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    Help with an (probable) illegitimate birth

    Dear fellows genealogists,

    I've recently been having much fun in moving on from the basics of Ancestry style pushing dates and names together and I am now trying to colour in the lives of my ancestors using properly referenced facts! I've come up stuck with what I think is an illegitimate Great-great-grandfather and wanted to see if any of you more-experienced types might be able to help?

    His name is Frederick George SMITH: born 17 Apr 1853, married 4 Jun 1879 Harriet WALLINGTON, died 22 Jul 1931. All of this is primary source reference and I know to be true. I can also positively identify him in:
    - 1879 (here): From marriage certificate, living at 32 Durham Street, Portsea with his new wife. He is in employment as a railway porter.
    - 1881 (here): Living at 92 St Vincent Street, Portsea, Portsmouth with his wife and eldest son. He is in employment as a railway clerk.
    - 1891 (here): Living at 55 Ivy Street, Portsea, Portsmouth with his wife, two sons, and four daughters. He is in employment as a railway goods checker.
    - 1901 (here): Living at 55 Ivy Street, Southsea, Portsmouth with his wife, one son, and one daughter. He is in employment as a plumber.
    - 1911 (here): Living at 55 Ivy Street, Southsea, Portsmouth with his wife and one daughter. He is in employment as a plumber, painters, and gas fitter.

    But I can't get back any earlier than his marriage in 1879 or to his parents which is what I want to do.

    His birth certificate (my first my of call) lists his mother as Mary Ann SMITH of Hampton Street, Landport but his father is blank. His marriage certificate lists his father as Frederick SMITH, an engineer. The only other clue I have about his parents is a newspaper article from 7 Jun 1929 (here) celebrating his golden wedding anniversary. This lists his parents as Mr and Mrs Frederick SMITH of Portsmouth.

    In trying to find his parents I have searched many records so far! My main attempts apart from basic census search of the names I have, which have so far produced nothing conclusive are:
    - Checking out 92 St Vincent Street in the 1871 census (here).
    - Checking out Hampton Street for 1851. I can only find Hampton Terrace (here) which does appear to be in the right location but nothing obvious for Mary Ann SMITH.
    - Checking out Hampton Street for 1861. I can find Hampton Street (here) in 1861 but nothing obvious.
    - Checking out Hampton Street for 1871. Again found (here) but with no obvious results.
    - Looking for baptism records. There is only one contender (that I can find) (here) which is 5 Oct 1856 to John and Mary Ann SMITH at St Mary's Portsea. I can't make out the abode or trade columns for the father but I'm not sure they'll help!

    In summary, I feel like I've got to a dead end and, before I give up, I wanted to see if anyone had any good ideas?

    Is it likely he was illegitimate?
    Is Frederick SMITH likely to have been his father?
    Is it likely Mary Ann SMITH gave a false name, maybe just a false surname, when declaring the birth?

    James

    #2
    If his birth certificate has a blank space for his father's name then he is definitely illegitimate. The mother's name is almost certainly correct.

    The father's name on his marriage certificate is there to save face. It may be that Frederick was his father, or a stepfather, or a family member who brought him up, perhaps his grandfather.

    I have a similar situation with my 2 x ggf, who was illegitimate, born before civil reg. He married twice. The first time he gave the correct forename of his natural father but his own surname. The secondtime he gave the name of his grandfather who brought him up.
    You definitely need that baptism. Sometimes natural fathers names were recorded, especially if the child was born in the workhouse, as mine was.If you cannot read it, put it on here and we will help.

    Another of my 2 x ggf was illegitimate. I have not managed to find a single clue about his parents although I have followed many a hopeful trail.

    OC
    Last edited by Olde Crone Holden; 27-08-19, 09:07. Reason: Afterthought

    Comment


      #3
      OC,

      Thanks for the reply. Do you think the mother's name almost certainly correct because the Victorian efficiency wouldn't have let someone make a false declaration?

      I agree with the father's name on the marriage certificate and was using a working assumption that his father's first name was likely to be Frederick even if his surname wasn't SMITH! That was what was leading me away from the baptism record (where his father is John) as well as the 3 year gap before baptism.

      I'll try and work out how to upload the picture of the baptism record to here and see if I can trace those parents marriage...

      Thanks again!

      James

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by JWS View Post
        Do you think the mother's name almost certainly correct because the Victorian efficiency wouldn't have let someone make a false declaration?
        s
        Anyone can make a false declaration, and no proof of her name would be required, but why do think she would do that ?

        As previously said - the most likely scenario is that the mother's name is correct - the father's name may or may not have been Frederick (but very unlikely to have been a Frederick SMITH)
        I am a professional researcher, and ex- deputy registrar, based in Buckinghamshire - please contact me for any help/advice or research via PM or my website www.chalfontresearch.co.uk
        Follow me on Twittter @ChalfontR

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks Antony.

          Comment


            #6
            [img]https://www.dropbox.com/s/vrrt6ik76w8hx8o/S2_GBPRS_PORTSMOUTH_008064656_00701.jpg[/img]

            Comment


              #7
              That was meant to be a link to the copy of the baptism record - but I'm not sure it worked!

              Comment


                #8
                I think her name was correct because she has told the truth about the child being illegitimate so why then lie about her name? A liar would have given a name for the father and pretended to be married to him.

                OC

                Comment


                  #9
                  Ooh, what dreadful writing. Farmer? Farrier? I don't know Portsmouth at all but the abode looks like Cow-something. Cowpits?

                  Frederick may be his father's name but equally it could be the name of any man who was significant in his childhood. I think it likely his natural father's name was John, not Frederick, on the same priniciple that she was not a liar and very few people had the nerve to lie to a vicar!

                  OC

                  Comment


                    #10
                    OC,

                    Thanks - What about Crown Street for the address? I agree with Farmer. I'll see if I can find any other Baptisms at the same church...

                    James

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by JWS View Post
                      OC,

                      Thanks - What about Crown Street for the address? I agree with Farmer. I'll see if I can find any other Baptisms at the same church...

                      James
                      Actually, I think it says Seaman vice Farmer. Another thank you - that gives me another avenue to explore. I'll try and construct John and Mary Ann SMITH's family using some other baptisms which may be likely.

                      My niggling concern is that if she was unmarried with FGS was born in 1853 and reported her name as Mary Ann SMITH. Surely she wouldn't still be a SMITH following a later marriage?

                      James

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I'm a bit uncomfortable with the gap between birth and baptism. I know it wasn't unknown but given the name Smith, I'm a bit concerned.

                        I agree it could be Crown St/Rd for the address.

                        OC

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Olde Crone Holden View Post
                          I'm a bit uncomfortable with the gap between birth and baptism. I know it wasn't unknown but given the name Smith, I'm a bit concerned.
                          So, I did some more digging on the John and Mary Ann SMITH listed in the 1853 baptism for Frederick George. I think you can reasonably construct the following family tree: https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tr...ily/familyview. There are a further six children who are all baptised in the same church to John and Mary Ann SMITH, his profession becomes clearer as Seaman Royal Navy and the address stabilises as New Road, Portsea. I've tried to find evidence for Frederick George in the census but, whilst I can find 1911 back to 1871 and connect most of the other children, Frederick George doesn't appear.

                          I can't find an 1861 or 1851 census record for them at any of the addresses likely from the baptism records (New Road, Unicorn St, or Crown St). It would be these records that might connect in Frederick George but given John SMITH was in the Navy (I found his Service record) it's entirely possible he was away from his family.

                          The romantic in me can buy into the idea of a sailor coming home and getting a girl pregnant but the realist in me says this shouldn't be a SMITH surname here. We've agreed that Mary Ann was very likely a SMITH with an illegitimate child; once married her surname should have changed...

                          Thanks for your help though!

                          James

                          Comment


                            #14
                            The birth was in 1853, the baptism in 1856 which is why it seems suspect to me.

                            Can you give the names of some of the other children baptised to John and Mary, then perhaps we can cross reference them with a mother's maiden name, to rule this couple in or out.

                            It wouldn't be the first time a Smith married a Smith by the way.

                            OC

                            Comment


                              #15
                              John and Mary Ann SMITH baptised the following at St Mary's, Portsea:
                              - Frederick George: b 17 Apr 1853 / bap 5 Oct 1856
                              - Edward John: b ??? / bap 7 Aug 1859

                              - John George: b ??? / bap 28 Dec 1862
                              - Walter Earnest: b 16 Jul 1864 / bap 8 Apr 1866
                              - William Henry: b ??? / bap 8 Apr 1866 - not listed in 1871 census so may have died
                              - Edith Mary: b Abt. 1869 / bap 26 Dec 1869
                              - Alice Maude: b 13 Jan 1871 / bap 3 Mar 1872

                              I have confidence that the later five children are definately those of John and Mary Ann SMITH but am less confident about the family grouping involving the first two. Mary Ann SMITH is recorded as dead in 1871 and John SMITH remarries Sarah to produce two further children. It's tedious as the 1911 census returns on number of children and those still alive are v useful!

                              Maybe I need some maiden names for Edward John SMITH and John George SMITH from birth certificates?

                              James

                              Comment


                                #16
                                The later children have mmn of Gregory on the GRO indexes. I found John Smith marrying Mary Ann Bishop, a widow on 25/12/1856 in Portsea. Mary Ann's father was George Gregory (Image on FMP). In Dec Quarter 1851 Mary Ann Gregory had married George Bishop. He died in Jan 1854 and was buried 19/1/1854.
                                Linda


                                My avatar is my Grandmother Carolina Meulenhoff 1896 - 1955

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Linda,

                                  Thanks - good spot! I hadn't even realised that the GRO index on FMP show the maiden name - they don't on Ancestry! I'll buy your take on Mary Ann BISHOP / GREGORY which sorts the five later children. I also notice from the GRO index that Edward John SMITH shows a maiden name of TOMES which I can attribute to another John and Mary SMITH (also seaman but not our chap).

                                  So that leaves me scrabbling to make any link between my Frederick George SMITH and his possible baptism record and the John and Mary Ann SMITH (nee BISHOP / GREGORY) family group. As Mary Ann was GREGORY in 1853 and not SMITH until December 1856 I don't see how she is likely to be the mother of my Frederick George SMITH. If she were the mother, she would have surely registered the birth as Mary Ann GREGORY. She wasn't yet married in October 1856 but I suppose it is reasonable to assume she was 'with' John SMITH by then. Is it likely they would have had a child baptised before getting married? It seems unlikely to me?

                                  James

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Edward John is from another family - John Smith and Mary Tomes. They married in 1858 in Portsea (Mary is transcribed as Toms).
                                    Linda


                                    My avatar is my Grandmother Carolina Meulenhoff 1896 - 1955

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by JWS View Post
                                      OC,

                                      Thanks - What about Crown Street for the address? I agree with Farmer. I'll see if I can find any other Baptisms at the same church...

                                      James
                                      Agree with Crown St, but I think the occupation is Fireman, the "man" part is identical to the "Seaman" in the baptism above it.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        I think there are two families here of the Smith / Gregory.
                                        For example these two:


                                        SMITH, GEORGE HENRY GREGORY
                                        GRO Reference: 1862 S Quarter in PORTSEA ISLAND Volume 02B Page 351

                                        SMITH, JOHN GEORGE GREGORY
                                        GRO Reference: 1862 D Quarter in PORTSEA ISLAND Volume 02B Page 377
                                        Kat
                                        My avatar is my Great Grandmother, Cassandra Elizabeth Palmer 1861 to 1940

                                        Comment

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