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 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.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 5 March 2013

Over the years I have not processed all the items that I have found whilst visiting various records offices around the country. I am afraid that I am inclined to be rather greedy when I go on a treeing trip, and concentrate on collecting as many sources as I can. After all, these days most archives let you use your digital camera to record sources, although often for a fee, so for the most part there is not the need to write out your notes in longhand.

There is a down side to this however. I have quite a lot of records that I obtained a couple of years ago or more, and I still have not worked on them. Once I’ve left them for a couple of years or more my memory fades, and thus when I come to work on them I sometimes can’t recall the detail of the source as well as I should. I know that in the interest of sound research, and to get the best out of the material that I gather, I should deal with these items soon after gathering them, but that said, I don’t expect I’ll change.

During February I finally got around to processing a source that I annotated in March 2009 at Guildhall Library in London. These are the Insurance Registers. Guildhall Library used to hold a large, but incomplete, series of these records, which relate to several insurance companies and cover the years 1696 to 1883, but since I viewed them they have been moved to London Metropolitan Archives.  You can read about this source on the following webpage:

On the National Archives website there was an index to a section of the Sun Life Insurance Registers, source reference Ms 11936/419 -560, covering the period 1800 – 1839, and I made use of that before visiting Guildhall Library, to identify the sources that I wanted to look at during my visit. Thus, I arrived at London with a list of documents that I wanted to see, and was able to crack on with the research straight away.

I had never seen archive insurance registers before, and found them very interesting, particularly as they give a good insight into the lifestyle of our forebears. I was able to trace a number of records relating to several Bankes descendants:

John Collyer (1783-1840), Carver & Gilder of London
David Price (1774-1840), Cheesemonger / Warehouseman of London
Nathan Archer (1793-1845), Printer & Stationer / Engraver of London

I also traced some material relating to Nathan Archer’s brothers – Thomas Archer (1786-1866) and Samuel William Archer (1790-1870), as well as a certain William Thomas Archer. I have come across William in my research previously; he was obviously related to Nathan Archer, but I have not yet been able to work out his connection.

So what do these records tell us?

Well, firstly they give us a series of addresses for the people named. In the case of John Collyer and David Price this merely confirms existing information, but in the case of the Archer men there is quite a bit to learn. I had known that Thomas Archer, brother of my Nathan, lived at Long Lane, West Smithfield, London when he was a young man, but it seems from these records that Nathan and maybe William Thomas also lived at that address for a period, although the exact sequence of events is not spelled out clearly. I am not sure whether Long Lane was both residential and business address, but it looks as though that could have been the case.

After his marriage to Mary Ann Stephens in 1817, Nathan appears to have moved to a brick building at 39 Goswell Street, London. I assume that this was Goswell Road, in Clerkenwell. Here he lived, presumably with his wife, and according to the insurance schedules he had his printing office at the rear of the building.

In 1821 Nathan Archer was on the move again. This time he moved to 219 Shoreditch, to another brick house which appears to have been both his home and workplace. In 1821 he had entered into a partnership with a  certain Alfred Catherwood as Printers, Booksellers and Stationers, and that was probably the reason for this move, I think. The costs of the insurance premiums that Nathan and Alfred had to pay was considerable – £1200 in 1821, on the stock, utensils and goods that were stores at their premises.

The partnership between messers Archer & Catherwood did not last long, and on 15 July 1823 a notice appeared in the London Gazette, announcing its breakup. Nathan and family then went to live at 26 Tabernacle Walk, St Lukes, London. Again, this appears to have been both his home and workplace, and in 1823 and 1825 his premium on his household goods, clothes, glass & china, stock etc was £1100.

The last entry I found for Nathan was dated 9 January 1839, when he was at 15 Old Street Road in Clerkenwell. This may have only been his dwelling house, I suspect, as the premium was lower (£350), and there is no mention in the schedule of stock. The Archer family were still at that address in 1841, when the census was taken.

