The S-word

Yes the Smiths! As I am a Smith, I thought I should start with them and the headache that they’ve caused me!

My paternal grandfather, Robert Ernest Smith was quite old when my dad was born (dad was the youngest of 10 kids) and some of his siblings had married, moved out & had children of their own by the time my father was born.

My parents gave me a copy of Robert Ernest Smith’s death certificate (1969) which gave his birth date as 19th Jan 1884 and place of birth as Egham, Surrey. As he was born in 1884, I went straight to the censuses of 1901 & 1891.

Working backwards, I found a Robert E Smith (of the right age) in 1901 living with another Robert E Smith at No. 73 Causeway, Egham, both as boarders in the house of one Albert W E Townsend and his family. The ages of the two Smiths were a clue to their relationship, the elder one being 31 years older than the younger.  Unfortunately, there were no other members of the Smith family at that address. Going further back, in 1891, I found Robert Smith with his family in Thorpe Road Cottages (Frogs Island) in Egham (my father had mentioned a ‘Froggy Island’ when I was getting info from him originally). Again, the father was Robert Smith, the mother, Elizabeth and also 5 sisters: Elizabeth, Alice, Kate, Ellen and Edith. Robert Smith (the elder) was given as being born in Egham in the 1891 census but as being born in Preston, Lancashire in the 1901 one. The ages matched however, so I noted the discrepancy & moved on.

I couldn’t find Robert senior in any other census, and, as I don’t know where he was born, I can’t find out who his parents were. There were no Robert Ernest Smiths born in Egham at the right time, there were a couple born in Preston but, tracing through censuses, they all seemed to stay there.

Having obtained Robert (the younger)’s marriage certificate (1916), his father was given as Robert Ernest Smith (deceased) so that helped to prove my case and also gave me a timeframe to look for his (the father’s) death. I managed to find Robert senior’s death certificate in 1910 in Windsor (just up the road from Egham). From that, I found that he died in the Workhouse infirmary, Old Windsor, aged 57 years. His occupation was given as a Gas and Water Pipe Fitter Journeyman of Egham UD, he died of Chronic Nephritis & Cardiac Failure. The occupation matched the 1901 census so that again added proof (I do like to find lots of relevant facts to prove the connections where possible)

I tried finding a marriage certificate for Robert senior but there doesn’t seem to be one, nor does there appear to be any birth certificates for ANY of their children. According to the census, some were born in Windsor and some in Egham, so I looked in both areas without success. I even ordered a few certificates that I was convinced were the right ones, but they all turned out to be from different families.

As the father & son were living on their own in 1901 (both given as single) I felt that the mother (Elizabeth) must have died between 1891 & 1901 and searched for death certificates and burial records but, again, I came up empty.

So this was how it all stood for quite some time. In fact, most of this I found in the first couple of months of my genealogical explorations and found no more for almost 2 years, even though, whenever I felt I needed a change from one of the other lines, I came back to the Smiths & dug around some more without success.

In the next enthralling episode, I find out that one of my assumptions was wrong and I find a new Smith, some marriages and a death.

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4 Responses to The S-word

  1. Pingback: The S-Word part 2 « Neil Smith’s Genealogy Blog

  2. Have extensive notes on Berkshire Wooldridges from the late 1600s. Please send me a current email address and I will forward my notes as a Word document. Regards, Bill Wooldridge w.wooldridge@charter.net

  3. Dave Hayward says:

    I am Ellen Bissett’s grandson (David Hayward). I lived at 31 Park Avenue for 27 years. Please feel free to contact me if you wish to.

  4. jim moth says:

    i noticed that you have been searching for smith linage i have a robert smith in my line most were born in egham area qalso have a great grandmother ellen smith but some where born up north roberts father was born in lancashire,Liverpool,England.i dont know if this is any help

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