Ancestors Regained


The following is part of Extended Research carried out by us into the Scott family.

Whilst the special requests built into our brief make it, strictly, an example of Extended Customised Research, it does include use of several of the search and analytical techniques employed normally in the research into Family Surname Lines. It can usefully, therefore, also provide an idea of what might be involved in some Family Tree Research.

Readers must be warned, even so, that being an example of Extended Research the analysis here is especially focussed and developed, and so continues beyond what could normally be achieved in any first stage of research.

Moreover, because no two family histories are the same, research into some can prove more productive than others.

To research the Scott line back from Alice Winifred Scott, and, in particular, to ascertain:

  • the reason for the family's emigration to Canada shortly before WW1
  • what happened to Edward Scott after he left Montreal
  • whether, as claimed, the Scotts were related to the novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott.

Information Provided
The following key items of information about the Scott family drawn from a single source - a letter written in 1978 by Alice Winifred's sister, Hilda, and an accompanying handful of photographs - were provided as a starting point:

  • the family was said to be descended from Sir Walter Scott
  • Edward Scott, Alice Winifred's father, had been born in Norwich
  • he became Professor of Music
  • he had a large family, Alice Winifred being the first-born
  • Edward left for Montreal with his family in the early part of the 20th century
  • Alice Winifred returned to England to marry
  • Edward left the family in Montreal in search of improved job prospects but never returned and was presumed dead
  • family members returned to England when Alice Winifred's husband became seriously ill in 1920.

Stage 1: research into Edward Scott's early years

  • A search for Alice Winifred's father in the 1891 Census was carried out in order to establish his age at that time and so work out the likely year of his birth. An Edward Scott who was a 'teacher of music' and who had a daughter 'Alice W' was, as expected, found to be living in Norwich [ref: RG12/1530, folio 44]. Other information set aside for the moment, it was noted that Edward was at that time 26 years old, which meant he would have been born 1864/65.
  • A follow-up search in the 1864 GRO Index of Births revealed an entry in the Second Quarter for an Edward Gulfillan Scott born in the registration district of Norwich. The Birth Certificate, which was subsequently ordered, recorded that Edward had been born on the 12th April 1864 in the Back of the Inns, in the sub-district of Mancroft, Norwich. His mother was Arabella Scott, formerly Montgomery, and his father was James Scott who was a cutler.
  • The Back of the Inns - an area that still exists - is 200 yards east of the Market Place which is at the city centre.
  • Building on this early information, a search of the 1871 Census (the first census that would have fallen within Edward's lifetime) revealed that by this time the Scott family had moved to Bethel Street in the Civil Parish of St Peter Mancroft - the other side of the Market Place. The entry shows that Edward has an elder brother Frederick J (9 years) and an elder sister Margaret E (14 years). All three children are described as 'scholars', being still in education. Edward's mother, Arabella, is 48 and was born in Ireland. Edward's father, James, is 53 and is described as a 'cutler and licensed hawker'. He was born in Scotland. [Ref: RG10/1817, folio 70.]
  • The 1881 Census records the Scott family still in Bethel Street [ref: RG11/1947, folio 107]. Edward is 16 and, it seems, now the only child at home. He is a 'clerk at [the] gas works'. Arabella, presumably freed up from some of her family chores, is working as a 'register office keeper'. ( White's History, Gazetteer & Directory of Norfolk, 1883 is more specific about her workplace which is described as a 'register office for servants'.) Her job suggests she is an educated woman. James is described as a 'cutler and jeweller', a notable upgrade from 'cutler and licensed hawker'. He gives his Scottish place of birth as Greenock. There is a live-in servant - an unmarried 45-year-old 'general domestic' from Reepham, Norfolk. Live-in servants were not a sign of wealth at this time in history. Even so, it would seem that the Scotts are enjoying at least some limited degree of increased financial security.

Stage 2: research into Edward Scott's early married life

  • Returning to the 1891 Census, which had been our starting point, a closer study shows that Edward is by this time a married man with four children. He is 26, whilst his wife, Alice C, a local girl – Norwich born – is 29. The children are:

    Alice W (6)
    Frances A (5)
    Arabella MM (3)
    Ernest B (1).

Clearly, Edward's family is fast-expanding. They are living at 55 St Giles Hill, next to Gaffer's Buildings (a tenement housing 8 families) and a short distance from Bethel Street. Edward is described as a 'clerk, organist and teacher of music'. It would seem that his employment at the gas works has continued, and he supplements his income by teaching music (probably the piano, the more popular keyboard alternative). The organ playing may have taken place at St Peter Mancroft, his old parish church, which stands to this day at the end of Bethel Street, overlooking the Market Place. (Whilst there is no record of him as a principal organist - that role was filled from 1877 to 1908 by Dr Edward Bunnett, who as city organist also played in the cathedral - there were assistant organists, though none of these seems to have made the record books.)

