Cuthbert Miscellany

Here is where you will read any stories of interest about the siblings and other relatives of my direct ancestors on the Cuthbert lineage.

The Culbert Orphans

First up are the children of Samuel and Isabella Culbert who died in Paisley in 1865. You can read Samuel and Isabella’s story here. Their orphaned children were all too young to be independent, the eldest George being 12, Samuel 10, Isabella 5 and Jessie 2 so I became quite obsessed with this family, determined to discover what happened to them after the death of their parents. It has been a source of great frustration that I simply cannot find trace of them (except for Jessie) between the years 1865 and 1877, they are just missing from all records I have searched. Samuel as you know became my grandfather, his story is here. Isabella continues to elude me but George and Jessie have their own stories to be told.


The first date I found any record of George was when he was a witness at the marriage of my great-grandparents Samuel and Janet in 1877. A year later in 1878, George married Isabella Crawford on 22nd November in Sorn, Ayrshire. Why he was in Sorn? I assume he left Glasgow seeking work and appears to have found it on a farm, as his occupation on the marriage register entry is that of ploughman and residence is Fenwick. If it wasn’t for the fact that his parents are named on the certificate, I would have dismissed this record as the wrong person. Isabella, who was born in Sorn, is described as a farm servant so I am making the assumption that they both worked at the same farm in the village of Fenwick.

George and Isabella moved back to Glasgow by 1880, living in Strathbungo and then Tradeston. According to census returns, George worked variously as a carter, a hammerman, (this probably meant working in a foundry), a mason’s labourer and a general labourer. The couple had eleven children of which eight were still living in 1911 according to the detail on the census entry for Isabella. The picture below is taken from Ancestry. It is on several trees so I have no concern in using it here. I have tried to make contact several times to ask permission but had no response. The picture shows George on the left with Isabella on the right and their children surrounding them. Assuming the baby on Isabella’s lap to be the youngest child, Nellie, then the picture must be from 1899/1900

At some time after this picture and before 1901, George and Isabella separated and in the 1901 census are living apart. Isabella as a ladies nurse in a household and George with youngest daughter Nellie at 23 Bellerslie Street, George is a general labourer working for Glasgow Corporation. In the same building lives his daughter Jessie now married to Robert Sharp. In 1913 George and Nellie aged 15 set sail from Glasgow to Quebec, Canada on the steamship Scandinavian. I believe George either lied about his age or wasn’t sure because his age on the passenger list is 10 years younger than he would have been according to other records. He was born about 1853 which is proven by all other records we have about him, so in 1913 he would have been 60 or 61, but on the passenger list, his age is shown as 51 instead of 61. I don’t believe there was an age limit to emigration so I don’t know why he would lie.

In about 1915 George returned to Glasgow from Canada alone Nellie having remained there, and for a short time he lived with wife Isabella before they again separated. Sadly in 1921 he, or more probably his daughter Jessie Sharp on his behalf, made an application for poor relief, the document describes him as an old man who is very doited, this means his faculties were impaired, usually by age – probably a kind of dementia. His application was refused as he was claiming settlement on Glasgow but was unable to prove his birth place (which wasn’t Glasgow in any case). The document is a fantastic source of information about some of the other family members so I have put a link to it below should you wish to see it.

George died of hemiplegia, probably caused by a stroke on 15th November 1924 in Barnhill Poorhouse Infirmary. His usual residence is given on the on the death certificate as 8 Brown Street, Wishaw. Remember that address!


My search for Jessie led me down a trail following a different Jessie Culbert whose story touched me so much that I decided to tell it anyway, you can read that HERE.

Our Jessie at just 2 years old was just a baby when her parents died, she was taken out of Abbey poorhouse in October that year by ‘a friend’ according to the poor relief application made later that same year in December. The document is a bit confusing as it also refers to Govan parish which bordered Renfrew (Abbey parish was in Paisley, Renfrew). This application for relief when she was just two and a half years old was refused by Abbey parish as having no settlement there (she was born about a mile away in High Church parish!). Fortunately for Jessie, an uncle, William Culbert took her out of the workhouse to live with him and his family in Glasgow, where I found her on the 1871 census – niece to head of household, aged 9. I don’t know if he was the person who first removed her from Abbey in the October of 1865 and then tried to take her back in December! Having been refused, did he then take her back home with him? Or was it someone else who took her the first time and he then rescued her the second time? We’ll never know the answer as the ‘friend’ isn’t named.

Jessie appears to have lived in William’s household between December 1865 and at least April 1871 when the census was taken. She was at this stage still using the name Culbert, though this would change sometime during the next 10 years. After his act of kindness, imagine my shock on finding that in 1872, William and his family emigrated to New Zealand, leaving Jessie behind. She would only have been 9 or 10 so I don’t know what would have happened to her, perhaps a neighbour took her in. More likely I think is that her brothers George and Samuel who were by this time 19 and 17 had perhaps arrived in Glasgow and took her in. Someone must have been taking care of her.

On the 1881 census, Jessie is a patient in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, what her illness was isn’t shown but her occupation is given as Japanner. Japanning was a form of decorative lacquer work mostly on ornaments and furniture but some car manufacturers also used it. Her name is now shown as Cuthbert and not Culbert which makes me think she had been living with George and/or Samuel when Uncle William left for New Zealand as both brothers were by now using the name Cuthbert.

At some time during the next ten years, Jessie finds employment as a domestic servant as by 1891 she is working in the Manse of the Minister of the United Presbytarian church in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Quite how she found herself there is a mystery, perhaps the minister had started out in a Glasgow parish and took Jessie with him when he relocated to Bute, I would have to dig more than I am willing or able to discover that, but there she was and there she met her husband to be. Jessie married David Jackson in June of 1895. He was a widower who had two children, a son, William aged 9 and a daughter Janet aged 4. David was a coal miner born in Ireland who now lived in Wishaw, close to Glasgow, his previous wife and eldest son had died. Why and for how long was he on Bute? I don’t know and again would have to spend more time to discover it, but I’m sure Jessie was pleased that he was.

Jessie and David had no children together but appear on both the 1901 and 1911 census, they are living in Wishaw, Cambusnethan, Lanark. David is still working as a coal miner and in 1911 their address is 8 Brown Street, Wishaw. Recognise that address? This was where George was living at the time of his death. It looks very likely to me that George and Samuel took Jessie in when they were young men and she has done the same for her elderly, ‘very doited’ brother George sometime after 1921, taking care of him until his death. I can’t tell you how touched I am by this thought.

I haven’t been able to find a death record for Jessie but will keep searching. I like to imagine that she lived to a grand old age.