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 3 April 2013

What a strange month March has been in the UK weather-wise! Winter has returned with a vegeance, with more snow seen in our part of the world than we’ve had all winter!

Every time the weather takes an unusual term there are items in the media that bang on about the effects of global warming, as though every apparent change in our climate is due to this. For all I know, they may be right, but my reading of history tells me that our climate has always been changing, and therefore I wonder how we are to know which changes are due to man’s intervention and which would have occurred anyway. After all, between 1607 and 1814 Frost Fairs were held on the frozen  River Thames, during what is known as the Little Ice Age. The famous painting of The Frozen Thames, 1677  gives you an idea what it would have looked like in those times. Our ancestors would have certainly known what it was to be cold during that period. No central heating or cavity wall insulation for them, and no winter heating allowance, either! They just shivered their way through life.

Yes, I know that due to a variety of factors the Thames is now faster flowing than it was in those days, making it less likely to freeze over, but even allowing for that, we can see that it was very much colder in those days. We are certainly cossetted these days by comparison with our forebears.

So how has my family history research gone this month?

By any standards March has been a very good treeing month, with so many new finds and developments that I cannot possibly tell you about all of them. I’ll just pick one to talk about, though.

In the last few weeks Find My Past has added a large number of Kent genealogy records to its online collection. If your forebears hailed from East Kent it may very well be worthwhile for you to have a look at these. I checked them out, hoping to find some parish records for Herne Bay, and sure enough, there they were!

Many years ago, when The National Archives (TNA) was known under its old name – the Public Records Office (PRO) I visited it in its wonderful old pre-2003 quarters at Chancery Lane, in the centre of London. I used to love visiting PRO in this old gothic building; it was such a fascinating place to go to and it was there that I first came to know the Court of Chancery records and the wills of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, and a host of other fascinating sources that are now accessed at Kew. I should say, however, that the access to records in those times was nothing like as good as it is now, and the reading rooms at Kew are far better than the old ones at Chancery Lane.

Anyway, I digress. The point is that in June 1995 I looked at the non-conformist registers on microfilm at the PRO, and in the records of the Independent Chapel at  Herne Bay (Source Ref RG4/933) I found the baptism entries of some of the children of Dr Thomas Hunt (1798-1879) and Martha Mary nee Colam (1808-1861). It seems quite possible that all of the couple’s thirteen children were baptised at this chapel, but as the surviving records only cover the period 1826-1836 they only contained the baptisms of Emily (1828), Loiusa (1829), Matilda (1831) and Esther Maria (1834). Disappointingly, there was no trace of Thomas Junior, who I believed to have been born c1827, but whose birth I had never traced.

More often than not non-conformists families had their children baptised in the state church, even if they also had them baptised into their chapel of choice, and so it was with the Hunts. Thanks to Find My Past I was able to find a whole host of baptism entries. Not only that, I was able to download copies of the entries, so no need to mess about with transcriptions. The entries I  found are:

William Hunt (bap 1841)
Arthur Ackland Hunt (bap 1841)
Mary Elizabeth Hunt (bap 1843)
George Greenway Hunt (bap 1845)
Louisa Hunt (bap 1845)
Matilda Hunt (bap 1845)
John Hunt (bap 1845)
Thomas Hunt (bap 1845) – who I now know was born in 1837!
Emily TeresaHunt (bap 1845)
Esther Maria Hunt (bap 1845)

The eagle eyed among you will realise that the above list contains ten names. Where, I hear you ask, are the baptisms of the other children of Dr Thomas Hunt and his spouse?

Well, I suspect that their first born – Emily Hunt – was only baptised in the Independent church. This is because, as I found in 1995 at the old PRO,  she died at the tender age of 8 months, being buried in the graveyard of Herne Bay Independent Chapel on 20th December 1828. I can say with some certainty that she was not baptised in the Church of England at Herne Bay.

That leaves two children – Caroline Stafford Hunt (b 1850) and Edward Jacobson Hunt (b 1852). Census records show that these people were born in London, so it would be reasonable to think that they may not have been baptised at Herne Bay. Sure enough, I have found the baptism of Edward at St Giles in the Fields, Holborn in 1852.

Which leaves Caroline. I can’t find her baptism at the moment, but will continue to try. In the meantime I’ll satisfy myself with the thought that 11 baptisms found out of 12 is quite a good success rate!

I close with my usual reminder about the Reunion of John Bankes’ Descendants, that we are holding at Coulsdon on 8 June 2013. If you are a Bankes descendant and have not yet booked, what are you waiting for? Do come and join us. You won’t be disappointed!








  • This page was last updated on Wednesday April 3rd, 2013.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 29 July 2008

As I write this entry the rain is beating down outside my house with extreme force, accompanied by the repeated cracks of thunder and lightning. A really spectacular storm is signalling the end of the five days spell of gorgeous, summery weather that we have enjoyed in the UK. The rain is much needed, however – at least the garden won’t need watering for a few days.

The open air performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that we attended at Stafford Castle a couple of weeks ago was absolutely great. Amazingly, given the prevailing weather at the time, the evening was dry – so the cast did not get a soaking. However, it was very cold. Jan and I felt so cold that we were shivering – in July!

The play itself was performed superbly, by a fine cast of professional actors and actresses. The director has proved in previous years that he has a genius for extracting the maximum comedy from Shakespeare, and after being brought up on the 1940s Olivier film of Hamlet, it was a revelation to me to see how much humour is actually present in such a tragedy.

Our next open air event is Bryn Terfel’s Faenol Festival near Bangor in North Wales. We are going to the Opera Gala on 23 August, and hoping for a warm, balmy evening to match what will undoubtedly be a spectacular event. It always is!

On to treeing matters.

Anybody who has followed my family history interests will know that the Haberdashers’ Company is central to my research. John Bankes was Master of that company, and the company administers the Bankes Trust, from which many Bankes descendants have benefitted over the nearly 300 years since Bankes died. In fact, I recently found out that even today there is at least one Bankes descendant now living who is a Freeman of the company.

In 2002 the Company moved from its old Hall in Staining lane in the City of London to a newly build Hall near St Barts Hospital. Although I had visited Staining Lane on a number of occasions, and in so doing enjoyed the benefit of using the Company’s archives, I have never yet managed to visit the new Hall. Hopefully I shall be able to rectify this omission on the weekend of 20-21 September, when the Company has an open weekend. I shall certainly do my best to get there, and enjoy a tour of the new hall. I can see from the pictures on the Company’s website (see above link) that it is a magnificent building.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, the Haberdashers’ Company has handed over pretty well all its records to the Guildhall Library, so if you want to research them that’s the place to go to.

In my last entry I told you briefly of our visit a few weeks ago to meet Hugh and Judy. What I didn’t mention was the wonderful source that Hugh showed me. It is a document written by Thomas Hunt the Lawyer (c1723-1789) entitled Truth Faileth so that Equality Cannot Enter: Exemplified from a short Abstract of the Proceedings in a Cause in the High Court of Chancery.

This document is a polemic, clearly intended to expose what Hunt saw as corruption that he had encountered in representing Bankes descendants in the Court of Chancery proceedings that concerned the Bankes Trust, and showing how his attempts to obtain just settlements for the people he represented were being thwarted at a very high level.In making his case, Hunt recounts certain experiences he had when serving as a Customs Officer in London between 1748 and 1757. Evidently after serving an apprenticeship as a lawyer he became a customs officer, and he only started to practice as a lawyer after he had left the service of the customs. He claimed that whilst he was a customs officer he had uncovered irregularities in the trading activities of the East India Company, involving gross avoidance of customs duties. He had left the service with a glowing testament as to his honesty and integrity from the then commissioners.

This is fascinating stuff, and provides great scope for further research. I shall be trying to follow up on this information when I next go to The National Archives, Kew.

