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Smith from St Helens area


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Hello, I hope this is the correct place to record some of my links to St Helens.


My 3rd great grandmother was Ellen Smith b. 1836 in St Helens. She is consistent across all records in recording St Helens as her birthplace. She married Thomas Fairbrother at St Joseph's RC Church on Grosvenor Street in Liverpool on the 15th May 1864. The marriage certificate gives her father as James Smith, engineer. From the church record her mother looks to be Maria (poor writing but it does appear to be Maria not Mary). Thomas' parents were also married in an RC church, but I do not yet know what religion Ellen and her parents were.


Ellen's parents have been a brickwall for many years, however I recently found a James and Maria living at Tontine Street, St Helens who look a good possibility. James Smith b.1805 St Helens is listed as an engineer and later engine driver. His wife Maria Smith b.1806 also St Helens. They lived at Tontine Street through the 1841 to 1861 censuses and then disappear. From the various census returns I have the following information on the Smith children:

Edmund b.1834

John b. 1835

Ellen b.1836 - my direct relative

Mary b.1838

James b.1844

Thomas b.1848

Ann b. 1850


I have not been able to find any baptism records for any of the children as of yet.


Interestingly, Thomas Fairbrother and wife Ellen nee Smith are married in Liverpool in 1864, but the next year they are recorded as being at Westfield Street, Eccleston, St Helen (Daughter Elizabeth Ann Fairbrother's birth certificate). By 1870 they are 54 Lowe Street, St Helens (son James Fairbrother's birth cert.), before returning to Strickland Street, Liverpool for the 1871 census. I wonder if they returned to be near Ellen Smith's parents after the wedding and for the birth of their children? Given that Ellen's parents disappear after the 1861 census, did they both die and so Ellen and Thomas returned to Liverpool? I can't fin


If anyone recognises these Smiths or has any information regarding James and Maria I would love to hear from you.






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Oh dear, the dreaded Smith surname :(


You probably haven't found the baps because they are RC, not a lot are on line but you will find them in the Archives at St Helens library, that is as long as you know the church.


Ill have a look see what I can find

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Well, this looks like the marriage


St Martin in the Fields C of E, Vauxhall, Liverpool

James Smith, Engineer to Maria Massey

15th October 1832

Witnesses John and Mary Abbott

(The parish record image is on Ancestry)


I found them on the census 41,51,61 and then no more. They could still be around in 1871 in St Helens, the 71 census is almost non- existent here if I remember rightly. So for deaths search from 1861 to 1881 Haven't found them yet.


Cant find any baps for their kids as you say, although the GRO index shows possibles for all the names born in Prescot. You eed to check some RC records for Sacred Heart in Burough Road or Lowe House in North Road. I havn't got those records so can't check for you sorry. In 1881, I found a John Smith born 1837 Blacksmith living in Burrows Lane (same as 1851 census Tontine St) but he was born in Astbury, Cheshire ? Keep that in mind for now but it may be a coincidence.


For baps of James Smith there are two possibles

James bap May 1804 to Thomas, Windle farmer at St Helens Chapel

James bap Dec 1804 to John and Jane of Whiston, labourer at St Mary Prescot Unless of course he was a catholic too in which case they probably aren't him.


15 May 1864 Marriage of Thomas Fairbrother and Ellen Smith both of Liverpool at St Joseph Grovenor Street Liverpool (very Irish neighbourhood)

parents, his Robert and Ann Fairbrother, hers Jacobi and Maria, witnesses Patrick ? and Rosa ? I cant read it sorry. This parish record is on Ancestry too.

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Hello Ratty


Thank you for your replies. Yes, the dreaded Smith name! I have found the information you refer to on Ancestry, thank you.


Thank you also for the pointers towards Lowe House and Sacred Heart. I do agree that it seems likely that Ellen and her parents were also RC. Like you say, the two possible baptisms that you found for her father, James Smith, could be him or not if he too was Catholic.


The Thomas Fairbrother who Ellen marries was definitely a Catholic, but I have discovered that this was due to his mother being Catholic - his father was CofE. The parents married in a CofE church (I assume because the father was not Catholic and so they were not allowed to marry in a Catholic church), but the children were baptised and brought up in the Catholic faith. The mother and father, plus Thomas' youngest two siblings later changed to Wesleyan, and another sister marries in a CofE church. Ellen and Thomas, however, seem to have remained as Catholics. My family has a vague recollection that Ellen & Thomas' daughter, my grt grt GM, was Catholic.


Unfortunately, I am in Australia and so can't visit the St Helens area, but wondered if you knew whether Lowe House or Sacred Heart are open to receiving email enquiries, or do you literally need to visit in person? I am really starting to think that one of the St Helen's RC churches is going to be my main hope for resolving my Smith family. I am tempted to try a GRO purchase but it is a bit like picking a needle out of a haystack with such common names. Plus, I have still got to find more evidence to prove that the Ellen that marries Thomas Fairbrother is the same Ellen who lives with James and Maria shown on the census.


I shall keep that John Smith in mind and do a little work on him too. Do I take from your reply that Tontine Street became Burrows Lane?


Thank you for your help - it is very useful having a fresh pair of eyes taking a look.

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15 May 1864 Marriage of Thomas Fairbrother and Ellen Smith both of Liverpool at St Joseph Grovenor Street Liverpool (very Irish neighbourhood) parents, his Robert and Ann Fairbrother, hers Jacobi and Maria,


Jacobi and Maria is latin for James and Mary.

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You are right Tony J and I did check this and indeed she does appear on all censuses as Maria.


Debsearch No Borough Road is the nearest RC church to Tontine Street, Sacred Heart, the other one is Lowe House and there is Holy Cross too but I think that came later on and is usually bundled in with Lowe House as it was a sort of spill over sister church.


Luck has it that I am going to visit the Library searching Lowe House records myself tomorrow so I will take a look for you for as long as I can. They also have some Sacred heart records but the main set is now located at Lancashire Record office Preston, (because the church is sadly now demolished) too far for me I'm afraid but you can order searches from their staff





There is an email address for Lowe House look ups but by all accounts there hasn't been a lot of luck getting a reply from them. I've never tried myself because I find the churches charge a lot of money for these searches, far in access of what the info is worth in my opinion but I suppose if its the only way to get it..some will pay.



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Hi Ratty, if the baptisms are 1840's it wont be Sacred Heart as was only built in 1878, Holy Cross 1862 I think. Holy Cross and Lowe House were combined as a parish some years ago with one priest serving the two, but last year this was changed and Holy Cross re established as a separate parish in it own right. Lowe House is now served by the priest at Windleshaw .

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Thanks for reminding me, saved some time.


I managed to have a good day and found all the baptisms bar two for James and Marias children at Lowe House St Mary.
First child Edmund was not found, the records are pretty mucky at that time though, I'm not surprised, If I looked again I would probably see it but i was anxious to get on.
Last child Ann was not found either and I searched all through 49,50 and 51 twice so unless its one that is illegible, there are a few, then she want baptised there.
The others are as follows:
August 24 1834 -John son of James and Maria Smith. Sponsors Peter Hankinson and Catherine Burrows
December 4th 1836 - Helen (not Ellen) daughter of James and Maria Smith, sponsors James Webster and Mary ?P**ckersley, not sure about that name.
December 9th 1838 - Mary daughter of James and Maria Smith, sponsors Henry Forbes,Elizabeth Bickerstaffe. Born December 2nd.
June 4th 1843 - James son of James and Maria Smith of Hardshaw sponsor Ellen Bibby. Hardshaw was th first township of StHelens and incorporates Tontine Street.
December 23rd 1847 - Thomas son of James and Maria of Tontine Street, sponsor Ellen ?Hichens? unclear
I had a look for deaths last night and I found one death in the Indexes for Maria Smith in Prescot for 1864, the rest were for Liverpool from 61-65, there were many for a James Smith in both places, too many to guess at. I didn't have time to search for burials this time, had a look for MI's at Windle Chantry but she wasnt listed and neither is she at St Helens Cemetery. (There are actually 500 Smiths there) Maybe next time if I remember Ill have a look for that one for Maria if I can work out where she would be.
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Hello Ratty


Thank you so much! Thank you to Tony J too for the information concerning the foundation dates for the churches.


Now I have a dilemma to sort out. Does the fact that Ellen is in fact Helen mean that this is not my Ellen Smith? I am going to keep this Smith family as my 'most likeliest' and will look to possibly order the death certificate for the Maria Smith 1864. I will also, however, keep a look out for other James and Maria/Mary Smith families in St Helens who have a daughter called Ellen born around 1836-1840. I am trying to find Ellen's death, which I believe was post 1881, but this too is proving hard. I know that by 1871 the family move back to Liverpool, but only for a very short time because by 1874 they are in Wigan. It is here that husband Thomas fell off a chair that he had attached to a water butt to fix a leaking spout - he fractured his skull and died at the age of 42. After that the family seems to have split up as they become live-in servants for various families.


I am going to add all the baptism information that you found to my tree and see if that can help expand the picture.


Ratty, may I please ask another favour. If you happen to be visiting the church records again would it be possible to please see if Thomas and Ellen's children are recorded there. My grt grt GM was Elizabeth Ann Fairbrother born 15 Jul 1865 and her brother James Fairbrother was born on the 10 Jan 1870. At the time of both births, the family was living in St Helens. I am hoping that perhaps the sponsors may be related to Ellen Smith's family and hence help 'prove' the Smith connection.


Thank you again for the time you put in finding those Smith baptisms.

Sorry, me again. Can I just check - were the baptisms held at Lowe House Chapel, i.e. on the same land that the current Church of St Mary, Lowe House stands? Not sure if I'm mixing up the churches.

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Well done Ratty, it takes some patience going through those records!




Does the fact that Ellen is in fact Helen mean that this is not my Ellen Smith?


