Gilliandr's Blog

Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments

Deliberately hitting a genealogical brick wall – in the name of history! 2017

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

Wedding Grace Paulin & Herbert Goodson, 1917, Photo courtesy D Thornton

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.


Sarsaparilla Recipe, 18C

Recipe from 18th Century, found in Library and Archives Canada.


Put six ounces of sarsaparilla root, & six pints of boiling water into a sauce pan; which keep at the side of the fire (with the cover loosely on) for four hours, then take out the sarsaparilla root, and braise it.  When braised, put it back into the same liquor, boil down to one half then press out the whole, and afterwards strain through a linen cloth.

Half a pint of the above decoction to be taken three times a day.

[and no, it did not say what it was to cure – so don’t try this at home!]

Widow Keeps her Husband’s Name, Etiquette, 1922/37

Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage by Emily Post, New York and London, Funk & Wagnalls Co, 1922/37.



Widow Keeps Husband’s Name

A man gives his name to his wife for life – or until she herself through re-marriage relinquishes it.  A widow, therefore, should always continue to use her husband’s Christian names.  She is Mrs. John Hunter Titherington Smith, or to compromise, Mrs. JH Titherington Smith, but she is never Mrs. Sarah Smith, at least not anywhere in cosmopolitan society.

Robbing a relative, Isaac Jennings, Yardley, 1860

Ari’s Birmingham Gazette, 26 March 1860, page 4

Philip Butler and Thomas Cullon were charged with stealing 10£ belonging to Isaac Jennings, of Yardley. – Mr Elers for the prosecution; the EC Leigh for the defence. – The prosecutor is a licenced [sic]victualler, and the prisoners called at his house on the 24th of January last.  He was about to pay money to a party in the house, and having occasion to leave the kitchen for a short time, he left his purse containing 10£ on the kitchen table until his return.  During the absence of the prosecutor, one of the prisoners took the purse, and both ran away.  They were, however, immediately pursued and captured a short distance from the house.  Verdict – “guilty”.  Sentence six weeks imprisonment.

Well-known Old-Time Lacrosse Player Laid to rest, Montreal, 1917

Montreal Gazette, 19 November 1917, page 5

James B McVey buried

Well-known Old-time lacrosse player laid to rest Saturday

The funeral of James B McVey, who died on Thursday last, took place on Saturday morning at half-past eight from St Ann’s Church.  The late Mr McVey was a popular old-time lacrosse player and played a prominent part in the championships won by the Shamrocks some twenty-five years ago.  At the funeral on Saturday, the Rev Father Kelly pastor of the church was at the altar, assisted by the Rev Father Mulhern, deacon, and the Rev Father Corrigan, sub-deacon, while there was also a full choral service.

The chief mourners at the funeral were Wm P McVey, brother; James S McVey, Ottawa, brother; Master WP McVey, nephew; John A McVey, nephew; Frank J Meehan, nephew; James L Stapleton, Granby, cousin; Fred A Stapleton, Granby, cousin.  Others present included Rev Canon O’Meara, pastor of St Gabriel’s parish; Rev A Walsh, St Mary’s; Rev Bro Stanislaus, provincial of Presentation Brothers; Rev Bro Murray, Presentation Brothers; Rev Bros Andrew and Michael of the Christian Brothers; while the Grey Nuns and the Sisters of Providence were also represented: Patrick Donnelly, ME Casey, Chas Hale, M McInerney, Bernard Hughes, Ald O’Connell, ex-Ald Gallery, Ald Rubinstein, Laz Rubinstein, Thomas Dwyer, W McKenna, Albert Hinton, Wm Duggan, Jack Tucker, D McCrory, L Spenard, J Lord, H Logan, Tom Carlind, JPR Flynn, J Baird, J Phelan, James Bathurst and Thomas Collins.

Juvenile Court to Teach Manners, Montreal, 1917

Montreal Gazette, 6 jul 1917, page 5

Juvenile Court to Teach Manners

Drenching Young woman on street to bring stern rebuke

Too frolicsome boys

Boy left Toronto to be a Jockey in Montreal and Ended in court – promises did not materialize

It is a matter of opinion in Juvenile court circles that giving a young woman a public bath, and especially without notice, is not according to the usages taught in the best circles of society, and several young boys who lately forgot that fact are so informed, politely, but very firmly.  An indignant uncle figures prominently in this affair.  The story, as unfolded before the court yesterday, has much of the commonplace. It is related that a day or two ago a young woman was walking up St Alexander street when from the seventh storey of a building fronting on that street several boys dropped a paper bag upon her splendid new hat, one of the kind with lilies of the valley profusely enthroned upon it.  The bag was filled with water, and when it collided with the hat, the result was disastrous for the millinery, and the person of the wearer. It was a big bag, and the drenching corresponded.

Indignant at this treatment on the King’s Highway, the victim told her uncle, and the latter instituted some Sherlock Holmes enquiries and discovered the miscreants, and informed the Juvenile Court that he had solved the problem. The court, properly impressed, issued little billets doux to the boys in question, requesting the honour of their company in the morning. Probabilities are that the youngsters will be entertained with some remarks on decorum, and given a chance to repent. The authorities are determined that the streets shall be made safe for summer finery especially as the opportunity for its display is so short this year.

Another case, that had the attention of the Juvenile court yesterday is that of a boy of sixteen who was unearthed by a special constable of the CPR in a race horse car at the Windsor Station.  The story told by the boy is that he is a resident of Toronto, not in itself a serious matter but he left his mother’s home without permission to come to Montreal to be a jockey.  His story further adds that he was induced to do so by a race track man, who made him plenty of fine promises, but that when they reached Montreal told him to shift for himself as best he could.  The boy’s only idea was then to get to Toronto, and he chose the “no ticket” system.  The story is being investigated, as there appears to be several discrepancies in the telling.

In addition to these cases, the Juvenile court had the usual number of little affairs to dispose of.

Death of Sir Hugh Allan of Ravenscrag, 1882

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 16 Dec 1882, page 4

The announcement on Monday last, of the death of Sir Hugh Allan, of Ravenscrag, Montreal, at 27 St Andrew’s Street, Edinburgh, will revive the interest of the natives of the Saltcoats seaboard in the career of a family whose name has become a household word on both sides of the Atlantic, and which must date its rise from the time when Alex Allan, the founder of the great “Allan Line” went down to Saltcoats to learn the trade of ship carpenter.  Like many of the other great mercantile and shipping firms in this country and America, that of the Allans has been the growth of a couple of generations, and the colossal proportions it has reached, are due to the conditions which are always dominant in such cases, the possession of that kind of courage which is know as enterprise, and which does not allow talent to be lost to the world, coupled with that unflagging industry which is somewhere said to be the true test of Nature’s nobility.  The first of the Allans connected with the sea was Alexander Allan, father of the late Sir Hugh Allan.  In his youth he learned to be a shoemaker in Kilmarnock, or rather, in its suburb of Riccarton, but luckily did not “Stick to his last”  His nature was too robust for such a monotonous calling.  Ship-building and the sea, so to speak, better suited his complaint and he went down to Saltcoats and learned to be a ship-carpenter.  On completing his apprenticeship he went to sea, and not long afterwards sailed as mate with the Late Capt John Wilson, whom many of our Saltcoats readers will remember in his old days as a bookseller in Dockhead Street.  He did not require to sail long as mate, for we hear of him being shortly after master of the brig, Hero, of Irvine, with the late Hugh Crawford, (father of Capt David Crawford of Clydeview, Irvine; and Clydeview, Ardrossan) as mate.  Mr Crawford succeeded him as master of the Hero, and our hero, Captain Allan, about this time, married into a family of the name of Crawford residing in Saltcoats.  The Crawfords occupied a snug little cottage in Castleweerock and daughter Jean took the fancy of Capt Allan, while his former mate, Capt Crawford was more than pleased with the charms of her sister Margaret, the result being that the two sisters were married to the two young skippers away back in the early years of the present century.  It will, perhaps, be news to many of the Irvine folks who are strong in the matter of local tradition, to learn that what may, in a sense, be called the first of the “Allan Line” of ships was built in the Irvine shipyard of Messrs Gilkison & Rankin. After quitting the brig Hero, the brig Jean (named probably after his wife) was built for Captain Allan, he being part owner.  If we remember the narrative, as it was told us, aright, the Gilkinsons of Irvine were also part owners; and, at all events, it was in this vessel, “The Jean” that Capt James Brown of Bogalde, brother of the Ex-Provist Brown, served his apprenticeship.  “The Jean” traded

