Harold Henry Sutton CUBLEY (1872 - 1930)

Author & Spiritualist of Retford

By Jenny Campbell

Harold Cubley appears to have been a spiritualist, though this does not appear in any records found. However in the book of verse, “Whispers o’er the Night”, that he wrote and had published circa 1919, is the following comment: 


Written under Spirit Influence


This is followed by an author’s note which says:‘This work was not “dictated” but given and directed by the Spirit Friends, to whom heartfelt thanks are due.’

 In addition, on page 15, is a section titled Automatic Writing and the following message: “Knowledge is power. Leave the stage. Write for the press. Go Home. Look after your mother. She will only live six months. (signed) Uncle William

 Another author’s note follows:  I took no notice but within a month I was made to go home. My Mother seemed in her usual health. After three months I went on tour again. Seven weeks later my Mother passed beyond the Veil. The Uncle who signed the message I had only seen twice in my life, the second time being at the funeral of my Father some thirty five years previous.

 The book was published in London by Arthur H Stockwell and a copy is held in Newark Library.


Uncle William

 Who was ‘Uncle William’ and was he the artist William Harold Cubley 1814-1896, born in Derbyshire, who lived much of his life in Newark, Nottinghamshire?

 Harold Henry Sutton Cubley was born in East Retford, Nottinghamshire in 1872 and was the only child of Henry Cubley and his second wife, Emily Sutton, who married at St Philip’s Church Kensington, London on 8 May 1870 .(1),(2)  Henry Cubley and his father, Samuel Horsley Cubley both give their profession as an artist.(2)

 Harold Cubley is living with his parents in the 1881 census in Moorgate, Clarborough, Nottinghamshire and his father is an artist and drawing master. It is in this census record that Henry Cubley first appears with a middle initial W.(3)  When he died two years later, he is recorded as Henry Ward Cubley.(4)  There is a biography of Henry Cubley at www.suffolkpainters.co.uk. Henry Cubley, was the son of Samuel Cubley and his wife Ann Ward and was baptised (without the middle name) at St Mary’s, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire on 25 October 1819.(5)

Henry was one of at least five children born to Samuel and Ann and one of these, William Cubley, was born 9 Oct 1814 and baptised at Heanor, Derbyshire on 18 Oct 1814.(6)  William was not baptised with the name Harold, so it must be assumed that like his younger brother he acquired a middle name at a later date. There is some confusion about his birth date as a number of records and biographies give it as 9 Oct 1816, though the Newark Town Hall, Museum and Art Gallery website has his birth year as 1814 as does the Family Search website.

 The fact that Henry and William were brothers and that Harold’s mother Emily did not have a sibling called William makes it feasible that ‘Uncle William’ was indeed William Harold Cubley, the artist. Emily Cubley died in Hastings, Sussex in 1919.(7)

 At the time of the 1891 census Harold H S Cubley was living with his mother, Emily, at 53 Kenilworth Rd, Hastings, Sussex and was working as a journalist and reporter.(8) According to the census records of 1901 and 1911, Harold H S Cubley was touring the country and gave his occupation as either ‘dramatic artist’ or ‘in the dramatic profession’. Whether he was performing as an actor or as a spiritualist is not known. In 1901 he was staying in a hotel in Llangollen, Wales with his wife and in 1911 he was lodging in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.(9) (10)

 In 1900, he married Alice Maud O’Donnell in Hendon, Middlesex(11) and according to the 1911 census record for Alice, they had three children, Harold Henry born 1901 in Hastings, Sussex; George William born 1907 in Dublin, Ireland and Frederick Norman born 1909 in Chorlton, Lancashire.(12) (13) (14) (15)

 Harold Henry Sutton Cubley died of cancer in the DeaconessHospital, Edinburgh, Scotland on 19 December 1930.(16)  It seems as though he was still travelling and performing as his occupation on the death certificate (see below) is actor. Alice died in Ruthin, Denbighshire in 1944 aged sixty three.(17)


 Researched & written by Jenny Campbell, June 2015



  1. 1.      Birth, statutory record index, England, East Retford, Nottinghamshire 1872  Mar Q. vol.7b; p.5
  2. 2.      Marriage, parish registers, England, St Philip, Kensington, London 1870/05/08; London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Philip, Kensington, Register of marriages, P84/PHI, Item 006
  3. 3.      Census 1881, England, East Retford, Nottinghamshire Class: RG11; Piece: 3301; Folio: 30; Page: 14; GSU roll: 1341786
  4. 4.      Death, statutory record index, England, East Retford, Nottinghamshire 1883 Jun Q. vol.7b; p.10
  5. 5.      Baptism, parish records, England, St Mary, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire 1819/10/25, Nottinghamshire Baptisms, www.findmypast.co.uk – accessed 22 Jun 2015.
  6. 6.      Baptism, parish records, England, Heanor, Derbyshire 1814/10/18; England Births & Christenings 1538-1975; batch no. C05454-1; GS film no. 498089. www.familysearch.org – accessed 22 Jun 2015.
  7. 7.      Death, statutory record index, England, Hastings, Sussex; 1919 Sep Q. vol.2b; p.16.
  8. 8.      Census 1891, England, Hastings, Sussex, Class: RG12; Piece: 765; Folio 40; Page: 25
  9. 9.      Census 1901, Wales, Llangollen, Denbighshire, Class: RG13; Piece: 5249; Folio: 30; Page: 23
  10. 10.  Census 1911, England, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 1911 census Class: RG14; Piece: 20346
  11. 11.  Marriage, statutory record index, England, Hendon, Middlesex 1900, Dec Q. vol.3a; p.400
  12. 12.  Census 1911, England, Chorlton, Lancashire, Class: RG14; Piece: 23874
  13. 13.  Birth, statutory record index, England, Hastings, Sussex, 1901 Dec Q. vol. 2b; p.42
  14. 14.  Birth, Ireland Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958, Ireland, Naas; 1907 Jun Q. vol.2; p.828. www.familysearch.org – accessed 22 Jun 2015.
  15. 15.  Birth, statutory record index, England, Chorlton, Lancashire, 1909 Jun Q. vol.8c; p.941
  16. 16.  Death, statutory record index, Scotland, Edinburgh 1930 GROS data 685/06 0005
  17. 17.  Death, statutory record index, Wales, Ruthin, Denbighshire 1944 Mar Q. vol.11b; p.347
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