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Topics - CitizenSmith

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Travelling People / Elijah Smith, born c1834, Shropshire
« on: Sunday 11 October 15 10:33 BST (UK)  »
I’d welcome some help with finding the baptism of an Elijah Smith who – according to census returns from 1871 onwards – was born in about 1834 in or near Wellington in Shropshire.

Elijah and his family travelled mainly in Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire with occasional detours into the Welsh counties of Montgomeryshire and Monmouthshire, according to the baptismal places/birthplaces of his children.

On his marriage to Henrietta Price (also known as Henrietta Florence) in 1862 in Llanluggan, Montgomeryshire, Elijah gives his father’s name as Thomas Smith. The occupations of both bride and groom are given as 'Gypsies'.

I haven’t yet found Elijah or Thomas in the 1861 census or earlier. Nor have I found any likely siblings for Elijah, using Thomas Smith as the father’s name.

Any suggestions or sightings of Elijah or Thomas before 1862 would be much appreciated.

Many thanks.

Was a member of your family among the 30 Romany Gypsies and Travellers who drowned in an accident on the River Medway near Hadlow, Kent, on 20 October 1853, in the so-called Hartlake Disaster?

To mark the 160th anniversary of the event, we hear that the vicar of Hadlow will be dedicating a new commemorative plaque to the victims in the churchyard of St Mary's, Hadlow, at about 2.30pm on Saturday 19 October 2013.

The Romany and Traveller FHS is also holding an informal, drop-in family history event on the same day in the Old School Hall in Hadlow for RTFHS members and friends. Details here:


Cheshire / Coroner's inquest but no newspaper report?
« on: Thursday 02 August 12 12:41 BST (UK)  »

The death certificate of Happy Nicholls shows that she died of accidental drowning at Latchford in the county of Chester on 21 October 1867. The death was subject to an inquest on 24 October 1867 by W. Dunstan, coroner for Knutsford Division. She was a widow aged 57.

To find out more, I've tried an extensive search of the Cheshire Observer and the Cheshire Chronicle online for late October and early November – both an index search using a variety of terms and a page-by-page browse – but can find no sign of her inquest, although other inquests in the county are covered in some detail. I've also tried Lancashire newspapers.

Does anyone have any ideas why Happy's inquest is missing from the press? 

Many thanks in advance.


Travelling People / SHAW in Hertfordshire: mystery man in travelling van
« on: Monday 16 May 11 11:04 BST (UK)  »
When a family member named Ann Cary (alias Draper) died at Broad Colney, Shenley, Hertfordshire, on 18 March 1879, the informant on her death certificate was a Jeremiah Shaw, described as being present at the death and living in a Travelling Van at Broad Colney, Shenley.

I've got lots of records for Gypsy Shaws in Hertfordshire and surrounding counties – but have never come across any Jeremiahs before. And he's not obvious in online databases either: census indexes, FamilySearch etc.

Any ideas anyone? Thanks.


Travelling People / Historic Gypsy photo collection launched online today
« on: Wednesday 19 January 11 18:31 GMT (UK)  »
Katy Hooper of the Gypsy Collections, University of Liverpool, tells me that they have today published their complete collection of photos by Fred Shaw online here:

http :// . uk/ead/html/gb141smgcshaw-p2.shtml*)

If you click on the links in the left-hand Contents panel, you can see thumbnails of 300+ digitised photos, mainly of British Romany families, with names, locations and dates. The photos date from the 1890s to the 1940s.

There are also some photos of Greek, Gallician and Belgian Gypsies who travelled through Britain on their way to the USA in the early 20th century.

Hope you find an ancestor's portrait here.

Best wishes

(*) Moderator Comment:
May 2018: link updated.
Other links here may have also been changed ("" ==> "")

Travelling People / WHITNEY and GUMBLE, Essex
« on: Sunday 24 October 10 12:49 BST (UK)  »

I'd welcome some help with tracing the date and place of death of an Essex Traveller called Noah Whitney or Witney.

He was born in 1897 in Ongar registration district and baptised in Orpington, Kent, a year later, the son of Ben and Alice Witney. His mother's surname was Durrant. I've found the family in the 1901 census in Caxton, Cambridgeshire, but can't find any of them in 1911 so far.

In 1938 Noah married Alvina Gumble in Dunmow registration district. I've traced Alvina's death in 1972 where she's recorded as Elvy Whitney. Noah was still alive at the time.

Is anyone else researching Whitneys and Gumbles in Essex who can share any info on Alvina or Noah?

Thanks in advance.

Best wishes

Travelling People / Scottish Gypsies and circus people: BBC Radio Scotland programme
« on: Monday 22 February 10 13:47 GMT (UK)  »
The genealogy radio programme on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday included information on the Scottish circus family, the Cordonas, and on the Gypsy families of Kirk Yetholm, particularly the Youngs and Blythes.

You can catch the programme online here for the next 7 days:


Travelling People / Photo: can you identify DRAPER/BUTLER Gypsies, Bedfordshire?
« on: Wednesday 06 January 10 16:33 GMT (UK)  »
Hi everyone

This mystery photo shows an elderly couple who regularly camped in their vardo by the entrance to the Gliding Club on Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire, over 40 years ago. They were known to members only as 'Mr and Mrs Draper'.

I'd love to know their first names so does anyone recognise them?

Some detective work has suggested they may be related to a Butler family who travelled/lived in and around Peterborough.

All ideas/info gratefully received.

Many thanks.


Travelling People / New Forest Gypsy photos - DOE, COOPER, HUGHES, SHERRAD etc
« on: Thursday 09 July 09 15:06 BST (UK)  »
I've just been given a link for a new site about New Forest Gypsies:

The site includes over a 100 old photos for families that include Doe, Hughes, Cooper, James and Sherrad and so on. So well worth a look if you're researching these names in Hampshire.  :)

Best wishes


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