Emma Violet Smith (1876-1929)

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The adventures of Edith Aileen Wharton have provided much intrigue throughout the Anglo-Indian Project so far, and her marriage to Clifford Melville Carr Smith was a major factor in this intrigue. Clifford’s records revealed his mother’s name as Violet Emma Smith. After searching through the various available resources, a number of records were discovered about Violet. 

Violet was born on 25 October 1876: 


Her baptism record further revealed:

  1. Birth date: 25 October 1876
  2. Baptism date: 15 November 1876
  3. Baptism location: St Pauls Church, Landour, India
  4. Name: Emma Violet Astridge
  5. Parents: Alfred George and Jane Sophia Astridge
  6. Parents abode: Landour
  7. Fathers occupation: Orderly Room Sargent 
  8. Priest performing ceremony: D.P. Williams, Chaplain

Interesting here is Violet’s name which is written as Emma Violet; not unusual to use first and middle names interchangeably. Emma Violet’s birth date is confirmed here, 25 October 1876 and baptism on 15 November 1876 at St Pauls Church, Landour, India. Her parents names are stated as Alfred George and Jane Sophia Astridge, residing in Landour, India. Alfred’s occupation is recorded as Orderly Room Sargent, and the priest performing the ceremony D.P. Williams, Chaplain. With this information, it was easy to find more records of Emma Violet Astridge.

The next record discovered revealed her marriage to Samuel Gordon on 10 June 1895:


This marriage record further stated: 

  1. Marriage location: Church of Home Returns (Central India)
  2. Marriage date: 10 June 1895
  3. Ages: Samuel: 32, Emma Violet: 17
  4. Condition: Samuel, Widower; Emma Violet, spinster
  5. Profession: Teacher, St. Peters, Agra
  6. Residence: Samuel: Agra, Emma Violet: Oodeypore
  7. Father’s names: C. Gordon and G. Astridge
  8. Witnesses: Oliveiro and Rabeiro
  9. Ceremony performed by: Father John, Roman Catholic Chaplain

Confirmation of the marriage at the Church of Home Returns (Central India) on 10 June 1895. Samuel is recorded as a widower, indicating he this was (at least) his second marriage and that he was 15 years senior to 17 year old Emma Violet at the time of this marriage. Samuel resided in Agra, India, where he is recorded as being a teacher at St. Peters. Emma Violet’s residence is stated as Oodeypore (now named Udaipur), India. Father’s names are confirmed here as C. Gordon and G. Astridge, with witnesses to the marriage recorded as Oliveiro and Rabeiro. As with previous marriage records presented, the witness signatures may provide some additional insight into the lives of Samuel and Emma Violet (were the witnesses friends? colleagues? neighbours? or just the nearest people they could drag in to sign the paperwork?) It may be difficult to find out, but could prove insightful. The ceremony was performed by Father John, Roman Catholic Chaplain.

This record proved useful for searching additional records, now we know that Emma Violet / Violet Emma’s surname changed from Astridge to Gordon, it wasn’t long before locating a further marriage record.

This record confirmed the marriage of Violet to Clifford Smith on 14 August 1918:


This marriage record revealed: 

  1. Marriage location: The Cathedral, Agra
  2. Marriage date: 14 August 1918
  3. Ages: Clifford Melville: 21, Violet: 37
  4. Condition: Clifford Melville, Bachelor; Violet, Widow
  5. Profession: 7th Queen’s Own Hussars
  6. Residence: Clifford Melville: Meerut, Violet: Agra
  7. Father’s names: Charles Samuel Smith and Alfred Astridge
  8. Witnesses: unclear
  9. Ceremony performed by: unclear

This confirmed the marriage at on 14 August 1918 at The Cathedral, Agra. Clifford Melville a 21 year old bachelor, and Violet a 37 year old widow. Clifford’s profession is stated as 7th Queen’s Own Hussars, residing in Meerut, India; Violet residing in Agra. Father’s names are confirmed as Charles Samuel Smith and Alfred Astridge. The witness names and chaplain are unclear on the record.

There are some discrepancies here, particularly Violet’s age. Based on Violet’s baptism record, she would have been 41 years old at the time of this marriage. This means that there is a four year shift in her age, stated as 37 on the marriage record. There is the possibility that this is a different person. But, if we consider the records presented, many of the details match: the location, Agra – where Violet’s first marriage to Samuel Gordon took place; Father name, Alfred Astridge – matches all previous records; Violet recorded as a widow – correct, presuming Samuel Gordon had died. All things considered, this is the same person.

This bears eerie resemblance to Violet and Clifford’s future son, Clifford Melville Carr Smith. In short, Clifford (jnr) married Edith Aileen Hassett on 19 April 1942. It transpired that Edith had lied about her age on the marriage record and on travel records. Could it be that Clifford’s mother, Violet, had done exactly this in 1918? Was this part of the reasoning for Edith to follow suit in 1942? We may never know, but the similarities are striking.

It is of further interest to note the ages of Clifford (23) and Edith (34 – with a 5 year reduction applied – so, 39 in reality) at the time of their marriage in 1942 are very similar to the ages of Clifford’s parents, Clifford (21), Violet (37 – with a 4 year reduction applied – 41). This adds more food for thought as the stories of the Hassett’s and Wharton’s further knit together.

That wasn’t the end of the records for Violet Emma / Emma Violet. Armed with more information, her burial record was located, confirming Violet’s death on 30 November 1929:


The Burial record reveals:

  1. Burial location: Lucknow, Bengal, India
  2. Death date: 30 November 1929
  3. Age: 53
  4. Nationality / Profession: Wife of Clifford Smith
  5. Burial date: 21 December 1929
  6. Cause of death: Heart Failure
  7. Person whom buried: Unclear

The confirmed Violet’s death as 30 November 1929, aged 53, and burial date 21 December 1929 at Lucknow, Bengal, India (the location was confirmed via a separate record on Familysearch.org). The cause of death is recorded as heart failure, and the record further confirms Violet was the wife of Clifford Smith.

A lot of useful information is contained in these records of Violet Emma / Emma Violet Smith (nee Gordon; nee Astridge). The similarities with the life of her son, Clifford Melville Carr Smith, are fascinating, and will prove useful when further examining the records and life histories of the Anglo-Indian Project families.

This was not the end of the discoveries of the Smith lineage. More to follow soon.

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Interact with the Anglo-Indian Project

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