Geoffs Genealogy Update 6 October 2012
Saturday October 6th, 2012 | Geoff
This is a busy time for me, as I’m in the middle of working on my last ever edition of the journal of the Shropshire Family History Society. I’ve really enjoyed my period as editor (about 11 years, I think). Apart from the enjoyment of putting together each issue, the job has brought me into contact with many good friends, and many interesting people. It has also enabled me to learn so much about this amazing hobby. However, all good things come to an end, and I think the time is right for a new editor with a fresh outlook and some new ideas. Unfortunately, although I gave over twelve months’ notice that I am vacating this post, not one person has expressed serious interest in succeeding me. This is rather disconcerting. After all my work I certainly do not want to leave the Society with a problem. However, although there is a temptation to do just one more year, to avoid the problem, I shall not do that. After all, in another twelve months we may be in exactly the same situation!
I really do hope that somebody comes forward to fill the post before I leave it.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a lady who is descended from the Charles Benzoni (abt 1811-1885) and his wife, Eleanor Crow nee Brannan (abt 1809-1889). It is always good to make contact with a ‘new’ Bankes Descendant, and I am hoping that this lady may be able to help me add some more detail about her line of descent to the Pedigree. I was able to put her in touch with Ted, another Benzoni descendant, who lives in Australia. Hopefully they will be able to help one another in their research.
As I’ve mentioned many times previously, additional sources are continually appearing on the various family history internet websites, and we all need to be aware of the new stuff that has appeared, to see whether it may be useful to us. When new material is added the websites usually make an announcement of some kind – possibly in the form of a monthly update – so it is not too hard to keep tabs on this. Also, there are a number of newsletters that can help you. Two that I use on a regular basis are the Lost Cousins newsletter, and the newsletter of the Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies (IHGS), which provide regular updates on this type of information.
One of the sources that came online at Ancestry.co.uk a few months ago was the Electoral Registers for London, 1847-1965. This data set is not complete – one suspects that many records have been destroyed over the years, but if you can find your ancestor in them they can be a great help in tracking down where they lived, and after 1918, when women first obtained voting rights in the UK, they can be very useful in tracking down marriage dates. When a person disappeared from the register that can be an indication that they had died, so you are able to tentatively define a date from which to start your search of the Deaths indexes. It is true that, compared to censuses, these documents give us quite limited information – basically the name of the person and their address, but particularly after 1911, when the most recent census currently available was taken, they can be extremely useful – especially when linked to other sources.
I have several times used these electoral registers very successfully to overcome what we family historians refer to as “brick walls”. They helped me sort out my history of James Archer Smith (1877-1957), enabling me to solve the mystery of his second spouse’s identity. They also enabled me to track down Albert Francis Smith (1886-1959) and his family, as well as giving me an almost complete record of the whereabouts of Jessie Mary Elizabeth Codd nee Smith (1880-1941) and her family from 1918-1937. I have even spotted my own parents in these records – a bit spooky, that!
Another source that can be quite revealing is the London Land Tax Lists. These date from 1692-1932, and again, they are by no means complete. Once again, if you find your ancestor you can find out quite a bit about him. David Price (1774-1840) was a prominent businessman in London, and he features in these records in an almost complete run of records from 1812 to 1839. These records give you a list of names and properties, plus the amount of land tax that was paid. By comparing the record for your forebear with other records you can get an idea of his relative wealth. I even found a couple of Land Tax records for John Bankes (c1850-1719), relating to his property at St Benet, Paul’s Wharf, which was very exciting, and I have noted a very long list of records relating to my ancestor James Jacobson (abt 1692-1759) of Aldgate, but I haven’t yet got around to looking at them.
It is easy to think that once you’ve extracted all the information available online about your forebear at a particular time that is “job done”. However, I hope it will be clear from the above that we need to keep on repeating internet searches for your ancestors. As one last example, I’ve recently been doing some research into my wife’s Haves ancestors of Great Yarmouth. Knowing that Frederick Joseph Haves (1890-1968) served in the British Army during World War One, some time ago we searched the online military records, but did not find his service record. However, in the intervening period Ancestry have published online lots more records – notably the Burnt Records collection, and when I searched these this week Frederick’s service records came up. Bingo! Thirteen pages of information that tell us so much about him and his experience of WW1.
I close with my usual reminder about the second John Bankes’ Descendants Reunion, which is planned for Saturday 8 June 2013 at Coulsdon, Surrey. Helen and I do hope that as many Bankes descendants as possible will come, and make the day a big success. You can express interest or book via the Geoffs Genealogy website. It should be a really good day.