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Ezekiel Tenant Smith

Eric Trudgill    -    1 September 2013

Ezekiel Tenant Smith was baptised in N Aston, Oxf in 1798, his parents unnamed, and he was buried in Gosberton, Lincs in 1858 “aged 65”. He married Beechenny Smith in Lilbourne, Northants in 1826, and they had at least eleven children, with forenames as colourful often as their own, and their own spelt in the records in a variety of ways (eg Des Eagle Tenant, Iggleton, Beech Annie,Bechina).

Their first child was Manda, born in Harby, Leics about 1825. Then came Mileme, baptised in Naseby, Northants in 1827, who (as Millicent daughter of Tenant) married Samuel Smith son of Samuel in Bourn, Lincs in 1849, and had by him a James, christened in Sutton St James, Lincs in 1854. Next was Keziah Smith, baptised in Harringworth, Northants in 1829, who married (daughter of Tenant) Isaac Sherriff (son of John Smith and Martha Sherriff) in Bourn, Lincs in 1852, and had by him Edingale Smith, christened in Sutton St James in 1854, Bartholomew Smith, christened in Swineshead, Lincs in 1856, and a Frederick, Keziah and Martha.

Then came Nehemiah Smith, baptised in both Higham Ferrars and Holcot, Northants in 1832, and buried in Gosberton, Lincs in 1861 “aged 25”, followed by Cornelius Smith, baptised in Nether Heyford, Northants in 1836, who married Susan Harwood daughter of Thomas Harwood and Charlotte Newberry, in Peterborough St Mark, Northants in 1859, and had a Thomas, christened in Whaplode, Lincs in 1863, a Tenant, christened in Spalding, Lincs in 1867, and six children said to have been born in Spalding, Uriah, Albert, Cornelius, Naomi, Abigail and Priscilla. Next was Reuben Smith, baptised in Flore, Northants in 1838, who married Mary Ann Smith, daughter of Richard, in Gosberton in 1858, and had a Mary Ann, born Newark, Notts about 1864, Elizabeth and Sarah, christened in Gosberton in 1867 and 1870, and then Hiram, Edingale and Florence Henrietta, all said to have been born in Gosberton.

Next came Perly Smith, baptised in Spratton, Northants in 1840, who married James Smith, son of Israel and Letitia, in Bourn, Lincs in 1859, and had a Cinderella, christened in Crowland, Lincs in 1861, and a Charles, christened in Gosberton in 1863. Perly was followed by Spiretta Smith, baptised in Baxterley, Wksin 1842, her father of Sulgrave, and by Charles Smith, baptised in Bourn in 1845, who married Priscilla Harwood, another daughter of Thomas and Charlotte, and had in Lincolnshire about 1862-88 a James, Amelia, Alice, Miriam, Tenant and Agnes. Finally there was Ozra, baptised in Gosberton in 1848, who may have married a Susan Raby, and Sibarini, baptised in Navenby, Lincs in 1852.

Tracking Ezekiel Tenant’s children isn’t too difficult, and neither is tracking Beechenny’s parents and grandparents. She was baptised in Ibstock, Leics in 1808 daughter of Harry and Lucy, the Henry Smith and Lucy Smith who married in Irchester, Northants in 1806 with Samuel and Charlotte Smith as witnesses (Beechenny’s parentage, incidentally, is confirmed by the baptism of her son, Charles, where the priest, recording the parents as Iggleton and Elchester, is surely confusing Beechenny’s forename with Irchester, the place she’d “come from”). Henry and Lucy Smith had another daughter, Mary, baptised in Isham, Northantsin 1814 (gypsies, the mother formerly Smith). And Henry was surely the one baptised in Bitteswell, Leics in 1787 son of James and Mary “gypsies”. James and Mary in fact were rather prominent Gypsies, having christened a James junior (in 1767 in Newbold, Wks, close to Bitteswell), who married Winifred Loveridge, and a Samuel (in 1773 in Wolston, Wks, not far from Newbold), who married Absalom Smith’s sister, Sophia.

Tracking Beechenny’s forebears isn’t difficult, but tracking her husband’s is another matter. His parents weren’t named at his baptism, so we have to work with his helpfully rare forename, the date and place of his baptism, and the forenames he gave his children (I can’t as yet make anything of the Smith families his children married into).

His forename is so rare it’s been found in only one other family: John and Keziah Smith christened an Ezekiel Tenant Smith in Thorpe Mandeville, Northants in 1820, son of “a gypsy of Noble (Newbold) Wks”; and their daughter, Miziporeth, married William Loveridge (grandson of James Smith and Winifred Loveridge), and christened a Disegle Tennant Loveridge in 1845. It seems certain that the John Smith here was the one christened in Irchester in 1801, his parents unnamed but surelythe James Smith, baptised in Newbold in 1767, and Winifred Loveridge (whose roster of children have an appropriate gap between Benjamin in 1799 and Winifred junior, Miziporeth’s mother-in-law, in 1803). John being Beechenny’s cousin alone might explain his choice of forename in 1820, but the choice would be more likely if his wife was Ezekiel Tenant’s sister, honoured in the name of his daughter,Keziah, and this faint possibility is the nearest I’ve come to making his forename helpful with respect to his lineage as well as Beechenny’s.

His christening location is also pretty unhelpful (I can’t connect any Romany families with N Aston). But Lilbourne, Northants, where he married in 1826, and Naseby, Holcot and Spratton, Northants where he christened children in 1827, 1832 and 1840, are helpful, I think, because they enclose one of the two patches in Northamptonshire where Nehemiah and Mary Smith are seen most often in the records: the patch containing Cold Ashby, Long Buckby and Creaton, where they christened children in 1799, 1810 and 1818 (another claimed to have been born in Holcot), and Holdenby, where they were finally married in 1832, and Ravensthorpe, E Haddon, Church Brampton and Kingsthorpe, where five of their children married 1829-1845.

Similarly Nether Heyford and Flore, where Ezekiel Tenant christened Cornelius and Reuben, are in Nehemiah and Mary’s more southerly patch: indeed Flore is where two of their sons, and probably one of their daughters, christened children 1839-47; and Heyford is where their first child was buried in 1798, a grandson was christened in 1834, and in 1841 a son married and they themselves got caught by the census. Ezekiel looks even more like Nehemiah’s son, when we consider the forenames he gave his children and the forenames Nehemiah’s gave theirs; Ezekiel Tenant christened a son Nehemiah, and two of Nehemiah senior’s sons between them christened an Ezekiel and a Tenant, whilst another christened a Reuben in Flore the year after Ezekiel Tenant had christened one there. To cap it all, at the baptism in 1842 of his daughter, Spiretta, a name I’ve found given elsewhere only to one of Nehemiah’s nieces, Ezekiel Tenant identified himself as of Sulgrave, like Nehemiah’s son, William, in 1829, and Nehemiah himself in 1832, Sulgrave being a village in Northamptonshire, about ten miles from N Aston, where Nehemiah’s parents had married in 1764.

So does this settle the question of Ezekiel Tenant’s paternity? No, I’m afraid not. I don’t think Nehemiah can have been Ezekiel Tenant’s father (he and Mary christened their short-lived daughter, Comfort, in Boddington, Northants barely three months after Ezekiel Tenant was christened in N Aston). But the fact that Nehemiah seems to have acted as Ezekiel Tenant’s father-figure seems to suggest he was standing in posthumously for one of his brothers (at least three of whom also identified themselves as of Sulgrave). I don’t fancy Moses, baptised in 1772: his territory was nearer N Aston than that of his brothers, but he christened a daughter in Tysoe, Wks, not far from N Aston as it happens, three months after Ezekiel Tenant’s baptism. I don’t fancy Woodfine, baptised in 1780: he didn’t have any children by Sarah Boswell till about 1808, and he did have by her the Spiretta I mentioned earlier, but he was an active paterfamilias until 1867. My money, until a better bet turns up, is on John, husband of Mary: we have baptisms for his children in 1792, 1794 and 1796, but then nothing till 1803 (plenty of room for Ezekiel Tenant in 1798 and a Keziah the same age as her husband, John), and he doesn’t seem to figure in the records after 1816. But it’s only a guess.

Readers, familiar with Vivienne Halton’s excellent page on Ezekiel Tenant in her excellent book on the Elliotts and related families, will recognize my debt.

Copyright © 2013 Eric Trudgill