• Important Update: Our New Email Domain

    Please note: We've updated our email domain to familyhistory.email. All our emails will be from this domain.

  • Do you love Genealogy? Why not write for us? we're looking for volunteers to write articles for Family history. Please contact us for further information.

I like a challenge but sometimes it can be too much.


Staff member
2 ancestors I am desperate to find the birthplaces of are James Smith (c1790-1849) and Sarah Bradford (prev Coombs, Nee Unknown) (c1791-1851). In 1841 they lived in Oxfordshire and Middlesex respectively, but said "Not born in county" in the 1841 census, and both died in Feb 1849 and Feb 1851 respectively, so missed the 30 March 1851 census which gave more precise info. So I have no real clue as to where they came from. I am very determined but sometimes I wonder if I am stumped, especially with James Smith in paper trails? I am wondering if common DNA testing may point me in the right direction. Even if I just knew the counties they were born in would make me buy lots of champagne.

I do plug away but nothing has come up giving me any clue. It would be lovely to know where they did come from but it is proving to be very tough.

If you have followed my write ups on James Smith before, he was born c1790 somewhere in England, and wed in 1819 in Oxford, and was a tin plate worker. The 2 witnesses to his wedding were Andrew Carney and Hannah Hawkes. Andrew worked in a similar trade to James, so hard to say if he was a rellie or friend in the same trade. Hannah Hawkes father Jonas Hawkes had a sister who wed Joseph Smith in 1786 in Marsh Gibbon, Bucks, again could be a red herring with the common surname. A Thomas Smith, tin man, lived in Marsh Gibbon in 1841, died 1847 aged 79.

Sarah Bradford (prev Coombs, Nee Unknown) first husband was Dorset born George Coombs, 1790-1831. He came from Bincombe, Dorset. They lived in London by 1812, George was a coachman, they had their first child, a son Matthew George Coombs baptised at St Botolph Bishopsgate, London in June 1813, and they lived a mile west in Grays Inn Lane, Holborn. The only likely marriage is of George Coombs in April 1810 to Sarah Davey in Axminster Devon. Original says she was a widow, which adds doubt into the mix, would she really be a widow at just 18 or 19? My Sarah was born about 1790/1791 and had her last child William in 1828 aged about 38.

If the 1810 Axminster marriage is not the right one then finding their marriage is going to be very tough, if they even married at all. After George died in 1831, Sarah Coombs had her banns read to James Bradford in Marylebone, both widowed, banns read in July 1834, but no marriage has been found.

I did find Sarah Bradford and James Bradford witnessed the marriage of Wm Smith to Anne Jenkins in Aug 1835 in Paddington, just a month after her eldest son Matthew G Coombs married in the same church, of which Sarah and James witnessed his wedding. I cannot seem to trace Wm and Anne Smith, as there are so many in London.

I shall never give up but I wonder if either leave them on a backburner, or if autosomal DNA may help?
Reading your post, I remember seeing a similar post about a Smith who was a tinplate worker on another forum, Rootschat.
You might want to have a search on there.
Not sure how much autosomal DNA may help you Benny. I’m fairly new to DNA so don’t have a great deal of knowledge but (to date) mine has been no help with my tree. It’s not specific enough for counties, mine mainly states NW England (with a percentage of Scandinavian/Viking which I think is fairly standard for most Brits) which wasn’t a great shock given I grew up there and every ancestor bar 1 going back to the early 1800s was born In Lancashire :)

Closest matches I’ve got across various sites is potential 3rd-5th cousins and I’ve only found one researching a name in my tree and they didn’t respond to contact.

Majority of people on matching sites only have 1 or 2 generations so my guess is they are not particularly interested in family history - maybe it’s more tracing birth parents etc?

Hopefully it may be more use when I learn how to use the information to best effect.
I do hope James Smith and Sarah Bradford are not going to become permanent brickwalls but with the common surname for James Smith it is going to be very hard, and if I did DNA testing I could end up on a wild goose chase.

I hope one day I will find some compelling evidence on them. If the 1810 marriage of George Coombs to Sarah Davey is the wrong one, then without knowing her maiden name, and autosomal DNA testing often being futile past 2 or 3 generations, it is going to be virtually impossible knowing her origins. Sarah witnessing the marriage of Wm Smith to Anne Jenkins is a possible lead. But Smith and Jenkins are popular names.