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 Website Updates – 13 January 2008

Last Sunday Helen and I put a series of updates on to the Geoffs Genealogywebsite, as the latest stage of our ongoing updating process. Over the past few weeks I have been through all the pages of text on the site and amended them so that they are up to date as of now. In most cases this has involved the correction of a few errors (typos mainly), the addition of an odd sentence or paragraph of text, the changing or addition of a date here and there, and appropriate additions to the references pages.

In the case of the webpage Arthur Ackland Hunt – Artist the changes made are quite significant. Firstly, courtesy of Richard Bradley, I am able to share with you two wonderful photographs – of Arthur Ackland Hunt and his wife – Emma Sarah Blagg.In addition to this, I have added a newspaper report of the marriage of Arthur and Emma in 1879, an image of one of the Blagg family homes in Cheadle, and a short section of information about the Blagg family.

As readers of this blog will know, I am in the process of gleaning information about the Blaggs from the Cheadle parish registers, and I hope that eventually I shall be able to expand my coverage of this family.

On the Thomas Hunt, Doctor page the main addition is a superb image of the doctor himself, which I only received last week. Again, my thanks to Richard Bradley for allowing me to share this picture with you.

I have added quite a large number of websites to the Geoffs Genealogy Links page, and hope that you will find them to be useful and informative. I try to include a wide variety of relevant links – some well known and others not so well known – and also confine myself to sites that I consider to be reliable sources of information.

I have tried to bring the Geoffs Genealogy tree completely up to date, but not quite made it, I’m afraid. If you have sent me some material and you can’t find it there I apologise. I shall be beavering away over the next few months, trying to correct any such omissions. I have to say, however, that I have added a great deal of information to the tree, and I hope that visitors to the site will find it even more interesting than previously.

Among the areas of the Geoffs Genealogy Tree that I have expanded significantly in the last year are the following:

My thanks to Brenda for sharing her information with me. Thanks to her the Archer section of the tree is greatly expanded, and includes information on the line down from Thomas Archer (1786-c1866) the brother of Nathan Archer, my ancestor.

Charles Heppell married my great aunt – Alice Victoria Smith – in 1891 at Shoreditch, and thus the Heppells became part of my family tree. I was greatly surprised when I started to look into the Heppell family history and found that they came from Sunderland in the North East of England. There is much still to be discovered on this line of research, but I have made a fair start, I think.

My mother’s uncle Jim was James Archer Smith (1877-1957), who I knew had married a lady named Ophelia. That was as much as I knew up to a year ago, but after digging into Ophelia’s life story I find that she was born Ophelia Eliza Florence Worthy in 1865. She married a certain William Henry Kerr in 1882 at Bethnal Green, had seven Kerr children, and was widowed sometime between 1896 and 1901. She then married mum’s uncle Jim and died in 1928 at Hoxton. I have no idea whether or not mum knew all that; I found the reserach quite fascinating, and wrote about it on my blog during the period February – March 2007.

Next I need to inveestigate James Archer Smith’s second marriage, but for now I’ve added theinformation about Ophelia to the tree.

My thanks to Chris Marshall for sharing with me her information about her line of descent from Benjamin Culshaw (b 1828) and his spouse Barbara Blackwell (b 1828). This has added a great deal to my Culshaw family tree. I still have more of Chris’s information to add, as she has sent me some material relating to her Heaps ancestors. Hopefully I’ll manage this during 2008.

Early in 2007 I was contacted by a Sleigh descendant of Robert Hanham Collyer(1814-1891) and his wife Emily Jeans Clements (born c1847), and the tree now includes some information on this line.

Da Costa
I spent some time during 2007 researching the Da Costa family, using civil registration indexes and censuses. I made great progress, and have therefore been able to add quite a lot of information to this brance of the pedigree. In case you are wondering, around the turn of the 18th-19th centuries two of the daughters of William Hunt (b 1763) married two Da Costa brothers. I now know that one of them – Antonio Da Costa – was the Brazilian Vice Consul during the mid nineteenth century.

Thanks to Ted George in Australia I have been able to add quite a lot to our knowledge of this clan, and that is reflected in the tree. Ted’s forebear – Albert George Benzoni –
dropped the “Benzoni” and adopted “George” as the family surname, hence Ted’s surname. I mention this in case you wonder why I show the surname of some of the people on the tree as “Benzoni/George”.

This was my genealogical highlight of 2007, and was the subject of a number of entries on my blog. This time last year I was completely stuck on my Guyatt research, and had been so stuck for about ten years. Now I’m again stuck – but not at the same point! I’m eagerly seeking the next breakthrough, and hoping that it is not another ten years away! Visitors to the Guyatt section of the tree will find much that is new there. What I now need to know is the birthplace of my John Guyatt, born about 1784 and maried to Hannah Wright in 1817 at High Wycombe. Any offers?

My grateful thanks to my cousin, Pat, for all her help in sorting out the various conundrums that came to light in researching William Freeman Guyatt and his family. We finally got to the bottom of it all, and uncovered some wonderful material. I shall be working towards incorporating it into Geoffs Genealogy as soon as I can.

Whilst researching the Guyatts I was also able to develop the Smedley family history a little. Much remains to be done on this, but the new information is included in the tree, and I hope that we shall learn more before too long.

And more besides
In addition to the above I have added much to many other areas of the Bankes pedigree, using online records – mainly census returns and civil registration indexes. This is a stage in my ongoing effort to “dot the Is and cross the Ts” as much as possible, and I shall continue with this work during 2008. My approach to this is a bit random – I just tend to pick on an individual on the tree and see what I can find.

I think that more or less covers the latest batch of updates. I hope you will find something of interest in Geoffs Genealogy. If so, please let me know, and if you think you may be able to help add to our knowledge I shall be highly delighted to hear from you.

  • This page was last updated on Tuesday January 15th, 2008.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 12 December 2007

Blog time again.

Christmas is now less than a couple of weeks away, and I think I’m more or less up to speed with that. The main mailing of cards have been sent, and the pressies have been bought. In the next few days the Christmas Tree will be set up at chez-Culshaw and we will then really know that yule time is with us. I’m looking forward to seeing my brother again, as I don’t see him very often. It will be good to be able to relax for a few days with the family.

We are well into the UK winter now. Personally, I can’t wait for the longer daylight hours to return. There are aspects of winter that I like – football, for instance, but for me the worst aspect of that season is the shortening of the daylight hours. I cannot wait for 21 December to pass, so that we can start moving towards the Spring.

You will not be too surprised, I’m sure, to learn that during the past couple of weeks I’ve been busy on the treeing front. I think I mentioned in my last notes that I was recently contacted by an Australian member of the Benzoni clan, and this has led me to spend some time working on this branch of the Bankes pedigree. The Benzonis hailed from Italy. Some time in the first part of the nineteenth century they made their way from Italy to London, and Charles Benzoni (b Como, c1811) married a Bankes descendant – Eleanor (Brannon) Crow (b London c1809). Eleanor was descended from Ann Deane, half-sister to John Bankes. They went on to have four children, and Ted in Australia has kindly sent me details of his descent from these people. Ted, if you are reading this, I am working on the printouts you sent me and will contact you again when I’ve updated my records.

Last week we also exchanged emails with a South American Sayer researcher who lives in Colombia. The Sayers are on Jan’s part of the tree. Samuel Sayer (circa1799-1866) and his wife Elizabeth Utting (b circa 1803) emigrated from East Anglia to Colombia in the nineteenth century and many of his descendants are avid family history researchers. It is always a pleasure to hear from them, and we were delighted to add a new contact.

I have also been delighted to hear recently from a Culshaw researcher. Alas, her research was not on my line, but I was delighted to be able to put her in contact with a very long-standing friend and fellow Culshaw researcher, whose research does link to hers.

I still have a lot of material to work through that was sent to me by Chris a few weeks ago. I’ve mentioned Chris before. She is another Culshaw researcher, whose research does link to mine. She sent me “Heaps” of material about the Heaps branch of her family, and I’m looking forward to working my way through it.

On the Guyatt front Pat has done some really great research, which has resulted in us obtaining some fantastic information about the branch of the clan that spent some time in Plymouth and served in the British army. I am looking forward to studying the latest material in the next few days. I have mentioned this research avenue before, but not elaborated. I’m doing the same again – not that I want to tease you; rather because it would take a long time for me to explain this research properly, and a blog does not seem the appropriate place to do that. If any of you would like to know more about this research please contact me through the link on and I’ll be pleased to tell you about it.

I also have a number of other items of research that I need to get to in the new year, so there’s no sign of the pace slowing in the near future.

At this time of year I am usually beavering away, preparing the next lot of updates to the website. Alas, this year I am all behind. I haven’t started yet!

I have plans for some new pages,and some significant amendments to existing pages, but at present I can’t say when they will enter cyberspace.Sorry about that. It’s going to be a case of “watch this space”, I’m afraid. Hopefully we may be able to get an updated tree in place on the site before too long, however.

That’s it for now. See you in another couple of weeks.

Have a very happy Christmas and a happy & healthy new year.

  • This page was last updated on Wednesday December 12th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 28 November 2007

The pace of research doesn’t show any sign of slowing. In the past couple of weeks I’ve had the good fortune to receive a lot of information to add to our ever-expanding archive. I’ll briefly describe it now.

Firstly, from a Bankes descendant in Australia I received some information on the Benzonis, which brings one branch of that line that line down to the present day. It appears that this particular strand of the Benzoni clan changed their surname to George at sometime between 1912 and 1930. Neither I or my correspondent know why this was done. Possibly something to do with wanting/needing to adopt a more British persona. Who knows? Any suggestions would be very welcome.

I’ve mentioned previously that I have been in frequent contact over the past few months with a descendant of Arthur Ackland Hunt (1841-1914) and his wife, Emma Sarah Blagg (1838-1896). A couple of weeks ago I visited Stafford Records Office to take down the first tranche of Blagg data from the parish registers for Cheadle, Staffs. This covered approximately 1780 to 1840 and whilst it did not bring to light much in the way of new information, it confirmed data we had already ascertained from the IGI. It is always advisable to check events that appear in indexes in the parish registers. We are all prone to error, and indexers are no exception to that rule. Thus a check of the register may bring to light an mistake. Also, sometimes parish registers contain additional facts that add to your knowledge, but cannot be indexed.

It will take a number of visits to the records office for me to complete the collection of Blagg entries in the Cheadle records, and as I don’t go to Stafford all that often this work will probably be ongoing for some while.

As I was concentrating my attention on this, an email dropped into my inbox which came from my Hunt correspondent, and contained what to me was great treasure. I received two beautiful photographs – one of Arthur Ackland Hunt and the other of his spouse. They are truly wonderful pictures, and I am absolutely thrilled to receive them. I’ve said this before, I know, but I’ll say again how wonderful it is to see photos of people who previously only appeared as names on a pedigree. The ability to “put a face to a name” certainly personalises our research no end – and brings it to life. Thankyou, Richard.

During the past couple of weeks the ongoing Guyatt work has prospered – thanks almost entirely to the efforts of my cousin, Pat. She has established that the branch of the clan that were enumerated in Devon on the 1881 census served in the army. William Freeman Guyatt (b 1847) was a Gun Maker by trade, and appears to have signed up with the Welsh Fusiliers as an Armourer in the late 1870s. It appears that after his death (sometime between 1881 and 1891) and his wife’s death (in 1890) his sons were taken into the Royal Military Asylum at Chelsea, and they subsequently served in the army.

There is much still to learn about these Guyatts, but the information that Pat has already uncovered in the past few weeks has proved extremely interesting.

Last week Jan and I went to Symphony Hall in Birmingham to attend a CBSO concert. The weather was atrocious – heavy rain and wind etc – and the traffic jams on the way made us wonder whether our journey was really worthwhile. We needn’t have worried. We were treated to a fantastic concert. Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was performed with consumate skill and gusto by Christian Tetzlaff, and the orchestra – brilliantly conducted by Edward Gardner – gave superb performances of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Mahler’s 1st Symphony. What more could we ask for? What a shame the hall was 1/3 empty.

We are so lucky to have an orchestra of the quality of the CBSO available to us, and a fantastic venue like Symphony Hall. Here’s to the next time!

  • This page was last updated on Wednesday November 28th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 14 November 2007

It’s that time of year again. Here in the UK the nights have well and truly drawn in; the weather is colder the clocks have been turned back an hour and the garden has been tidied up. Christmas looms on the horizon and the shops are getting busier. I think there is a good case to be made in favour of hibernation – in fact I’ve probably just made it! Still, these colder, darker evenings are the perfect time for a bit of family history research on your computer.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve completed (for now) the Archer research I’ve been doing over the past couple of months. When stuck together the resulting family tree extended pretty well across our lounge – a most impressive spectacle! I hope that Brenda was pleased with it – I certainly enjoyed working on it.

I had a nasty shock on Sunday, when I realised that my memory stick must have been in my shirt pocket when that garment was consigned to our washing machine! Oh my goodness; I had done a lot of work on a local history project and not saved it to my computer. I cursed my stupidity and prayed!

The memory stick was found in the washing machine and with bated breath I slotted it into my computer. Nothing. The computer did not register its presence in the usb port. Oh dear – all that work lost due to my failure to make sure the data was secure!

But salvation was at hand in the form of my resident genius, aka younger son. He told me that when the memory stick dries out properly it may prove to be ok, and sure enough, that was the case! Last evening I was able to see all my precious data on the computer screen. Thank goodness! Much as I enjoy local history research I did not really want to reprise a couple of months’ work.

The moral of this tale is that we should always back up our data. I hope that this near escape has taught me a lesson, but knowing me I’ll probably regress again at some time.

Thanks to some help from my cousin Pat we’ve partly cracked the problem of the Devon Guyatts. I’m not sure whether or not I’ve mentioned this particular problem before, but in case not it concerns the existence on the 1901 census of a youth named Alfred Guyatt in the household of Rowland Simmonds and his wife, Caroline nee Guyatt. Who was he?

Well, we think we have found the answer, but have a little more work to do to clear the matter up beyond all doubt. I won’t go through it in detail here, but if any of you are interested in this poser please feel free to drop me an email and I’ll explain it to you.

More developments. Thanks to a contact made via the website Jan has made contact with a distant cousin on her Carmarthenshire Richards line. The gent in question still lives in the area inhabited by his forebears in the nineteenth century; lucky fellow. Carmarthenshire is a truly beautiful part of the UK.

I’ve booked a microfiche reader at Stafford Records Office for a couple of hours this coming Saturday, so that I can check the Cheadle, Staffs registers for Blagg events. I mentioned the Blaggs in previous posts a while ago. They were a prosperous midlands family, one of whom married into the Hunt family and lived the rest of her days in Kidbrooke, now in south east London but then in Kent.

Finally for today, have you noticed that the non-conformist non-parochial records held by The National Archives in classes RG4 and RG5 have now appeared on the web? They can be seen at I have already used these records extensively at the Family Records Centre, as quite a number of Bankes descendants were non-conformists, but I shall certainly be making good use of this resource in the future.

  • This page was last updated on Wednesday November 14th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 12 July 2007

First the bad news. We have had to disable the email links on the Geoffs Genealogy website, so unfortunately if you send me a message via one of those links it will not reach me. The reason for this is that last Sunday some immensely clever person managed to send me 1800 returned mail messages. I know that once this has happened the volume of such spam is only likely to grow, so had no choice but to disable the address. This, I’m afraid, is the price you pay for using an email address on the web.

When we have time we will, no doubt, set up an alternative means of contact for visitors to the site to use, but that won’t happen immediately. I’ll keep you posted.

Of course, you can always contact me via this blog.

On the treeing front, not much to report this week. I completed my viewing of the High Wycombe baptisms at my local LDS Family History Center – noting all Wright entries back to 1750. To advance this research I need to look at some more films – marriages particularly. I’ll get to that eventually, all being well. For now, I’m giving myself a few weeks off from visiting the LDS Family History Center. My search of this film confirmed, again, that my Guyatts were only at High Wycombe for a short time. I wonder where they were previously?

Most of my time these past few days has been spent working on the next edition of the Shropshire FHS Journal, which will be with the members in September. It’s almost finished, and contains some good stuff.

I’ve also carried on updating my family history records with all the material we’ve discovered recently. The latest additions are the items I found when we visited The National Archives in May. Entries from the Calendar of Wills proved in the Principal Probate Registry.

Tonight we are off to see the open air production of Much Ado about Nothing at Stafford Castle. The weather doesn’t look too great, but fingers crossed! At least the audience are under cover!

Have a good week.

  • This page was last updated on Thursday July 12th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 03 July 2007

This has been a fairly quiet week on the treeing front. My only excursion was to the LDS Family History Center at Telford last Thursday, where I continued my progress working on the baptisms registers of High Wycombe.

I took the precaution of re-searching the entries dated from 1820 onwards, looking for Guyatt entries. I had already looked at this period during my visit to Aylesbury in April, but reprised it in case I had missed anything. Sure enough, there was one entry that had escaped my eagle eye the first time. It was the baptism of the first child of James Guyatt and his wife, Elizabeth. Caroline Matilda Guyatt was baptised on 14 September 1845, and was duly noted.

I am now as confident as I can be that I have recorded all the Guyatt entries from this record.

I then started looking for Wright entries prior to 1782, when Joseph Wright was born. So far I’ve got back to 1770, and noted twelve entries. Of course, it is unlikely that all the entries are relevant to my research, but if I note them all now some of them will probably fall into place when I get more information to link up with them. It seems likely that my ancestor was Joseph Wright, who married Elizabeth Atkins in 1782. I am therefore noting Atkins entries as well.

For my purposes it is encouraging that there appear to have been few people named Wright and Atkins in the registers at High Wycombe at the time I am interested in. Hopefully this will be an advantage in trying to trace my line.

That’s all for now.

  • This page was last updated on Tuesday July 3rd, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 26 June 2007

The past week has provided much of interest.

Last Tuesday I was at a monthly meeting of the Shropshire Family History Society at the shirehall, Shrewsbury. While we were hearing a talk about the history of Shrewsbury Town Football Club and their now defunct ground – the Gay Meadow – all hell let loose outside! Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and the rain came down with such force as is rarely seen in this part of the world. The lights went out for a short while, but our speaker manfully carried on!

By the time I left for home the rain had eased a little – it was by then only thrashing it down! The M54 motorway was awash, as were parts of Newport town centre. Not a good night to be driving! I was glad to get home.

On Thursday last I was booked in for a session at the LDS Family History Center. The usual venue is having some work done to its roof, so the Family History Center has been temporarily relocated in the new LDS temple at Lawley. What a magnificent edifice that is! It really stands out – being visible from quite a way off. A white building, built in what I would describe as a colonial style. The inside is also impressive.

The object of my research this time was the Wright family of High Wycombe. I had arranged the loan of a microfilm containing baptisms at High Wycombe 1782-1810, but in fact the film contains records from a greater time frame than that. I found the baptisms of the children of Joseph & Elizabeth Wright – nine of them between 1782 and 1802 – and then another, dated 1810. My ancestor – Hannah – was baptised in 1789. There seems little doubt that this is “my” family, as there were no other Wrights bearing the names Joseph and Elizabeth.

I shall return to the Family History Center this Thursday, and research this film further. I’m looking for any further Wright entries, as they may prove to be relevant to my research.

Last Friday evening Jan and I were looking after our grandchildren, and I passed away the hours by doing a bit of internet research, mainly on I looked at a couple of lines, but had the most success with the Heppells. I am quite amazed at the success I’ve had with this line of research since I started looking at it last Autumn.

On this occasion my main sighting was Richard Bryan Heppell (born 1812 in Sunderland). On the 1851 census I found him living with his spouse and two sons at Mile End Old Town, Middlesex. I then looked at the Civil Registration index and found his marriage, which took place in December 1837. His wife was Ann Maria Holt, born c1817 in Somerstown, Middlesex, and their marriage took place in St Pancras registration district. Furthermore, I traced both his sons in the births index, born 1838 and 1840 in Islington registration district.I then looked for the deaths of Richard and Ann. Free BMD told me that there were two entries for the name Richard Bryan Heppell, one in Sunderland in 1854 and one in Stepney in 1861. I pretty well knew that the 1861 entry would be my man, but needed to prove it to myself – after all, he could have moved back to Sunderland and died there. I therefore sought him on the 1861 census in Stepney, and I found him – albeit indexed as Keppell! There is no doubt that the man who died in September 1861 was the man I was interested in – the son of George Bryan Heppell (1777-1832). I wonder who the man who died in Sunderland in 1854 was. Probably a relation, I would imagine, as the Bryan name appears a number of times in “my” Heppells. I shall have to look into that.

All this leads to further questions (wouldn’t you know it!). What became of the two boys, and when did Ann Maria (Holt) Heppell die? I haven’t yet started to investigate the boys, but I have found a death in March quarter 1886 that may well relate to Ann. The age ties up, and the location was Stepney. However, I need to prove it, and if this was her it begs the question of where Ann was in the period 1861-1886? I haven’t yet found her on the censuses.

Incidentally “my” Richard Bryan Heppell had a most interesting occupation. He was a Coal Meter. I had never before heard of such an occupation, so I looked it up on an online dictionary at This told me that a Coal Meter was ‘A licensed or official coal measurer in London’. Further information on Richard’s occupation came from ‘Coal Trade: Introduction’ the Journal of the House of Lords: volume 62: 1830, pp. 1435-437. URL:, which told me that:

‘The Coal is heaved out of the Hold of the Ship into the Lighter under the Inspection of a Meter appointed by the Corporation of the City of London. He is entitled to have an Assistant. The Meter is paid Three Shillings a Day, and Three and Sixpence in lieu of Eating and Drinking, although generally the Captain invites him to Dinner.These Payments are in addition to Four-pence per Chaldron Metage, paid to the Corporation of London, out of which they allow One Penny per Chaldron to the Working Meter, and provide the Vats, leaving a Clear Annual Surplus of about £16,000, which is applied to the general Purposes of the Corporation, and to One Halfpenny per Chaldron paid the Meter by Government.

Evidently Richard had a very responsible job. I shall have to check whether there are any records of his employment in the Corporation of London archives.

That’s about all for now, until next week.

  • This page was last updated on Tuesday June 26th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 15 June 2007

The fact that this is my first posting since 5 June is indicitave of the fact that I have been quite busy these past ten days. During this period I have made progress on several lines of research.

Firstly, on 7 June I went to the LDS Family History Center to complete my research into the Baptisms at Monkwearmouth, Co Durham, 1716-1823. I searched the last part of the microfilm, and found records of the baptisms of three of the children of George Bryan Heppell and his wife, Ann nee Liddle. These entries went beyond the basic information to record the birth dates of the children and their mother’s maiden name. Very valuable information.

