Geoffs Genealogy Update 8 May 2016

One of the things I have been doing in the past month is updating the Links page on the Geoffs Genealogy website. In truth this is a job that I have neglected , and over time a number of the websites that I had listed had been changed, or did not exist any more. I therefore reviewed each of the links, changing them or deleting them, and rewriting text as necessary. As a result of this work, as at 8 April all the links were working.

Doing this work brought to mind that it is some time since I updated the content on my website, so this will be the next maintenance job I shall be working on to bring Geoffs Genealogy up to date, although I can’t say when I shall get around to doing this, especially with holidays approaching and a garden to work in. I’ll update you re this through this blog.

In my February blog entry I mentioned some work I had done, looking into the life of John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher of London (c1650-1719/20), and this month I have looked at a matter relating to our family’s benefactor that you may find interesting.

I mentioned previously that I had traced a list of apprentices to Bankes, and it occurred to me that it may be interesting to look at the lives of some of these people, to see what I can find out about them, in the hope that this may cast some light on Bankes’s life or family. I looked first at Nathan Crow, who, as I mentioned in February, was apprenticed to Bankes on 9 April 1714, and was still an apprentice at the time of his master’s death in 1719/20.  I knew, from the apprenticeship record, that Nathan was the son of David Crow, a Maltster of Cumberland, and that he received his freedom on 21 April 1721. It may be worth mentioning in passing that although I traced his freedom in the Haberdashers’ Company records, I could not find it in the City of London freedom records that can be viewed on the website, so it can pay to check more than one source.

A search of the indexes on the Family Search website suggests that Nathan Crow, son of David Crow, was baptised at Lanercost, Cumberland on 7 August 1695. His mother’s name is not stated.

Lanercost is a small village, located just south of Hadran’s Wall, near the River Irthing and about twelve miles to the east of Carlisle. It is about 325 miles north of London, and it seems reasonable to assume that it was as small a place in Nathan’s time as it is today.

When people tell you that our forebears didn’t travel far, just remember Nathan. Fancy travelling all the way from Cumberland to London in 1714! This was in the days before the great improvements in transport that were occurring in England by 1800. In Nathan’s time travel was notoriously slow and dangerous, although unfortunately I have been unable to ascertain how long his journey from Cumberland to London would have taken him.

One wonders whether Nathan Crow undertook his journey alone, or with a fellow traveller. He was about 19 years of age when his apprenticeship to Bankes was transacted,  so would most likely have been capable of travelling alone. Maybe he was with his father, and maybe the whole nuclear family moved to the capital together. That said, I haven’t managed to trace David Crow, Maltster in the London records. Maybe Nathan’s parents had died in Cumberland, and he had made his way to London alone or with siblings?

Another question. What was the process by which Nathan Crow became apprenticed to John Bankes? Would he or (more likely, perhaps) his father have become aware of Bankes whilst living in Cumberland? Or would he have treavelled to London in search of an apprenticeship, and become aware of Bankes whilst in the capital?

So many thought provoking questions, but at the moment I have no answers to any of them.

As Nathan was apprenticed to John Bankes I would expect that his trade once a freeman would have been that of a carpenter, or something else in the building trade.  However, to date I have been unable to trace him active in these trades in London at that time. Maybe he died young, or moved back to Cumberland once a freeman? That last option seems less than likely to me.

One thing I do know about him is that, in the aftermath of his Bankes’s death he worked for a time for his Master’s widow:

John Cartlitch told the Court of Chancery that the said Mrs Banks [Elizabeth Bankes, widow of John] at first employed Nathan Crow the Testator’s servant to assist her in selling and disposing of the Testator’s goods and stocks at his Wharf and to receive and gett (sic) in some of his rents and debts. (Source: The National Archives, Kew, Source Ref C11/2792/9, Elizabeth Banks v Z Foxall).

Bankes died in March 1719/20, and Thomas Crow received his Freedom thirteen months later, so presumably this emloyment would have come to an end by then. The above source tells us that later Mrs Banks employed a certain Thomas Russell to do the work that Nathan had done for her. Presumably Thomas was a relative of Elizabeth Banks from a previous marriage to Thomas Russell of Bermondsey.

My searches of the online London records have not yet enabled me to find out what became of Nathan. I have traced one or two people bearing that name at the relevant time, but am not confident that I have found the right man, so I’ll try to keep all this in mind for future reference. Who knows, one day I may find out what became of Nathan Crow, Citizen & Haberdasher of London.





  • This page was last updated on Monday May 9th, 2016.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 April 2016

Over the past few weeks I have not actually concentrated on a single genealogical activity, but have been active on a number of different areas of research. Firstly, I have bene doing some work on Jan’s Welsh forebears. Like much Welsh research, replete with names like Hughes, Jones, and Rees, it is very difficult to advance the research back in time, as the names involved are so common. Not only that, but as Jan’s forebears were in the main what one may call ordinary working folk, on the whole they did not have much in the way of assets, and did not leave wills. Thus, although in some cases one may believe with a fair amount of confidence that one has identified an ancestor, it is impossible to identify the person with certainty, and thus we cxannot add them to the tree.

You can sometimes find family trees on the internet that include some of the people we know to be on Jan’s tree, and sometimes these trees can lead us to new information or to confirm existing information, but in my experience many of these trees contain errors, so often what we think may be a breakthrough for us proves not to be the case.

I have been trying to fill in some of the missing details on Jan’s tree relating to both the forebears we have already identified, and to more recent forebears, and concentrating on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I am particularly interested in trying to trace some lines down to the present day, in the hope of identifying living cousin. Not so long ago it was an extremely difficult  to do this sort of research, as there were few twentieth centuyry sources readily available to us. Whilst I’m not saying that this work is now easy, thanks to the many genealogy websites that are available to us today, with a bit of luck we stand a fair chance of successfully identifying cousins. The main standard tools I use in this work are (in no particular order):

  • Civil Registration Indexes
  • Trade Directories
  • Electoral Registers
  • Telephone Directories
  • The 1939 Register

The upshot of this effort is that I have succeeded in identifying two people who I believe to be living and who are second cousins to Jan. I’m not sure whether or not we shall be contacting these people, that will be Jan’s decision, but it is good to have had a successful outcome to this research.

A while ago Helen passed me some newspaper items that she had gleaned whilst searching the British Newspapers collection on the Find My Past website. They related to a gentleman named Reginald Gregory Charman Haines (1913-1981), a Royal Navy officer who married Eugenie Marion Reynell (b 1918). Eugenie was the daughter of Harold Essex Reynell (1887-1972) and Georgiana Catherine Liddell (1898-1981), and was descended from Joseph Rand (b abt 1665, died bef 1708), a half brother of John Bankes (c1650-1719).  She was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1918. Although born abroad, her family apparently moved to London when she was a few months old, and she appears to have lived in the capital for much of her life. She married Reginald in Westminster in 1939.

The newspaper items that I have just been dealing with concern a variety of events in Reginald’s life. The most pleasant of these was the announcement of his engagement to Eugenie, which appeared in the Gloucester Citizen newspaper on 21 September 1939. We learn that Reginald was said to be living in Petersfield, Hampshire, and was the “elder son of the late Dr C R Haines, DD, MA, FSA and Mrs Haines, Meadowfield, Petersfield”, and the parents of his bride to be were Mr & Mrs Harold Reynell, of Shanghai”. In fact, we know from other sources that her parents had very strong ties to the far east; her father had been born in Japan and her mother was born in Shanghai, China.

Alas, the other newspaper articles we have deal with events in Reginald’s life that were far less pleasant. The Portsmouth Evening News of 15 August 1934 reports on a court case in which he was convicted of driving a motor car in Petersfield without due care and attention, having nearly run over a lady who was crossing the road whilst pushing a pram with a baby in it. He was fined £2 10s with £2 10s costs.

