Smyth and Pickford
These branches of my tree are through my great grandmother Nina Smyth Clifford (born 1895 in Worcester) as in many instances was given a previous family surnames, I was led to believe that this branch had high positions in society and thought they would be easy to track down, but they have been playing a game of hide and seek, as they had "money" they had the ability to move around which makes tracing them more difficult. I am still working hard on many of these branches - I am working in conjunction with David Smyth on the Smyth branch.
My 2nd great grandmother Nina Smyth (born in 1859 in Littlehampton) father was Hugh Blagg Smyth, and for many years was a vicar at St Micheals/All Saints at Houghton Regis. Below is a photo of the church today, and we discovered a mention of him in a local history book and and was part of a line up in one of the photos, but it is difficult to tell which one he is. Hugh was also a local magistrate and had studies at cambridge, this record of Cambridge shows they have a portrait of Hugh which i would dearly love to either see or own.
Houghton Regis Church
Nina Smyth had a cousin called Ethel Smyth - thanks goes to Lewis Orchard. for a lot of help in this area. There are several sites dedicated to Ethel as she was quite a well known woman. Ethel was well known for being a musician and composer, as well as writing several books and being a suffragette and notably composing "March of the Women" and then conducting her fellow inmates ( in Holloway Prison, where they had been arrested due to their suggragete actions), with a toothbrush.with a rousing rendition. Ethel was made a Dame. Most of Ethel's books were autobiographic, I have been able to borrow one from the special libraries collection (as they are now out of print) and have been given some photocopies of extracts from another two. In these they mention that she carried out a genealogical study and inherited a pile of family papers - these would be like gold dust to me but unfortunately through all the information i have gathered from various sources no one knows where these papers ended up!!! I am now hot on the heels on this chase and suspect they may be in the Ann Arbour Library at Michigan University as they hold a archieve called the Ethel Smyth Special Collection - so if anyone is visiting Michigan University please let me know!
Dame Ethel SmythDame Ethel Smyth
Hugh's father - Edward Smyth (my 4th great grandfather) born 1768 in Liverpool, he was a Commander of the Macclesfield Squadron of the Cheshire Yeomanry, where he had served in both Spain and india, and after leaving the army was a director of the Norwich branch of the Bank of England. Edward was also Mayor of Macclesfield in 1816. He was married to Sarah Pickford in 1806 in Prestbury, Sarah is descended from the family that began the Pickfords Removal business, I also ordered an issue of Markyates Past which was dedicated to the Pickfords family to help fill in some of the family information., in both these areas the local records are full of Pickfords. with Prestbury Cheshire being a central place. I have 7 children listed for Edward and Sarah, and i believe there were more siblings, also considering the fancy middle names that Hugh Smyth and his brother John Hall Smyth (i presume Hall is another surname further back that i haven't discovered yet) gave to their children, that some of the middle names where i just have an initial may be more of a mouthfull! For example some of the fancy names include Augusta stracey, Hugo William Nairne Scott Smyth, Napier, Dawes and Honoria! John Hall Smyth was also prominent In the army and among his descendants is some honored war heroes. John served in india and had some of his children there.
My 5th great grandfather (Edwards father) Thomas Smyth was born 1738 in Dublin , but came to Liverpool and was mayor in 1799. He was married to Eliza Blagg in 1762 in Prestbury, and her family owned Fence House in Macclesfield and large amounts of land, in one of Dame Ethels memoirs she mentions that Prince Charles stayed with the Blaggs at Fence House in 1745. Thomas died in 1824 and is buried in St Thomas.. Thomas Smyth bought this branch of the Smyths back to england. He was also involved in banking. Most Gentlemen that held position such as Mayor or involved with banking were involved heavily in the slave trade as Liverpool success as a city was built upon the money that came in from the slave boats from the sugar plantation. Part of Genealogy is accepting whatever you find or discover, even though it may hard to think about the actions of your ancestors. Thomas Smyth owned boats that were used in the triangle of slavery (leaving Liverpool dockyard with goods, and returning with sugar/coffee etc from the plantations in the carribean) and while in liverpool discovered dates for his ships leaving/arriving at the docks , plus whatthey were carrying. Unfortunatly Thomas Smyth also campaigned to keep slavery going.
Thomas's family had been in Ireland for many generations, where the Smyth family is very large, mainly filling all the positions of Bishops needed in the area, also many Smyth family members were MPs or Police.. The family had emigrated to ireland in about 1630 (a William Smyth - my many times great grandfather!)from the village of Rossdale Abbey, where they were granted the land after the dissolution of the monasterieswe have visited this village while on holiday and loved the area but was unable to find out any further info on my smyths apart from a brief mention in the guidebook for the village, all that remains of the abbey now is a belltower and sundial. This family in Ireland is also my link to a very interesting find of my 9th great grandfather being Valentine Greatrakes - who was a celebrity in his day (the 1600s) for being a faith healer - and was known as "The Stroker". My cousin Luke while studying for his history degree took my initial research and completed his disertation on Valentine, who was a very fascinating individual. If you are interested in any aspects of Valentine Greatrakes or have any links to him, please contact me as would be either happy to fill you in, or find out more.
David Smyth is working hard to tie up all the different Smyth branches (and there are many of them!) please see the following sites for more on the smyths.
Hill Hall in Theydon Bois (which can be visited through English Heritage) was lived in by Mary Hunter - Dame Ethel Smyths sister, but curiously Hill Hall had many Smyths living there in the 1600s which gives us the reasons to suspect that different smyths are in fact related.
Other surnames on these branches include the Blaggs, Sayers, Lightfoot, Layotn and Hill.