The Parker Sisters

In the 1861 census a family of Travellers camping out at Stoke Hammond in Buckinghamshire, was to cause some confusion for researchers with regard to two of the tribe listed. The family are mainly Smiths, with two Drapers present, and the young man, Israel Draper, is described as a stepson or a son-in-law; this has led to the idea that his wife, Naomi, is with her family and so was formerly a Smith.

Actually it is Israel who is with his family and Naomi who is travelling with her in-laws. Esther and Henry Smith, described as a travelling brazier, have a large family, but Esther had been married before, to a Nelson Draper, and their son, Israel, had been baptised on 28th October 1834, the son of ‘Nelson Draper and Esther,’ so he is, of course, Henry Smith’s stepson. Esther had been born a Loveridge, the daughter of Henry, ‘a vagrant,’ and his wife Anne (formerly Halford); she was baptised on 17th April 1814 at Chicheley, Buckinghamshire.

And Naomi? She had been a Parker before her union with Israel Draper, as evidenced in the records of the couple’s children, but when her birth was registered in 1840 she was recorded as Naomi Ellis, mother’s name Parker. Naomi Parker always referenced her birthplace as Crawley, in Buckinghamshire and is the sister of Comfort Parker, daughter of Emma, who was baptised in 1848 at Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire, giving the parents’ names as William Ellis Parker and Emma Parker, and probably the Susannah Parker, daughter of Emma, born in North Crawley in 1832 and baptised in 1835. (All three Parker girls formed unions with members of the Loveridge tribe.)

William Ellis and Emma Parker also had a son, William Ellis, and he is found with his father, his wife and daughter in the 1881 census at Horse Lane Hill, Toddington, Bedfordshire, where his father claims birth in 1809 at Brill, Buckinghamshire, and is described as a widower and travelling tinker, and William is with his partner, Jane Smith, and their daughter, named for his sister, Comfort, who had been born in 1880 in Hertfordshire. There is a baptism in Brill, Buckinghamshire that is surely that of the elder William, where a Traveller, Jane Ellis, baptises her son in 1815 – is this a late baptism, or William is feeling rather older than he is? Either are possible – but their first child, Susannah/Susan is born in 1832 and baptised three years later; this suggests late baptisms are common within the family, especially as William would have been very young at his daughter’s birth if he had been born at the later date.

Israel/Nelson and Naomi were caught twice in the 1871 census, at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire with children Isabella, Nelson, Comfort, Abraham and Mirinnie (registered as Drapers, but using Parker in the census); naming a daughter Comfort is, of course, a tribute to Naomi’s sister, not, as has often been supposed, Israel’s sister. The family are also at Princes Risborough, again recorded as Parkers, with Comfort Parker and her husband Alfred Loveridge, listed with the surname Lover, together with two sons, Ambrose and Isaac.

By 1881 Israel/Nelson, a ‘travelling tinker or Gypsy,’ is with Naomi and children Mirinnie, Abraham, Etty, Spencer, Amelacha and Lemontina, this last will be baptised in 1882, together with her baby sister, Rosina. They are at Haddenham, in Buckinghamshire, still using the name Parker.

Comfort and Alfred, recorded as Parkers, are found in Suffolk by 1901, with children Rose, Patience, Amelia, Cinderella, nephew Levi, a private in the militia, and a grandson Thomas. The nephew is probably Alfred’s, and is actually a Loveridge, but he, too, goes down as a Parker. By 1911 the couple are at Thaxted, in Essex, living with their married daughter Rose and her family, still using the surname Parker, Alfred is described as a pedlar. Ten years pass, and, at Bishop’s Stortford, in Hertfordshire, Alfred has reclaimed his surname, and is now an umbrella maker, whilst Comfort still uses Parker; with them is a grand-daughter, Alice, a pedlar.