Monday, 16 May 2011

James & Emma - the military career of Pvt James Cutting Part 4

James Cutting joined the Coldstream Guards in Bury St Edmunds on the 16th of November 1864. It all seemed to start so well, despite difficult and trying assignments in Dublin and London he was awarded Good Conduct pay for meretricious conduct on 1867, and then again in 1870. Then things started to go wrong. He forfeited his Good conduct pay on 11 th November 1871, and in fact was imprisoned for 3 days on November 18th. He again forfeited pay in 1872. It´s hard to know at this distance in time what went wrong. It wasn´t stress under fire  - although Britain fought several wars in this period, in New Zealand, Canada, and against the Ashanti in Africa, the Coldstream weren't involved. Maybe that was the problem, maybe he wasn't suited to a life of endless drills and parades, and smartly polished uniforms? Maybe he just ran up against the wrong officer, or mixed with the wrong crowd? And why always November? His birthday was in February, but it's quite possible that his initial enlistment perhaps coincided with the end of the harvest period, and a shortage of work on the land, but what was the connection later?

Anyway, on the 16th of November 1874, James left the Guards, with, it has to be said, a "good" character reference from the regiment. Five months later, in March, he married Emma Wilkin who was 6 months pregnant with their daughter Sarah Maud. James was 29, Emma 22. She came from Bardwell, about 8 miles from James´s home village in Suffolk, which is surely no coincidence, but they married in London, both giving a home address as 6 Connaught Square in Paddington. James was now a labourer in a gas works,  By the time Sarah was born in July they were all living back in Bury St Edmunds, at 3 New Street, Ipswich Rd.

Bury St Edmunds gas works

More children followed, in all 5 daughters and one son, Henry. James spent many years as a gas stoker in Bury, then a carpenter and later a brick layer. He died in Culford, Suffolk in 1919 aged 72. Emma lived rather longer, she and her twin sister Sarah recieving a telgram from King George VI in the 1940s congratulating them on being the oldest twins in England.

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