Charlie ChaplinThis is a featured page

Famous Romany - RomanyJib
Written by Raeg
Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London on 16th April, 1889.Both his parents were music hall entertainers and Charlie started appearing on the stage while still a child.
It had always been assumed that he was Jewish, and although he did actually strongly identify with the Jews and defend the Jewish people as he was a strong opponent of racism, and in 1937 Chaplin decided to make a film on the dangers of fascism.
As Chaplin pointed out in his autobiography, attempts were made to stop the film being made:
"Half-way through making The Great Dictator I began receiving alarming messages from United Artists.
They had been advised by the Hays Office that I would run into censorship trouble.
Also the English office was very concerned about an anti-Hitler picture and doubted whether it could be shown in Britain.
But I was determined to go ahead, for Hitler must be laughed at." However, by the time The Great Dictator was finished, Britain was at war with Germany and it was used as propaganda against Hitler.

However, despite this, there is no documentation proving any Jewish ancestry.
His mother was Hannah Hill the Smith name is via his paternal Grandmother , Ellen Smith however so far no evidence has emerged that she was from the Romany Smith family, census so far where I have found them show no sign of the "speculative"Midlands Smiths" Black patch"birth as alluded to in a letter sent to Chaplin and found in his possessions.

His grandfather Spencer Chaplin married Ellen Elizabeth Smith in 1854 Ipswich, Suffolk possible father for Ellen is a William Smith and Emma but I need to research this more as more than a few possibilities!
He was knighted in 1975 and died on Christmas day 1977 in Vevey, Vaud Swizerland .
Below is a recent article that alludes to a "Black patch " birth and a possible link to the Midlands Smiths ?but so far all census places where Charlie has been found are London/Surrey (before USA).
There are records of his trips to USA and I have found other siblings etc but will wait until I have researched his Smith line more throughly .

1891*Newington St Mary, London

Hannah Chaplin ........abt 1867 Walworth, Surrey Head Proffesional music singer
Sydney J H Chaplin ....abt 1885 Walworth, Surrey Son (his half brother)
Charles Chaplin ...... abt 1889 Walworth, Surrey Son
Charles Chaplin 1885 St Saviour Southwark London, Surrey (Charlie's father)
Hannah Harriett Hill 1885 St Saviour Southwark London, Surrey
1901*Lambeth (All recorded as Music hall artistes)
John W Jackson 19
Rose Jackson 12
Stephen Jackson 8
Willie Jackson 2
Eliza Goff 38
Joseph Popick 19
Arthur Williams 14
Maurice Williams 12
Daniel Murphy 16
James Cawley 13
Charles Chaplin 12

War draft USA*
Name: Charles Spencer Chaplin AGE 28 BORN LONDON ENGLAND SINGLE
City: Los Angeles
County: Los Angeles
State: California
Birth Date: 16 Apr 1889
Race: Caucasian (White)
FHL Roll Number: 1530898
DraftBoard: 17

Name: Charles Spencer Chaplin
Gender: Male
Age: 43
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1889
Birth Country: England
Date of Arrival: 13 Jun 1932
Vessel: Hikawa Maru
Search Ship Database: View the 'Hikawa Maru' in the 'Passenger Ships and Images' database
Port of Arrival: Vancouver, British Columbia
Port of Departure: Yokohama, Japan

This is a extract from Wikipedia**So it has to be checked as not all input on Wikipedia is correct or verified

"Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889, supposedly in East Street, Walworth, London, England.
(In 2011, a letter, written to him in the 1970s, came to light, suggesting that he had been born in a gypsy caravan at Black Patch Park in Smethwick, Staffordshire.)
His parents were both entertainers in the music hall tradition; his father, Charles Spencer Chaplin Sr, was a vocalist and an actor and his mother,
Hannah Chaplin, a singer and an actress who went by the stage name Lilly Harley.
They separated before Charlie was three.
He learned singing from his parents.
The 1891 census shows that his mother lived with Charlie and his older half-brother Sydney on Barlow Street, Walworth.
As a small child, Chaplin also lived with his mother in various addresses in and around Kennington Road in Lambeth, including 3 Pownall Terrace, Chester Street and 39 Methley Street. His paternal grandmother's mother was from the Smith family of Romanichals, a fact of which he was extremely proud, though he described it in his autobiography as "the skeleton in our family cupboard". Chaplin's father, Charles Chaplin Sr., was an alcoholic and had little contact with his son, though Chaplin and his half-brother briefly lived with their father and his mistress, Louise, at 287 Kennington Road.
The half-brothers lived there while their mentally ill mother lived at Cane Hill Asylum at Coulsdon.
Chaplin's father's mistress sent the boy to Archbishop Temples Boys School.
His father died of cirrhosis when Charlie was twelve in 1901.
As of the 1901 Census, Chaplin resided at 94 Ferndale Road, Lambeth, as part of a troupe of young male dancers, The Eight Lancashire Lads,managed by a William Jackson.
A larynx condition ended the singing career of Chaplin's mother. After Chaplin's mother was again admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum, her son was left in the workhouse at Lambeth in south London, moving after several weeks to the Central London District School for paupers in Hanwell.


This article is found on Genealogy and I have received an email from the author so with permission reproduce the said article;-

I’m writing in response to the interesting article by ‘raeg’ on the above topic. I note that he/she intends pursuing further the possibility of a Smith family of the Midlands in this regard. I would point out that in a recent attempt to describe the origins and early life of Charlie Chaplin (not realising that so many others had already done so) , I came to the conclusion that the grandmother whom he described as having some Gipsy inheritance would most likely be the Mary Ann Hill (ex-Hodges, nee Terry) who shared his early home near East Street (she a ‘Wardrobe Dealer’) – although admittedly he was himself too young to have recalled such, but would presumably have heard early stories about her from his mother Hannah (Mary Ann’s daughter) - even if that latter lady apparently died quite young (when Charlie was only a toddler, I believe). His other grandmother – on his father’s side – while certainly nee Smith herself – was seemingly of a more settled family - of Suffolk – her father being a Butcher and later a farmer. [But, I accept that in itself would not eliminate her necessarily having such ancestry.]
However, I am persuaded by the IGI finding that Mary Ann was very likely the child of George Terry (Terrey) and his wife Mary Ann Smith – born to them in Marylebone (not too far from the Soho where she said (in 1891) she was born) - on 12 Nov 1835 (baptised 29 May 1836); for one or the other event, she was in fact intriguingly listed as Mary Ann Smith Terrey. [One wonders if they only married between the two dates.?] I haven’t anything on their marriage (ca 1834/35, I would estimate) and as I live in North Yorkshire (and am now in my 80s), can’t pursue this further - by examining parish registers in London (as much as I’d love to). I have read that some thousands of Gipsy’s resided within the bounds of London in the early Victorian times (often sleeping in tents) and in any case, would likely do so in particular on its then northern edges – in Marylebone and St Pancras. The same couple appear to have had a son George Terry subsequently. Either he or the father, as well as the mother, may have died before Mary Ann was ca 5 years old - as there are death registrations in that area for all these names, at that time. This is speculative, I know, as so many had similar names. But I do find a Mary Ann Terry, aged just 5, living in south London in 1841, without either parent. She marries Henry Hodges in 1854 – in that district. How did she end up there ? She seems to have indicated later that she was a little younger (as some ladies do).
I have written this up in my account which can be viewed at: and scroll down to ‘A Brief Genealogy of Charlie Chaplin’.

Latest page update: made by raeg , Jun 5 2012, 3:06 AM EDT (about this update About This Update raeg Edited by raeg

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