This is a printed document, clearly intended to show its author as an honest, upright citizen, and a number of eminent people he had encountered as corrupt. Thomas Hunt was, in the words of the old analogy, “banging his head against a brick wall” I wonder what he really hoped to gain from the exercise of printing and distributing it and, indeed , to whom it was distributed.

Having read this document, and also read the material outlined on my website relating to Thomas Hunt Baptist Minister, I think I can see certain similarities in the characters of this father and son. Both seem to have been unswerving in pursuit of what they saw as the truth, and very strong characters. Fascinating stuff.

That’s it for now. Happy treeing to you all.

  • This page was last updated on Tuesday July 29th, 2008.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 17 February 2008

Hello again.

I visited London last Tuesday, with my daughter Helen. Helen was on a business trip, and I was treeing, so we travelled down from Wolverhampton early in the morning then went our separate ways, meeting up again in the afternoon.

I had never before visited the offices of HM Courts Service at First Avenue House, Holborn, so I decided to use this occasion to rectify this omission. As is my wont, I took with me a lengthy list of items to research. I always set myself far too many tasks on these trips, but at least I never run out of things to do!

The system in operation at this venue is very simple. There are a series of racks containing quite large books. These contain the probate calendars, which list and summarise the Wills and Administrations dealt with by HMCR. They date from 1858, when the Church Courts ceased to deal with probates, to about 1995. There are a number of books for each year, and each year is split alphabetically. You simply find the book you need and look for the entry that interests you. If you find it you will probably want to annotate the details of the entry, but if you wish you can order a copy of the document. I ordered copies of three wills, which will take about a week to arrive by post, and cost me £5.00 each. It is also possible to obtain a copy will one hour after ordering it.

If you want to order a copy of a Will you need to complete a simple form and take the relevant calendar to an official, who checks that you have completed your application correctly. You then pay your money to a cashier, who takes your order for processing.

I imagine you are all agog, wanting to know whether I found anything of great interest. Well, in my three hours stay I managed to cover about 3/4 of my list. I’ll mention a few.

As I expected, my poor old Smith forebears do not appear to have left wills – not even my mum’s uncle Jim – James Archer Smith – who had his own businesses and was said by members of the family to have been quite prosperous.

I did have quite a number of successes, however. Ralph Hewitt (d. 1938) left a will, as did Caleb Oliver and his wife Alicia Blandina, who died in 1879 and 1897 respectively. Alicia was the daughter of Samuel William Archer (1790-1870).

I found records of the wills of Hannah Archer (1818-1904) and her brother Samuel Archer (1822-1889). I also was able to trace the probates relating to children of Thomas Hunt (1798-1897) and his wife Martha Mary Colam (1808-1861). They were Matilda Hunt (1831-1908), Esther Maria Hunt (1833-1911)

The most surprising information I found was contained in the probate calendar entry for Ann Maria (Holt) Heppell (c1817-1886), the widow of Richard Bryan Heppell (1812-1861). Her son and only next of kin was Richard William George Heppell, who was said to be living in Dunkirk, Chautauqua County, New York, USA. No wonder I had not traced his death in the UK records! I may be able to find him in the USA censuses online at Ancestry.

You can find all the above people in the family tree section of Geoff’s Genealogy.

Oh! I nearly forgot to tell you what the calendar entries actually tell us. Well, they follow a pretty set format, and basically tell us the name of the deceased, his or her address, the date and location of the death, the date and location of probate or admons, the name of the person to whom probate was granted and the value of the estate. In my experience, many of these entries contain as much information as the full will – but not always.

You can see these calendars on microfiche at many libraries or records offices in England and Wales, but the records at First Avenue House are more up to date, so if you want to see a record relating to more recent probate you will need to go there.

I spent the rest of the day at the revamped London Metropolitan Archives. I may tell you about that next time.

Good hunting.

  • This page was last updated on Sunday February 17th, 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.

Geoff’s Genealogy Update 30 December 2007

Another Christmas has come and gone. All that planning and it’s over in a trice! I hope you had a good time, and will enjoy a happy new year.

2007 has been a good year for Geoffs Genealogy. Lots of new contacts made and new information discovered. My sincere thanks to everybody who has played a part in the successes of this year; I’m sure there will be more in 2008.

I’ve started preparing material to update So far I’ve re-vamped the Arthur Ackland Hunt page to take account of material received since it was set up, two years ago. I’ve also updated the page on Thomas Hunt, Doctor, although in that case there is not as much new material to take account of. I have decided that I shall upload all the new and updated pages together, so there is nothing new to see at the moment. Progress will be delayed over the coming weeks as I have to work on the next edition of the Shropshire FHS journal, but I’ll get the job done as soon as I can.

Whilst I’ve been reviewing the new material re Arthur Ackland Hunt I reprised the marriage of his daughter – Amy Winifred Hunt – to Rev William Starkie Shuttleworth. This marriage took place in 1911 at Salisbury Cathedral. Although Amy’s groom was not a Bankes descendant in the strict sense, I think it good to have a look at his background and thus get a feel for the social circles in which the Hunts moved. As William was a clergyman in the Church of England I was able to learn quite a lot about him by consulting an appropriate issue of Crockford’s Clerical Directory. This told me of his graduation from Cambridge University as an MA, his entry into the ministry, and his various postings. Furthermore, as he graduated from Cambridge I was able to look him up in another invaluable volume – Alumni Cantabrigienses compiled by JA Venn, Cambridge (1953). This repeated much of the material found in Crockford, but added information re William’s parentage, his marriage to Amy, their address in Salisbury, and the date of his death.

Using the information I had gained from Crockford, I was able to trace William Starkie Shuttleworth on some censuses. I also traced his first marriage and the death of his first wife, which occurred in 1904.

Finally, I found an entry on a Rootsweb mailing list at which was posted in 2000 by a certain Murray Shuttleworth. This includes a list of Shuttleworths who were descended from Henry de Shuttleworth (born about 1300 at Shuttleworth Hall, Hapton, Lancashire). You will not be surprised to learn that the list includes our man – William Starkie Shuttleworth, born 1839.

Of course, I would want to research Murray Shuttleworth’s information before assuming that it is correct, but it does seem quite possible that Amy Hunt’s spouse was a member of a very notable family.

You never know where this treeing lark will take you, do you?

  • This page was last updated on Sunday December 30th, 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 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 09 April 2007

A happy Easter to all of you!

Here in the UK we are in the last few hours of the bank holiday weekend. It really has been a great weekend, with beautiful weather and these lovely light evenings.

The week has been a quiet one, as far as treeing is concerned. I’ve been busily working on the June 2007 edition of Shropshire Family History Journal, which I edit. It’s coming on well – all on schedule.

I have gained a few items of information about the Bankes descendants, but have also met with some frustration. The frustration comes from my inability to find Herbert Davies (c1795 – pre 1861) and his wife – Mary Ann, nee Clear, on the London censuses. I have traced Mary Ann in the 1861, 1871 & 1881 CEBs, and she was enumerated as a widow on all of these. However, based on information I have re the birth dates of their children, I would expect to find Herbert & Mary Ann on the 1841 census and possibly on the 1851 census as well. No such luck.

If anybody can help me re these entries I shall be very grateful.

The information I have gained was kindly sent to me by a visitor to Geoffs Genealogy and relates to the Heale family of Devon and Somerset. Elizabeth Katherine W Heale married Rev William Starkie Shuttleworth in 1869. She died in 1904, and Rev Shuttleworth then married Amy Winifred Hunt, who was a Bankes descendant.

I am always delighted to receive information relating to the people on the Bankes Pedigree, so please do not hesitate to contact me.

That’s about all for now, as my favourite soccer team are kicking off in a few minutes, in front of the Sky tv camera. Up the Addicks!

  • This page was last updated on Monday April 9th, 2007.