There is one other member of the Archer clan mentioned in these records – Nathan’s brother Samuel William Archer. He was described as a Jeweller, Silversmith and Dealer in Watches and Locks, and appears to have been a very prosperous man. His address was recorded as “Nearly opposite St Thomas Square Hackney”, and the hint that he probably did  trade from that address comes in the value of “stock and utensils Jewels excepted £900”.

One or two other points that may be of interest.

Firstly, many of the records state “no stove therein”, presumably because no stove meant less fire risk. I can’t imagine how the people would have kept warm in those circumstances, though.

It is interesting to see that David Price’s premiums included amounts to cover musical instruments. The cost of this cover was £50 in 1827, but this was doubled the following year. This gives an impression of a certain elegent lifestyle in the Price household. I wonder what instruments they had, and who played them. Do you think that they were played by David Price’s daughters, Anne and Mary, in a scene reminiscent of Jane Austen?

I could go on about these records for ages longer, but I guess that by now you have the idea that these are quite fascinating sources, which cast light on many aspects of the lives of our forebears. I really must make sure that I investigate some of the other items I have stores in folders before too long.

As I leave you I must give my usual plug for the Reunion of John Bankes’ Descendants, which we are holding at Coulsdon, Surrey on 8th June. The big day is now drawing very close, and we would love to have the opportunity to meet and greet as many Bankes descendants as possible. If you can come, please do. I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy the day. Details are on the Geoffs Genealogy website.



  • This page was last updated on Tuesday March 5th, 2013.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 5th January 2012

I’m a few days late with this blog entry, the result of a very merry Christmas & New Year holiday. I hope that you, also, had a good break, and that 2012 is good to you.

Looking back over the past year, although it was obviously a lousy year in economic terms for most people in the UK, for me in many respects it was pretty good. We enjoyed two lovely European holidays with some splendid weather, super food, good company and wonderful country. We also had a number of very enjoyable short weekend breaks, and had the excitement of our niece’s wedding. On top of all that, we had the excitement of the Bankes Descendants Reunion in June. What a thrill that was.  All this plus a number of visits to various theatres or concert halls, where we enjoyed some wonderful performances. No complaints from me about 2011!

Mention of the Bankes Reunion leads me to draw your attention to the recently added section on this website, that is devoted to that subject. Here you will find transcriptions of the three talks that were given, plus a selection of photographs taken by attendees. I hope you will find this interesting.

For those of you who heard Helen’s super talk on Robert Hanham Collyer (1814- abt 1891) at the reunion you may be interested to know that recently even more information has come to light about this talented but flawed individual. Not only does the new British Library Newspapers website contain a number of articles that report on various of his exploits, but Helen has recently found some new sources as well. As is the case with all subjects, extra information is being placed in cyberspace all the time, so it is always worthwhile to keep re-searching for information on your chosen topic. In fact, not only this is true of the internet generally, but also of individual websites. For instance, the content on the British Library Newspapers site is being added to daily on a huge scale. I shall certainly be re-visiting it time and again.

Apart from the Robert Hanham Collyer finds, Helen’s initial sweep of this site brought forth quite a number of articles that are of great interest to us.

There is, for instance, the case of Joseph Culshaw, a Lancashire man who had befriended three local lads and invited them into his house for a friendly chat in Leyland in 1887. Just why, I wonder, did he suddenly take his gun off the wall and start shooting at his visitors as they made a hasty retreat?

We’re not sure that Joseph was “one of ours”, but superficially it seems quite likely.

Then there was Barney Sayer, who was in court in East Anglia in 1891 because he had assaulted an assistant schoolmaster. He was fined 20 shillings plus 9 shillings costs, or 14 days imprisonment with hard labour.

I don’t want to give you the impression that our forebears were all violent people, but I can’t deny that this type of detail adds to our research immensely. Isn’t it funny how most of us would steer clear of most kinds of trouble, but we usually start licking our lips when we find an ancestor who had some juicyskeletons in their cupboard?

We have become aware aware that a problem has arisen with the family tree  on the Geoff Genealogy website. For some reason the data appears to have become corrupted, and unfortunately it cannot necessarily be assumed to be correct. In fact quite a lot of the dates that are you will find are not correct. Our apologies for this.

Fortunately in our family there are some people who are far cleverer than I, and  this situation will be rectified. It may be a while before this can be done, however, and in the meantime if you find that the data you are seeing  on our website does not make sense feel free to contact me, and I will try to help you.

  • This page was last updated on Thursday January 5th, 2012.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 12 June 2008

Hello again.

Once again I have to report on a busy few weeks. Treeing has had to take second place to decorating over the past few weeks, as our home has been spruced up! Of course, there is a knock-on effect associated with decorating, insofar as the other regular jobs – gardening, car cleaning etc, also need to be accommodated. Thus things get a bit behind. However, the good news (so far as I’m concerned) is that we can now get back to our normal routine, and the treeing can soon assume its usual place in my agenda.

Other things have been going on as well. For instance, last Saturday was the Shropshire Family History Open Day and Fair in Shrewsbury. This was a most successful day, with plenty of punters coming through the door, many of them to listen to our two high profile speakers – Colin Chapman (he of the Chapman Codes) and Nick Barratt ( he of the BBC TV programme Who Do You Think You Are?). I think I can safely say that the day was most enjoyable for all who attended.

On the treeing front, probably the most significant recent event was my visit to The National Archives, Kew. This took place a couple of weeks ago, when I joined a coach party run by the Shropshire Family History Society. I had some pretty good results from my research that day. As ever, I went to Kew clutching a long research list, but in the event it was a source that was not on the list that gave me the greatest joy.

Whilst browsing through the TNA catalogue I did what I always do in these situations and typed into the search box the words “Robert Hanham Collyer“. Given the ubiquitous nature of this man, I was not too surprised when a couple of source references appeared on the screen – both references to court cases.

RHC being the type of person that he undoubtedly was – “pushy” could be considered quite a polite term – it should not surprise anybody that he was involved in litigation from time to time. We already knew that he was cited as co-respondent in an 1877 divorce case in London, for example. Well, the sources identified by this search concerned (a) the annulment of his marriage to Emily Jeans Clements in 1873 and (b) a case in 1877 when he was sued for money he was said to owe his solicitor – a certain . Imagine that, being sued by your legal representative! Many people would be embarrassed by such an event, but from what I know of RHC I doubt that he was phased by it.

By the time I had identified these papers I was running a bit short of time. I managed to read them through and then photographed them, using my digital camera. Most of the photos of the divorce court papers are quite good, and when printed or viewed on screen they can be read. However, there is one rather blurred page, and sadly that is the page that bears the plaintiff’s signature.I’ll need to photograph that again when I next visit TNA.

The papers include the complaint by Emily, and RHC’s response. He did not deny that Susannah Hawley nee McDonald, his first(?) wife, was still alive, but said that the couple had split up shortly after their marriage in 1845, and he had believed that she had died, having been informed of her death by so-called reliable source. As he could not recall the identity of this reliable source, I am more than a bit sceptical about this statement, but it seems to have been accepted by the court, and the marriage was annulled with custody of the couple’s two children being awarded to Emily. I don’t imagine that the court would really have been taken in by RHC’s response, but they appear to have been happy to accept it. Anything for a quiet life?

The photos of the papers for the second case were rather disappointing – quite blurred (the result of hurried photography and a shaky hand). I’ll re-take the photographs on my next visit to TNA, and tell you about this case then.

Incidentally, I found out during this visit that you can get quite a decent result from photographing a microfilm or microfiche image off the screen. Maybe you already knew this, but I didn’t. It certainly worked well when I tried it, having been inspired to do so by observing my fellow researchers.

In the meantime the hunt for John Bankes‘s parentage continues. I discovered that Hertfordshire Archives have created a magnificent index – Hertfordshire Names Online. According to Ancestors magazine it “allows researchers to search the entire index of genealogical material and documents” (June 2008 issue, p 58), and certainly it encompasses a very large range of sources, including apprenticeship agreements 1599-1903. As I know that Bankes was apprenticed as a carpenter before he went to the City of London I checked his name across all the sources in this index; he wasn’t there. If the index is as comprehensive as I’m led to believe I take that as fairly strong evidence that he didn’t come from Hertfordshire.

