Geoffs Genealogy Update 5 March 2013

Tuesday March 5th, 2013 | Geoff

Over the years I have not processed all the items that I have found whilst visiting various records offices around the country. I am afraid that I am inclined to be rather greedy when I go on a treeing trip, and concentrate on collecting as many sources as I can. After all, these days most archives let you use your digital camera to record sources, although often for a fee, so for the most part there is not the need to write out your notes in longhand.

There is a down side to this however. I have quite a lot of records that I obtained a couple of years ago or more, and I still have not worked on them. Once I’ve left them for a couple of years or more my memory fades, and thus when I come to work on them I sometimes can’t recall the detail of the source as well as I should. I know that in the interest of sound research, and to get the best out of the material that I gather, I should deal with these items soon after gathering them, but that said, I don’t expect I’ll change.

During February I finally got around to processing a source that I annotated in March 2009 at Guildhall Library in London. These are the Insurance Registers. Guildhall Library used to hold a large, but incomplete, series of these records, which relate to several insurance companies and cover the years 1696 to 1883, but since I viewed them they have been moved to London Metropolitan Archives.  You can read about this source on the following webpage:

On the National Archives website there was an index to a section of the Sun Life Insurance Registers, source reference Ms 11936/419 -560, covering the period 1800 – 1839, and I made use of that before visiting Guildhall Library, to identify the sources that I wanted to look at during my visit. Thus, I arrived at London with a list of documents that I wanted to see, and was able to crack on with the research straight away.

I had never seen archive insurance registers before, and found them very interesting, particularly as they give a good insight into the lifestyle of our forebears. I was able to trace a number of records relating to several Bankes descendants:

John Collyer (1783-1840), Carver & Gilder of London
David Price (1774-1840), Cheesemonger / Warehouseman of London
Nathan Archer (1793-1845), Printer & Stationer / Engraver of London

I also traced some material relating to Nathan Archer’s brothers – Thomas Archer (1786-1866) and Samuel William Archer (1790-1870), as well as a certain William Thomas Archer. I have come across William in my research previously; he was obviously related to Nathan Archer, but I have not yet been able to work out his connection.

So what do these records tell us?

Well, firstly they give us a series of addresses for the people named. In the case of John Collyer and David Price this merely confirms existing information, but in the case of the Archer men there is quite a bit to learn. I had known that Thomas Archer, brother of my Nathan, lived at Long Lane, West Smithfield, London when he was a young man, but it seems from these records that Nathan and maybe William Thomas also lived at that address for a period, although the exact sequence of events is not spelled out clearly. I am not sure whether Long Lane was both residential and business address, but it looks as though that could have been the case.

After his marriage to Mary Ann Stephens in 1817, Nathan appears to have moved to a brick building at 39 Goswell Street, London. I assume that this was Goswell Road, in Clerkenwell. Here he lived, presumably with his wife, and according to the insurance schedules he had his printing office at the rear of the building.

In 1821 Nathan Archer was on the move again. This time he moved to 219 Shoreditch, to another brick house which appears to have been both his home and workplace. In 1821 he had entered into a partnership with a  certain Alfred Catherwood as Printers, Booksellers and Stationers, and that was probably the reason for this move, I think. The costs of the insurance premiums that Nathan and Alfred had to pay was considerable – £1200 in 1821, on the stock, utensils and goods that were stores at their premises.

The partnership between messers Archer & Catherwood did not last long, and on 15 July 1823 a notice appeared in the London Gazette, announcing its breakup. Nathan and family then went to live at 26 Tabernacle Walk, St Lukes, London. Again, this appears to have been both his home and workplace, and in 1823 and 1825 his premium on his household goods, clothes, glass & china, stock etc was £1100.

The last entry I found for Nathan was dated 9 January 1839, when he was at 15 Old Street Road in Clerkenwell. This may have only been his dwelling house, I suspect, as the premium was lower (£350), and there is no mention in the schedule of stock. The Archer family were still at that address in 1841, when the census was taken.

There is one other member of the Archer clan mentioned in these records – Nathan’s brother Samuel William Archer. He was described as a Jeweller, Silversmith and Dealer in Watches and Locks, and appears to have been a very prosperous man. His address was recorded as “Nearly opposite St Thomas Square Hackney”, and the hint that he probably did  trade from that address comes in the value of “stock and utensils Jewels excepted £900”.

One or two other points that may be of interest.

Firstly, many of the records state “no stove therein”, presumably because no stove meant less fire risk. I can’t imagine how the people would have kept warm in those circumstances, though.

It is interesting to see that David Price’s premiums included amounts to cover musical instruments. The cost of this cover was £50 in 1827, but this was doubled the following year. This gives an impression of a certain elegent lifestyle in the Price household. I wonder what instruments they had, and who played them. Do you think that they were played by David Price’s daughters, Anne and Mary, in a scene reminiscent of Jane Austen?

I could go on about these records for ages longer, but I guess that by now you have the idea that these are quite fascinating sources, which cast light on many aspects of the lives of our forebears. I really must make sure that I investigate some of the other items I have stores in folders before too long.

As I leave you I must give my usual plug for the Reunion of John Bankes’ Descendants, which we are holding at Coulsdon, Surrey on 8th June. The big day is now drawing very close, and we would love to have the opportunity to meet and greet as many Bankes descendants as possible. If you can come, please do. I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy the day. Details are on the Geoffs Genealogy website.



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