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Cuthbert Family Fonds (P105)

Excerpt from a scrapbook created by Katherine Mary Cuthbert Skelton (1901-1972) (detail), about 1934. Gift of Dr. Wendy C. Weaver, Cuthbert Family Fonds P105, M2009.31.64 © McCord Museum

Mrs. Skelton returns to her family roots in Berthierville

"Wednesday May 7th

Julia, Kay and I had a delightful trip to Berthier-en-Haut. I was shown lovely old heir looms [sic] of Cuthbert family.

Lunched at Mrs Victor Forneret's and called at Julia's old homestead. I saw the cradle Kay was rocked in. Mrs Charlie Armstrong and miss Kit[t]son's home later. Kay was stunning with a short veil."


Sometimes known as "roots tourism" or "genealogy tourism," returning to the land of one's ancestors is a moving experience, as shown in this excerpt from a scrapbook created by Katherine Mary Cuthbert Skelton. This Ontario resident came from a long line of Quebec seigneurs and magistrates, including Edward Octavian Cuthbert (the last seigneur of Berthier and a mayor of Berthierville) and James Cuthbert I (seigneur of Berthier, Lanoraie and D'Autray, Du Sablé and Maskinongé).

In May 1934, in the company of her friends Julia and Kay, who were both from Berthier and related to the Cuthberts, Katherine Mary made a trip to Berthier-en-Haut (or Berthierville). This town, which she had never visited before, was the administrative centre of an area that was governed by the Cuthbert family for over a century. On this pilgrimage, the three women visited several places steeped in history, including Pine Hurst (now known as the Maison Forneret) and Elm Cottage (Manoir Cuthbert, at that time the Kittson family home). These examples of Berthier's built heritage are still standing today.


P105 Cuthbert Family. - 1648-1971. - 285.6 cm of textual records and other documents.

Biographical Sketch

A career military man of Scottish origin, JAMES CUTHBERT I (1719?-1798) settled in Quebec City in December 1762, as a member of General Murray's staff. After leaving the army, he purchased the seigneury of Berthier in 1765 and, between 1770 and 1781, acquired Lanoraie and D'Autray, as well as Du Sablé and Maskinongé. He also owned a summer home in Beauport and, in December 1797, bought several properties in Montreal, including a large lot on Saint-Louis Hill. In 1766, he married his second wife, Catherine Cairns (1745-1785), with whom he had three sons and seven daughters. After his death, his sons divided his estate.

Son of James Cuthbert I and Catherine Cairns, JAMES CUTHBERT II (1769-1849) studied at the English College in Douai, France, and was then a member of the British infantry until 1797. In 1798, he inherited the seigneury of Berthier. James Cuthbert was the member for Warwick County at the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (1796-1811) and a militia officer until 1813. Appointed to the Legislative Council (1811-1838), he was then a member and the Presiding Officer of the Special Council of Lower Canada (1838-1841). On June 22, 1814, he married his second wife, Marie Louise Amable Cairns (1788-1878), with whom he had four sons and two daughters.

GEORGE ROSS CUTHBERT (1776-1861) was the son of James Cuthbert I and Catherine Cairns. He also attended the Catholic English College in Douai, France, studied law at the Inner Temple in London, and then enjoyed a brilliant career in law and politics. He represented Warwick County in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (1800-1810, 1812-1816, 1820), where he was a militant member of the British Party. Seigneur of Lanoraie and D'Autray, some time before 1801 he married ANNE EMILY RUSH (1779-1850) in Philadelphia, with whom he had a son and three daughters.

EDWARD OCTAVIAN CUTHBERT (1826-1890) was the son of James Cuthbert II and Marie Louise Amable Cairns. He studied at the College of Chambly and in 1853 married his niece MARY BOSTWICK (1833-1885), with whom he had two sons and three daughters. Seigneur of Berthier following the death of his father, he was also mayor of Berthier from 1868 to 1873 and from 1877 to 1878. He was elected as a member of the Conservative Party in the riding of Berthier in 1875, and again in 1878 and 1882.

CHARLES ALEXANDER FORNERET (1803-1880) was the son of George Louis Victor Forneret (1765?-1821), an infantry major, and Georgina-Davida Cuthbert (1773?-1816), daughter of James Cuthbert I. A professional notary, he married Elizabeth Barber in 1828 and had five children with her. On October 16, 1858, he married his second wife, Anny Kerrigan, with whom he had seven children.

A Montreal lawyer, EDWARD ADAMS CLARK (1800-1871) in 1832 married Georgina Mary Ann Forneret (1808-1845), the daughter of George Louis Victor Forneret and Georgina-Davida Cuthbert. The couple had seven boys and one girl. In 1851, he married GEORGIANA CUTHBERT (1803-1874), who was his first wife's cousin and the widow of Augustus David Bostwick.

AUGUSTUS DAVID BOSTWICK (?-1837) was the first husband of Georgiana Cuthbert. He was called to the Bar in 1819 and practised law in Trois-Rivières. He also worked with Hughes Heney, the grand voyer (chief road commissioner).

GEORGIANA BOSTWICK (1834-1916) was the daughter of Augustus David Bostwick and Georgiana Cuthbert. In 1855, she married militia officer JAMES WILLIAM HANSON (?-1911). The couple had no children.

Seigneur of Lanoraie, JOHN BOSTWICK (1831-1907) was the son of Augustus David Bostwick and Georgiana Cuthbert. He married ELIZABETH LLOYD MERRICK (1838?-1907) in 1860. The couple had two daughters and a son.

KATHERINE MARY CUTHBERT SKELTON (1901-1972) was the daughter of Arthur Clement Skelton (1869-1929) and Julia Cuthbert (1867-?), the daughter of Edward Octavian Cuthbert. She married Dr. RICHARD T. WEAVER (1898-1974), with whom she had one son and one daughter.

A lieutenant in the Prince of Wales Regiment, AUGUSTUS JOHN ROSS BOSTWICK (1870-1957) was the son of John Bostwick and Elizabeth Lloyd Merrick. He married MARGARET MACDONALD DICKSON (1878-1983) in 1907.

Scope and Content

This fonds chronicles the public and private lives of nearly five generations of a Quebec Anglo-Saxon family and related families. Originally from Scotland, this family line included numerous illustrious seigneurs, military men, jurists and politicians, who had a major influence on the development of the areas of D'Autray and Maskinongé. The archives document the operations and evolution of a central institution in pre-industrial Quebec: the seigneurial system. They make a significant contribution to the socio-economic history of Quebec, as well as the history of land planning in the province. This collection of documents covers a period spanning over 300 years, from the mid-17th century to the mid-to-late 20th century.

Domestic, financial, professional and recreational activities, along with the history and family relationships of James Cuthbert I and his descendants, can be pieced together with the help of this diverse corpus of biographical and genealogical documents, various notarial documents, legal and financial documents, personal notebooks and records, a scrapbook and extensive correspondence.

Several documents chronicle the administration of the seigneuries of Berthier, Lanoraie and D'Autray, and Maskinongé and Du Sablé. Some documents recount the history of these properties and the seigneurial system in New France, but the bulk are administrative, financial and legal documents related to the management of these seigneuries by generations of Cuthberts: index, account books of annual rents, abridged land registers and terriers, statements of account, financial records, payment receipts, concession, rental and service contracts, survey reports, and maps and plans referring to various concessions (pieces of land).

Variations in title: Formerly known as the Cuthbert and Bostwick Families Fonds.

Source of title proper: Based on the creators of the fonds.

Physical description: The fonds contains 33 iconographic documents, 18 cartographic records, 3 architectural drawings and 8 objects. The iconographic documents consist of 26 photographs, 1 hand-painted colour photograph, 3 drawings and 3 printed images.

Immediate source of acquisition: The majority of the documents in this fonds were donated to the McCord Museum by Margaret MacDonald Dickson, the widow of Augustus John Ross Bostwick, in three separate donations: one in 1958, one in 1960 and one in 1964. Wendy Weaver, Julia Cuthbert's granddaughter, donated two major additions to the fonds in 2009 and 2014.

Arrangement: The fonds was the subject of an initial classification plan in 1994. Following Mrs. Wendy Weaver's 2009 donation and a second treatment conducted in 2011, this classification was completely revised.

Language: The documents are in English and French.

Finding aids: A digital directory of the Cuthbert Family Fonds is available along with an appended list of all the print materials.

Related records in other fonds:

Documents about the Cuthbert family and its seigneuries are preserved in several BAnQ archival collections and fonds: Fonds Seigneuries de la région de Montréal (P167); Fonds Fief et seigneurie de Berthier (ZQ143); Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal. Greffes d'arpenteurs (CA601); Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Québec. Greffes d'arpenteurs (CA301); Fonds Ministère des terres et forêts (E21); Fonds Seigneuries de Berthier (P828); and Dossier James Cuthbert (P1000,D125).

General note: The McCord Museum's collection also includes paintings, miniatures, silverware, sports medals and garments that used to belong to members of the Cuthbert family.


The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries, sub-subseries and files:

  • P105/A Cuthbert-Bostwick Family
    • P105/A1 General information
    • P105/A2 James Cuthbert I
    • P105/A3 James Cuthbert II and Mary Louise Amable Cairns
    • P105/A4 George Ross Cuthbert and Anne Emily Rush
      • P105/A4.1 Personal life
      • P105/A4.2 Professional life
      • P105/A4.3 Financial management
      • P105/A4.4 Leisure and recreation. - 1787-1801. - 5 cm of textual records.
      • Digitized documents
      • Scope and Content: This sub-subseries, composed of two leather-bound hand-written notebooks, chronicles the leisure activities of the married couple of George Ross Cuthbert and Anne Emily Rush.

        The inside cover of the first notebook bears its owner's name: "Mr. Ross Cuthbert's book." It is dated December 21, 1787, probably by Mr. Cuthbert, but a later note also reads "London, August 15th 1788." This notebook covers various methods of navigation, including plane sailing, traverse sailing and parallel sailing. It is composed of explanatory texts and mathematical formulae used to determine a ship's position and course, illustrated with examples and specific cases accompanied by charts and drawings. There are also notes about the influence of sea currents and measurements of amplitude and azimuth. Although it is difficult to affirm with certainty that George Ross Cuthbert did indeed write this book (the young man would have only been 11 years old), the notebook is nonetheless a testament to his early interest in the science of navigation. As an adult, he published a book entitled New Theory of the Tides (1810).

        The second notebook is a collection of recipes written down by Anne Emily Rush in 1801. It contains several ways of preparing meat, fish and seafood (for example, how to make bacon, boil ham, salt beef and pork, roast pheasants, stew or fry oysters, and make hogs head cheese and calves feet jelly). Some examples are how "to alamode beef," "make chicken water for the sick" and "dress cod fish after the New England way." A recipe for "potatoe yeast" is included, along with those for many desserts and sweets: blancmange, cheesecake, honey cake, waffles, lemon cream, macaroons, maple biscuits, and plum, rice, apple and lemon pudding, among others. It is also important to know how to preserve food, so there are recipes for marinades and how to preserve lime or lemon juice, cherries, strawberries and greengage plums, along with instructions for making quince liqueur and brandy cherries. Anne Emily Rush's notebook also contains some household recipes, like one for "destroying bugs," "blacking for shoes" and a beeswax concoction for cleaning mahogany furniture. As a whole, the book casts a light on the eating habits of an aristocratic family at the turn of the 19th century and chronicles the use of several exotic ingredients like ginger, rose water and orange-blossom water.

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the sub-subseries.

        Physical condition: The documents are brittle. Some pages in the notebook about boating have been torn out.

        Language: The documents are in English.

    • P105/A5 Edmund William Romer Antrobus
    • P105/A6 Edward Octavian Cuthbert and Mary Bostwick
    • P105/A7 Charles Alfred Cuthbert
    • P105/A8 Charles Alexander Forneret
    • P105/A9 Edward Adams Clark
    • P105/A10 Georgiana Cuthbert and Augustus David Bostwick
    • P105/A11 Albert Edward Ross Cuthbert and Charlotte Alison Houston Nye
    • P105/A12 Georgiana Bostwick and James William Hanson
    • P105/A13 John Bostwick and Elizabeth Lloyd Merrick
    • P105/A14 Katharine Mary Cuthbert Skelton. - January 22, 1933-[1966]. - 4.1 cm of textual records. - 1 iconographic document.
    • Portée et contenu : This subseries focusses on the personal life of Katharine Mary Cuthbert Skelton, chronicling her interests, travels and activities.

