Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Whatever Happened to Baby May?

This morning a letter, rather than a photo, popped out of the pages of e-bay in front of me. It caught my eye because it seemed to be from a writer to an editor ...

Well, that's exactly what it is/was. But I had never heard of either of them, so I didn't rush it. I was wrong. The writer of the letter is memorable. I see odd ones of his letters in posh University Collections. So, today I have learned about Mr William Cox Bennett, "The author of some of the sweetest poetry that has ever been written about childhood" "Mr Bennett is rapidly earning for himself the title par excellence of the domestic poet of the day". Goodness! and yes, there he is splodged all over the www ... so I'll just sum him up.

William Cox Bennett (b Stockwell Street, Greenwich 14 October 1820; d Elliot Cottages, Blackheath 4 March 1895) was a son of Greenwich watchmaker John Bennett (1786-1828) and his wife Elizabeth Sinnock née Williams (1795-1864). After his father's early death, both he and his elder brother, John, went prematurely and successfully into the family business of gold and silver-smithing, jewellery and watchmaking, operating out of John's home at 65 Cheapside. Neither brother would spend his life there. John went on to become Sir John, sherrif of London etc etc. William, like thousands of other Victorians, wrote verse. There are lists of his volumes, of varying accuracy, on the web. After a dozen years of scribbling, however, he hit the gold with a poem about his little daughter, May ...

'Baby May' went round the country and its magazines, journals et al. and William's reputation as a 'homely' poet was established. Then, a year or so later, he came up with another winner ...

By the 1861 census he was describing himself as 'watchmaker and poet', and by 1871 (having compounded with his creditors a few years earlier) he was no longer a watchmaker, but 'author'.

Bennett was not wholly a writer of sentimental domestic poetry: he tried his hand at all sorts ..

but it was 'Baby May' and 'The Worn Wedding Ring' which had been, and which remained his most popular pieces, through many and many a reprint, right up to today's 'scanned books'.

So now, our letter. Here is Bennett replying to an 1883 request from an editor to use 'The Worn Wedding Ring' in an anthology. Still from 65 Cheapside, and not missing the chance to get a few other pomes into said anthology!

The addressee of the letter is another spare time (and lots of it) poet, Rev Canon Frederick Langbridge, forty years rector of St Johns, Limerick. Apparently he was partially responsible for adapting A Tale of Two Cities for the stage as The Only Way.

Of course, what folk really want to know is 'whatever happened to Baby May?' Like Christopher Robin, she had to live with the burden of being a baby heroine. Well, I dug into the Bennett family: William C, his wife Emma Sophia née Wright (b 20 August 1821; d 1886) and their eight children. Well, eight were born, but only three had a long life. Harold died in 1869 aged 20, Norman died in 1880 aged 21, Ellen Emma got to 33 (d 1 January 1900), William George and Kate seem to vanish early on ... but May, her sister Mary Agnes and brother Bertram survived to marriage and ..

Bertram became, and remained for 32 years, the headmaster of Montpelier School, Paignton, married Marion Elizabeth née Taylor, and fathered four children ... He died 21 March 1925.

Mary Agnes married Alfred G Spencer, son of George Spencer of Blackheath. Alfred was an indiarubber manufacturer, and he manufactured to such advantage that when Mary died 12 October 1945 at Collingham Gardens, she left a fine fortune of fifty-three thousand pounds. The Spencers had no offspring, so it was Mary's nephew who executed her will. May's son.

'Baby May' (born Greenwich 19 May 1846; d Bath 7 September 1938) married Henry Charles Ellis, 'son of Charles Ellis JP of Sheal Court, Maidstone' (27 March 1878) and they had a series of children: Elsie Maud, Daisy, Charles Harold, Bernard George ...  Bernard George (b 21 November 1890; d Letchworth 1 July 1979), educated at Bertram's school in Paignton, made himself a name in the Great War in which he was awarded the George Cross. He was the accountant who executed Mary's will,

Baby May's brave Baby
Charles Harold Ellis (b Maidstone 22 January or February 1886) the elder brother was a solicitor. I see him in 1939, still in Maidstone, with a wife Mabel Agnes née Stapleton, and a son Noel (b 23 December 1922) 'student of ballet dancing'. He died there, at Willington House, 19 December 1951.

Elsie Maud is living, unmarried, with the Spencers in 1911, Daisy seems to have become a solicitor's short-hand writer ...

Garn, I've got carried away by Baby May when I was supposed to be looking in to W C Bennett. 

Anway, the letter is vastly collectible, and its going for 35$NZ on e-bay so anyone who is interested its at which happens to be the site of a splendid Irish vendor with heaps of Irish photos ... alas, most with no clue as to of whom and/or when. Anyway, thank you "andrewiss" for leading me to this. And I'm spending New Year's Eve browsing your excellent stock!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A photo from Oudh: or, Way Down upon the Sardah Canal.


Who are these men? I spotted this photo on e-bay, being sold by one of Britain's most impenitent breakers-up of family collections and albums. 

It seems easy enough to see its provenance. A handful of other photos labelled with the same surname appeared further down the page. And the back of the photo is inscribed with the surnames of the sitters ... and the occasion of their team photo ...

Late Engineering Staff Sardah Canals, Oude. Oh, dear: the Sardah ... well, it doesn't seem to have been regarded as a fiasco, but it certainly gobbled up a huge amount of money between 1869 when the surveys took place, and 1872 when the whole project was abandoned as a bad idea. Much has been written about the details of the proposed construction, and in spite of the actual plans being destroyed in a fire at the storage place in Allahabad, survives to this day, contained in various writings, most notably Report on the Sardah Canal Project by the supervising engineer, John Greenlaw Forbes. This book was written in 1870-1, published by the Oude Goverment Press, as such reports were, and was like most such reports destined to sombre dustily in goverment files. But, for some reason, in 2012, someone scanned its pages, and put up for sale as a hardback on amazon! I've plodded through it, and can recommend it only to students of civil engineering and disastrous waste.

However, the blame for the fiasco certainly did not rest with these ten men. They were the men who did the actual work. Although I feel Captain Forbes's hands-on contrbution must have been limited by his vast amount of minutely detailed writing on the project.

I've tried to put full names to the ten faces. I'm afraid I've only scored a six, but here's what I have ...

(2) Assistant engineer Francis Boyle HENSLOWE (b Budleigh Salterton 1837; d Argyle Lodge, Surrey Rd, Bournemouth 17 1910) son of Francis Hartwell Henslowe; married Martha Dorothea Millward 22 December 1864. Sons Francis John deloraine Henslowe (b India 29 November 1868; d 7 October 1937), Ernest Henslowe (b Bengal 16 March 1872-1942), Frederick John Francis Henslowe (b Bengal 2 December 1874; d ?1910). Daughters Florence Mary Allwood Henslowe (b India 22 January 1866), Cecilia Annette (b Bengal 16 January 1867), Edith Annie Henslowe (b India 11 December 1869; d Carisbrooke 14 July 1962).
(3) Captain (later Major, Lt-Colonel) John Greenlaw FORBES (b Calcutta 20 August 1837; d Ben More, Walmer, Kent 26 February 1910) son of Major General William Nairn Forbes, architect and military engineer. Married (1) Mary Eliza Amelia Forrest 31 May 1860 (2) Augusta Nixon Ewing (d 13 August 1933). Sons William Greenlaw Forbes (b India 9 March 1861; murdered Burmah, 21 April 1886), George Forrest Greenlaw Forbes (b Simla 1 June 1962; d Bengal 22 February 1901), 
Executive Engineer, Department of Public Works, Oudh. Royal Engineers. Fellow of Calcutta University. Joint Secretary to the Goverment North-Western Provinces/Public Works Department
(4) Assistant engineer James Campbell LEDGER (b Limerick ?1833; d 23 November 1889) son of Zachariah Minnit Ledger bookseller. Ledger was with the Sardah project throughout ('prepared designs'), and later worked on the Bhopal Railways. A member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (1866) he was given a lengthy obituary in their journal. No family is ever mentioned, so one assumes that the other 'Ledger' photos on e-bay are wider family. And it's a family that I've investigated before!
(5) Executive engineer William Frederick Flood HANDCOCK (b Annaduff, Leitrim, 30 May 1831; d Brook House Asylum, Clapton 24 January 1886) son of Rev John Gustavus Handcock of Annaduff and Frances Flood Jessop. Which gets him into Burke's Peerage. Which says he died at the age of ten. An orphan at the age of seventeen. Unmarried. He was in on the Sardah project from it conception along with Forbes and surveyor Colonel John Clibborn. I subsequently see him at Champarun (1874) and being promoted to Executive Engineer 1st class in 1877. Returning to England, he lived at 12 Buckingham St, Strand, until his removal to the lunatic Asylum. The Asylum itself suffered a fire the following year in which a patient was burned to death.
(6) Assistant engineer R H FROUDE  'of the Oudh Irrigation Department'. Published in Professional Papers on Engineering. Seemingly not a relative of engineer William Froude of Dartington.
(8) Executive engineer SCOTT. Alas the are at least four of them, so I can't say which ...
(9) Executive Engineer Thomas Edward HEAFORD (b Odessa 8 January 1836; d Allahabad 8 May 1878). Son of Joseph Heaford 'merchant of Odessa' 'railway shareholder', 'retired corn merchant' from Stoke Lacy in Herefordshire and Sarah Elisabeth née Jackson (d 27 May 1888) of Canada. Brother of civil engineer Albert Samuel Heaford (20 December 1840). 1851 in Scotland. 1865 civil engineer in Cape Town. Unmarried. 
(10) Assistant engineer Edmund Albert PARSICK (b Agra, India 12 October 1840; d India) FGS son of John Parsick. Married Olive Deas Caw 9 March 1888. Daughter Gladys Margaret Parsick.

I'll keep trying for the others, but in the meanwhile let's briefly dip into the other Ledgers. I said I'd encountered Z M Ledger's family before ...
Here it is. I wonder if all the photos are from the same dismembered hoard.

Well, now we have M[ary?], E[lizabeth?] and William photographed in Lisnaskee, Fermanagh.

But when? And is that William the same as this William?

And is this his wife? 'Mrs William Ledger'. Photographed in Dundoran, Enniskillen. When?

In the same bundle is a snap of a baby named Philip. And a picture of 'Robert and Philip Ledger' some years later ..

Well, I see Rev W Ledger of Lisnaskea (sic) mentioned in 1879. But that's the Rev W C Ledger, rector of Lisnaskea, whom we met in the previous blog. His children? James, Mary and Robert. Grrrr.
LEDGER                          James Philip                         20/6/1873       12/11/1873     William Cripps                Henrietta Grace              not listed            Attybaron, Parsonage of Lisnaskea				Clergyman                                              William Cripps Ledger
LEDGER                          Mary Gertrude                        18/5/1877       10/6/1877      William Cripps                Henrietta Grace              not listed            Attybaron Rectory						Clergyman                                              William Cripps Ledger
LEDGER                          Robert Ellis                         27/11/1871      3/3/1872       William Cripps                Henrietta Grace              not listed            Attybaron, Glebe House					Clergyman                                              William Cripps Ledger

This should have been easy. The connection of Ledger with Lisnaskee/a ... William Ledger of Lisnaskea at Glasgow Veterinary College in 1889? And ... yes! son of the Rev WC and Henrietta born 6 October 1868 at Shinrone ... There he is in the Scots census at 161 Shamrock Street, '21 student of medicine' with, heavens! a wife Martha and a 4-month daughter Mary C. He's a vet in 1894. Now what have we here. William Ledger, surgeon, wife Constance, 9 year-old Constance ('deformity of hip') and 4 year-old Marion, all of Fermanagh, heading for Chicago? 155 Garfield Boulevard .. brother ... 22 June 1899.
Here he is ...

Few fibs in there. But looks like he's joining up and heading for Aldershot. 
But the others aren't clicking into place ...

Have a shot ... I'm going out to water the flowers ... then a bit o' chardonnay ... and a beautiful new book. HANKY-PANKY. A biography of the dreadful 'Ernest C Rolls'.

A bit of Oude-ephemera ..

Saturday, December 26, 2020

And now Great-Aunt Minna hits the web ...!

Our family is suddenly popping up all over the web. Dear little Auntie Minna is the latest ... 

Of course, I don't have many photos of Minna, because as a sometime professional photographer, she was always on the other side of the camera! But my father's early years, often in the company of cousin Tom Stern, were minutely recorded by Auntie Minna, and fill a large box!. 

1922: Gánsls, Sterns .. the sisters Stojetz with their sons, Minna's husband and ... that damned ubiquitous female named Mizzi ...

Tom Stern and Fritz Ganzl c 1924

'Minna Stern wurde am 8 Juli 1890 Wien als Tochter des Buchbinders Eduard Stojetz (*1869 Wien, gest. 1942 Wien) und [Hermine] Marie (*1862 Wien, gest. 1932 Wien), geborene Baumgartner, geboren. Sie war nicht jüdischer Herkunft. 1913 heiratete sie Richard Michael Stern (*22.11.1884 Wien, gest. 1955 Sydney/Australien), der jüdischer Herkunft war, und mit dem sie gemeinsam einen Sohn, Johann Thomas Hans Stern (*1918 Wien, gest. 1980 Sydney/Australien), hatte.

Minna and Richard Stern. 1946.

Stern veröffentlichte ihre Arbeiten in den ersten Jahren ihrer Ehe noch unter den Namen „Stern-Stojetz, Wien-Floridsdorf“, unter anderem Fotografien zu den Texten ihres Vaters, einem Funktionär in der Organisation der „Naturfreunde“ der Sozialdemokratischen Arbeiterpartei Österreichs (SdAPÖ), in der Zeitschrift „Der Naturfreund“.

Der Naturfreund. Mitteilungen des Touristen-Vereins „Die Naturfreunde“, Jg. 1928, S. 11.

Seit spätestens 1920 arbeitete sie mit der Fotografin Bert[h]a Maria Schönikle zusammen, die seit zirka 1918 in Wien 13, Hietzinger Hauptstraße 34B ein Atelier besaß, das seit ungefähr 1923 den Namen „Atelier Berta Schönikle u. Minna Stern“ trug, und in dem Stern ab 1925 als Leiterin des Ateliers fungierte. 1920 nahmen beide an der Ausstellung der Photographischen Gesellschaft in Wien teil. Sie selbst veröffentlichten ihre Arbeiten in Zeitschriften wie dem „Wiener Salonblatt“ (1923, 1926, 1934, 1936). Die Familie Stern lebte 1938 in Wien 13, Auhofstraße 32.

Schönikle-Stern portraits (1920-1925)

Richard Stern war jüdischer Herkunft und der NS-Verfolgung ausgesetzt. Sein Vermögen wurde ihm aufgrund der 11. Verordnung zum Reichsbürgergesetz vom 25.11.1941 entzogen. Die Familie Stern erreichte nach ihrer Flucht vor den Nationalsozialisten am 18.11.1938 Australien, wo sie sich in Sydney niederließ. Richard Stern stellte im November 1948 nach dem Ersten Rückstellungsgesetz (BGBl 156/1946) einen Rückstellungsantrag hinsichtlich der entzogenen Liegenschaft in Lainz in Wien. Die Rückstellung erfolgte mit Bescheid der Finanzlandesdirektion für Wien, Niederösterreich und dem Burgenland im August 1950. Minna Stern verstarb [11.11.] 1968 in Sydney.'

Minna as I remember her

This photo is on eBay Germany. It is labelled 'little girl with toys' by Berta Schönikle. Actually, it isn't a little girl. It's my Uncle Tom Stern, photographed in ?1925 at his mother's studio around the same time as the photo (above) with mein Vater ... and most probably not by Berta (who gets credited everywhere, alone, for the partnership's work) but by Minna. Who, at this stage, was billed as 'Mina Stern'.

I see also that they photographed Stefan Zweig ...

Archiv der WKÖ, Gewerbeakt Schönikle Bertha Maria (verehelichte Kette).
ÖStA, AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA, Zl. 23.090, Stern Richard.
ÖStA, AdR, E-uReang, FLD, Zl. 17.009, Stern Richard.
Matricula Erzdiözese Wien, Taufbuch 1890 – Alservorstadt-Pfarre, Stojetz Hermine M.
Matriken der IKG Wien, Trauungsbuch 1913, Stern Richard M., Stojetz Hermine M.
Matriken der IKG Wien, Geburtsbuch 1884, Stern Richard Michael.
WStLA, M.Abt. 119, A41, VEAV, Zl. 652, Bezirk: 13, Stern Richard.
ÖStA, AdR, E-uReang, FLD, Zl. 19.340, Stern Minna.
Zeitungen und Zeitschriften:
Der Naturfreund. Mitteilungen des Touristen-Vereins „Die Naturfreunde“, Jg. 1910-1928.
Photographische Correspondenz, Nr. 714, 1920, S. 107.

(Das Projekt wird gefördert vom Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich).

Text, copyright: Walter Mentzel

Friday, December 25, 2020

Victorian Charity or, an expensive night on the Welsh tiles

If I were still collecting wonderful pieces of Victorian ephemera, I would have my hand in my pocket today.

The Most Honourable and Loyal Society of Ancient Britons, founded in 1715,  was one of those 'charitable' groups of wealthy and sociable gentlemen who got together, annually, for a 'Festival', ie an extravagant dinner, liberally laced with best of wines, a concert, lots of cheerfully self-congratulatory speeches (with toasts), and who paid largely (and well-publicisedly) for the 'charitable' pleasure.

1725: first catch your Prince

The Ancient Brits were however a bit different to the Guild of Girdlemakers and other such 'Festivallers' and City Diners, in that they were what would now be doubtless dubbed 'racist', and which I prefer to call 'geographically circumscribed'. Their charity extended only the wandered children of Wales: Welshfolk who had left Wales for London, and there found poverty. The Ancient Brits founded a free school for the children of these foolish unfortunates, and their annual beanfast produced the wherewithal to house them and/or sponsor their education.

The school in Gray's Inn Road

However, there was a little more to it than that. A scholar has adeptly described '[it] was a complex and multi-faceted patriotic phenomenon. It was simultaneously a mouthpiece for royalist propaganda and a haven for political radicals, a piously charitable foundation and an excuse for having a good time. In a period when distinctly Welsh institutions had largely ceased to exist, the Society’s annual celebration of St. David’s Day in the English capital offered a rare example of eighteenth-century Welsh people deliberately imagining into existence an identifiably Welsh nation, using ceremony, sociability, poetry, and politics to fill the institutional void'.

So, our ticket is for the 139th annual, at London's most popular venue for such events, the Freemason's Tavern, in 1854. These 'Festivals' were often reported in huge detail, with all the notable names, and toasts, and answers to toasts listed and described. We are actually rather lucky in that, in 1854, the Welsh paper's shorthand-writer 'had an accident' so the spoken part of the proceedings could not be (shame!) reported verbatim, but they did their best ...

Of course, my interest in the proceedings turns towards the music, and Brinley Richards had gathered a fine group of colleagues for the occasion, headed by the top-notch English soprano, Sophia Messent, the Ransfords -- father Edwin ('I'm a jolly gipsy king, ho! ho!') with his characteristic old-fashioned ballads and character songs, and his talented daughter, Mary Ann, plus the singer-songwriter W T Wrighton. Of course, a harpist was a must, and John Cheshire was one of the best in the kingdoms. But none of them was Welsh. 
Lucy Williams was indeed Welsh. She even called herself 'the Welsh Nightingale'. I have told her story in another post However, to put her up alongside Sophia Messent was, well, a bit like teaming Gwynneth Jones with Kathryn Jenkins. But look who got the review! Lucy, even at this early stage of her career, knew her audiences!

