For Smith, read Attwell!!

Since the last article (yes, it’s been a while, I’ve been busy researching!) it seems I may have broken through part of the Smith brick wall! The reason, it seems, that there were no Smith registrations during the life of Robert Ernest Smith (1853) is that he and his ‘wife’ Elizabeth, as given on the 1891 census, is that they were not married. I mentioned in the last article that his relative’s name (given in the Windsor Workhouse records) was given as Mrs Attwell at their home address and I thought it must be one of his daughters that had married. I searched around & came up blank on that line of enquiry, but while searching around, I came across a curious coincidence. In the 1901 census, there was an Elizabeth Attwell in the Workhouse, of the same age as his wife and given as born in the same area (Windsor). Strange, I thought, until I also found the name of 2 of her daughters and also the son that I’d just discovered (Albert) also in the same institution at the same time. All of the ages were approximately correct, but it could still be coincidence. I started delving deeper & found in 1881, Elizabeth Attwell with her 2 eldest daughters (different ones from 1901) living in the workhouse again, both children given as being born in the workhouse. Further searching found all of her children in 1901, all (except for Robert E) living as Attwells in various places, all with the right ages & birthplaces.

I next hit the BMD registers and lo & behold, most of them popped up immediately, including an entry for the birth of one Ernest Robert Attwell, born in the 1st quarter of 1884. I know from the family that Robert Ernest Smith was born on the 19th Jan 1884 so that seems like a good fit to me. I’ve ordered the certificate.

I popped back to the Berkshire Records Office to investigate the Workhouse records and found that her eldest daughter, also Elizabeth, was back there in 1917. I also found a record of one Frederick Attwell, born in 1909 whose relative is given as Mrs Smith (Attwell), Park Lane, Thorpe Leigh, Egham (there is no Park Lane, only a Park Avenue). I also found Kate Attwell (aged 15) in 1900 in the Pauper’s Service Book, being sent out to work for a Mrs Hoare in Clewer for 2/6 a week as a servant. Sure enough, in the 1901 census, she’s still there.

So I now have to wait for various certificates to prove all of this (if the father’s name is given on the birth certificates) but it all fits really well and I have tried to disprove many parts of it and have failed every time.

My initial impression is that Ernest Robert Attwell would likely be the son of Robert Ernest Smith, due to the name and the fact they are together in 1901, how many more of the children are his, I don’t know & I guess I’ll have to invest in a few certificates & hope she was honest & up front enough to name the father for each of them. I know that they were back together in 1909/10 when they moved into Park Avenue and that all of the marriages I have found so far of the children are all done in the name of Smith. Apart from that it’s all up in the air, but at least I have a name for her now & have been able to go back another generation on her side.

This one will run and run I suspect!