Geoffs Genealogy Update 06 July 2013

Saturday July 6th, 2013 | Geoff

In my last blog entry I told you of the visit to London which Helen and I made during March, taking advantage of a special offer on Virgin Trains to get a cheap trip to London. If you recall, I had forgotten to take the appropriate id with me, and was therefore refused admission to the British Library. Thus, while Helen was beavering away searching for relevant sources on the microfilms at the BL, I was sitting in the foyer for several hours watching the comings and goings and reading my book.

Helen made some eally interesting finds during the afternoon, mainly searching  archive newspapers, and I’ll just mention a couple of these:

Firstly, there was a notice in an seventeenth century publication concerning a theft from John Bankes’ business premises.   This came from the London Gazette dated 18-21 October 1686, and read:

Stolen on Monday night last the 18th Instant, out of the Yard of Mr. John Banks Timber merchant at St. Pauls Wharfe, a Crane Rope cut, and the Rain-head of Iron, and a large Wheel of Brass: These are to desire either Smiths, Founders, Brasiers, or others, to whom the said Goods may have been exposed to Sale, to stop them, and the Party, and give Notice thereof to Mr. Banks aforesaid, they sha]ll all have 20s. Reward.

What a fascinating find –  but, in truth, one that we could have made online, by searching the London Gazette via the Gazettes Online website. also has the London Gazette in its collection of online sources but I think you will find this less user friendly, as it is not searchable.

Reverting to the snippet, I suppose twenty shillings does not seem much of a reward to modern eyes, but I guess it was worth quite a lot more in Bankes’ day. If anybody can enlighten me on its modern value I’d be grateful. I do have a book on the subject of UK monetary values across the centuries, but this is a very complex subject and I’m not really any the wiser for reading it!

Snippets like this, and the tea wrapper that I mentioned in my last posting, bring the names from our family history to life! Evidently a timber merchant’s yard was as vulnerable to theft in 1686 as it would be today. Probably more vulnerable, actually, as there were no burglar alarms in those days!  I wonder whether Bankes received a response to his appeal.

Helen also found another item relating to Bankes and his property during her search in the British Library. This was a notice in the Daily Courant on 23 August 1720:

To be Sold
The Leasehold Dwelling-house, Garden,
and Orchard, late of Mr John Banks, Timber-Merchant, at Nine
Elms near Vauxhall, Lambeth, with a well-accustomed Timber-
Yard thereto adjoining, in which there are two large Cranes, several useful
large Warehouses, four large Docks, and many other Conveniences
proper for the Timber Trade, or any other Trade that requires
Room and the Benefit of the River Thames: Also 3 Leasehold Mes-
suages in Gloucester-street, near St. George’s Chapel: one No. 19,
in the Occupation of Mr. Stephens; another No. 24, late in the Oc-
cupation of Mr. Chalhill; and the other inthe Occupation of Mr.
Goeing. Further Particulars may be had of Mr. John Marsh, at
Haberdashers-Hall in Maiden-lane, in Woodstreet.

I find this quite fascinating, as it provides information, albeit brief in nature, about Bankes’ home and timber yard at Nine Elms, plus some information about properties in his Westminster estate.

We have seen many mentions of Bankes’ Nine Elms property over the years. I believe it was named ‘The Lottery”. Now we have a few more details about what was there. Cousin Pat recently showed me an image that she found recently on the wonderful BBC Your Paintings website, portraying the Thames at Battersea. It was painted by Samuel Scott, is in the Tate Gallery collection in London, and you can view it online by clicking here. Obviously, the painter will have employed a fair amount of artistic licence in composing his work, but it does seem to portray a timber yard, and both Pat and I wondered whether the picture depicted Bankes’s yard. Quite likely not, I suppose, but I imagine that the Nine Elms  riverside scene depicted had changed little since Bankes’ day.

There were other finds that were made on that rainy day in London, particularly relating to the Jacobsons and David Price (d1840) and Helen’s specialist subject –  Robert Hanham Collyer (1814-c1890). It’s a shame I was not able to take part in the research, but that did not diminish my enjoyment at sharing the results. Next time I go to the British Library I must remember to take the correct id!

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