Geffs Genealogy Update 12 June 2016

We have just returned from a week’s holiday in the new Forest, and very beautiful it was, too. Not only did we have superb weather, but we made the most of the occasion by visiting a number of very interesting and scenic places. Among the places we visited was Bucklers Hard, a small village situated on the on the Beaulieu River. I had no idea of the fascinating history of this place before our visit, but it is truly fascination, so well worthy of mention in this blog.

For those of a certain vintage the most recent claim to fame of Buckler’s hard was that it was the place where Sir Francis Chichester began and completed his single handed round the world voyage in his yacht – Gipsy Moth IV – in 1966/7, but before that it had a very distinguished history as a shipbuilding village. The first royal naval vessel to be built there was built in the 1680s, and during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were very many vessels built in this small hamlet, among them HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Agamemnon, all of which fought at Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson commanded HMS Agamemnon for several years in the 1790s, and let it be known that she was his favourite vessel.

With the arrival of steam warships in the nineteenth century the construction of naval vessels at Buckler’s Hard declined, but the hamlet still had a major part to play in this country’s history, as it was here that segments of the Mulberry Harbour, which were towed across the English Channel in readiness for the 1944 D Day landings, were built.

To the modern eye this is a very picturesque and tranquil place. The Georgian cottages, where once lived the tradesmen involved in the building of these wonderful ships, bear witness to the events of the past, and we were able to visit the Shipwright’s Cottage and see the conditions in which these craftsmen lived. Very comfortable for the time, I must say.

We could also see the slipways where these great vessels were launched. All absolutely fascinating, and it made me think of a couple of Bankes descendants who served in the British Navy, either as craftsmen or as crew members.

Although it is fair to say that my knowledge of my Jacobson forebears is a bit sketchy, it seems clear that  Esco Jacobson (c1655-1728) was probably involved in either the building of naval vessels, or their maintenance, being variously described as a shipwright and a carpenter, resident in Stepney. It seems likely that he was working in the East London naval dockyards.

Then there was Bankes Mitchell (c1720-1763), son of Robert Mitchell and Elizabeth, nee Russell. Bankes was a watchmaker of London, and came from what appears to have been a very prosperous family. He was married to Hannah Attwood in 1754, but the available evidence indicates that she had died before 1763. By 1763 he was serving as an Able Seaman on the Royal Navy vessel Alcides, having previously served on the Temeraire. By March of that year he was serving on the Hampton Court, serving in the Caribbean in the Seven Years War. Sadly, on the voyage home Bankes Mitchell became ill and died on 18 August 1763, being buried at sea. I wonder why a gentleman such as Bankes Mitchell became an able seaman in the navy. It seems a very odd career move, and I wonder whether he had fallen on hard times and this had led him to join the British Navy. Alternatively he may have been press-ganged, but this may be unlikely, as I understand that in fact few people were press-ganged into the navy.

I’d love to know more about these people, and hope that I may accomplish this some day.

I have been researching the Bankes Pedigree with very few breaks since about 1991, and have decided that as there are other things that I would like to do, it is now time for me to take a break from this research. This means that my posts to this blog will not be as regular as they have been in the past, and such research as I do will probbaly relate to my direct lines of ancestry, rather than the Bankes Pedigree in general. I shall still be delighted to hear from anybody interested in the Bankes Pedigree or my other direct ancestral lines who would like to contact me, and will respond to any queries as I always have done, so please feel free to contact me.


  • This page was last updated on Sunday June 12th, 2016.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 6 November 2015

I’ve nothing specifically to report as a result of October’s activities. No startling new discoveries. Not that I’ve been idle, you understand. I’ve spent my time filling in gaps on the Bankes Pedigree, mainly on the Fiveash / Duke line, so if anybody reading this is interested in that line of descent from Anne Deane I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Now seems a good time to report on my progress in transcribing the Court of Chancery records that we photographed when Helen and I last had a day out at The National Archives (TNA), Kew. We had a really good day, and managed to photograph a lot of documents, and the images needed to be pieced together and transcribed. The piecing together was accomplished fairly quickly, but I always knew that the transcribing was going to be a long term project, and so it is proving. To date I have completed three transcriptions, which I realise does not seem much, but I do have to fit this work in with whatever else I am doing, and it is rather painstaking, so I have to do them as and when I feel inspired to do so, rather than one after the other.

I decided to start with Court of Chancery cause Mitchell v Holloway, TNA reference C1236/27. Helen and I photographed 8 documents relating to this cause, dated between c1764 – 1770. Some of the images are not too clear in certain areas, and I can see that in some cases we have not quite got all the document to the very edge, so inevitably there are some gaps in my transcriptions, but I can safely say that it is a lot better transcribing them at home than trying to rush through it at  when making a day visit to TNA.

As is the case with most legal documents, the documents rarely get straight to the point, so can seem a bit tedious, and they also sometimes use language in a “legalise” way. However, with a bit of concentrated effort and sometimes a second opinion, we can usually make sense of their meaning. Hopefully when we next go to Kew we may be able to revisit these sources, and fill in some of the gaps.

