A Tale of Two Smiths

Tracing Family History: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2007

Lorna York

Lorna York links Brinklow, Braunston and Brentford, and shows that, in the boating world, even tracing a common name like Smith is possible – and can reveal some very interesting results


What connects Brinklow, Braunston and Brentford apart from the canals? The answer is: a couple of Smiths! This tale begins with a chance encounter between myself and John Manning from Braunston on our way back from the Rickmansworth boat rally in 2006. We were both sheltering from a violent thunderstorm and were moored just above Cassio Lock on the Grand Union Canal. Myself, my son James, and John sat in Sculptor’s cabin talking. We all came to the conclusion that we were not proper boatmen as, in the old days, a thunderstorm would not have stopped them. Also out of this conversation came the facts that John’s great grandfather was boatman Emanuel Smith and that my grandfather worked for Emanuel Smith in the early 1900s. What I hadn’t realised at the time was that there were two Emanuel Smiths. When investigating family history, Smith is one of the names you tend to steer clear of as there are so many of them – but this connection I had to look into. Brinklow …

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