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John Chilcott

Eric Trudgill    -    4 December 2011

John Chilcott was christened in Yarmouth, Norfolk in 1793 son of JohnChilcott, a horsedealer, and Elizabeth Smith, who had married ten months earlier in Bethnal Green, East London, both claiming to have been widowed. John senior was surely connected to the Chilcott/Lee criminal gang operating in Essex and East London at that time. And Elizabeth Smith was surely previously married to the Ambrose Smith transported to Australia in 1789, making John junior the half-brother of Ferdinand Smith, father of Ambrose (“Jasper Petulengro”), of the Ambrose Smith baptized in 1785, and of the Susanna Smith baptized significantly in Yarmouth in 1787.

The younger John was not, as has been claimed by a distinguished modern gypsiologist, the John Chilton who fathered by Maria Harris six children, all christened in Winston, Suffolk 1826-34 (that was a local gorjer, described always as a labourer). Nor, though it’s clear from the 1851 census our John married a Ruth(born in Middleton Suffolk, probably about 1790), was his wife, as was claimed by the pioneer gypsiologists, a Ruth Lovell who moonlighted maritally with Charley Penfold and was also Charley Penfold’s mother-in-law through the daughters, Louisa and Matilda, she had had by the husband, Samuel Lee, of her sister, Mary Ann Lovell:Charley Penfold’s wives in question were another Ruth Lovell and Louisa Print and Matilda Smith. It’s true John Chilcott’s sister-in-law, Mary Ann, was married to Samuel Lee (in the census John & Ruth were found travelling with Samuel’s widowed brother, Benjamin), but the risks involved in uncritically re-cycling the pioneer gypsiologists’ data are clear from the baptism of Charles Chilcott in 1825, where his parents are given as John Chilcott, tinman, and Ruth Boss. It seems likely Ruth and her sister weren’t even Lovells.

Confining ourselves to documented facts, we can be pretty sure about John and Ruth’s children. When they were arrested in Beccles, Suffolk in April 1822, they had with them six daughters aged from eight years to four months, Union, Sillia, Marsillia, Assurance, Florence and Caroline. And when we look in the records, we find Union Chilcottwas christened on her father’s home territory, in Clacton, Essex in 1812; Celia Chilcottwas buried in Great Coggeshall, Essex in 1842 aged 28; Marcella Chilcottwas christened in Halstead, Essex in 1816, her father a traveller of Yarmouth; ShurensiChilcott was christened (as Sureanthy – presumably one of her parents had a lisp) in Norwich in 1818, in a church used for a baptism two years earlier by Ferdinand Smith; Florence Chilcott was christened also in Norwich in 1820; and Caroline Chilcott was born in Beccles late 1821 or early 1822, shortly before the family was arrested there. After that episode John Riley Chilcott was christened in BartonBendish, Norfolk in late 1823; the fore-mentioned CharlesChilcott was christened in Norwich in 1825; and Erosabella was christened in S Wootton, Norfolk in 1831.The last three children, like Celia, did not enjoy long lives. John was buried in Kesgrave, Suffolk in 1851 aged 25, Charles in Birkenhead, Cheshire in 1865 aged 38, and Rosabella in Kesgrave in 1857 aged 26. Marcella too may have died young. But the other four daughters had families large enough to trace without too much trouble.

Union Chilcott married Charles Lee, probably her cousin, the son of Samuel and Mary Annand quite possibly christened in Walthamstow Essex in 1812, son of Samuel and Amelia (Mary Ann was “Mildred or Milly” at the baptism of another child). They had the following children: Kaiza Lee, baptized in Gresham, Norfolk in 1829; Kerlenda (aka Jane and Ethel) Lee, baptized in S Wootton, Norfolk (with her aunt Erosabella) in 1831, who married Lazzy Buckley (aka George Smith) son of Elijah Buckley and Ferdinand Smith’s daughter, Elizabeth; John Lee, born in Wisbech, Cambs about 1833, who married Lavithan daughter of Elijah Buckley and Ferdinand Smith’s Elizabeth; Repriona Lee, born about 1836, baptized in Westhall, Suffolk in 1846 aged ten years and seven months, and buried in Hargrave, Suffolk in 1862 aged 25; Sarah Lee, born in 1839 and baptised in Westhall in 1846 aged seven years and four months; Caroline Lee, baptized in Theberton, Suffolk in 1841, who married her cousin, Noah Heron/Young son of ShurensiChilcott; and another daughter, perhaps the gypsiologists’ Femi (the name’s unclear in the census), born in Ilford, Essex about 1848.

Shurensi (sometimes Susan) Chilcott married William (sometimes Tiso) Heron/Young, son of Miller Heron, born in Lancs about 1815. They had the following children: Walter, probably baptized as Walter Herring in Southelmham, Suffolk in 1839 son of William and Uri; Noah Heron/Young, born in Yorks or Lancs about 1843, who married Union’s daughter, Caroline Lee; Lorani Heron/Young, born in Norfolk or Suffolk about 1847, who married her cousin, Mackenzie Boswell son of Florence Chilcott; Mackenzie Heron/Young, born inThorner, Yorks in 1851; and Lenda Heron/Young, born in Leeds, Yorks about 1855, who married Herbert (Rabbi) Smith.

Florence Chilcott married Silvester Boswell son of Tiso and Sophia, baptized in Dover, Kent in 1812. They had the following children: Byron Boswell, baptized in Doddington, Cambs in 1839; Mackenzie Boswell, baptized in Brentwood, Essex in1842, who married Shurensi’s daughter, Lorani; Oscar Boswell, baptized in Bray, Berks in 1844, who married first his cousin, Eliza Gray, daughter of Maria Boswell, Silvester’s sister, and then Jane Warton; Bruce Boswell, born Stisted, Essex or Litherland, Lancs about 1844; Julia Boswell, baptized in Sefton, Lancs in 1850, who married Elias Robinson, grandson of the Ambrose Smith christened in 1785; Wallace Boswell, baptized in Sutton, Cambs in 1853, who married Jemima Noyes; Trafalgar Boswell, baptized in Plaistow, Essex in 1856, who married AthaliaWhatnell; and Laura Boswell, baptized in Burgh, Suffolk in 1859.

And Caroline Chilcott married, first, Perun Heron/Young, William/Tiso’s brother, born in Barnsley, Yorks about 1820, and, second, when Perun moved on to Oscar Boswell’s ex-wife, Eliza Gray, Caroline married her cousin, Thomas Lee son of Samuel and Mary Ann, christened in Acton, Middlesex in 1821. By Perun she had Albert Young, baptized in Thorpe Hesley, Yorks in 1841, who married Dorelia Barnes, widowed daughter of Tiso Boswell’s son, Edward; and Regenda Young, born in Ipswich, Suffolk about 1842, who married William Townsend. By Thomas Lee Caroline had Walter Lee, baptized in Ham, Surrey in 1852 aged four; Abednego Lee, baptized in Ham in 1852 aged two, who married Morgena Lee daughter of Henry and Alice; Ada Lee, baptized in Ham in 1853, who married Tobias Boswell, son of Tiso’s son, Edward; Edgar Lee, born in Essex or Middlesex about 1855, who married Emma Boswell, daughter of Tiso’s son, Edward; and Catherine Lee, baptized in Plaistow, Essex in 1858.

All of John Chilton’s known grandchildren came through his daughters, but the appearance in the 1881 census of his daughter Caroline’s sons, Walter and Edgar Chilcott, shows his surname didn’t altogether get swamped by all those Lees, Boswells and Youngs.

Copyright © 2011 Eric Trudgill