James Smeed was the child of Elizabeth Smeed, father unknown, born June 9th, 1839 at Lambeth, Surrey.
At the time of the 1841 census James was with his grandparents, Caroline & William Smeed, at Brooklands Farm, East Grinstead. James was listed as ‘son’.
There is a christening for James, illegitimate son of Elizabeth Smeed on October 14th, 1849 at St. Thomas, Lambeth and Elizabeth’s address was given as Isabella Street, Lambeth, and she was a servant. Christened on the same day, at the same church was the child (Ann) of Elizabeth’s brother, William and his wife and their address was also Isabella Street.
James was still living with his grandparents at Brooklands Farm in 1851 but not described as ‘grandson’.
By 1861 James & his grandparents had moved to Fairlight Farm, East Grinstead. James was working for his grandfather on the 260 acre farm.
James was still living & working at Fairlight Farm in 1871 & helping his 80 year old grandfather on the farm.
On March 4th, 1878 James married Amy Simmons at St Mary Magdalene, Peckham, Southwark, Surrey. James gave his address as East Grinstead & his father’s name as William Smeed, farmer (presumably referring to his grandfather). Amy was christened October 28th, 1838, at Worth, Sussex, the daughter of Caroline & Thomas Simmons, a farmer. Amy gave her address as Hook’s Rd & witnesses at the wedding were Amy’s sister Mary Gorsuch & her husband John Gorsuch.
James & Amy were living at East Court Cottage, East Grinstead in 1881 & James was a farmer. By this time they had 3 children – Mabel Mary Caroline (5), Harry Thomas (1) & Enid Norah (1 month). Also with them were Amy’s brother William Simmonds, an unemployed labourer, & Amy’s sister Mary Gorsuch (40) & her son Harry Thomas Gorsuch (21). (According to the GRO records Mabel Mary Caroline Simmons was born in April-June 1876 at East Grinstead, no father’s name given. There is a christening for Mabel on June 29th, 1876 at St Jude, Peckham, Southwark, Surrey with parents Amy & Henry Thomas Alexander Simmons, gentleman, the address being given as 788 Old Kent Rd.)
In 1891 James & Amy were still living at East Court Cottage & James was again described as a farmer. With them were daughter Mabel M C, Harry T, Enid N & George H (9).
According to the Sussex Agricultural Express of March 3rd, 1894, James & Amy were driving up Blackwell Hollow in a trap when a pair of old trousers was thrown at them from the rocks above. The trousers hit Amy & she brought a case of assault against a youth Joseph Brown, known as ‘Cocky’. The defendant was fined 5 shillings & 14 shillings costs or in default, 7 days hard labour.
Son Harry won an endowment scholarship to Cranleigh School & after leaving school he was articled as a surveyor to the Local District Council. Despite doing well in his profession, Harry gave up his appointment to serve his country. (Sussex Agricultural Express July 28th, 1900) According to Graham Edwards (great grandson of Edward Smeed [sm.11]), Harry joined the 69th Sussex Company of the Imperial Yeomanry in Eastbourne in February 1900. Whilst serving as a trooper in the 14th Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War he died of enteric fever in Pretoria on July 22nd, 1900. Harry is remembered on a memorial plaque in St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead - see below.
Photo courtesy of Graham Edwards
James & Amy were still at East Court Farm, College Lane in 1901 & at home were son George H, a surveyor’s pupil, & daughters Mabel & Enid. There was also a visitor, Johnathan Wells, a 62 year old farmer.
Amy died in 1903 & was buried on October 29th 1903 at Queen’s Rd Cemetery, East Grinstead.
Daughter Mabel married Charles Edward Everett, a Lloyds broker, in April-June 1905 at East Grinstead. Charles was born in Nelson, New Zealand c1874. In October 1914 Mabel & Charles sailed from London to New South Wales, Australia. They apparently spent some time in New Zealand, Charles’ country of birth, before emigrating to California in 1916. The 1930 US census shows Charles, a farmer, & Mabel living in Tustin, Orange, California.
Son George sailed to Canada in 1907 and worked for a few months in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the office of the Chief Engineer, Public Works Department. He then returned to England and worked as a civil engineer in East Grinstead and Walton-on-Thames. In February 1911 George emigrated to Australia. On December 24th, 1911 he married Kathleen (Kitty) Ford of East Grinstead in Albany, Western Australia. George lived in Western Australia, continuing to work as a civil engineer, until his death in Perth in 1965.
By 1911 widowed James had retired from farming & was living at Swiss View, Dormans Land, East Grinstead. With him was daughter Enid Norah who was the housekeeper & a niece, Julie Caroline Gorsuch (48).
James died on May 28th, 1933 at the Clerk's Croft, Bletchingley, Surrey & was buried on June 1st, 1933 at Queen’s Rd Cemetery, East Grinstead.
Daughter Enid did not marry & the 1939 register shows her living at 65 Queens Rd, East Grinstead & working in domestic service.
The children of James Smeed & Amy Simmons were:
sm.2.1.1 Mabel Mary Caroline (Simmons) Smeed born April-June 1876 at East Grinstead, Sussex; died April 1939 in Orange, California, USA
sm.2.1.2 Harry Thomas Smeed born October 6th, 1879 at East Grinstead, Sussex; died July 22nd 1900 in Pretoria, South Africa
sm.2.1.3 Enid Norah Smeed born February 27th, 1881 at East Grinstead, Sussex; buried 24th February, 1960 at Queens Road Cemetery, East Grinstead
sm.2.1.4 George Hubert Smeed born May 7th 1883 at East Grinstead; died March 29th, 1965 in Perth, Western Australia