This is the fifth in a series of articles about Stanley Clark Bagg on Writing Up the Ancestors. To read the previous posts, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on Older Posts. There are at least two more to come.
In February 1841, my future great-great-grandfather wrote a letter to my future great-great-grandmother, explaining that his grandmother had asked him to write. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that he was smitten. Perhaps his grandmother had also noticed.
Stanley Clark Bagg (SCB), 20, who lived in Montreal, wrote to Catharine Mitcheson, 18, in Philadelphia: “Grandmother not having received a letter from yourself or your respected parents for a very long time, felt desirous to hear from you or them, and requested me to write, hoping that you or someone of the family would have the goodness to write.”1
I do not know when SCB and Catharine first met; they lived a long way from each other, but their families had reason to communicate because they were related. SCB’s grandmother, Mary (Mitcheson) Clark (1776-1856,) was the older sister of Catharine’s father, Robert Mitcheson (1779-1859.) Both grew up in County Durham, England and immigrated to North America as adults, Mary to Montreal and Robert to Philadelphia.
In the summer of 1840, Catharine and her older brother, Robert MacGregor Mitcheson, who was studying to become an Episcopal minister at the Theological College in New York, visited Montreal.2 They arrived in July and probably stayed through the beginning of September to attend the wedding of another cousin, Mary Maughan, to Montreal merchant William Footner.3
In his letter, SCB continued, “This winter is quite a gay one and scarcely anything is talked of but the parties and concerts, but still we are very lonesome and have been so since you and Robert left here, particularly after Mary was married. We all regret very much that you and Robert are not here to participate in the pleasures of the season, but hope shortly to have the pleasure of again seeing you here. Father has gone a few days journey and now I am entirely alone, and can assure you that keeping ‘Bachelor’s Hall’ is not the most agreeable mode of living.” After adding some gossip, SCB ended the letter, “Wishing you every happiness that this world can afford. I subscribe myself, your affectionate cousin, SC Bagg”.
SCB and Catharine were first cousins once removed, but if anyone objected to their blood relationship, they must have overcome those objections. They were married three years later, on September 9, 1844, at Grace Church Episcopal Chapel, Philadelphia. Catharine’s brother, now Reverend Robert M. Mitcheson, performed the service.4
They signed a marriage contract several days before the wedding, stipulating that they were to be separate as to property.5 SCB pledged to pay all household expenses and expenses for their children. He stated that he had mortgaged one of the properties he had inherited from his grandfather. If he died before Catharine did, that money would be used to fund a $100-a-year annuity for her, however, if she remarried, she would no longer receive this annual payment. These clauses were designed ensure she would live comfortably, and to protect her from his creditors, but also to protect his property from a second husband if she remarried.
SCB and Catharine settled in Montreal, where he worked as a notary and where he owned extensive property. The couple spent their first year or two of marriage living with SCB’s father in his home, Durham House, while their own house, Fairmount Villa, was under construction nearby. Their first child, Mary Ann Frances Bagg, was born at Durham House on Aug. 19, 1845. She died at age two while they were visiting Catharine’s parents in Philadelphia.6 Twenty years later, SCB wrote a poem about losing his first-born daughter. Here is an excerpt:
Ah! I knew the love of angels Not long on earth remain. Therefore my sobs of anguish Which I could not restrain. When I look’d into the cradle, Where my babe in slumber lay; I saw its poor, frail body, But its soul had passed away. And out of my lone window I saw the angels soar. And between them gently resting My precious babe they bore.7
Eventually, the couple went on to have five children, one boy and four girls: Robert Stanley (1848-1912), Katharine Sophia (1850-1938), Amelia Josephine (1852-1943), Mary Heloise (1854-1938) and Helen Frances Mitcheson Bagg (1861-1935.) Fairmount Villa was a large house and it must have been filled with noise and activity for years. SCB probably had to get used to this because his own upbringing had been so different: he was an only child who lived in the countryside, his father was often busy with business and financial concerns, and his mother died when he was 14.
Unfortunately, SCB did not live to witness any of his children’s successes as adults, attend their weddings or enjoy his nine grandchildren. He died of typhoid fever on August 8, 1873, age 53, at Fairmount Villa, surrounded by family members. At the time, son Robert Stanley had recently graduated from law school and was studying in Europe, while his two youngest daughters were still minors.
As adults, the Baggs do not appear to have been a closely knit family, and at one point there was a serious dispute about the management of SCB’s estate. Nevertheless, Robert Stanley Bagg (often with his widowed mother’s input) managed the family real estate business for 27 years, and the Bagg girls grew up to be confident and capable women who travelled extensively and contributed to decisions about and kept track of property sales, and organized large social events.
Janice Hamilton, “Reflections on a Great-Great Grandmother,” April 14, 2014 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=169
Janice Hamilton, “Fanny in Philly,” March 29, 2014 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=171
Janice Hamilton, “Mary Mitcheson Clark,” May 16, 2014 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=164
Janice Hamilton, “Stanley Clark Bagg’s Four Forgotten Daughters”, Sept 30, 2017, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2017/09/stanley-clark-baggs-four-forgotten.html
Janice Hamilton, “My Great-Great Aunts, Montreal Real Estate Developers.” Oct. 11, 2017 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=88
Janice Hamilton,“A Visit to the Holy Land and Egypt; A Mediterranean Cruise in 1919, part 2,” Nov. 21, 2019, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=46
Janice Hamilton, Helen Frances Bagg, A Happy Exile,” Jan. 6, 2016, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=125
Janice Hamilton, “The Life and Times of Stanley Bagg, 1788-1853,” Oct 5, 2016 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=108
Janice Hamilton, “Stanley Clark Bagg’s Early Years,” Jan. 8, 2020, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2020/01/stanley-clark-baggs-early-years.html
Janice Hamilton, “Fairmount Villa,” Dec. 18, 2019, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2019/12/fairmount-villa.html
Notes and Sources:
- Transcription of SCB’s letter, plus notes, probably by grandson Stanley Bagg Lindsay; Lindsay family collection.
- “Married: Sept. 8 1840 at Durham House by the Rev. Dr. Bethune, William Footner to Mary Maughan;” Mary Maughan’s mother, Elizabeth, was the younger sister of Mary (Mitcheson) Clark and Robert Mitcheson. Source: black notebook listing Bagg and Mitcheson family births, marriages and deaths; private collection.
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1078, database, Ancestry.com (http://:Ancestry.ca, accessed Dec. 22, 2019,) entry for Stanley Clark Bagg, 9 Sept. 1844; citing Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
- Nicholas-Benjamin Doucet, “Marriage entre Stanley Clark Bagg et Catharine Mitcheson,” notarial act # 30488, Sept. 5, 1844, BAnQ. To learn more about the laws of Quebec regarding civil matters, including community of property in marriage, see Bettina Bradbury. Wife to Widow. Lives, Laws and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Montreal. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011.
- The child’s death is recorded in the Bagg family Bible, Bagg Family Fonds, McCord Museum, Montreal. She died in Philadelphia on Oct. 14, 1847. The funeral was held on Oct. 21, 1847 at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, (Ancestry.ca, citing Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin) and she is buried with her parents, grandparents and other family members in the Bagg family crypt, Mount Royal Cemetery.
- Stella (pseudonym of Stanley Clark Bagg), Leisure Moments: A Few Poems, Montreal: printed by Daniel Rose, 1871. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=aeu.ark:/13960/t92819p4n&view=1up&seq=10