The Western Evening News of 23 February 1935 reports a civil suit which related to a compensation claim against Reginald by a Plymouth man who had been injured in a motor accident in Portsmouth which  involved Reginald Haines. The amount of damages agreed in the settlement of this matter amounted to £3,150 – a very large sum of money in those days.

The last of these articles comes from the Gloucester Citizen of 25 March 1948. Reginald had been serving in the Royal Navy in Washington DC, and had been involved in a fatal accident near Washington, resulting in a charge of manslaughter against him. The verdict of not guilty must have been an enormous relief to him, but he was fined a total of US$125 for leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving.

All in all, it seems that motor vehicles and Reginald did not really go together very well. An interesting insight into his character and some of the events in his life.





  • This page was last updated on Tuesday April 5th, 2016.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 February 2016

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?




  • This page was last updated on Thursday February 4th, 2016.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 8 January 2016

Ancestry announced recently that from 1 January 2016 they are no longer going to sell the Family Tree Maker (FTM) software that they have developed and marketed for the past few years. They say that inreviewing their activities they  have “taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide new content, product enhancements and support that our users need” and concluded that they are better off without FTM.

I have used FTM to store my genealogy data for about 20 years, and although I’m sure that there are other products on the market that do the job just as well, I have found that this program has suited my requirements pretty well. An fact Ancestry have only owned FTM for a few years, and it is fair to say that in that time they have developed the product in ways that had not happened previously. The most obvious of these was the facility to search the Ancestry website for sources relating to an ancestor by clicking on a leaf symbol on the ancestor’s record page. If this process leads you to some relevant information you can attach it to your individual at the click of a mouse – a very simple process, and a very effective one, also. I have never actually made use of this search facility, preferring to do things my way, but I am aware that many people find it very useful, and use it a lot, and when Ancestry cease to support FTM they will certainly miss it.

For myself, as I’m not dependent on FMP for my internet searches I am not concerned about the impending loss of this function. My concern is more about how completely I shall be able to transfer my FTM data to another Genealogy program. As the transfer is almost certain to be effected by means of a Gedcom file I fear that I shall not be able to transfer all the data fields I have at present, and if that is the case I may well be faced with a lengthy and tedious process to create the necessary fields in whatever program I choose to use, and then entering my data in them. Not only that, but if I have to do some of this work manually, rather than through an automated process, there is always the possibility of errors creeping in. I always assume that everybody’s research contains a certain number of errors, and mine is no exception, but I certainly don’t want to increase the possibility of errors creeping in.

Apparently, one of the reasons for the diminishing market for genealogy software is the growing number of people who use online facilities such as Ancestry Family Tree to store their data. Personally, I have always avoided putting my research on any of these platforms. I do see the value in letting others know about your research interests, and as visitors to this blog will know, I am more than happy to share the results of my research with other researchers who have the same interests, but I prefer to display my research in my own way.  I accept that I am probably in a minority in this. When I am researching online I often look to see whether there are any relevant trees online, but experienced researchers will not need me to tell them that we need to use any information found in this way with more circumspection than usual, as it often contains significant errors. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve found chunks of the Bankes pedigree attached to a tree that had no connection with our benefactor.

What Helen & I have decided is that we will look at other programs to replace Family Tree Maker but, until we come up with what we think is a suitable solution to these issues, we will stick with FTM. After all, the program works ok (touch wood), and unless we start using an operating system that can’t run FTM there is every chance that we shall be able to use it well into the future. Obviously, we will no longer get updates to the software, but we have to accept that.

Now for a change of subject.

I expect you would excuse me for having done less genealogy work than usual during December, given the Christmas festivities, but in fact I’ve still been pretty active, as I have been looking at the apprentices of John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher (c1650-1719). I had traced four such apprentices in the past, but as the Register of Apprentice Bindings and the Register of Freedom Admissions for Bankes’s era are now available to search on the Find My Past website, I decided to have a further look at this topic.

