Skip to main content

I have always wondered about my ancestry. I always knew who my ancestors were as far back as my English and Hungarian great-grandparents on my father's side and my Italian grandparents on my mother's side. I would say, "I'm half Italian, one-quarter English and one-quarter Hungarian." I knew people spent a lot of time tracing their families ... that the information was out there ... but I never made the effort to even try because my maiden name was Smith. Surely, I thought, it would be impossible to find the origins of my Smith ancestry in England. I'm here to tell you that I was completely wrong!

I have to credit the series, Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC, with inspiring me to finally make the effort to try and discover my ancestry going further back than my great-grandparents. After watching a few episodes, one evening in April last year I went to, created an account (which was free for two weeks), and entered the basic information that I knew about my family. And just like the commercials say, those little green-leaf hints soon had me finding records as well as family members already included in other people's trees where I could find information like birth, marriage and death dates, and references to census records and other data already found by others researching the same ancestors.

That other commercial that says, "You don't have to know what you're looking for, you just have to start looking," is a bit misleading. As someone who has been researching for forty years can tell you better than I: The Perils of Online Genealogy. As this diary will demonstrate, you do have to know a little bit about what you're looking for, but you still have to start looking.

In the past 10 months I have encountered quite a number of people who have been researching their family history for decades. In many ways I count myself lucky that I only recently started my research because I have the advantages of using the Internet. In fact, to date all my research has been done at home on the computer. I know that I will eventually reach the point where I will need to visit my local Family Search Center to go further in my research, but the more information I find online, the further away that day becomes. Every day more records are being indexed, transcribed and added to directories online, making it easier to fill in the gaps in my family tree.

I have been exceedingly successful tracing my Smith roots in England because there are a lot of records available to peruse online. I wanted to write this diary now because I had some major revelations in the last couple of days, and I want to document them while they are fresh in my mind. I thought that sharing the information I have found as well as the processes I went through to put all the pieces together might help others by giving them ideas of how to search they might not have tried before, especially anybody searching for their ancestors in England. I have found that tracing my ancestry is like trying to put together a giant jigsaw puzzle where you may never find every single piece, but you can fill in major sections.

The Smith family story was that my great grandfather Poppy Smith left his wife in England and ran away to the United States with his paramour Lil and his three children. I will leave what I discovered about the timeline of that story for another diary as it would take up too much space here. The point is that early in my research, I found the record of Poppy Smith's birth at with the option to order a copy of the record. wanted $37.50 and that hit me as too expensive. Fortunately, I found out that I could order the record directly from the General Registration Office in England for £9.25, which works out to about $15. Two weeks later the certificate arrived and told me that my great grandfather, William Hamilton Smith was born on 10 Dec 1876. His father was William Hamilton Smith and his mother was Jemima Ellen Smith formerly Jenkins. The lesson here is, skip the middlemen. It may seem obvious to those who have been researching for years, but it's not something a newbie might think about. Look for a way to order records directly from the source.

Armed with specific information about Poppy Smith's birth, I added it to my tree at This opened up more information because it turned out that others had done extensive research into the Smith line. Silly me thinking all these years I could never find my Smith heritage. I soon discovered that Poppy Smith's grandfather was Wade Hampton Smith, who had married Ellen Letitia Tabberer in 1845. I ordered the marriage record and waited another two weeks.

Wade Hampton Smith, carpet manufacturer, married Ellen Letitia Tabberer, spinster, on 9 Sep 1845 in the Parish of Leamington Priors in the County of Warwick. His father was David Smith, Coal Merchant, and her father was Frederick Tabberer, Surgeon. Without going into too much detail, it turns out that Wade Hampton Smith was working for his brother, Jacob Turberville Smith, at the time of his marriage. Jacob dropped his first name and became just Turberville Smith. He started the Turberville Smith carpet manufacturing company in London that held a royal warrant to carpet royal palaces until 1912.

I've come to think of Wade Hampton Smith as the member of the family without much direction early in his life. Just six years later, when the 1851 England Census was taken, his occupation had changed to Coal Master, most likely working for another brother, the successful coal merchant Samuel Wagstaff Smith, who evidently was also an inventor:

To Samuel Wagstaff Smith, of Leamington, iron-founder, for his invention of improvements in apparatus for supplying and consuming gas. — [Sealed 9th June, 1840.]

This invention relates to the method of constructing gas burners, whereby the gas to be consumed, is, in its passage to the point of ignition, heated by the flame produced by the burner.

Patent - Newton's London Journal of Arts and Sciences

But I digress. It is the Tabberer family that I want to tell you about. I don't know why but I have been frustrated for months with my research into this line of my family tree and obsessed with filling in the blanks. After their marriage, Ellen Letitia gave birth to two sons, Howard Wade Hampton Smith (1846) and William Hamilton Smith (1847). The latter was Poppy Smith's father. Sadly, Ellen died in the Spring of 1848.

Slowly but surely over the following months I was able to fill in some members of the Tabberer family. The one piece of information I had to start with was that her father was Frederick Tabberer, a surgeon. I should now explain the process I have developed for researching people in England. Basically, I have three sites open on my computer. The first, obviously, is with all of its wonderful tools and search features. But that's not really enough because as I soon found, the search indexes are based on fallible transcriptions. If I thought finding the Smiths in my tree was going to be difficult, it is nothing compared to trying to find a Tabberer because the versions of the surname in the indexes are a nothing short of a nightmare. I've found family members indexed using the surnames: Tabbener, Sabberer, Dabberer, Gabbern, Taberer, Tibbens, Sabbever, and Subberner. Fortunately, another wonderful feature of is the ability to add an editing comment, which makes it easier for others to find the records in the future.

The second site I always have open when searching for ancestors in England is the FreeBMD Search. This site has spoiled me, making my searches in the U.S. and other countries for records all the more frustrating because this tool isn't available. Since 1837, England has created a quarterly index of all the Birth, Marriage and Death records. As explained at the site, "FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records." It is an ongoing project, and new records are being added regularly. My successful experience finding people indicates that they have already completed the transcription of the majority of the records through about 1940.

Finally, I use Family Search for the valuable parish records, especially those dating prior to 1837. Once again, records are constantly being added, so information that wasn't available to me last year is now available or will be in the future.

The drawback of the second two sites is that all you get is a transcription, where in many cases you can look at the actual document at However, you want to use all the tools at your disposal and the combination of these three have been very useful to me. As edwardssl pointed out:

One of the most frustrating things I run into while researching my family history is finding existing pedigrees and compilations containing no source information.  While the information may very well be correct, I could encounter difficulty verifying the accuracy of the information if the citations are missing.  The marriage date as shown in your cousin's genealogy of Uncle Henry and Aunt Gertrude may have come from their marriage certificate, from county records, from an index, or from the memory of Aunt Gertrude’s 98-year old sister, Gesina (yes, I had an great-Aunt Gesina).  Who knows?  And who knows if it’s even correct?

The Genealogy and Family History Community - Fun with Sources and Citations

I learned very quickly that when I find a tree at with family members that match those in my tree, not to trust the dates and names, if sources are not included.

When I identify a new person, I look them up at FreeBMD. The records are already at (because FreeBMD is included in their database), but it is easier to find the person at FreeBMD first, enter the exact year of Birth, Marriage or Death, and wait for that green-leaf hint to show up at The ability to narrow the search with in a certain time frame, and limit to certain counties or districts is what makes this a useful tool. I should explain that FreeBMD records events by quarters of the year. For example, when I ordered Poppy Smith's birth certificate, I had to first determine which "William Hamilton Smith" he was. I already knew his birth date was 10 Dec 1876, so it was easy to identify that he was the one in the Oct-Nov-Dec 1876 quarter, West Bromwich district, Volume 6b, Page 844. Others are not so easy to identify.

Marriages are a whole different story. Until about 1910, when they started including the spouse's surname with each record, what you see is a list of all the people on the same page of the record book. For example, searching marriages for William Hamilton Smith provides three records: Mar 1872, Jun 1897, Jun 1908. Poppy Smith was born in 1876, so that eliminates the first possibility. My grandfather, the youngest of the three children, was born in 1906, which eliminates the last possibility. So, I click on the page number of the record, which generates a list of all the marriages recorded in Aston, Volume 6d, Page 738:

Deeley, Florence Eliza J
Hodges, Jessie
RICHARDS, Oscar Owen
SMITH, William Hamilton

I hadn't discovered the FreeBMD site when I first started researching. I wish I had because I took a totally different, more complicated route, to figure out that my great grandmother was Florence Eliza Jane Deeley (I ordered her birth record). As you can see, sometimes you have use the process of elimination to figure determine the spouse. Often, its the census records that help because you'll find the record of William H Smith with the wife Florence, and several children with names and birth dates that match your family tree. Other times it's not that simple, especially when you get into records earlier in the 1800s when their were 8 names on a page.

And yet again, I digress, but I think it is important to share these processes to help others who are just starting to research their own family trees. Slowly but surely I started building the Tabberer line of my tree. I had quite a few people added to my tree when one night last October I found this post online:

If anyone has done any research on the Tabberer's in England, I sure would appreciate the help. My Ancestors said they were from Leicester on US censuses, but I don't know where to begin.

This family keeps using the same names, William, Osmond, Albert, George, Herman, Herbert, Emma, James and Gregory. If you've done research into Tabberer's with those names I'd love to share my American findings.

Osmond Tabberer from Leicester

The reason I found the post was because I had been working on the Tabberer family in my tree, and filled in a lot of the pieces. I subscribe to the World Membership for $29.95 a month at, so I was able to see the actual records available, especially the census data. Naturally, I responded to the post, and even wrote a private message, but never heard back. I guess he gave up, which I can understand would be easy to do. Here is part of my response:

I can tell you the name of the father of your ancestor, Gregory S. Tabberer who came to the U.S. with his wife, Eleanor Jessie. His father's name was William Tabberer (b. 6 Jan 1781) who was married to a Mary, but I haven't been able to track down her surname yet.

William's father was Joseph Tabberer (also married to a Mary, whose surname I can't locate). So here's what I figured out:

Joseph and Mary Tabberer had at least four sons: William (1781), Edwin (1790), Frederick (1800) and .... drum roll ... Osmond (1802). Frederick and Osmond were surgeons. I am a direct descendant of Frederick, which makes us distant cousins (many times removed). Frederick's daughter Ellen Letitia Tabberer married my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Wade Hampton Smith.

Your Great-Great (I don't know many) Grand-Father, Gregory S Tabberer, had a younger brother named Osmond (1836-1907) who was a successful hosiery manufacturer in Leicester. His son, George Osmond Tabberer (1861-1927) inherited the business and seems to also have been successful with hit.

Re: Osmond Tabberer from Leicester

As you can see by last October I had made a lot of progress. I had figured out that Frederick Tabberer was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. I knew that Frederick's first wife was Mary Ann Perkins, they were married 10 May 1823. Ellen Letitia was the eldest of their four children. Mary Ann died in 1832. In 1859 Frederick at the age of 59 married Emma Astell after their first child was born in 1856. Then Frederick died just before or right after their fourth child was born. I traced all of Frederick's descendants. Other people at also had Frederick in their trees, but there was one piece of information they all lacked ... Frederick had a wife in between Mary Ann and Emma.

This is another important lesson. Always read the documents for yourself! Reexamining the 1841 England Census last month, it hit me that he had another wife. Previously I had just glanced at the record, satisfying myself that F Tabberer, male, age 41, surgeon was the right person to link to in my tree. A closer look revealed that just below his name was E Tabberer, age 41, female. Searching death records at FreeBMD I found Elizabeth Tabberer who died in 1848. I haven't ordered the record yet, but will to confirm absolutely my suspicions that she was his second wife. Another point about researching England records. The 1841 England Census was the first one conducted and it gathered a scant amount of information, but as this example demonstrates, it does give you clues to help you find other information.

And I still haven't got to the point of sharing the great epiphany I had over the last few days, but I'm finally getting there. I was so obsessed with the Tabberer line that I had created a large spreadsheet of all the records available at the LDS site, including these pertinent ones:

William Tabberer
Baptism/Christening: 06 Jan 1781 — SUTTON ON THE HILL, DERBY, ENGLAND
parents: Jas. Tabberer, Mary

Edwin Tabberer
birth:    17 Apr 1790 — SUTTON ON THE HILL, DERBY, ENGLAND
parents: Joseph Tabberer, Mary

Judith Tabberer
Christening: 02 Dec 1798 — SUTTON ON THE HILL, DERBY, ENGLAND
parents: Jos. Tabberer, Mary

Frederic Tabberer
parents: Joseph Tabberer, Mary

Osmund Tabberer
parents: Joseph Tabberer, Mary

William Tabberer
spouse:    Mary Fisher
marriage: 19 Oct 1812 — Sutton On The Hill, Derby, England

Judith Tabberer
spouse:    John Bates
marriage: 06 Feb 1817 — Sutton On The Hill, Derby, England

I had also seen this one, but dismissed it because the father's name was incorrect:

Mary Tabberer
Baptism/Christening: 21 Mar 1793 — SUTTON ON THE HILL, DERBY, ENGLAND
parents: Jas. Tabberer, Mary

I had traced Frederick and William, but still a mystery to me were the other siblings, Edwin, Judith, and Osmond. I still haven't found anything more than the fact that Judith married John Bates in 1817.

A few days ago one of those infamous green leaves popped up on Edwin, and I noticed that another person who is tracing the family had added a wife, Mary Potts, and a son, Henry Thomas Tabberer. I was able to complete Edwin's descendants, but couldn't find any record of Edwin himself after the 1841 census, except that there was a city directory record for 1834 that indicated he was a wine & spirits merchant. Also gnawing at the back of my mind was an Alexander Tabberer on my spreadsheet, who was also a wine & spirits merchant.

This comes after the fact of the rest of the information I am about to expand upon, but I did confirm that Edwin Tabberer married Mary Potts when I found this website entry late last night, transcribed from the Parish newspaper:

Wednesday, 17 July 1833, Derby Mercury 5290
MARRIAGES – 1. Yesterday, at St Mary’s, Nottingham, by the Rev Archdeacon WILKINS, Mr E. TABBERER, wine merchant, Burton-on-Trent, to Mary, second daughter of Mr POTTS, Clumber-street, Nottingham.

My Broxtowne Hundred Journal, Page 34

At this point it was time to expand my search outside the realm of the websites that provide birth, marriage and death data. To the Google I went. I soon discovered a blurb in the personals section of an Australian newspaper dated 26 Dec 1856. It said: "Edwin Tabberer: News from England. Apply to Mr. Roberts, Wellington Parade, Richmond Road." This is an indication that perhaps Edwin had taken off to Australia. The census records indicated that his wife and son were living with the wife's mother in 1851, and it was just the wife and son in 1861. And then I found a biography of a man named W. N. Waldram:

In the autumn of 1842, he entered into an engagement as assistant manager with the late Mr. Alexander Tabberer, an extensive wholesale wine and spirit merchant. That gentleman being in a delicate state of health, the greater part of the management devolved upon Mr. Waldram. On the death of his colleague, in November, 1845, Mr. Waldram undertook the management of the entire business, on the part of Mr. Tabberer's family for the succeeding seven years. In 1852, they left the firm, with which Mr. Waldram has continued, as principal and managing partner, to the present time. His only partner is now about retiring, when Mr. Waldram will possess the whole of an extensive and highly respectable business connection.

Oddfellows' magazine, Volume 4

Except for the fact that there was no birth or christening record at the LDS site, my intuition and the only thing that made sense was that Alexander Tabberer was another sibling of my 4th great grandfather Frederick Tabberer ... so I made that assumption and added him to the tree. I already had gathered a lot of information about Alexander. The 1841 census told me he was born about 1796. He had married Sarah Boultbee on 6 Feb 1817 . They had four children, Lucy (1821-1848), Sarah Jane (1822-???), Alexander (1824-???) and Albert (1825-???). His first wife Sarah died at some point because in 1830 he remarried:

Text:     Alexr. Tabberer, spirit merchant, & Charlotte Gasking, lic. 30 Sep 1829
Book:     Derby all Saints' Marriages, 1813--1837. (Marriage)
Collection:     Derbyshire: - Registers of Marriages, 1558-1837a

Alexander and Sarah had one child, Benjamin Tabberer (1831-1910), who was an architect. Are you following me so far? I hope so because this gets a little more complicated now. I will have to come back to some of these people shortly. At this point I turned my attention to the elusive Osmond Tabberer ... the man so many of the Tabberers that followed were named after (remember that post I found last year?). I had searched his name at the Google before. All I had from ancestry was the 1841 census record. Osmond Tabberer, age 40, surgeon, Sarah Tabberer, age 35, and Sarah Tabberer, age 7. I also found what was most likely his death record, Jul-Aug-Sep 1845 Quarter.

