So far on this blog I have been posting information almost entirely about the various Mr Smiths and their families. This is not intended to overlook Mrs Smith! Of course, it is much harder to find information about Mrs Smith – in some cases I can only find her forename, not her surname before she was married. The earliest records are particularly difficult in that regard.
Women, married or not, left few traces in public records before the 19th century since they usually did not own or rent property, leave wills , vote or run businesses. However, church records do sometimes give information that is useful. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in England in 1837; the Scottish equivalent of those records, called statutory records, began in 1855. Census records, which started in England and Scotland in 1841, can often be helpful.
Records in Ireland are more problematic because much of what would have been useful for Smiths in the 19th century was destroyed in the 1922 destruction of the Four Courts Building in Dublin that contained the Public Record Office. Also the census records in Ireland exist only from 1901 onwards (with a few fragments from earlier censuses, none of which are relevant to our Smiths). Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not begin in Ireland until 1864.
Several of the Mrs Smiths will emerge from the shadows a bit more when I have started to add what I do know in upcoming posts about them and their ancestors. I will focus first on Agnes McSymon Anderson, Eliza Upton, Elizabeth Westgarth and Hannah Huddart.