Organ playing is particularly demanding, and combined with any teaching would have been likely to occupy a significant part of Edward's life. One can imagine music becoming his special passion.

Even so, his job at the gas works would not have been without its advantages. It would have been more prestigious than it at first sounds to us today, since gas, like the other major services - electricity and water and sewage treatment - was at that time at the forefront of housing, health and industrial development, making available to many improved living conditions previously not dreamt of. Indeed, all in all, it is likely that Edward would have been perceived, at this time, as a model up-and-coming middle class member of the community.

  • A search of the GRO Indexes of Marriages back in the early 80's (the most likely time of Edward's marriage, given Alice Winifed's age of 6 in the1891 Census) revealed that in the Final Quarter of 1883 an Edward Gulfillan Scott had married in the registration district of Norwich. The Marriage Certificate that was subsequently ordered recorded that a marriage by licence took place between Edward Gulfillan Scott and Alice Catherine Dixon on 25th December 1883 at St. Peter's Wesleyan Chapel. Edward is described as an 'accountant' and he is 19 years old. His father, James, is described as 'cutler and jeweller'. Alice Catherine is a spinster of 21 years who has been living at Flint House, St. Giles Hill. Her father, Benjamin Dixon is deceased. He had been a chemist. The witnesses are James Scott and Elizabeth Jane Dixon. It is most probable that this James Scott is Edward's father; might Elizabeth Jane Dixon be Alice Catherine's mother? Both witnesses supply their own signatures and are therefore literate.
  • By the time of the 1901 Census, Edward and Alice Catherine's children had grown to 8 in number [ref: RG13/1833, folio 5]:

    Alice Winifred (16)
    Frances Annie (15)
    Arabella Margaret (13)
    Ernest Barrington (11)
    Edith Eleanor (8)
    Frederick Pillow (6)
    Hilda Mary (3)
    Henry Gilfillan* (1)

    *From this time Edward and any of his children bearing this middle name adopted this spelling of the original 'Gulfillan'.

  • In order to get a 'top-up' picture of the family, a supplementary search of the GRO Indexes of Births was made stretching from the time of the 1901 Census to1910 by which time it was understood that the family would have almost certainly been in Canada. Birth Certificates that were subsequently ordered revealed that a further two children to Edward and Alice Catherine had arrived:

    Adela Gilfillan (born 1902)
    Bernard Gilfillan (born 1905).

Like many of his contemporaries, Edward had a large family to support.

  • Of special interest in the 1901 Census had been the description of Edward as an 'employer' and 'boot factor'; and a study of local directories confirmed that Edward had by this time become a part of the Norwich boot and shoe industry. In Kelly's Directories of Norfolk, 1900 and1904, 'Scott & Cousins' are recorded as being 'boot and shoe factors' at 18 Colegate Street, 80, 82 and 100 St Benedict's Street, 29 Magdalen Street, 84 Ber Street, 9 Rupert Street and 14 St Stephens Street, Norwich, and 'boot and shoe manufacturers' at 24 Regent Street, and 11a Broad Row, Gt. Yarmouth. Edward was probably the senior partner in what would seem to be a sizeable boot and shoe business.
  • The 1901 Census also revealed that Edward was living at a different address - 'Oaklands', Spixworth Road, in the civil parish of Catton on the northern outskirts of Norwich. Oaklands is next door to St Paul's Vicarage, where Michael Lutterwaite Jackson, his wife, Margaret Ellen, and son, Bernard Cecil, 'graduate of Christ College, Cambridge' reside. Other neighbours include Walter Edwards, 'boot manufacturer', Frederick Spencer Cullen, 'chemist', William Coke Gee, 'cigar merchant', George Base, 'oil merchant', Robert Kerrison Jumper, 'coal merchant', and William Henry Sellex, 'water carrier's manager'. This is very different from life next to Gaffer's tenement block on St Giles Hill. Clearly, Edward has moved upmarket.
  • The impression is reinforced by an early photograph of Alice Winifred and Frances (circa 1898?), which shows the sisters in fashionable, expensive dresses, and shoes of striking quality - presumably examples of the craftsmanship to be found within Edward's own boot and shoe business. [Ref: photo 1.]
  • Most dramatically, however, additional research within the City of Norwich uncovered in 18 Colegate Street - which is still standing - almost glamorous evidence of Edward's extraordinary business success. Probably the showpiece business base of 'Scott & Cousins', this was a Georgian structure designed by the architect Robert Harvey, circa 1727, and perhaps the grandest of the merchants' houses in the most prestigious of merchant streets. It would seem that Edward was not only enjoying the benefits of his business success, he was also displaying them to the world. [Ref: photo 2.]
  • The question arising from all this is: 'How did Edward manage to set up such a sizeable boot and shoe business, when his experience in that industry was, at the time of the 1891 Census, seemingly negligible, and when his job as clerk at the gas works would have provided a salary easily exhausted by a large and fast-growing family?'