Having completed this research, I made a start on my next research enterprise – searching the records of baptisms at Newington, Surrey, for entries relating to my Smedley clan. I had already searched the IGI for these entries, and knew that the film should contain records of the baptisms of six daughters of William and Mary Smedley, so the discovery of these records was no surprise to me. What was a surprise, however, was an ‘extra’ Smedley baptism – their son, William, baptised on 20 January 1828. This came near the end of the register, after the girls’ entries, and its discovery was quite a thrill. Once again, this register contained the birth dates of the children, and in the case of the entry relating to William, it included the annotation “Father deceased”. I had surmised that William had probably died before the date of the 1841 Census, but here was a piece of information that narrowed down the date of his demise to within nine months! Especially valuable because up to the date of the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837 such events are often difficult to trace.

In addition to the above gleanings, I had some success on the Guyatt front. I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that I knew of a marriage at Eton in January 1844 between a certain James Guyatt and Elizabeth Holden. I believed that this James may have been the brother of “my” John Guyatt (bap 1827 at High Wycombe), but was surprised to see that he had strayed to Eton. Well, I ordered the relevant marriage certificate, which duly arrived the other day. As I had hoped, it showed that James was a hairdresser, and his father was John Guyatt, Carpenter. This fitted my man, but was not conclusive proof of his identity. However, the clinching evidence was the fact that the witnesses to the marriage were William Guyatt and Amelia Harding. Knowing that “my” James had a brother named William who married a lady named Amelia, I thought that this was probably the proof I sought. Sure enough, when I checked the Civil Registration Indexes online at I found that in 1846 William Guyatt married Amelia Harding in London. Hey presto, two genealogical problems were solved by one document!

My research is “on a roll” at the moment! Hopefully, when I next update the blog I will have yet more progress to report.

  • This page was last updated on Friday June 15th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 14 May 2007

Once again I have spent most of my available time this week adding information to my family history database. I’ve been concentrating on adding the recently discovered Guyatt material, and have made good progress.

As a consequence of our recent visit to Buckinghamshire Records Office at Aylesbury I have obtained some more potentially exciting information regarding the family of Hannah Wright (c1789 – >1841), who married “my” John Guyatt at High Wycombe in 1817. The Bucks Family History Society has compiled a name index for the county. They have obviously carried out a very thorough trawl through the county’s records, and against the name of each individual appearing in the archives they have logged the detail gleaned from each record. The result is a fantastic research tool; with luck, you can go directly to the information you want.

I should add that this index is not complete yet, but it is very extensive and if you have Buckinghamshire ancestry you really must make use of it.

Anyway, from this index I have gained a series or references relating to what seems to be “my” Wright family. From this I learn that Hannah’s parents were probably Joseph Wright and Elizabeth Atkins, who married at West Wycombe on 8 July 1782. I have a list of what appear to have been Hannah’s siblings. there were nine of them, born between 1782 and 1810.

This brings me to one of my favourite “hobby horses” (sorry!). If you are interested in family history you really must make use of family history societies. Join them, and avail yourself of the wonderful finding aids that they have produced. Typically, you may find that the society local to your research has produced census indexes, parish register indexes, indexes to quarter sessions records etc. All societies that I know of have members’ interests database, and offer the opportunity for you to have your interests published in print or on the web – or both. Not only that, members will receive a society journal several times a year. This will contain a wealth of information – members’ articles about their research, notices, members’ interests and the like. As if that wasn’t enough, you also get the opportunity to attend meetings of the society (usually held monthly) where you can meet other members and exchange experiences and ideas.

I have visited my local LDS Family History Center, and ordered the parish registers for High Wycombe on three months loan. The film may take a while to come, but when it arrives I should be able to view the actual records relating to the baptisms of Hannah Wright and her siblings, and thus add still more information to my records.

That’s another facility you should make use of – your local LDS Family History Center. Your family history society will be able to tell you where your nearest one is, and how you can make use of it!

  • This page was last updated on Monday May 14th, 2007.