Friday night I hit pay dirt with an article by J. Henry Bennet, M.D., Formerly Obstetric Physican to the Royal Free Hospital, that appeared in a medical journal:

... Having decided on pursuing medicine as a career, after a couple of months' amateur attendance at Guy's Hospital, under the guidance of the late Mr. Doubleday, of Blackfriars Road, a family friend, I was apprenticed to one of my uncles, Mr. Osmond Tabberer, of Repton, Derbyshire, in 1834.

My uncle took me without a premium, discharged his assistant, and said, "You are older than apprentices usually are, you look older than you really are, and considering the circumstances under which you come to me, I expect you to make yourself as useful as possible, and as soon as possible. On my side, I will do all I can do to bring you up to the mark." Mr. Tabberer was a clever, well informed, country surgeon, brought up in the practice from early youth by an elder brother, to whom he had succeeded. He had only been two winters in London previously to passing at the College of Surgeons and at the Apothecaries' Hall, and told me that during those two winters he had principally attended to anatomy and surgery. His knowledge of his profession which was considerable, although more practical than theoretical, had been acquired all but entirely in the arena in which he had lived and practised. Repton is a large agricultural village, with a well-known free grammar-school. He was the leading practitioner; he had under his care the village, the school, many circumjacent parishes (it was before the days of Unions), many farmers, many agricultural squires, many clergymen, and some noblemen. He was keen-eyed, discreet, judicious, and had the local medical traditions, no doubt, of hundreds of years to guide him. This one of the great advantages of the apprenticeship system which we, no doubt, are losing through its gradual disappearance. The practical knowledge of one practitioner was handed down to posterity, through his pupils or apprentices, in a plain, forcible manner, which no hospital teaching can replace. Mr. Tabberer was as good as his word. He spared no pains to teach me pharmacy and the rudiments of the profession, supplying me with books and carefully guiding me in my studies.

On my side, I did not either spare myself, being anxious to come up as soon as possible to the standard laid down for me. It was at first, a great fall to pass from Sophocles, Euripides, and Xenophon, from Virgil, Horace, and Tacitus, to the work of a country surgery. I had to learn how to bleed on a cabbage-stalk, to draw teeth on a sheep's head (as a preliminary to daily surgery practice in those lines); to make thousands of pills, boluses, and powders, gallons of infusions and tinctures. I had to wash bottles every Saturday afternoon, and keep the surgery neat, when it had been swept in the morning.


The lessons I learnt from Mr. Tabberer during that time were of inestimable value, and have remained a guide and a beacon throughout life. They have left in my mind also a feeling of deep esteem and respect for the well-informed country general practitioner of this or any country. Full of practical knowledge in medicine, surgery, and obstetrics, generally left to themselves in emergencies, the better informed are quite equal to the position both ready and able to minister to the sufferings of humanity in all their forms, and that without assistance from the medical, surgical, or obstetrical heads of the profession. Such was Mr. Tabberer, and I have since met many like him. Many of those to whom we look up as the legitimate heads of the profession would be very much embarrassed were they called upon thus to undertake, unsupported, the sole charge of one of these large general practices — of a large body of men, women, and children.

Modern Therapeutical Tendencies; Purgatives and Tonics; The Aprprenticeship System

I can not begin to describe the chills that went down the back of my neck when I read that. It was 4:00 a.m. in the morning and I was just taken aback by that passage because it rang so true to me. I don't want to get off into the realm of the mystical, but a few weeks ago I had this dream about a young man training as a doctor with an older man, learning how to mix medicines or something like that. Reading the passage about all his duties was just surreal. I knew I was on to something. I had to keep digging.

So Osmond Tabberer had a nephew with the surname Bennet. I will save you some of the details of what I went through performing numerous searches trying to I finally confirm the fact that James Henry Bennet was the nephew of Osmond Tabberer in my family tree. I just wasn't sure if Osmond Tabberer was a maternal or paternal uncle, until I found a biography of James Henry Bennet:

BENNET, James Henry, M.D., was born at Manchester in 1816. His father was an influential manufacturer, connected with the discoveries in textile fabrics, which marked the beginning of this century and was the first to obtain a patent for uniting cotton and wool in one fabric, and was the inventor and patentee of the cloth named by him "corduroy." After his father's death his mother took him to Paris to be educated, by the advice of M. Fernaux, an eminent French manufacturer, and a friend of the family. He was placed at a French college ("St. Louis"), and remained there until the age of seventeen. He was then apprecenticed in the usual course to Mr. Ormond [Osmond] Tabberer, a maternal uncle, a clever surgeon, practising at Repton, in Derbyshire. With him he remained until the age of twenty, when he returned to Paris for a visit.

Men of the time: a dictonary of contemporaries, containing biographical notices of eminent characters of both sexes by Thompson Cooper

Wow! James Henry Bennet's father invented corduroy. I wanted to find his father's name (not to mention his mother's name), so one of the searches I did was looking for the name of the person who invented corduroy. All I came up with was a bunch of those sites where people have posted questions ... nobody had the answer. Well, at this point I knew the the surname of the man who invented corduroy was Bennet -- with one t, not two.

An Obituary by the Obstetrical Society of London offers some more clues:

...Early left a widow with a young family, Bennet's mother took up her residence in Paris after huer husband's death, and sent her son James Henry, who was then seven years of age, to the St Louis College, where he obtain an excellent classical education. Having determined to study medicine, James Henry entered at Guy's Hospital, but very soon left it to become apprentice to his uncle, Mr. Osmond Taberer [Tabberer], in Derbyshire.


He took the degree of M.D. Paris in 1843, when he was twenty-seven years of age, and in the same year he settled in practice in Cambridge Square, Hyde Park, London. He afterwards removed to Grovenor Street. In 1844 he became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians-Accoucheur to the Western General Dispensary, but he resigned the appointment in 1850, owing to his positive inability to attend to the duties, so numerous had the patients become, to quote his own words. He became the Physician-Accoucheur to the Royal Free Hospital in 1853, and remained connected with it until 1859.


Shortly after settling in London he married a daughter of Mr. Joseph Langstaff, F.R.C.S. formerly President of the Medical Board of Calcutta. He is survived by her. He had no children. He died at the age of seventy-five at La Bollène, Alpes Maritimes, France, on July 28th, 1891.

Transactions, Volume 34 By Obstetrical Society of London

The obituary goes on to enumerate all of his accomplishments, listing all of the books and articles he wrote, primarily in the field of gynecology. There is also another obituary which I am linking to here, because eventually somebody searching the Google for the Tabberer and/or Bennet family history after I publish this will come across this diary and want all the information they can find.

As you can see from the quoted parts, I learned that his mother had a "young family" when James Henry's father died and that there was also a wife. How inconsequential women were in those times ... mentioning her father's name was more important than telling us her forenames. (Her name was Julia Jane Langstaff.) In addition, the fact that James Henry was 7 indicates the father died around 1823, which is interesting because something else happened that year.

Before I proceed further with what researching my 1st cousin 5x removed, the eminent Dr. James Henry Tabberer revealed, let's go back for a minute Alexander Tabberer and his children. Remember, I mentioned early I would come back to some of those people? At this point I had discovered the marriage record of Alexander Tabberer's daughter, Sarah Jane Tabberer to William John Acton (surgeon). One of the witnesses was James Henry Bennet. (An image of the record was available at ... no $15 and 2-week wait.) Also, when James Henry Bennet died, the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar stated.

The Will of James Henry Bennet late of the Ferns Weybridge in the County of Surrey and of Mentone Alpes Maritimes in France M.D. who died 28 July 1891 at La Bollene Alpes Maritimes was proved at the Principal Registry by Benjamin Tabberer of 13 Basinghall-street in the County of Middlesex Architect the sole Executor.

Alexander Tabberer had to be a sibling of William, Edmund, Judith, Frederick and Osmond because if James Henry Bennet's mother was Osmond's sister, it would make sense that  Alexander was their brother, making his children the first cousins of James Henry Bennet, who witnessed Sarah Jane's wedding and named Benjamin the executor of his will. I'm satisfied enough with that conclusion to leave Alexander and his descendants in my family tree.

But who was  James Henry Bennet's mother? Judith had married a man named Bates in 1817. Bennet was born in 1816, and his father didn't die until he was 7 years old. Then I remembered that entry for Mary Tabberer that I had dismissed because the father was Jas. and not Joseph. The date worked though. Her baptism/christening was on 21 Mar 1793. That would fit into the other dates of the siblings between Judith and Alexander. So I went back to the LDS site and searched again. This time I found:

Mary Taberer
Baptism/Christening: 10 Mar 1793 — SUTTON ON THE HILL, DERBY, ENGLAND
parents: Joseph Taberer, Mary

***See Update Below. James Henry Bennet's mother was not named Mary.

How frustrating it is sometimes to have to rely on the transcriptions done by other people. The only answer that there was yet another sibling, Mary born in 1793.

I took a break and actually worked on my website for a change, but then late last night I couldn't resist the urge to hit the Google again, and found this:


Francis Willis Fisher (1821-1877), son of Freeman Fisher (1787-1860) and Mary Godfrey Bronson (1802-1885), was the nephew of the painter Alvan Fisher (1792-1863) and of the physician John Dix Fisher (1797-1850). At the beginning of December 1846, having made an appointment with a Parisian dentist for the extraction of a tooth, F. Willis Fisher resolved to experiment the new application of sulphuric ether. The dental office where he went with other professional men could have been that of his American colleague, Christopher Starr Brewster (1799-1870). Brewster was a pioneer in the field of anaesthesia. On 22 January 1847, he successfully administered the ether to his patients. Brewster was a friend of the dentist Horace Wells (1815-1848) and of James Henry Bennet (1816-1891), Vice-President of the Parisian Medical Society (1841-1843), then the Physician-Accoucheur to the Western General Dispensary of London (1845-1850). On 8 June 1848, Brewster married Anna Maria Bennet. Two children were born from this union: Henry Bennet Brewster and Mary Catherine Brewster.

[The role of the dentist Christopher Starr Brewster and of certain physicians of American origins in the debut of anesthesia] Hist Sci Med. 2000 Jul-Sep;34(3):231-48. French.

The abstract is for an article in a medical journal written in French, and required a payment to see it. Later I did find it in Google Books, and read through it. It's in French, and pretty much all the pertinent information I needed from it was already included in the abstract I quoted. I found a better explanation of the roll Christopher Starr Brewster played in the discovery of surgical inhalation anesthesia here:

The Place des Etats Unis is an area where Joint French and American efforts are presented in sculptured form. With this joint recognition in mind, one can begin to understand why a monument to Wells exists in Paris.

In December 1846, Wells left for Paris, his purpose being to procure paintings for resale (a business enterprise he was attempting to begin) and to present his claims as the discoverer of anesthesia. On this trip, Wells met Christopher Starr Brewster (1799-1870), an American dentist in Paris. Brewster was well connected in Paris and greater Europe because he was the personal dentist to the French Royal Family, the Emperor of Russia, and other prominent persons throughout Europe and Russia. It was Brewster who would bring Wells' proof of his discovery of anesthesia before the Parisian Medical Society, and the positive acclamation Wells' received from them had a great deal to do with Brewster's prominent place in society. On January 12, 1848, Brewster would pen a letter to Wells, telling him that the Parisian Medical Society had given Wells all honors for the discovery of surgical inhalation anesthesia. Unfortunately, by the time this good news reached America, Wells had committed suicide. Even though Wells' unfortunate death came before the general use of nitrous oxide in surgical procedures, his efforts were not forgotten in Paris. For later in that century, building on Wells' previous endeavors, Paul Bert would add applicability to this discovery.

Other Monuments to Inhalation Anesthesia

Anna Maria Bennet? Where did she come from? How was she related to James Henry Bennet? She had to be related to him ... right? Back to the Google where I found a legal opinion from the New York Supreme Court in Andrews v. Brewster et al, dated February 14, 1890. I wish there was a short version, but basically Christopher Starr Brewster's brother made a mess of things. If you want to read the whole narrative it is very interesting, but I will only quote here the parts that helped me fill in my family tree, because let's face it, this is turning into an extremely long diary.

Christopher S. Brewster died in Paris in December 1870, leaving a widow, Anna Maria Brewster, and three children, Louis S. J. Brewster, Henry B. Brewster, and Mary Catherine Brewster. Louis S. J. Brewster was the only one of these children who was of age at their father's death. He came of age in April 1870. Henry B. Brewster came of age on the 8th November, 1871, and Mary Catherine Brewster in March, 1877. Christopher S. Brewster left a last will and testament, duly executed, on the 26th of February, 1858, with a codicil executed on July 17, 1858; but they were not proved until June, 1888, 18 years after the death of the testator, and 4 years after the death of Seabury Brewster, the executor and trustee therein named. By this will Christopher S. Brewster appointed his wife, and his brother Seabury Brewster, and his brother-in-law J. Henry Bennet, of London, his executors; and, after ...


In 1873 the widow of Christopher S. Brewster died in Vienna, and in October of that year Louis S. J. Brewster married Blanche Landgraf Vance, the plaintiff in this action. Louis S. J. Brewster died in April, 1879, leaving his widow, the plaintiff in this action, and no children. By his will which was dated October 8, 1873, and which was admitted to probate, he devised and bequeathed all his property to the plaintiff, and appointed her executrix. Henry J. Brewster and Mary Catherine Brewster, called familiarly in the family Harry and Kate, had attained full age, and the last named had married M. de Terrouenne, a citizen of France. Henry J. Brewster appears to have lived in France.

The New York supplement, Volume 9 By West Publishing Company

Bingo! Anna Maria Bennet was James Henry Bennet's sister. Remember I said earlier that something else interesting happened in 1823, the year that Bennet's father died. It was the year that Anna Maria Bennet was born.

Look at all those names and dates. Thank you, New York Supreme Court for writing such a detailed legal opinion! Wow, these Bennets are something. Their father invented corduroy, and the husband of Anna Maria was instrumental in the discovery of surgical inhalation anesthesia.

Suffice it to say that plugging all these new details into my tree made little green "hint" leaves start popping up all over the place. Adding the daughter, Mary Catherine (Kate) Brewster, flagged an 1871 England Census record for mother and daughter living in London. Adding Anna Maria Bennet and her husband Christopher Starr Brewster lead me to their marriage record. They were married in England and an image of the record is available at Her father's name was James Bennet, and now we all know the full name of the man who invented corduroy.

Another interesting read was the book, The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings by R.W.B. Lewis, who was a professor of American Literature at Yale. He died in 2002 at the age of 84. There are enough pages from the book at Google books that I am going to have to order it for the sheer delight in reading this memoir especially knowing that some of the people mentioned in it were my cousins. But, I already found an error in the history, which may also explain why so many of the trees I found at make the same error, repeating the one made above in the Abstract I linked to. Remember it said that Christopher Starr Brewster and Anna Maria Bennet had two children. We learned from the legal opinion written by the New York Supreme Court that there were three children, and indeed I have already found actual records verifying the existence of all three children, but that is not the way R.W.B. Lewis tells the story:

Christopher Starr married an English woman, Anna Bennet; their only son, Henry, born in 1850, grew to be the most distinguished figure in this phase of the family saga. Christopher died in Versailles amid the confusion and discomfort of the Prussian occupation.

To the Ango-American strain in the Brewster blood, young Henry Brewster—or H.B. as he was called—added a German component in 1873, by marrying Julia von Stockhausen, the older daughter of the Hanoverian ambassador to Versailles. Baron von Stockhausen was himself a grandson of Baron (or Freiheirr) von Munchausen, that eighteenth-century spinner of tales, and an early admirer and friend of Frédéric Chopin and George Sand.

The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings by R.W.B. Lewis

Only son? What? But there was another son, Louis Seabury James Brewster. Doesn't he count? Sure he died in 1879 at the young age of 30, but he existed. Maybe you knew H.B. after Louis had died, but he was still their son. He existed. I saw his application for a U.S. Passport with his signature, date and place of birth, and other information on it. I wonder if I write to the publisher, if they will add a footnote to the next printing of this book?

Finally, to all this another great find this weekend (remember that marriage announcement for Edwin I mentioned earlier as being after I found all the stuff to follow), well take a look at what I found before that:

Wednesday, 25 May 1831, Derby Mercury 5159,
MARRIAGES – On Thursday, 17th instant, at St Mary’s, Nottingham, by the Rev Dr WILKINS, Mr Osmond TABBERER, surgeon, to Sarah, second daughter of Mr CULLEN, Long Row.

My Broxtowne Hundred Journal, Page 27

The maiden name of Osmond's wife, Sarah, was Cullen. Another mystery solved. But there never seems to be an end. While I was doing all this research since Friday night, something else has been gnawing at the back of my mind. It was this sentence in that first medical article I linked to written by J. Henry Benet: "Mr. Tabberer was a clever, well informed, country surgeon, brought up in the practice from early youth by an elder brother, to whom he had succeeded."

At first, I erroneously assumed the older brother was Frederick. But the more the subject started creeping to the forefront of my thoughts the more I realized it couldn't be because of the birth dates. Frederick was born in 1800 and Osmond was born in 1802. Hardly a large enough difference in age to train another surgeon. We can eliminate Edwin (b. 1790) and Alexander (b. 1796) because we know that they were wine and spirit merchants. That leaves the eldest brother William (b. 1781). However, that doesn't make sense because in the 1841 census William was a Publican (tavern keeper), and in the 1851 census he was a Farmer of 37 acres at the age of 70.

There is also a gap of nine years between William (1781) and the next sibling Edwin (1790), so it is very conceivable that I am still missing possibly more than one sibling. I think I may have figured out who the elder brother doctor was. In one of my Google searches using the search terms "Repton" and "surgeon" and "Tabberer" I found several references to "Tabberer Mr. Benjamin, surgeon, Repton." One with the spelling of Taberer was in Pigot's Derbyshire Directory 1821-22.

Like I said at the beginning of all this, it's like trying to put together a giant jigsaw puzzle where you may never find every single piece, but you can fill in major sections. It's a good thing I've always enjoyed piecing together puzzles. I'm off to see what more I can find out about Benjamin Tabberer, Surgeon, Repton.

UPDATE: Further searching at LDS revealed a marriage record for Frances Taberer. So there is yet another sibling in addition to Mary and Alexander.

Frances Taberer
marriage: 15 Aug 1813 — SUTTON ON THE HILL, DERBY, ENGLAND
Spouse: James Bennet

Originally posted to hungrycoyote on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 10:28 PM PST.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

    by hungrycoyote on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 10:28:48 PM PST

  •  wow! very interesting (10+ / 0-)

    My first cousin once removed did a lot of work for me and still is.  

    I had a few names in a Bible with death dates and a guy on the net had the birth dates.  He was a bit miffed as I think he had spent some money here and there.

    My dad had written down a few things, too.

    I shared what I could with all my cousins.

    I have pictures of my great, great grandparents on my dad's side...two sets...that seemed amazing to me and pictures of the two great grandfathers who were in the Union Army in the Civil War.  

    It is interesting.  

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 11:00:53 PM PST

    •  Thank you! (9+ / 0-)

      You can spend a good bit of money doing this. I try to be judicious. I think the $29.95 a month for the world membership at is worth it, especially since I'm doing so much research in England right now. People whose families go back to the 1600s in the U.S. can probably get by with the $19.95 plan. I try to only order the certificates that will give me the information that I can't find anywhere else ... mainly the maiden names of the women. I'm waiting for a birth certificate right now that hopefully will reveal one of those maiden names.

      When I started last year all I had was my mother's address old address list, her wedding invitation list from 1954, and her directory of family birth dates. It was enough to get me started.

      The one frustrating thing about all this is not being able to find any pictures, especially when you're dealing with people who lived in the 1800s. After spending countless hours learning about the lives some of these people lived, it would be nice to have pictures to go along with it.

      Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

      by hungrycoyote on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 11:36:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Regarding pictures (5+ / 0-)

        Given how extensive your research has been, I would guess that you checked with local photography businesses.  About 15 years ago I was amazed to find that I could order a print  of a photo of two of my g-g-grand-uncles in their Civil War uniforms from the successor (x2, x3, x4 ??) of the photographer who took the photo.  

        Thanks for sharing your work and, especially, your procedures with us.  I certainly found a wealth of info in this diary.  I was one of those lucky duckies whose various lines had already been extensively researched so I started out with great info.  Unfortunately, it made me kind of lazy and when I found the family stories that so fascinated me I didn't attempt to extend the names, dates, places, etc.  This Group has re-energized me and I am now drowning in "stuff" but with little knowledge of how to do the original research myself.  

        Oh sure. Whenever I face a budget crisis the first thing I do is ask my employer to cut my salary.

        by figbash on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 08:57:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I'm relatively knew to this and checking (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          local photography businesses is not something I have ever thought about.

          Most of research so far as been in England, but I'm in Florida. It is something I certainly will remember when I work on other sections of my tree. Also, if I can figure out how to find photographers in England, I'll give that a shot too.

          Thank you so much for a wonderful suggestion!

          Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

          by hungrycoyote on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 01:33:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting stuff. (6+ / 0-)

    My father's side goes back to Lithunia, all of which that was not already out was killed off by the nazis (in large numbers). My mother's family was Hungarian and German...but very small. Once they left to come here I do not think any relatives remained in Europe.

    I know many of my relatives have done extensive family history work, we used to have a family newsletter and the like back in the 70s. But as time passed it faded away.

    •  I know of two other members of my (9+ / 0-)

      family doing research on my mother's side, and one who has done some on my father's side.

      I have impressed members of my family with a lot of the information I have found on my father's father's side. It's those Hungarians on Dad's mother's side that are going to be a real challenge. I was able to track down their arrival in the U.S. and learned that my great-grandmother's maiden name was Hotykai. Only one of her brothers had children, and somehow the spelling of the surname was changed to Hotykay. There is literally only one line of the family left in this country. I am hopeful that once I get out of this house and go to one of the LDS Research Centers I will be able to find records going back before the family came to the U.S. I was able to find out the name of the village that the family came from in Hungary.

      Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

      by hungrycoyote on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 11:41:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pretty cool, (10+ / 0-)

    but I have a dilemma in that I am adopted. I know more about my adoptive family of course, but also enough about my birth parents to make it interesting. I just don't know who I want to "belong" to. I almost want to make up my own history, or herstory as it were.

    •  I think the question you need to answer (10+ / 0-)

      is the title of this diary, "Who Do You Think You Are?"

      A couple of years ago before I ever started this, I was talking to my sister and she mentioned that she had found a message in an ancestry forum where somebody was looking for information about our mother's father ... the Italian side of the family. I found the post and responded. I think it was a few months before I heard back. In the meantime talking to my mother's sister, we were able to figure out who the person was. Since I started my research, we have been in touch exchanging information.

      Here's the thing. I've never broached the subject with her, but my aunt told me that she was adopted, and has spent years researching her adoptive family tree. Since I never discussed it with her, I don't even know if she has even looked into who her biological parents were. It is not important to me.

      I just accept the fact that she accepts and rejoices in the kinship of the family she grew up with. In the scheme of things she is my 2nd cousin, and I'm thrilled to have somebody to exchange finds with and use as a sounding board when trying to figure out the family connections.

      So if you feel a kinship to your adoptive family, and you want to know more about where they came from then research their roots. If you feel a desire to learn more about your biological roots then start researching that. Or you could simply not choose, and do both. Just understand it's a long process. The further back you go, the larger the branches become. There is never an end to it.

      Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

      by hungrycoyote on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 12:16:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I imagine that the answer is “both” (5+ / 0-)

      I'm not adopted, but my dad and his brother were fostered by two widow ladies after their mom died. One of them was still alive when I was a kid, and because my dad's side of the family had sort of lost touch with their relatives, my dad's “Aunt Carrie” was always an important part of my mental image of my family history. So, while it has not been a high priority, I have spent some time on Ancestry and elsewhere looking into her circumstances and past, even if it could only be placed very tangentially into my family tree.

      Another example: my dad was the product of the marriage of two widows, and I knew my dad's half-sister, my Aunt Geneva. She had a different dad than my dad, yet, I've spent some time researching her dad, because it seems interesting and relevant even though there is no biological connection.

      Families are both social and biological entities, and so why shouldn't family histories be the same?

      •  You point out an excellent reason to (0+ / 0-)

        track other members of the family. First, I have been able to identify maiden names of the women simply because I'll find a census record where a sibling is vising the family when the census is taken.

        Second, as I mentioned at the beginning of the diary, Poppy Smith came to the U.S. with Lil, a woman he was not married to. He was still married to Florence in England.

        I included Lil in my tree because she was always Granny Smith to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As it turns out, I was able to piece together how the family came to the U.S. in 1922 by tracing Lil's ancestors. Short version, it was one of Lil's brothers who came first in 1906.

        Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

        by hungrycoyote on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 01:38:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Linked to the Group now. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash, hungrycoyote, larmos

    I'll be back in about an hour to read your diary.  Thanks for posting!

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" - MLK

    by edwardssl on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 06:59:09 AM PST

    •  Thank you! Apologies for taking so long (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to write a diary for the group. It's not the diary I was planning to do first, but it was important to me to write down all this information while it was fresh in my memory.

      Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

      by hungrycoyote on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 01:40:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This a great Diary for showing (5+ / 0-)

    both the joy and the frustration of research.  I have to laugh when I watch Who Do You Think You Are because they make it seem so easy and everything moves back in a straight(ish) line.  

    I've found that I've had to become an amateur historian to figure things out.  I feel as if, at this point, I could get an advanced degree in French colonial history in the Illinois Country.  Not that I want one, but sometimes I think it.  

    And the fact that you found information in a Medical Journal rings so true to me.  I also recently found a good reference in a Medical Journal that has set me off on a path entirely different from what I was previously pursuing.

    For people like us, Google Books is a godsend.  

    Thanks for sharing this with us.  

    •  Thank you. Have you found instances in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your research where the history is wrong and you can prove it? One example is the "only son" reference at the end of the diary. When researching another branch of the family, I found errors in Wikipedia entries. I think at some point I may need to become a contributor to Wikipedia.

      The medical references don't seem to end for me. Did you catch the part at the end of the diary where Henry Brewster married Julia von Stockhausen, whose father was the grandson of Baron von Munchausen?

      All this research sure has made obscure history very interesting.

      Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

      by hungrycoyote on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 01:52:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing of great import (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        None of my ancestors were related to any famous people.  

        "All this research sure has made obscure history very interesting."

        That really is the truth.  I've regularly thought that making students work on a genealogy project for a specific time period (not even necessarily their own ancestor) would teach them more history than a textbook.

  •  My sister married a Smith (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'll have to send this to her. Thanks!

  •  Really good diary -- with some good info (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, hungrycoyote

    for me to use.  My grandmother was a Smith who married a Smith.  They were also of English descent so your hints might stand me in good stead.

  •  My mother trained at Guy's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, hungrycoyote

    I'm passing diary along to her. She's the genealogy researcher in the family.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site