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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS. ELEVEN: Major and Daniel Lovell

Eric Trudgill    -    8 April 2014

Major Lovell, said to have been 76 when he was buried in Old Swinford, Worcs in 1832, was a remarkably “long” traveller. He and his wife, Susanna, christened Charlotte in the E Midlands (Edmondthorpe, Leics) in 1771, Carnation in the N West (Wigan, Lancs) in 1773, Trenat seemingly in the S West (parents unnamed) in N Bradley, Wilts in 1775, judging from the birthplace given at her burial, Major junior in the S Midlands (Weldon, Northants) in 1779, Susanna junior in the W Midlands (Dudley, Worcs) in 1781, and then Thomas and Francis in the S Midlands (respectively in Kings Sutton, Northants in 1784 and Sherington, Bucks in 1786).

The conspicuous gap in the roster around 1777 should be filled, I feel, even without a baptism for him, with William Lovell, later the husband concurrently of a Sophia and a Fiance (Sophia was mother by him, and Fiance grandmother, of a Britannia, a fairly unusual name, and Fiance was mother by him, and Sophia grandmother, of a Molyneux, an extremely unusual name). The case for William being an older brother of Major junior is not conclusive in itself, mainly resting on their both giving a son the relatively unusual forename, Hercules, and on both having children who adopted the Dudley area favoured progressively by Major and Susanna (for example, Susanna junior was christened in Dudley itself, Trenat and Major senior were buried quite close to it in Old Swinford, Worcs in 1832 and Oldbury, Worcs in 1837, and Major junior died just outside it, in Netherton, Worcs in 1853).

What makes the case for William being an older brother of Major junior, firstly, is that Daniel Lovell, husband of Violetta, was surely a younger brother of Major senior: he seems to have travelled with him some of the time (christening children in 1788 and 1794 about 12 miles from where Major christened one in 1786; he was “of Wigan, Lancs” when christening a child in 1783,; his daughter, Spanish, married Major and Susanna’s Thomas; he gave, as a Gypsy tinker and husband of Violet, a deposition on oath in 1831 in Himley, Staffs, very near Dudley; and he buried Violetta in 1837 in Wednesfield, Staffs, close to Dudley.

What makes the case for William being an older brother of Major junior, secondly, is that Daniel’s seems to have been the only Lovell family to have shared the Dudley area with Major and Susanna, and he, it’s clear from his deposition, couldn’t have been the father of the William married concurrently to Sophia and Fiance, since he was the father of another William (the gypsiologists’ Old Slack, who married first a Hetty and then a Sarah).

The 1831 deposition (found and given me by Sharon Heppell) confirms William as the missing child of Major and Susanna. It also clarifies the children of Daniel and Violetta. We have baptisms for Zechariah in North Witham, Lincs in 1783, William (Old Slack) in N Luffenham, Rutland in 1785, Moses in Houghton Regis, Beds in 1788, Ambrose in Bitchfield, Lincs in 1790, Durant in Childs Wickham, Glos in 1794, and Spanish in Houghton Regis later in 1794.

To these I believe we can add, without having found a baptism for her, the Temperance/Dambretty Lovell, born about 1797, who married Thomas Boswell (Viney’s brother), and had by him the Samson Boswell who married first his cousin, Rose Lovell daughter of Ambrose, and then his second-cousin, Leanabel Evans, granddaughter of Durant Lovell (Samson, christened as the son of Thomas Boswell and Temperance Lovell, had a child birth-registered in 1848 by her grandmother, Dambretty Boswell). And I believe we can also add, without a baptism for her, the Rose Lovell, born about 1779-81, who married No Name Heron and had by him the Sarah (Elizabeth) Heron who in the 1830s married the Major Lovell baptised in 1807, son of Old Slack and Hetty: only this Major at the time of the 1831 deposition had been born late enough to be recorded as Daniel’s grandson and early enough to be recorded as having fathered two children.

It may be Rose, mother of Sarah, was a late sister of Major, husband of Susanna, and Daniel, husband of Violetta, but to me she looks more like Daniel’s early daughter. There’s no Rose in Major and Susanna’s family, but there are two in Daniel and Violetta’s, and it seems more likely that their son, Ambrose, would name a daughter Rose after a sister than after an aunt, more likely that Daniel and Violetta’s grandson, the Major christened in 1807, would marry a cousin than his father’s cousin.

Next month I’ll look at plausible fathers for Major, husband of Susanna, and Daniel, husband of Violetta, and the possibility of tracing one of them back another generation or even two.

Copyright © 2014 Eric Trudgill