Stage 3: research into the financial resources behind Edward's business venture

  • White's History, Gazetteer & Directory of Norfolk, 1890 lists a single bootmaker with the name of Cousins who was based in Norwich at that time, before the partnership with Edward was established. He was Francis G. Cousins of 34 St Benedict Street. This street connected Bethel Street, where Edward had been brought up, to St Giles Hill, where Edward had lived when first married, so it would be of no surprise to learn that he had come to know the bootmaker.
  • There is nothing to suggest in White's 1890 Directory that Francis Cousins' business was anything but modest; and if it makes sense to think of him as solely providing 'Scott and Cousins' with the expertise in boot- and shoe-making, then it makes sense also to think of Edward, with his experience in accounting, as having taken on the role of front man with the business acumen and contacts responsible for providing the company with the financial backing necessary to expand.
  • Even so, how might a clerk at the gasworks secure such contacts? We decided to see if Edward had come into money which might have supported his business venture.
  • Researching the GRO Indexes of Deaths revealed that Edward's father had died in the First Quarter of 1890 [James Scott, Age 72, District Norwich, Vol.4b, Page 89]. A follow-up search for a record of probate in the National Probate Calendar turned up an intriguing surprise: probate dated 4th June 1890 was recorded in the name of 'GULFILLAN James Scott otherwise SCOTT James'. Clearly, for whatever reason, Edward's father James had been operating under an alias.
  • The Will [ref: 1890/G/594] was ordered from the Principal Registry, where it had been proved. Since James had been a cutler and jeweller probably working from Norwich Market Place, it was no surprise to learn that probate rated the gross value of his personal estate at a modest £117.12s 3d. Edward did not anyway figure in the will, his sister, Margaret Eleanor, being the sole beneficiary. Maybe there had been a falling out between father and son; or maybe Edward had been gifted his share earlier, perhaps in preparation for his business venture. Whatever the truth of this matter, serious financial backing would have needed to come from elsewhere.
  • We looked at Alice Catherine's side of the family to see if that provided the answer. The 1881 Census reveals that Alice Catherine, two years before her marriage to Edward, was living in the civil parish of Heigham at 30 Grapes Hill (very soon to be renamed St Giles Hill) a few doors away from where Edward and Alice Catherine would settle. Mentioned also in the census return are her sister, Elizabeth, who was younger than her by two years, and her mother, Elizabeth Jane Dixon (who was to be one of the witnesses at Alice Catherine's wedding). Elizabeth Jane was at this time a widow, and it would seem that because of this, she and her children were relying on the support of her own widowed mother, 75-year-old Sarah Gaffer, who is recorded as the 'head' of the household and 'house owner' [ref: RG11/1951, folio 70].

The latter detail is more significant than it might at first seem today, for in the 19th century most people tended to lease rather than actually own property. To be an owner of property suggested a degree of wealth.