The date of the first document I have worked on is rather hard to read in my photograph. I think it is 3rd August 1764. I’m sure of the year, but the day and month could be wrong.  The preamble recounts how the deaths of several Executors in succession delayed the implementation of John Bankes’ bequests, and also the legal action that had been started by my ancestor, Mary Mitchell. It also summarises the Decrees that had been made by the Court.

In genealogical terms, the most interesting pieces of information come in sections like this:

the Complainants Mary Mitchell Robert Mitchell and Eliz his wife James Jacobson and Mary his wife Elizabeth Hopkins Anne Deane the younger John Rand and Sarah his wife William Rand Martha Rand and Elizabeth Rand Joseph Rand Deborah Rand and John Smith and Mary his wife have severally departed this life and that the Complainant Mary Deane intermarried with the Plaintiff John Benrose (and) this Defendant Sarah Holloway late Sarah Rand an Infant partner answering for herself saith that she on or about the twenty third day of January in the Year One thousand seven hundred and forty two did intermarry with her late husband Joseph Holloway deceased who afterwards departed this life sometime in the month of March which was in the year of one thousand seven hundred and fifty five

As it happens, I already had this information, but the potential value of this statement to our research is obvious. Of course, this is personal testimony, so cannot be taken as necessarily strictly accurate, but nevertheless it is extremely valuable in itself, and as a guide to further research.

The nitty gritty of this document is that the various parties involved were contesting the annuity that had been inherited under the terms of John Bankes’ will by his half sister, Mary Mitchell. On her death this had been split between her son – Robert Mitchell – and her daughter, Mary (Mitchell) Jacobson, wife of James Jacobson. On the deaths of these people this annuity was split between their children:

  • Bankes Mitchell
  • Joseph Collyer in right of Mary (Mitchell) his late wife
  • Elizabeth Mitchell and Hannah Mitchell
  • William Jacobson and Mary, wife of the Defendant Thomas Hunt the two children of the said Mary Jacobson

However, both Mary (Mitchell) Collyer and Banks Mitchell had died intestate, and although letters of administration re their estates had been granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury to Joseph Collyer the Elder and Hannah Mitchell respectively, this did not necessarily mean that these people were entitled to deal with the inheritance of their Bankes annuities, and the Court was being asked to rule on this.

In fact I have several times searched for the letters of administration relating to Mary (Mitchell) Collyer’s estate that were granted to her husband, but have never found a record of them. I do sometimes wonder whether this was a bit of a bluff by Joseph Collyer, but think this unlikely, as surely the Court would have been alerted to any such deception. Not only that, but Joseph would have had to convince my forebear, the eagle eyed Thomas Hunt, attorney, that he was telling the truth in this matter, and as we have seen from other matters, Thomas was not a man who was easily deceived on such affairs.

There is quite a bit more of this type of stuff in this record, and it would probably be tedious to my readers if I were to go through it all, but I will just mention one other  spicy piece of information which, when I first came across it many years ago was a tremendously exciting find.  In arguing against  Joseph Collyer the Elder’s right to deal with his spouse’s estate the respondents stated as follows:

the Defendants the said William Jacobson Thomas Hunt and Mary his wife as aforesaid does severally say that after such assignment (that is to say) on or about the fourth day of September One thousand seven hundred and forty nine the said Joseph Collyer the Elder took (as a fugitive) the Benefit of an Act of Parliament made in the Twenty first year of the late King intitled an Act for Relief of Insolvent Debtors so that all the Right and Interest of the said Joseph Collyer the Elder in right of the said Mary his wife under the said Will and Deed Roll of the said Testator John Bankes (subject to the said assignment to the said James Jacobson deceased) became subject and Liable to the direction of the said act as these Defendants believe

Some years ago this piece of information enabled me to find records in the Corporation of London archives relating to Joseph Collyer the Elder’s  debts and brief imprisonment when he gave himself up at the Fleet Prison in London, to claim Insolvent Debtor Relief. Listed among his creditors was my ancestor, James Jacobson, pawn broker of London. You can see some of this material in the Joseph & Mary Mitchell Collyer Sources on Geoffs Genealogy.

I should, perhaps, mention that this document is a response to a Chancery Bill which was made by Sarah Holloway a widow late Sarah Rand William Jacobson Thomas Hunt and Mary his wife. One of the great thrills that sight of this source gives us is the sight of the signatures of these people at the bottom of the document. I must say that when I first set out on this research in 1990 I never imagined that I would be lucky enough to see signatures of our forebears from the eighteenth century. What a thrill!

The value of Court of Chancery documents in our research into the Bankes Pedigree cannot be overstated. Quite a lot of the time the process of researching them can seem rather turgid, but these periods become well worthwhile when we uncover gems such as those I have outlined above.



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

Geoffs Genealogy Update

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

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

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

The source reference is C108/116.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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