Sounds like a good time was had by all, the 200 deprived children were funded for another year, Earl Grosvenor MP, the evening's 'host', got his name credited as giving as much money as the Queen (100 guineas) to the cause -- he wouldn't dare give more! -- and everyone was happy. Except the poor short-hand writer? 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Pandemic 1855


Sitting here, sheltered from the current pandemic, I came upon a pair of documents that made me think how lucky we have been, in the last century, to have not struck such a thing before ...

These two papers are from Vienna, 1855. From the Josefstadt area where my family lived ...

Two death certificated. Dated ten days apart. From nearly adjacent houses. Micheal Bauer and Rosalia Kroder ...


Bodies to be buried within 48 hours.

The local press listed the dead ...

Yes, there is Rosalia. 53 years old. Manual worker. 123 Josefstadt ... Cholera.  There are still the usual deaths from Lungentuberculose and Krebs and Brechdurchfall (gastro-enteritis etc), but again and again and again... Cholera. 

A pandemic to end all pandemics.

The great-great-uncles are on e-bay!

Great-grandmother Julie's brothers had a classy Vienna printing and publishing house, in the years before Hitler ... I found one or two books printed by them in the family Nachlasse which has descended to me. And today, on e-bay, I stumbled on this ...

In French, no less. A very pretty traveller's sample for the firm ...

And another! A folio of prints of Vienna for the Hotel Bristol!

Smith of Yatton Keynell: a vanished family ...


I was chasing a nice photograph through the items in the e-bay shop of 'wewunyan', when I stopped short at another old document. 1854. Administration papers of ... oh no! Eliza Ann Smith. Not getting into Smiths. But I peeped inside and ... oh well, why not have a crack.

Eliza Ann died in a place named Yatton Keynell. No, I didn't know where it was, either. She was 46, a spinster, she hadn't made a will, and her brother Andrew had applied for jurisdiction over her estate of a not negligible 600L. If she had six hundred livres to her name, odd that she hadn't made a will.

Well, I thought, Yatton Keynell, Wilts can't be that big a place. I'll go for a wander up there and see if I can spot Eliza Ann. Easy! There she is (b 1808), with brother Frederick (b 1806), living at a place named Grove Farm (75 acres), and a house servant. Brother Andrew (b Bitton, Gloucs 1811) is across in Church Yatton, with mother Elizabeth (b 1776) and sister Keren (b Bristol 1812), where they have a 75 acre farm employing five men: so it looks as though their money comes from the soil.

Well, I thought, if all those Smiths were farming Yatton Keynell in 1851, maybe they will be in 1861. No. The reason that Andrew, rather than Frederick looked after Liza's 600 was the Frederick himself had died -- intestate! -- and been buried 5 October 1853. And Andrew [Swithin] Smith had followed in 1857. Mother, too, has got lost somewhere along the way ..

Only Keren and another brother, John, remain to execute Andrew's will, and to farm 150 acres next to the Bell Inn. (The Bell Inn is still there today, the farm, doubtless, isn't).

There seem to be a good few documents in National and Wiltshire archives in which the Smith family get a mention. I think they may have been, originally, larger landholders ... I have unearthed the will of Thomas Smith, husband of Elizabeth née Newman (m 13 February 1794), I have unearthed a bundle of baptisms of what seem to have been their locally-born children --  Mary (1795), Thomas (7 February 1797), John (7 February 1799), George (1800), Edward William Sidney (1803), Amelia Sophia (1809) -- but, most significantly I have found the four-page-long testament of Thomas. Its enshrined in the Canterbury archive, and it is very shoddily written in that awful legal-churchy scribal writing, but I picked the names of his wife (Elizabeth) and children therefrom. Those that get into the list are: George, Thomas, Edward, Mary, Emma, John, Edward-William-Sidney, Frederick, Eliza Anna, an as yet unnamed infant daughter, and those not yet born. Thomas was clearly not preparing to clock out just yet!

The will shows traces of former position. He is dubbed, here, 'gentleman', there is reference to a prenuptial agreement with his wife's family, one of the executors is Mr Elver Newman (d 1833) of Castle Combe, there is mention of his 'copyhold lands in Hullavington' ... and there is a heap of hurlyburly about the eventual exclusion of one son ... maybe it was the Newmans who had the money. Anyway, the will was proved 16 May 1813 and the Smith estates seem thereafter have been split up ..

Mrs Smith was promptly downsizing.

Well, Frederick, Eliza Anne and Andrew we have already followed to their grave. Which I would imagine is at this pretty church in Yatton Keynell ... and I wouldn't be surprised to find others there as well...

The others? George, Thomas, Edward, Mary, Emma, John, Edward-William-Sidney, and the 'as yet un-named' Amelia Sophia of the will, and the later Keren?

Ken was the last survivor, and she lived and died (30 October 1889) in Yatton. There is a window dedicated to her in the church above: 'Kerenhappuch Smith'. Sigh, the bible is responsible for some horrid things! In 1861, as we have seen, she and brother John are still farming 150 acres next to the Bell Inn, while one Henry Ferris has taken on Grove Farm; by 1871 John is gone and Keren has cut down to 10 acres with one man to work it, in 1881 she is still alongside the Bell Inn ... 

And, goodness! At her death a huge sale! Some of the paddocks listed in previous auctions clearly didn't get sold .. three-quarters-of-a-century later they are still in the Smith family. No wonder Miss Smith could afford a church window: just add up the annual income from rents!

But there seems to be no Smith family left. Only one of the Smiths whom I have followed seems to have married, that I can find, although ...

It seems that George Smith went off to Lyncombe Vale, Bath to be a gentleman. He died in 1852. I'm sure its he, for he refers in his will to his godchildren Elver Newman son of George Newman, James George Newman son of William Beard Newman (d 1841) ... and says he is 'of Yatton Keynell'. He also leaves his fortune to Edwin, Eliza and Ellen Barrow. Funny: in 1851 they are calling themselves 'Smith' and all living together.

It was the young Amelia Sophia who married (1838) William Parker, yeoman, son of a basketmaker, from down the road at Folly Farm, Corsham ... Thomas and Keren were the witnesses .... she died 11 March 1884 at the same Biddeston where the earlier Smiths had once lived. She left a daughter (b 1844) of the same name who died, in her turn, 31 May 1935 ... a spinster. 

That numerous Smith family seems to have just faded away. I can't find a single one who made it to the 20th century.

Thomas died in 1850, aged 53. Emma seems to have died, unmarried too, aged 50 in 1849. She was listed as 'of Bristol'. I wonder why the Smiths went to those parts for the early 1800s. John apparently died, aged 63, at Yatton Keynell in 1863. Seems he'd fibbed a bit about his age in the 1861 census. Some of them, at least, must be in that churchyard.  

Sigh. I did pretty well to find 'John Smith'. But Mary Smith? No. And those Edwards?  And where is Yatton Keynell in the 1841 census ...  not wholly a success!  But maybe someone in said village will wander up the the local church and ferret in the gravestones ...

Kent's Bottom. The Smiths owned 'two cottages and gardens'

A very strange story. A whole family, gone from wealth to what seems like extinction in just one generation ...

I see, in 1891, Keren's 'Street Farm' is empty. Mr Walter J Robinson is at 'Manor Farm', the blacksmithing Hulands are still there, as are the farming postmen, the Cleverleys. John Tanner is firmly settled at Grove Farm, William Pavy is at Folly Farm, William E Beint 'carpenter and wheelwright' still has the house with the chapel. 79 year-old William Kimber 'retired gardener and agriculturist' is still in one of the Kent's Bottom cottages, Isaac Fry, agricultural labourer as well. The Manor Farm is being farmed by a family seemingly named Eels. The streets have names nowadays, but the census taker has punctiliously filled in the neams of the properties as well. I wonder who has the freeholds now ... Menor Farm (213 acres) and others were offered for sale at various times ... but all these folk were renting ..

Here's a photo of the village in 1910 from

And here's another, slightly earlier