Geoffs Genealogy Update 13 July 2015

Following on from last month’s entry, in the past few weeks I have continued researching my Archer  line, seeking to build on my recent breakthrough. You will recall that this recent breakthrough was prompted by an email that I received several years ago from Will. Well, Will and I have been in touch during the past few weeks and he has given me an outline of Grace (Miller) Archer (c1727-1794)‘s parentage, which he has traced. However, like me, to date he has not been able to trace the parents of Grace’s spouse – Thomas Archer (c1720-1794), which is a shame. Hopefully, in due course, I shall be able to do this, but in the meantime I have done some more work on tracing the descendants of Thomas & Grace.

So far as I know Thomas & Grace Archer had four children, all of whom married and had children:

Thomas Archer (c1750-1810) married Hannah Bide (c1760-1813) and they were the parents of our my ancestor, Nathan Archer (1793-1845) and another four children.

William Archer (c1752-1820) married, but I have not yet succeeded in tracing the event. We know from his will that his wife’s christian name was Frances, and I have traced her burial at St John, Hackney in 1827. However I have not yet traced William’s marriage. That said, I have noted a marriage in 1777 at St Andrew Holborn, in which a certain William Archer married Frances Thompson by Banns. This could be the entry I seek, but at the moment I have no way of proving or disproving it. So far I have only traced one child of William – Grace Archer (1778-1858). She married William Adamson (c1773-1827).

Grace Archer (c1756-1848) married Thomas Matson (c1725-1799), a Citizen and Haberdasher of London. Thomas had been married previously, and he and Grace did not have any children. He died only eight years after they were married, and she lived on as a widow for another forty nine years after his death. Grace appears as a witness at a number of family events, and interestingly, on the 1841 census she was enumerated living next door to her nephew, Samuel William Archer (1790-1870), in Mare Street, Hackney. Samuel was a brother of the above Nathan Archer.

Rachael Archer (1759-1816) married William Dover (c1764-1837). Interestingly, although William Dover made a will , and probate of his estate was granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury to his executors – William Dover (his son) and Mary Dover (his second wife) – shortly after his death, in fact the probate was not then carried ou. In fact his son’s widow re-applied for administration of the estate in 1861, after the death of both executors, and she then carried through the probate. A most unusual circumstance.

So far as I have traced they had three children – Rachel Dover (b 1798), William Dover (1799-1851) and Thomas Dover (1801-1805). I do not know what became of the first named of these children, but have ascertained that William Dover b 1799 married Louisa Mary Blackburn (c1800-1871), and they had at least nine children.

This is very much a work in progress, as I am still researching these people, but if anybody researching this family would like more information I shall be happy to help. You can email me by using one of the email links on the Geoffs Genealogy website.

Another interesting recent development came in the form of a comment on a blog post that I wrote on 1 April 2012, about my research into Alice Lethbridge, who was a first cousin once removed of my grandmother. Alice’s skirt dancing prowess made her was a great star of the Victorian stage. I mentioned in my blog that I had found a marriage in the civil registration index that I thought probably was her second marriage, but was unable to prove this.  The marriage in question took place in 1906 at Marylebone, and the parties to the marriage aere Thomas R St Johnston and Alice Turner. Turner was the name of Alice’s first husband, who sadly died only two years after their wedding.

Earlier in this month Ian made a comment on this matter, saying that he had seen a book  From A Colonial Governors Notebook, written by a prominent diplomat named Sir Thomas Reginald St Johnston, and in it the author stated that

“….my wife’s niece Lady Drummond Hay was the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airship”.

As we already know that Lady Drummond Hay was Grace Marguerite Lethbridge (1894-1946), who was a daughter of Alice’s brother Sidney Thomas Lethbridge (1868-1937), so we now know that we have found the correct marriage.

I am extremely grateful to Ian for sending me this crucial piece of information, which he followed up by pointing me to the 1948 entry in the probate calendars relating to the estate of “St Johnston, Alice Matilda ….. wife of Sir Thomas Reginald St Johnston KCMG”. Magnificent work!

Having made this connection, we can now further develop our Lethbridge research. We have found that Sir Thomas Reginald St Johnston KCMG (1881-1950) enjoyed a distinguished diplomatic career, which took him to a number of countries, particularly in the West Indies. His wife would have travelled to these places with him. There is a lot of information about him on the internet. He died two years after his spouse, and had authored a number of other books in addition to From A Colonial Governors Notebook. One of these was his History of Dancing (1906, London, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, &​ Co), recounting the history of dancing from ancient times to the early 1900s. In one chapter of this work he writes about the career of Alice Lethbridge, adding a great amount of detail to what we already knew.

As ever, one discovery leads to the next. That’s the way it is with family history, which is why it is such a fascinating activity. I can only assume that my grandmother did not know of her connection to these people, as I cannot imagine that she would have kept the information to herself.

  • This page was last updated on Monday July 13th, 2015.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 8 February 2015

Last month I wrote about my research into the Shoreditch Workhouse records as regards my grandmother, and the wealth of information I had found by using that source. In carrying out this research I found reference to Ethel Holliday and her sister Ellen, who were recorded as being admitted together to the Hornchurch Children’s Cottage Home on 10th August 1909, as their father Reuben Holliday was in the Shoreditch Infirmary. When I saw these names I immediately thought that they were relations of my grandmother, so I spent some time this month looking into them.

Reuben Holliday was born in the district of St Luke, Finsbury in 1857 and was an elder brother of my great grandfather, Charles Holliday (1864-1915). He married Alice Mason (c1868-1900) in 1888 at St Thomas, Bethnal Green, and so far as I know they had five children, four of them females. Ethel and Ellen  were the youngest of these children, being born in 1897 and 1898 respectively. Alice (Mason) Holliday died in 1900, and it appears that Reuben did not remarry. He must have found it hard to bring up his young family andan unskilled man’s wages. I do not know his precise date of death, but this event was registered in Shoreditch in the period October – December 1909, so it would seem likely that at the time when the two girls appeared in the Cottage Homes records their father had gone into the infirmary to die. My research to date shows that two of the girls’ three elder siblings were already dead by that time, so they must have been in a very vulnerable situation.

Further research shows that at the time of the 1911 census Ethel Holliday was enumerated in the household af a widowed aunt – Eunice (Mason) Adams in Hackney, and she was working as a Tie Maker. It would seem that this was not her first spell in the Adams household, as the record of Admissions & Discharges for Hammond Square School in Hackney shows that when she had been admitted to the school in 1904 her name was given as Adams. In the 1911 census returns for the Cottage Home at Hornchurch,we can see that Ellen was among those enumerated, aged 12. We have no way of knowing whether she had been in the home continuously since the death of her father, as the records for that period are not available to us, but it seems likely that that was the case.

I have not yet traced what became of both these girls in their future lives, but hope to be able to fill that gap at some future time. As you probably realise, tracing people forward from the early 20th century is often a difficult pursuit, do to the closure rules relating to many of the records.

As I have mentioned in several previous postings, one source that is available to us, and which can be used to trace 20th century forebears and family, is the Electoral Register. The information in this source only relates to the people who were registered to vote at a particular time, so it excludes many people. Not only that, but it doesn’t give details such as age or birthplace, but nevertheless it can be of enormous help in family history.

This month I have gone back to the London Electoral Registers for the 1920s and 1930s to fill in more information about the family of my great uncle James Archer Smith. Firstly, it is interesting to see that in several consecutive registers of the 1920s James was recorded as James Archie Smith, making it seem likely that the registers were produced in large measure by copying the previous year’s entries. Anyway, James was at the same address throughout the period 1921-1926, namely 2 St John’s Road, Shoreditch, with his wife and son. Interestingly, the 1926 and 1927  entries also stated in brackets: “abode 16, St. Catherines Terrace, Brighton”.  James disappeared from the Shoreditch Electoral Register from 1928 onwards, and I believe that this was when he handed his business to his son, Herbert George Smith. James died in Brighton in 1957.

After 1927 the Electoral Registers for Shoreditch show that James’s son Herbert George Smith (b 1904) lived at 2 St John Street, with his wife. This was interesting to me because I had not previously been sure about the name of Herbert’s spouse. Several Smith relations had given me various pieces of information about her, but I was not sure of her forenames, and had no knowledge of her surname. Using these records I could see that her name was Rose Margaret Smith, and so I looked in the records for a marriage between Herbert George Smith and a lady with these forenames. I found the entry in the Civil Registration Records for Shoreditch in  1927, which coincided with Rose’s name appearing in the source material, aand could see that Rose’s surname was Young. One thing leads to another, and using this information I was able to find Rose’s birth date and death date. Alas, I still can’t find the date of Herbert’s death, but hopefully that may become clear one day.

  • This page was last updated on Sunday February 8th, 2015.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 7 January 2015

With all the Christmas and New Year festivities of the past few weeks, I have not done any fresh research into my forebears during December 2014. I have spent any available time during the month entering the data I collected in November, concerning my grandmother’s family’s time spent in Shoreditch Workhouse, into my family history database. This has been a sizeable piece of work,  and as I write this I have still to complete it. Hopefully I will be to finish the job in the next few days.

In my last blog entry I listed the sources that I had been using in this research, all of which are available to view on  I am confident that the Hollidays  will not have been the only family among my forebears to have spent some time in a workhouse. I will use this blog entry to point up a few points that I have found interesting in working with these records.

Firstly, I would say that, particularly if you have working class London ancestors, it is well worth you looking at the Shoreditch Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1430-1930 on the Ancestry website, as there are  lots of people listed there. The records are not complete, and it is obvious that by no means all people had the misfortune to spend time in the workhouse, but if you do trace one of your forebears there you will find the information most interesting. In my case I knew that the Hollidays had been in Shoreditch Workhouse because I had found them there on census entries. Although some of the London Poor Law records have now been indexed, the indexing is a work in progress, and the records that I have been using need to be searched line by line. This may seem a bit arduous to some researchers, but in fact it is the way we old hands used to work in those distant pre-internet days, and although it is time consuming, it does lead you to a much fuller appreciation of the records.

The first entry relating to my great grandparents and their children that I found in the workhouse admission books dates from 1895, when my grandmother was about 4 years old. However, using a process of nominal record linkage I can see from other records that it is likely that members of the family were in the workhouse prior to this date, leading me to believe that there are gaps and inconsistencies in the information provided. Also, I find that information about the ages of inmates is very inconsistently recorded.

In some respects I find it difficult to interpret the information in the Admission and Discharges books, particularly when trying to ascertain the length and frequency of my family’s sojourns in the workhouse. For instance, there are numerous instances where a date of discharge is recorded, only to be followed by an admission entry on the very same day. How am I to understand this? Were these entries made for some administrative reason, but in fact the family did not leave the workhouse, or did the Hollidays leave the workhouse but then find themselves unable to find accommodation in the outside world and return to the workhouse later the same day? I suspect that there were some occasions when this latter explanation applied, but the frequency of this type of entry leads me to suspect that this is unlikely to have been the case on all occasions. In recording my data I have relied on the information in the “Whence Admitted” column as a guide to how I should catalogue these entries. If this column contained the explanation “This House” I have assumed that I am dealing with a period of continuous living in the workhouse, but if some other wording appears in this column, eg “No Home” I have assumed that the family have left the workhouse and then returned.

The “Whence Admitted” column tells a sorry tale as far as my forebears are concerned, as in most cases it states “No Home”. It is apparent that my grandmother’s parents struggled to put a roof over their family’s heads.

My nan had a number of siblings, but as far as I know only Frederick, her younger brother, lived to adulthood. My records about her other brothers are incomplete, but some of them do appear in these records, and this has enabled me to add some more details to my family tree. Particularly sad was the case of Sydney. I already knew that he had been born on 20 September 1901, as I had found his baptism. Searching the infirmary records shows that he was admitted to Shoreditch Infirmary on 17 January 1902, apparently suffering from eczema. He was discharged on 10 July 1902, and the reason for discharge was given as “Dead”. I need to get a copy of his death certificate, to see what the cause of his death was.

Children who were in Shoreditch Workhouse with their parents were only usually there for a couple of days before being transferred to the children’s homes that were run by the workhouse at Hornchurch, in Essex. These were usually referred to as the Cottage Homes, and they opened in 1889. When the parents were due to be discharged their children would be transferred back to the workhouse, before being discharged with their parents a day or so later. The Holliday children spent much of their childhood in these cottage homes, which means that they spent much of their childhood apart from their parents. Obviously, this was not an ideal state of affairs, but from what I have read of these children’s homes conditions they were more pleasant than those in the workhouse. As I mentioned in last month’s blog, my nan obviously received a pretty good education, as her grasp of the three rs was the equal of most people, even when she was in her late 80s. If you would like to find out more about these cottage homes here are a few websites that can help you:

Tony Benton’s Benton History website

Former Children’s Homes

Peter Higginbotham’s Workhouses website

I could ramble on for ages about the Shoreditch Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, but I think I have said enough for now. On another subject, I am pleased to see that the annual Who Do You Think You Are exhibition has been moved from its London home to Birmingham, giving those of us who live in the midlands a better chance of visiting it. It is being held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham from from Thursday 16 April to Saturday 18 April, and I have already booked a couple of tickets for the Thursday, at a reduced “early bird” price. I have attended the show in London a couple of times, once as a visitor and once when I was on the Shropshire Family History Society’s stand, but moving it to the NEC has made it much easier for me to go.

  • This page was last updated on Wednesday January 7th, 2015.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 December 2014

When I concluded my post last month I said I’d let you know next time about the research I did in October. In fact I’ll go one better than that and tell you about my treeing exploits (such as they are) over the past two months. First, though, I have a tale of woe to relate, because on 20 October the mother board on my trusty old pc died on me, so I needed to invest in a new machine.

In truth this was not such a great shock to me, as I had been thinking about buying a new machine for some while, but this forced the issue. A spec for the new machine was drawn up in a trice by my resident expert, and before long I was back in business with loads of extra storage capacity and an up to date, faster machine.

Fortunately I had backed up what I regarded as the most important data on my old machine, so I was able to get back up and running pretty qiuickly, but realistically it is hard to maintain backups of everything, and so it has taken me a while to reinstall my music, and some of the other files which, although less important, are still of value to me. The job isn’t finished as I write this, but hopefully I’ll be able to get it all sorted in the next few days, with the help of my son, of course.

You may recall that in my October post I mentioned the case of Philip Lancelot Bathurst as follows:

Just after the outbreak of the Great War Philip Lancelot Bathurst signed up at Ashstead to serve in the 2nd Battalion of the  Royal Fusiliers, but he was to have what I would regard as a lucky break when he failed his medical. He had already undergone varicocele surgery, and was deemed to be “not likely to become an efficient soldier on medical grounds”. It seems that the surgery had not completely cured his medical problem. We will never know whether Philip was pleased at his discharge, or disappointed not to be able to serve, but on 3 January 1915 he was discharged from the army.

Well, quite unexpectedly during November I came across some more information about Philip and his WW1 military career. I was looking at the WW1 records on the Find My Past website, to see what they have uploaded recently, when I found that this site holds two WW1 medal cards for Philip. This was a considerable surprise to me, in view of the fact that he had been discharged from the Royal Fusiliers as unfit for service, but it seems to be the case that after these events Philip enlisted with the 6th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment. As I have not been able to trace his service record I cannot say when he enlisted, but it seems that in June 1915 he was serving as a 2nd Lieutenant at Gallipoli, which qualified him for the award of the 1914-15 Star medal.

It appears from these records that Philip later attained the rank of Captain, and during his service was mentioned in despatches. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, which I gather was the equivalent of the modern British Empire Medal, and also received  Territorial Force Efficiency medals, suggesting that he was involved with the territorial forces for a lengthy period.

In November my research focussed on the records of the Shoreditch Board of Guardians, and in particular those relating to Shoreditch Workhouse. I was aware that my grandmother – Alice Louisa Holliday (1891-1982) was in the workhouse as a child, and I wanted to find out more about this part of her life.

These records are available to search on, as part of the London Metropolitan Archives archive. They are not indexed, so you have to search them page by page, just as we old hands had to do in pre-internet days. If that sounds a bit arduous, I must say that at least you don’t have to travel to London to do the job, and when you have had enough you can break the job and come back to continue it when it suits you, which we couldn’t do in those far off days.

It took me several weeks to search all the records I wanted to look at, but now I can see that my great grandparents fell on very hard times in the period 1895 – 1905, and they and their children had many spells in the workhouse. As my grandmother was a young child at the time she did not stay with her parents in the workhouse, but was moved to the children’s home at Hornchurch in Essex, which one can only think would have been an upsetting experience for her.

As well as finding Alice in these records I also found three of her siblings – Sydney, George and Frederick. Alas, Sydney and George died in childhood, but Frederick went on to serve in the Royal Navy, and enjoyed a full life.

I have entered all this data into a spreadsheet, and now need to update my records with the information.

The records I researched were as follows:

  • Parish of St Leonard Shoreditch Register of Admissions & Discharges 15 Nov 1892 – 01 Oct 1900, Source Ref SHBG/139/003
  • Parish of St Leonard Shoreditch Register of Admissions & Discharges 23 Mar 1900 -05 Aug 1905, Source Ref SHBG/139/006
  • Shoreditch Board of Guardians; Infirmary Later St Leonards Hospital, Hoxton Street, Admissions & Discharges   14 Mar 1891- 1 May 1894, Source Ref SHBG/146
  • Shoreditch Board of Guardians; Infirmary Later St Leonards Hospital, Hoxton Street, Admissions & Discharges Males  Jan 1902- Feb 1903. Source Ref SHBG/149/011
  • Children in Shoreditch Workhouse 29 Mar 1898 to 15 Dec 1900 – Admissions & Discharges. Source Ref SHBG/170/001
  • Shoreditch Board of Guardians; Register of Children Sent to Service, 1889-1906, Source Ref SHBG/166
  • Shoreditch Board of Guardians; Children in the Workhouse, 1900-1903 – Register of Children. Source Ref SHBG/170/002A
  • Shoreditch Board of Guardians; Cottage Homes Hornchurch Admittance And Discharge, 1904-1913, Source Ref Not stated
  • Board of Guardians; Hornchurch Children´s Home Admissions & Discharges, 1893-1897, Source Ref SHBG/161/002
  • Board of Guardians; Hornchurch Children´s Home, Register of Children 1889-1913, Source Ref SHBG/161/004

I also found my grandmother as a young girl in the London Metropolital Archives  school records on Ancestry, which was exciting. It is apparent that her education was a fragmented affair, but I can tell you that she was certainly no slouch in the arithmetic or spelling and handwriting departments, right through her old age.

The Ancestry website holds a sizeable number of Board of Guardians and schools records covering many of the London borough, so it may be well worthwhile for you to have a look at them. Certainly the time that I invested in this research was well rewarded.


