Word-Smithing from Smyrna or Lyrical lines from Lydia {2}.


A year ago, ‘Hanging by a thread‘ traced the delicate strands which led to establishing the family of John Harper Smith junior, master mariner {1}. I speculated that the reasons he and his spouse couldn’t be found in 1871 and 1881 England census was that they could be on voyages out of British waters.

Now there is some indication of this, in the shape of a poem of his penned from port:

(Read by clicking on any image and navigating – increase browser size for larger view or use the ‘full image’ link.)

Jennie/Jane is the oldest daughter, age 7 in 1865. Also mentioned are Nellie, otherwise Ellen, age 6, Kate age 3 and Jack/John a tender one year old (and no doubt classed a rogue in verse 15 due to typical baby antics). Presumably wife Hannah was ‘at home’, wherever that was, at this time.

The reference in verse 16 to “dear aunts” .. ” all living there” (implying being looked after by them) while mother was away is intriguing. The girls are with an unknown and unmarried Elizabeth Hannible/Hannibell at census time – in Yarmouth indeed just a few entries away from aunt Matilda B Isaac in 1871 (and 1861 for Jane too). In 1861, while Jane is in Yarmouth the parents are both in Liverpool. Hannah comes from that port, so their stay could be for family or nautical reasons. Still no sign of Ellen in 1861 or Jack in 1871. Another aunt or two hiding somewhere with them?

Thanks to Vivien for supplying the above scans.

Notes

1. Also see: Entirely to the Water from Birth – bit of a poetical turn of phrase in John Harper Smith senior’s mariner certificate entry!

2. Smyrna is now known as Izmir, Turkey. It was once part of the Lydian empire. ( I did Classical Civilisation at A level!)

3. Perhaps some new Cutlock & Co categories are needed for this article – file under Records/Poetry, Places/At Sea.

Have something to add?