As I said, the hunt continues …

  • This page was last updated on Thursday June 12th, 2008.

Geoff’ Genealogy Update 28 April 2008

Since my last blog entry I’ve been as busy as ever. Lots of new information has come to light, partly through new contacts made via Geoffs Genealogy and partly through contacts made via the Genes Reunited website.

My Culshaw research has been sadly neglected for a few years now, which is a shame, because I have made some wonderful friends in Lancashire during my work on this line, and also thoroughly enjoyed carrying out the research in places like Preston, Leyland and Ormskirk.

The truth is, I’m stuck, and have been for some years!

If anybody can tell me who were the parents of John Culshaw, born c1760, probably at Burscough, I’ll be very grateful. I have searched as many Lancashire Wills as I have been able to, looked at some of the estate papers for the Earl of Derby’s estate, and looked at as many parish registers as seem relevant, but the problem really is that there was more than one John Culshaw who came into the world at about that time, in the Ormskirk area, and I can’t say which one was my ancestor.

Anyway, I made contact with Valerie, a Culshaw researcher who is registered with Genes Reunited. It turns out that Culshaw is not her main research interest, and her Culshaws are on the line I call the “Catholic Culshaws”. This is to distinguish them from my forebears, some of whom were catholics, but most of whom were not.

The “Catholic Culshaws” have long attracted our interest because their lives seem to run parallel to my forebears. On the 1841 census for Farington the two households were living very near to one another, and they continued to live close to one another for most of the nineteenth century. Our belief has always been that there is very likely to be a link between the two families, but we have not yet found it. If there was a link, it must be pre 1760.

Anyway, it was good to exchange trees with Valerie, and to make one another aware of our respective interests. Who knows, one day we may be able to link up our trees!

Another Genes Reunited contact was on the Hewitt line. In his Hawkridge tree Arthur has a certain Charlotte Hewitt, born Ardwick, Manchester in 1858. She was a sister of my great grandfather – Arthur Thomas Hewitt (1852-1915). I knew she had married a certain George Pratt in 1878 and that he had died before the date of the 1881 census, in April 1881. What I didn’t know was that she then married John Frederick Hawkridge (b 1851 at Derby) with whom she produced four children. This intelligence set me off researching this clan, and I traced the births of their children and also the available relevant census entries (1891 & 1901). I also traced some army service papers re one of the sons of John and Charlotte – Thomas Hawkridge (b 1890).

Arthur lives in the USA, and has a most impressive Hawkridge pedigree.

These examples point up the benefit that can be gained from websites such as Genes Reunited. I don’t keep up my membership long term, preferring to pay for a short term membership every now and again, but there is no doubt that the network of researchers on GR has grown a lot since I was last a member, a few years ago.

Among recent visitors to Geoffs Genealogy was Ronnie, my recently acquired contact in the USA. He is descended on the Clements line. Emily Jeans Clements features in the Bankes pedigree because she married Robert Hanham Collyer as a 16 year old girl in London in 1864. He was aged 50 at the time, and already married! After the couple had produced two children Emily evidently realised that her spouse’s first wife was still alive, and sued for divorce – a very rare event in 1873. Anyway, the marriage was annulled in London. Robert Hanham Collyer said at the hearing that he had not heard from his wife for many years, and had believed her dead. I assume that this explanation was accepted by the court, because he was not imprisoned for bigamy. My last sighting of Emily in the records was on the 1881 census, when she was living at Camberwell, Surrey, with her two children, aged 15 & 14. I don’t know what became of her after that. Her daughter, another Emily, married William Sleigh (I wrote about this marriage in this blog a year ago). I don’t know what happened to the son – Robert L Collyer, who was born in France c1867.

