Generation 1:   John Smith and Ann Baker

I believe that the earliest ancestor was John Smith and his wife Ann Baker of Wroughton on the Green in Buckinghamshire. There are no details but it’s pretty certain that John was an agricultural labourer. I have not done sufficient research to identify all the John and Anna Smiths of the region of which there were a couple. But it looks like this family’s history starts in the vicinity of Milton Keynes. Funny that as that is where this line of the family still lives.  I have taken artistic liberty and written John's story in the first person. Ralph would be perfect reading this aloud as he has a fantastic Buckinghamshire accent. :)  

“Moi name be John Smith and moi wife, she were that lovely Ann Matthews of Simpson wot oi now believes to be under that there Milton Keynes.  We was marrid in the village church in the village. on 10 April 1732. You can see ow boottiful that church looks. ahh it were a great day.

Loif was ‘ard in them days. (Chris tells me that Wikipedia (wotever that is) says that “In the mid 19th century the village (Simpson) was described as "in appearance, one of the most wretched of many miserable villages in the county" (Sheahan).  This was cos the  approach to the village bein blocked in the winta toime by a ford 200 yards woide, and three feet deep. This ford twas fixed in the 1860s when the road were raised by three and a half feet by the Warren family, thems as were lords of the manor.

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Our village be located south of the centre of wot is na Milton Keynes, just north ' that Fenny Stratford, near Walton. The Manor Field allotments are on top of the old manor where we laboured.

“But it weren’t that bad really cos it were all we knew.”  “Oi took me wife Ann back to me village of Woughton on  the Green where oi worked as an agricultural labourer sometimes at the Rectory Farm and sometimes at the Manor Farm.“

We don’t know where or when John was born. Can you imagine the difficulty of looking for a John Smith? It was doubtless in Buckinghamshire which brings the possible matches to 31.

So, our earliest record is John’s marriage to Ann Matthews in the church in the picture on 10 Apr1732 – a spring wedding!  There are two Ann Matthews who might be our Ann – Ann christened 20 May 1711  Newton Longville (daughter of John and Ann) or Ann christened 22 Sept 1707 in Loughton (parents Roger and Martha).

Every Sunday the Smith family, indeed the whole village would have attended the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in Wroughton and all their children would have been christened there.  We rely on parish registers to trace our ancestors. Sadly the registers for Wroughton for the years 1653 –1692 have been lost.

The church font has been us use since the thirteenth century.

Children of John and Ann Smith:

  • Martha Smith christened 16 Feb 1735 Wroughton on the Green

  • Elizabeth Smith christened 20 Mar 1737 Wroughton on the Green

  • Ann James Smith christened 17 Jun 1739 at Wroughton on the Green, Bucks

  • James Smith christened 21 Aug 1748 buried 8 Mar 1749 at Wroughton on the Green, Bucks

  • James Smith christened 20 Jan 1751 at Wroughton on the Green, Bucks. James is our Gen 2 man

 

There are other children born to a John and Ann but they were born in Drayton Parslow, Thornborough, Oakey Astwood and Ickham – and I can’t be certain that they are of this family.

At some stage in his life, and probably because quite often agricultural labourers (ag labs) weren’t guaranteed a tied job, he found work and moved to Buckingham. John was called as a juror in the Michaelmas sessions in Buckingham on 6 Oct 1720 in a case against Marta Dickens

Open this link for a historical note about Wroughton on the Green. History is wonderful and it's fascinating to know where your direct forebear lived and worked.  Your Smith forebears worked the land for the lord of manor who in the eighteenth century was the Troutbeck family.

Outside of work the families would have attended the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and many other activities would have been held at the village pub, the White Swan - built in Tudor times and located on the edge of the green. The top photo shows what it looked like a couple of centuries ago and the lower drawing of it is what it looks like today. So, next time you have a family gathering, consider the White Swan and think of your bears from 250 years ago!!

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Generation 2:   James Smith and Sarah Slaughter

James was born in Wroughton on the Green in 1751, baptised the 20 Jan that yea. He married Sarah in Buckingham on 27 Jan 1772. There is only one Sarah Slaughter born in this period in Bucks, in Hedgerley 6 Dec 1747. Her parents were Thomas and Sarah Slaughter. But I am a bit worried by this as Hedgerley is 55 miles from Buckingham. Bit far in those days.

Details before the censuses give us very little information about people in those days, but I think we can safely assume that James would have been an agricultural labourer, as were his descendants.  Great story here about farm labourers by Thomas Hardy. Although the records state that the christenings below took place in Buckingham, their son Joseph b 1785 stated his birth place as Gawcott. There was no church in Gawcott at this time so the following children would have been christened in the parish church in Buckingham.

Not your Smith ancestor - but he probably looked like this

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Note: The farm labourer had considerable skill if his tasks included ploughing, harrowing, rolling, sowing seed, tending and weeding a variety of crops, harvesting with scythe, sickle and spade, and laying up and threshing during the winter. The animals had to be herded and milked, and the shepherds needed skilled help at lambing and shearing times. There was cutting, drying and stacking hay, as well as trimming and laying hedges or building drystone walls, fencing and making gates, making or mending roofs of thatch, tile or slate, and pointing brickwork. Ditches, culverts, drains, ponds, farm roads and tracks all had to be made and maintained. In autumn stubborn invasive weeds needed to be skillfully eradicated by fire, and every item needed in his home had to be constructed on days when the weather was too poor to work outside. Not every agricultural labourer possessed, or needed, all of these skills but the seasonal nature of most work demanded that he be versatile and, naturally, the more capable he was the better wages he could command.

James and Mary Smith had the following children:

  • William Smith christened 7 Jun 1772 Buckingham

  • James Smith christened 25 Dec 1774 Buckingham

  • Joseph Smith christened 12 Oct 1777 Buckingham

  • Jane Smith christened 6 Oct 1782 in Buckingham

  • Joseph Smith christened 20 Mar 1785 in Buckingham He stated on a census that he was born in Gawcott. He moved to Barton Hartshorn in Buckinghamshire.

  • Sarah Smith christened 22 Jun 1788 in Buckingham

  • Rebecca Smith christened 5 Jan 1794 in Buckingham

You will note that there are two Josephs. The first Joe may have died or there may well have been another James and Mary Smith in Buckingham at this time.

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Gawcott is a village about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southwest of Buckingham. There is not much info about this tiny place, although Sir George Gilbert Scott, the architect of the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras railway station in London (and numerous other buildings), was born in Gawcott (Wikipedia). Gawcott is a compact village standing on elevated ground south of the Great Ouse and west of Claydon Brook. 

The oldest parts of the Village, which have remained largely unchanged over the years, extend principally along Main Street, Church Street and Back Street.  Newer developments run off from Main Street and along the roads from Preston Bissett, Radclive, Hillesden and Buckingham.

​The centre of the Village consists of mainly two-storey terraced houses and cottages fronting directly onto footpaths which run the length of Main Street. These buildings, the majority of which are eighteenth and nineteenth century in origin, are constructed mostly of brick, with some of roughcast and colour-washed.  The few older sixteenth and seventeenth century properties are of rubble stone, some with newer brick facings.  Despite its small size, the almost continuous line of brick and stone buildings along Main Street gives it an urban character, distinguishing it from the rural feel of surrounding villages.  There is a fine collection of listed buildings close to the junction of Main Street and Radclive Road, particularly Red Lion House, Westcott House and Old Eagles Farmhouse. The centre of the Village and its buildings are protected by Conservation Area status established in 1990.

​Gawcott used to have five Public Houses, four of which are now private residences, including the former Red Lion, The Royal Oak and The Cuckoo’s Nest. The latter opened as the Chequers in 1742 before becoming the New Inn and finally the Cuckoo’s Nest. The original Crown Inn was known to be trading in 1737 but became a private house in 1805. However, in the same year a new Crown public house was opened in the current premises. 

