The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Alexander Arthur, Annie Aubert, William Henry Arthur Douglas, Madeleine Ella

Grave Number 747 and 796

Alexander Arthur Sutton

Major-General Alexander Arthur Sutton, C.B., DSO was born on 30th November 1861 in Bhujcutch, India.  He was the son of Lieutenant Henry Sutton of the Bombay Artillery, Honourable East India Company.

He qualified as a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Member of the Royal College of Surgeons at Edinburgh graduating on 3rd May 1884.  He entered the Army (Royal Army Medical Corps) as a Surgeon on 1st August 1885. 

He was appointed Surgeon-Captain and Senior Medical Officer at Purandhar, India (during which time my grandmother was born).

He became Surgeon-Major on 1 August 1897 and served during operations in Sierra Leone, 1898 to 1899, in the Protectorate Expedition, and was severely wounded; he received the West African Medal with clasp. 

He again saw active service in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902) throughout the Transvaal and Orange Free State (including operations at Paardeberg where he was slightly wounded).

He was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 16th  April 1901], and received the Queen’s Medal with four clasps, the King’s Medal with three clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 27th September 1901]: “Alexander Arthur Sutton, Major, Royal Army Medical Corps.  In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa“.  The Insignia were sent to Lord Roberts 18 January 1902, and were presented by Major General G Barton, CB, in South Africa.  He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel 1st August 1905. 

On 28th November 1887 he married Annie Aubert Dunsford, daughter of General Henry Dunsford (of whom more below).

In the 1911 Census he is shown as residing with his family at Cowper House, Cowper Road, Berkhamsted.

He served during the Great War during which he was promoted Colonel 1 March 1915. He was commandant of the Royal Army Medical Corps School of Instruction between 20 September 1913 and 3 October 1915.  He was appointed Temporary Surgeon-General between 3rd August 1916 and 25th December 1917 and was promoted to Major-General on 26th December 1917.  He served as Deputy Director of Medical Services, Salonika Army, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force; British Salonika Force, 11 November 1915 to 14 May 1917. 

He was created a Commander of the Order of the Bath on 1st January 1917 and was awarded the Order of St Sava by the King of Serbia on 28th January 1918. 


Following the death of Annie Aubert in 1912, he married in 1917, Mary Wilson, who was a Principal Matron in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service serving in Salonika.  She was a holder of the Royal Red Cross medal with bar (an unusual honour – she received the bar at an investiture with the King).

With his wife, Annie Aubert, he had 4 children:

  • William Henry Arthur Douglas Sutton (1890-1953 and also buried in the cemetery – see below)
  • Evelyn Alexander Sutton (1891-1964): Major-General E A Sutton CB, CBE, MC, RAMC was a Honorary Surgeon to King George VI and served as General Eisenhower’s Deputy Head of Medical Services at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force.
  • Phyllis May Sutton (1893-1984)
  • Winifred Helen Sutton (1895 – 1981): my grandmother.

He died in Tunbridge Wells on 12th May 1941 of a coronary thrombosis and was buried with his first wife in Berkhampstead’s Rectory Lane Cemetery.

Annie Aubert Sutton (née Dunsford)

Annie Aubert Dunsford was born on 3rd August 1863 in Cherrapunji, India.  Her father was General Henry Frederick Dunsford, CB, Bengal Staff Corps (see photo), who had served during the Indian Mutiny and led the British Invasion of Bhutan.  I have his original diaries from that time.  Annie’s mother Elizabeth was daughter of another soldier, Lieutenant-General Samuel Shaw, Bengal Artillery.

Annie grew up in Jersey (she appears in the 1871 and 1881 censuses).

She married Alexander Arthur Sutton on 28th November 1887 at the parish church of St Helier, Jersey.

She appears on the 1911 Census as being resident at Cowper House, Cowper Road, Berkhampstead.

Annie came from a typically large family: her eldest brother, Henry Samuel, was a Police Superintendent in India, One brother enlisted as a “ranker” in the 24th Foot and served in the Anglo-Zulu War (a story sufficiently unusual that it made the newspapers).  One brother distinguished himself by failing every exam at the Royal Military Academy except surveying and was described in official records as “slovenly”!  Another brother served in the 2nd  Queen Victoria’s Own Rajput Light Infantry and became a brigadier.  The final brother was killed towards the end of the final Anglo-Burmese War on 12th June 1886 leading 40 men on an attack against 500 men in well prepared positions.  I hope to find his place of death and burial in a forthcoming visit to Myanmar. Annie also had four sisters

Annie Aubert died on 4th February 1912.  As the attached article (which my grandmother kept her whole life and is now in my possession) shows her death was both sudden and unexpected and sadly her husband was not with her: he was in West Africa.

William Henry Arthur Douglas Sutton

Colonel William Henry Arthur Douglas Sutton OBE RAMC was born on 22nd September 1890 in St Helier, Jersey.  The eldest child of Alexander Arthur and Annie Aubert Sutton. 

In the 1911 Census he is shown as living with his parents at Cowper House, Berkhampstead and is described as a medical student.

He qualified as a doctor receiving a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons from Edinburgh.

The London Gazette shows him being appointed a Lieutenant in the RAMC on 5th August 1914.  He was promoted Captain 1st January 1917.

He married Madeleine Ella Gibbs on 28th August 1920. She died in 1936 (see below).

He then married Grace Mary Wallis on 2nd October 1948.  She was a senior nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

He was created OBE on 23rd December 1943 when he is described as Colonel (temporary) William Henry Arthur Douglas Sutton (5041), Royal Army Medical Corps (Tunbridge Wells).

He died on 27th Nov 1953 in The Old Cottage, Long Melford, Suffolk and was buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhampstead with his first wife.


Madeleine Ella Sutton (née Gibbs)

Madeleine Ella Gibbs was born on 16th August 1896 in Stoke Newington, England: the daughter of Walter Harold Gibbs.

She married Bill Sutton on 28th August 1920 and they had two children: Peter Douglas Sutton and Madeleine Anne Sutton.  Madeleine Anne Sutton maintained her links with Berkhampstead as she married Wilfred Paul Snell there in 1948.

Madeleine Ella died on 14th May 1936 and is buried with her husband in Rectory Lane Cemetery.

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