Ronnie is descended from one of Emily’s siblings, and has provided me with a wealth of material about the Clements family, including some lovely photographs. Obviously, the Clements line is not of direct relevance to the Banks pedigree, but I’m always delighted to receive information such as this, as apart from its intrinsic interest, it helps to put the characters who married into the Bankes descendants’ lines into their context.

Thank you Ronnie.

As if all that were not enough I’ve also had very enjoyable contact with Bankes descendants who are descended on the Welsh line from Joseph Rand, half brother of Bankes. I’ve long taken a great interest in the Welsh line, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Jan & I visit Carmarthenshire quite often, so are able to use the relevant local records quite easily. Secondly, this branch of the pedigree has within it a lot of very interesting people. On the whole they were quite prosperous people, so they have left behind them a decent quantity of records. Finally, my interest has been kept up by the fact that I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the people descended on the Welsh branch – and very pleasant people they have proved.

It has long been my aim to add a section on these Welsh Bankes descendants to Geoffs Genealogy, but as yet that ambition remains unfulfilled. So much to do, and so little time in which to do it. Still, hope springs eternal …..

  • This page was last updated on Monday April 28th, 2008.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 30 January 2008

Hello again.

Since I last made an entry on this blog the focus of my activity has been preparing the March edition of the Shropshire Family History Society Journal. It is now just about completed.

I wonder how many of the people who read this blog are members of a family history society. I’ve mentioned this old chestnut before, in previous postings. In my opinion it is well worth joining at least one society. In addition to Shropshire FHS I also belong to East of London FHS, as I have research interests in that part of London.

SocietyMembership enables you to avail yourself of the knowledge and expertise of your fellow members in many different ways. It may also bring you in touch with other people with similar research interests to you. If you belong to a society that is local to you you will be able to attend its regular meetings (usually monthly), meet people and listen to a talk on a family history related topic. Furthermore, family history society members all over the country have produced a great many indexes to the nominal records that we use in our research, and made them available in various forms. Without them, your research would undoubtedly be much more difficult.

As if that were not sufficient, many societies run coach trips to record offices that may be difficult for you to get to under your own steam. In my case, the Shropshire FHS runs trips to The National Archives. True, you have to get up early to make the trip, but once that ordeal is behind you you can look forward to a pleasant ride to Kew, followed by about six hours of research and a sleep on the way home! What could be better?

The next such trip is in May, and I shall soon be reserving my place on it.

Apart from working on the SFHS journal, in the past couple of weeks Pat and I have carried out a bit more Guyatt research, and resolved a couple more conundrums. I’ve had some more contact with a lady who is a distant cousin of Jan on her Maliphant line, and exchanged a couple of emails with an researcher whose interests encompass the Collyers and Sleighs.

Both of our sons have celebrated their birthdays in the past ten days. In the case of Alex it was his 21st, so we went out to a local hotel for a lovely family meal.

As if that were not enough, on a sodden Saturday a couple of weeks ago Jan and I went to Shrewsbury Music Hall to enjoy our first concert of the year. Swansea City Opera are a small, touring company, and we’ve seen them perform twice previously. This time they performed Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and it truly was a very good show. It always amazes me what a good sound this company’s musicians produce from the half a dozen instruments that they bring on tour, and the singing was of a very good standard. All in all, a very good evening – and a packed house as well!

Our next musical outing will be in March, when we go to Birmingham to see Welsh National Opera perform Falstaff. Bryn Terfel is scheduled to perform the title role, and as both Jan and I love all things Terfel we simply can’t wait for this outing! We pray that the great man doesn’t lose his voice on the day!

That’s about all I’ve got to say tonight, so I’ll sign off for another couple of weeks.

Happy hunting to you all!

  • This page was last updated on Wednesday January 30th, 2008.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 22 April 2007

Well, here we are again. Another week gone in no time at all, and time again to update this blog.

I have a few things to mention this week, so without more ado I’ll plunge in.