This piece of research was most successful, as I traced a further six apprentices to Bankes. The earliest was Thomas Smith, son of Thomas Smith of Hampton, Gloucestershire, who was, so far as I know, was the first apprentice that JB had, his binding being dated 1676. I mentioned him in the Bankes Biography page of the Geoffs Genealogy website. Ther last apprentice to the great man that I have found was Nathan Crow, son of David Crow of Cumberland, who was bound in 1714 and received his Freedom in 1721 – two years after Bankes’s death. I had already encountered Nathan in my research, in a Court of Chancery document recounting some of the evidence given by John Cartlitch, Banks’s friend and executor on his death:

“John Cartlitch believed that the said Mrs Banks at first employed Nathan Crow the Testator’s servant to assist her in selling and disposing of the testator’s goods and stocks at his wharf and to receive and gett in some of his rents and debts and that she afterwards employed Thomas Russell … therein.” (The National Archives source ref C11/2792/9).

On reading this source I had believed that the use of the term “servant” indicated that Nathan Crow was some kind of house servant to Banks, but it is now clear that this was not the case and he was an apprentice. Nathan Crow’s term of apprenticeship ended in 1721, when he was made a Freeman of the City of London. It does not appear that his apprenticeship was turned over (ie transferred) to another master, so presumably he was able to complete his apprenticeship working in Bankes’s business.

I’ve often seen it assumed by people today that their seventeenth and eighteenth century contemporaries did not travel far, but  this small piece of research provides evidence that this was not the case. You will have noted that the two apprentices mentioned above hailed from Gloucestershire and Cumberland, and in fact only two of the ten apprentices I found came from London.  Two came from places in Surrey that were just outside the capital, but the others hailed from Oxfordshire, Sussex, Norfolk and Gloucestershire (making two from that county in total). In late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries London was a magnet for migration, just as it is now. In the aftermath of the Great Fire in 1666, and the plague that preceded it, there was a great need for people to rebuild the city and replace those who had died in those disasters, and thus a very real hope that a man could make his fortune in the City of London, as was the case with Bankes.

I have saved the most interesting result of this research until last.

In my blog entry of 1 May 2012 I mentioned that I had traced the apprenticeship  of  John Rand, a Barber Surgeon, who we believe was a nephew of Bankes, born about 1684. On his apprenticeship document John was said to be the son of Samuel Rand of Chichester, deceased, but I had drawn a blank in finding any information about Samuel. I was, however, confident that this John Rand was our man, as this was the only one record of a John Rand becoming Free of the Barber Surgeons’ Company in that period. Furthermore, I know that John Rand, Barber Surgeon of London, had a son named Samuel, who was presumably named after his father. Alas, the child did not survive infancy.

Bearing that in mind, imagine my delight when I found that one of John Bankes’s apprentices was a certain John Rand! Details of the entry were as follows:

London Metropolitan Archives Source Ref CLC/L/HA/C/011/MS15860/007, fo 184

Joseph Rand son of John Rand late of Chichester in the County of Sussex Gent decd
bound to John Banks Citizen & Haberdr of London for Seaven yeares from
the date dated [……]

So here we have another Rand whose father was a Chichester man, and as he was apprenticed to Bankes, and the names Joseph Rand and John Rand very much fit with the names of Bankes’s Rand relations, there must be a very strong possibility that there was indeed a link between Bankes’s half siblings and the City of Chichester in Sussex. Maybe Samuel Rand and John Rand were brothers.

I am particularly excited about this lead because for all my interest in Bankes, in fact it was Mary (Rand) Mitchell, his half sister, who was my direct ancestor. Much as I would love to trace Bankes’s parents, the greater prize is to trace the Rand line back beyond Mary. I really do think that this is my best lead yet.

I have searched online for information about these Rands, without any success, so I now need to work out how I can advance this research at minimum cost. If anybody reading this has any ideas please do let me know. I am even thinking of including Chichester in this year’s holiday plans, so that we can visit the records office.

Thanks for reading this rather lengthy blog entry. I hope that some of it, at least, has interested you, and hope that 2016 is good to you.

  • This page was last updated on Friday January 8th, 2016.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 6 November 2015

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.



  • This page was last updated on Friday November 6th, 2015.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 April 2015

A couple of weeks ago Helen and I got up before dawn had cracked on a Saturday morning, to catch a 6.25 am train to Euston. Neither of us had been on a London research trip for several years, so to us it was worth getting up at an unearthly hour to get to the capital. Our train was delayed en route by about half an hour, due to a problem with the line, but we still got to The National Archives at Kew by about 9.30 am, and after getting our new reader’s tickets we set off to the Map Room, bent on cramming as much research as we could into the day.

Both Helen and I had ordered three Court of Chancery documents to look at in advance of our visit, so that we could get stuck into some research as soon as we got to the search room. Helen’s items were all waiting for her, but mine were not, which was rather frustrating. Something had gone wrong with the system. I therefore had to re-order these pieces and join Helen looking at her first few documents.

So far as Helen is concerned there is one person on the Bankes Pedigree who is of far more interest to her than anybody else, even though he is not our direct ancestor. Those of you who came to our Bankes Descendants’ Reunion a few years ago will know that this person is Dr Robert Hanham Collyer (1814-abt 1890) (RHC). We had identified a Court of Chancery cause dating from 1873, in which RHC was the defendant, so Helen made a bee line for that. This was a box of some 24 pages of typescript, of regular size, so fairly easy to handle and read. I cannot go into the case in depth at the moment, but according to the claim the impecunious Dr Collyer had received a sum of money from a certain Mr Edward Lee Robertson, to enable him to take one of his inventions to the 1872 Moscow exhibition, In return he had granted the plaintiff a quarter share in the Russian patent for the invention. If the sum in question was not repayed to Mr Robertson within six months, the agreement apparently said that the ownership of the English, French and Belgian patents would also be pass to him.

As was the case with pretty much everything that Dr Collyer got involved with the waters became rather muddied, and a dispute arose over the ownership of the patents; that was the basis of the action. There is lots here to read and assimilate, and much to add to our knowledge of RHC and his life. However, the papers do not tell us the outcome of the case, which is a trifle frustrating. We did not read the whole file at Kew, but photographed the pages for later study, and moved on to the next piece.

The fact that the RHC file was so easy to read and handle was a real bonus, as most of the Court of Chancery documents we have handled in the past were anything but easy to read and handle. The other Chancery documents we looked at during this visit dated from the eighteenth century, the earliest being from 1707 and the latest dated 1769. The documents were written on parchments of widely varying size. Some of them measure about 4 feet 6 inches x 3 feet, while others are considerably smaller. The writing has faded on many of them, and most of them have the accumulated dust of several centuries on them, so they hare very difficult to work with, and to decipher accurately. Notwithstanding this, they can be a real treasure trove of information about our forebears, and many of them bear the signatures of Bankes descendants. No matter what the difficulties involved in dealing with these documents, I am constantly filled with wonder that I am able to hold and study these documents, which were actually signed and handled by our ancestors all those years ago. It is amazing that they have survived.

To read these documents properly in the few hours that are available to us when we visit Kew is an impossible task, so in the past I have contented myself with scanning the pages and noting passages that seem most interesting from a genealogical point of view. That way I have collected much valuable information, but at the same time I have always been aware that (a) I have only been scratching the surface of the content and (b) inevitably there is a danger that I sometimes get things out of context. This time Helen and I set ourselves to photograph the documents, and not worry too much about trying to read them on the day, and this is what we did. Most of the documents had to be photographed in sections, with the aim of joining them together when we are back at home, but there were a few that we could photograph as one image. The wonders of digital photography!

In preparation for the trip I had reprised my previous work, and picked some of the Chancery documents that I had seen previously to photograph on this trip, and we did that. We also had traced a few causes that were new to us but seemed as though they may be interesting in the context of the Bankes Pedigree, and we also photographed those. Two of these were causes that involved John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher of London (c1652-1719) either as plaintiff or defendant, and we are hoping to learn more about Bankes and his life from these. There was also a cause dated 1707, in which Nathan Travis (c1669-c1711) was named as one of many defendants. A quick scan of the document tended to show that Nathan probably featured little in the cause, but there were several parchments that made up this piece, and little time in which to look at them, so I can still hope!

