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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS Twenty-four: Old Joe Buckley's children

Eric Trudgill    -    3 May 2015

Old Joe Buckley, whose origins I explored last month, married a Mary whom the gypsiologists believed to be a gorjer Skipper. The family for two generations seems to have been somewhat unprolific (though they made up for it later): I’ve found only five children for Joe and Mary and only twelve grandchildren, seven of whom were children of Joiner. I’ve also struggled to establish a birth order for Joe’s and Joiner’s children.

I now think four of Joe’s children were in this order: Hiram was born in Halstead, Essex about 1797, as he claimed in the 1861 and 1871 census (I thought he was exaggerating his antiquity until Sharon Heppell showed he had said the same as early as 1823, when imprisoned in Beccles, Suffolk for vagrancy); Elijah was christened in Preston, Suffolk in 1799 (travellers of Barking, Essex), Elizabeth in Barking, Essex in 1803 no further information, and Samuel in Rawreth, Essex in 1807 (no further information but he gave Rawreth as his birth place in the 1851 census). The problem lies with Joiner, who took over Samuels’s wife in the 1830s when, we’re told, Samuel was transported to Jamaica, and could have been born about 1801, about 1805, or about 1809 on.

There are no problems with the birth order for the children of Joseph’s first three sons: Hiram married a Margaret said to have been a Lee, and had Britannia Buckley, christened in Tattingstone, Suffolk, who married first William Hoadley and later James Nicholls; Elijah married Elizabeth Smith daughter of Ferdinand and Morella, and had Levithan Buckley, christened in N Wootton, Norfolk in 1825, who married John Lee son of Samuel and Mary Ann, and Lazarus Buckley (aka George Smith) who married Kerlenda Lee daughter of Charles Lee and Union Chilcott; and Samuel married Sarah Smith and had a Joiner Buckley christened in Wymmering, Hants in 1830 (what was he doing down there? running from the law?) and Josiah Buckley, christened (as Josiah Bowdley) in Herringswell, Suffolk in 1835, who married (as Josiah Smith) Alice Smith daughter of James and Elizabeth. There is a problem involving a possible late child for Samuel, Louisa Hanshutt, born in Hockley, Essex in 1851 daughter of Sarah, just before both were found in the census travelling with Samuel, Sarah his housekeeper, but whether Samuel was being the friend or husband of a woman nearly 30 years his junior, it can’t affect the birth order of his children.

There are serious difficulties, however with the birth order of his ex-wife’s children; again the problem lies with Joiner.Gonation (we would call him Carnation) was christened in Hargrave, Suffolk in 1839, Arkles in Horringer, Suffolk in 1843, and Noah in Norton, Suffolk in 1847. But where do we put the others, Justinia, Santalina, Naomi and Frank? I assume Justinia was born before Gonation in about 1835 because she christened a child in 1857 and claimed to be 27, like her husband, when she married in 1862. I assume Santalina was born about 1841 and Naomi in about 1845 because he claimed to be 18 in the 1861 census and 24 at his 1862 wedding, while she claimed to be 26 in the 1871 census. And I assume Frank was born in about 1849 because he didn’t christen a child till 1867 (he did claim to be 24 in 1871, but if he were born about 1845, Naomi would have to have been born about 1849, which would be impossible).

One last point, to illustrate how hard it is to fill gaps in the records. When Hiram was imprisoned in Beccles in 1823, he was with his wife Margaret, said to have been a Lee, and with Sophia Smith and her children by Elijah Smith, who had been transported to Australia in 1820 never to return. Why were Hiram and Margaret travelling with Sophia? Some gypsiologists thought Sophia was a Buckley, so Hiram may have been looking after an aunt deprived of her husband. But Sophia’s daughter Isabella on her death certificate in the US was recorded as the daughter of Elijah Smith and Sophia Lee, so Margaret (if she was indeed a Lee), not Hiram, may have been the one looking after an aunt. Equally Sophia may have been a Buckley who married a Lee after she’d lost Elijah Smith, a Lee she met through association with her nephew Hiram’s wife. Heigh-ho, none of it’s simple.

Copyright © 2015 Eric Trudgill