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Tracing Gypsy Families Back Despite the Lack of Records. Number 28: Mendoza and Ann Smith

Eric Trudgill    -    6 September 2015

Some pioneer gypsiologists identified Hannah, the wife of Wisdom Smith son of James and Eunice, as the daughter of Mendoza Smith and Ann Hodgkin. Other gypsiologists identified Hannah as the daughter of Theodosia Smith and Ann Hodgkin and sister of a Patience who married Samuel Smith son of Sidney and Jane, and of a Big Liza who married Samuel Smith, brother of the famous Esau. A quick glance at the records suggests the first genealogists were right and the others wrong: Mendoza Smith married Ann Hodgkin in Boston, Lincs in 1815, and they were named as the parents of Hannah Smith christened in Boston in 1817. Hannah became the second wife of Wisdom Smith son of James and Eunice (the first, Eliza Boswell, had children christened 1832-34), and had Sembly, Rudolphus, Sarah and Eldry christened in Lincolnshire or Yorkshire 1837-50, plus a William born about 1841. The gypsiologists who claimed Mendoza married Ann Hodgkin also claimed he was a child, like the Edward I discussed last month and the Eunice who married James Smith, of the Wisdom and Hannah Smith who married in 1782, which means the latters’ grandchildren, the younger Wisdom and Hannah, were cousins. This too looks very credible: there’s a gap in the known baptisms of the earlier Wisdom and Hannah’s children 1787-90, between Edward and Eunice, which looks made for Mendoza. A closer look at the records, however, suggests the gypsiologists who favoured Theodosia were also right. Theodosia was the name of Edward’s and Eunice’s nephew (son of their brother Wisdom junior and his second wife, Brownetta Smith), christened in 1816, who was transported to Australia in 1843, leaving a Robert Smith, born about 1841, who was son of Dosher at his wedding. That gap in the earlier Wisdom and Hannah’s children 1787-90, could be filled plausibly by a Theodosia whose name was given by his younger brother to his first son. Indeed the closer you look at the records the more plausible it seems that both lots of genealogists were right: Theodosia was Mendoza, an alternate forename, both easily shortened to Dosia, the form most used by the gypsiologists. Support for this is given first by the fact that both men in the birth records have a wife called Ann (and daughters but not sons), and by the way their known children dovetail chronologi- cally (Hannah was christened in Boston, Lincs in 1817 daughter of Mendoza and Ann, Tabitha in Casterton, Rutland in 1823 daughter of Theodosia and Ann, Susanna in Selston, Notts in 1827 daughter of Mendoza, and Patience in N Witham, Lincs in 1831 daughter of Theodoceus and Ann. Support for Mendoza and Theodosia being one and the same is given secondly by the second marriage of Theodosia’s Tabitha (named seemingly after the sister of Edward, Eunice and the others). Tabitha had two children by a Robert Smith christened in Lincolnshire, Sylvia in 1841 in Cottingham and Violet in 1844 in Nettleham. She then became a co-wife of Wisdom Smith, son of James and Eunice, with Hannah Smith daughter of Mendoza: Wisdom and Hannah christened their last child in 1850, Wisdom and Tabitha christened their first, Dinah, in 1849, followed by Isaiah in 1852, Wisdom born about 1856, Una christened in 1858 and Rabbi born in 1862. It looks very typical of Gypsy marriage arrangements: a husband taking in “bigamous” marriage the younger sister of his current wife The gypsiologists didn’t know about Hannah Smith’s sisters, Tabitha and Susanna, and I’m bound to say their claims about two other sisters, Patience and especially Big Liza, look to me rather doubtful. There was a Samuel married to a Patience in Sidney and Jane Smith’s family, but I’ve found no baptism for him, and the gypsiologist George Hall was told by Sidney and Jane’s nephew and son-in-law, Fenwick Smith, that it was Patience, not Samuel, who was their child. I’ve found no trace of Big Liza, and though Esau Smith did have a brother Samuel, the latter married an Alice and a Mary, both born in the W Country, far from Mendoza/Theodosia’s territory.

Copyright © 2015 Eric Trudgill