  • A search for the death of Sarah Gaffer in the GRO Indexes of Deaths turned up an entry in the First Quarter of 1883. The Death Certificate that was subsequently ordered recorded her death as having taken place on 25th February 1883 in the civil parish of Heigham - exactly 10 months before the marriage of Alice Catherine to Edward. The timing was interesting. Alice Catherine might well have been an heiress.
  • However, a search for a will for Sarah Gaffer proved frustratingly fruitless. A trawl through 20 years of the National Probate Calendar - an extensive search that would probably cover the possibility of probate having been delayed because of the will being contested - produced nothing.
  • A search for a Death Duty Register did not produce results, either, and a different approach was consequently adopted. Perhaps research into the marriage of Sarah Gaffer and any will left by her husband would throw light upon widow Sarah's financial situation at the time of her death in 1883.
  • A search of the 1851 Census - which was felt to be probably early enough to provide some useful information about Sarah's husband and their family which would have at that time included Elizabeth Jane - revealed a Sarah Gaffer (46) living with husband Samuel (50) and daughter Elizabeth (21) at 12 Church Alley in the parish of St Augustine, Norwich. Elizabeth was a milliner and Samuel was a 'house agent' [ref: HO107/1812, folio 349].
  • In the Census of 1861 Samuel is described as an 'estate agent' [ref: RG9/1220, folio 6]. He is living now on Grapes Hill in the parish of Heigham, a few doors away from 'Gaffer's Court' (renamed 'Gaffers Buildings' by the time of the 1891 Census when Alice Catherine and Edward were living next door). As in 1891, eight families occupied 'Gaffer's Court' in 1861. It would seem that Samuel Gaffer's business had been expanding, and that he had become involved not only in the letting of houses but also the building of them. He was into real estate.
  • In the Census of 1871 Sarah Gaffer (64) is recorded as the 'Head' of the family living on Grapes Hill in the civil parish of Heigham. She is a 'Retired Agent' and a widow. Her daughter Elizabeth J. Dixon (42) is staying with children Angelina E. (17), Harry B. (15), Alice C. (9) - later to become Edward's wife - and Annie E. (8). Elizabeth Jane is still married, though there is no mention of her husband, Benjamin [ref: RG10/1821, folio 47].
  • Clearly, Samuel Gaffer had died sometime between 1861 and 1871. A search of these years in the National Probate Calendar revealed a record of a will drawn up by Samuel Gaffer and proved in Norwich on 21st July 1868. The Will [ref: 1868/G/308] which was subsequently ordered was quite long (5 sheets of closely packed handwriting) and its structure surprisingly convoluted, even by lawyers' standards. It seemed that it was being painstakingly fussy, in order to ensure that both his wife, Sarah, and his daughter, Elizabeth Jane, and any children she might have, would be guaranteed to benefit from his accumulated wealth, in particular his real estate.

Since this was well before the Married Woman's Property Act of 1882/83 which allowed married women for the first time to write wills of their own and to have control over their own property in their lifetime, it was clear that Samuel had been particularly concerned about the possibility of his hard-earned estate falling out of the control of those family members nearest and dearest to him. Consequently, whilst his wife was to benefit outright from his personal estate, the business - that is, the 'real estate, messuages, lands etc' - would be managed by Francis James Norton (presumably a trusted friend or business partner) who would pass on profits to Sarah. This process would continue for the benefit of the sole daughter, Elizabeth Jane, and for her children also, should Elizabeth Jane die before they reached 21.

As Samuel's will had in effect secured his personally earned wealth through to the time when his daughter, Elizabeth Jane, would inherit, there would have been no need for any will to be written by Sarah herself. This explained why the earlier search for Sarah Gaffer's will had produced nothing.

  • The Death Duty Register of Samuel Gaffer, which we were then able to locate, was dated 14th March 1868 [IR26/2554, folio643], and confirms this is indeed what happened. Moreover, it includes additional annotation running through to February 1919, the time of probate following the death of Samuel Gaffer's daughter, Elizabeth Jane, which was recorded in the register as being on 13th December 1918. It would seem from this that she had been drawing on the proceeds of the estate a full 50 years after Samuel died.
  • So the Gaffer fortune was fully intact when Elizabeth Jane Dixon inherited it in 1883, and any child of Elizabeth Jane would have been in a position to benefit from any handouts and arrangements their mother was able and willing to organise.
  • Certainly, it seems very likely that by the mid 1890s, Edward, with his fast-expanding boot and shoe empire, would have been greatly impressing the Gaffer-Dixons, and any investments made would have been understood to be paying dividends.
  • So what happened to make Edward decide to leave all behind him in order to start a new life in a far-away continent?

Stage 4: research into why Edward left for Canada

  • A search through the Register of Petitions in Bankruptcy 1892-1923 revealed a petition (Number 38, 9th August 1904) which had been filed for Edward Gilfillan Scott of 'Scott and Cousins'. His business premises were - as we had earlier come to believe - at 18 Colgate Street . Scott and Cousins were 'boot factors and shoe buyers'. There was to be a 'public examination' on 26th September 1904. The date of the trustees' release was set at 29th March 1906 - over 18 months later.
  • There was not an additional petition filed in the name of Francis G Cousins, and it seems the partnership must have split up around the time of the bankruptcy. Edward was to be taking full responsibility for the collapse of the business.
  • As expected, the separate stages of the bankruptcy procedure were found outlined in the London Gazette [1904 (vol 3, 5323, 5521,5336, 6038); 1905 (vol 1, 106, 1089; vol 2, 3837, 4534; vol 3, 6434; vol 4, 7234); 1906 (vol 2, 2790)]. However, the most vivid insight into Edward's nightmare situation comes from a newspaper report of the 'public examination' of 26th September. Published Tuesday September 27th 1904 in the Eastern Daily Press the report stretches beyond two full columns of broadsheet. It is entitled:




