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Tracing Gypsy Families back despite the lack of records. Eight: Thomas and Sarah Smith

Eric Trudgill    -    5 January 2014

Tracing Gypsy Families Back Despite The Lack Of Records

EIGHT: Thomas and Sarah Smith

I’ve found only two documented children of Thomas and Sarah: the famous Jasper Smith baptised in N Marston, Bucks in 1759, vagrants, and Fido Smith baptised in N Marston in 1768 six weeks after the Absalom Smith I discussed last month, son of Thomas and Hannah (it’s possible we have here one Thomas and two wives or, more likely, one Thomas the other’s brother-in-law or one wife the other’s sister).

Jasper married Catherine Tate, their first child, Lucretia, being christened in Shenington, E Glos in 1778 daughter of Jasper and Sarah (Catherine being muddled with her mother-in-law), travellers from N Marston, Bucks. Lucretia was followed in the next 18 years by nine more children: Arkles, Jasper (Jeppy), Honour, Wisdom, Arnold, Harriet, Onslow, Thomas and Keziah, all christened quite close together in E Glos, N Oxon, SW Northants and S Warwicks. Jasper belatedly formalized his union with Catherine in Gt Tew, N Oxf in 1804. Fido married a Charlotte, and christened two daughters a little to the east of Jasper’s territory, Ipsiba (Hephzibah) in 1788 in Swanbourne, Bucks, and Constance in 1797 in Ecton, Northants, “belonging to Marston in Oxfordshire”.

There are, as usual in the 18th century, many gaps in the records to be worked round, but I’m pretty sure we can add to Thomas and Sarah’s family if we look at Jonas and Alabon Smith. Jonas married Constance Smith in 1779 and had soon after Agrippina/Gripy, who married the Major Lovell baptised in 1779, Gripy being followed 1784-96 by Fallowfield, Silverthorn, Mendoza, Umperella and Eleanor, the first christened in E Glos, the third in N Oxon, and the other three in Wilts. Alabon married Charlotte Jenkins and had by her Cleopatra christened in E Glos in 1792 (Lewis Boswell’s first wife), Constance born 1793-98 (Lewis Boswell’s second wife), Jonas christened in N Oxon in 1799, and Arkles christened probably in Milton Keynes, Bucks in 1802, parents unnamed. Alabon also had by Mary Buckland, sister of Barrington, the Lavinia, christened in N Oxon in 1795, who married her cousin, Dimiti Buckland son of Barrington.

Applying a fourfold test for consanguinity I’ve developed, I’m pretty sure Jonas and Alabon were brothers. They were connected in time and space: their known children were born or baptised from about 1782 to 1802, Jonas’ Fallowfield and Alabon’s Cleopatra being christened quite close to each other in E Glos, Jonas’ Mendoza and Alabon’s Jonas in adjoining parishes in N Oxon with Alabon’s Lavinia christened very close. They were connected by marriage: Alabon’s son, Arkles, married Jonas’ granddaughter, Eliza daughter of Gripy. They were connected by significant forenames: Alabon gave two of his five known children the forenames of Jonas and his wife, Constance. And they were connected by a travel companion, Bartholomew Boswell: Bartholomew married by banns in Bletchingdon, Oxf in 1779 seven days before Jonas did the same, travelled like him between Wilts and Lincs, and christened a daughter Fallowfield in 1785, the year after Jonas had christened his; and he seems to have travelled also with Alabon before and after the latter’s second wife, Mary Buckland(soon after christening his Lavinia in the church Bartholomew had used for a daughter five years earlier) left him and married Bartholomew (Bartholomew’s son, Lewis, years later married Alabon’s two daughters by Charlotte).

Applying the same fourfold test for consanguinity, I’m pretty sure Jonas and Alabon were not just brothers but brothers of Jasper. They were connected in time and space: Jasper’s children were born 1778-96, mostly like theirs in E Glos and N Oxon; Jasper’s Arkles was christened in Bletchingdon six months after Jonas was married there, while Jasper’s Jeppy was married in the church Alabon’s Jonas had been christened in four years earlier. They were connected by marriage: Jasper’s Wisdom allegedly had a relationship with Jonas’ Fallowfield, and certainly by Elizabeth Gentle fathered the wife of Jonas’ grandson, Jubal, while Jonas himself witnessed the wedding of Jasper’s Onslow. They were connected by significant forenames: Alabon had an Arkles like Jasper (each destined to be a famous fiddler son of a famous fiddler), while Jasper’s brother, Fido, had a Constance like Alabon. And they were connected by travel companions: Jasper may well have travelled like them with Bartholomew Boswell, whose son and grandson were also famous fiddlers, since he used the church to christen Wisdom Bartholomew had used four years earlier to christen a daughter; and, for me the clincher, in 1804 six months after Jasper belatedly married Catherine Tate in Gt Tew, Halebon Hare Smith married Charlotte Jenkins there, travelling people.

Given that Halebon was recorded at that time as a Hare Smith, it may be the siblings’ mother was a Sarah Ayres. And given that Alabon’s children dove-tailed chronologically with Fido’s, that he had a wife, Charlotte, and a daughter, Constance born about 1797, like Fido, and that he apparently christened Arkles in Milton Keynes, well away from his usual territory, but close to Swanbourne and Ecton on Fido’s territory, it may be Alabon and Fido were one and the same. The more we learn sometimes, the less we know, until we get the right pieces.

Copyright © 2014 Eric Trudgill