Firstly, many congrats to my son in law – Paul – who ran the London Marathon yesterday for the first time and successfully completed the course in unseasonably high temperatures. Helen (my daughter) and I spent the day walking the streets of London, trying to keep in touch with his progress, and we were, to say the least, very tired as we set out on the journey home. I can’t imagine how tired Paul was, but we are all very proud of him.

Now to the serious business of treeing.

The other night I had a few minutes on my hands, so I had a quick search of Pallott’s Marriage Index (1780-1837) on Although I have come across one or two useful entries in this index from time to time, this was the first time I had searched it systematically, and it was well worthwhile. There were three entries that definitely relate to the Hymas branch of the Bankes Pedigree (descendants of Anne Deane), and a note of the marriage of Catherine Collyer to Joseph Palmer in 1795. I had worked out that this marriage took place in that year, but I now have the name of a parish to search – St James, Westminster. The find that pleased me most, however, concern to the Hunt line. Other sources tell me that Sarah Love Hunt’s marriage to Antonio Da Costa took place on 16 Sep 1813. This index gives the year as 1819, which I believe is incorrect, but more importantly it names a church – St Stephen, Coleman Street. This information should enable me to search the parish registers. The index also lists a marriage for Antonio Da Costa that I had no previous knowledge of – to a certain Mary Taylor in 1821 at St Stephen, Coleman Street. If correct, this indicates that Sarah Love Hunt probably died before 1821, which is quite a lot earlier than I had surmised. I now need to check all these entries in the London parish registers, which is not so easy as I live in Shropshire. I may order the films at my local LDS Family History Center. Watch this space.

As if the above finds were not enough for one week, I believe that I have also cracked a long-standing research problem this week, again courtesy of

My mother’s grandmother was a certain Hannah Guyatt ( 1857-1903). She was born in the East End of London, and my mother obtained her birth certificate some 19 years ago. Hannah’s parents were John Guyatt and Caroline Smedley. Well, Guyatt is a fairly unusual name; it should be easy to trace the clan on censuses and civil registration indexes and develop this line of research – or so we thought. However, although I traced them at Mile End on the 1861 census many years ago, I simply could not find any certain trace of them in the BMD or census records. Until the other day!

I decided to have another search for Guyatts, but approached the search with a bit more of an open mind than I had previously. Instead of looking for people born in London I widened the search, and hey presto! I came up trumps.

The 1861 census had led me to believe that John Guyatt had been born in Lambeth and Caroline in the East End of London. The 1851 census entry that I found showed that in fact John came into the world at High Wycombe, Bucks, and his spouse was born at Walworth, which at that time was in Surrey. I have ordered a birth certificate for one of the Guyatt children, in order to verify that I have got the correct family, but I am pretty certain that these people were “mine”. I won’t bore you with the details of why I believe this, but I believe I have proved the link using the civil registration website FreeBMD and census entries. I’ll let you know if I’m wrong.

Having found out that the Smedleys hailed from Walworth I have used the IGI to trace a likely marriage between William Smedley and Mary Killhams at Southwark in 1818, and a clutch of junior Smedlies who appear to have been their children, born in the ensuing years. There is quite a bit to do before I can be sure that these Smedleys are my forebears, but there must be a strong chance that that was the case and I look forward to researching this line.

I can think of a couple of truisms to draw from these developments in my research. The first is that we should never give up on a line. No matter how long we are stuck at a certain point in our research we should always go back and rethink. Try a different approach, you never know what may happen. The second truism is that we should all make use of all the sources available to us. The availability of online primary and secondary sources, plus indexes that are easily searched, means that we are able to cover much more research than was the case in pre-internet days. Not only that, but as there is always more information coming online we should be ready to revisit websites that we used previously and thoroughly.

What a wonderful hobby this is. We never know what will turn up next!

Now, how to trace John Bankes’s parents???…….

  • This page was last updated on Monday April 23rd, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 18 March 2007

Here we are again, another Sunday evening – the end of the weekend. Another working week beckons, but first I need to spend a few minutes updating this blog.

I have one or two items to mention re this week’s developments.

