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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS FORTY: Israel and Sophia Draper

Eric Trudgill    -    4 September 2016

Israel Draper was baptised in Therfield, Herts in 1786 son of Alexander and Hannah, and was the brother or half-brother of the Siberina Draper I discussed last month, baptised in 1769 daughter of Saunders and Beaty. Alexander used the second half of his forename in 1769, and the first half when christening Ameneta in 1780 daughter of Ellick and Beata, and Spencer in 1784 son of Alec and Elizabeth (the priest perhaps formalizing Betty, itself a mis-heard Beata). Itís not clear whether Hannah in 1786 was a mistake, an alternate for Beata, or a separate wife.

Israel married Sophia Smith in Wilden, Beds in 1807, and baptised the following children: Annas in Winwick, Hunts in December 1811, who married Lucas Lock (christened in 1813 son of Merrick), and christened a Vashti, Albert, Clementina, Lucas jun, Jemima and Sophia Lock in Gloucestershire 1840-52; Selina in Stevington, Beds in 1815; Diverus in Heath and Reach, Beds in October 1817; Clementina in Bullwick, Northants in January 1820; and Sarah in Duddington, Northants in 1822, who married Edward Boswell (christened in 1815 son of Tiso) and christened a Dorelia, Alma and Emma Boswell in Lancashire 1847-59. To these children we can probably add the John Draper tried for larceny with Lucas Lock in 1864, and certainly the Rhoda Draper travelling with Israel and Sophiaís Selina in the 1881 census: John would fit neatly just before or just after Annas; and Rhoda, despite her alleged age in 1881, was probably the next after Sarah.

Last month, discussing Righteous Draper, husband of Siberina, I noted and offered an explanation for his death in 1859 so far from his usual patch, and there is something similarly curious about the deaths of Israel, Sophia, and two of their children, Diverus and Selina, in the mountains of Wales, far from Israelís family patch from the 1760s to the 1820s, which stretched no further west than Buckinghamshire and Northants. Sophia Draper died in the Llandovery Union, Carmarthenshire 22/1/1838 (gypsy aged 56); Diffrey Draper was buried two weeks later, about 16 miles to the east, in Brecon St David, Breconshire (stranger aged 18); Israel Draper died (claiming to be 100) a few miles further east in 1878, in Cwmdu, Breconshire, where Selina and Rhoda were found in the 1881 census; and Selina Draper died in Cwmdu a few months later.

Three simple explanations offer themselves for Israelís re-location of his family between 1822 and 1838. Itís possible he got into trouble with the law on his native patch and decided to put some distance between them. Itís possible he visited his daughter Annas after her marriage had taken her west, and decided to stay (Breconshire is quite close to Hereford, where Israel was tried with Lucas Lock in 1853, and itís not that far from Lucasí usual patch in Gloucestershire, where John Draper and Lucas were tried in 1864); perhaps Israel was in Gloucestershire for Annasí wedding (her first child, Leonora Lock, was probably born about 1838, decided to explore Breconshire, and then stayed there to be close to his dead wife and son.

But itís also possible Israel first went west to visit not his daughter Annas but his step-niece Rhoda Draper (christened in 1798 daughter of Righteous and Rachel), whom I mentioned last month. That would explain how Annas met her West Country husband. Itís possible Israel was close to Rhoda: he alone in his family gave her name to a daughter. And itís intriguing that though the earlier Rhoda and her husband, Richard Lee, as I mentioned last month, christened at least seven children in Shropshire, their main patch, they also christened one in Gloucestershire, two in Herefordshire, and one in Breconshire in June 1836, not long before we first see Israel and Sophia in those parts.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill