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Bartholomew Boswell

Eric Trudgill    -    6 June 2016

Bartholomew Boswell, known to his family as Siterus, a corruption of Septimus, married in Bletchingdon, Oxf in 1779 Colly Smith, identified by their grandson Tommy Boswell as Collerbury Buckland, sister of the famous Barrington. In Gt Gonerby, Lincs in 1798, after Colly’s death, Bartholomew married Barrington’s sister Mary Buckland, baptised in Melksham, Wilts in 1773 daughter of Timothy and Elizabeth.

When charged with vagrancy and begging in Kesteven, Lincs in Oct 1796 he named 3 of his children as Fallerissa, Trophane and Purify, aged respectively 12, 11 and 10, and his soon to be wife, Mary Buckland, was recorded as the mother of Lewis, Farnetta and Macey, aged respectively 9, 6 and 2. In fact Bartholomew and Colly were named as the parents of Lewis, when he was baptised in Bromham, Wilts in 1788, and of Fairnetty, when she was baptised in Wroxham, Oxf in 1790, and as the parents of a Patheny, baptised in Wappenham, Northants in 1782 and a Decetus, baptised in Whichford, Wks in Jan 1793 and buried in Brinklow, Wilts 8 months later. The Macey, aged 2 in Oct 1796, may have been Mary Buckland’s daughter (by her first husband, Alabon Smith) Lavinia, baptised in Wroxton in Nov 1795 (who was to marry her cousin, Barrington Buckland’s Dimiti); this might explain why Lewis and Farnetta were recorded as Mary’s children.

Bartholomew and Colly, my wife’s 4x great-grandparents, have been central to our researches for many years, but there is still much that remains uncertain: particularly with respect to the birth-dates of their children, the marriages of their children, and above all Bartholomew’s parents and siblings.

The birth-dates of their children probably didn’t correspond too closely with the ages given them in 1796. Lewis and Farnetta needed to have been baptised only slightly late to be recorded accurately as nine and six years old, but it seems unlikely Fallerissa, Trophane, Purify and Lewis were born in consecutive years. And it doesn’t help that Fallerissa may well have been baptised (as Fallowfield Boswell, parents unnamed) in Thaxted, Essex in 1785 (the only other Fallowfield known is the daughter baptised the previous year by Jonas and Constance Smith, who married in Bletchingdon in 1779 seven days after Bartholomew and Colly, and clearly travelled with them). It may be of course that Patheny was Bartholomew’s first child, born in 1780 and baptised in June 1782, that Fallerissa was his second, born later in 1782 and baptised in June 1785, that Trophane was his third, born later in 1785, and that Purify was his fourth, born early in 1787. But it’s all a bit forced and cramped. The marriages of Bartholomew’s children are perhaps a bit more certain.

Purify, born about 1787, the Solomon Boswell buried in Hagbourne, Berks in 1839 (Tommy Boswell talked of his uncle Peudafai buried in Hagbourne, where his father Lewis had also been buried), married first an unknown woman and had a Fenetta (named after his sister) buried as Fenella Boswell in Langford, Oxf in 1805, daughter of Solomon gypsy. Purify married second an Ann (seemingly his cousin, the daughter of Barrington Buckland) and had the following children, their father always Solomon: Dorothy baptised in Hagbourne in 1816; Solomon junior born in Langford, Oxf about 1818, who married Charlotte Smith daughter of Neptune and Elizabeth; Lewis baptised in Long Wittenham, Berks in 1825 and buried in Hagbourne in 1832 aged 6; Septimus baptised in Long Wittenham in 1828, who married Sinfy Buckland daughter of Absolom and Eleanor; Elias born in Cranham, Glos about 1830, who married first Matilda Buckland (probably daughter of Absolom and Eleanor), and second in 1870, son of Solomon, Selina/Reni Buckland (daughter of Absolom [son of Absolom and Eleanor] and Delilah); Henrietta baptised in Coates, Glos in 1832 (“a wandering gypsy of Langford, Oxf”); and Dorcas born in Berks in the late 1830s.

Lewis, baptised in 1788, married first Cleopatra Smith, baptised in Broadwell, Glos in 1792 daughter of Alabon (first husband of Lewis’ aunt/step-mother), and had by her a Syphorella baptised in Stoke Lyne, Oxf in 1811 (daughter of Lewis and Leopanta), who married Reuben Smith son of Neptune and Elizabeth. Within a few years Cleopatra had left Lewis (and it seems Syphorella) for a Joseph Vallis, whom as Leah Smith she married in Wanborough, Wilts in 1820 (“of the travelling people called gypsies”), and with whom she settled in Warminster, Wilts by 1841 (twice in the census giving her birth-place as Broadwell, Glos). Lewis meanwhile had married Cleopatra’s sister, Constance Smith, and had their Fairnetti (named after his sister) baptised in Stratton, Wilts in 1819, who married both Thomas and James Smith, sons of Neptune and Elizabeth. After a long gap (does this indicate why Cleopatra left him?), Lewis and Constance baptised the fore-mentioned Tommy Boswell in Hagbourne in 1838, who married Lavinia Smith (his mother’s niece) plus Emily Lee and Counsellettie Smith (Neptune’s granddaughter).

Patheny, baptised in 1782, it seems from information collected by gypsiologists, was the first wife of this Neptune Smith. This seems plausible because a daughter of Neptune’s by his second wife, Elizabeth Ayres, married Purify Boswell’s Solomon junior, and three sons of Neptune and Elizabeth married Lewis Boswell’s daughters. Patheny’s alleged marriage seems even more plausible, when we look into her sister Trophane’s marriage to Thomas Dix, which yielded the following Dix children: Tryphena baptised as a Boswell in Calne, Wilts in 1801, Belcher born in Calne about 1804, Sarah baptised in Seend, Wilts in 1806, Ann baptised in Calne in 1808, and (after their parents’ belated marriage in Calne in 1810) Thomas junior in Hilperton, Wilts in 1814. The Patheny/Trophane connection explains what Thomas Dix senior was doing getting arrested with Neptune Smith in Wilts in 1828, and what his son Belcher Dix had been doing getting sentenced to transportation for life in 1825 with Levi Burton, Neptune Smith’s cousin (through the latter’s mother Asha Burton). We can’t prove beyond question that Patheny Boswell was Thomas Dix senior’s sister-in-law, but the circum- stantial evidence seems to make the marriages of these daughters of Bartholomew as solid as the marriages of their brothers, perhaps more solid than the admittedly imperfect birth-dates of most of their siblings.

If Anne and I have been unable to establish precise birth-dates and proven marriages for Bartholomew’s children, our biggest disappointment involves not finding out more about his birth-family. Bartholomew in 1796 claimed to be of Mellor in N Derbyshire, as he had at Lewis’ baptism in 1788, but unless he was baptised in Mellor in 1754 as Bartholomew Booth son of John (no further information), he probably only saw Mellor as his ancestral “home”, just as Viney Boswell and his brother Anselo, in the next generation, described themselves as of or born in nearby Macclesfield. And while Bartholomew travelled as an adult in a narrow corridor between Wilts and Lincs, overlapping with famous Boswells of his generation like Lawrence and Shadrach, we’ve found nothing in the way of inter-marriages or distinctive forenames or professions to suggest a sibling connection.

We’ll keep on looking, but we’d be grateful if anyone can give us a steer.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill