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John Lewis HARKOM

Who was John Lewis HARKOM? Very little external evidence of genealogical value has been found relating to John, my great-great grandfather.

He first appears at his wedding in 1864, a bachelor of "full age", and a licenced victualler living in Holbern Hill. His father is recorded as John HARKOM also, a gardener.

The next record of John is the April 1871 census, where address and family relations are as expected, but new information records his age as 46 (implying born Apr 1824-Mar 1825) and born in Somerset. This is also the first (and only) occasion where he has the middle name "Lewis", although it was also given as a middle name to his eldest son, and (as "Louisa") to his eldest daughter.

The remaining record is his December 1871 death certificate, recording his age as 47 (implying born Dec 1823-Dec 1824).

Based on his location in 1864 and 1871, it is quite possible that he was in an area of London for the 1861 census where the records have been lost.

I have reviewed available vital records and census returns based on the few facts known to try to find birth or family records. Several potential candidates were identified but fail for reasons such as being found in later censuses with families. The name HARKOM, being somewhat uncommon, is subject to a range of mistranscriptions but a lot of variations were considered.

There is one candidate I have not totally eliminated, although there are some inconsistencies. The John HARKOM I am left with was born in Walcot, Bath, in 1821, so a few years earlier than expected. His father, John, was a cordwainer/shoemaker, rather than a gardener. Neither of these matters need be fatal to making the connection, but neither do they assist in confirmation.

There is a family story that John's daughter acknowledged some Jewish links, although no external evidence has yet been found. If this is the case, it is not clear if this came from John or his wife. I understand the name "Lewis" is sometimes used as a Jewish name (possibly derived from Levi?), but this is not an exclusive use of the name. I've not found any suggestion the surname HARKOM has any Jewish connection. My DNA testing has been inconclusive on any Jewish heritage.

Another story recounts that John was a talented linguist and interpreter of seven languages. Possibly this could suggest some time out of England.

My great grandmother, John's daughter, had an unusual given name: Carry. Again, I have tried and failed to find any links based on that name.

There is an unidentified witness at the wedding, what appears to be Sarah ARMER.

Following John's death, his widow married his business partner, Henry GALE. There has not been anything found in relation to Henry that sheds light on John.

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