Finding the will of Euphemia Dickson (1812 – 1827) has made me take another look at the records for her namesake – her aunt, the younger sister of her father John. Why this interest in somebody who is not a direct ancestor of mine (according to Ancestry she was the wife of my third-great-grand-uncle)? Well, in addition to being interesting in its own right, the elder Euphemia’s story provides more context for understanding the lives of my Blanch ancestors in the early decades of the 19th century.

I first discovered that John Dickson had a sister named Euphemia via his will of  1824 (he died in the following year). John named two executors: John Rodbard, brother of his wife Sarah, and his brother-in-law Alexander Cuthbert, who turned out to be the second husband of his sister Euphemia. In my earlier post about John Dickson’s will, I offered some information about Euphemia’s two marriages and her children, but I can now provide a fuller picture.

Although we know that John and Euphemia Dickson were brother and sister, I’ve yet to determine the names of their parents. If their burial records are to be believed, then they were born in 1757 and 1775 respectively, a gap of 18 years, which raises the possibility that they were children of the same father but different mothers. I’ve found a possible birth record for John, but I’ve yet to find to find any evidence of Euphemia’s birth or baptism. Given the Scottish connections of one and possibly both of her husbands, I wonder if the Dicksons were originally from Scotland?

Nineteenth century bakery

Euphemia married for the first time on 4th November 1804, when she was 29 years old, at St James, Piccadilly. Her first husband was Andrew Cassels, a baker like her brother John (his own marriage, to Sarah Rodbard, would take place in Little Stanmore just four days later). So far, I’ve been unable to find out much about Andrew’s origins. However, we know from his will that he had three surviving brothers: Alexander, George and John, and a sister Janet whose married name appears to be Styler, or similar. My theory about the possible Scottish origins of the Cassels family receives some support from an 1825 trade directory entry for Janet Cassels, confectioner and pastry cook in Trongate, Glasgow (if Andrew’s sister of this name was married by this time, this can’t be her: but it might be their mother?)

Andrew and Euphemia Cassels’ first child, a daughter named Euphemia or Euphemy, was born at 18 New Street Square on 18th August 1805 and christened at the parish church of St Bride, Fleet Street, on 15th September. (New Street Square ran off Great New Street, which would be home a few years later to Harriet Blanch and her husband, cutler Alfred Barnes. Harriet was the daughter of Thomas Blanch, brother of my 4 x great grandfather James.)

A second daughter, Mary, was born at the same address on 12th June 1807 and baptised at St Bride’s on 26th July. However, since she is not named in her father’s will, we must assume that she died in infancy. A son John was born to Andrew and Euphemia on 9th April 1809 and christened on 30th of the same month. Andrew Cassells died of consumption shortly afterwards, aged 32, and was buried at St Bride’s on 14th May 1809. Andrew’s will, signed and sealed on 1st  April while his wife was still pregnant with their son John, names his brother-in-law John Dickson, who was then living nearby in Fetter Lane, as one of his executors. He also leaves funds to enable ‘my dear wife Euphemia Cassels to carry on or conduct the said business or trade of a baker’. We know that Euphemia did this: the London and Country Directory of 1811 lists ‘Euphemy Cassels, baker’ at 18 New Street Square.

St Bride’s, Fleet Street

None of the children from Euphemia’s marriage to Andrew Cassels survived. John, who never knew his father, died in 1816 at the age of seven. Euphemy or Euphemia Cassels the younger died in 1825 when she was 20 years and one month old. Their mother had remarried on 10th March 1811, at the church of St Luke, Finsbury, to another baker, Alexander Cuthbert. The witnesses were Euphemia’s brother John Dickson and Frances Rodbard, the sister of his wife Sarah.

We know from Alexander Cuthbert’s burial record that he was born in 1784, and we can infer from later family records that his father was John Cuthbert, a labourer, and that he was almost certainly Scottish. From his will, we know that Alexander had a sister, Ann Elizabeth Milnie Cuthbert, who married licensed victualler Nathaniel Sellar or Sellars at St Bride, Fleet Street, in 1829. The Sellars lived in Shoe Lane and had at least two daughters: Ann (1830) and Jane Euphemia (1832), the latter’s middle name presumably in honour of her aunt.

After their marriage, Alexander and Euphemia Cuthbert appear to have remained in her property at 18 New Street Square. They had six children: Jane (1812), Ann (1814), Sarah (1816), Margaret (1817), Alexander (1819) and Joseph (1822), all born in New Street Square and all christened at St Bride’s, Fleet Street.

At some point the Cuthberts must have moved to Kentish Town, which is where Euphemia died in 1831 at the age of 56. She was buried at St Bride’s on 11th December. Her husband Alexander lived for two more years: he died, aged 49, in 1833, at 10 Mortimer Terrace, Kentish Town, and was buried at St Bride’s on 15th December. In his will, he describes himself as a ‘gentleman’, so perhaps by the time of their deaths he and Euphemia had earned enough to retire from the bakery business.

One of the executors of Alexander Cuthbert’s will was John Dickson, a merchant’s clerk of 18 Gough Square. This was Alexander’s nephew, the son of his late wife Euphemia’s brother, John Dickson senior. On 16th August 1851 John would marry Alexander and Euphemia’s daughter – his cousin – Ann Cuthbert, at St Mark’s church, Kennington. By that time, John was living in Penton Place, Clerkenwell, and working as an accountant: the census record from earlier that year describes John as an accountant to a silk merchant. John and Ann Dickson seem not to have had any children. In 1861, they were living in Charles Street, Islington, with their house servant.

Alexander Cuthbert’s sister Anne married for a second time in 1838, which means that her first husband, Nathaniel Sellars, must have died some time in the previous six years. Anne’s second husband was master shoemaker Alexander Grant, who seems to have been another Scot. Alexander and Ann were married at St Andrew’s, Holborn: both were said to be resident at 84 Fetter Lane. At some point, the Grants moved to Scotland.

Whitehills, Banffshire, today

At the time of the 1851 census Alexander and Anne Grant, together with Anne’s daughter Jane from her first marriage, could be found living in the coastal village of Whitehills in the parish of Boyndie, Banffshire. With them were their nephew Alexander Cuthbert, 31, and niece Sarah Cuthbert, 35, both described as annuitants. Also at the same address was eleven-year-old Helen Cuthbert, said to have been born in the parish of St Dunstan in the West, London. She can’t be the daughter of Alexander and Euphemia Cuthbert, who were both dead by the time she was born. She might be the daughter of another Cuthbert sibling – i.e. a brother of Alexander senior and Anne Grant née Cuthbert – but so far I’ve been unable to find any definite evidence of her origins.