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Tracing Gypsy Families Back despite the lack of records. 11 Dick and Devit Heron

Eric Trudgill    -    2 February 2014

Tr11 Tracing Gypsy Familes Back Despite The Lack Of Records

ELEVEN: Dick and Devit Heron

George Hall’s Family Tree of the descendants of Dick Heron by his two wives, Devit and Margaret, was one of the gypsiologists’ great accomplishments, but its early data is mostly impossible to test in the records or, where it can be, sometimes clearly wrong. For example, not one baptism has been found for the alleged children of Dick and Devit, even if we assume that Devit’s name was a variant of Tabitha (see my Research Tip 9) or that, when christening children, she called herself a Boswell (as some gypsiologists took her to be) or a Young (as some of her sons called themselves as early as 1820).

Hall gave Dick and Devit nine children: Solivino, who married Wesson Heron; Robert, “the lame man”, who died unmarried; Lushaie Elijah, who married Sarah Boswell, Riley’s sister; Sarah, who married a Buckland, perhaps a John, and bore Manuel Buckland; Reynolds, who married Peggy Boswell; Sophia, who married successively Zachariah Boswell son of Shadrach, Edward “No Name” Heron, and Tiso Boswell, Zachariah’s brother; William, “the handsome man”, who married first a Mary and fathered a Hezekiah, and then a Potovene and fathered a Macey; Edward (Niabai), who married first Severenci Buckland daughter of Emmanuel and Aquila, second Severenci’s sister Sinfi, and third Rachel Lee daughter of Wesson Heron; and finally Sibereti, who married a John Heron alias Baker or Brown.

Some of Hall’s data is certainly accurate with respect to spouses and offspring. Elijah and Sarah christened as Youngs 1821-35 the four children Hall named (Frampton, Oshena, Ingiie England, and Rabbi) plus a Noah. Reynolds and Margaret christened as Herons 1811-20 five of the seven children Hall named (FamiieFambridge, Sansperella, Bidiie Obedience, Richard and Esau) plus a Moses and Susan. Sophia died in 1861 claiming to be 100 (actually she was probably in her eighties) and to be the widow of Tiso Boswell, having had eight children by him well-attested in the records though not included in Hall’s Heron Tree; I’ve seen no evidence for her alleged earlier marriages. And Edward(Niabai) and his three wives christened as Herons 1813-39 four of the eight children Hall named (Edmund, Reynolds, Isaac, and Samuel), with Hall’s Manful clearly the Mansfield Hurn aged 18 charged with highway robbery in Suffolk in 1827 with Edward Hurn, a tinker claiming to be 40, and with Hall’s Humphrey clearly the son of Severenciwhen they were tried in Hunts in 1822.

But though some of Hall’s data is certainly accurate, some of it is probable without being certain. Robert was probably the travelling man buried in 1800 in Toft, Cambs on what seems to have been very much Dick Heron’s patch; and Sarah Heron probably married John Buckland son of Emmanuel and Aquila (Emmanuel was an appropriate name for Manuel’s grandfather, and John was surely the John Buckley travelling with Severenci and her Heron children in 1822). Further, while some of Hall’s data is only probably confirmed, some of it clearly is partly or wholly wrong. Sibereti christened a Fambridge Baker in 1809 daughter of James, not John, and Sipereta.William christened a Hezekiah Young in 1820 son of William and Mary, but it was Miller Heron, according to Hall Dick’s son by Margaret, who christened MaceyErn in 1808 daughter of Miller and Potovene. And Solivino wasn’t a son of Dick and Devit: he was christened in Haslingfield, Cambs in 1775 son of England (probably Dick’s brother) and Rose, and tried with England in 1808 and 1816; a traveller called Richard Hearn was buried in Haslingfield in 1778, clearly another member of Dick’s family.

My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that, having eliminated Solivino from Hall’s list of Dick and Devit’s children, and having provisionally ignored the possibility that others on the list should be eliminated with Solivino, we should add Miller and Ann, whom Hall placed on Dick and Margaret’s. And my guess is we should move Elijah and William chronologically to the end of Hall’s list. Here’s a provisional birth-order: Robert, Miller (his alleged wife was christened in 1772), Sarah (her husband was christened in 1776), Sophia (her only certain husband was christened in 1778), Reynolds (his earliest known child was christened in 1802), Ann (her husband was christened in 1781), Edward (he claimed to be 40 in 1827), Sibereti, William and Elijah (their earliest known children were christened respectively in 1809, 1820 and 1821).

Edward claimed in the census he was born in Cambs, so it’s possible he was the Edward Hearne christened in Comberton, Cambs 27/11/1785 son of Felicia, a traveller (Comberton was very much on Dick Heron’s family patch, next door to Toft and very close to Haslingfield), which means it’s possible Devit in the records was actually Felicia (we’ll see next month, when we look at Dick and Margaret’s children, that Margaret in the records was actually Maria). And I’ll suggest next month that if we look in so far largely unexplored places, the records for Dick and Devit’s children may turn out to be less scanty than they seem.

Copyright © 2014 Eric Trudgill