John Suter b 1783 and Elizabeth Gatehouse

Set out below is a review of the John Suter/Elizabeth Gatehouse saga - the latest theory on who John Suter is. This concludes that this John is probably the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Suter, the daughter of John Suter and Jane Forward. The father might well be the Charles Suter who first married Sarah Marshall (and subsequently married Elizabeth in 1787).

There is no direct evidence in any of the PRs in the area - the conclusion is based on what is known about the witnesses and other data we know of the relevant marriages. It is complicated and it is recommended that a tree be drawn to illustrate the suggested links. The key link is between the two brothers John b1783 and William b1787 (William's parents were Charles and Elizabeth).

The conclusion is based on the balance of probabilities - no one piece of data is sufficient in itself.

There is a marriage Banns entry in Silton PR on 28 Jan 1787 for a Charles Suter, Butcher and Elizabeth Suter, Spinster. The entry clearly says that Charles was a butcher but the possibility that the Curate meant to write Bachelor cannot be discounted. Both were of the parish of Silton and the marriage took place at Silton on the 18 Feb 1787, the witness was Matthew Suter.

The only Matthew Suter of this era was a son of John Suter & Jane Forward. He would have been 46 at the time and he had a sister, Elizabeth who would have been 43 at the time. This is quite old for a spinster but she is the only 'available' Elizabeth Suter from Silton.

There is a burial of an Elizabeth Suter in 1817 aged 71 which is roughly the age of the Elizabeth who married Charles Suter. The PR does not say that Elizabeth was a widow but we know that Anne Lyde (she married Charles Suter, the son in 1793) died in 1847 (age 80 & Sophia present at the death according to the certificate). This Elizabeth cannot be the wife of Charles Suter junior. There are no other candidates other that an Elizabeth Suter from Mere. I have come to the conclusion that it was Charles Suter senior who married Elizabeth Suter in 1787.

We know Charles and Elizabeth had William in 1787 and that probably this William married Anne Bullen in East Stour. I believe the couple had 6 children - Charles, William, John, Grace, Eliza, and Charlotte. The family appear to be close knit with each attending their siblings weddings as witnesses over time. There is not much of interest except perhaps the parentage of Sarah Ann Baker (possibly Charles Suter b 1811 and Emma Baker).

We also know that a John Suter was born about 1783 and had connections with Silton. He first married Elizabeth Gatehouse and then Jemimah Brickle. The children of the first marriage were (I believe) John, Ann, William, Daniel, John, Aaron, Ann, George, and Charlotte. The second marriage to Jemimah Brickle yielded 1 surviving child - Elizabeth - who subsequently married William Stone.

There is much evidence of the existence of John Suter b 1783. He appears in the 1841 and 1851 but significantly his death certificate shows he died in 1860 aged 77 and William Stone was present at the death. He was a widower when he married with Jemimah Brickle and a John Suter was named as father at the marriages of Aaron, Ann, George, and Elizabeth. The other link between the step siblings is that Aaron Suter was a witness at Elizabeth Suter's wedding to William Stone.

Ann b1813 married Samuel Farthing and died in 1877. Hannah Suter (stated to be her sister in law) was present at the death, according to the certificate and I believe this was Hannah Taylor the wife of Aaron Suter. That links Aaron with his step sister Elizabeth and pretty well links the two families of John Suter. Additionally the 1841 census shows William and Aaron living together and that they were both Sawyers. William, who married Mary Talbot/Taber, was witness at the marriage of John Suter and Eleanor Snook. Thus we have links that connect the 2 families of John Suter/Elizabeth Gatehouse and secondly to Jemimah Brickle.

This does not directly link the two brothers John (b1783) and William (b 1787) however. The key to this is not very substantial but I think significant. William (b 1787) died early in 1826 and his widow Anne (Bullen) remarried James Tabor in 1828. John and Jemimah Suter were witnesses at this marriage and this could provide the link between the 2 brothers. There is no other obvious reason for John & Jemimah to be witnesses unless they were close as a family.

There are some caveats to this as a theory :- Elizabeth (b1844) on the face of it had her first child (William b 1787) when she was aged 43/44. I think this is not impossible but it is unlikely. If she had John in 1783, she would have been aged abt 39 at the time - a bit better but still pretty unlikely for John to be the first born. Possibly significantly, there is a Phoebe Suter baptised base born at Silton in 1777 to her mother Elizabeth Suter. I have not found any Bastardy records for this birth and Phoebe was buried at Silton in 1778. If this is our Elizabeth, she would have been 33 at the time - certainly not too old for a first born. It is even possible that Charles Suter was the father of this child - Sarah Marshall died in 1777 - too soon after Sarah's death of course but perhaps Charles was not as we would wish all our ancestors to be. (And who was Maria Suter baptised at Gillingham in 1764 - father Charles Suter?)


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This page was last updated 12 Dec 2013