Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The earlier Smiths

Robert & Ann Smith of Alne

So far I have described how I traced back the
ancestry of my great-great-grandmother Ada Smith to her grandfather Christopher Smith (b.1815) of Alne. Christopher Smith's gravestone is the weathered one in the middle of this picture of Alne Churchyard.

In order to find out about Christopher's family I searched the parish registers of Alne from 1781 onwards. Here I found that Christopher Smith was born on the 5th February 1815 to Robert
and Ann Smith of Alne. In all, Robert had 13 children being named as a labourer each time. I am sure that all of these children belong to the same Robert and Ann, rather than there being two couples in Alne named Robert and Ann Smith bearing children at exactly the same time. The interval between each baptism is appropriate for one couple and no child is ever given the same name as another. What is more, from my work on the census in Alne I have only ever seen one couple named Robert and Ann Smith.

As an aside, I think it is rather sweet that the last two boys, who were twins, were named Joseph and Benjamin - the biblical Benjamin being the youngest and twelfth son of Jacob and Rachel and full blood brother to Joseph the 11th child of Jacob and Rachel. Perhaps, the family were quite religous! This Joseph and Benjamin Smith were the 12th and 13th sons of Robert and Ann, though sadly Joseph died in infancy. Pictured above is the 1841 census when Benjamin is 5 years old. By this time the elder four boys, James, Christopher, William and Robert had all left home.

In 1841, the Smith family is living at Hill Top in Alne. By 1851, they are living at Crankley Lane with their youngest son (Benjamin), an unmarried daughter (Ann) and widowed son (Robert). Robert Smith is an agricultural labourer as he was for all his life. He died in 1857, but his wife Ann survived him until 1866. In 1861 she was still living with Benjamin, and a different unmarried daughter Grace, and a grand-daughter Eliza. This census also gives us the interesting information that Ann Smith is living at Crankley House and is a farmer of 14 acres with no labourers.

The parents of Robert & Ann Smith
So who were the parents of Robert and Ann Smith - my greatX5 grandparents? Well, to find this out I need to know where and when they were born. The best evidence for this is from the census - I like to use the earliest possible census for estimating birth years, as the older people get the wilder they become in their own estimates of their birth year! From the 1851 census we can find that Robert Smith was born in West Burton in around 1795 and Ann in Tholthorpe in the same year. This would make them just 18 when they had their first child, James. Tholthorpe is a small village in the parish of Alne, so I searched the Alne marriage registers and found the following entry:

7/9/1812 - Robert Smith, 21, & Ann Humphrey, spinster, 19, Alne, witnesses - William Dunnington & Mary Flawith.

This marriage is a good candidate for Robert and Ann, though the ages are slightly off. However, given that James was born only 5 months later it seems as if this wedding may have been somewhat rushed and hence Robert and Ann may have slightly inflated their own ages. Looking back through the Alne registers I then found the following entry. I wish I had been able to take a photocopy of it when I first went to the record office, hopefully I will in the future:

Sun 2/3/1794, Baptism Sun 9/3/1794, - Ann Humphreys, spurious daughter of Margaret Humphreys, a poor woman of Tholthorpe, (did not pay for baptism - a pauper).

Looking for Robert Smith's baptism, I have not been able to search the West Burton registers which is in the parish of Aysgarth in the North Riding of Yorkshire, a little distance from Alne. However, from the IGI I found the following member's entry which seems to be from the same member who submitted a large amount of information about the Smiths of Alne about 15 years ago. Although the birth date is slightly off, the other data is very specific and so I am inclined to believe the parentage of Robert Smith, though I'd love to know how the submitter found out the information:

b.1798, Robert Smith, son of Thomas Smith & Elizabeth Lambert. Married Ann Humphrey in 1812 in Alne.

There is therefore still much to find out about the Smith family, though I am pleased with how far I've been able to get. I am particularly interested in finding out some more specific details of the lives of my Smith 'ag-lab' ancestors. Although I had to wait 4 years from when I knew about Ada Smith until the release of the 1901 census to really breakthrough and discover her ancestry, it has been worth the wait.

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