Author Topic: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861  (Read 360 times)

Offline zumaro

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Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« on: Thursday 09 November 17 10:54 GMT (UK) »
A question about my 4x great grandfather Jonas Smeeton and his wife Elizabeth Armes - on the face of it easy as very few Jonas Smeetons seem to be recorded in Leicester (basically him and his son).  I think he is relatively easy to trace - he was baptised in Tilton on the Hill, Halstead 25 November 1787 ('Johah Bastard Child of Susannah Smeeton a Whore!' says the less than encouraging entry). I can find his marriage to Elizabeth Armes on 1 Jan 1811 in St Margaret, Leicester, and after that a series of births, including my 3x great grandfather Robert in Dec 1811. 

Also easy is his location - he was a tailor, mostly in East Bond Street and appears in the 1822-1835 Pigot's Directory of Leicestershire, as well as other commercial directories (I have found entries in 1822, 1843, 1846 and 1849 on Ancestry). Similarly the 1841 and 1851 censuses show him at East Bond St as well, with Elizabeth and various children.

The problem is in the 1861 census, where he apparently disappears. I think I have found him in Billesdon District 2, where he is listed as James Smeeton, a lodger with John and Elizabeth Bent. This man is the right age, and a tailor born in Halstead, but the name is wrong.  He is not listed as married or unmarried (left blank).

Similarly I think I have found Elizabeth Smeeton, boarding in Leicester All Saints District 31, but it is without Jonas and it says she is unmarried.  Again the right age and birth place.

I have Jonas's death certificate for 31 Jan 1863 - he died in the Union Workhouse Billesdon. The certificate gives no information about his married state, or much else.

You can see Elizabeth Smeeton listed as a widow in the 1871 census, and I have her death certificate for 30 June 1872 in East Leicester, where she is listed as widow of Jonas Smeeton, tailor.

The question I have, is what happened in the 1861 census? I assume I have the right people, in which case the marriage looks like it has broken down? However later on in the 1870s documents Elizabeth is listed as the widow of Jonas. Maybe I have the wrong people in 1861, in which case can anyone do better than me in locating them? If they were divorced, are there ways of finding the record? Or are there conventions operating here that I don't know, as to how people end a marriage or not. 

Any help or theories given are greatly received!
Smith: East Lothian, Scotland
Mack: Berwick, Scotland
Moody: Yorkshire, England
Smeeton: Leicester, England
Sullivan: Kerry, Ireland

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Offline jomcd967

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #1 on: Friday 10 November 17 22:38 GMT (UK) »
Hi Zumaro,

I think you are on the right track as John Bent appears to have been the landlord of Jonas in 1861...

Leicester Journal, 21 May 1861
"To be sold by auction.....All the freehold message or dwelling house, situate in the front street in Billesden, aforesaid, containing house place, kitchen, scullery, 3 sleeping rooms, gardens in front, and an excellent workshop adjoining, and now in the occupation of Mr John Bent.....Also, a convenient cottage....now in the occupation of Mrs Sarah Horsepool.....Also a convenient shop adjoining the said cottage, fronting the town street, and now in the occupation of Jonas Smeeton, tailor..."

It is likely that they were separated at this time which is why Elizabeth states she is unmarried. As to the death certificate, the information on there is provided by the informant, so a child of Jonas and Elizabeth is likely to describe her as the widow of Jonas if they were not divorced.

Jo  :)
Puplett, Sonnex, Lott, Dunkiss, Hart - London area.
Hudson, Jenner, Dedman - Sussex
Leach, Hopkins, Saunders - Wales
Leach, Lipscombe - Hampshire
Sipthorpe - Lancashire
Walters - Cornawall & Australia
Kingshott, Matheson, Pitt, McDonald, Keogh - Australia.

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Offline zumaro

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 11 November 17 03:01 GMT (UK) »
Thanks Jo! That really is excellent sleuthing out of something I would never found myself.

That heavily suggests I have the right person in 1861 then. Its not that there are a lot of Smeetons to choose from, but the change of name was strange. The journal announcement seals the deal really - same person selling the property in the journal, that Jonas is boarding with in the census a month earlier.  I can't see any street address in the census immediately obvious, but interestingly if I go back a hundred or so entries, then I see Front Street in the address column, which might refer to the same address as in the journal?

So possibly Jonas and Elizabeth were just separated at that stage - it would appear to be quite a split if you are going to list yourself as unmarried however.  These little details about our ancestors lives are largely hidden but fascinating to uncover.
Smith: East Lothian, Scotland
Mack: Berwick, Scotland
Moody: Yorkshire, England
Smeeton: Leicester, England
Sullivan: Kerry, Ireland

Offline dcbnwh

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 11 November 17 13:36 GMT (UK) »
 Jonas, of Billesdon, was buried in Tilton on 5th February 1863 but no age or other information given.

