Alfred Baker Cutfield 1815-1863

Navy Surgeon and GP Born and living in Deal.

Alfred Baker Cutfield was born in 1815 in Deal, Kent, the son of John Cutfield, a retired Surveying Master in the Royal Navy, and his second wife Ann. He was baptised at St Leonard’s Church, Deal on 20 September 1815.

Alfred was apprenticed to Mr Nathanial Grant, Apothecary, of 21 Thayer Street, London for a period of five years from 3 December 1829, and between 1831 and 1835 was also a student of the North London Hospital (later known as University College Hospital, London). Following completion of his studies he passed the examinations for membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) on 5 January 1836, and as a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (LSA) on 17 March 1836. At this period the MRCS qualification allowed independent practice and the LSA qualification the prescription and dispensing of medicines.

Shortly after qualification Alfred was appointed to the position of an assistant Surgeon in the Medical Service of the Royal Navy with seniority from 25 March 1836. His first appointment was at the Royal Navy’s Haslar Hospital in Gosport, and he remained there until 3 August 1837 when he was discharged to HMS Edinburgh, a 74 gun third rate ship of the line.

Alfred served as an assistant Surgeon on board HMS Edinburgh between 4 August 1837 and 13 February 1841, and between 1838-1839 the ship was part of a squadron looking after British interests off the coast of Mexico. The Edinburgh returned to Portsmouth on 10 August 1839 and shortly thereafter Alfred passed the necessary examinations before the College of Surgeons in London and the Physician of the Navy to qualify him for consideration as a candidate for the future position of Surgeon.

The Edinburgh set sail again in September 1839 to the Mediterranean. In July 1840 it was despatched to patrol off the coast of Syria, and in November 1840 was part of a combined fleet under Admiral Sir Robert Stopford which bombarded and retook the town of Acre, which had been held by the Egyptians since 1832 and returned it to Ottoman rule.

For his services on the coast of Syria, Alfred Cutfield was specially promoted to the position of Surgeon by warrant dated 4 November 1840. He was later awarded the Naval General Service medal 1793-1840 with the clasp ‘Syria’. Also the St Jean d’Acre Medal 1840 which was given by the Sultan of Turkey in silver to all junior officers who served in the campaign.

Alfred’s entitlement to both medals is confirmed on the respective rolls. His is also a unique name on the Admiralty Claimants’ List.

Following completion of his service on HMS Edinburgh, Alfred was placed on Navy Half-Pay and the 1841 Census shows him as living in Deal with his parents. He was then appointed to the position of Surgeon on HMS Champion, an 18-gun Sloop, and served on board this ship between 15 June 1841 and 25 November 1844, for the most part off the coast of South America. During this time, on 27 May 1843, Alfred was subjected to an unprovoked attack in Mexico by two soldiers for which his statement survives.

After service on HMS Champion Alfred was again placed on Navy Half-Pay and was allowed on several occasions to turn down further appointments on various grounds including his wife’s confinement and his own ill-health. However, having been found fit to serve in February 1855 and declining an appointment on HMS Hastings, Alfred was finally removed from the Navy list on 5 March 1855, his total service since 1836 amounting to 8 years and 4 months.

In so far as his personal life was concerned, Alfred married Elizabeth Kennett on 20 May 1845 in Dover and was for a short time in partnership with Robert Woollaston as Surgeons and Apothecaries in Tottenham, the partnership being dissolved on 25 March 1846. By the time of the 1851 Census he is living in Deal with his wife and two children and working there as a General Practitioner (GP). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) on 13 January 1859, and the following year qualified as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) at Aberdeen University. He is still shown as working as a GP in Deal in the 1861 Census and continuing to live at Lower Street, Deal with his wife and a further four children.

Alfred Cutfield died on 11 May 1863 at Lower Street, Deal of a ‘Disease of the brain’, and he was buried at St George’s Church Deal. The value of his estate was under £4,000.

Researched by Walter Hall.

Records consulted.
Naval General Service Medal & St Jean d’Acre Medal roll pages.
Service papers for A B Cutfield (The National Archives).
Census returns, marriage and birth certificates relating to A B Cutfield.
Various other research papers.

AHRG were approached by Walter after he had purchased Alfred’s Naval General Service Medal at auction and he wanted to know the provenance of the medal and of his background. Sue Buckman took on the challenge and found a large amount of the family history presented in this article.

The Cutfield Family

Although Alfred Baker Cutfield was born and raised in Deal, his family did not originate from Kent. His Father, John Cutfield (1754 – 1845) came, I believe, from Sussex where the following Baptism is recorded.

St.Mary The Virgin, Felpham.

John s of John and Mary 30 Jun 1754

I believe his parents married by Licence in Patching, Sussex in 1746/7

Pagham and Tarring Pecular Marriage licence
John Cutfield, bachelor, Yeoman of Slindon and Mary Dyer widow of the same Parish 25 Feb 1746/7.

Patching, West Sussex

John Cutfield m Mary Dyer (Wid) 26 Feb 1746/7

Two children, Mary and Ann, were Baptised in Slindon between 1747 – 1751 before the family moved to Felpham where John and Mary were buried in 1772 and 1776.

John Cutfield (Alfred’s Father) joined the Royal Navy and married by Licence for the first time in 1781

Hampshire Allegations for Marriage Licences.
Cutfield John of HMS Prothee, midshipman, 21, b, and Ann Thompson, of Portsea, 21, sp, at Portsea. 8 Jul 1781.
Note: His age is given as 21 but this entry can often mean that they are above this age.

Portsea, Southampton, Hampshire

John Cutfield m Ann Thompson 9 Jul 1781

They had two children born in London including William Cutfield (1787 - 1822) a Captain in the Royal Navy whose Obituary appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine.

John and Ann Cutfield arrived in Deal around 1789 when the following baptisms appear on the Register.

St.Leonard’s, Deal

Mary Anne d of John and Ann Cutfield 26 Jun 1789
Harriet Leonora d of John and Ann 28 Jun 1797
George s of John and Ann 12 July 1799

Ann Cutfield died in Deal in 1800. John Cutfield remarried by Licence in 1811.

Canterbury Marriage Licence
John Cutfield of Deal wid and Ann Willis Stokes of Guston sp, at Guston. 17 May 1811. Joseph Iggulden of Guston bond.

Marriage Guston, Kent

John Cutfield m Ann Willis Stokes 18 May 1811

There are two further children Baptised in Deal.
St.Leonard’s, Deal.

Henry Willis s of John and Ann 10 Jun 1812
Alfred Baker Cutfield s of John and Ann 20 Sept 1815

Address - Lower Street. Father: Master Royal Navy

Research by Sue Buckman

Sussex Family History Society
Canterbury Marriage Licenses
Hampshire Marriage Allegations
St Leonard's Parish records
Gentleman's Magazine Vol 93 pt 2