Friday, January 9, 2009

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.

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