Not necessarily, if the baptism was recorded at a church which latinised the names Ellen would be transcribed as Helena but Lowe house tended to not do that as often as other catholic churches, my own theory on this is that as the parish was founded in 1850 100 years before the full restoration of the Catholic hierarchy and they tried to just fit in with convention rather than make waves. It would not have been referred to as a parish, just a mission in those days. I have never heard anyone refer to it as St Mary's as I suppose this would cause confusion with St Helen's parish church which is also St Mary's




Have a look at the link debs which shows the new church being built next to the old one, there are also other interior photos to show how it looked when your relatives were baptised there, thanks to Lee for the pics!

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The deaths registered in Wigan for Ellen Fairbrother after 1881 are these three, only the middle one works with her dates, if you click on the grave number it will take you to who else is in the grave, do you recognise anyone. Ive searched what other burial records I can (you will find them on that site menu ) but I don't have access to much else in Wigan sorry.



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Wasn't too bad Tony, I had a nice chat to Ted while I was in there and found my own stuff straight away, solved a nice little puzzle of my own yay! victory.gif I will be blind early though.


Plus Tony J don't we just drop all of our H's in St Helens so if we said Helen it sounds just like Ellen therefore Ellen could be mistaken as Helen if he was a posh priest wink.png


ie St Helens = saintellins


It will be next week before I go again now, they are only open two days a week wot with the austerity and all. Actually Ive just remembered they are moving the department downstairs next week so it will be shut, so it could be the week after. Ill PM you with the results anyway so you won't have to keep checking this thread Deb

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Gosh, aren't those photos amazing! What a beautiful church it was, and is now in its new form.


I really appreciate all your help Ratty and Tony; this has been such a puzzle for such a long time, and I can certainly say this is the closest I have ever been to finally solving it, thanks to you.


With regards to the 3 burials for Ellen in Wigan, I had seen those and already, unfortunately, had to rule them out. The Ellen who died in 1908 left a Will that made it clear that this entry wasn't my Ellen. Both the 1904 and 1923 Ellens were spinsters, so, again, couldn't be mine. I am now in the process of locating and following all of Ellen's Smith siblings and, interestingly, although only early days yet, some of them seem to have travelled towards Wigan too. One of the older boys was in Wigan in 1861 and one of the daughters becomes a servant for a family near Astley by 1871. I'm hoping Ellen might turn up with one of them in the later years.


The Helen/Ellen pronunciation makes perfect sense - just as my grandparents from Leigh used to speak!


Thank you in advance Ratty for having another look at the records and for your offer to PM. I will look forward to hearing your news in a couple of week's time.


Thank you to you both



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Glad you liked the photos of the church, in many ways the old was more impressive than the new.


Ratty, I have a few relatives whose name seemed to change a bit, one was a Judith who ended up Julia and another whose name seemed to change to that of her mother, my suspicion over that was to make the registration of an illegitimate child look like it belonged to the mother not the young daughter.


I want to get to the library myself soon, what days is the family history bit open?

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I just looked at the email and they are moving rooms next week, so will be shut from 9th March to 7th April (didn't realise it was for so long) They took away the opening hours and then obviously sacked the staff and now are crying short staff so they have to move to the main library on the ground floor. Stinks.

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  • 6 months later...

I also have the dreaded SMITH name to follow. BUT at least he's the one married into my BRADBURY line.

I am trying to find information on Harriet Ann BRADBURY and George SMITH's kids and descendants.

Their children were George Lester Smith b. abt. 1898 (who may have married Annie Stephenson.)

Edwin Redvers Smith b. 1901- 1979 (who m. Catherine Annie HASLAM and had dau. Barbara abt. 1935) and Ernest Smith b. avt. 1905 (who may have married Ethel STEPHENSON)

I'm pretty sure one of these 3 boys had another dau. other than Barbara as I have a family photos with 2 young girls in it.

I would love help finding Barbara..there are too many choices if she married.?


Thanks so much


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Edwin Redvers did marry Catherine Annie on 4th June 1929 at St Helens Parish church



There don't seem to be any other children registered to them except for Barbara in June quarter of 1935, at least not in this area, there are lots in Bolton and Manchester.


This is a marriage for George L Smith and Annie Stephenson at Prescot Register Office




again no children found registered so far in this area.

Now it gets complicated

There are three possible marriages for Ernest Smith

One to Margaret E Pennington 15/9/1923 at Sutton St Nicholas

and one to Mary E Munnerly 19/2/1927 at Earlstown St John


Possible Smith children with mother nee Pennigton


1922 John J

1923 Kenneth

1924 Joseph

1925 (March) Doris

1926 Evelyn

1926 (Dec) Doris

1927 Marjorie

1929 Bertha

St Helens

1935 Eric

1937 Roy

1938 Enid

1940 Rene

1947 Mary T

For mother nee Munnerley only one in Warrington 1928 Joan M Smith

The Ernest Smith and Ethel Stephenson marriage in 1931 Prescot was at the register office or registrar attended




Bear in mind his age and when he would be likely to get married, would it be age 18,22 or 26?


Three children with these parents are born in Barton, Bootle and Wigan. Dennis, Edward and Graham respectively


Sorry but I cant be sure if any of these is your correct family or not as I don't know enough and I'm only seeing index records no parish records anywhere, probably due to the late dates, also no census to go off either so difficult to make a decision. Afraid you will probably have to send for the records

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