Geoffs Genealogy Update 6 November 2015

Friday November 6th, 2015 | Geoff

I’ve nothing specifically to report as a result of October’s activities. No startling new discoveries. Not that I’ve been idle, you understand. I’ve spent my time filling in gaps on the Bankes Pedigree, mainly on the Fiveash / Duke line, so if anybody reading this is interested in that line of descent from Anne Deane I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Now seems a good time to report on my progress in transcribing the Court of Chancery records that we photographed when Helen and I last had a day out at The National Archives (TNA), Kew. We had a really good day, and managed to photograph a lot of documents, and the images needed to be pieced together and transcribed. The piecing together was accomplished fairly quickly, but I always knew that the transcribing was going to be a long term project, and so it is proving. To date I have completed three transcriptions, which I realise does not seem much, but I do have to fit this work in with whatever else I am doing, and it is rather painstaking, so I have to do them as and when I feel inspired to do so, rather than one after the other.

I decided to start with Court of Chancery cause Mitchell v Holloway, TNA reference C1236/27. Helen and I photographed 8 documents relating to this cause, dated between c1764 – 1770. Some of the images are not too clear in certain areas, and I can see that in some cases we have not quite got all the document to the very edge, so inevitably there are some gaps in my transcriptions, but I can safely say that it is a lot better transcribing them at home than trying to rush through it at  when making a day visit to TNA.

As is the case with most legal documents, the documents rarely get straight to the point, so can seem a bit tedious, and they also sometimes use language in a “legalise” way. However, with a bit of concentrated effort and sometimes a second opinion, we can usually make sense of their meaning. Hopefully when we next go to Kew we may be able to revisit these sources, and fill in some of the gaps.

The date of the first document I have worked on is rather hard to read in my photograph. I think it is 3rd August 1764. I’m sure of the year, but the day and month could be wrong.  The preamble recounts how the deaths of several Executors in succession delayed the implementation of John Bankes’ bequests, and also the legal action that had been started by my ancestor, Mary Mitchell. It also summarises the Decrees that had been made by the Court.

In genealogical terms, the most interesting pieces of information come in sections like this:

the Complainants Mary Mitchell Robert Mitchell and Eliz his wife James Jacobson and Mary his wife Elizabeth Hopkins Anne Deane the younger John Rand and Sarah his wife William Rand Martha Rand and Elizabeth Rand Joseph Rand Deborah Rand and John Smith and Mary his wife have severally departed this life and that the Complainant Mary Deane intermarried with the Plaintiff John Benrose (and) this Defendant Sarah Holloway late Sarah Rand an Infant partner answering for herself saith that she on or about the twenty third day of January in the Year One thousand seven hundred and forty two did intermarry with her late husband Joseph Holloway deceased who afterwards departed this life sometime in the month of March which was in the year of one thousand seven hundred and fifty five

As it happens, I already had this information, but the potential value of this statement to our research is obvious. Of course, this is personal testimony, so cannot be taken as necessarily strictly accurate, but nevertheless it is extremely valuable in itself, and as a guide to further research.

The nitty gritty of this document is that the various parties involved were contesting the annuity that had been inherited under the terms of John Bankes’ will by his half sister, Mary Mitchell. On her death this had been split between her son – Robert Mitchell – and her daughter, Mary (Mitchell) Jacobson, wife of James Jacobson. On the deaths of these people this annuity was split between their children:

  • Bankes Mitchell
  • Joseph Collyer in right of Mary (Mitchell) his late wife
  • Elizabeth Mitchell and Hannah Mitchell
  • William Jacobson and Mary, wife of the Defendant Thomas Hunt the two children of the said Mary Jacobson

However, both Mary (Mitchell) Collyer and Banks Mitchell had died intestate, and although letters of administration re their estates had been granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury to Joseph Collyer the Elder and Hannah Mitchell respectively, this did not necessarily mean that these people were entitled to deal with the inheritance of their Bankes annuities, and the Court was being asked to rule on this.

In fact I have several times searched for the letters of administration relating to Mary (Mitchell) Collyer’s estate that were granted to her husband, but have never found a record of them. I do sometimes wonder whether this was a bit of a bluff by Joseph Collyer, but think this unlikely, as surely the Court would have been alerted to any such deception. Not only that, but Joseph would have had to convince my forebear, the eagle eyed Thomas Hunt, attorney, that he was telling the truth in this matter, and as we have seen from other matters, Thomas was not a man who was easily deceived on such affairs.

There is quite a bit more of this type of stuff in this record, and it would probably be tedious to my readers if I were to go through it all, but I will just mention one other  spicy piece of information which, when I first came across it many years ago was a tremendously exciting find.  In arguing against  Joseph Collyer the Elder’s right to deal with his spouse’s estate the respondents stated as follows:

the Defendants the said William Jacobson Thomas Hunt and Mary his wife as aforesaid does severally say that after such assignment (that is to say) on or about the fourth day of September One thousand seven hundred and forty nine the said Joseph Collyer the Elder took (as a fugitive) the Benefit of an Act of Parliament made in the Twenty first year of the late King intitled an Act for Relief of Insolvent Debtors so that all the Right and Interest of the said Joseph Collyer the Elder in right of the said Mary his wife under the said Will and Deed Roll of the said Testator John Bankes (subject to the said assignment to the said James Jacobson deceased) became subject and Liable to the direction of the said act as these Defendants believe

Some years ago this piece of information enabled me to find records in the Corporation of London archives relating to Joseph Collyer the Elder’s  debts and brief imprisonment when he gave himself up at the Fleet Prison in London, to claim Insolvent Debtor Relief. Listed among his creditors was my ancestor, James Jacobson, pawn broker of London. You can see some of this material in the Joseph & Mary Mitchell Collyer Sources on Geoffs Genealogy.

I should, perhaps, mention that this document is a response to a Chancery Bill which was made by Sarah Holloway a widow late Sarah Rand William Jacobson Thomas Hunt and Mary his wife. One of the great thrills that sight of this source gives us is the sight of the signatures of these people at the bottom of the document. I must say that when I first set out on this research in 1990 I never imagined that I would be lucky enough to see signatures of our forebears from the eighteenth century. What a thrill!

The value of Court of Chancery documents in our research into the Bankes Pedigree cannot be overstated. Quite a lot of the time the process of researching them can seem rather turgid, but these periods become well worthwhile when we uncover gems such as those I have outlined above.

 

 

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