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Johnny Two Wives Smith

Eric Trudgill    -    29 September 2017

The Johnny Smith in question was said by the gypsiologists to have been a son of Samuel and Reservoy. This makes sense: a John Smith was baptised in Weston cum Welland, Northants in 1833 son of Samuel Smith (baptised in the same church in 1791 son of unnamed gypsies, probably Nehemiah and Elizabeth) and Reservoy Smith (baptised in Stow IX Churches, Northants in 1796 daughter of John and Mary).

Johnny was said by the gypsiologists to have married a Carolina Smith, sister of a Robert and of a Menti who came to look after her during her first confinement and stayed on as her co-wife. This looks garbled: Johnny did marry a Carolina, who was travelling with him and his other wife in the 1871 and 1881 censuses (as Selina in 1871), and the other wife did have a brother Robert, but this other wife was a Maria (from her birth-data Maria Smith christened in Scalford, Leics in 1836 daughter of Levi and Sophia, who doesnít seem to have had a sister Carolina). Itís possible the gypsiologists were misled by the fact that Johnny had a sister Cinamenti, christened two years after him, who married a John Smith and had a Reservoy christened in Weston cum Welland in 1863. I think we should keep an open mind on whether the co-wives were sisters. The following seems reasonably safe.

Johnny and Maria Smith had a Cinamenti (sometimes Jane) born in Eastwell, Notts 24/12/1856 (daughter of Maria), a presumably short-lived Isaiah christened in Old Dalby, Leics in 1860 (clothes-peg maker of Willoughby), a William christened in Willoughby on the Wolds, Notts in 1864 (gypsy), a Coralina christened in Kneeton, Notts in 1866 (gypsy horsedealer travelling from Newark on Trent to his home in Old Dalby, Leics), a George Oxby christened in Stanton on the Wolds, Notts in 1868 (gypsies), a Mary Ann christened in Arnold, Notts in 1870 (horsedealer), a Kezia christened in Kimberley, Notts in 1873 (hawker), a Florrie born in Goadby, Leics about 1876, a Joseph christened in Breedon, Leics in 1878 (travelling hawker), and perhaps an Annie born in Leicestershire about 1881. Of these the gypsiologists named William, Carolina and Florrie; they also named a Reservoy, which seems plausible in this family, mother of Theodosia, Susan, Sarah, Sabina and Carolina.

I havenít found this Reservoy and her children, but I have found families for three of the others. Cinamenti Smith married (30 spinster daughter of John, horsedealer) Amos Towle (24 son of Amos [and Maria], labourer) in Kegworth, Leics in 1888, witnessed by Eliza and Frederick Blankley, Cinamentiís half-sister and her husband: Amos and Cinamenti (who were with Johnny and Maria in the 1891 census) had an Emma born in Leicestershire about 1880, a John and a short-lived Charlotte Ann Towle christened together in Etwall, Dby in 1893, and an Alice (Hannah) and Florence, born in Leicestershire about 1896-99. William Smith married a Minnie, born in Selston, Notts about 1870, and had a Rose Ann, Emma, William and Mary, born in Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire about 1888-99. And Mary Ann Smith married George Slater, and had a Rose Ann, Sylvia, Mary, Violet and Matilda, born in Derby about 1892-1902.

Johnny and his other wife Carolina had an Eliza christened in Whissendine, Rutland in 1857 (daughter of John and Selina), a Beatrice christened in Croxton Kerrial, Leics in 1860, a Thomas born in Nottinghamshire about 1862, a Jemima born in Nottinghamshire about 1864, a Frederick baptised in Woodhouse Eaves, Leics in 1868 (gypsy of Mkt Overton [where Johnnyís mother-in-law, Sophia Smith, had been christened]), a John baptised in Barrow on Soar, Leics in 1871 (horsedealer), and a Marianna born in Derbyshire about 1873. Of these the gypsiologists named Thomas and claimed he married Madeline Smith daughter of Hawthorn [niece of Johnnyís father-in-law, Levi Smith, christened in Cotgrave, Notts in 1862]; they also named a Samuel allegedly still alive in 1926 in Northamptonshire.

I havenít found Thomas and Madeline together, or Samuel at all, but I have found families for three of Carolinaís daughters. Eliza Smith in Leicester in 1880 married the Frederick Blankley I mentioned earlier as witnessing her half-sisterís wedding in 1888: Frederick and Eliza had a John, Frederick, Ernest and Sidney Blankley in Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire about 1881-1891. Beatrice Smith in Leicester in 1888 married James Wesseldine (not one would think a Gypsy surname, but a Mary Ann Wesseldine, wife of George and mother of this James and of Isabella, wife of the Gypsy Alfred Brinkley, was buried in Wilford, Notts in 1909 aged 81 recorded as a Gypsy): James and Beatrice Wesseldine had a Lily, Dolly (perhaps Adolphus), Mary Ann, James and William born in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire or Lincolnshire about 1886-98. And Jemima Smith married Pharoah Stafford (birth-registered as Pharoah Bates in Barrow on Soar RD in 1867): Pharoah and Jemima Bates had a Lily, Beatrice, John, Joseph, Florence, Edith, Ernest Pharoah, Luther, Elizabeth, Harold and Frederick about 1889-1909.

As always Iíd welcome any improvements anyone can make to the family story Iíve been telling. Itís been said people donít die when they stop breathing but when they stop being remembered. I try to bring back to life long-forgotten Gypsies, and Iím always grateful when the mistakes I make are corrected.

Copyright © 2017 Eric Trudgill