  • This page was last updated on Thursday December 4th, 2014.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 6 March 2014

During March the main thought in my mind has been hollidays. Not only have I booked a couple of holiday breaks for the next few months, in East Anglia and in County Durham, but most of my treeing time has been spent updating my Holliday family history files.

The Hollidays were not direct descendants of the half siblings of John Bankes, but they feature in my maternal family history as Charles Holliday (1864 to 1915) was my great grandfather – the father of my grandmother Alice Louisa Holliday (1892-1982). About fifteen years ago I got in touch with a lady named Elizabeth Holliday, who runs a one name study on the Holliday name, to see whether she had any data that related to my Holliday forebears. Imagine my delight when I received her reply, telling me that indeed she could help me, and enclosing a Holliday family tree that extended back in time to a certain Richard Holliday, born Horley, Surrey c1650! This data is the main source for the Holliday information that appears in the tree on Geoffs Genealogy, and it is really the product of the research of other people.

Obviously, it is a massive joy to receive information such as this from other researchers, but I am by nature reluctant to accept the findings of other people as “gospel” without carrying out a few of my own checks to see whether the material stacks up; after all, we are none of us exempt from the possibility of error. Thus, whenever I saw an opportunity to verify this Holliday tree I have done so, and I must say that it has proved to be very accurate. In the last few months this task became considerably easier, as Ancestry Uk have been placing online the Surrey parish registers. As the Hollidays were residents of that county for centuries, I can now see many of these primary sources for myself, and not rely on the IGI or other transcriptions.

Just at the moment I’m busily uploading all my recent finds, and this will take me some time. I’ve been concentrating on the nineteenth century – late eighteenth century records, so this work is far from complete. For the record, the next few generations of my direct  Holliday Line backwards from my great grandfather read as follows:

  • Charles Holliday (1864-1915) m Alice Butler (c1867-1935)
  • William Holliday (c1818-1874) m Louisa Matthews (c1826-c1890)
  • John Holliday (c1782-1839) m Maria Johnson (c1782-Bef 1819)
  • William Holliday (b abt 1750) m Patience Kent (b abt 1750).

You will recall that in last month’s entry I recounted the research that I had been doing into my Jacobson ancestry. I remarked that I would need to visit Winchester to look at the parish registers for Gosport in order to continue this work. Well, as luck would have it, Helen made a trip to London the other week, and kindly took the opportunity to visit the Society of Genealogists Library for a few hours. Among many other items that she looked up for me, she was able to look at the Gosport parish registers on microfilm, which should save a trip to Hampshire. Helen was able to find the entries that I had identified from my internet research, but that’s where the good news ends , I’m afraid, as the microfilm was pretty much unreadable. A great shame, but there we go. Not much we can do about that.

Incidentally, if you are in London any time, and you fancy a bit of  family history research, the SOG Library is a wonderful place to go. The range of the records and other materials that are held there is simply incredible. At one time I was able to make regular visits, and made many great finds there. Alas, those days are long gone.

There  are many family history software programs available these days, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.  For many years I have used Family Tree Maker to store and organise my records, and so I was delighted when I was given a  Family Tree Maker 2014 upgrade as a present on my last birthday. However, I am sorry to report that after quite a few attempts I have not managed to install this upgrade successfully on my main computer. The program seems to run through successfully, and then goes on to download some updates to the program which are, apparently, essential. Once these upgrades have been downloaded and I try to open the program I get an error message, saying that the program needs to be closed. I have looked at the advice on the Family Tree Maker forum, and carried out the procedure that is recommended in these circumstances, but this has not done the trick.

This problem is very frustrating. I keep on going back to the issue periodically, and trying various “solutions”, but to no avail. If anybody reading this is able to help me to resolve this issue I would be delighted to hear from you.

What makes this situation even more frustrating is that the program loaded on my laptop just fine, including the downloads! Now I have different versions on the two machines, and as a FTM 2014 backup cannot be loaded in FTM2010 that is no good to me at all!


  • This page was last updated on Thursday March 6th, 2014.

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.