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Friday, 29 July 2016

John Ingram Smith - From Butler to Bankruptcy: Surname Saturday

John Ingram Smith was born on Unst in the Shetland Isles,on 22nd January 1847, the youngest child of Gilbert Smith  and Catherine Mouat. He was baptised  by Rev John Ingram, whose surname was adopted as a middle name by future generations of Smiths.  

John Ingram Smith left Unst with his family in the 1860's.  At the age of 20 in 1867 he married Isabella (Ella) Edward  and over the next thirteen years worked  in service as a butler and later as a hotel keeper at large houses and hotels in the east of Scotland.    In that time, eight children were born.  Census returns and the birthplaces of the children helped trace his many moves between jobs.  

1868 - Lily Florence Edward Smith born at at Balhill, Logie Buchan, Aberdeenshire
1869 - Arthur Ingram Edward Smith born at Auchenblae,  Kincardineshire
1871 - Edward Stewart Ingram Smith born at Craigrothie, Ceres, Fife 
1873 - John Lawrence Gilbert Smith born at Old Machar, Aberdeen
1874 - Ella Edward Ingram Smith born at Old Machar, Aberdeen

In 1875 John was hotel keeper  at the Crown and Anchor, Martial Street, Aberdeen, but another move soon followed.  For  fourth son Hardy Robinson Smith was born in 1876 at the Gordon Arms Hotel, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, followed two years later by the birth of third  daughter  Edith Grace Robinson Smith.  The family still hold ten letters of reference on John's role as an employee, with the example below written in 1875 commending  him for being "sober, diligent and honest". 

 So by the age of 30, John was a  hotel proprietor at the Gordon Arms, Inverurie. 
 This advertisement appeared regularly throughout 1877 in the Aberdeenshire press. 

But success did not last long.  A random search for John's name on British Newspapers Online revealed a new angle on John's life. For  by September 1879. John's  business was in trouble, with the sale of "The whole Hotel Furnishings and Hiring Plant, belonging to the Trust Estate of Mr John Ingram Smith".

    Advertisement in the Aberdeen JournalSeptember 1879. 

This must have been a very difficult time for the family, as three year old Hardy had died a month before the saleUpheaval followed for John, Ella and their six young children. By the start of 1880, however,  John was back in service as a butler, living at East Lodge, Skene House, Aberdeen, where daughter Jessie Margaret Mary Jane Smith was born. 

It is noticeable,  with the children's names. how loyal the Smith family was to people who had played an important part in their life, beyond immediate family members:  For
Ingram - came from the name of the Shetland minister who had  baptized their father;  and Lawrence was the Christian name of the Shetland doctor;    Hardy Robinson was the name of John's employer in Aberdeen, with Grace the name of Hardy's wife.  

But by 1882 another move took place, this time, leaving Scotland behind and returning to  the role of hotel keeper in Yorkshire  at the Cattle Market Hotel, New Wortley, Leeds.  Here tragedy again befell the family with the death of young Ella in March 1883, aged nine.  
But newspaper reports again showed that John was finding being a business man challenging,  with the report below from the Yorkshire Post:  2nd August 1895.  
Did circumstances prompt another move or was John a restless individual always seeking a change?  For by 1896 he was in the seaside resort of Blackpool, running a guest house at various addresses and becoming  the Catering Manager of the Winter Gardens, built in 1896  and still a major entertainment venue in the town. 
 John looking very smart in formal evening dress 

But the past caught up with him.  For in October 1900 "The Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser" reported a court case with John Ingram Smith  (53), a waiter at the Tower Restaurant, Blackpool  charged with obtaining credit  without revealing that  he was an undischarged bankrupt. 

In December John was discharged for a technical breach of the law  

In the 1901 census, John was listed as a caterer, living with his wife Ella and eldest daughter Lily.  Ten years on, however, his occupation in the 1911 census  was given as Furniture Dealer. He was thought to have retired from the Winter Gardens on ill health grounds and went on to help his son in his furniture business. John's  wife Ella died in 1919 and John six years later in 1925,  preceded by the deaths over the years  of  five of their eight children - Hardy, Ella, Edith, Jessie and Edward.  

John Ingram Smith was laid to rest in  in Layton Cemetery, Blackpool. 


Surname Saturday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers 
encouraging bloggers to write about their family history 

The information on John's business affairs only came to light in preparing this blog post, and is included here with the permission of the Smith family.

I searched British Newspapers Online (included in my FindMyPast subscription), initially looking for an obituary for JohnIt is an extensive  resource that features small local newspapers besides the national titles.  You can also access the  collection on the GenesReunited website and at  Britisih Newspapers Archive. 


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