Geoffs Genealogy Update 10 July 2008

As I write this blog entry you find me working on the next edition of the Shropshire FHS Journal – due out in September. I have to prepare each edition a couple of months before the publication date, and it usually takes me up to four weeks to put the thing together. Of course, in addition to this quarterly demand on my time there is also the day to day editorial correspondence, and the business of reading and editing material sent to me for possible inclusion in the journal. When you add to that the other business that arises from membership of the society’s committee you can see that the job of editor for a family history society is quite a large one.

Why does one do it?

Good question. To a certain extent I suppose it is altruism, but I would not be telling the truth if I pretended that the wish to help others is my only motive. I have always had a love of writing, and although the editor’s role mainly involves dealing with other people’s writings, it does give me a certain amount of opportunity to write content myself. I also enjoy the challenge of putting together a publication, which I hope is of reasonable quality, to a deadline. In addition to these factors, I have to say that being editor of the society’s journal brings me quite a number of personal advantages in my research. For instance, I develop more contacts, so when I need a bit of help or advice I have a fairly large pool of expertise available to me. I also get to hear of new developments in the world of family history a little while before people who are not serving on a committee, including the availability of new resources. Perhaps the most valuable gain to me from my role as editor is the way in which my knowledge of our hobby gets extended through contacts with other researchers. You would probably be surprised to learn how often I have gained a new insight that I can use in my research from something that has arisen through helping somebody else with their research. Believe me, this happens a lot.

Our own society is having great difficulty in filling a number of important posts at present, and I know that other societies are experiencing similar problems. I urge you to consider involving yourself in the affairs of a family history society. Believe me, the more you put into a society the more you will get out of it.

I’ve had an exciting time since I last updated this blog. Firstly, I have been to two superb concerts. One was at Milton Keynes, and featured the Milton Keynes City Orchestra conducted by Sian Edwards. They were a fine bunch of musicians, and the evening was enhanced by a performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 1 by the wonderful Freddie Kempf. Superb!

The other concert was, if anything, even more enjoyable. We went to our usual venue – Symphony Hall, Birmingham, to hear the city of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra play Beethoven’s 9th (Choral) Symphony. The orchestra was joined by solo singers and the CBSO Chorus, and the sound created was truly wonderful. This was Sakari Oramo’s farewell concert as conductor of the orchestra, and he could not have had a better send off!

Last Wednesday we were on Wimbledon Centre Court to see the men’s singles quarter finals. We were there to see Andy Murray’s campaign come to an end against Raphael Nadal, and to see Roger Federer beat Mario Ancic. What a treat to see these wonderful exponents of the game. I was never any good at tennis myself, but that doesn’t stop me admiring these people. Our next engagement is tomorrow evening, when we go to see an open air production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at Stafford Castle. The open air Shakespeare productions at Stafford are always extremely good, with excellent casts and direction. However, the weather forecast for this event is rather poor, so somebody could be in for a soaking! Not us, however, as one of the most attractive features of watching Shakespeare at Stafford Castle is that the audience is under cover but the cast is not!

On the treeing front I’ve been as busy as ever of late. On a very wet Saturday morning the other week Jan and I spent a few hours at Stafford Records Office, collecting another batch of Blagg entries in the Cheadle parish registers. We made great headway, and I think that one more visit will probably complete the job. Then all I will have to do is type them up and send them off to Richard. It has taken me much longer than I expected to complete this job, but we get there in the end.

On 7 June it was the Shropshire FHS Open Day at the Shirehall, Shrewsbury. I was on the Help desk, with a number of other colleagues, and we were kept busy all day, trying to help visitors to the event with their research queries. This is an annual event, and always well attended. This year we had two excellent speakers. In the morning Colin Chapman spoke on the Poor Laws over the centuries. Colin is a very well known personality in the world of family history, and is best known for being the man who created the Chapman Codes – the three letter codes that are used to denote the various counties. In the afternoon our speaker was Nick Barratt, who is best known for his work on the BBC TV programme “Who do you think you are?”. He gave a lively and very interesting presentation on the background to the tv series and other related matters. Everybody I spoke to said that they thoroughly enjoyed this talk – finding it both informative and entertaining.

Ten days ago Jan and I went to visit Hugh and Judy at their farm in Lincolnshire. Hugh is a descendant of Joseph Rand, half brother to John Bankes, on the Welsh line, so he is only distantly related to me. It was a pleasure to meet Hugh and Judy, and their lovely family, and we were treated to quite wonderful hospitality. We had a fine time, chatting about Bankes and the relevant parts of the Bankes Pedigree, and came away with some more very promising research ideas.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Howard, in Australia – another Bankes descendant of the line down from Joseph Rand, half brother to Bankes. He was good enough to share the details of his family tree with me, thus further expanding the Bankes Pedigree. He also gave me the exciting news that one of his family was a Knight of the Realm. How exciting! In the words of Howard:

Sir (William) Emrys Jones (1915-2001) became chief agricultural adviser to the Minister of Agriculture from 1967 to 1973, and was knighted in 1971. An obituary in the Telegraph states ‘he played a leading role in boosting post-war agricultural production and probably had a greater influence on British farming than any other individual.’”

If you are interested, you can find a more detailed obituary to Sir William Emrys Jones on the Independent newspaper website, at

  • This page was last updated on Thursday July 10th, 2008.