Geoffs Genealogy Update 8 January 2016

Ancestry announced recently that from 1 January 2016 they are no longer going to sell the Family Tree Maker (FTM) software that they have developed and marketed for the past few years. They say that inreviewing their activities they  have “taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide new content, product enhancements and support that our users need” and concluded that they are better off without FTM.

I have used FTM to store my genealogy data for about 20 years, and although I’m sure that there are other products on the market that do the job just as well, I have found that this program has suited my requirements pretty well. An fact Ancestry have only owned FTM for a few years, and it is fair to say that in that time they have developed the product in ways that had not happened previously. The most obvious of these was the facility to search the Ancestry website for sources relating to an ancestor by clicking on a leaf symbol on the ancestor’s record page. If this process leads you to some relevant information you can attach it to your individual at the click of a mouse – a very simple process, and a very effective one, also. I have never actually made use of this search facility, preferring to do things my way, but I am aware that many people find it very useful, and use it a lot, and when Ancestry cease to support FTM they will certainly miss it.

For myself, as I’m not dependent on FMP for my internet searches I am not concerned about the impending loss of this function. My concern is more about how completely I shall be able to transfer my FTM data to another Genealogy program. As the transfer is almost certain to be effected by means of a Gedcom file I fear that I shall not be able to transfer all the data fields I have at present, and if that is the case I may well be faced with a lengthy and tedious process to create the necessary fields in whatever program I choose to use, and then entering my data in them. Not only that, but if I have to do some of this work manually, rather than through an automated process, there is always the possibility of errors creeping in. I always assume that everybody’s research contains a certain number of errors, and mine is no exception, but I certainly don’t want to increase the possibility of errors creeping in.

Apparently, one of the reasons for the diminishing market for genealogy software is the growing number of people who use online facilities such as Ancestry Family Tree to store their data. Personally, I have always avoided putting my research on any of these platforms. I do see the value in letting others know about your research interests, and as visitors to this blog will know, I am more than happy to share the results of my research with other researchers who have the same interests, but I prefer to display my research in my own way.  I accept that I am probably in a minority in this. When I am researching online I often look to see whether there are any relevant trees online, but experienced researchers will not need me to tell them that we need to use any information found in this way with more circumspection than usual, as it often contains significant errors. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve found chunks of the Bankes pedigree attached to a tree that had no connection with our benefactor.

What Helen & I have decided is that we will look at other programs to replace Family Tree Maker but, until we come up with what we think is a suitable solution to these issues, we will stick with FTM. After all, the program works ok (touch wood), and unless we start using an operating system that can’t run FTM there is every chance that we shall be able to use it well into the future. Obviously, we will no longer get updates to the software, but we have to accept that.

Now for a change of subject.

I expect you would excuse me for having done less genealogy work than usual during December, given the Christmas festivities, but in fact I’ve still been pretty active, as I have been looking at the apprentices of John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher (c1650-1719). I had traced four such apprentices in the past, but as the Register of Apprentice Bindings and the Register of Freedom Admissions for Bankes’s era are now available to search on the Find My Past website, I decided to have a further look at this topic.

This piece of research was most successful, as I traced a further six apprentices to Bankes. The earliest was Thomas Smith, son of Thomas Smith of Hampton, Gloucestershire, who was, so far as I know, was the first apprentice that JB had, his binding being dated 1676. I mentioned him in the Bankes Biography page of the Geoffs Genealogy website. Ther last apprentice to the great man that I have found was Nathan Crow, son of David Crow of Cumberland, who was bound in 1714 and received his Freedom in 1721 – two years after Bankes’s death. I had already encountered Nathan in my research, in a Court of Chancery document recounting some of the evidence given by John Cartlitch, Banks’s friend and executor on his death:

“John Cartlitch believed that the said Mrs Banks at first employed Nathan Crow the Testator’s servant to assist her in selling and disposing of the testator’s goods and stocks at his wharf and to receive and gett in some of his rents and debts and that she afterwards employed Thomas Russell … therein.” (The National Archives source ref C11/2792/9).

On reading this source I had believed that the use of the term “servant” indicated that Nathan Crow was some kind of house servant to Banks, but it is now clear that this was not the case and he was an apprentice. Nathan Crow’s term of apprenticeship ended in 1721, when he was made a Freeman of the City of London. It does not appear that his apprenticeship was turned over (ie transferred) to another master, so presumably he was able to complete his apprenticeship working in Bankes’s business.

I’ve often seen it assumed by people today that their seventeenth and eighteenth century contemporaries did not travel far, but  this small piece of research provides evidence that this was not the case. You will have noted that the two apprentices mentioned above hailed from Gloucestershire and Cumberland, and in fact only two of the ten apprentices I found came from London.  Two came from places in Surrey that were just outside the capital, but the others hailed from Oxfordshire, Sussex, Norfolk and Gloucestershire (making two from that county in total). In late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries London was a magnet for migration, just as it is now. In the aftermath of the Great Fire in 1666, and the plague that preceded it, there was a great need for people to rebuild the city and replace those who had died in those disasters, and thus a very real hope that a man could make his fortune in the City of London, as was the case with Bankes.

I have saved the most interesting result of this research until last.

In my blog entry of 1 May 2012 I mentioned that I had traced the apprenticeship  of  John Rand, a Barber Surgeon, who we believe was a nephew of Bankes, born about 1684. On his apprenticeship document John was said to be the son of Samuel Rand of Chichester, deceased, but I had drawn a blank in finding any information about Samuel. I was, however, confident that this John Rand was our man, as this was the only one record of a John Rand becoming Free of the Barber Surgeons’ Company in that period. Furthermore, I know that John Rand, Barber Surgeon of London, had a son named Samuel, who was presumably named after his father. Alas, the child did not survive infancy.

Bearing that in mind, imagine my delight when I found that one of John Bankes’s apprentices was a certain John Rand! Details of the entry were as follows:

London Metropolitan Archives Source Ref CLC/L/HA/C/011/MS15860/007, fo 184

Joseph Rand son of John Rand late of Chichester in the County of Sussex Gent decd
bound to John Banks Citizen & Haberdr of London for Seaven yeares from
the date dated [……]

So here we have another Rand whose father was a Chichester man, and as he was apprenticed to Bankes, and the names Joseph Rand and John Rand very much fit with the names of Bankes’s Rand relations, there must be a very strong possibility that there was indeed a link between Bankes’s half siblings and the City of Chichester in Sussex. Maybe Samuel Rand and John Rand were brothers.

I am particularly excited about this lead because for all my interest in Bankes, in fact it was Mary (Rand) Mitchell, his half sister, who was my direct ancestor. Much as I would love to trace Bankes’s parents, the greater prize is to trace the Rand line back beyond Mary. I really do think that this is my best lead yet.

I have searched online for information about these Rands, without any success, so I now need to work out how I can advance this research at minimum cost. If anybody reading this has any ideas please do let me know. I am even thinking of including Chichester in this year’s holiday plans, so that we can visit the records office.

Thanks for reading this rather lengthy blog entry. I hope that some of it, at least, has interested you, and hope that 2016 is good to you.

  • This page was last updated on Friday January 8th, 2016.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 5 November 2014

By far the biggest event in the lives of my family during October – indeed, during the year – was the marriage of our son – Owen – to Nikki. This really was a fantastic day and evening at Rowton Castle Hotel, near Shrewsbury, and I’m sure that a good time was had by all who attended. It was so lovely to get together with relations, and meet some of Nikki and Owen’s friends in lovely surroundings, and the occasion and the wedding location made me reflect on marriage over the centuries.

Owen and Vikki’s was a civil marriage, which took place in an hotel, reflecting the fact that in recent years there has been a great increase in the variety of venues and venue types that are licensed marriage venues. Throughout the period 1600 to 1836, with the exception of a few years during the interregnum, marriages were required to be carried out in accordance with Canon law, laid down by the Church of England. This meant that marriage ceremonies had to be carried out by a minister of the Church of England. Yes, there were marriages carried out by dissenting ministers, but these were not recognised by the law and so, as Rebecca Probert explains in her excellent book Marriage Law for Genealogists, it was almost always the case that our ancestors in the period up to 1836 were married in the Church of England, even if they were non conformists.

The calling of Banns before marriage was introduced in the Church of England in 1604, with the alternative of marriage by Licence, but Probert emphasises that marriages were valid without banns or a licence, so long as they were carried out by a minister of the Church of England (Probert, p 76). Hence the growth in the number of so called clandestine marriages. During our research into the Bankes Pedigree we have found a number of examples of Clandestine marriages, for example John Price (abt 1720 – abt 1756) married Deborah Rand (abt 1722 – abt 1765) in London’s Fleet Prison in 1745.

Between 1653 and 1660, during the Interregnum, a system of civil marriage was in force. As you may imagine, this ruffled the feathers of many people who were committed to the Church, so there were also church marriages carried out. Although not recognised at the time, these marriages were recognised in law after the Restoration.

As most genealogists are probably aware, in 1753 Hardwicke’s Clandestine Marriages Act came into force, aimed at stopping the growing practice of clandestine marriage. This  legislation laid down that to be valid a marriage had to be celebrated by an Anglican minister in an Anglican church, after the calling of Banns or a Licence. There were also rules introduced that governed the records that needed to be kept, and these rules established the layout of the marriage records that we now use in our research.

In 1837 Civil Registration was introduced in England and Wales. Church of England clergymen were required to send a return of marriages in their church to their local registrar every three months, and the local registrar sent copies to the General Registrar. This resulted in the certificates and indexes that we use in our research today. In addition to this, the Act made it possible for people to marry in civil marriage ceremonies at register offices. This ceremony was shorn of the religious content, and thus offered Catholics and Non Conformists the option of marrying legally without going through a ceremony in the Church of England. Additionally, after 1837 a growing number of dissenting chapels and Catholic churches or chapels were licenced to carry our marriages.

Many of my Culshaw forebears were Catholics, but up to 1837, so far as I have been able to trace, they married in the Church of England. It is possible that, in keeping with a practice that was common prior to 1837, they had two weddings – one in the Catholic church and another in the Anglican church, but I have seen little evidence of that. It took me a number of years to trace the marriage of my  great grandparents John Culshaw (1855-1924) and Elizabeth Bennett (1853-1931), and I eventually found it in the local Civil Registration records, using the Lancashire BMD website. John and Elizabeth were both Catholics, and were married in 1875 at St Andrew’s Catholic Chapel in Leyland, Lancashire.

I have found time for one or two bits of treeing during the month, but most of October has been spent editing wedding photos and getting the autumn gardening done. I think I’ll save the bits of treeing news for next month’s post.


  • This page was last updated on Wednesday November 5th, 2014.

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.

Geodffs Genealogy Update 19 July 2007

Well, we were lucky! The open air performance of Much Ado about Nothing that we went to see last week passed off without there being a single drop of rain. I think we were so very fortunate. The next night it poured down!

The show was superb. Very well acted by a professional cast, and a good few laughs in there. Not as good as last year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but by any other standards first class. Next year it will be a change from comedy to tragedy – Hamlet. I’m looking forward to it already.

The good news is that I have re-engaged my email from the Geoffs Genealogy website, so if you want to contact me you can. I will need to make some further changes to my email arrangements to try to prevent a similar ocurrance in future, but they will become apparent as they happen.

Not much has happened in the way of new treeing discoveries this week, but there is just one item worthy of mention. I have long yearned to find a family history event on the Bankes Pedigree that took place in Shropshire – my county of residence. Up to now I have drawn a blank on this, but last night – bingo! My wish came true.

