Friday, June 10, 2016

More about Grandmother Mary Jane

One year ago I posted my knowledge of Grandmother Mary Jane Cutting. Some pieces of her puzzle were still not falling into place. My plan was to focus on her and use my new skills in creating a Family Group Sheet for her and to dig deeper. I listed all that I knew about her and realised something was wrong - her birth place did not seem right. Obviously confused my research by looking for the birth of Mary Jane Cutting, when it should have been Mary Jane Robinson, her maiden name.

I followed the advice given in the Ancestry Academy and revisited my records for my maternal grandmother in the hope of uncovering further details of her family and life as a young woman and wife. My records were in a sad shape and needed work. Where to start? The Census is a good place to locate her as a child.

I worked backwards from the 1881 census in which she was listed, as a 9 year old child, living with her parents George and Mary Robinson. Her brother George aged 19 and her sister Elizabeth aged 13 were also living at 180 Gloucester Road, Croydon. The 1881 census also listed a visitor at Gloucester Road, Elizabeth Evans aged 19 and a boarder, John Edser.

Scrutinising the census I noticed Mary's birth place was listed as Croydon. This conflicted with what I had for her and launched into research to find her true birth place. First place to look, Baptism records in Croydon.  Success! Baptism records for St James in Croydon confirmed her baptism date as June 9, 1872. Back to Ancestry to add that new piece of evidence.

Her life as a child of London in the 1870's would have been one of comfort and support. I was keen to know more about her school days and visited the Surrey Genealogy Resources & Parish Registers. I searched for her in the National School Admission Registers and Log Books and found that she had be admitted to the Sydenham Road Girls School in 1883.

Moving on I wanted to find out more about her as a young woman and once again went back to the Census to find her 10 years later.


The 1891 census shows Mary Jane aged 19 as a servant at 45 Lower Kennington Lane, Lambeth. This property was and still is a Coffee House or Cafe and in 1891 was managed by Frances Rivers. In that year three boarders were listed as Policemen: Thomas Price 27, William Pettet 21 and William Saunders 30. Success once more!

These facts were known but not scrutinised. So I searched for the property online to find it listed among the many pubs, hotels and coffee houses of that area of London.

When Mary Jane was a Londoner in 1891, Waterloo Station was the city's central train terminal. Perhaps she used the train service to travel to and from her employment at weekends, and perhaps she was able to return to her parents' home in Croydon quite safely. The railways culture would have been in her blood, as her father was a porter and railway inspector during his working life. On such train journeys perhaps she, along with other commuters, enjoyed reading about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's masterful detective, Sherlock Holmes.

It was an ever changing environment in London in the late 19th Century, and I wonder how safe she felt living and working in the 'pub' area, not far from East End. Some of the history of that era includes the beginning of the Whitechapel Murders, and London Dock Strikes. I am sure she would have been jubilant when in 1900 the Central London Railway (Tube line) was opened to the public. And she, like thousands of other Londoners, would have been devastated to learn of the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901.

I cannot find any details of Mary Jane Robinson in the 1901 census for England and this makes me curious as to her whereabouts. Charles Harry Cutting is listed in the 1901 census living in Kingston, Surrey and working as a Plumber. But where did Mary Jane disappear to? Given that she was pregnant and still single, in April at the time of the Census, perhaps she was in hiding elsewhere.

The next record I have for Mary Jane is her marriage to Charles Harry Newland Cutting on 16 June 1901. She was then aged 29.

St Andrews Church, Enfield
A huge leap from her humble beginnings as a waitress in 1891 to the wife of a young 23 year old Plumber. Mary Jane met Charles Cutting where she worked in the Kennington Lane Cafe. They were married  at the St Andrews Church, Enfield - in the county of Middlesex, far removed from their home in Croydon. I imagine that they married there, away from wagging tongues and prying eyes, as Mary Jane was already pregnant. I imagine that she did not know that she was expecting twins - a similar story to her own daughter Winifred in the 1940 whose twins were born during the London Blitz.

It seems that Mary Jane had moved to live in Southbury Road, Enfield, during her pregnancy. When I looked further into the development of Enfield in Wikipedia, I noticed that its popularity had increased when the G.N.R. introduced a new Railway Line and cheaper tickets to London. A fact that would have been known by Mary's father, George Robinson, retired Railway Inspector. Perhaps he had found a place for her among the newer estates popping up there in 1901. Wikipedia also tells me that the population in St Andrew's Parish, where they were married, had doubled between 1871 an 1891. I imagine now a small cottage for the two of them and a small wedding in St Andrew's Church on June 16th 1901. The Southbury Road, Enfied address was also listed for Charles Cutting on the Marriage Certificate.

On the certificate I noticed the occupations of Charles' father, Harry Cutting a builder, and Mary Jane's father, George Robinson as retired. Both Charles and Mary have signed their certificate legibly and their friends too. I get a real buzz out of viewing the actual handwritten documents carefully preserved in the archives of Ancestry.com

The Parish Registers for the Baptisms of her children, provide clues as to where Mary Jane was living between 1901 and 1911.

  • In 1901 her residence is listed as Southbury Road, Enfield, Middlesex
  • In 1903 to 1906 her residence is listed as 7 Glenville Road, Kingston, Surrey
On 17 November 1901 the twin boys, Charles Reginald and Frank George were born. They were both baptised at St James Church in Croydon. It would not have been easy for Mary Jane to look after her two babies; having most likely, prepared for just one. I imagine that she would also have needed to weather the barbed comments and disapproving looks from people back in her home town.

I do remember Uncle Reg, as he emigrated to Australia with his wife Margaret Monk and their three children in the 1940's at the same time as my family. I do not have any memories of Uncle Frank, only second hand ones through the eyes of my siblings.

Mary Jane's eldest daughter Winifred was born in Kingston On Thames in 1903. Winifred Edith was my mother, and I have some very strong memories of her. My mother emigrated to Australia with her six children in 1949; following her husband Cecil Allery who had emigrated the year before.

In 1906 Mary Jane gave birth to triplets; Harry, Ronald and Violet. Harry only survived for one year but Ronald and Violet lived on into their eighties. I do not have any memories of Uncle Ron. My Auntie Vi emigrated to Australia in the 1940's with her husband Harold Toft and their daughter.

Mary Jane's last born daughter, Doris, also lived on into her eighties. She too emigrated to Australia with her husband George Dale and two children in the 1940's.

I wonder how Mary Jane felt about so many of her children emigrating to another country. She would have been sad and lonely without them. There was a huge migration of people from Britain to Australia from 1948 and into the 1950's, escaping from the war ravaged country after WW2, and their reasons quite clear. However, being left behind would have been difficult to bear.

I have no memories of this grandmother and will need to dig deeper into my photo troves and the memories of my own remaining siblings, for some glimpses of her as an older woman. There is a 43 year gap in my facts for Mary Jane, from 1911 to 1954. Space for another story!

Grandmother Mary Jane Cutting died in June 1954 in Surrey Northern.

1 comment:

  1. Well written Carole!

    WOW! Triplets in 1906! That is rare...........and amazing that they all survived to 12 months.

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