As a Brighton and Hove Albion supporter and season ticket holder, I apologise for entitling this page as it is. The title refers to a ‘fanzine’ from the 1980’s which refers back to the final seconds of extra time during the 1983 Cup Final, when the score against Manchester United was 2-2. The ball came to Michael Robinson who was faced by the United goalkeeper, so he squared the ball to Gordon Smith. Somehow goalkeeper Gary Bailey managed to throw himself across goal and get in the way of the shot as the commentator screamed “and its Smith”. What could have been the greatest moment in the history of the Albion, turned into a damp squib, when they lost the replay 4-0.
So what has this got to do with my research, you may ask? Well the one thing you don’t want is an ancestor called Smith, because of the myriad possibilities a common surname throws up. When discovered, this was accompanied by an exclamation from me of “and its Smith”, more in despair at the difficulties that almost certainly lay ahead. Worse still is one called John, the commonest of Smiths, who was my 2 x great grandfather, father of Ann Maria, who married my great grandfather – William Backler. Trusting the research of others, avoiding the work of checking a common name, I managed to pick the wrong John Smith – see the blog page “One Eighth Welsh… Or Not”. The correct John Smith was a coal miner, born in Heather, Leicestershire, who moved to Cannock Chase, another coal mining district, probably in pursuit of work. I have now completed some further research into his family.
John’s grandfather was William Smith born in Swarkeston, Derbyshire. He married Rebecca Ford on 27th October 1809 in Swarkestone. In the 1841 census their ages were given as 50, but this was subject to the usual five year rounding allowed in that census. The census showed daughters Hannah Smith aged 25 and Eliza Smith aged 20 and William Smith aged 1, who was actually 18. Researching Swarkestone baptisms, William and Rebecca had John Smith in 1810, Thomas Smith in 1813, Sarah Smith in 1816, Hannah in 1819, Eliza in 1820 and William in 1823. I have also found a death certificate for Rebecca Smith aged 15 dated 14th September 1843, so born in 1828.
John’s father was the Thomas above who was living in Heather, Leicestershire in the 1841 census. Thomas married Ann Wain (baptised 9th January 1814) in Heather on 25th September 1832. Her father was John Wain and her mother was Elizabeth Kendrick, who were married on 28th December 1812. Thomas and Ann had the following children listed in this census: John aged 8, Ann Smith aged 6, George Smith aged 4 and Jane Smith aged 2. I have found a birth certificate for George dated 4th October 1838 in Heather.
John Smith married Ann Maria Hawkins in the fourth quarter of 1858. In the 1881 census he was shown as a 47 year old collier, born Heather and she was aged 39, born in Blakenhall, Staffordshire. In 1841 census she was shown aged 3 weeks, the daughter of 22 year old James Hawkins and 19 year old Caroline Arrowsmith.
John and Ann Maria, had at least seven children:
- Laura Louisa Smith born 1865 in Heather, who married George Henry Francis in October 1882. She died in November 1924 in Hemsworth, Yorkshire. George Henry was born in West Bromwich in 1862 and died in Barnsley in 1923.
- Elizabeth Smith born 1867 in Heather.
- Ann M Smith born 1871 in Hednesford, Staffordshire, my great grandmother.
- Benjamin James Smith born 1873 in Hednesford, who emigrated to Australia with his new wife Sarah Brittle in 1894 on board the Chemnitz. They were married in Walsall on 20th December 1891 and appear to have settled in Geelong, near Melbourne, Victoria, where Benjamin passed away in 1935 and Sarah in 1949.
- Betsy Ellen Smith born 1874 in Five Ways, near Cannock, Staffordshire on 3rd November. She married Albert Edward Davenport (born 1872) in February 1896 and she died in Warrington on 20th March 1951. In the 1911 census the Davenports had been married 16 years and were living in Warrington. They had six children listed, but the section where it asks for number of children noted six born, but only five living, so something was not correct!
- John T Smith born 1878 in Five Ways.
- Mark Smith born 1880 in Five Ways.
This research showed the movement of these family connections from Derbyshire into Leicestershire and thence to Staffordshire, with an emigrant to Australia. As can be seen from the above, there are many more lines of enquiry to research, but I though it was time to stop and write up the progress to date.