Salient points from this report which help us to modify or further extend our understanding of Edward's life-story include:

  1. The debtor - Edward - was in August 1891 deputy-chief clerk in the British Gas Light Company, Limited, and was also a teacher of music and an organist.
  2. At that time he purchased the business of a boot repairer named Bushell who became manager. He began trading as a boot factor though he had no knowledge of the trade. The firm was known as Bushell & Co.
  3. His capital was £500, £300 of which was given him by his wife.
  4. In October 1892 Edward, having in the meantime acquired various other shops, gave up his job at the Gas Works in order to devote himself to his own business.
  5. Bushell had been replaced by Cousins as manager, and the business was known as 'Scott, Cousins & Co'.
  6. A partnership, limited to one of the shops, was formed with Edward's sister's husband who found £300 capital, and was to have a share in the profits, though he was to take no part in the business itself. This partnership lasted until 1902 when a deed of dissolution was drawn up but not gazetted.
  7. A new partner, a man from Leicester called Alderson, provided capital of £1000. Edward believed he had been solvent at the time. No official account was made to show assets and liabilities, but the understanding had been that Edward's own input would be fixtures to the value of £850 and stock at £3979. Goodwill had been taken at £2250.
  8. Edward's business was hit by competition when Alderson fell out with him and opened up a rival business in Norwich.
  9. By the time of the Petition of Bankruptcy in 1904 Edward's liabilities were £10,558.13s.1d. and the deficiency was £7792. 5s. 1d.
  10. The Official Receiver was particularly concerned about missing paperwork and the possibility of irregularities during a time when Edward was under pressure from creditors. These irregularities included, among other things, selling off parts of the business - including 84 Ber Street which went to his manager, Mr Cousins - along with stock and other items. This, it was suggested, was done in order to realise capital to pay off creditors who were either relatives, friends or professional men - such as his solicitor - whose services would remain especially important to him in the difficult months to come, and to ignore other long-standing creditors of less immediate importance to him. His wife, Alice Catherine, his mother- in- law, Elizabeth Jane Dixon, along with other family members, were referred to specifically by the Official Receiver. All this and more was going on at this time, it was suggested - in particular, some questionable dealings contrived through the involvement of a middleman and indicating the increasing desperation of Edward's manoeuvres to keep his head above water.
  11. The proceedings, carried out humiliatingly in public, were adjourned, allowing Edward time to come up with some of the missing paperwork
  • The 'public examination' would have been probably the worst bit for Edward. However, the bankruptcy procedure was to continue for another 16 months, and it is difficult to imagine Edward at the end of it as being anything other than exhausted and deeply humiliated, as well as personally penniless. One can fully understand Edward's desire to get well away from Norwich and make a fresh start elsewhere.

Stage 5: research into Edward's emigration to Canada

  • A search of Passenger Lists revealed Alice Catherine and children leaving Liverpool for Montreal on the Lake Eyrie of the Canadian Pacific Line on 3rd June 1908 [ref: BT27/571]. The journey took 21 days. The family travelled Second Class (group ticket number 12665). Four members are not accounted for, however: Alice Winifred, Arabella, Ernest and Edward himself.

Reasoning that at least Edward would have already been in Montreal at this time, research back from 1908 to 1907 in order to try and pinpoint the time of his emigration revealed, first, that the eldest daughter Alice Winifred had sailed alone from Liverpool to Montreal on the Tunisian of the Allan Line on 28th May 1908 (ticket number 24312) [ref: BT27/570] - presumably to check that everything was in place for the arrival of her younger brothers and sisters (appropriate accommodation, provisions and so on) and to provide her father with any last minute help. Further research back through the passenger lists revealed that Ernest, the eldest son, had behaved similarly over a year earlier, making the journey from Liverpool on 2nd March1907 on the Lake Champlain of the Allan Line [ref: BT27/528]. He is recorded in the passenger list as E B Scott, a 'labourer' of 17 years, (ticket number 12164). He would have been helping to check out the suitability of the planned move, most probably - work prospects, and so on - before instructions were sent for the rest of the family to join them in Montreal. Finally, researching still farther back into 1906 we came across a damaged entry [ref: BT27/500] which could well be a record of Edward's journey. If so, then he travelled Saloon Class from Liverpool on the SS Victorian of the Allan Line. The sailing was on the 31st August 1906, just over a fortnight after his youngest son Bernard's first birthday on 14th August, and five months since the completion of the bankruptcy proceedings schedule.