On the Welsh line of the Bankes Pedigree (descended from Deborah Rand & John Price) we find a certain John Bankes Price (c1826-1897). A census entry had told me that that his spouse – Lucy Elizabeth – was born at Clun in South Shropshire, but up to last night I did not know her maiden name or the date and location of their marriage. Well, last night, courtesy of the Free BMD website, these pieces of the jigsaw fell into place. The lady’s maiden name was Price – so her marriage involved no change of name – and the marriage took place in the December quarter of 1860 at ….. Clun! At last I have a reason to visit the excellent Shropshire Archives to add to my tree, and I shall do so as soon as possible. Of course, it has to be said that the Price clan were (are) only distantly related to my family, but nevertheless I’m quite pleased with this discovery.

That’s it for now. Now back to that pile of data entry …..

  • This page was last updated on Thursday July 19th, 2007.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 28 May 2007

Last Thursday (24 May) I went on a Shropshire Family History Society coach trip to The National Archives, Kew. I always look forward to the society’s coach trips as they present me with a valuable opportunity to enrich my family history research by dipping into the vast treasure of sources that are held at this repository. Over the years I have made some really important discoveries at TNA.

We had a good journey, and arrived at about 11 am. The first item on my list was a search for the World War One army service record of Walter Sidney Rook (1882-1918). Walter was the first husband of my mother’s aunt – Phoebe Emily Charlotte nee Smith, and was killed in action in March 1918 at the Somme. He was a Sergeant, in12 Battalion, Rifle Brigade, and a recipient of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).

About 60% of the WW1 army service records were destroyed by Hitler’s bombers during WW2, so I was not surprised to find that Walter’s record was not on the microfilm I searched. This means that I shall not be able to develop this line of research in future – a great shame.

I had set out with another piece of research in mind which entailed using the records of HM Customs & Excise. These are held on microfilm, and if you can find your man’s records you can find out an enormous amount of information about him. However, my reading of the instructions for this research led me to conclude that I would probably have had to devote the rest of my day to this work and I did not want to do that. I therefore shelved this work for a future date.

I decided to devote what little time I had left in the morning to searching the Probate Calendars 1858 onwards, looking for Bankes descendants. I concentrated on the Welsh Bankes descendants, all descecnded from John Price (c1720-1756) and his spouse Deborah nee Rand (c1721-1765). I won’t subject you to a detailed account of this work. Suffice to say that Jan and I found nine relevant entries in the time available to us. Some of these people were seriously well off! One of them left an estate worth around £70,000 in 1847!

After a very pleasant lunch I went to the Maps Room to look at a Court of Chancery document I had ordered in advance of my visit. It was a Bill of Complaint issued in 1734 by George Bagnall, who was the Administrator of the estate of John Hales, one of the executors of the will of John Bankes (prob 1719). He was claiming against the Haberdashers’ Company in London for monies that he said were owed by Bankes’s estate to Hales and Sophia, Baroness Dowager of Lempster. Both Hales and the Baroness had made mortgage advances to Bankes.

Such sources require great concentration in reading them, as they are very large and contain a lot of “legal language”. Although I had a couple of hours in which to look at this document and the reply by the Haberdashers Company, I only had time to jot down a few notes outlining its content. I shall spare you an explanation of the document. Suffice to say that it contained an outline description of Bankes’s property at Nine Elms, Battersea, and told me that the property was known as “The Lottery”. This may seem to you to be fairly inconsequential information, but I value it greatly. Apart from anything else, it may give me a lead towards finding out, at some future date, exactly where the property was.

I returned home in the evening feeling a little disappointed with the results of my day’s work, as I had hoped for more. However, hope springs eternel, and I’ll be back at Kew as soon as possible for more research.

  • This page was last updated on Monday May 28th, 2007.