Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 May 2011
Wednesday June 1st, 2011 | Geoff
On 19 May I went on the Shropshire Family History Society coach trip to the National Archives, at Kew. I had a few things to reprise there, plus one new source to look at.
Some years ago my daughter, Helen, went to Kew and researched the Admiralty records relating to Bankes Mitchell, who died at sea in 1763. When Helen did this research it was not possible to take photographs of the source material, and I thought it a good plan to have a look at these most interesting records myself, and photograph them.
The records are quite fascinating. The Captain’s log gives you so much information about the day to day whereabouts of the ship, damage sustained by the vessel and consequent repairs, and the deaths of seamen. It is quite compelling reading. I was amazed to see that in 1763 the voyage from the UK to the West Indies took a mere six weeks. This seemed to me remarkably fast progress, so I checked several voyages. The time at sea was roughly the same in all cases.
Bankes Mitchell died a mere two days before the Hampton Court anchored off Plymouth on 20th August 1763, and was buried at sea at 10 o’clock am.
Before starting its voyage home in July 1763 the Hampton Court had been moored in Havana harbour for the best part of a year. Presumably the ship was part of the British force that secured Havana after its capture from the Spanish in 1762, during the Seven Years War. In the Treaty of Paris of February 1763, which ended the worldwide conflagration, Havana passed back to the Spanish.
As I’ve said before, it’s always good to place the lives of the people you encounter in your research in their historical context, and this piece of research certainly did that.
Next I reprised the great big box of records relating to the Court of Chancery case that resulted from the dissatisfaction of some of the beneficiaries of John Bankes’ will. This box (TNA source ref C105/21) contains various written artefacts that were presented as evidence in the case – a real mixture – Bankes’ accounts, rental agreements, indentures recording the transfer of property, tradesmen’s bills from Bankes’ lifetime, Bankes’ will, and loads more. I recall how excited we were when we first came face to face with this box a few years ago, and although I already hold photocopies of some of the items I relished the opportunity to photograph as many as I could.
How wonderful to handle the very documents that our forebears handled all those years ago, to see their signatures etc. Fantastic. I now have digital images of many of these items and face the not inconsiderable task of cataloguing them! That will have to wait until after the Bankes Reunion.
Lastly I looked at the divorce papers relating to the proceedings brought against Edwin Claringburn by his wife – Mary Jane nee Lambert – in April 1909.
Apparently in 1905 Edwin had left Mary Jane and set up home with a certain Florence Farrel. The liaison between Edwin & Florence had produced a female child before Florence died in February 1909. There was no reply to these accusations from Edwin Claringburn, and the divorce was granted by the Court.
The thing about this that I found surprising is that the papers relating to the case included a copy of the marriage certificate relating to Mary Jane Lambert’s marriage to Edwin in 1897, and a copy of Florence’s death certificate. Her death was registered in the name of Florence Clarke by Edwin Clarke(!). That would have been very hard to trace by normal means.
This proved, once again, how valuable Court records can be. If you get a chance to use them in your research you will be lucky indeed.
Also, always remember to take your digital camera to you when researching at TNA. Unlike most archives, there is no fee to pay if you want to use your camera, and they even provide camera stands to combat our shaky hands!
The Bankes Reunion is now only 18 days away, and we are still working towards what we are sure will be a really enjoyable event. Here’s hoping that the sun shines on us, that all the people who are attending have safe journeys, and that we all have a jolly good time!
See you there!