While I consider myself a really good researcher, I have to admit to a great reluctance in looking into the several family lines who were called SMITH. I am sure that most people are aware of just how common Smith is as a last name – it is! This is further complicated by the fact that these Smith relatives made their homes in Birmingham, England – a city built on craftsmen – Silversmiths, gunsmiths, blacksmiths, etc. Occupational names can be a pain in the ass. Truthfully, I have just avoided these families and instead built my family history around them, not delving in too deeply into their lines except where they join mine. This changed two weeks ago.
I was approached about one of my Smiths, specifically Maude Smith, who was my grandfather’s first cousin. Could I trace her family to find living members who were more closely related to her than myself?
And so the adventure began. So what I knew starting the research on Maude’s family. She was the daughter of Sidney Smith and Kate Jennings. I have their marriage certificate, and they were married on the 19th of June 1881 at St Edburga’s Church in Yardley. According to the certificate Sidney was the son of John Smith. His wife Kate was the daughter of Isaac Jennings, Butcher and publican at the Swan Pub in Yardley. She was the sister of my great-grandmother Emma Jennings Paulin.
From the census (and from talking with my family) I have listed four siblings: Sidney John Smith born in 1885, Percival Thomas Smith born in 1889, Leslie Hampton Smith, born in 1896 and Dorothy Mary Smith born in 1898. I know for certain this is the family from these sources, but then this is where things get complicated. I have found no marriages for any of her siblings. I know Maude never married, so she is easy. Also because her name was Isabel Maude Kate Jennings, she is relatively easy to trace. I thought that it would be easy enough for Leslie Hampton –but he does not appear to have married either. I don’t know about Dorothy – a rather common name. I found a death for a Dorothy Mary Smith in the 1970s but I cannot be sure this is the same person. Cannot find anything yet on Sidney John.
Then there is Percival Thomas – there are two Percival Thomas Smiths in Birmingham of about the same age. One is the son of a bricklayer, so not the same, but some records don’t allow this kind of precision. My mom was sure Percy had children – so I am assuming he was married, but so far no luck. The other Percival Thomas was married twice.
Another problem, and this was highlighted in my search on Ancestry, there is another couple called Sidney and Kate Smith. And it appears that two members decided my Sidney and Kate is the same as theirs, but they did not look too closely at the sources – like there are two different households with those names. The other Sidney was the son of William and Kate’s maiden name was Cashmore. They also lived in Birmingham. It is rather complicated and darn frustrating.
So I have made myself a new brick wall. I will keep at it, of course.
If anyone has information on Sidney Smith from Bickenhill, jeweller/commercial traveller and his wife Kate Jennings Smith, and of course their children Isabel Maude Kate (suffragette), Dorothy Mary, Percival Thomas, Leslie Hampton (who worked at Dunlops) and Sidney John then please contact me.
Here is a picture of some of the Smith family…. with my family
Front (Left to right) – Kate Jennings Smith, Hilda Paulin Curtis, Irene Paulin Hunting, Emma Jennings Paulin and Dennis Hunting. Back (left to right) Norman Paulin, Herbert Goodson, Grace Paulin Goodson, Sidney Smith, and Maude Smith.
Sidney gave Grace away at the wedding as her father had passed away in 1912.