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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS NUMBER FORTY SEVEN: James and Mary Smith

Eric Trudgill    -    2 April 2017

Nobody, I believe, has yet found a convincing baptism for the James Smith who christened four famous sons (Christopher, Cornelius, Woodlock and Bartholomew) 1829-36. However, I suspect heíll prove to be a son of the James Smith (baptised in Piddington, Northants in 1770 son of William and Ann travellers) who married Mary Ellis in Olney, Bucks in 1797. There are three important facts to know about James junior: he married Elizabeth Odell in Long Stanton, Cambs in 1824; he was of Hackleton, Northants (next door to Piddington and very close to Olney) when christening his first two children in Suffolk; and his son Christopher had a Caroline and Jane, born apparently in Biggleswade, Beds (where his first three children had been christened).

These facts are important because five days before James married Elizabeth Odell in 1824 a Jane Smith married Elijah Odell in the same church, suggesting James had a sister Jane who married his brother-in-law. Four months later Salome Smith (baptised in 1807 daughter of Wisdom and Hannah) married a William Smith in Helpston, Northants, and they christened a William junior in 1825 in Tilbrook, Hunts (vagrants of Hackleton), suggesting James had a brother William. And in 1878 Jane Smith, daughter of Jamesí Christopher, married James (Pizzler) Smith son of Frederick (the Frederick who was son of James deceased when belatedly marrying Elizabeth Law in 1872), shortly after what was clearly Janeís sister Caroline married what was clearly James (Pizzler)ís brother Frederick junior, suggesting Frederick, husband of Elizabeth Law, was a brother, not nephew or son of the, in 1872, still-alive James, husband of Elizabeth Odell.

Iím pretty sure Frederick was a younger brother of James, Jane, William and probably John, all children of James and Mary. This is the probable birth-order: James, future husband of Elizabeth, was born about 1802; William, future husband of Salome, was born in Huntingdonshire about 1804; Jane, future wife of Elijah, was baptised in Old Weston, Hunts in 1807 (traveller), John was buried in Biggleswade in 1810 (gypsy), and Frederick was baptised in Bletsoe, Beds in 1818 (vagrants).

My guess is we wonít find James juniorís baptism near Hackleton, but along with Williamís in Huntingdonshire. Williamís marriage in Helpston, and his baptism of three children in North Northamptonshire and two more in Lincolnshire, were all on Salomeís family territory, but his baptism of William junior, Miseretta, Chrisaney and Sophia in Tilbrook, Brington, Abbots Ripton and Bury, Hunts 1825-41 were all on his family territory, close to Old Weston where Jane had been christened (and not far from Bletsoe where Frederick had been christened), and close to Bluntisham, Hunts where James junior was to christen Bartholomew in 1836, and to Ellington, Hunts where Frederick was to christen Hester in 1846.

In their later years James, William and Frederick were all to be found on a different patch, in or near Loughton, Essex. Frederick gave late baptisms in Loughton in 1867 to his Frederick junior and James (Pizzler), born according to their birth certificates in 1850 and 1858 respectively, and belatedly married Elizabeth there in 1872. Jamesí spouse was buried there in 1873 (wife of James, cane worker), and James and his brother William both seem to have been buried there in 1875.

This attachment to Loughton, however, raises a question. Christopher Smith, husband of Priscilla and then Maria, was buried there in 1874, with Maria according to the death certificate present as he died. Could Christopher be another son of James and Mary? He baptised one child in Piddington, was of Hackleton at the baptism of another, and of Gt Brington, quite close to both, at the baptisms of five others; he was honoured, it seems, in the forename given to Jamesí first son; and his daughter Eliza married Abraham Law, brother of Elizabeth, jointly with Frederick Smith and Elizabeth Law in Loughton in 1872. Itís possible he was an early son of James and Mary, but since Mary Ann, his first known child by Priscilla, was baptised in 1809, which would make her nine years older than her uncle Frederick, itís more likely he was the siblingsí uncle, brother of James Smith, the husband of Mary.

Copyright © 2017 Eric Trudgill