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Riley Scamp

Eric Trudgill    -    4 May 2014


by Eric Trudgill

Riley Scamp (sometimes recorded as Kemp) was baptised in Lytchett Minster, Dorset (he claimed to be of nearby Poole) in 1793 son of Joshua. He was surely brother of the Thomas Scamp baptised in Wimbourne Minster (close to Lytchett Minister) in 1782 son of Joshua, honouring him in the name of his first born son. And he was probably brother of the Christian and Clara Scamp baptised respectively in Hilton, Dorset and Chaldon Herring, Dorset in 1791 and 1799, daughters of Joshua and Keazey, presumably Keziah.

His brother Thomas, at his wedding in 1809 and at the baptism of a Joshua in 1814, claimed to be of Odstock, Wilts, which suggests Riley’s father was the Joshua hanged in 1801 (aged 50 according to the press) and buried “of Odstock, a gypsy hanged supposedly wrongly”, the crime seemingly committed by his son-in-law. There were other Joshua Scamps of the right time and place to be Riley’s father, and one, the Joshua of Bradford, Wilts who acted as surety at the famous Lawrence Boswell’s wedding in 1774, with his wife Tabitha christened a child in Trowbridge, Wilts in 1768, close to Bradford, and another (a Joshua) in Downton, Wilts, close to Odstock, in 1775. But Riley’s traumatic loss of a father when he was only eight would explain his re-location: we don’t see him as an adult down in Dorset or Wiltshire, only up in the West Country and Wales.

He married Clevansy Lee, baptised jointly with her brother Robert in Essendon, Herts in 1792 daughter of Samuel and Hannah, whose family I discussed in Aug 2012. He and Clevansy christened the following children: Cyphorella Kemp in Bredon, Worcs in 1815 daughter of William Riley and Clavency (tinman), jointly with a son and grandson of Samuel and Hannah; Hannah Scamp in Hasfield, Glos in 1819 daughter of Riley and Hannah, gypsy itinerants; Thomas Scamp in Clevedon, Somerset in 1821 son of William Riley and Sarah, tinker (some priests did give up easily on names like Clevansy); and Sarah ----- in Chew Magna, Somerset in 1823 daughter of a gypsy (compare Sarah’s birth place in the 1861 and 1881 censuses). Thereafter Riley and Clevansy seem to have moved into S E Wales, with some excursions back across the English border. Their son Samson/Samuel was born in Merthyr, Glamorgan about 1827; Horatio Nelson Scamp was christened in Portskewett, Monmouthshire in 1829 son of Thomas Williams and Clevancy Scamp tinker of Feltham, Mdx; a Caroline was probably born in Gloucestershire about 1832; and Elijah William Williams was christened in Eglwysilan, Monmouthshire in 1834 son of Railey and Vancy, itinerant tinker.

Perhaps Riley was misrecorded as Thomas in 1829 because the priest muddled him with his son or brother. It’s harder to explain why he was recorded then and in 1834 as a Williams, the surname assumed, as we’ll see, by his daughter Cyphorella and son Samson. Perhaps he was using the surname of Clevansy’s mother Hannah (though there’s no evidence Hannah was a Williams): Clevansy’s nephew Samson Lee (son of Elijah), who married her niece Graveleni Lee (daughter of Sampson), was Samson Williams at the baptism of a daughter in 1871, in the 1881 census, and at the marriage of a daughter in 1888 and a son in 1899, and doubtless on many other occasions. More simply, perhaps Riley was simply dropping his surname and reversing his forenames: William Riley became Riley Williams (or Thomas Williams in 1829, fancifully claiming to be of Feltham, Mdx).

A similar problem arises with Riley’s situation after Clevansy’s death in 1844. In the 1871 census in Llangyfelach, Glamorgan we find William Rilly, a gypsy tinker and widower, aged 87 and born in Dorset, travelling with his son-in-law, Jeremiah Boswell (aged 30 and born in Shropshire), Jeremiah’s wife Mary (aged 18 and born in Glamorgan), and Caroline Lee (a widow aged 40 and born in Gloucestershire). The Jeremiah Boswell here, it will be clear when we explore the marriages of Riley’s children, was christened in Wellington, Shrops in 1830 son of Thomas Boswell and Dambretty (ie Temperance Lovell) and brother of thePianna Boswell who married Riley’s son Samson.

I have nothing to offer about any marriages contracted by the Hannah Scamp christened in 1819 or the Horatio Nelson Scamp christened in 1829, but for what it’s worth the gypsiologists claimed the Thomas christened in 1821 married Sarah Boswell daughter of Richard and Catherine (christened in Pembridge, Herefordshire in 1831); the Caroline with William Rilly in 1871 was probably the Caroline Lees, gypsy, charged with allowing horses to stray on the highway in Neath, Glamorgan in 1873; and the Elijah William Williams christened in 1834 was the Elijah William Scamp against whom an affiliation order was sought in Neath in 1864 by Unity Lovell (who may have been Jeremiah Boswell’s immediately younger sister, the Unity Boswell christened in 1832, daughter of Temperance Lovell). I have little or nothing to offer on the marriages of most of Riley’s children, but I do have something to offer on Cyphorella, Sarah, Samson and even Mary.

Cyphorella, christened in 1815, married Nathaniel Lovell son of Durant (and thus Jeremiah Boswell’s cousin), and had the following Lovell children: Elderiaborn inLlangattock, Monmouthshire in 1843 daughter of Nathaniel and Sipherella formerly Williams; Israel born in Eglwyswrw, Pembrokeshire about 1849; Lily birth registered (as Delia) in Bala RD in 1851; and Timothy (Moti/Charley) born in Tremeirchion, Pembrokeshire about 1855, who married Mary Ann Evans (Jeremiah Boswell’s cousin) in 1889.

Sarah, christened in 1823, became with her sister Cyphorella a co-wife of Nathaniel Lovell, and had the following Lovell children: Uriah, born in Rosemarket RD in 1847, who married a Sophia Lovell; John born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire about 1849, who married Harriet (Ellen) Wood; Seth born about 1851, who married another Ellen; Louisa born in Holywell, Flintshire about 1853; Jane born in Flintshire about 1855, who married John Monaghan; Adolphus born in Rhyl, Flintshire about 1857, who married a Margaret; Noah born in St Asaph RD in 1860, who married Mary Carney in Llansantffraid, Denbighshire in 1879; Robert born in St Asaph RD in 1864, who married Lydia Poole widowed daughter of Edward Roberts in Llangollen, Denbighshire in 1891; and Edwin born in Festiniog, Merionethshire about 1867.

Samson, born about 1827, married Pianna Boswell daughter of Thomas and Temperance, christened as Pianapicot in 1825, and had the following children: Caroline born in Llanwonno, Glamorgan about 1845; Sylvester Scamp christened in Maesteg, Glamorgan in 1847 son of Samuel and Beanah, and buried in Cadoxton near Neath two weeks later; Selina born in Pontypool, Monmouthshire about 1849; Elofia born about 1853; John born about 1855; and Shandros Williams christened in Llangynwyd, Glamorgan in 1857 son of Samuel and Piana basketmaker, who married Dona Lovell daughter of William.

Finally, Mary, born about 1852, married Jeremiah Boswell son of Thomas and Temperance, and seems to have had a Lily Boswell born about 1872. At the moment we can’t be sure Mary was Riley’s daughter by a post-Clevansy relationship. In the census she was recorded as the wife of Riley’s son-in-law, but he may have described Jeremiah thus because he was the brother of Riley’s daughter-in-law. He may even have described himself as a Riley because that’s what Mary was (Jeremiah had a nephew, Silvester Boswell, who was to marry 20 years later a Lilian Maria Riley, daughter of John, who may have been related to Mary, mother of Lily). Perhaps Riley in 1871 was merely being gallant to a nice young girl.

Copyright © 2014 Eric Trudgill