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The 1881 census confirms that the majority of residents were agricultural workers, a situation that would have prevailed for generations. From the 1700s, perhaps as many as a quarter of village womenfolk were involved in lace making,   Gawcott was well-known for the making of black lace.  in good times the trade paid one shilling to one shilling and threepence a day; much better than the wages of agricultural labourers. But they had to work damned hard.   Lace making as a cottage industry continued throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. As late as 1951, lace was still being made in North Buckinghamshire.

 “ There is scarcely a door to be seen, during Summer, in most towns, but what is occupied by some industrious pale-faced lass; their sedentary trade forbidding the rose to bloom in their sickly cheeks.“  Thomas Pennant – “The Journey From Chester to London 1779”

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Cowper wrote in a letter to Joseph Hill, dated 8th July 1780:   ‘I am an Eye Witness of their poverty and do know that Hundreds of this little Town are upon the Point of Starving and that the most unremitting Industry is but barely sufficient to keep them from it… there are nearly 1200 lace makers in this Beggarly Town.’ For more info about lacemaking and its hardships see here.

Generation 3: Joseph Smith and Elizabeth

Joseph Smith was christened 20 Mar 1785 in Gawcott, Buckingham. There being no other work available for a young boy, he followed in the family tradition and would have been helping his dad in the fields from a very early age.    As an ag lab he would have needed to move away from home to get work. We find the family living in  Barton Hartshorn in Buckinghamshire. This village is 3 miles from Gawcott.

There isn’t much info about this tiny hamlet. Wikipedia tells us” Barton Hartshorn is a civil parish about 4 miles (6.4 km) southwest of Buckingham in the Aylesbury Vale district of Buckinghamshire. Its southern boundary is a brook called the Birne, and this and the parish's western boundary form part of the county boundary with Oxfordshire. At the 2011 Census the population of the parish was included in the civil parish of Chetwode.

"Barton" is derived from the Old English for "Barley Farm", and is a common place name in England. In the 11th century it was recorded as Bertone. In the 15th century it was recorded as Barton Hertishorne and Beggars Barton, and in the 16th century it was Little Barton.  "Hartshorn" comes from a separate hamlet in the same parish and is thought [ to refer to the shape of the land locally: it  lies in the shape of a deer's horn.

Barton Manor is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and the early lords of Barton took their name from the place. The manor was first called Barton Hartshorn in a grant of 1421. In about 1629 the manor was sold to Thomas Lisle, whose initials – T.L. ‐ are thought to be those carved on the north‐west gable of the house along with the date of 1635. His heir, Fermor Lisle, held it at his death in 1742 when it was left in trust for the use of his sister and her heirs. By 1813 the site comprised a yard, garden and orchard belonging to William Lisle and Charles Bowles, along with separate ownership of several other nearby cottages and parcels of land, adjoining a road running from west to east.. The entrance to the house from the road lay through this cluster of buildings, with the church to the north‐east. No significant changes occurred until about 1899 when it was acquired by Lieut. Col. Charles Trotter, possibly coinciding with the opening in 1899 of a railway line to London, with a station about 1.2km away.

​The parish's common lands were enclosed by an Act of Parliament passed in 1812

 So we know that Joseph was born in 1785 and was baptized on the 20 March 1785 in Buckingham. And we know that he married an Elizabeth who was in 1796 in Laughton, Bucks. It is not known how many children they had but we know of the following:

  • Ann Smith b 1815

  • Susannah Smith b 1826 (may have married James Stratton in Langley Bucks 10 May 1846)

  • Joseph Smith b 1826 d 1884 – see below Gen 4

  • Mary Smith b 1830. In the 1851 census she is a lace maker. She married Henry Ibell b 1825 Barton Hartshorn (his dad was a gardener at Chetwode Priory) and he was an ag lab. They decided that a new life in the USA was a chance not to be missed and in 1852 they migrated to Hartford, Connecticut USA. I am waiting to hear back from their descendants in the USA.

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The mystery of the Tyrells

The 1841 has a bit of a mystery. Joe and Elizabeth were also looking after Sarah Tyrell aged 15, William Tyrell aged 13, Jane Tyrell aged 13 and Elizabeth Tyrell aged 11.

