In the spring of 1856, at Witcham, in Cambridgeshire, three siblings were baptised together, Alfred, aged three, Sevinah, aged two, and the baby, Despair, as the children of Montague and Elizabeth Smith. The couple can be found in the 1871 census, where the father is recorded as Montague Gray, Elizabeth and all the children as Loveridges. Elizabeth was almost certainly the daughter of William Smith and Kerenhappuch Loveridge, baptised in 1836, which explains the use of both surnames. Montague is likely to be the Montague Maclaine, son of Charles and Elizabeth, baptised in 1833 in Hexton, Hertfordshire, close to the border with Bedfordshire. Both date and location, as well as the little used forename, indicate this is a probability. The use of the name Gray may well be the result of his mother marrying again, or of his being brought up by his uncle and aunt, George and Caroline Gray.
Montague and Elizabeth had a large family, and by 1871 they had added Charles, Moses, Absalom, Stephen, Jurania (?) and Rosanna to their brood. It has been suggested that Montague used the alternative forename of Joseph since a baptism for their son, Stephen, is recorded in 1866 as the son of Joseph, deceased, and Elizabeth Smith, vagrant. However, what Elizabeth may have told the cleric was rather different from what was recorded on the birth certificate, which states that Stephen was the son of Montague Loveridge and Elizabeth Loveridge, nee Smith. Since Elizabeth had probably explained a solitary condition by being widowed, it is no less likely that she would also lie about her partner’s name, using an ordinary forename, rather than a distinctive one.
However, the main confusion regarding Montague has arisen because his daughter, Sevinah (Sabina), is recorded in this 1871 census as Lavinia. There is a marriage record for a Lavinia Loveridge, a Lavinia who named her father as Hookey Loveridge, and it has been suggested that this is Montague’s daughter. In fact, she married as Sabina Loveridge, daughter of Montague, on 29th April 1876, to John Savage, labourer, son of Robert, at Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. She had already baptised their three children in the same location just two months before: John, born 2nd June 1872, Julia Ann, born 24th July 1875 and the baby, Elizabeth, all recorded as children of Sabina Loveridge, spinster.
Settled life for Sevinah/Sabina meant working as a charwoman, whilst her husband continued as a labourer, and by the 1881 census they have another daughter, Fanny, aged two years. Ten years later Sabina, fated to have her name mis-recorded, is listed as Lalina/Salina, still working as a charwoman, with Julia, working at a carpet factory as a rug maker, Elizabeth, labouring, probably on a local farm, and Fanny, 12, Robert, nine, Herbert, seven, all at school. Sabina certainly needed her elder daughters to be working, since John Savage had died in 1890, at about 37 years of age, leaving her with five children to care for.
1890 was also the year that the Lavinia Loveridge, daughter of Hookey, married Henry Gray as his second wife at Sharrington, in Norfolk, his first wife, Sarah Ann Waterfield, having died, leaving her husband, too, with a young family to care for. This Lavinia, daughter of Hookey, continued living in the Norfolk area, caring for her step-children, as well as those she and Henry had together, and she is still there in the 1911 census, in Partridge’s field, Aylsham.
Sabina, meanwhile, can be found living with her son, John Savage, his wife, Margaret, and their two children, Alfred, seven, and a baby, Maggie, in 1911 at Chatteris; Fanny, aged 21, is still with the family, now working as a rope maker, as is 17 year-old Herbert. In this census, as in others, Sabina’s name is corrupted, and has been recorded as Lillian.
These two separate women, both at one time recorded as Lavinia Loveridge, seem to have created a suspicion that Montague used the name Hookey as an alternative. In actual fact Montague never appears to have used any other forename, although seemed quite happy to use Smith and Loveridge in the baptisms and birth records of his children with Elizabeth and appears to have adopted the surname Gray, although baptised as a Maclaine.
Following the death of his first wife he formed another partnership with a Martha/Margaret Sherriff, marrying in a double wedding with her brother, Riley, and his partner, Maria Dunn, in 1888 in Huntingdonshire. He declared himself to be a bachelor, a Gypsy and a hawker, aged 55, the son of Charles, also a hawker. His second partner was the daughter of James and Amberetta Sherriff, and together they had two sons, Charles (the first Charles appears to have died young) and a young Montague. Montague Gray is still in the Huntingdonshire area the following year, as he obtained a pedlar’s certificate there, claiming to be 50 years old.
By 1911, however, the family are in Pickwell with Leesthorpe, Melton Mowbray, in Leicestershire, and their son Charles has married a Catherine, with whom he has two children, Montague and Amberetta. Montague Gray was to remain there for the rest of his life, dying in the workhouse infirmary in 1815. All the documents relating to Montague, such as prison records, newspaper articles and the record of his death, refer to him as Montague Gray. There is no suggestion in any of these records that he used alternate forenames – although surnames, particularly in the registration of his children with Elizabeth, and in earlier census records, are quite another matter.