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Lawrence John/Clarke/Growse/Goldsmith


The mystery of Lawrence Goldsmith born 1871 birth registered Somerton Suffolk (mother Clara Ann Selina Clarke - no father on birth certificate)

All the money that came into families was through marriage. You married land, coal mines and ground rents. All the money came from the wife you chose. The best thing was to marry an heiress with a dowry.

Mistresses and illegitimate children were worth nothing. Now there is an interest in tracing family trees it is coming to light that there were far more illegitimate children than we thought. They were unable to take the name of their father who was not mentioned on the birth certificate. Some of the mothers were prostitutes and housemaids, others were the 'true love' of the gentleman but marriage was impossible as although they may have been from a well to do family they brought no money into the relationship.

There was a web of connections and we find that payments, on examining old accounts and ledgers, were made for years to a mysterious person or persons. Some of these illegitimate children were handed over to foster mothers who were made payments for their upkeep. Children were sent away to other towns. It was one way for women to earn an income if nothing else was available

Illegitimacy brought a cloud of shame, they were legal nobodies, non people and didn't exist in a point of law. It had a great effect on their characters, they were in limbo, not acknowledged and the whole thing was swept under the carpet.


From David Goldsmith

For some unspecified reason, my grandfather Lawrences' birth appears never to have been registered - he apparently had trouble drawing his pension because he didn't officially exist. He was in the First World War as a driver and remained unscathed throughout. He worked as a horse and cart driver, and apparantly was a fairly unpleasant type.
Up until after the Second World War the Goldsmiths appeared to have lived in and around the Westminster area - I get the impression in rented accommodation, the only exceptions appear, anecdotally, to be Lawrence's sons Tom and George. They owned two shops in Westminster. There may be some photographic records in Westminster Archives.
Aunt Gertie is Lawrences daughter, Francis Albert is his youngest son. Of eleven children only these two now survive. They have been very ill recently (2004). I've a vague recollection of Harry Bird's name being mentioned. I certainly recall a story of my grandfather beating up someone called Harry.

From Jenni Goldsmith

Laurance John, was my grandfather. He was originally told that his mother, Charles' first wife, died giving birth to him and in the confusion his birth wasn't registered. A couple of years ago a relative threw doubt on this and I did some further research. Although Elizabeth did die just after Lawrence's birth, partly through menorraghia, there was no mention of childbirth on the certificate. I then located Laurence's birth certificate in Somerton, showing Clara as his mother and an unnamed father. He was born on 14th November 1881 and in the 1881 census Clara was working as a servant to John Laurence Growse. Coincidence? I guess it may be no more than a coincidence than Elizabeth dying at the time a woman who would subsequently marry Elizabeth's widower gave birth. Personally, I think it's incredibly sad that Clara was apparently never able to acknowledge Laurence as her own son.
A country GP such as John Lawrence Growse often had a widely scattered pratice. The smart turn out was typical of a doctor of his day.

Hartest Green

Hartest Green
From Karen Murton

I believe am a direct descendant of the Clarke family. Laura Clarke was my Gt Grandmother. Septimus would have been her grandfather. Laura is the daughter of Benjamin Clarke, one of Septimus' sons. She was one of 9 children and her father ran the Butchers shop in Hartest.

Laura had a birthday book, with dates recorded for her immediate family and so that has helped alot. I've also found a very fragile piece of paper where she had recorded dates of birth of all her brothers and sisters.

I know that Benjamin had 9 children. Three of Benajmin's daughters (including my Gt Grandmother Laura) married brothers from the same Murton family. My Gt Grandmother & Gt GrandFather (William Murton) ran the Wheatsheaf Pub in Exning, near Newmarket until my Gt Grandfather's death in 1930. Laura then went on to run a boarding house in Lowestoft. She had two children (Kenneth & Stanley) and later moved to Norwich, where she lived until her death in 1954.
The Murtons - they had Brittons Farm at Somerton, so they lived only a short distance from the Clarke's. The three sisters that married the Murtons were :

Laura - married William (name registered as John William Jackson Murton)
Alice Jane - married Edgar George
Mabel Annie - married Albert

John Murton - married Ellen Maria Jackson. Ellen died in approx 1877. John then went on to marry Anne. The children of John & Ellen were:

Frederick H
John William (known as William John) - Married to Laura Clarke
Mary Jane
Harry (possibly also known as John Harry)
Edgar George - Married Alice Jane Clarke
Albert - married Mabel Annie Clarke

Anne doesn't appear on the census information until after all the above children had been born. Albert was born in 1877 so it might be that Ellen died giving birth to Albert.

I had some difficulty finding my Grandfather (Kenneth Murton) on Ancestry. It turns out that Laura & William were unmarried at the time of his birth, so my grandfather was actually registered as Kenneth Murton Clarke!

Many thanks to Karen for her contribution