Some Gypsy weddings in Surrey

Surrey’s Gypsy, Romany and Traveller community have been present in the county since the sixteenth century but despite 500 years of history, theirs is often difficult to find. Contrary to popular opinion, some Gypsy couples did marry in church and in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries some of the local clergy made efforts to bring local travelling families who were encamped in the area to the altar.

In this video Alan Wright, author of the ground-breaking book Their Day Has Passed: Gypsies in Victorian and Edwardian Surrey, which was researched predominantly at Surrey History Centre, tells us more about some unusual Surrey Gypsy weddings and how they highlight the challenges of researching Gypsy ancestry.

Download a pdf (PDF) copy of a transcript for this video.

The Gypsy weddings featured in this video are for Elias Taylor and Louisa Cooper, 12th June, 1882, at St Mary’s Church, East Molesey, and Aaron Smith and Cordelia Cooper, 30th November, 1908, at St Mary’s Church, Walton on Thames.

Also featured are Gypsy couples who married at St Peter’s church, [Old] Woking, 27 November to 19 December 1906:

On November 27th, 1906 (postponed from 8th September 1906) Ernest Baker, Labourer, son of Jim Baker, Labourer, married Amy Williams, daughter of Abraham Williams, Labourer.

On December 11th, 1906 the following couples married:

James West, Labourer, son of James West, married Florence Kate Wickham, daughter of Oliver Wickham.
James Baker, Labourer, son of James Baker, married Clara Eales, daughter of John Eales.
Henry Williams, Labourer, son of Abraham William, Labourer, married Mary Ann Baker, daughter of Charles Baker, Labourer.
George Baker, Labourer, son of James Baker, married Alice Gregory, daughter of Reuben Gregory.
John Williams, Labourer, son of Abraham, Labourer, married Annie Eales, daughter of Peter Eales.

On December 17th, 1906 the following couples married:

Charles Baker, Labourer, son of James Baker, married Mary Williams, daughter of William Williams.
Moses Williams, Labourer, son of Abraham Williams, married Rosie Baker, daughter of James Baker.

On December 18th, 1906 Walter Baker, Labourer, son of Jim Baker, married Patience Williams, daughter of Abraham Williams.

On December 19th, 1906 William Sines, Labourer, son of James Sines, married Patience Carey, daughter of Levi Carey.

Download a pdf (PDF) copy of the full list of bride, groom and father’s names and occupations for Gypsy couples who married at St Peter’s church, [Old] Woking, 27 November to 19 December 1906.

Marriage register entry for Elias Taylor and Louisa Cooper, 12 June 1882, St Mary’s Church, East Molesey. Their ‘rank or profession’ is described as ‘gipsey’ (SHC ref 2381/2/3)

Marriage register entry for Elias Taylor and Louisa Cooper, 12 June 1882, St Mary’s Church, East Molesey. Their ‘rank or profession’ is described as ‘gipsey’ (SHC ref 2381/2/3).
Click on the image to see a larger copy.

Marriage register entries for the weddings of the Williams and Baker families, 17 & 18 December 1906, at St Peter’s Church, Old Woking (SHC ref WOKP/3/6)

Marriage register entries for the weddings of the Williams and Baker families,
17 & 18 December 1906, at St Peter’s Church, Old Woking (SHC ref WOKP/3/6).
Click on the image to see a larger copy.

Their Day has Passed: Gypsies in Victorian and Edwardian Surrey by Alan Wright can be ordered online or from any good bookshop. Alan is happy to give talks about his research and can be contacted at [email protected].

Geoff Burch is a local author and a descendant of James Baker and Clara Eales. Having researched his Romany roots he now gives talks about the Romany lifestyle of his ancestors, with David Rose, local historian and author. Find out more at: http://ramblingrailwayman.co.uk/presentations.html.

Surrey History Centre holds a range of archives, photographs, and published works which illustrate the fact and fiction surrounding the travelling community over the centuries. These sources can help you research Gypsy, Romany and Traveller community and family history in the county, find out more on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website.

Most Surrey Church of England parish registers from 1538 to 1987 (baptisms to 1912, marriages to 1937 and burials to 1987) are available to search and view online on https://www.Ancestry.co.uk.

Many Gypsy, Romany and Travellers are known to have served in the armed forces during the First World War, find out more about Surrey’s Gypsy servicemen on our Surrey in the Great War website.

For further information please contact:
Surrey History Centre
130 Goldsworth Road
Woking
Surrey
GU21 6ND
Tel: 01483 518737
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: https://twitter.com/surreyheritage
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/surreyheritage
Web: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/culture-and-leisure/history-centre/

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