[illegible]  Capt Allan’s next vessel was a brig, “The Favourite” and in it he made two voyages annually to Montreal.  “The Favourite” gave place in the course of time to the ship, “Canada” which he continued to command as captain until he retired from the sea.  The late James Allan, the eldest son of Captain Alexander Allan and Bryce Allan, a younger son, took up the North American trade after their father, the “Arabian” under command of Capt James Allan, making many voyages between Greenock and Montreal.  About the year 1839 Capt David Crawford of Clyde View, sailed with him (Capt James Allan) from the Clyde.  James, who was the oldest son, and Alexander, the youngest, eventually settled down in Glasgow as ship-owners, and Hugh who died the other day, Sir Hugh Allan (as above noticed), along with Andrew went into business as merchants in Montreal.  So successful were they that the former was reputed to be one of the richest, if not the richest man in Canada.  The Allans have numerous family connections in this part of the county (Agnes Crawford, wife of Jas McKie, the Kilmarnock publisher, being a cousin of the late Sir Hugh) and the natives of Saltcoats district cherish, with natural pride, the traditions of the Allan family, in common with those of other Saltcoats families who have earned distinction by “following the sea.”  Since the brig, “Jean,” left the slips in the Irvine ship yard, an immense change has taken place in the shipping trade, and old Captain Allan, who was a splendid type of the old school, it may be mentioned, stoutly stood out against the introduction of steam.  Not till after his death was it introduced into the Allan Line.  His sons, however, as their splendid fleet of ships testify, were not slow to take advantage of the new power, and adapt themselves to the new style of things.  The career of the Allan family, in both generations, is another illustration of the fact that “the hand of the diligent maketh rich” and of the other assurances, given on equally good authority, that “he that is diligent in business shall stand before kings.”

Death of a Saltcoats Man in Canada, 1910

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 7 Oct 1910, page 5

Death of a Saltcoats Man in Canada

We regret to hear of the death, in Canada of Alexander Boyd, a native of Saltcoats, who emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario some three years ago.  Mr Boyd was a plasterer to trade and was well known in Saltcoats having been over fifty years of age before he left the town.  He is survived by a widow, and three daughters, one of whom is Mrs Thomas Leitch of Stanley Place, Saltcoats.  Mr Boyd was a member of St Andrew’s Presbyterian church at Hamilton, and his funeral was largely attended by representatives of the congregation.


Marriage of Wilfred Paulin and Mary Hannan, Victoria, 1923

Victoria Times, 24 September 1923, page 6


Charming in its simplicity was the wedding that took place on Saturday evening when Miss Mary Hannan, elder daughter of Mr and Mrs J Hannan, of Pembroke Street, became the bride of Mr Wilfred Paulin, of Vancouver.  The bride has been a member of the office staff of the Victoria Daily Times.  Mr Paulin passed his boyhood in Victoria, his father, the late Mr George Paulin, being well-known in musical circles.  The marriage ceremony was performed at the home of the bride, by Rev Dr Leslie Clay, and gained added interest from the fact that Dr Clay also had officiated at the marriage of her parents.  The bride entered the room on the arm of her father, looking very sweet in a frock of navy blue satin gaufre, with a corsage bouquet of Ophelia roses and fern.  Little Kathleen Hannan attended her sister as bridesmaid in a dainty frock of apple green organdie.  Miss Bessie Forbes at the piano, gave a fine rendering of the Wedding March from “Lohengrin”.  Mr George Paulin, of Vancouver, attended his brother as best man.  Following the ceremony a buffet supper was served, the tables being effectively arranged with Michaelmas daisies and white chrysanthemums.  Later Mr and Mrs Paulin left for Vancouver on the first stage of their wedding trip.


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