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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS FORTY TWO: Absalom and Mary Boswell

Eric Trudgill    -    6 November 2016

Absalom Boswell, born he twice claimed in Thringstone, Leics, was baptised in Quainton, Bucks in 1785 son of Richard Boswell and Phyllis Blewitt. He married first, it seems informally, Ann Swales daughter of George and Mary, and married second formally Annís sister, Mary Swales, in Sheffield Cathedral, Yks (where Ann and Mary had been baptised respectively in 1781 and 1789) in 1809, witnessed by his brother Zachariah Boswell, husband of Sarah Boiling.

By Ann Absalom had two children confirmed in the records: James Boswell baptised in E Retford, Notts in 1805 and buried in Mansfield, Notts three weeks later; and Violetta Boswell baptised in Derby All Saints in 1807. These were probably the only issue of Absalomís first marriage. Itís his second marriage that raises all the problems.

By Mary Absalom had four children confirmed in the records: Harriet Boswell, who married, of full age daughter of Absalom, Frederick Boswell, of full age son of Richard [Absalomís cousin], in Liverpool St Nicholas, Lancs in 1845, and died on the Isle of Man in 1881 ďaged 71Ē; Jane Matilda Boswell baptised in Womersley, Yks in 1818, who allegedly married Thomas Pinker, a Retford lodging-house keeper; the famous Mordecai Boswell baptised in Misterton, Notts in 1820, who married Agnes Johnson daughter of William and Elizabeth; and Josiah Boswell baptised as a Blewitt in N Wingfield, Dby in Dec 1825 and Heath, Dby in Jan 1826, who married Betsy Boswell, baptised in 1822 daughter of the Joseph/Anselo Boswell, who seemingly sired Appy (Absalom) Boswell by Absalomís sister Trinity. These are the facts about the children of Absalomís second marriage. The rest is speculation.

The gypsiologists gave Matilda and Mordecai in effect as Absalomís children (they thought Absalom was an Edward), plus Caroline, Siberina, Deloreni and Sarah. Caroline looks very plausible: a Caroline Boswell aged 24 was buried in Blyton, Lincs in 1849 just three weeks after a three month old Mordecai Boswell was buried in May, clearly Josiah and Betsyís first child of that name baptised in Fillongley, Yks in February 1849. The gypsiologistsí information on Absalomís family was very uneven: they thought the father of Matilda, Mordecai and Caroline was Edward son of Daniel, when in fact he was Absalom son of Richard, and surely nephew of Daniel and grandson of Edward. So I donít think we should put too much weight on the Siberina, Deloreni and Sarah they gave as Absalomís children, even though he had a sister-in-law called Siberani and his son Mordecai had two short-lived daughters called Sarah Deloraine. Trust the records, not the gypsiologists.

If we turn from speculation about Absalomís children derived from the gypsiologists to speculation derived from the records, we find one near certainty and two intriguing possibilities. Iím pretty certain Abraham had a Trenit/Trinity, surely by Mary Swales and named after his sister, claiming to have been born in Beverley, Yks about 1809, the Trenit who married her cousin, Phoenix Boswell, baptised in 1805 son of Israel and the fore-mentioned Siberani: Phoenix and Trinity baptised a Mordecai in 1843, named after Absalomís son: and Trenit like Absalomís Mordecai, for reasons as yet unexplained, used Wainwright as a surname as well as Boswell.

Iím intrigued but less certain about the burial of an Absalom Boswell ďaged 44Ē in Brafferton, Yks in June 1826, jointly with presumably his children, Levias Boswell aged 14 and Thomas Boswell aged 10, all three of Hanley Green, Staffs. Brafferton was not a huge distance from Absalom and Maryís last known sighting in the records, in Heath, Dby in January 1826, and Staffordshire isnít an impossibility as Absalomís ďancestralĒ place of origin. So maybe the list of his children by Mary should read Trenit born about 1809, Levias about 1811, Harriet about 1813, Thomas about 1815, Jane Matilda baptised in 1818, Mordecai baptised in 1820, Caroline born about 1824, and Josiah baptised 1825/6. Maybe.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill