Friday, 22 March 2013

Finding Charles Reuben Hutton - the missing son

When I chose my 'new' name in 1992 after separation from my first husband it was a conscious decision to move on with my life, yet still respect my antecedents. I did not want to go back to my maiden surname - that name had run its course - so I chose a meaningful name that meant family to me.  In a move that appeared to mirror my own, my daughter, on turning eighteen announced that she would like to change her name to my maiden name - I pity the family historians that try to sort us out in a hundred year's time! 

I have posted quite a few blogs concerning my chosen name - Hutton - chosen, I might add, at least a year before I became interested in family history.  You can find them listed my Family Stories page (follow the link or use the tab at the top of this page). 

There was Frederick Elstob Hutton, who left his family in Sunderland to bigamously marry in Liverpool; Amelia Hutton, his daughter, who had to work as a housekeeper; Amelia Mordey, the deserted wife who struggled to make ends meet despite coming from a privileged background; his sons who went to sea aged thirteen or younger, the elder three losing their lives very young; and my own 2x great grandfather, William Satchell Hutton, who sailed all over the world (there are three blogs posts about him!) in the process providing a better life for his family.  I briefly touched upon one of Fred's brothers, Robert Elstob Hutton, who moved to Hartlepool and was not only a mariner, but also a shipowner and a man of some importance in the town whose son John Elstob Hutton brought the family into disrepute after Robert's death. 

The boy who has been missing from the family tree until now is Charles Reuben Hutton, fifth son of Fred and Amelia, born around 1840 in Sunderland, probably in Tatham Street (I looked at the various homes of the Hutton family in another post).  Charles' last appearance in Sunderland is in the 1851 census, when aged 9 he is a Scholar at home in Olive Street with his mother and siblings.  As his brothers have been shown to have gone to sea between the ages of 12 and 17 it seems likely that Charles followed in their footsteps.  Unfortunately the way in which the service of Merchant Seamen was recorded altered in 1857 when Charles would have been about 16 years old.  Instead of individual registrations which produced the Seamen's Tickets I have found for each of his older brothers it was decided that Ships' Agreements and Crew Lists were sufficient to obtain the information required by law concerning the service of the Merchant Seamen.  As I have not found a listing for Charles in the Merchant Navy records on either Ancestry or Find My Past I must assume he did not go to sea until after 1857. 

Unlike the rest of his family (with the obvious exception of the absconding, bigamous Fred!) Charles is not recorded on Amelia's gravestone in Sunderland cemetery (there's a photo here).  This seems an odd omission as whoever commissioned the stone went to the trouble of recording the sons lost at sea and Amelia the younger who died in Cumberland.

When you can't find someone anywhere obvious you start looking at the unlikely places - these days you can do a Google search and trawl through the various search engines on the big genealogy sites, hoping for a glimpse of a lost relative.  One records that leapt out at me very early on was the record of a marriage in Liverpool in 1876 for a Charles Reuben Hutton on FreeBMD.
Index Entry for a Charles Reuben Hutton's marriage in 1876 (from FreeBMD)
Liverpool was where Fred went and it was, of course, a major port in the 19th century, a likely stopping off point for many sailors.  I found the Charles referred to in the census returns of 1881 and 1891 in Liverpool - he had married an Annie (or possibly Bridget Annie) Kelly and had three children.

1881 census for Athol Street, Liverpool (from Ancestry)
The entry from 1881 sent me mixed messages - this Charles Hutton was a Seaman, good (the occupation of the rest of my Hutton family), but he was born in Dundee, Scotland, in about 1844 not so good (too young and not from Durham), however his daughter is called Amelia, good (my Charles' mother's name).

1891 census for Lamb Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool (from Ancestry)
In 1891 this Charles has included the middle initial R and he's now 50 years old, making him born in about 1841 - odd that he's aged thirteen years between census returns.  He's still born in Dundee, and now works as a Dock Labourer.  His wife is now B Ann.  His son  John has the middle initial F and there's a younger son, Chas R.  Cross referencing to FreeBMD again the F stands for Frederick (born Q4 1878 Liverpool) and Chas R is Charles Reuben (born Q4 1882 in West Derby registration district). 

