Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 February 2016

Thursday February 4th, 2016 | Geoff

In my blog entry last month I talked about Ancestry‘s decision to stop developing and marketing the Family Tree Maker (FTM) genealogy software, and I am pleased to report a further development on this issue, that has come to light just this morning in the form of a statement from Ancestry. Apparently they have listened to the comments of the likes of me, and have come up with two options for desktop software towork with Ancestry.

Software MacKiev, a software developer, has agreed to acquire the Family Tree Maker software line as publisher for both Mac and Windows versions. As this company has been the developer of FTM for Mac for a number of years, the software is well known to them, and they are looking forward to developing and publishing it for Mac and Windows systems in future. Software MacKiev will be providing updates to the software, and new versions, and all in all it seems that the availability and development of this software will be much the same from 2017 as it was in 2015. Good news for the likes of me, and I can’t help thinking that this change of circumstances is probably due to pressure from FTM users.

Also last month I told you about my research into John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher of London (c1650-1719) and his apprentices. You may recall that I had been scouring the Haberdashers’ Company apprenticeship records on Find My Past, and come up with a list of ten people who were apprenticed to John Bankes in his lifetime. Well, this month I have been able to add another name to the list. I had not noticed previously that on 9 April 1714 not only was  Nathan Crow indentured to Bankes, but he was joined by a certain George Lord, who was also signing up. Amazing to see the diverse locations that these people came from. Crow was from Cumberland, and Lord from Chipping Norton, in Oxfordshire. Then, as now, London was a magnet for migrants from all over the place. The rebuilding of the capital after the fire of 1666 provided so many opportunities for people to make a lot of money, and it seems that there was no shortage of people looking to take advantage of the opportunity. What a pity we don’t have a 1711 London census to look at. The birthplace columns would have made interesting reading!

Bankes died before either of these apprentices would have completed their seven years terms. In the case of Nathan Crow we know that he became a Freeman in April 1721, but I cannot trace a freedom record for George Lord, so I do not know whether he ever completed his apprenticeship, or what became of him.

This find prompted me to look a bit further into John Bankes’s life, so I carried out some research using the London Poll Book for the parliamentary election of 1710, which is available to view on This was most interesting. In those times only men of property were permitted to vote in elections. The amount of property required to be able to vote varied from one place to another and one date to another, so one cannot use poll books to estimate say how much John Bankes was worth, but it is clear that he would have had substantial property.

In the poll book that I looked at the electors were listed by livery company, so Bankes shows as a Freeman of the Haberdashers’ Company. This poll book lists everybody who voted and those who were qualified but did not vote, whereas I understand that the majority of poll books only list those who voted. Whereas today we place great value on the secret ballot, in those days the fact that anybody could see for whom who a person had voted was seen as a good thing, giving transparency to the electoral system.

The poll of Citizens of London in 1710 took place between Monday 9 October and Saturday 15 October. The initials of the candidates in the election are listed at the top of each page, and in the columns beneath these names are marks to show which candidates the electors voted for. In Bankes’s case we can see that he voted for Sir William Ashurst, Gilbert Heathcote,  Sir James Bateman and John Ward esq. I have been able to read brief biographies of these candidates, with the exception of John Ward, and they were all of the Whig party, and very prominent men in the Whig politics of the period. In 1710 the Tories won the elections, and so Bankes was on the losing side. Given what we know about Bankes  – that he was what may be termed a member of the merchant fraternity and a non-conformist, it does not surprise me that he supported the Whig cause, but it is nevertheless  interesting to see the evidence of that, and it all helps to build an image of our benefactor.

Other sources that I have used recently to get to know more about John Bankes the man are the various taxation records that are available, such as rate books and records of the 4 Shillings in the pound tax of 1693-4. They are all quite fascinating but, alas, they do not help us to discover what all Bankes researchers want to know. Who were his parents, and where did he come from?




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *