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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS TWENTYONE: Edward and Greenleaf Boswell

Eric Trudgill    -    31 January 2015

Edward and Greenleaf Boswell had two children recorded unambiguously as theirs: Ashena, a daughter, buried in Stretham, Cambs in 1783; and Culvato, a son, baptised in Watford, Northants in 1788 and buried (as Ovator Boswell) in Elm, Cambs in 1832 aged 35. To these we can add, I believe, the Clark Boswell christened in High Ongar, Essex in 1784 son of a misremembered and misrecorded Clark and Greenwilt: confusing the forenames of father and son was a not uncommon error in the registers of the day; the similarity of those unique forenames, Greenleaf and Greenwilt, is surely too much of a coincidence; and, crucially, Clark’s very close relationship to Culvato is obvious in the records.

Culvato married Cinderella Hall and baptised four children in Worcestershire: Veto in Eckington in 1816, who was probably the John aka Thomas Boswell, married to Mary Gibbs, with the widowed Cinderella in four censuses; the twins Chrisenty and Dianna in Elmley Castle in 1820, who were buried in White Ladies, Worcs two weeks later; and Bias in Birtsmorton in 1821 (another child, Elias, with Cinderella and John four times in the census, claimed to have been born in Worcestershire about 1823). Culvato subsequently baptised two children in Cambridgeshire before his death there in 1832: Hezekiah in Eldernell and in Whittlesey in 1825; and Evyrippe in Newton in the Isle in 1829, who was buried in March, Cambs three weeks later.

Clark married (according to the records) a Rhoda or Rhona Heron or Scamp, and christened an Allen in Sussex in 1808 and an Elijah in Suffolk shortly before the latter and his young mother died in 1810. He then married a Deleafy, Leafy or Leaf(whose forename suggests she may have been a niece of his mother, Greenleaf), and he started christening children in Worcestershire and Cambridgeshire so close in time and space to Culvato’s christenings, the two of them were surely some of the time travelling together. Levi, Thomas, Plato, James, Duaney and Miseretta were christened in Worcestershire 1813-25, and Zachariah just over the border in Gloucestershire in 1827. Clark then followed Culvato to Cambridgeshire: Riley was christened in Whittlesey in 1830 (where Culvato had christened Hezekiah in 1825) and Daniel Leary in Gedney Hill, Lincs in 1832 (very close to Newton and March, where Culvato had baptised and buried his last child, and to Elm where he was buried himself in 1832).

After Culvato’s death his family stayed close to Clark’s. Cinderella and her sons, John, Elias and Hezekiah, were with Clark and his, Allen, Thomas, James, Riley and Daniel Leary, in Spalding, Lincs in the 1841 census; and when Clark died in Marden, Kent in 1850, he was in an area where John, Elias and Hezekiah all christened children. Indeed by 1850 Culvato’s John had followed the bulk of Clark’s children into London (in 1855 there was a joint baptism in Hammersmith of his daughter, Charlotte, and Levi’s son, Daniel Leary); and by the 1881 census Culvato’s Elias had followed Clark’s son, Riley, into distant Herefordshire, travelling with him and being described in the census as his cousin (although I’ve found no sign his brother Bias went with him, as some garbled gypsiological data might suggest).

All of this shows the gypsiologists were wrong to believe Clark Boswell was a son of the famous Shadrach. However, next month I’ll be arguing Shadrach was an uncle of Ashena, Clark and Culvato, and that, although the gypsiologists were also wrong to believe he had a niece called Seni (often Sini or Cinderella) who by (Edward) No Name Heron had a John, Bias and Hezekiah, Shadrach did have a nephew, Culvato son of an Edward, married to a Cinderella, who had a John, Bias and Hezekiah. If you treat the gypsiologists’ information with caution, you may find it’s not only often unhelpfully wrong, it’s also sometimes helpfully half-right.

Copyright © 2015 Eric Trudgill