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Robert Bagley

Eric Trudgill    -    4 May 2016

Robert Bagley, said to be a Gypsy and 55 years old when tried for sheep-stealing with three of his children in Oxfordshire in 1847, was, it seems from the marriages of two of his children, a younger brother of the Charlotte Bagley who married Arkles Smith (christened in 1779 son of Jasper and Catherine), and, it seems from his association with Lower Slaughter, Glos, a brother too of the Jane Bagley who married Edmund Charlotte in Lower Slaughter in 1814 and the Henry Bagley who married Susanna Lamb in Oxfordshire in 1819, travelling chimney sweeper of Lower Slaughter, and was recorded as a tramp of Lower Slaughter when christening a child in Warwickshire in 1825. The gypsiologists believed Charlotte Bagley was daughter of a Robert, who was or had been a soldier.

The Robert Bagley born about 1792 married a Syberina Smith (sometimes recorded as Sabrina, Sybillina, Sybil or Sibby), and had the following children: Thomas born about 1811 (he was said to be 16 in July 1827 when he and his mother were found guilty of the manslaughter of a fellow Gypsy, Joseph Smith, in Marston, Oxf and sentenced to a month’s imprisonment); Susanna christened as a Smith in Middleton Cheney, Northants in 1812, gypsies; Priscilla christened as a Smith in Brackley, Northants in 1818, the illegitimate daughter of Sibylina, hawker of Buckingham, Bucks; Benjamin born about 1821 (he was said to be 25 in March 1847 when he was tried with his father and sentenced to ten years transportation); Reconcile christened without a surname, child of an unnamed vagrant, in Chalgrove, Oxf in 1823; Charles christened as a Bagley in Barford St Michael, Oxf in 1825, tinman of Lower Slaughter, Glos; and Cinderella, said to be three years older than Charles in March 1847, but probably two or three years younger. It’s fairly easy to trace spouses and offspring for two of these children, Priscilla and Charles.

Priscilla Bagley, baptised in 1818, married first Henry Smith, allegedly son of Arkles Smith and Charlotte Bagley. Their only certain child was the well-known Augustin Smith, born in Oxfordshire about 1838, who married ( aged 22, son of Henry) Sarah Tolley in Headington Quarry, Oxf in 1860. Months earlier, also in Headington Quarry, Priscilla had belatedly married her second husband, Wisdom Smith (baptised in 1820 son of Thomas and Mary Ann), Charlotte Bagley’s nephew by marriage. They christened an Ocean Bagley in Glympton, Oxf in 1850 (illegitimate daughter of Priscilla, travelling woman) and the following children as Smiths: Sampson and Ann Selina in Glympton in 1843 and 1845, Patience in Chesterton, Oxf in 1847, Lucretia and Wisdom junior in Charlton on Otmoor, Oxf in 1852 and 1854, Mary Ann and Jemima in Headington Quarry in 1857 and 1860, plus surely (despite Priscilla’s marriage in 1856) the Smith/Bagley child christened in Headington Quarry in 1862 without a forename or named parents (possibly the Cinderella the gypsiologists attributed to Wisdom and Priscilla), and possibly even the Corallina Patience Smith (daughter of Priscilla, single woman) christened in Headington Quarry in 1866.

Charles Bagley, christened in 1825, married (as Charles Smith son of Robert Bagley, gypsy wire-worker) Lucy Austin (daughter of William and Charlotte) belatedly in Tetsworth, Oxf in 1861, and was hanged for her murder in 1887. They seem to have had a Licia christened as Militha Smith in Hale Sry 10/9/1854 (tinman), Elizabeth born about 1858, Quilenty christened as a Smith in Tetsworth in 1864 (tramp), Ocean born in Thame, Oxf in 1870, and allegedly an Albert born about 1876.

Robert and Syberina’s other children are hard to trace. Thomas Bagley, born about 1811, was said by the gypsiologists to have married Nanny Bland (perhaps Ann Bland, christened in Headington, Oxf in 1807 daughter of Joseph and Mary) and to have had an Alfred who married his cousin, Cinderella, daughter of Priscilla Bagley. If the gypsiologists were right, it’s possible Thomas’ sister, Susanna Bagley christened in 1812, married Ann Bland’s brother Joseph and had the Leanda Bland, christened in Tingewick, Bucks (travelling gypsies) who as Leondra Bagley was said to have been the first wife of Thomas Stephens, christened in 1832 son of Emmanuel and Eve.

Of Benjamin Bagley, born about 1820, I know nothing with any certainty after his sentence of transportation in 1847 and arrival in Tasmania in 1849.

Reconcile Bagley, christened in 1825, I suspect married first Priscilla Bagley’s sister-in-law, Lucretia Smith (christened in 1831 daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann). In 1847, on top of the family’s other troubles, Reconcile was charged with having violently assaulted Lucretia, but the charge was dropped. In the early 1850s I suspect he was reconciled with her sufficiently to sire by her the Prudence Smith who married Henry Messenger. A few years later, soon after Lucretia’s marriage to Thomas Webb in Headington Quarry in 1857, I suspect he was the father of the Reconcile Smith christened in the same church, in 1858 son of Leander, a single woman. In the 1861 census we find Reconcile senior travelling with Lucretia’s parents, Thomas and Mary Ann, and her brother Wisdom (plus Priscilla). And in the 1901 census we find Reconcile junior travelling with Prudence and her family of Messengers.

Finally, Cinderella Bagley, born presumably in the late 1820s, was said by the gypsiologists to have married a James Hornsby (she certainly married Samuel Hornsby, son of John and Jane, in Oxford St Thomas in 1859) and settled in Marston. Curiously Cinderella at her wedding not only claimed to be 26 (not 37 as her alleged age in March 1847 would have dictated), she also claimed to be the daughter not of Robert Bagley but Joseph Smith, wireworker (which was the name of the Gypsy killed (by her mother and brother, and buried, in Marston in 1827). Could it be she was giving in error the name of her dead mother’s father? And will we find the latter if we follow up Cinderella’s claim in the 1871 census to be of Buckingham, Bucks, like Syberina when christening Priscilla in 1818?

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill