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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS NUMBER 27: EDWARD AND MARY SMITH

Eric Trudgill    -    2 August 2015

Edward and Mary Smith baptised seven children in Gretton, Northants: Edward junior in 1808; William, Joseph, Robert and Mary in a job lot in 1812; Adam in 1814; and Sarah in 1816. I believe Edward was baptised himself in Watford, Northants in 1786, son of the Wisdom Smith and Hannah Smith who had married in Bletchingdon, Oxon in 1782.

Wisdom and Hannah’s Edward Smith was clearly the basketmaker we find in the census 1851-71, born in Watford, Northants in the 1780s and married to a Mary Ann born in Wellingborough, Northants about 1818. They seem to have had a Jane, Elizabeth and Thomas, born in Lincolnshire in the 1840s (though it’s possible, until we find a relevant baptism, that these were Mary Ann’s children by a previous husband). They certainly had a Caroline christened in Deane, Northants in 1849, who married William Dixey, a Sarah Ann christened in Stannington, Yks in 1852 (a month before Edward’s nephew Messiah Gray christened a child there), and an Israel christened in Castor, Northants in 1855.

Wisdom and Hannah’s Edward Smith, I’m sure, was also the basketmaker we find in birth records married to a Sarah. Edward and Sarah christened a Henry in Braybrooke, Northants in 1822 (gypsy), a Mary in Gretton in 1829 (basket maker), and in between, very significantly, an Eliza in Kettering, Northants in 1826 (basketmaker of Steeple Claydon), Steeple Claydon, Bucks being where Wisdom Smith, husband of Hannah, had been christened in 1763 son of Cain and Sarah, and a place very close to Buckingham, Bucks, where Edward Smith, husband of Mary Ann, was found in the census 1861-71.

Edward Smith, son of Wisdom, clearly married a Mary Ann and before her, pretty clearly, a Sarah. But what evidence is there that before Sarah he married a Mary and christened those seven children in Gretton? Firstly, there’s his age: he was in his mid-thirties when first documented, to my knowledge, as husband of Sarah, and he was old enough earlier as husband of Mary to have had four consecutive children by 1812. Secondly, there’s his choice of Gretton as a place to baptise seven children by Mary and a Mary by Sarah. Thirdly, there’s the position of Gretton: not far from Braybrooke and Kettering, where Edward christened two other children he’d had by Sarah, and almost next door to Deane, where he christened one of his children by Mary Ann.

Fourthly, there is the identification of two of Edward and Mary’s sons as the Robert Smith, born according to the census in Gretton 1807-10, who married Rodey Smith daughter of Cain and Trinity, and the Adam Smith, born according to the census in Gretton 1812-20, who seems to have married Louisa/Lovisa Smith daughter of Cain and Trinity. Robert and Adam seem to have married sisters, sisters who were daughters of surely one of Wisdom Smith’s near relations (Wisdom’s father, remember, was a Cain). Adam, moreover, followed his father in re-marrying late (in 1862) and in christening six consecutive children in a single church (1862-71), including three in a job lot (in Caldecott, Rutland, which is next door to Gretton), while Robert also followed his father in christening all ten of his known children close to Gretton, and in describing himself twice when doing so as a gypsy of Steeple Claydon, Bucks.

I think, filling in the gaps in the records in this way, we can trace the children of Edward and Mary Smith safely back to Cain and Sarah, along with the children of Edward and Sarah and Edward and Mary Ann.

Copyright © 2015 Eric Trudgill