  • There was no record of Arabella making the journey to Canada, and a different tack - research into GRO marriage records from the year of her 18th birthday,1906, through to 1908 - revealed that on 18th April 1908 she married a Tottenham warehouseman, George Lovelock, in the parish of Pakefield, Suffolk. Clearly, she had reason to stay.
  • Hilda's surviving letter of 1978 describes a happy Montreal home for the youngest children who enjoyed the comfort of central heating and a play area 'with a balcony facing the open fields with lots of fragrant chicory'. For the adults and some of the older children it must have been a more anxious time, however: if Edward couldn't successfully provide for his family there would have been the inevitable fear that a time would come when any financial backup provided by Alice Catherine might dry up. If that happened, then the likelihood would be a return journey to England.
  • So how had Edward tried to provide for his family now that he was making that fresh start in Montreal?

The answer is perhaps no surprise. It was provided by Alice Winifred at the time of her marriage which we tracked down in the GRO Index of Marriages, the wedding having taken place back in England.

Setting to one side for now detailed research into the event itself and the unfolding nature of Alice Winifred's early married life, it is pertinent to observe that a return across the Atlantic at this time would not have been likely to pose for Alice Winifred the special problems that her father would have had to contend with. Indeed, that the Marriage Certificate that we ordered does not include the signature of Edward as witness is presumably because he did not make the journey.

As for hard information about Edward that one can draw directly from the Marriage Certificate, his occupation is no longer described as 'boot factor' or 'accountant' but 'Professor of Music'. If we take his daughter's information at face value, Edward is by now a professional music teacher.

  • Certainly, it would seem from a party photo taken in Montreal [ref: photo 3] that the family was mixing with the well-to-do middle class of the city - a music teacher's most likely clientele; and very probably Edward would have cultivated useful contacts, including parents of potential pupils, on his sea journey to Montreal, when travelling 'saloon' class amongst the higher echelons of society. (Included with Edward among the twenty entries on the same damaged passenger sheet are Lord and Lady Playfair, the Reverend HP Whidden, Sir HM Allan and Major and Mrs J Rettich.)
  • Even so, Edward's family was still large, and even with the financial support of those children who might by now have been working, expenses could still have outstripped income. Undoubtedly, teaching people to play the piano would have proved an uncertain way to prevent Alice Catherine's money from running low. The notion of Edward's further journeying - searching for that elusive break - makes sense. Anything but head back for England.

We came across nothing to suggest that Hilda's belief in her father's intentions was unfounded.

Stage 6: research into what became of Edward

  • Hilda's letter does not suggest when Edward left Montreal. However, she does state that he never came back: that Alice Catherine waited with her family for Edward to return to Montreal, but that when Alice Winifred wrote with the news that her husband was seriously ill she took it upon herself to journey back to England to give her daughter support. This was in 1920. There is no evidence that anything was ever heard again of Edward, and he was presumed dead.
  • Perhaps Edward's venture might seem pretty madcap to us in the cold light of day. However, things may have been getting pretty desperate for him, with money running out. And anyway, this wouldn't have been the first time he had presented to his wife and family a plan to travel afar on his own in search of fresh opportunities that ultimately would benefit them all. He had sent for them then, in 1908, from across the Atlantic: he would send for them again.
  • We checked available census returns to see if the assumed death of Edward was borne out by the evidence. In Canada, as in England, censuses beyond 1901 had not been made available for research. However, the 1920 US Census was available. Maybe Edward had crossed the border. As expected, a national search for Edward in the US in 1920 proved negative.
  • The 1930 US Census we therefore expected to provide the same result. However, surprisingly, a search within the City of Pensacola, in the County of Escambia, Florida revealed the following:

    E. Gilfillan Scott, 65 years, born England, father born in Scotland, mother born in English *, Teacher of Music.

    * Clearly a mistake on the part of the enumerator, this is probably intended for the following column which asks for information about the language spoken at home before emigrating to the US.

    The census return also notes that Edward entered the US in 1911, had not become naturalised, that he was a 'Roomer' on Precinct 28, Pensacola, living under the same roof as lawyer William L Zachary (Head) and his family (wife, Georgie, and daughters, Aletha, Nelda and Betty), that he was in regular work as a Teacher of Music, that he had been married at the age of 19, and that he was now a widower [ref: Roll 315/ Enumeration District 23 / Page 30B].

