alternately, if some errors about the dates of birth of children may have led to the conflation of two women married to the same TS (unfortunately, I’m not in the archives in Scotland trying to do this). In the process, I’ve had to sort through a number of Thomas Sutherlands, piecing them together for the purposes of elimination. Clearly, most of them are not relevant to me, and I’m not interested in acquiring any more.

Here is the original problem: a number of accounts cite Thomas Sutherland of Mooretown, Ontario, as married first to Elizabeth Beddoes sometime before 1800, and secondly, to Grace Hogg, shortly after 1800:

“The first wife of Thomas Sutherland was Elizabeth Beddoes of Edinburgh. By her he had three children, Thomas; Richard, who died at the age of 20 in London, England, and Laura Alison Sutherland.

Upon the death of his first wife, he married the Honourable Grace Hogg, daughter of an English Admiral whose home, near Edinburgh was called "Lasswade." Grace (Hogg) Sutherland had two brothers, Charles and Adam Hogg. The latter became General Adam Hogg of the Army in India.”

Where this falls apart: Elizabeth Beddoes Sutherland was still alive at the time of the supposed union between TS and Hogg. This is made clear in her obituary, published in The Scotsman, an Edinburgh newspaper, September 1st, 1824:

“Elizabeth Beddoes, wife of Mr. Thomas Sutherland, Tailor, died in the 64th year of her age, at Edinburgh on 22nd August 1824.”

This is confirmed by Canongate Burials, 1820 – 1851, which records that: Aug 23, 1824, Elizabeth Beddoes wife of Thomas Sutherland, Tailor, of Hill Place, died of bowel complaint.

So either TS is a bigamist, or, in contrast to the marriage date generally presented, Grace Hogg married TS after 1824 (which makes her a stepmother not a mother to the children attributed to her), or researchers have confused two men. The dates of the births of TS's children by these two women seem horribly confused as generally recorded, with one of Beddoes's listed as born after one of Hogg's. The is the least of the mess: sometimes TS is credited with another wife, one he apparently married 2 years before being born. And two Grace Hoggs seem to have been confused, through a christening date attributed to TS's wife which in fact belongs to a British woman by the same name but with different parents, born approximately 12 years later. Untangling this doesn't seem that difficult in theory--a few records of marriage would solve it all--but unfortunately those marriage records are proving frustratingly elusive.