The search for earlier generations of Smiths in Ainstable

Posted on 8th October 2014

Recently I made some discoveries about the French Huguenot ancestors of my 4x great-grandfather Henry Rochat Smith (although his middle name was previously unknown to me!) through his mother Elizabeth Ann Rochat.

Although Henry was born in London, I know that his father’s family had roots in the village of Ainstable in Cumberland at least a couple of generations further back. Henry and his family moved back to Ainstable when he was around 10 years old and his youngest sister Elizabeth Sarah was born there in 1815.

In a newspaper article from the Carlisle Journal on 27th February 1857, Henry is called as a witness in a murder case, where a Thomas Simpson was killed in Ainstable. His part is relatively small, and I believe he is confirming that an area of land known as Eden Banks was part of the “Nunnery Estate”. This evidently had relevance in the murder case.

Henry mentions that he knew a man, Jacob Smith, who having lived in Ainstable for 10 to 15 years, and who had knowledge of the area. Henry had often heard Jacob confirm where Eden Banks was. This man was Henry’s great-uncle (his father’s uncle), and he died at the age of 81.

Carlisle Journal - 27th February 1857
Henry Smith mentioning his great-uncle Jacob Smith in the Carlisle Journal, 1857.

I do not know when Jacob died, nor where he died, so I cannot find when he was born. There are no baptism records online for a Jacob Smith in Ainstable, nor in all of Cumberland. I do not even know the name of Henry’s father Joseph’s father, but I suspect it may be John, who would be a brother of Jacob.

Joseph died in 1823, but I do not know at what age. I need to visit Ainstable and the Carlisle Archives to view the parish registers for the church, and hopefully find Joseph’s burial record that will confirm his age at death, and therefore his approximate year of birth.

I also know that in 1760 there was a John Smith living at Beckside in Ainstable (the family home) as I found a record of a memorandum on Cumbria Archive’s catalogue. I am guessing this is Joseph’s father or grandfather.

Some later family documents from 1950, belonging to Mary Collingwood (Henry’s granddaughter), reveal that the house was in her mother’s family for over 200 years.

Still some digging to do. Any ideas?