  • In 1930, therefore, Edward was alive in the US - not Canada - living in Pensacola, a southern coastal city overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, not far from the vibrant musical hub of New Orleans. That he was a 'Roomer' and did not have his own apartment suggests that he would have had a separate work studio for his piano teaching. Work apart, however, his existence would seem solitary, and this was to some degree at least a perception he personally fostered. Being geographically separated from his wife, perhaps it was for everyday convenience - as a means of avoiding embarrassing enquiries about a wife he had left behind, questions whose answers would be difficult to explain clearly and quickly - that he chose to label himself 'widower'.
  • We continued with a search of US Death Indexes post 1930 where we eventually uncovered the death of an Edward Gilfillan Scott in San Diego in 1952.
  • A Certificate of Death supplied by the State of California Dept. of Health Services records that the deceased, who had been born in England on April 12th, 1864 and had been recently resident of 4631 Park Boulevard, had died on 7th January in San Diego County General Hospital of a perforated duodenal ulcer. He was 87. It also records that Edward had been living in San Diego for the previous 15 years, that he was a retired music teacher who specialised in the piano, and that he had still been declaring himself a widower.
  • So why did Edward never return to Alice Catherine and family?

Perhaps one can only surmise about why things turned out as they did. Even so, one persuasive answer to the mystery of Edward's failure ever to return - or a significant bit of it, at least - might stem from his own special history. Feeling that as a businessman he had already failed spectacularly, squandering in the process part of the family fortune - Alice Catherine's inherited fortune - how difficult it would have been for him to return to Alice Catherine and the children with a story of yet further failure.

Or perhaps, more simply, as the years passed, he was hanging on desperately to the hope that his fortunes would change. How could he go back empty-handed to Alice Catherine, the family and England?


Stage 1: research into Edward's parents

  • Edward's father has already been identified from the Censuses of 1871 [ref: RG10/1817, folio 70] and 1881 [ref: RG11/1947, folio 107] as James Scott from Greenock, Renfrewshire - just west of Glasgow, on the Clyde. He was a 'cutler and licensed hawker'. He probably had a stall on the Norwich market, living either side of it (first in the Back of the Inns and then Bethel Street) for over 20 of his working years. Edward's mother was Arabella from Ireland.
  • To find out about the family in earlier years we searched the 1861 Census [ref: RG9/1217, folio 166] and found James (43) and Arabella (38) at this stage of their marriage living in the Back of the Inns with three children. The oldest is William (11). Margaret E (4) comes next. The youngest is Charles M (2). Since there is no mention of Charles in the later 1871 Census it seemed likely that he had died by then. Of some interest, we felt, was the fairly large age gap - 7 years - between the first child, William, and the second child, Margaret.
  • We already knew from our National Probate Calendar findings that James had been known to operate under two names - 'Scott' and 'Gulfillan'; so when the 1851 Census provided no record in Norwich of a James and Arabella Scott and family (William would have been 1), we searched for a James Gulfillan. The search proved successful: he was found - convincingly, James Scott Gulfillan - aged 33 years and living in Trafalgar Street, in the district of Lakenham, Norwich [ref: HO107/1815, folio 63 ]. He was a 'travelling cutler' from Greenock, Scotland. He had four children, the youngest being William (1). The other three were Charlotte (2), Henry (4) and - the only one to be born in Bromeswell, Suffolk, rather than Norwich - James (11). James Scott Gulfillan's wife is recorded as Maria (30) from Melton, Suffolk.

It would seem that Edward's mother, Arabella, had been his father James' second wife. James had started a second family with Arabella, and the child William who figures as an 11-year-old in the 1861 Census was the only one from James' first marriage still living with them at that time. This accounted for the large age gap between William and Margaret who were in fact half-brother and -sister.

  • We seemed no closer to finding out which of the two names James used - Scott or Gulfillan - had been the alias, however, so we decided to shift our attention to James' birth in Scotland.
  • We knew from census records that James originated from Greenock, Renfrewshire. His age in the 1861 Census was recorded as 43. Since the returns for that census were dated 7th April, this means James' date of birth should have been between 8th April 1817 and 7th April 1818. A search of Scotland's Old Parish Registers of Baptism produced an entry which included the following information:

    Parish of Greenock Old or West, County of Renfrew, James son to William Gulfillan seaman and Margaret Harkness, born 13th baptised 21st December 1817.

We had searched for the names James Scott and James Gulfillan, and had taken into account spelling variations, being aware, in particular, that Gulfillan was very distinctive and may have been a misspelling of Gilfillan. No other possibilities had arisen, however, and the date of birth had fitted within the calculated range.

