Geffs Genealogy Update 12 June 2016
Sunday June 12th, 2016 | Geoff
We have just returned from a week’s holiday in the new Forest, and very beautiful it was, too. Not only did we have superb weather, but we made the most of the occasion by visiting a number of very interesting and scenic places. Among the places we visited was Bucklers Hard, a small village situated on the on the Beaulieu River. I had no idea of the fascinating history of this place before our visit, but it is truly fascination, so well worthy of mention in this blog.
For those of a certain vintage the most recent claim to fame of Buckler’s hard was that it was the place where Sir Francis Chichester began and completed his single handed round the world voyage in his yacht – Gipsy Moth IV – in 1966/7, but before that it had a very distinguished history as a shipbuilding village. The first royal naval vessel to be built there was built in the 1680s, and during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were very many vessels built in this small hamlet, among them HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Agamemnon, all of which fought at Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson commanded HMS Agamemnon for several years in the 1790s, and let it be known that she was his favourite vessel.
With the arrival of steam warships in the nineteenth century the construction of naval vessels at Buckler’s Hard declined, but the hamlet still had a major part to play in this country’s history, as it was here that segments of the Mulberry Harbour, which were towed across the English Channel in readiness for the 1944 D Day landings, were built.
To the modern eye this is a very picturesque and tranquil place. The Georgian cottages, where once lived the tradesmen involved in the building of these wonderful ships, bear witness to the events of the past, and we were able to visit the Shipwright’s Cottage and see the conditions in which these craftsmen lived. Very comfortable for the time, I must say.
We could also see the slipways where these great vessels were launched. All absolutely fascinating, and it made me think of a couple of Bankes descendants who served in the British Navy, either as craftsmen or as crew members.
Although it is fair to say that my knowledge of my Jacobson forebears is a bit sketchy, it seems clear that Esco Jacobson (c1655-1728) was probably involved in either the building of naval vessels, or their maintenance, being variously described as a shipwright and a carpenter, resident in Stepney. It seems likely that he was working in the East London naval dockyards.
Then there was Bankes Mitchell (c1720-1763), son of Robert Mitchell and Elizabeth, nee Russell. Bankes was a watchmaker of London, and came from what appears to have been a very prosperous family. He was married to Hannah Attwood in 1754, but the available evidence indicates that she had died before 1763. By 1763 he was serving as an Able Seaman on the Royal Navy vessel Alcides, having previously served on the Temeraire. By March of that year he was serving on the Hampton Court, serving in the Caribbean in the Seven Years War. Sadly, on the voyage home Bankes Mitchell became ill and died on 18 August 1763, being buried at sea. I wonder why a gentleman such as Bankes Mitchell became an able seaman in the navy. It seems a very odd career move, and I wonder whether he had fallen on hard times and this had led him to join the British Navy. Alternatively he may have been press-ganged, but this may be unlikely, as I understand that in fact few people were press-ganged into the navy.
I’d love to know more about these people, and hope that I may accomplish this some day.
I have been researching the Bankes Pedigree with very few breaks since about 1991, and have decided that as there are other things that I would like to do, it is now time for me to take a break from this research. This means that my posts to this blog will not be as regular as they have been in the past, and such research as I do will probbaly relate to my direct lines of ancestry, rather than the Bankes Pedigree in general. I shall still be delighted to hear from anybody interested in the Bankes Pedigree or my other direct ancestral lines who would like to contact me, and will respond to any queries as I always have done, so please feel free to contact me.