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Eric Trudgill    -    2 January 2016

Keziah Booth (christened in Eaton, Leics in 1839 daughter of James and Sophia) told the gypsiol- ogists her grandfather, John Booth, had been born in Edensor, Dby, son of James, a gorjer, and had left it as a young man. George Booth (Keziah’s second cousin) told the gypsiologists his grandfather, George Booth, had also been born in Edensor son of a gorjer, and left it as a young man. Keziah and George both claimed the travelling Booths were descended from property-owning Edensor Booths, illegally dispossessed according to George in the notorious Edensor evictions. It was a great story, but not one that survives acquaintance with the records and a filling in of the gaps in the records.

Keziah’s mother was Sophia Smith, christened in 1793 daughter of Robert and Lilburn and niece of the great Absalom Smith. Keziah’s father was James Booth, christened in Blisworth, Northants in 1802, two days old, son of John Booth (christened in Lilbourne, Northants in 1779 son of John and Mary, travellers, almost certainly the John Booth and Mary Davis married in Claybrooke, Leics the year before) and Christina Clayton (christened in Helmdon, Northants in 1778 daughter of Francis and Mary). James was christened in Jan 1802 as a Cleadon (ie Clayton) son of Dianna of Helmdon, and his sister Sarah was christened in Whetstone, Leics in Nov 1803 as the illegitimate daughter of Dinah Clayton, a travelling woman. But the three siblings I’ve found for them were christened as Booths: Mary (born in 1798) and Henry together in Clifton, Wks in 1810, children of John and Dinah, travellers, and Frances in Bulkington, Wks in 1808 daughter of John and Diana.

Keziah’s grandfather looks much more like John Booth christened in Northants in 1779, son of John and Mary, than the only candidate in the Edensor Register (John, son of James, christened in 1783), who looks born too late to move down as a young gorjer from north Derbyshire to the South Midlands, marry into a high caste Romany family, and sire Keziah’s father by January 1802, let alone Mary by June 1798. But the case is even clearer when we look at George’s grandfather and his family connections with both John Booth and Christina Clayton.

George’s grandfather, George Booth, was christened in Guilsborough, Northants in 1780, married Mary Bradbury in Bedworth, Wks in 1799 (see the baptism in 1802 of their second child), christened a child in Guilsborough in 1810, and was of Guilsborough at the baptism of another in 1818. George was christened in Guilsborough 23 months after John Booth was christened in Lilbourne (which is only seven miles away) by the same parents, John and Mary. They were clearly brothers. And if John’s daughter Frances married her cousin, Christina’s nephew, John Clayton son of Brington, no less than four of George’s children (Anne, John, William and Bechane) married children of Brington.

And, if we look beyond John and George Booth, we find three very probable siblings for them, additional evidence that their family were prominent Gypsies well before the Edensor evictions. In Loughborough, Leics Joshua Booth married Margaret Hodgkin in 1803, Charlotte Booth married Brington Clayton in 1808, and William Booth married Ann Stevens in 1811. Joshua and his presumably Gypsy wife christened a son in Clifton, Wks in 1808, two years before John christened Mary and Henry there, and their son, Joseph was the first husband of George’s Bechane; Charlotte and her incontestably Gypsy husband, as we’ve seen, had a son marry a daughter of John and three of their children (plus one by Brington’s second marriage) married children of George; whilst William had his marriage witnessed by George, and had a daughter marry a son of Brington Clayton’s second marriage. And probably the Sarah Booth who married Robert Clayton, presumably the nephew of Christina and Brington, in Sharnford, Leics in 1815, the year after Joshua Booth christened a daughter there, was another sibling of John and George, the so-called Edensor gorjers.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill