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This is a critique and hypothesis on Derrek Tipplers article that was in JGLS (3) 43 (1964) and kindly shared with me by the late Terence Lee


The Northamptonshire/Leicestershire Smiths - Absolom's Family

Derrick Tippler wrote some very useful and interesting articles for the JGLS and one of them JGLS (3) 43 (1964)

presents the 'folklore' of Absolom Smith and his descendents. On investigation much of it can be confirmed by

checking parish registers but some details are misleading and other details cannot be proven [at least not by me].



ABSOLOM SMITH was born about 1750 in NTS and fathered up to c20 children.

Here are the ones named by Tippler:

WOODFINE, who married Sarah Boswell.

NEHEMIAH (Miah), a horse-thief who married Sarah's sister, Rodi Boswell, and

was transported to Tasmania in 1850.

SAMUEL, who married Rizavoy Smith and fathered Nathaniel and Johnny 'twowives'. The two wives of Samuel's son

were sisters Maria and Carolaina Smith.

Johnny, Maria and Carolaina begat c40 children, some of which became the ancestors of the NOT Finneys and Booths.

BEATI, who married Absolom Smith, son of Keni and Beti (nee Smith). Another daughter of Keni/Beti, Ebony, married

Harry Booth the son of James Booth.

James Booth's wife was a daughter of the Absolom Smith bc l750.


HARRIET, who married Robert Holland and begat two sons, Moses Holland (who  married Dona Smith) and Ben Holland

(who married Dona's sister, Sibireni).

Ben Holland's daughter by Sibireni was Harriet Holland however Tippler regards Harriet Holland as really the daughter of

Diverus Smith (son of Keni/Beti) and Sibireni Smith, the same Sibireni who married Benjamin Holland after a

'brief relationship with Diverus Smith. Eso Smith, son of Nehemiah and Rodi, married Sentinia Smith, daughter of Woodfine

and Sarah, and became known as the 'Black

Patch' gipsies on the Black Patch near Birmingham. The son of Eso and Sentinia,called Eso, married Harriet Holland who is mentioned above.


The thrust of Tippler's remarks was aimed at demonstrating the tendency of Absolom's descendents to marry their cousins

and this could be used as a means of identifying people descended from Absolom. But marrying cousins

implies a closed group and NTS at that time was the place least likely to win an award for being closed. Just about every

SMITH gipsy family of the time criss-crossed NTS in no predictable manner.


If Absolom (bc l750) was to have children born in 1800 (Adam), 1802 (Absalom),and 1804 (Lavinia), as he must have done because Absalom (1802) was the father of Sibireni who married Diverus Smith (1824) in 1843, then the year

1750 looks to be too early. Tippler may have chosen this date because Absolom appears to have fathered a lot of children around 1790 and they might not have been physically possible if he was born much later. But since some of

those other children were not fathered by Absolom, the date 1768 not only fits perfectly but it is the only date available for the birth of Absolom.

I refer here to baptism details of any Absolom Smith in the region under discussion, not to a hypothetical date but to

specific baptismal entries.

With the new date Absolom (1768) could have fathered Nehemiah and Woodfine around 1788-1791 with his first wife,

Mary, then after 1791 and before 1800 he fathered children by Elizabeth Jones. There is no evidence that Absolom

had two wives simultaneously.


Nehemiah (Miah) is the same person whose 'proven children' are represented in Figure 3 (p.14). The only abode that is

relevant is 'Wolston'. This is close enough to Brinklow WKS to suggest that the baptism dated 18/5/1794

at Brinklow which is for Nehemiah son of John and Mary Smith, vagabond gipsies, is the baptism of our 'Miah' Smith.

The plot thickens.


Tippler says that Nehemiah's wife was called Rodi Boswell while Woodfine,

Miah's supposed brother, did in fact marry Sarah Boswell but it could be argued that Nehemiah and Woodfine would be

called 'brothers' even if they were really only cousins in this situation because the term 'in-laws' is close to meaningless for gipsies. To marry into their family is to become their kin; the blood is already shared.

Tippler does not mention the other wife of Nehemiah, Mary, who might have been Mary Hollands [sic] who married

Thomas Smith in 1813 at Hillmorton WKS alongside his father, Absolom, who married Elizabeth Jones there and then.

Tippler's Samuel Smith fathered children by Rizavoy but he actually wed Rizavoy's full sister, Cinamenta, who, like

Nehemiah, was one of the children of John and Mary, as shown in Figure 9. Another Nehemiah, also son of John/Mary,

was baptised 16/8/1790 at Maxstoke WKS but there is no other information and he probably died young.

The date of birth given for 'Reservoy' is 12/6/1796. This shows that John and Mary did, at least once, baptise a child at the

time of birth. This could be important when considering the large number of children born about the same time either to John/Mary or Absolom/Mary. It is noteworthy that Samuel married at the same time and place that Woodfine married Sarah Boswell.

Beati or Beatrice had five proven children by A.bsalom although this Absalom is not a proven child of Keni/Beti. 'Beti', wife

of 'Cainey' was always 'Trenit' or 'Trinity' in official records so 'Beti' is probably an error.

[Two spellings of 'Absolom/Absalom' are being used to distinguish father (1768) from son (1802).]


The proven children of Cain and Trinity are: Avenay [same as 'Ebony'] (1798), Reiney (1801), Ambrothy [same as 'Ombrate'] (1803), Henry (1806), Aaron (1814), Louisa (1820), and Diverus (1824). Of these, Avenay is most likely the one that Tippler believed married Harry Booth. He said as much but how could Avenay have married a grandson of Absolom? Only if Absolom's year of birth was around 1750. His burial record (1826 at Twyford LEI) gives his age as 60. If this figure is perfectly correct - gipsy ages tended to be exaggerated more often than not - his year of birth would be 1766 which is closer to 1768 than to 1750. It would not have been impossible for Absolom's first grandson to have married Avenay but it would have been a close call.

If, instead of Cain/Trinity's daughter being the wife of Harry Booth, it was Ebonni (1824), daughter of Absalom/Beatrice, then Absolom (1768) did not have to appear to rush into an early marriage to produce a daughter to marry James Booth so that Harry Booth could marry the Ebony of 1798. With the later Ebony (1824) Absolom's age is far less troublesome. In order for the sums to work, he does not have to be born about 1750 as Tippler claims.


Also, why not let the husband of Beatrice be the son of Absolom and let Beatrice be Bertha, daughter of Wisdom/Hannah, baptised at Seaton RUT in 1800. The various references to her children give her as 'Bertha' and

'Bethy' thus linking Tippler's 'Beatie' to Wisdom's 'Bertha'. In my scenario, Absalom and Beatie are both provided with

parents and baptisms. It would be curious if they, married to each other, did not have a baptism apiece when all of their

siblings who were contemporaries apparently did.


Sibireni Smith married Diverus Smith in 1843 (Ryhall RUT) and her father, Absalom, is not described as 'deceased' on the marriage certificate. Absolom of 1768 was already deceased by 1826 so this must be his son.

Without her baptism it can be assumed that Sibireni was born about 1824, the same year as Diverus, and they produced two children quite apart from the Harriet mentioned by Tippler. They were John (1848) and Sibarina (1850) proving a relationship of at least seven years, not a 'brief relationship by today's standards.

I read in the JGLS that Reservoy Smith's mother was Mary Butler but I cannot confirm it. The following may explain how

Miah Smith could be regarded as the brother of Woodfine while remaining the son of John and Mary although, it is

necessary to point out, it is not convincing to me.


Assuming that Miah was the son of John/Mary and that Absolom's first wife was Mary, as shown in the baptism of Ambrose Turtle (1790), perhaps the Mary is the same person in both cases. This would mean that Miah

and Woodfine shared the same mother but not the same father.

Unfortunately, with Nehemiah come Cinamenta and Reservoy and I doubt that Samuel would have mated with both of his sisters. Only if Samuel was son of Absolom/Elizabeth could this occur. His date of marriage (1811)

and age at death (75 in 1864) place his year of birth around 1789 and he is close in age to Ambrose Turtle, perhaps too

close for comfort. This  implies that Absolom had two simultaneous wives and while it confines Elizabeth's age it may explain Tippler's figure of twenty or so children.It is assumed that these gipsy children were baptised around about their time of birth because they appear in registers at regular intervals. If the first Nehemiah (1790) is correctly attributed (see page 30) and if

he was born around about July or August, he clashes with Ambrose Turtle who was baptised 3/10/1790.


If Mary was the same mother in both cases the first Nehemiah would have been born about October 1789 and this is when Samuel was most likely born. He could have been born up until 1794 but not to this particular Mary because she mothered

his eventual wife. Taking into account Absolom's likely year of birth (1768), the marriage dates of his children (1811, 1813),

and the child-bearing years of his two wives (Mary and Elizabeth), as well as Tippler's estimate of his children

(approximately 20), the offspring born 1788-1791 were likely to be Thomas, Samuel, Ambrose Turtle, Miah and Woodfine.

I suppose some might have been twins but it has never been suggested. The explanation which would fit is if Absolom had

two wives, Mary and Elizabeth, both producing at peak capacity, and Mary being a different person from Mary wife of John. Then the question becomes, 'What about Nehemiah?' Were there two Nehemiahs, both born around the same time and

place? If so, were John and Absolom brothers?


They certainly became closely related through Samuel marrying Cinamenta and Tippler's whole article was devoted to demonstrating cousin marriages within Absolom's family. It has occurred to me that Miah might have been called the 'brother' of Woodfine only because he married Woodfine's wife's sister and that the correct description of their relationship is 'brothers-in-law' although Tippler's claim is that two brothers married two sisters and each pair produced a child who married the child of

the other pair. It is altogether too neat and tidy - a gaujo preoccupation - although Miah seems to have named a son

'Woodbine' after 'Woodfine'. The different spelling remained until Woodbine's death aged 72 in 1887. One might expect the name to be modified back to 'Woodfine' if Miah was the brother of Woodfine. If Absolom's birth is in 1768 he is the son of Thomas and Hannah. There is no evidence that Absolom had a brother called John but there was a John in the family of

Jim Smith as well as that of John Smith. Absolom's apparent sister married into that branch when she married Samuel Smith. Whether John and Absolom were cousins or 'in-laws' probably will not be solved because the name 'John' is too common.

Abner Smith of Sulgrave, previously mentioned, was also married at Hillmorton and on 17/10/1801 John, Thomas and

Abner Smith were all committed to gaol at Kilsby NTS. This shows John and Thomas connected while Absolom is already connected to Thomas which was the name of his father and his son.


On page 14 I identified a reference which might be Woodfine (1780) possibly the son of a Nehemiah. The occurrence of two Woodfine/Woodbines as sons of two Miahs (Nehemiah/Jeremiah) implies that Woodfine and Miah were

brothers otherwise it would be difficult to explain the presence of Woodfine in such close juxtaposition to Miah. Woodfine's marriage to Sarah Boswell at Hillmorton in 1811 could be explained if he was the brother of Cinamenta

instead of the brother of Samuel. If he was the brother of Cinamenta then it is likely he was also the brother of Miah and now Absolom has lost both of his famous sons.


Moses Smith who will be dealt with in the next section also claimed he was from Sulgrave, like Abner, and a baptism that

looks as if it could be his gives the parent as 'Nehemiah' which would add strength to the idea that the Jeremiah at Weedon

Lois was indeed another Miah. This would make Moses the brother of Woodfine and cancel Woodfine's reason for being at Hillmorton at the same time as Cinamenta and Samuel if, in fact, it was the same Woodfine.

But not if Moses was related to John, father of Cinamenta and Nehemiah. Moses also gave his home as Great Brington

and so did Christopher Smith who can be shown more easily to be related to a John Smith although it is still difficult to show

that Nehemiah and Woodfine were brothers and without more conclusive evidence I would be reluctant to accept Tippler's claims.


Finally I do not see Woodfine or Miah naming any of their children 'Absolom', unlike the 'proven children' of Absolom and Elizabeth.

There is still a-possibility that baptisms for these two are available and demonstrate that Woodfine and Miah were brothers,

sons of Absolom, but I find it difficult to believe that they could evade me for so long. In the next section is a character,

Jasper Smith, who shows just how predictable gipsies can be. But firstly there is the other part of NTS/LEI Smiths.

Terence Lee Notes and Hypothesis