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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS NUMBER FIFTY: Solomon and Silence Low

Eric Trudgill    -    29 June 2017

In the 1861 census in Hatfield Broad Oaks, Essex we find Silence Law ie Low [baptised (Silence Gaskell) in White Colne, Essex in 1822 daughter of Thomas & Ann], the widowed mother of Joseph, Mary Ann, John and Alexander. In the 1871 census in Hornchurch, Essex we find Silence Ditton ie Dighton, the widowed mother of a Joseph, Mary Ann and Saunders born in the same places and at the same times as their namesakes in 1861, plus a Mazalea, Solomon and William missing then; and travelling with them we find Sophia Lowe, the widowed mother of a William, Esther, Andrew, Joseph and Alice.

Tracing William and Andrew Lowe’s birth-data in the baptismal and birth records makes it clear Sophia was a Webb and widow of a Henry Low. William was baptised in Thorley, Herts in 1841 as a Webb son of Sophia, a travelling gypsy woman; and Andrew was civil-registered as born in Lambourne, Essex in 1852 son of Henry Low, a mat maker, and Sophia formerly Webb.

Andrew married Mary Ann Rossiter and had at least seven Low children, Elizabeth born in 1875, James about 1877, Phoebe baptised in Lambourne in 1879, William born about 1881, Selina born in 1883 and baptised in Lambourne in 1883 with her sister Elizabeth (probably the one born in 1875), Andrew born about 1885, and Harry born and baptised in Lambourne in 1888. Phoebe was baptised jointly with Moses Low son of Lawrence Low and Hester/Sylvester Smith, Lawrence (born between Esther and Andrew) being the one child of Sophia not with her in 1861, though he was travelling with her and Andrew in 1891, along with his wife and children.

Tracing the birth-data of Silence’s children in the baptismal, birth, marriage, and later census records makes it clear Silence was a Dighton and widow of a Solomon Low.

Silence’s son Joseph, born in Harlow, Essex about 1847, married Eliza daughter of Moses Mills and Margaret Cooper (Eliza being recorded mostly as formerly Cooper, but on one occasion formerly Mills). Joseph and Eliza appeared as Lows in the 1881 census, but they christened a Mazelia Dighton, named after his sister, in 1873, a Deliah Dighton in 1877, an Alice and Ada Dighton jointly in 1882, a Moses Cooper Dighton in 1883, an Albert Dighton in 1894 and a Genty Dighton in 1897.

Silence’s daughter Mazelia, born in Cressing, Essex about 1851, married Isaiah Shoesmith (baptised in 1848 son of John and Ann), and christened a John Shoesmith in Trottiscliffe, Kent in 1875 recorded as son of Isaiah and Silence (the priest confusing mother and grandmother) and a James Shoesmith in Trottiscliffe in 1877 jointly with his cousin, Deliah Dighton daughter of Joseph and Eliza (Mazelia’s next child was a Silence Shoesmith).

Silence’s son Alexander/Saunders was birth-registered as Alexander Dighton, born in Gt Ilford, Essex in 1857, and baptised as Saunders Dighton in Barkingside, Essex in 1857, with in each case only his mother recorded, which perhaps indicates she was already a widow. She herself died, as Silence Law, widow of Solomon, in Harlow in 1905, and with her son John Law present at her death, which indicates he was only missing, not dead, at the time of the 1871 census.

I haven’t found spouses or offspring, as yet, for five of Silence’s children, Mary Ann, John, Alexander/Saunders, Solomon junior and William. I also haven’t found baptisms for the husbands of Silence and Sophia. The fact that Solomon named his first son Joseph and another one William, and that Henry named his first son William and another one Joseph, may be a clue to their father or brothers. Or maybe it’s not.

Copyright © 2017 Eric Trudgill