Family History in Halmore, Gloucestershire.

Halmore is a hamlet/village near Berkeley in Gloucestershire, next door to the hamlet of Breadstone where I was born.  It is halfway between Bristol and Gloucester.  To the west is the River Severn and to the east is Dursley and the escarpment of the Cotswolds. Berkeley is where Berkeley Castle is situated, home to the Berkeley family for a thousand years and where Edward II was horribly murdered with something nasty up his “fundiment”.  Next door Edward Jenner developed the first vaccination for smallpox. Just to the north is Slimbridge where Sir Peter Scott (son of Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic) established the first Wild Fowl Trust. The Severn is navigable to Sharpness and from there on the Berkeley, Sharpness Canal runs up to Gloucester.

My maternal grandmothers family came from Halmore and the nearby villages of Hinton and Purton. My immediate ancestors in Halmore were the Davis Smiths. James Davis Smith was the son of William Smith and Emma Davis.  They were married in Clifton in Bristol in 1857 and James was born in 1856 hence the name James Davis Smith.

James Davis Smith (1856-1923) married Emma Phelps (1860-1943) in 1878 at Gloucester.  

They had 9 children:

Elizabeth Davis Smith (1878-1963) (my grandmother) 

Elias Davis Smith

Thomas Davis Smith

Gerald Davis Smith

Herbert Davis Smith

Ethel Davis Smith

George Davis Smith

Florence Anne Davis Smith

Dorothy Davis Smith

When I lived in Breadstone, “Aunt Flo”, “Aunt Dor” and “Uncle Gerald” lived in Rose Cottage in Halmore.  This was (and still is) the first house on the right around the corner on the road to Wanswell.

James Davis Smith died in 1923 but Emma lived until 1943 kept alive it was said by love and looked after by my great aunts, Flo and Dor. I spent a lot of time with these aunts when I was growing up in Breadstone.  They used to babysit me but they only did this once at Green Farm in Breadstone where I lived because they said it was haunted and they were frightened by the “voices”.

My grandmother Bessie (Elizabeth) Davis Smith left Halmore in 1897 at the age of 18 to go into service in Bristol 15 miles away. I have maybe a dozen letters written to Bessie by her mother Emma in the months following in 1897.  They are written in a "Gloucestershire dialect", mostly without punctuation, and describe life in Halmore and nearby and provide a wonderful snapshot of life in Halmore for a few months in 1897. I have transcribed and “translated” them as best I can.  I have tried to identify the people mentioned from the censuses and the events described from articles in the local paper (Gazette) at the time. [1897 Letters from Emma in Halmore to Daughter Bessie in Bristol]

© Barclay Barrell 2014