  • We followed this up, therefore, with a search of the Old Parish Registers of Marriage. Searching back from the established date of the birth we came across an entry which included the following information:

    Parish of Greenock Old or West, County of Renfrew, William Gulfillan seaman and Margaret Harkness both in this parish, booked 30th August, married 3rd September 1816.

  • Clearly, James' parents were Gulfillans. The evidence suggested that Gulfillan was the true family name and Scott was for James the alias.

Which seemed to dispense with the idea of Edward Scott being related to the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

Stage 2: research into the 'real' Walter Scott
  • But further research did turn up a postscript of poignant coincidence.

A search of GRO Indexes of Deaths covering the years between the 1851 Census entry, which we had earlier located, and 1857, which was when we had found Arabella's daughter, Margaret, to have been born, prompted us to order a Death Certificate which includes the following information:

Eleventh August 1852, Trafalgar Street, Maria Scott Gulfillan, 32 years, wife of James Scott Gulfillan, cutler, died from 'phthisis'. The informant was Mary Ann Scales who provided her mark.

We knew Trafalgar Street to have been part of a slum area in the south of the city, rife with disease and in particular phthisis - tuberculosis - which was the curse of inadequate housing conditions and poor diet.

  • We ordered a further Death Certificate, having been struck by the next entry in the GRO Indexes of Deaths. In summary, the certificate reads:

    Sixteenth August 1852, Trafalgar Street, Walter Scott Gulfillan, 6 weeks, son of James Scott Gulfillan, died from 'diarrhoea'. The informant, who provided his own signature, was James Scott Gulfillan.

  • So, after all, Edward had been related to a Walter Scott.

Stage 3: research into the alias of 'Scott'

  • Lengthy research into GRO Indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths resulted in us acquiring a series of BMD entries .
  • The first - a Birth Certificate - showed that before adopting permanently the alias of 'Scott' around 1856, James had used it as early as 1842. The birth of his first daughter, Charlotte, had taken place on 1st February in Ber Street, Norwich. The event had been registered by the mother, who claiming falsely to be married to James, had given the name Maria Scott which she then supported with a cross. The father's name she gave was 'James Scott'.
  • James Scott, is also the name he used when he eventually married Maria on 23rd December 1844 in the Parish Church of Woodbridge, Suffolk. The signature of his alias on the local copy of the Registration of Marriage (which includes an adjustment of his 'mariner' father's name to 'William Scott') is assured and unaffected.
  • Only with the birth of the first legitimate child on 1st September 1845 in the Parish of East Dereham does the family name revert to that of James' forefathers. The Birth Certificate records his son's full name as William Scott Gulfillan, and James himself is recorded as James Gulfillan.
  • Six months later (28th February 1846) the Death Certificate of young William (he had died in Cherry Street, Lakenham of 'dentition' and 'convulsions') recorded the father's name as James Scott Gulfillan.

It is an identity he seems to have been at home with, for the Birth Certificate of a second William Scott Gulfillan, born Trafalgar Street, Norwich on 15th January 1850, records the father's name as James Scott Gulfillan, too - as do the previously cited 1851 Census return, the Birth Certificate of Walter Scott Gulfillan, born Trafalgar Street on 30th June 1852, the previously cited Death Certificates of both Maria and Walter Scott dated 1852, and (this time confirming James' father as 'William Gulfillan, mariner') the Marriage Certificate, recording the ceremony of James' second marriage - this time to Arabella Montgomery. This event was celebrated on 18th March 1855 at St Nicholas' Chapel in the Parish of St Margaret, Kings Lynn (a location James probably knew well from his hawking of knives round a circuit of Norfolk marketplaces).

  • It is only with the birth of George Walter - whom we found to be the first, though short-lived, child of this second marriage (a Death Certificate recorded the event on 6th June 1859) - that there is a return to the alias. The Birth Certificate of 2nd April 1856, which gives Arabella as the informant and the family address as Brook's Court, All Saints, Norwich, records the child's full name as George Walter Scott and the father's name as James Scott.
  • From then on the family was to be known, consistently, as the Scott family. It may have been a more helpful name to lay claim to: more easily spelled, more easily pronounced. It probably grew out of an obvious nickname that would have prepared newcomers for the strange Clyde accent that might have otherwise been off-putting. Maybe Arabella had some influence in this firming up of things: maybe it signalled a new start.
  • Even so, Gulfillan - the Scotts' original name - was a name that James was keen to cling on to, registering his youngest child as Edward Gulfillan Scott.

Edward, in turn, was proud enough of his roots to invest no less than three of the younger members of own family - Henry, Adela and Bernard - with the name, now adjusted to Gilfillan, the spelling he preferred for himself.