      The subseries is composed primarily of a scrapbook containing postcards, photographs, and various objects like dried flowers and fabric scraps. Likely put together by one of Katharine Mary Cuthbert Skelton's close friends or relatives in 1933 and 1934, the scrapbook also holds numerous newspaper clippings (a few, sometimes amusing, news articles, but mostly pictures, quotes, ads, jokes and cartoons). The scrapbook's creator has cleverly and humorously arranged these clippings into collages, adding handwritten notes to construct a vivid narrative of the events in the young woman's social and family life and offer some commentary on male-female relations, marriage and married life. For example, the author cut the sentence "I'll call you tonight" out of the newspaper and then linked it to an illustration of a smiling young woman talking on the telephone by writing, "Dick said in his letter. And he did. See her smiling." Much of the scrapbook covers the period preceding Katharine Mary Cuthbert Skelton's marriage to Dr. Richard T. Weaver. The wedding itself and the couple's honeymoon aboard the R.M.S. Aquitania are also documented with photographs and souvenirs, including a schedule of the activities offered during the trans-Atlantic crossing, a menu, a list of the first-class passengers, a promotional document from menswear company Austin Reed, which ran a store onboard ship, and a copy of the Cunard Atlantic News, the ship's newspaper. Tucked into the back of the scrapbook is a letter, in the same handwriting as the annotations, dated January 22, 1934, addressed to "Dearest Kay" and signed M. M.

      The subseries also chronicles Katharine Mary Cuthbert Skelton's research on the Cuthbert family. In a letter dated January 25, 1966, addressed to Miss O'Dowd, she writes about their meeting at Montreal's Château Ramezay to discuss the bell from what she calls "my mother's chapel" (probably the Cuthbert chapel located in the municipality of Berthierville). The letter explains that the bell is preserved at the McCord Museum. In addition, there is a typewritten text sent to the attention of Mrs. Richard Weaver that discusses witchcraft traditions in the city of Inverness, Scotland, where the Cuthberts of Castlehill lived.

      Finally, the subseries contains an unsigned letter dated January 22, 1933, accompanied by a picture of the Cuthbert family coat of arms, as well as a British passport issued in the name of Katharine Cuthbert Weaver in New York City on July 13, 1933.

      Source of title proper: Based on the creator of the documents.

      Language: The documents are in English.

          • M2009.31.64 Scrapbook. - [ca 1934]. - 1 textual record ; 31.5 x 26 cm.
          • Digitized document
          • Scope and Content: This scrapbook contains press clippings, photographs, postcards and various objects that Katherine Mary Cuthbert Skelton likely collected in 1934. The author has also added several stories, descriptions and reflections chronicling her interests, travels and other activities.

            Source of title proper: Title based on the type of document.

            Physical condition: Some images are coming unglued from the pages of the scrapbook.

            Language: The document is in English.

    • P105/A15 Augustus John Ross Bostwick and Margaret MacDonald Dickson
    • P105/A16 Victor Frederick William Forneret

  • P105/B Distant Families

  • P105/C Seigneuries
    • P105/C1 General information
    • P105/C2 Seigneury of Berthier
      • P105/C2.1 History
      • P105/C2.2 St. Andrew's Chapel
      • P105/C2.3 Financial management
      • P105/C2.4 Property management and maintenance
        • P105/C2.4,1 Titles
        • P105/C2.4,2 Concession deeds of purchase and sale
        • P105/C2.4,3 Service contracts
        • P105/C2.4,4 Survey reports
        • P105/C2.4,5 Maps and plans
        • P105/C2.4,6 Land registries
          • M22078.1 Land registry for the seigneury of Berthier belonging to E. O. Cuthbert. - [1861?]. - 1 textual record ; 31.5 x 20 cm.
          • Digitized document

            Scope and Content: This abridged land registry chronicles the uses, operations and fiscal administration of the seigneury of Berthier, during the period following the official abolition of the seigneurial regime in 1854.

            Source of title proper: Based on the title of the document.

            Language: The document is in French.

      • P105/C2.5 Miscellaneous documents
    • P105/C3 Seigneury of Lanoraie and D'Autray
    • P105/C4 Seigneury of Maskinongé and Du Sablé
    • P105/C5 Mining operations

  • P105/D Cartographic Records

  • P105/E Print Materials

  • P105/F Iconographic Documents

 

Last update: February 15, 2019