In 1861 Joe aged 65 is still working as an ag lab, Elizabeth is a lace maker and we find that Sarah Tyrell is a daughter-in-law aged 29, William Tyrell is a son-in-law aged 22 while Elizabeth Tyrell aged 19 is another daughter in law.

In the 1861 census the address for the families is the Manor House in Barton Hartshead. I wonder whether all the workforce lived on the manor? Because there are certainly a shortage of houses in the “hamlet”. So we find Joseph now aged 77, a labourer and Elizabeth aged 65. The next family on the census is:

William Tyrell an ag lab aged 33 b Barton and Mary Tyrell his wife aged 30 b Preston Bissett together with their children:  James (7), Jane (5), Selena (3), Elizabeth 7 mo) all born in Barton.

1871 has William and Mary Tyrell with their children and now Elizabeth aged 76 is listed as grandmother. Hmm!  And Will and Mary have a couple more kids – Annie (8), Harriett (5), William (3) and a daughter Ruth (6mo)

1881 and Elizabeth has passed away. Selena, William and Ruth are at home – William aged 12 is an ag lab.

Theory – Mary Smith who married William Tyrell was Elizabeth’s sister in law?

Generation 4: Joseph Smith and Susannah Batchelor

Joseph was born circa 1824 in Barton Hartshorne. He too was an ag lab from the age of 12 and he lived all his life in Barton Hartshorn.

He married Susannah Batchelor and we find them at Barton in 1841 and 1851. In 1861 he is a labourer’s carter. In the 1871 and 1881 census he was living in his own cottage and most of his family were there too. 1881 tells us that there was a Fred Smith aged 1 and he was one of the daughter’s children.  The only daughter living at home at that time was Annie.

Joseph married Susannah Batchelor bc 1823. She was born in Buckingham.

Children:

  • William Smith bc 1846 Barton – was on the 1851 census but I think he died as a young man

  • Sarah Ann Smith bc 1847 Barton

  • Thomas Smith bc 1849 Barton

  • Elizabeth Smith bc 1851 Barton d 1931 Buckingham. In 1871 she was a dairymaid Oaks Farm , Whaddon, Bucks.. Married William Ridgway (b 1850 Nash, Bucks – d 1938 Doncaster) in 1873 in the Winslow district.. Ridgway (and name change Ridgewell) family is in Yorkshire. He was an ag lab and in 1891 she listed her occupation as retired laundress.They lived at Naburn, York. By 1911 they were living alone at Thorpe in Baln, Askern, Doncaster. They had  7 children. William aged 61 worked as a roadman for the rural district council.

  • Rebecca Smith bc 1853 Barton d 1934 Bedford.Married 1, William Inwood (1850-1913). William was an ag lab and they moved to Great Woolstone. William died and Rebecca remarried to James Bellamy in 1923 in Bedford

  • Joseph Smith bc 1855 Barton

  • Mary Smith bc 1856 Barton

  • Ann Smith bc 1860 Barton/Gawcott married Joseph Blencow, ag lab and had issue.

  • Jane Smith bc 1861 Barton

  • Maria Smith bc 1870 Barton, d 1939 North Bucks. Married Frederick Thomas Lee Biggs b Wroughton-on-the-Green circa 1864, died 1936 North Bucks. He was a farm labourer. Their son (1911) was Oliver Biggs, also a farm labourer born circa 1895

  • Joanna Smith bc 1872 Barton

  • William Smith bc 1875 barton

  • John Smith bc 1876 Barton. John is our Gen 5 man

  • Elllen Eliza Smith bc 1870 Barton. In 1891 she was in service as a general domestic servant in Wicken, Northants. Her boss was Thomas Shakeshaft, a carpenter.  In 1901 she is married to Thomas J Percival a butcher’s assistant in Padbury, Bucks and by 1911 the family consists of:

    • William Percival

    • Ralph Percival

    • John Percival

    • Annie Percival

Ellen died aged 73 in 1943 in St Albans,  Herts.

