John SMITH (c.1804–1872)
His wife Mrs Janet SMITH née Romanis (1817–1886)
St Giles section: Row 15, Grave B29

John Smith


[rest of inscription
buried deep in the soil]


Other side of base of cross:

[rest of inscription
buried deep in the soil]


John Smith was born in Tadley, near Basingstoke, Hampshire in 1804 and baptised there on 15 July. He was the son of the farmer William Smith and his wife Sarah. By 1841 he was a hosier in London.

Janet Romanis was born at 75 Gracechurch Street, London in 1817, the daughter of the hosier John Romanis and his wife Anne, and baptised at All Hallows Church, Lombard Street on 30 November.

On 20 March 1841 at St Alphege's Church, Greenwich, John Smith, described as a hosier of Stockwell Street, married Janet Romanis of Gracechurch Street.

At the time of the 1841 census, taken just after their wedding, they were living at Stockwell Street in Greenwich, where John had a draper’s business, with two assistants or servants.

They had two children:

  • Janet Helen Smith (born at Stockwell Street, Greenwich on 4 June 1842 and baptised at St Alphege’s Church on 23 September);
  • John Philip Smith (born at Stockwell Street, Greenwich on 22 April 1848 and baptised at St Alphege’s Church on 16 June).

By 1861 John Smith (56), who had retired and was living off his funds, had moved with his family to Devon, and he and his wife were living at Canal Cottage, Tiverton with their children Janet Helen (18) and John Philip (12).

On 10 October 1867 their son John Philip Smith was admitted as a pensioner at St John’s College, Cambridge.

At the time of the 1871 census John Smith (66), who stated his income was now chiefly from houses, dividends, and K Bonds, was living at 1 Brimley Villas, West Teignmouth with his wife Janet (53) and their daughter Janet Helen (28), plus one servant. Their son John Philip Smith spent census night at St John’s College, Cambridge. He was ordained deacon at Oxford later that year, and priest in 1873, serving as Curate of Hanborough in Oxfordshire from 1871 to 1874. He then served as Curate of St Nicholas’s Church at Marston near Oxford from 1874 to 1877, and Vicar there from 1877. Their son may have encouraged the family to come to Oxford, and they moved to Norham Road in north Oxford in 1871/2.

John Smith died when attending a service at New College chapel in Oxford in 1872. He was described in his probate records as being formerly of Tiverton but late of Norham Road:

† John Smith died New College, Oxford at the age of 68 on 9 November 1872 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 14 November (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

An inquest was held into his death on 11 November 1872, and was reported in Jackson’s Oxford Journal as follows:

Inquest before W. Brunner, Esq., Coroner.
On Monday last, in the Common Hall, New College, on the body of Mr. John Smith, aged 68, gentleman, residing in Norham Gardens [sic], St. Giles’s, who died suddenly in the College Chapel during service, on the previous Saturday evening. It appeared from the evidence of Mr. T. T. Churston, Undergraduate of New College, that on Saturday afternoon he was at Chapel, and between him and the deceased there was a vacant stall. Near the end of the Psalms he observed the deceased, who had been standing, sit down, and directly afterwards fall on his knees with his head inclined forward beneath the desk in front of him. A gentleman who sat on the other side of the deceased and another gentleman of the congregation near to him, raised him to his seat, after which his head fell back, and he appeared to have fainted. Mr. Churston suggested that the deceased should be carried into the porch, where the porter observed that his pulse was very feeble. The Warden [James Sewell] had left the Chapel, and on returning with Dr. Freeborn, this gentleman discovered that the deceased was quite dead, death having resulted from syncope. It was subsequently ascertained that Mr. E. R. Owen, surgeon, had attended the deceased’s family, and that the deceased had told him he suspected his heart was diseased. A verdict was returned of “Death from natural causes.”

His death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal read simply: “Nov. 9, suddenly, John Smith, Esq., of Netherton, Norham-road, in his 69th year.” His effects came to under £6,000, and his widow Janet was one of his executors.

At the time of the 1881 census his widow, now 63, was living at Elsfield Road in Marston with her son John (32), who was Vicar of Marston, her daughter Janet (38), and one servant.

Mrs Smith died in 1886 and was buried with her husband. She was described in her probate record as being formerly of Somerville House, Summertown, but late of Marston:

† Mrs Janet Smith née Romanis died at Marston at the age of 68 on 1 August 1886 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 6 August (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

Her personal estate came to £6,269 18s. 1d., and her executors were her son John and her brother, the Revd William Romanis of Wigston Magna, Leicestershire

Children of John and Janet Smith
  • Janet Helen Smith (born 1842) married an Italian musician, Americo Augustino Raphel Pellegrini, in 1889 at St George’s, Hanover Square: she was then aged 47 and her husband was about fourteen years her junior. In 1891 they were living at 42 Dewhurst Road in Hammersmith with their housekeeper, and Americo was working as a teacher of music. In 1901 they were living at 42 Dewhurst Road, South Hammersmith; and in 1911 they were in a boarding house in Manchester. Mrs Janet Helen Pellegrini died in Hammersmith at the age of 87 on 14 April 1929.
  • John Philip Smith (born 1848) remained Vicar of Marston until 1888. He married around this time, probably in Scotland, a woman called Mary Ann (born in Perth). He then served as Vicar of Street in Devon from 1888 to 1896. At the time of the 1891 census he was living at Street Vicarage with his wife and Janet Romanis Smith (2) and Ian McNaughton Smith (1), the first two of their five children. He served as Vicar of Whixley, Yorkshire from 1896 to 1913, and at the time of the 1911 census he and his wife were alone at the 15-roomed Whixley Vicarage. From 1913 he was the Rector of Hockerton, Nottinghamshire. He died at 18 Regent Street, Nottingham on 28 August 1915 at the age of 67, but his home address was still the Rectory at Hockerton. His effects came to £1,988 5s. 6d, and his widow Mary Ann Smith and his son and daughter, the Revd Ian McNaughton Smith and Miss Janet Romanis Smith, were his executors.



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