Smith Family 

Smith: of British origin, occupation name for someone who worked with metal [1]



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Part 1: John Smith (c1786 - ?)


John Smith was born in Yorkshire c1786. He married Mary (c1791 - ?, maiden name unknown) and they had thirteen children: Isaac, Abraham, Jacob, John, Betty, Hannah, Margaret, Sarah, John, Azubah, Sarah, Edwin and Joseph. Some of their children died in infancy and it is quite possible they may have had other children who died at birth.

All their children were baptised at Ambler Thorn New Connection Chapel which was for Methodists. As the family was considered ‘nonconformists’ and outside the Church of England, they were not allowed to be buried in consecrated Church of England grounds. Therefore it is difficult to find many records that show who they married, when they died and if they had any children. (The surname ‘Smith’ also makes searching for civil registration records very difficult.) Until the 1836 Marriage Act, nonconformists were obliged to marry in Anglican churches. After this date they were allowed to marry in their own place of worship.

John was a grocer and lived in Northowram and it would seem his surviving children received some education. It is not known what happened to John and Mary after 1841.

Isaac (c1806 -?) was baptised 07 June 1806. Nothing else is known of him.

Abraham (1809 - c1883) was born 11 April 1809 and baptised 16 July the same year. He married Mary Crowther (c1809 - ?) 10 December 1838 at St John the Baptist Parish Church. Mary had an illegitimate daughter, Hannah (c1829 - ?), who took the surname ‘Smith’ later. Abraham and Mary had seven children: Eliza (1840 - ?), Mary Ann (c1843 - ?), Sarah Jane (c1845 - ?), Elizabeth (c1847 - ?), Emma (c1848 - ?), John (1851 - ?) and Eliza Ann (c1855 - ?). Abraham had a grocer’s shop and was also a draper, dealing in fabrics. Mary died in the 1860s and Abraham married Martha Shackleton (c1827 - ?) 13 January 1869 at St John the Baptist Parish Church. Martha had been married to Joseph Waugh but been widowed in the 1860s, too. Abraham was again widowed and it is likely he died sometime before 1891.

More information about Jacob (1811 - 1879) appears in Part 2.

John (c1818 - ?) was born or baptised 14 February 1818. It is likely he died in infancy.

Betty (1820 - ?) was born 27 February 1820 and baptised 10 March the same year. Nothing else is known of her.  

Hannah (1821 - ?) was born 13 September 1821 and baptised 16 December the same year. She married plumber William Sutcliffe (c1816 - ?) 18 September 1839 at St John the Baptist Parish Church. In Victorian England, a plumber was someone who worked with lead used in buildings and made pipes, gutters, ornaments etc… In rural areas, plumber, glazier and painter/decorator were often one and the same person and certainly William referred to himself later as a plumber and glazier. Rather unusually, Hannah declared her occupation of milliner and dressmaker on almost every record available. Few women did that on their marriage certificate and very few on census records after they married, except perhaps to say they were a grocer’s wife (as Hannah’s younger sister would do). Hannah and William had four children: John (c1840 - ?), Mary Ellen (c1846 - 1873), Emily (c1847 - ?) and James (c1850 - ?). The family lived in Ford Hill, Northowram, and Hannah and William probably died between 1881 and 1891.

Margaret (c1823 - ?) was born or baptised 13 January 1823. Nothing else is known of her.

Sarah (1824 - ?) was born 07 May 1824 and baptised 27 June 1824. It is almost certain she died in infancy.

John (c1825 - ?) was born or baptised 01 April 1825. Nothing else is known of him.

Azubah (1826 - 1844) was born 13 April 1826 and baptised 18 June the same year. She married at age 17 (but put her age as 19!). Anyone under 21 (the ‘full age’) had to have parental permission to marry. They were married by license which meant the marriage could take place quickly (rather than waiting for three consecutive weeks when banns would be read out in church, thus giving the parishioners time to object to a marriage). Azubah’s husband was John Clough (c1822 - ?), an attorney’s clerk working in Congleton, Cheshire. They married 18 August 1843 at St John the Baptist Parish Church but sadly Azubah died the following year in Cheshire.

Sarah (c1827 - 1916) was born or baptised 25 December 1827. She married John Green (c1824 - 1896) 29 July 1848 at St John the Baptist Parish Church. John was a linen draper but soon after their marriage he was imprisoned in York Castle Jail for insolvency. At the time, it was common for someone to be jailed in a debtors’ prison if they could not pay their bills. The debtors’ section of the jail was on a floor above the one housing the felons, in much worse conditions. In the 1851 census, John was one of 128 inmates. Often a debtor’s family had no choice but to live in the prison, too. However, York Jail at the time only had one married couple and no female debtors. Sarah stayed with her sister Hannah’s family but may have stayed with other family members while John was in jail. [2]

John had to wait for someone to pay his debts, for his creditors to relent, or prove that he had no property at all. [3] It is not known when or why he was released but it may have been by 1853 when his son was baptised. William Henry (1849 - c1909) was their only child and given that he was baptised in an Anglican church, Sarah may not have stayed with the Methodist church as an adult. John continued as a draper but also expanded into the grocery and provisions trade, assisted by Sarah (who declared herself a ‘grocer’s wife’ and ‘provision dealer’s wife’ on subsequent census reports!). His business built up again and they lived in Beggarington, Northowram, near her brother Jacob, with a domestic servant. By 1891, they were living in Oxford Road, Ambler Thorn. John died 14 March 1896, aged 71, and Sarah became a baker. She died in 1916, aged 89.

Edwin (1828 - ?) was born 10 April 1828 and baptised 23 June the same year. There is no confirmed record of him after 1841.

Joseph (1830 - ?) was born 11 May 1830 and baptised 26 September the same year. There is no confirmed record of him after 1841. Family stories suggest he might have been a worsted spinner in Bradford and died in 1896.

Next: Jacob Smith




[3] Victorian crime and punishment website (