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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS THIRTY NINE: Righteous and Siberina Draper

Eric Trudgill    -    31 July 2016

Righteous Draper was christened in Rotherfield Peppard, Oxf in 1775 son of Righteous and Maria; he had a sister, Sophia, christened in Bix, Oxf the following year, and it may be a brother, buried as Lacey Draper in Bix in 1844 aged 80, from Henley Workhouse.

Righteous seems to have had two wives, concurrently or consecutively. One was Rachel, allegedly an Ingram, by whom he fathered the Rhoda Draper, christened in Amersham, Bucks in 1798, who married Richard Lee (christened in Stanwell, Mdx in 1794 son of Samuel and Hannah), and who had at least eleven children (the first daughter a Rachel) christened in the West Country or Wales.

Righteous died, a Gypsy aged 86, in Much Wenlock, Shrops in 1859, well away from his usual territory in Oxfordshire, Beds, Bucks and Berks, and he was surely staying, eight months after his second wife’s death, with his daughter, Rhoda Lee, who had christened at least seven children in Shropshire, and was to die herself close to Much Wenlock in 1883.

Righteous’ second wife was Siberina Draper, I believe his cousin, christened in Newton Longville, Bucks in 1769 daughter of Saunders and Beaty. By Siberina he had two sets of twins: Samuel and Righteous junior, christened in Kensworth, Beds in 1799 sons of Sibby Draper of Newtown, Bucks (Righteous junior being buried in Wavendon, Bucks less than two months after his baptism); and Charles and Sophia. born on Aug 9 1800 and christened in Denham, Bucks in Aug 1801.

So much is simple. The trouble starts when we try to trace spouses and children for Righteous and Siberina’s surviving twins: I’ve failed utterly, and as far as I know nobody else has done any better. The trouble continues when we try to trace siblings of the twins undiscovered as yet in the baptism records. Valentine Draper, a Gypsy aged 73, who died in Henley Workhouse in 1860, may have been another son of Righteous and Siberina (or Righteous and Rachel), but equally he may have been a son of the Lacey who died in Henley Workhouse 16 years earlier.

Our best bet, I think, is the Frederick Draper who claimed in the census to have been born in Bix, and who was said at his burial in Reading Cemetery, Berks in 1902 to have been 104; we need to allow here for the routine exaggeration of the ages of elderly Gypsies (Siberina Draper, christened in 1769, was said at her death in 1859 to have been 108).

Frederick’s claim as a child of Righteous and Siberina is supported by pretty strong circumstantial evidence. Samuel Draper, son of Righteous and Siberina, ran a dancing booth with a Frederick Draper in various parts of North Herts. A Frederick and Ann Draper christened a Syberina (surely named after Righteous’ wife) in Swallowfield, Berks in 1827, who married Joseph Smith son of Joseph (not Jesse Smith son of Arthur, as the gypsiologists believed) in Bearwood, Berks in 1848, witnessed by Wellington Draper and Georgina Lee; and Wellington, who married Georgina Lee six years later and christened a Frederick by his second wife in 1871, was with, and son of, Frederick Draper, aged ninetyfour and born in Bix, in the 1891 census.

So I think we can add Frederick at least, fairly safely, to the roster of Righteous and Siberina’s children, but I think we should put his birth year after, not before, the two sets of twins.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill