Sources on the origins of the Cutting, Watts,
Brackenbury and Morter families of Elgin and Norfolk counties, Ontario,
by Jack Morter
Providing for the poor has long been a challenge in England of the 18th and 19th century. Under the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 emigration had become part of the culture, in a rural population that Britain no longer wanted. the steady stream of emigrants from Norfolk to Canada, Australia, The United States and New Zealand became a vast flood of hopeful humanity as Victoria's reign progressed, fleeing a homeland without jobs or prospects. The collapse of the agricultural economy brought about by cheap imports was not compensated by a rise in industry. Below are two entries in the Vestry Minute Book of North Walsham, Norfolk, England, 1844-1863 on how the village of North Walsham went about helping their poor.
March 20th 1851 At a meeting to consider raising or borrowing money for the emigration of the poor. Meeting adjourned to Thursday 27th instant at 11 o'clock. R.S.Baker, Chairman.
March 27th. At a Vestry to choose Parish officers. John Wortley &
R.S. Baker, Churchwardens. Messrs LeNeve, Thomas Burton, Robert Martin & Clipperton, Overseers. Messrs
W. Sharpe & Charles Cubitt, Surveyors. John Davidson, Samuel Bailey, Thomas Self Buck & Edward Bailey, Constables. Messrs
R. C. Lacey & Drake Sewell, Assessors & Collectors. Thomas Dry, Chairman. At the adjourned meeting to assist emigration of - Stephen Cutting, wife & Family, Christmas Watts ditto, James Brackenbury ditto, Mary Ann Morter & her family. Resolved to raise the sum of £120 as a fund for defraying the expenses of the emigration of Poor persons having settlements in this Parish and being willing to emigrate to be paid out of the Rates raised or to be raised for the relief of the poor in this parish and to be applied under such Rate orders and regulations as the Poor Law Commissioners shall on that behalf direct. signed by Thomas Dry, Minister, the Churchwardens and two Overseers, and witnessed by Mr M.J. Shepheard.
Extract from Vestry Meeting March 27 1851
At a meeting held pursuant the same day March 27 it was agreed to assist in Emigrating to New York the following families
Stephen Cutting, his Wife & Family
Christmas Watts, his Wife & Family
James Brakenbury, his Wife & Family
Mary Ann Morter & her Family
Copy of Resolution }
Raising Money }
Extract from next page - same date
It was resolved: That the Churchwardens and Overseers shall and they are hereby directed to raise the sum of £ 120 as a Fund for defraying the Expenses of the Emigration of Poor Persons having settlements in this Parish and being willing to emigrate to be paid out of the Rates raised or to be raised for the Relief of the Poor in this Parish and to be applied under such rules, Orders and Regulations, as the Poor Law Commissioners shall on their behalf direct.
All the pauper families mentioned above were in the Mar 1851 English census, North Walsham, Norfolk.
Based on Canadian census records and Ohio baptism records it is known they migrated between Apr 1851-Dec 1851. Mary Morter and her family settled in South Salem, Ross County, Ohio.
Stephen Cutting and family settled in Middleton Township, Norfolk
County, Ontario and are in the 1852 census. The Watts and Brackenbury/Brakenbury
families settled in Bayham, Elgin County, Ontario. An exact date as to when they left England
and sailing information is unknown.
A closing note on Mary Ann Morter, who died Apr 1852 in South Salem, Ohio. A family story stated she was the half sister to Queen Victoria and in the 1960s a number of US papers wrote articles on the subject.