Generation 5: John Smith and Ellen

With the other generations it has been easy to find their stats. John presents problems. He is lurking in history and doesn’t seem to want to be drawn into the light.

He was born in Barton Hartshorn in about 1867. He was working as an ag lab in Barton at the age of 14. I can’t find him in 1891 but he pops up again in 1901 where he is working as a cattleman on a farm and living in Steane Lodge, Northamptonshire.

His partner was Ellen Wise  bc 1871 in Chetwode. (4 miles south west of Buckingham. Ellen was the daughter of Benjamin Wise, an ag lab of Chetwode and Eliza his wife. At this stage (2017) I have been unable to find any record of a marriage.

John and Ellen had the following children

  • Unknown child probably died young

  • Elsie Ellen Smith baptised 1 Jul 1894 Newton Purcell (less than a mile from Barton Hartshorn) buried 29 Sep 1897 aged 6 weeks

  • Margaret Mabel Smith baptised 28 Aug 1896 Newton Purcell. Died 1897 in Bicester

  • Raymond Henry Smith baptised 23 Aug 1896 Newton Purcell. Note that later Raymond was known as Raymond Percy.

  • Gladys Annie Smith baptised 19 Feb 1899 Newton Purcell, probably died young

  • Sydney Redvers Smith baptised 24 Jun 1900 Newton Purcell. `With a name like that you would think he would be easy to find. But there is a JR in Dulwich who joined the RN, another in Australia – but no trace of our JR. There is a JR who died 20 Apr 1901 in Grantham, Lincs.

  • Edgar Roby Smith 1901 – 1965 married Annie May Burgess 1913 - 1971. Edgar is our Gen 7

Steane Park

John worked at Steane Park near Brackley at the end of the nineteenth century.  In 2017 while Pamela and I were staying with Ralph and Christine we discovered this fact and Lady Connel very kindly opened up her garden so that we could walk in John’s footsteps. Information about Steane Park Gardens here. John and Ellen lived at Steane Lodge, known locally as the “threepenny bit”.

Stean Park was owned by Captain Alcock who bought it in 1890. He sold it in 1914.  John was there, but I am not sure how long he stayed there.

Steane Park used to be a stately home and was once the seat of Lord Crewe but now it is a shadow of its former self. It had been sold to the Spencer family (Lady Di’s ancestors), but they allowed it to deteriorate and most of it was taken down in the mid eighteenth century). Still gorgeous though.

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The photo on the right shows Ralph in the very stable where his grandfather was the head horse honcho.

John was dead by the 1911 census because Ellen lists herself as a widow. She states that she has had 8 children but only 4 were still living. Looking for a death certificate for a John Smith with no other information is well ……!

So in 1911 Ellen is living at 14 Hunter Street, Buckingham with sons Raymond, a paper boy and Sydney and Edgar are both at school. Ellen is working hard as a laundress. 14 Hunter Street is still there, but from Google Maps (pic below) I can’t identify which house it is. Next door at 13 there was a livery stables. There were 5 rooms in this house which would have been fantastic for this family of battlers.

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Generation 6: Edgar Roby and Annie Burgess

Edgar was born in Steane Lodge, Brackley in the summer of 1901 while dad was working as a cattleman at Steane Park.

 

Sadly his dad died and by 1911 he was living at 14 Hunter Street, Buckingham and attending school – probably the same school in Wells Street that Ralph, his son went to!

Edgar married Annie May Burgess (b 1913) in 1934 at Buckingham. Annie was born in Oct 1813 in Buckingham. Her parents were Joseph and Annie Burgess and they lived at 5 Stratford Road, Buckingham. Joseph was a chimney sweep.

I don’t know much about Edgar. So much easier to find out about people who have been dead for 100 years. This part will have to be researched by family members who are still living … and who still live in England. There is no record of him being in the military during World War I. Farm workers were a vital part of the war effort, working hard to ensure the British population were able to put food on the table.

However we know that Edgar committed suicide in 1965. The National Probate Calendar quote:

Edgar was born in Steane Lodge, Brackley in the summer of 1901 while dad was working as a cattleman at Steane Park.

 

Sadly his dad died and by 1911 he was living at 14 Hunter Street, Buckingham and attending school – probably the same school in Wells Street that Ralph, his son went to!.

Edgar married Annie May Burgess (b 1913) in 1934 at Buckingham. Annie was born in Oct 1813 in Buckingham. Her parents were Joseph and Annie Burgess and they lived at 5 Stratford Road, Buckingham. Joseph was a chimney sweep.

I don’t know much about Edgar. So much easier to find out about people who have been dead for 100 years. This part will have to be researched by family members who are still living … and who still live in England. There is no record of him being in the military during World War I. Farm workers were a vital part of the war effort, working hard to ensure the British population were able to put food on the table.

However we know that Edgar committed suicide in 1965. The National Probate Calendar quote:

“SMITH Edgar Robey otherwise Edgar Roby of 11 Westfields, Buckingham who was last seen alive on the 18 May 1965 and whose dead body was found on the 19 May 1965 at Buckingham. Administration Oxford 15 September to Annie May Smith, widow. Effects £390.”

The rest of the information here has been provided by Ralph Smith

Edgar and Annie Smith had the following children:

  • Peter Joseph Smith b 1932 Amersham. Killed in a motorcycle accident 16 Jun 1979 Buckingham. Probate report:

“SMITH, Peter Joseph of 11 Westfields, Buckingham died 16 Jun 1979. Probate Oxford 23 November. Effects £4519.”

  • Raymond Smith b Dec 1935 married Rita D Woods and has Paula and Jeanette

  • Sydney A Smith b 1942 married Janet and has mark and Cheryl

  • Dorothy Smith married Tom Tulip and has Pauline and Christine

  • Kathleen Smith b 1944 married Ken Smith – no children

  • Joan Smith married Peter Davis and has Lorraine and Michaela

  • Ralph Smith b 1950 married Christine Wylde nee Smith and has Peter and Samantha.  Ralph is Gen 7

  • Jack Smith married Julia Smith

 

Ralph are there any photos of your mum and dad or uncles aunts?

Generation 7: Ralph and Christine Wylde nee Smith

Ralph Smith was born 16 Feb 1950 in Buckingham. He attended school in Wells Street, Buckingham. Ralph is a fantatsic mechanic and specialised for many years repairing and renovating mini cars. Christine is the eldest child of Cyril and Lilian Smith of St Albans, born 15 May 1952. She attended Sandfield Secondary School. Ralph and Christine moved to Hanslope in Buckinghamshire and  operated a small grocery shop. When a big supermarket came to town, the shop had to close, like so many viillage shops have done across the country.

 Christine has qualified in financial management and bookkeeping and is a master of the compost. Christine has previously been married to Christopher Wylde. Chris was born in 1949 and they have a son

  • Matthew Wylde b 1975. Matt grew up in Hanslope, Buckinghamshire. He married Sharon Winterbourne. They live in   Milton Keynes, probably not too far from the Smith ancestors going back to early English history. They have two children:

o   Lily Star Wylde b 2010

o   Scarlett Page Wylde b

 

Christine and Ralph have two children:

  • Samantha Lilian Smith b 22 Jan 1963 in Northampton. She attended Roade and Montsaye School and then went on to the University of Northampton where she passed a Master of Science degree.She married Jon Facci. Jon owns a gym and Sam teaches veterinary science in a TAFE college

  • Peter Smith b 20 Feb 1981 attended Roade Spprts College in Northampton. Peter is a passionate enthusiast and instructor in Keysi martial arts. This is a form of fighting that focuses on self-defence at close quarters. Peter also enjoys fishing and motorcycling. Peter is in a partnership with Myra Umali. Myra comes from the Philippines and has a high power IT background that is awesome but I cant describe it.

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Family group shot:  Ralph; Peter; Sam; Christine and Matthew

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Left: Sharon and Matt; Above: Scarlett & Lily

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Sam and Jon

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Myra & Peter

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Above:  Matt; Sam and Peter;  Right: Peter and martial arts

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