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The Cartwrights were a prominent Upper Canadian Loyalist family, living in the Kingston area and later in York (Toronto). The Hon. Richard Cartwright Jr. (1759-1815) had twin sons, Robert David Cartwright (1804-1843), an Anglican minister, and John Solomon Cartwright (1804-1845), a Kingston lawyer who became involved in banking, real estate, and politics. The youngest of John Solomon Cartwright’s children was John Robison Cartwright (1842-1919), a lawyer who became deputy attorney general of Ontario.
In June 1868, John Robison Cartwright married Emily Boulton (1845-1920), in Cobourg, Ontario. Emily’s grandfather, D’Arcy Edward Boulton (1785-1846) had built The Grange in Toronto as his family home. Her father D’Arcy Edward Boulton (1814-1902) and mother Emily Mary Caroline Heath married in 1838 and raised their ten children at their home, known as The Lawn, in Cobourg. D’Arcy was a lawyer active in town affairs, serving as mayor of Cobourg from 1854 to 1857. John Robison Cartwright and Emily Boulton Cartwright had six children: Mabel (1869-1955), John Macaulay Boulton (1872-1877), Stephen Hayter (1875-1909), Ralph Bingham (1877-1899), Edwin Aubrey (1879-1951), and Winifred Macaulay (1883-1953).
Their first child, Mabel Cartwright, was born in Kingston, Ontario, in 1869. She grew up in Toronto and later went to England where she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. Mabel earned honours in the School of Modern History, taught in Oxford High School and, upon her return to Toronto, at Bishop Strachan School for four years. In 1903 she was appointed the second Lady Principal and in 1925 Dean of Women at St. Hilda’s residence, Trinity College. She taught English at Trinity College until her retirement in 1936. In 1925 she was granted a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by the University of Toronto. Through the years she held numerous posts including that of president of the Women's Auxiliary of the Diocese of Toronto.