Geoffs Genealogy Update 2 December 2012

Sunday December 2nd, 2012 | Geoff

 Have you used the Access to Archives (A2A) database in your research?

This is a fantastic resource, which you can access via The National Archives website. To quote the TNA website:

“A2A is part of the UK archives network. The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.”

You can search this database online, to try to identify the repositories that hold material that is related to your research.

Why do you need a tool like this?

Well, you may be amazed at the extent to which documents of relevance to the families we are researching have become spread around the country, as I shall now demonstrate.

Some years ago I searched A2A for references to the Jacobson name. I knew that my Jacobson forebears lived in London in the first half of the eighteenth century and also had connections to Peckham. Peckham was then in Surrey but is part of South London, and is probably best known as the home parish of Del Boy in the tv comedy Only Fools and Horses. I also knew that a branch of my Jacobson family lived in Bearsted, Kent, while another branch lived – at least for a time – in the Channel Island of Jersey.

My search of A2A revealed a series of legal documents that contain reference to “our” Jacobsons. It was obvious from the catalogue details that they principally related to the affairs of some ofthe descendants of Elizabeth Russell, later Elizabeth Trevers and subsequently the wife of John Bankes. I mentioned her in  my blog entry of 5 June 2012, in which I explained that although we do not know Elizabeth’s maiden name, we do know that as Mrs Russell she produced several Russell children. It is the family of one of these children whe were the subject of these documents.

Elizabeth’s daughter – Hannah Russell (abt 1685-1745) married Edmund Jones (abt 1686-1746) a Haberdasher of London. This couple lived most of their lives in the City of London, and to our knowledge had a number of children:

  • Martha Jones (b abt 1706)
  • Hannah Jones (b abt 1708)
  • Dorothy Jones (b abt 1718)
  • Ann Jones (b abt 1720)
  • Edward Gardiner Jones (b abt 1723)
  • Alathea Jones (b abt 1724)

The large chronological gap in this list of children makes it seem likely that there were more children than these.

The documents identified on A2A originated as legal papers concerning the affairs of  Alathea Jones and her husband, John Parker, who was a doctor. This couple lived in Bedfordshire, which explains why the bundle of papers is held in Bedfordshire Records office; without A2A I doubt whether I would ever have located them.

I had already obtained a photocopy of one of these documents by post- the Settlement paper for the marriage of John Parker and Alithea Jones – but had been waiting for several years for the opportunity to go and look at the rest of these papers, and when this presented itself three weeks ago I jumped at the chance.

We found Bedford Record Office very easily, and ordered the papers we wanted to see on arrival. We enjoyed brilliant service, and within five minutes were looking at the documents, and for a very small fee I was allowed to photograph them with my digital camera.

The documents all related to some transfers of ownership of Bankes Annuities between various members of the family. Evidently in 1742 Bankes Mitchell and his siblings Elizabeth Mitchell and Hannah Mitchell had all sold their annuities to Edmund Jones, and the agreement made at the time allowed for the possibility that they may be able to buy back the annuities under certain conditions. On the death of Edmund these annuities had passed to Alithea Jones and were then held by her and her husband. Hannah Mitchell now (ie in 1763) wanted to buy back her annuities, and this documentation was facilitating that transfer. I never cease to be thrilled when I hold documents such as these, bearing as they do the seals and signatures of Bankes descendants which are 250 years old!

Having annotated the detail of these documents and taken my photographs, we then looked at the marriage entry for John Parker & Alithea Jones. They were married by Licence at Swineshead, Bedfordshire on 27 May 1752. That done, we decided to call it a day and enjoy a perambulation around Bedford before making our way back to our base. The staff at Bedfordshire Records Office were extremely welcoming and helpful, and our visit was most enjoyable. We hope that we may return to look at some more Parker family documents sometime and – who knows – we may eventually find other links to the Bedford area.

It is worth reflecting on the important place that Elizabeth Russell / Trevers / Bankes has in our family history.

As Mrs Russell she was the mother of Elizabeth Russell (abt 1693-abt 1740) who in 1715 married Robert Mitchell, brother to my direct ancestor, Mary Mitchell (m James Jacobson).  In addition to being the parents of the Bankes Mitchell, Elizabeth Mitchell and Hannah Mitchell,whose signatures I photographed at Bedford, their other child was the remarkable Mary Mitchell Collyer (abt 1716-1762), the translator & author who married Joseph Collyer the Elder – printer, translator & author. You can read about this couple on Geoffs Genealogy.

As Mrs Bankes she had to play her part in sorting out John Bankes’ business affairs after his death. We know that she dealt with the various executors, and also that she used to collect rents from the tenants.

I cannot close this entry without my customery plug for the John Bankes’ Descendants Reunion that will take place at Coulsdon, Surrey on Saturday 8 June, 2013. The first reunion, held in 2011, was a great success, and we are hoping that the next one will be even better. Do come if you can!

As the big day draws nearer we shall be contacting as many Bankes Descendants as we can, hoping that they will attend. However, you don’t need to wait for us to contact you. If you are a descendant of John Bankes, Haberdasher of London (c1650-1719) or his half siblings, we invite you to invite yourself!

Have a good Christmas & New Year.

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