The elder Charles Reuben maybe the one who dies in Q2 of 1896 in the West Derby registration district but on FreeBMD the age of the deceased is given as 48 years so if it is him he's managed to get younger since the 1891 census! 

Let me add at this point that Charles Reuben Hutton is a very uncommon name - and even Hutton is not that common in Lancashire.  A search of 20 years of so on FreeBMD brings back only 16 Charles * Hutton entries. A search for any Hutton entries between 1891 and 1920 in either Liverpool or West Derby returns a managable list.

1901 census for Sterling Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool (from Ancestry)
Annie has become Bridget Ann in 1901, she declares herself a widow, so Charles the elder does appear to have died between 1891 and 1901 at some point.  Her two sons are both Dock Labourers now.  It looks like Amelia's occupation is Jam Maker - well, why not!

I checked Scotland's People for Charles * Hutton born at any time between 1838 and 1850, there was only one result and he was born in Fife in 1838, which doesn't fit any of the information from the census returns.

Despite the coincidences of names none of the above was sufficient for me to say with any conviction that the Charles Reuben Hutton who married in Liverpool in 1876 was my Charles born in Sunderland in 1840.  Although I posted the link on my family tree webpages I included a note pointing out that the the connection was a 'best guess', hoping that somebody, somewhere might know more.

What we needed was more proof - and that arrived yesterday.

Several people have been in touch with me about Charles in recent months, and one lady, LD, was sufficiently interested to send for the marriage certificate of Charles and Annie.  No matter what the outcome was for me Charles was definitely her 2x great grandfather so for her it was a certificate she would find useful come what may.  She kindly sent me a copy yesterday.

1876 marriage certifcate for Charles Reuben Hutton and Annie Kelly (with thanks to LD)
From this marriage certificate we can see that Charles says his father is Frederick Hutton, a Roper.  Charles gives his own occupation as Mariner, but avoids the subject of age by stating he is of 'full' age, that is over 21 years old.  We know that Frederick Elstob Hutton was a Rope Maker in Sunderland and carried on the same trade in Liverpool throughout his life. 

Another of my correspondents wrote that there was a story concerning Charles which had been passed down his family.  He had come from a wealthy family, who had been of the class which had their own pews in church, but he had run away from home and was subsequently disowned.  A captain of a 'full rigged ship' comes into the story as does 'money in Chancery'.  Family stories like this usually have some truth in them, added to over the years and with other bits forgotten or purposely left out maybe, but there's generally a core of fact. 

The Hutton and Mordey families in Sunderland were quite comfortably off, many members of the family were mariners and several were captains of ships.  The name Hutton is uncommon in Lancashire and even more so in Liverpool and yet this Charles turns up in the same area where I have proven Frederick Elstob Hutton lived from 1861 to 1882.  Fred's son Reuben, by his second wife, lives less than a mile from his half brother's family in 1901 and 1911.

The combination of facts and evidence now seems to me sufficient to say that the Charles Reuben Hutton who lived in Liverpool from the 1870s until his death was the same man as Fred and Amelia Hutton's youngest son who disappears from Sunderland after 1851.  I suggest that Charles Reuben Hutton went to sea as did his brothers, finding himself in Liverpool he sought out his father - there may have been a happy reunion, we don't know.  But Charles remained in Liverpool, married and brought up a family there, within a short distance of his father's second family.  

Having established the link to my own satisfaction, with grateful thanks to LD for providing the final piece of the jigsaw, I can now go back to my family tree and start to add the records I've found relating to Charles, Bridget Annie and their children.  That should keep me busy for a while!


Unknown said...

I am a hutton from Liverpool and have the charles name carried in our family. I think there was also a connection with the name ruben . Are you a hutton ?

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Yes Jeff, I am a Hutton now, by choice. My grandfather was William Satchell Hutton and when I divorced I took that name instead of reverting to my maiden name.

Unknown said...

Great ! I did some research a while back and seem to recall a bridget anne. Was she from Ireland ? Im not that good with ancestry but would appreciate any pointers on how to start.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

My email is

Get in touch by all means. I think we may need to have a proper conversation on this, Jeff.


Anonymous said...

PleSe contact me , we have three