Just another Smith…

Stratford_upon_Avon_church_SWAbout a month ago I received my American Ancestors magazine in the mail and last weekend I decided to finally get it off my reading pile. The magazine is part of my membership in the NEHGS (New England Historical and Genealogical Society), along  with The Register. It is very rare that any surnames of interest to my particular research ever pop up in these publications. So imagine my surprise when I am reading along in the ‘Genetics and Genealogy’ section, when the combined surname and location they are writing about starts bells dinging in my brain. I pulled out my trusty iPad, loaded my ‘Reunion’ app, and searched away. Sure enough there they were, exactly as I thought.

Once again Esther Newell brings some cool factoids to the Shaw line.

As I have mentioned before to my reader, we have at least four ancestral Smith lines in my family, (maybe even five, I keep losing count). The particular Smith line I was reading about in this article was in regards to the Smiths of Hartford and Farmington, in Hartford County, Connecticut.

Esther Newell’s mother was Abigail Smith. Abigail’s parents were John Smith and Abigail Wadsworth, and it appears that this John Smith was the great grandson of the Quaker emigrants Christopher Smith and Agnes Gibes who had emigrated and settled in Rhode Island.

In my own research on this particular line I could only find as far back as William Smith b.1617 who married Elizabeth Stanley[?] in 1644 in Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut. This new information gave me another generation and place of origin, proven by DNA and church records. Hence the title of the article I had been reading ‘Genetics and Genealogy.’

Of course none of that is the really cool part. It appears that these Smiths came from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. If the place seems familiar, how about this – Shakespeare anyone? In fact, Christopher and Agnes were married on the 1st of May, 1616, in the same church that William Shakespeare had been buried about a week prior.

Warwickshire, Stratford upon Avon, Trinity Church

Church in background where the Christopher and Agnes were married.

So what was this article about? The focus of the article I was reading was connecting two Smith families, the Hartford Smiths of Connecticut and the Providence, Rhode Island Smiths. Were they related? And if so, how? There is a SmithConnections Northeastern DNA Project found at FamilyTreeDNA that is trying to sort out the many different Smith lines that show up in New England. Christopher’s line is labeled NE18 in this database, and it appears that 23 different participants match his yDNA. The descendants of the Hartford Smiths match each other, and Christopher’s yDNA, so Christopher must be of some kinship to the Hartford matches. It was assumed he was a cousin.

This is where documentation comes to save the day. One of the authors of the article had learned of the marriage record of Christopher and Agnes found in The Registers of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the County of Warwick Marriages, 1558-1812, and it was online. They proceeded to check on the baptisms and burials in the book and found two of the known children of Christopher and Agnes, so no surprise there. But then was shocked to find all the Hartford Smith names listed in the book too, as children of Christopher and Agnes.

Their eldest child, William Smith, bap. 1627 in Stratford-upon-Avon, is our line of descent from Christopher and Agnes. (William’s sister Mary married a Partridge, and his sister Susanna married a Wilkinson, both surnames that are also in our tree.) So the mystery of the connection of the two families was solved.

Apparently, the most curious question about the family, that hasn’t been answered to anyones satisfaction, is why were Christopher and his wife Quakers, and none of their children had any such affiliation. Well, that and the fact that the two generations appeared to have separated, with no documented connections appearing in the records in America. Maybe their religious differences split them up.

I guess there will be more to read about this family in a future publication. I look forward with great anticipation to reading it.

Source:
Genetics and Genealogy: William Shakespeare and the Christopher Smith Family, by Kathleen Cooper Smith and Christopher Child; American Ancestors, volume 17, no. 1, page 50-53.

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2 thoughts on “Just another Smith…

  1. Glad you enjoyed the article, cousin Jen. Christopher’s wife is recorded as Alis/Alice Gibbes, though I suppose some records called her Agnes. My mom’s paternal line descends through Joseph and Lydia Huit Smith. He was a younger brother of William and both were sons of Christopher.

    A year ago, I went to Stratford-Upon-Avon and spent an wonderful afternoon in the church and town. I saw the old worn baptismal font that Shakespeare and all our early Smith ancestors were baptized in. It is old and worn looking way beyond its years. It seems that someone used it as a bird bath in their yard for 150 years before someone else discovered the significance of the object. It was returned to the church for display, but a newer font is used in services today. Got to tell you, it made my heart skip a beat to stand in the hallowed church of our ancestors. Kitty Cooper Smith: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cooper-1

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    • Kitty,

      Thank you for commenting on my post regarding the Smiths, I quite enjoyed the article it was great to finally read about someone who is actually an ancestor in the magazine, and it is nice to meet another cousin. Thanks for the heads up on Agnes/Alis. I prefer the name Alis/Alice, so I will change her name in my records. Probably saw Agnes once and it stuck in my head.

      My bucket list is composed mostly me visiting all the places where my ancestors came from, along with Italy, (of course), so I am envious you were able to get to Stratford-Upon-Avon.

      Like

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