I have already started the job of joining the images of the various sections of documents, to make up a single picture of each parchment, but this is going to be a lengthy process as, for a variety of reasons that I won’t bore you with, joining up the images is rarely a straightforward matter. However, once done, we shall hopefully be able to decipher a large amount of the content in the comfort of our own homes, and create a full record of these very valuable documents.

All told we photographed 9 Chancery bundles, some consisting of one page and others comprised of multiple pages. Plenty there to keep us busy over the forthcoming months until we can visit Kew again!

All that work with Court of Chancery documents can be quite tiring, and by 4 pm we were feeling a mite fatigued, so Helen & I decided to give ourselves something different to look at for the last hour. We opted to look at some records relating to the bankruptcy of Antonio da Costa (c1784 – 1850), a nineteenth century London merchant whose first spouse was a Bankes descendant – Sarah Love Hunt (1792-abt 1821).

These records were quite fascinating. Antonio had been born in Portugal, and we do not know when he came to live in London. However, we do know that for quite a lengthy period he had what appears to have been a prosperous international trading business, operating out of Token House Yard in the City of London. However, his business evidently failed in the late 1820s, and he and his business partner – Manoel Antonio De Freitas, became bankrupt. As an alien and a bankrupt, there were extensive enquiries into the finances and business of Antonio da Costa, and the papers we briefly looked at result from these enquiries. The documents contain a great amount of detail about these matters, and we did not have time even to photograph all the many pages. We contented ourselves with photographing about a dozen pages, and made a note to return to this source next time we go to The National Archives.

When will that be?

We hope to go again in about a year’s time. As it was we arrived home at about 9 pm, tired, but well pleased with a most successful day.

Apart from the trip to Kew, most of my available research time this month has been spent on filling in gaps on the Osborne line. I still haven’t made any progress on Thomas Osborne (c1758-1801) who married Mary Hunt (c1764-aft 1830) at Walthamstow in 1789, but I have found out quite a lot about the descendants of this couple, using online resources. Maybe I’ll tell you more on that subject another time.


  • This page was last updated on Saturday April 4th, 2015.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 06 July 2013

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!

  • This page was last updated on Saturday July 6th, 2013.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 June 2013

About five months ago we received an email from Virgin Trains, offering cut price fares to and from London on certain days in the weeks leading up to the end of March 2013. Presumably the train company were seeking to attract extra passengers to fill their trains at a time when they usually have lots of empty seats. Helen and I rarely get an opportunity to go to London these days, and we always have a lengthy list of treeing items to attend to in the metropolis, so we eagerly took advantage of this offer.

We booked a return trip to London Euston on a Saturday in March. I can’t recall the total cost but it was around £15 return fare  each. The only snag was that in order to get these fares we needed to arise from our slumbers at 4.30 am! What dedication to the cause!

Helen had been studying the online catalogue for the Wellcome Library, and had noted some things to look up during our visit, so we decided to “do” these. We had never been to the Wellcome Library before, and are always keen to experience “new” repositories. We also had a list of items relating to people who feature on the Bankes Pedigree to look at in the British Library, and the SOG library. In the event we did not go to the SOG library, as we found the underground fare from Euston to the City to be prohibitively expensive, so we decided to concentrate on the other record offices.

As you may imagine, we arrived in London very early, so we had some time to kill before commencing research.  It was a very wet and windy day, so we wanted to find shelter if we could. We resolved the situation by partaking of breakfast at Euston station, then visiting the recently revamped St Pancras station. What a magnificent piece of work that is! Quite wonderful, and a tribute to all those who worked on it. The station roof , in particular, is a truly impressive sight, and I simply loved the statue of John Betjeman, one of my favourite poets and a saviour of  this station and so many other Victorian buildings.

On to the research.

We were very impressed by the Wellcome Library, which holds one of the largest collections of medical history sources anywhere on the planet. We were there to have  a look at One of Robert Hanham Collyer‘s books and we were not disappointed. Early History of the Anaesthetic Discovery is Collyer’s account of how he made this discovery. In all our researches into the life of this man over the years we had never previously seen this book, so this filled a significant gap in our research.

Our second reason for going to the Wellcome Library was for the chance to see a tea wrapper that originated from the Holborn grocer’s shop of Joseph Collyer, 200 years ago. Again, we were not disappointed. It is really amazing how items like this have survived over all those years, and to think that we were actually looking at an everyday item that would have been used in Collyer’s grocer’s shop 200 years ago was quite amazing. Probably the best way to describe this is to quote the library catalogue:

Sheet of white paper which has been folded and may have been used as wrapping paper for loose tea. It has an illustration of two columns to either side of the text, the East India House above it and a group of 5 people sitting drinking tea between palm trees below. Collyer’s business was at that address in 1824.
Author, etc.     Collyer, Joseph.
Subject name     Collyer, Joseph.
Topic-LCSH      Tea trade. / Grocers / Spices.
Place name     London (England)
Genre/Technique     Ephemera.
System no.     .b1689697x
Record no.     502992242

We already knew that Joseph’s shop was at 93 Holborn Hill, but this item gave us the additional information that it was situated “Opposite St Andrew’s Church”.

The Wellcome Library contains much of relevance to Bankes descendants – we know, for example, that it holds a number of the medical writings of Dr Thomas Hunt –  but we did not have enough time to explore further. We needed to get to the British Library, to see what gems we could find there.

It was when we got to the British Library that I realised that I had made a big mistake. Although I had learned, from the British Library website, that I needed to bring with me a household bill to act as identification, I had forgotten to do this. I could not, therefore, renew my out of date ticket, and thus was denied access to the library. My fault, I know, but this did seem to me a bit draconian. In most of the records offices that I have visited over the years in similar circumstances I would have been denied the use of original sources, but allowed to use microfilm or digital records. Not so at the British Library. I know that the rules are there to safeguard the security of the sources, and the situation was my own fault, but this did seem to me to be a bit “over the top”. Anyway, with the rain beating down outside  I was condemned to sit in the British Library entrance foyer for the whole afternoon while helen dipped into the records. While I finished off tthe final 150 pages of a book, Helen found some real gems. I’ll tell you about them next month.

If things had gone to plan next Saturday would have been the day of the second Reunion of John Bankes Descendants. Alas, it was not to be, as for a variety of reasons the number of people able to commit to the event fell considerably below our expecttaions. Once again, I apologise to those of you who were planning to come to the event.  Instead I shall be singing in a concert in my home town – my first appearance in my local male voice choir. I’m looking forward to that immensely.



  • This page was last updated on Tuesday June 4th, 2013.

Reunion of the Descendants of John Bankes, 8 June 2013

When we decided to organise a second Reunion in June 2013 it was after receiving indications from likely attendees that  the number of Bankes descendants attending the event would be roughly at the same level as in 2011. However,  as time has gone by this has proved not to be the case. Many people are away for various reasons in June, or have other activities planned.

The last thing we would want is for the people who come to the Reunion to be disappointed by the event, and with the number attending being significantly lower than was the case at the previous event, we believe there is a real chance that this would be the case. We have therefore cancelled the event.

We apologise for any inconvenience or disappointment caused by this decision, but feel that this is the best thing to do.

  • This page was last updated on Sunday April 14th, 2013.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 12 December 2011

We have just uploaded the long – promised new section of the Geoffs Genealogy website that relates to last June’s  Reunion of John Bankes’ Descendants. You can view this by clicking on the new Reunion link on the site menu.

This new section contains the text of the two talks that were given at the event, together with the notes that Helen used for our Bankes Bingo icebreaker. We hope that you will find these interesting, and possibly useful as well!

There are also some photographs that were taken by people who attended the event.


  • This page was last updated on Monday December 12th, 2011.