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The Listers/Smarts/Sees of the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire Fens

Updated December 22, 2006

Ashley Robert Lister
15 Union Place
Boston, Lincolnshire PE21 6PS
United Kingdom
01205 352795

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"Any fool can appreciate mountains, it takes a person of real discernment to appreciate the Fens."


I am tracing the family history of Lister/Smart/See families in England (mainly UPWELL, ELM AND WELNEY in NORFOLK/CAMBRIDGESHIRE but also throughout East Anglia)information on any of these families welcomed and offered. Text files of the main lines are availiable in the "related files" section but please do not hesitate to contact me via email if you would prefer information as a GEDCOM, I will be pleased to assist if at all possible.

The family history file contains more than 19,000 entries and as such is too large to upload to this page as an interne tree, I will be uploading more text files of its constituent families over the next few weeks.
A full list of surnames is in preparation and should be uploaded shortly.

Comments regarding this webpage welcome,as are any links/information/connections to the families it contains


This history is the result of my realization of the importance of asking our parents and grandparents about their lives, thoughts and feelings. They are the reason we exist and every second of their lives, their parents parents lives, has had an extremely small but influential bearing on how we navigate our way through ours.

The unforeseen loss of my father was, to me, a vivid illustration of how easily we can loose contact with not only their person, but of their real being,, that indefinable cloak that has always been there to keep us safe, and loved.

When the high tide of grief had ebbed a little and the white horses receded to a gentle lapping at dawn and dusk, I realized the one thing we can never lose is his cloak and it is this cloak I have set out to trace through its many wearers ; my fathers fathers.

It is not the purpose of this history to be a comprehensive account of TRL's ancestors, more a note pad of known facts and recollections upon which, if they should so choose, the reader may dwell and perhaps relate to their own families ancestry.

To the following I extend my thanks, for without their help this project would have never been more than a personal flight of fancy.

My cousin, Heather McBain (nee Lister) for sharing my enthusiasm, curiosity and lows.
My uncle, Victor Noel Gowler, for his anecdotes of the personal lives of many of the Smarts and providing
the press cuttings reproduced in this history.
Peter John Parnham, for his editorial guidance, interest and continual support and friendship.
Robert Bell at Wisbech and Fenland Museum.
Ben and Cecil John Smart.
Michael Edgoose.
Russell Biggs.
Robert Simpson in Canada.
Hilary Winter author of 'The Welney Division' from which much about the skating Smarts was gleaned.
Spindrift Publishing , Wisbech for permission to use extracts from the above item.
Adam Giles, Welney.
Julie - for everything.
And many others too numerous to acknowledge here - thank you all.



This homepage is dedicated to
Thomas Robert Lister
My Father
Thomas Robert Lister
My Son
Born May 29 1998
In the hope he will understand why.

GEDCOM Trees (viewing trees requires 4.0 or later)

  • Descendants of William Lister (Lyster) (208 KB)
    Gedcom file of the descendants of William Lister born 1711 at Upwell m. Elizabeth Steel
  • Descendants of Edward SMART (310 KB)
    Gedcom file of the descendants of Edward Smart born c.1670 possibly at Hilgay or Welney.
  • Descendants of Abraham SEE (388 KB)
    Gedcom of the descendants of Abraham SEE born c.1650 at Welney.
  • Descendants of Dockerill GOWLER (17 KB)
    Gedcom file of the descendants of Dockerill GOWLER born 1760 at Chatteris. This tree is as yet unproven prior to 1878.
  • HIAM (161 KB)
    I am pleased to be able, with the author's permission, to include this Gedcom of the Hiam family of Elm/Upwell compiled by J Richards. Please note the RUSSELL and MORTON descendants of Elizabeth, Ann and Emma are not included here but are available from J Richards, please contact me at the e-mail address above if you require further details of these lines and I will forward your interest to him.

Family Photos

  • James 'Fish' Smart World fenskating champion (158 KB)
    Photograph taken at Kennerill studios Wisbech c.1890.Aka 'Fish' originally given to his brother George,who as well as a champion skater, was also an accomplished swimmer
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (368 KB)
    Fifth page-Top
  • William 'Gutta percha' See (269 KB)
    William was a fen skater from the previous generation to James Smart.His nickname is a reflection of how hardy and resiliant a person he was perceived to be, as were all all the 'Tigers' of the Fens.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (341 KB)
    Fifth page-Bottom
  • Thomas Robert Lister 1927-1995 (328 KB)
    My Father.
  • William 'Turkey' Smart- William 'Gutta Percha' See (166 KB)
    Two old rivals of the ice. c. 1860-70s
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (343 KB)
    Final page-Top
  • Thomas Robert Lister b.29 May 1998 (201 KB)
    My Son.
  • Wm 'Turkey' Smart and Wm 'Gutta Percha' See (218 KB)
    Photo taken at Littleport in 1895 when both men were into their 60's.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (322 KB)
    Final page-Bottom
  • Thomas Lister and Fanny Lister c.1890 (326 KB)
    A studio portrait of Thomas and Fanny Lister taken c.1890, probably at Kennerell Studios Wisbech
  • James Smart illustration by George Whymper (563 KB)
    A picture of James Smart by Whymper, the famouse 19th century artist and illustrator. There is confusion as to if this is indeed James or his elder brother George 'Fish' Smart.
  • 1891 'Flier' (279 KB)
    Poster advertising a social event at Bluntisham, the guest to unclude James and William Smart.
  • James Smart - a studio portrait (219 KB)
    A studio portrait, somewhat aged, showing James Smart in full skating attire including skates. The caption reads "Champion Skater of England on ice or road". A reference to his skating around England on roller skates to advertise his newly formed company importing and selling the Norweigian type of skates in collaboration with Harold Hagan, his Norweigian rival on the ice, but firm friends none the less.
  • Circa 1890 postcard (523 KB)
    James Smart skating in what is believed to be an exhibition event in Hanmar, Norway.
  • Bedford Bank, Welney (200 KB)
    View from Norway House towards the village of Welney.
  • The Carter family c. 1890-1900 (888 KB)
    The woman on the right is Polly Smart nee Carter, the wife of Jarman Smart, James' brother.The gentleman seated is her father William and her mother, Mary Ann Carter nee Lavender is on the left. It is not known who the young girl is but is probably one of William and Mary Ann's many grandchildren.
  • George Smart 'The Flying Fish' (287 KB)
    Verses written by Abraham Ward of Southery,'composed on the celebration of George Smart, Welney, who has proved himself the Champion of the Ice, 1878/9'
  • Welney church. (153 KB)
    A number of Listers/Smarts/Sees are buried here, including James Smart, William 'Turkey' Smart, William 'Gutta percha' See, George 'Young Gutty' see, George 'Fish' Smart and Elizabeth Lister.
  • Alfred Haws - fen skater (88 KB)
    Alfred Haws was married to Polly's sister Elizabeth and a well known fenskater, another example of the close family ties between the main skating names of the 'Welney Division'.
  • James Smart - Obituary (689 KB)
    Cutting taken from the Eastern Daily Press of the 11 May 1928
  • Elizabeth Lister (328 KB)
    Elizabeth Lister, Buried Welney
  • James Smart postcard - No 2 (265 KB)
    James and Harold Hagen skating in Norway 1890's
  • Sidney Lister (579 KB)
    Photograph taken about 1930, probably at Knarr Fen.Also in the picture are Tom and Fanny Lister.The motocycle has been identfied as being a Matchless 1000cc V twin combination,a super bike of the time.
  • Norway House, Bedford Bank, Welney (61 KB)
    After James Smarts' success skating in Norway he had a home for his family built and named it 'Norway House'.It was built by Bernie Sutton and they took all the brick down by barge from Welney. There was/is no sealed road to the dwelling, just track or river. It was built in 1892, the same year that Hagen Smart, Jim's son was born. ('Hargy' was a great wildfowler of the Ouse Washes, he lived in Norway House until the 1950's). The above details and photograph kindly supplied by Adam Giles, Welney.
  • Harry 'Monkey' Lister (437 KB)
    Harry Lister and the family trap at Wicken. Monkey was a somewhat cruel nickname aquired because of his backwardness, he was quiet severly retarded.A story is told of how he 'imprisoned' two young lads in a shed for a number of hours after they had taunted him.
  • George Smart's threshing gang c.1910 (486 KB)
    William 'Turkey' Smart's son George owned and operated this business in the early years of the 20th century. His son Herbert James, was K.I.A in France 25 March 1918 whilst serving in the Army Service Corps as an engine driver.He is 2nd left on the engine, on the far right is Daniel Rudland.Standing in front of engine L-R Tom Carter, Jarman Smart, George Smart, G Cutting, Bob Gordon, Fred Carter, Jim Carter.
  • Norweigian skates (91 KB)
    These are an example of the type of ice skates manufactured by L H Hagan of Oslo, they were to prove far superior to the fen runner type. It is this pattern of skates that James Smart became agent for in the UK , having competed against and become good friends with Harold Hagen - to the extent of naming one of his sons after him.
  • The headstone of John Badger Lister (695 KB)
    The headstone of John Badger Lister 1807-1865 and his daughter Mary Ann c1835-1872 in Elm churchyard. Badger is not an aka but a genuine given second name, it appears through several generations of Listers. It seems to have originated from John's grandmother Elenor Badger 1748?-1816
  • Elm church (192 KB)
    Elm churchyard is the burial place of several members of the Lister family, although very few headstones remain to record where exactly, John Badger Lister's is an exception.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (416 KB)
    Top section of the opening page of the inventory of Thomas the elder Lister of Upwell 1747-1799.This consists of 6 pages. Part of this document was appraised by William Sharpe, Thomas's brother-in-law, who married Mary Ann Lister.Other sections are signed John Sharpe but it is uncertain, as yet, if they were related.NOTE AS EACH PAGE IS TOO LARGE TO SHOW IN ONE VIEW, EACH PAGE IS DIVIDED INTO 'TOP' -'BOTTOM'.
  • Tom Lister circa. 1920 (371 KB)
    Picture thought to have been taken on the farm at Wicken.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (409 KB)
    Opening page-Bottom
  • James Smart ---- Cutting from Eastern Daily Press (677 KB)
    A very brief resume of James skating career as reported in the EDP
  • HMS London (71 KB)
    Victor Noel Gowler, grandson of James Smart, served from 1943 to 1946 aboard this County Class Cruiser, seeing action in both the North Atlantic and Pacific.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (424 KB)
    Second page-Top
  • Lister vault at Upwell St Peters Church (218 KB)
    The inscribed slab covering the entrance to the Lister burial vault inside the parish church of Upwell St PETERS.The inscription was recut within the last two years, after an American descendant visited Upwell whilst tracing his family history.
  • Family likeness? (68 KB)
    A composite image by Adam Giles of James Smart and his Grandson, C John Smart,the house in the background is, of course, Norway House. John is seen holding the Turkey Smart Memorial Cup. Turkey was John's 2nd cousin 3X removed! My thanks to Adam for permission to use this image.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (350 KB)
    Second page-Bottom
  • The Badger headstones at West Winch (227 KB)
    A photograph of the Badger memorials found at West Winch following the discovery of the Lister burial vault inscription at Upwell. The large ivy covered mound at the far end of the group is John Badger b.1715 d.1785. A transcription of all the memorials can be found at 'related files'
  • Thomas Robert - now aged 6! (1518 KB)
    He's a loud, manic, 100% petrol head who likes MUD - THE DEEPER, FILTHIER STICKIER THE BETTER!!! Bless him!
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (419 KB)
    Third page-Top
  • Renovation of John Badger (233 KB)
    The initial removal of the mat of ivy revealed a complete but inherently unstable structure. It was decided to delay complete removal of vegitation until professional advice had been sought. The monument is to be re-erected on new foundations as soon as possible, it being very complete albeit the end sections have become displaced and thus compromised the integrity as a whole.Inspection has revealed the top slab has at sometime been inverted, and the end sections reversed - the mouldings on both now facing internally.
  • Is it an angel? choirboy? (1338 KB)
    No, its THOMAS!!! (again)
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (379 KB)
    Third page-Bottom
  • A budding genealogist - first field trip! (523 KB)
    My son, Thomas Robert Lister, born May 29th 1998, and his Gt Gt Gt Gt Grandfather John Badger Lister, born 26th April 1807 at Upwell died 30th June 1865 at Elm. Pictured at Elm All Saints churchyard.
  • James Smart (281 KB)
    A postcard type photograph of James as a very young man, probably about 17-18 years old.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (479 KB)
    Forth page-Top
  • St Peters Parish Church, Upwell. (488 KB)
    A view of St Peters churchyard, Upwell. Over 100 LISTERs are buried here but, sadly, only the memorials to very few remain today, 3 of which are to be found on the LISTER vault entrance. The empty foreground in this picture was, until 1967-1976, full of tombstones. The area was cleared in the interest of safety, no attempt whatsoever was made to record even basic information from the MIs, thus a huge amount of history was lost virtually overnight.
  • My Daughter Zoe,husband Nick and son Joshua. (814 KB)
    A picture of my daughter Zoe Jane with her husband Nick Oldfield with their son Joshua - My first Grandson.
  • Inventory of Thomas the Elder Lister 1747-1799 (454 KB)
    Forth page-Bottom
  • Memorial of Thomas and Mary Ann Lister nee Bates (131 KB)
    The headstone of Thomas and Mary Ann Lister at Upwell St Peter.
  • Memorial to Mary Lister nee Troughton (144 KB)
    The memorial to Mary, wife of Henry Lister, mother of Matthew Failes Lister,Mary Troughton was born 1776 and died 23rd July 1854. She is buried at Upwell Baptist Church with her son Matthew Failes Lister. ALL STONES NOW DESTROYED BY DEVELOPERS!!!!!!
  • James Smart c. 1890 (287 KB)
    A photograph only recently sent by a new found cousin in America.

Family Tree Maker Reports and Trees


Related Files

  • Transcriptions of Badger headstones at West Winch (2 KB)
    A text file of the transcriptions from the Badger memorials at West Winch, they begin at the far end of the group and work along to the nearest to the camera in the photograph 'The Badger memorials at West Winch'
  • A page for Thomas Robert, my son. (4 KB)
    I hope visitors to this, and the following item, will forgive my self indulgence.
  • Names List (564 KB)
    Comprehensive list of all names in family file,(updated 11 August 2001) in alphabetical order, last middle, first.Scroll past 'Unknowns' to view names - at present 18,000 in number.This list now includes birth and death dates where known.
  • A page for Thomas Robert Lister, my father. (4 KB)
    A poem found in the pocket of a soldier killed in N Ireland
  • Transcriptions of Lister MIs at Upwell (3 KB)
    A selection of Lister MIs to be found at Upwell St Peter, Upwell Cemetery and Upwell Baptist Church. The list is in no way comprehensive only those recorded to date are included, there are many more to be transcribed both of Lister names and related families. The notes relevant to some entries are subject to ongoing research and should not be taken as fact.
  • Thomas the Elder Inventory_Transcript (19 KB)
    Transcript of the Inventory featured in photograph section of this page.Spelling is as in the original.
  • The Descendants of an unknown Smart (157 KB)
    A text file of the descendants of unknown Smart that may prove to be the grandparents of Edward Smart b. c.1670
  • Descendants of Edward Smart born c.1670 (138 KB)
    A text file of all traced descendants of Edward Smart, including the families of the Welney Fen Skaters -James and 'Turkey' Smart.
  • Records at hand on Fiche/CD (7 KB)
    A list of various PRs/Census/Inquests/Transcriptions etc. I have collected during my research, it may be possible to search these PROVIDING specific names/dates and-or locations are provided and copyright is not infringed by doing so, and time permits.
  • Descendants of William Lister (Lyster) (92 KB)
    A text file of all traced descendants of William Lister b. 1711, farmer at Upwell, Cambridgeshire/Norfolk.
  • Timeline-the drainage of E/West Fens,Lincolnshire (18 KB)
    A brief synopsis of the events that changed the stagnant 'Deeps' of Lincolnshire into the rich, productive agricultural land of today.Sources are given but much of the information is taken from contemporary reports/plans/accounts/manuscripts etc in the writer's possession.(I need to work out the formatting)
  • Text file of descendants of unknown SMART b. c1625 (230 KB)
    A file of all Smarts recorded to date and their relationships. If anyone has any clues to the identity of 'Unknown Smart' please get in touch, this brickwall is long overdue for demolition!
  • Descendants of Abraham See c.1650 (168 KB)
    A text file containing the traced descendants of Abraham See.
  • The Skating History of the Welney Smarts (84 KB)
    A text file consisting of a first draft of a chapter covering the skating history/achievements of James Smart and his contemporaries in the latter part of the 19th century.It also includes a brief outline of the developement of speed skating in the Fens up to and includung the formation of the National Skating Association in 1879 and its effects on the Welney Fen skaters.
  • Surnames List (43 KB)
    A list of all surnames currently recorded in my family history file. Some of these names represent a single entry and others have 100 or more entries.

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