Share this page

TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS THIRTY: Isaac and Susanna Sherriff

Eric Trudgill    -    1 November 2015

Most of the best known Sherriff families can be traced back to the Thomas Sherriff who married Mary Butler in Alderminster, Wks in 1759, and the Benjamin Sherriff who married Elizabeth Reader in Bedworth, Wks in 1769.

Thomas and Mary christened between 1763 and 1780 three children in Warwicks (John, William and Job) and three in nearby Northants (Joseph, Benjamin and Mary), John marrying Martha Alliss in 1783,William marrying Elizabeth Butler in 1793, and Job marrying Ann Hodgkins in 1803. Benjamin and Elizabeth christened between 1764 and 1771 two children in Warwicks (Anne and Isaac) and one in Leics (Benjamin junior), though I suspect someone some day will find a baptism for the John who fathered the famous Isaac Sherriff, husband of Rebecca Biddle, son of Benjamin perhaps by the Anne Thomas who married him in Claybrooke, Leics in 1776, both travellers.

Thomas Sherriff was surely Benjamin Sherriff’s older brother. He and Mary christened a son Benjamin, they christened John in Bishops Itchington, Wks in 1763 six months before Benjamin and Elizabeth christened Anne there; and they christened William in Hillmorton, Wksin 1769 two months after Benjamin and Elizabeth christened Isaac in Newbold, Wks, almost next door.

If Thomas was Benjamin’s older brother, we can assume, even without the evidence of a baptism, that he was a son of Isaac and Susanna. For Benjamin Sherriff was christened in Sydenham, Oxf in 1749 son of Isaac and Susanna, and was clearly the younger brother of a Joseph Shrieve, christened in Milton, Northants in 1746 son of Isaac and Susanna, travellers (Thomas, remember, named a son Joseph as well as Benjamin).

A Susanna Sherriff was buried in Sydenham in 1755, and an Isaac Sherriff was buried, not that far away, in West Wycombe, Bucks in 1760, five days before Joseph Sherriff, a traveller, was also buried there, which perhaps explains why we have so few children for Isaac and Susanna and none for their son Joseph (though the Joseph buried in 1760 may have been Isaac’s brother, father, uncle, cousin or nephew).

We need to be cautious about Isaac’s relationship to Joseph. Likewise we need to be cautious about his relationship to possible antecedents. If we examine Sherriffs who might be Isaac’s parents, we’re likely to wonder about the Henry and Elizabeth Sherriff who christened a John in Wing, Bucks in 1707, travellers from Stow on the Wold, Glos, or about the John and Sarah Sherriff who christened a Sarah junior in Soulbury, Bucks in 1710, travellers.

Wing and Soulbury are extremely close to each other, so the Sherriff fathers here were probably brothers, and if Stow on the Wold, Glos, unlike Wing and Soulbury, isn’t at all close to Sydenham, where Isaac and Susanna christened Benjamin, let alone Milton, where they christened Joseph, it’s worth noting Benjamin’s and Joseph’s brother Thomas, when christening John in 1763 was recorded as being of Chacombe, Glos, which has never existed (perhaps the priest was confused by Thomas talking of both his ancestral home in Gloucestershire and his present place of resort in Chacombe, Northants, where he christened his next child).

So we can’t rule out either Henry, husband of Elizabeth, or John, husband of Sarah, as a possible father for Isaac, husband of Susanna. And since there was a vagrant Thomas Sherriff buried in Wing in 1713 and a vagrant Thomas Sherriff buried in Cuddington, Bucks in 1710, close to Wing, we can’t rule out either of these as a possible grandfather for Isaac, husband of Susanna, who seems to have named his first son Thomas. But of course on the present evidence we also can’t rule in Henry, John or Thomas.

Copyright © 2015 Eric Trudgill