Firstly. I was delighted to hear from my distant cousin – Joao in Brazil. He is descended from James Frederick Holliday (1853-1938). James emigrated to Brazil in 1880, and generally speaking the Holliday clan prospered in their new homeland.

I have had some problems communicating with Joao over the past year. His emails to me arrive fine all the time; mine to him always fail to reach him. I have no idea why. I seem able to email all my other correspondents successfully, but not Joao. Anyway, Joao has contacted me by using a different email address and I have successfully reached him with my reply. This may seem a very small thing to you, but to me it is great. I can now resume contact with my South American cousins and hopefully learn more about them!

Joao sent me some lovely portrait photos that were among his grandfather’s possessions. They presumably portray family members, but he has no idea who they were. What a shame! I think that all family historians know the feeling of frustration that comes from unattributed family photos. I really must take the time to annotate my photo collection, in case any of my descendants is interested in my family history in the future.

My other bit of news also concerns a photograph. My contact in Canada, who is descended from Robert Hanham Collyer (RHC), phrenologist and showman etc, has sent me a photo of his great grandmother – Emily Jeans Clements (b 1847) – who was one of the wives of RHC. RHC married her when she was just seventeen years old and he was fifty. The marriage ended in the divorce courts in 1874.

The photo shows Emily as a young woman, and is really lovely. How wonderful to be able to look at somebody who until yesterday was just a name on the Bankes Pedigree. Photos add a new dimension to our family trees, and we should never waste an opportunity to get hold on them.

Have a good week.

  • This page was last updated on Sunday March 18th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update

During the past week I have turned my attention to a couple of different sources as I work towards getting all the information I hold into my family history records.

During November 2006 I went to The National Archives, Kew, and completed a source transcription that I had started in November 1998! The source is a Receipts and Payments book relating to the John Bankes Trust. It had been kept by the Haberdashers’ Company in London, and was used as an exhibit in the long-running Court of Chancery case relating to the Trust. Finally it ended up in the keeping of a certain Master in Chancery, named Master Farrer, and is recorded in The National Archives catalogue as

“UNKNOWN CAUSE: Cash book? Bank’s charity (possibly an exhibit in the cause MITCHELL v HOLLOWAY): Middx”.

The source reference is C108/116.

This source records receipts and payments made by the Trust in the period 1741-1754. I have focussed my attention on extracting the rentals received from, and payments made to, Banks Descendants, but there is much more of interest in this book. In particular, the records of payments made to tradesmen make fascinating reading.

For the period in question, I now have a record of the payments made under the Trust to the various Banks descendants. Apart from the intrinsic interest to me of this information, I am able to deduce certain facts of interest in my research. For instance, I note that my direct ancestor James Jacobson was receiving payments that were actually due to Mary Mitchell, wife of Joseph Collyer the Elder. I surmise that the reason for this was that James had been a creditor of Joseph Collyer when Joseph sought Insolvent Debtors Relief, and these monies were assigned to him to repay that debt. You can see information about Joseph Collyer and his insolvency on the Geoffs Genealogy website.

This record of payments can also be useful in identifying the year in which an ancestor died. If you see that a person was receiving a payment regularly for a number of years and then the payment suddenly starts being paid to another person, such as a child of the usual recipient, you may suspect that the original beneficiary had died. Of course, this is not in itself proof of the death, but it can start you off looking for a probate record or a burial.

In some cases it may be the only evidence of a death that you can find.

The other source that has occupied me is a Court of Chancery Pleading dated 1724, TNA source ref C11/1704/50. This relates to the Chancery Cause BANKS v DENTON.

Elizabeth (Trevers) Banks, widow of John Banks Haberdasher, had not received any of the money due to her under her spouse’s Will, and in this document she sets out her claim to arrears of these payments, plus the future payments due to her. Given the fact that Banks’ Will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury five years previously, in 1719, one can understand her annoyance.

Time for me to sign off for another week. I hope you find something of interest in Geoffs Genealogy and wish you happy hunting!

  • This page was last updated on Monday February 19th, 2007.