 I have a similar case in in which a wife stated that she was a widow even though her husband was a pensioner in Greenwhich Hospital.

 You probably have that appears in directories of 1846 in East Bond Street and son, Jonas, in Loseby Lane. There are records of Jonas of Loseby Lane in 1847 and 1848, as out of work and in gaol for insolvency. He appears in the Electoral Registers in Loseby Land from 1840-47.

David

Offline zumaro

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 12 November 17 01:32 GMT (UK) »
Thanks David for that additional information. I had sorted out that Jonas Jr was the Loseby Lane tailor, but I haven't seen the insolvency records. Where do I find those - all I have is the trade and Post Office directories on Ancestry mentioning him.

So maybe if you were separated then it was the usual thing to say you were unmarried in those days? I wonder if that was widespread or just occasional.  I assume if you were properly divorced you wouldn't say you were the widow of your ex-husband however. Was divorce common in those days, as against separation?

Jo - I was just looking at the 1861 census again, and I notice the next entry after 'James Smeeton' is for Sarah Horspool, the same woman as in your auction notice.  So this is most definitely Jonas (if there was any remaining doubt).
Smith: East Lothian, Scotland
Mack: Berwick, Scotland
Moody: Yorkshire, England
Smeeton: Leicester, England
Sullivan: Kerry, Ireland

Offline dcbnwh

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 12 November 17 08:56 GMT (UK) »
I did wonder if needed to show that you were not married in order to get parish relief etc.

The records for Jonas in Loseby Lane are in Google Books - just search on Jonas Smeeton or Smeeton Jonas

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&q=jonas+smeeton

David

Offline zumaro

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #6 on: Sunday 12 November 17 12:51 GMT (UK) »
Excellent thanks!

I am not too sure what happens to Jonas Jr. I think he is in Georgia, USA by 1850, because there is an entry for a Jonas Smeaton in the census, who is a tailor (or sailor - the letters look very similar in the form's handwriting) from England, born in the right year.  The number of Jonas Smeetons from England at that stage may well have only been him and father, so this could be him. Could help to explain why I have so many DNA matches from the southern states! However he is plainly unmarried, living with one other male. I can't find anything of him after this, but I haven't really looked that hard.

It's a vaguely useful question as to separation practices at that time... Are there divorce records even accessible from the 1850/60s?
Smith: East Lothian, Scotland
Mack: Berwick, Scotland
Moody: Yorkshire, England
Smeeton: Leicester, England
Sullivan: Kerry, Ireland

Offline jomcd967

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #7 on: Sunday 12 November 17 19:51 GMT (UK) »
Hi Zumaro,

Ancestry holds UK divorce records from 1858 to 1915 and the National Archives states that nearly 100% of these survive.
 http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/divorces/

The earliest divorce that I have found in my lot was early 1870's but divorce was expensive then and people generally just separated. A reason that bigamy was so common.

Jo  :)
Puplett, Sonnex, Lott, Dunkiss, Hart - London area.
Hudson, Jenner, Dedman - Sussex
Leach, Hopkins, Saunders - Wales
Leach, Lipscombe - Hampshire
Sipthorpe - Lancashire
Walters - Cornawall & Australia
Kingshott, Matheson, Pitt, McDonald, Keogh - Australia.

Offline zumaro

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Re: Jonas Smeeton and Elizabeth Armes in 1861
« Reply #8 on: Monday 13 November 17 03:57 GMT (UK) »
Thanks again Jo. Everytime I use this site I add more bookmarked resources, learn more techniques, and generally increase my skills. This really is one of the best communities on the web!

Because I have never encountered a potential divorce, I didn't know the records were all there on ancestry, but indeed they are, or you can see them for a fee at the National Archives site. It seems like before 1858 no one got a divorce unless they were connected, as it required a private act of Parliament. I think this is unlikely for a tailor from Leicester!  The records over the time period we are then looking at 1858-1863 are 100% complete and online. A search on both websites comes up with the same few Smeeton/Smeaton/Smitton names, none of which are Jonas and Elizabeth.  So I think I can conclude they weren't divorced, but merely separated, and the unmarried status, is probably for purposes of getting relief or something, although if people live in the same place for that long, there are surely not too many who would not know the truth! 

I think the fact that Jonas died in the Union Workhouse is maybe not that significant - I understand that these included hospitals.  Certainly he seemed to maintain a business for all of his working life, so was presumably not destitute.

Anyway thanks for the replies - I think we have successfully answered the original questions!
Smith: East Lothian, Scotland
Mack: Berwick, Scotland
Moody: Yorkshire, England
Smeeton: Leicester, England
Sullivan: Kerry, Ireland