Did Dorothy Abrahams have a brother in Tottenham?

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July 13, 2013 by auntkatefirmin

Abraham(s) as a surname can be found in the Tottenham area as far back as 1569, in the nearby village of Enfield.  While it’s not exactly common, there are more individuals with this surname than I would have guessed.

View of Tottenham Cross from 1804.

View of Tottenham Cross from 1804.
© Trustees of the British Museum.

We’ve concluded that Sarah Kenning’s mother was Dorothy Abrahams. Other than the marriage (which was witnessed by William Hurst and Mary Martin) we know very little about Dorothy outside than the names of her children.  For now I will, as the saying goes, “take a button and sew a vest on it.”

Let’s start with the “button.” In 1781, Dorothy had lived in the parish of St Bartholomew the Great in the City long enough that she was “of this parish” on the document.  She had not been married previously.  She could write her own name.  As a starting point, we’ll say that she was born about 1760 making her the same age as her husband and age 21 when she married (and thus age 39 when her last child was born).  She had to be at least 21, as she did not need parental permission to marry.

The idea for the “vest” came from the marriage of Mary Firman and John Abrahams in Whitechapel, on 24 May 1818. Mary Firman is of an age to be the sister of John Firmin, the husband of Dorothy’s daughter Sarah Kenning.  Witnesses at Mary Firman’s wedding are Thomas Firman and Anne Firman.

Can we connect any of these Firmans to John Firmin of Ratcliffe?  Not yet.  We’ve just got a close connection with time & place and a similar surname.

As for the witnesses, I believe that Thomas is Mary Firman’s brother.  One year earlier, on 25 December1817, Thomas married Charlotte Sipthorpe in Whitechapel and the marriage was witnessed by John Abrahams.  I haven’t yet found any records for Thomas or Charlotte either earlier or later than the wedding. I’m not sure if Anne is Mary’s sister or not.

However let’s get back to John Abrahams.  He is the right generation to be a nephew of Dorothy (Abrahams) Kenning.  I suspect that John is the son of John Abrahams and Mary Wiltshire who were married in All Hallows, Tottenham, in December after their banns were called in September of 1776.  The couple’s oldest child, James, was baptized in March 1777 at All Hallows.  Based on the baptism of a younger child, Julia, John Abrahams, the father, is a sawyer.

John & Mary Abrahams lived in Tottenham until at least 1787 when their child Sarah was baptized.  For the moment, I’m assuming this couple later moved to Lewisham, Deptford and Denmark Park where John followed his trade as a sawyer.

As a working guess, I’ll say that John & Dorothy were brother & sister with family ties in Tottenham and that Dorothy and her husband William were in Tottenham in 1784 as a result of an employment opportunity for William through family connections.  I like how everything fits, I just can’t locate the evidence for a parent for John or Dorothy.

If I’ve put the pieces together correctly, the elder John Abrahams (Dorothy’s brother) is a sawyer.  One of Dorothy’s children (Henry) is a cooper, and son-in-law John Firmin is a carman – it’s easy to imagine how their paths might have crossed. Two of them work with wood, and one of them very likely hauls lumber both before and after it is made into barrels by the cooper.

Anyhow, that’s one possibility – that first cousins (John Abrahams and Sarah Kenning) married a brother (John Firmin) and sister (Mary Firman). Stay tuned for more on folks named Abrahams in Tottenham.


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