Welcome to the story of the LOMAS and SCUDERI families.

Elizabeth Johnson born 1831 in Newbold, Leicestershire

Elizabeth Johnson (b1831) was my second great-grandmother Frances's sister. At the age of 27, she had an illegitimate child, Laban, born in1858. According to W J Lomas, writing in 1982, the father was a certain Isaac Harvey, who was foreman at the pottery works where Elizabeth worked in Lount. The question was, why didn't Elizabeth marry Isaac, who was a widower at the time? Perhaps she didn't want to have to manage Isaac's three children by his previous marriage? Three years later, in 1861, Elizabeth is in fact still living with her parents and with her child Laban. She did eventually marry, at the age of 36 in 1867, to James Richards, and they had two children, Agnes born in 1868 and Harriett, born in 1871. In the 1881 census, she, James and children Laban, Agnes and Harriett, have moved to Tibshelf, where her nephew Thomas Johnson (b1852) was also living. By 1891, now a widow, she has returned to Worthington, and is living with her unmarried brother John Johnson (b1835). In 1901 she has moved back to Tibshelf and is living with daughter Agnes and husband John Ragan. Not sure what happened to her afterwards, there are no "obvious" deaths before the 1911 census, where she is not to be found. She could have married again, but finding a trace of this could be quite complicated.

Isaac Harvey, the father of Elizabeth's son Laban

Isaac Harvey was born 19 Jan 1823 at Rugeley, Staffs. In 1844 he got Mary Marshall pregnant, their child was born illegitimate on 22 Sep 1844 and named James Harvey Marshall.  Soon afterwards Isaac married Mary, the marriage was registered at Ashby, not sure exactly where it was held, most likely around Blackfordby, Leicestershire. Mary was from Swadlincote, just a couple of miles away, and their child James was born in Blackfordby. By 1849 they had moved closer to Lount, where Isaac was foreman at the pottery works, and were living in Worthington, where two additional children were born, Charles in 1849 and Sarah in 1852. Then, in 1856, Mary died.

In 1858 Isaac then got Elizabeth Johnson pregnant, and their son Laban Johnson was born 29 Aug 1858 at Lount. Isaac and Elizabeth did not marry, however, and Isaac subsequently married Sophia Johnson née Glover 9 Dec 1861 in Birmingham. Sophia had previously been married to Reuben Johnson (no relation to ours) in Ashby 1854. They had 2 children, Helen (b1855) and Lizzie (b1858).

Between 1858 and 1861, Reuben and Sophia apparently separated, as in 1861 Sophia was living alone in Hinckley, Reuben seems to have been living in Gloucestershire, their younger child Lizzie was also in Hinckley, but not living with Sophia, while elder child Helen was living with Sophia's parents in Newton Regis, Warwickshire. Both Reuben and Sophia were classified as "married" in the 1861 census, but most likely they were divorced, as a few months later, Sophia married Isaac Harvey.

In her marriage certificate to Isaac Harvey it says she is a "spinster", which is somewhat misleading, although there are various dictionary definitions (e.g. Websters) that define a spinster as "a woman who is not married, divorced or widowed". My suspicion is that she was divorced. There is also another error in the marriage certificate between Isaac and Sophia, concerning Sophia's father, who is named as "George Johnson, Shoemaker". Her father was in fact "George Glover, Shoemaker", and it looks as if the official mistakenly took her father's last name from her own last name (Johnson). The fact that his first name was George and that he was a shoemaker confirms this I believe. Also the fact the Sophia's youngest daughter Helen Johnson was living with George and wife Elizabeth at the time of the 1861 census, and that one of the witnesses at Sophia and Isaac's marriage was Sophia's brother Francis Glover.

To further complicate matters, living with Reuben Johnson in Gloucestershire in 1861 were a Mary A Johnson, from Guildford, Surrey and a child also called Mary A Johnson, born in Worcester in 1858. The surname Johnson could have been attributed by the census collectors, as no trace of a marriage by Reuben in this timeframe has been found. Subsequent to the census, no further trace has been found neither of Reuben nor of the two Marys.

Isaac and Sophia had three children, Isaac (b1864), Mary (b1866) and William (b1871). In the 1871 census, Sophia's child Lizzie by Reuben Johnson, was also living with them. Isaac died in 1900 at Coleorton, while Sophia died in 1908 at Ashby.


John Lomas
26 October 2016