Sunday, June 19, 2011

The "Perhaps" ancestor begets a "Perhaps" ancestor

You may remember that I have many "Perhaps" ancestors in my tree. These are the ancestors that may or may not be in my line, as I may or may not have conclusive proof...we are "perhaps" related. In my post here I wrote about a particularly curious "perhaps" ancestor: Robert Cutler. Robert is perhaps the brother of my proved ancestor, James Cutler. I know that James lived in Richland County, Ohio in the mid-1800s and that he immigrated from England. I found Robert Cutler, also from England, in the same county at the same time. Too much coincidence for this researcher, but I could find no proof of their connection. I did, however, find a story online about Robert Cutler stating that he was from Wheatacre Parish, Norfolk, England. Again, without any proof I let this lead lie.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago when I finally received a terrific genealogy prize that I have been waiting impatiently for. Many months ago I stumbled upon a holding at the Wichita State University Libraries, you can read more about that find here and here. A couple of days ago I received a copy of "Genealogy and History of the Branch of the Bodine Family Founded by John Bodine, A soldier of the Revolutionary War and a pioneer of the state of N. J." written by Maude Cutler Scholfield. Yes, there is Cutler again. Ms. Scholfield happened to write not only about the Bodine line but there were snippets in the copies about the Cutlers, to include the following:
"A letter addressed to my grandfather, James Cutler, and authored by his mother, Sarah Cutler, his sister Esther, (both of whom lived at Wheatacre) and a married sister, Sarah Hayward, living in Beccles, England), postmarked April 11, 1842, is in my possession, given me by my mother Mary Cutler Myers. Using the information in this letter as a lead I visited Beccles in August of 1961 and learned that Wheatacre is a small hamlet across the river in Norfolk County where All Saints Church is located. From records kept there I learned that James Cutler was born on the nearby "Church Farm", owned by his parents, Robert and Sarah Wrinch Cutler, and who are buried in the All Saints Church yard. These facts were verified by my niece, Marie Morrill Johnston and her husband Bruce, who visited Beccles, Wheatacre, and All Saints Church later on. Arthur L. Myers"

This addendum alone was well worth the wait of the document. Not only did the author have a letter in hand written to James Cutler, he also knew James' mother's and sisters' names and the location they wrote from. And as if that weren't enough he had researched that family in England and found them. ARE YOU SERIOUS? I ask you, does it get any better than this? Yes, yes it does.

Armed with a location and numerous names I then began to research for records of Wheatacre-All Saints parish. This is the first time I have done records research in England so I wasn't sure of the best place to start which always leads me to a Google search. I searched for "Wheatacre Norfolk Records" and low and behold the first link was to the FamilySearch Wiki (a glorious resource of which I will laud the accolades of in another post). The Wheatacre wiki page has a photo of the church and a little more information. It also states "This parish does not appear on Record Search as no microfilm for the parish is held." Good to know, but I would not be deterred. Someone had to have transcriptions of records from the area. I once again headed to Google and opted to widen my search parameters. I searched for "Norfolk England Parish Records" and once again my Mormon friends came through: another link to the FamilySearch wiki, this time to "England, Norfolk, Church of England Bishops’ Transcripts."  This page includes a link to 210, 055 images of Bishop records for the Diocese of Norfolk. The database includes images from 1685-1941, and while not complete or indexed, with a little effort you can find what you are looking for:
James Cutler's birth record (1815), from Wheatacre-All Saints Parish Records, Norfolk, England
Robert Cutler's birth record (1807), from Wheatacre-All Saints Parish Records, Norfolk, England
James Cutler had a brother named Robert. The dates all fit the records I have found in America for the pair. I have now converted Robert Cutler from a "perhaps" ancestor to flesh and blood. Hooray! Of course, in the process of proving the relationship between James and Robert I opened many new "perhaps" avenues in Wheatacre. Their mother, Sarah, is listed as nee Wrinch. I can find only one record of a Wrinch (other than Sarah) in the Wheatacre records and that is a burial record for one William Wrinch, aged 75, died 1808. Is he her father or grandfather? Perhaps.


Nancy said...

Congratulations!!! I have plenty of "perhaps" ancestors too - finally connected two as brothers but still have too many more. Your success encourages to keep at it. Something is bound to turn up one of these days.

For your Wrinch ancestors, don't forget to try spelling variations. Most obvious is Rinch but there are probably others.

zelsersk said...

That is rockin' awesome. Cutler is such a common name in England and you found gold that tells you about your specific Cutler's. Heather, I think it is a funny coincidence that you have McGuire somewhere on your tree that you've talked about plus some Cutler's. I have McGuire's on my Dad's side (I am a McGuire by birth myself), Maguire's of Louth on my mother's side, and I have a Richard Flanagan on my mother's side who married a Maria Cutler in London circa 1870. I was looking up the Cutler line briefly and that name is a frequent surname in London circa 1870. You are lucky to have so much. I am hoping that you have the world addition of because records in England are pretty darn good on there.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Nancy, good tip on trying different spellings. I have looked through every single page of the parish records (that are online) and there are only a couple of instances of "wrinch" or anything close. I'm assuming they are from somewhere else nearby and I probably need to branch out to other parishes.

zelsersk, It was the McGuire name that led me to your blog in the first place! This is the first time I have researched ancestors in England so I will have to take your advice and try out the records. Thanks!

Rosemary said...

Heather, don't forget the Archdeacon's transcripts as well as the Bishop's transcripts. FreeREG ( is very well populated for Norfolk and gives more detail than FamilySearch does.