Sunday, December 20, 2009

William Smith (abt - )

I've written before on Grace ROBERTS, who married William SMITH. William SMITH is a difficult name but I've accumulated information. I'm descended from their daughter Grace.

From her birth certificate, Grace SMITH was born 14 Mar 1870, Lower Campbell Street, Sydney to parents William SMITH and Ellen Charlotte nee ROBERTS. Ellen was in fact mis-written, and should have been Helen Charlotte - Helen and Ellen being homophones. Later certificates all state her name as Helen.

Along with Grace, NSW BDM indexes reveal two other children born to William and Helen Smith in Sydney around this time:

1870 – Grace Smith
1871 – William E Smith
1873 – Alfred E Smith

I now have birth certificates for both Grace and Alfred, and learnt the following about her parents.

I've written quite a few times on Helen Charlotte Roberts (see latest at She was born 1836 in London, England. Her parents were William Richard and Charlotte ROBERTS. Her arrival in Australia not fully determined, mainly because she seems to have had at least one sibling also live in Sydney and their arrival can't be found. She died in Sydney in 1918, aged 82 years, with the maiden name ROBERTS listed.

William and Helen Charlotte married at the Wesleyan Parsonage, Surry Hills on 16 Jan 1869. While few details are on their marriage certificate, the birth of their daughter Grace provides their address in 1870: Lower Campbell Street Sydney. This is confirmed in the Sydney Sands Directory for 1873 showing 'Smith, William, 23 Campbell St, lower'. Lower Campbell St is located in what is now ostensibly Sydney City, south of Hyde Park. Today Lower Campbell St does not appear to contain residences - when the plague struck Sydney in 1900, many dwellings were demolished, and photos were taken of the residences demonstrating the slum-like nature of the dwellings - those remaining were the terrace-houses typical of the time.

William Smith, a drayman, born abt 1835 in Hamburgh, Germany. His parents are not currently known. Apart from the marriage in 1869 and birth of three children in 1870, 1871 and 1873 I had not found any records of William (or rather, so many that I don't know which is him). Given that he was born in Hamburgh, William Smith may be the English translation of his true name (though there are many other possibilties). Information in the birth certificates of Grace (1870) and Alfred Elphinstone (1873) SMITH is consistent, and William's occupation is given as 'Drayman' (1870) and 'Van driver' (1873).

His death was also difficult to identify given the number of William Smith's. His daughter Grace Smith’s marriage certificate to Walter Herbert Hodge in 1897 revealed Grace’s address as 383 Liverpool St, Sydney and that her father William Smith was deceased. Given that William and Helen had the three children, it is likely that he died shortly after 1873.

Searching the digitized National Library of Australia newspapers, which has recently made the Sydney Morning Herald available, I have finally found William's death announcement:

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 6 July 1874
SMITH. July 4, at Liverpool, late of Lower 23, Campbell-street, Surry Hills, Sydney, William Smith, leaving an affectionate wife and 3 children to mourn their loss, aged 38.

This leads to his death certificate:
5536/1874, Smith, William, Age 38 Years, died Liverpool, Liverpool

The index suggests his parents names were not given. If he died away from home (and Liverpool was a long way from Sydney in 1874) perhaps no personal information was known by the person who registered his death. I'll order the certificate in the hope of learning more. Likewise, I could find no funeral announcement for William, and the death certificate should provide information.

His arrival in Australia not yet known, but his death certificate may give some insight. Here's an intriguing idea though:

 William's third child is Alfred Elphinstone - quite distinctive middle name. In 1840 a five-year-old William Smith (born abt 1835) arrived in Sydney NSW with his family on the 'Elphinstone'. The father was George and the mother Eliza. The family listed their religion as Baptist (which fits with the marriage of William to Helen Roberts at the Wesleyan Parsonage). Their native place was, however, given as Aughall (Ireland). Quite a curious coincidence for such a rare name though!

Time, as always, will tell.

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