Geoffs Genealogy Update 07 March 2008

When I signed off last time I said that in this entry I’ll tell you about how Helen and I spent our afternoon in London on 12 February, so here goes ….

I have been visiting London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) at Islington for more than 15 years. and the venue has certainly seen some changes in that time. For a start, the name – when I first went there it was called the Greater London Records Office.

If you are researching family or local history in the Greater London area you are sure to need to visit LMA at some time. It holds a vast range of sources, including items as diverse as parish registers, directories, local authority records, photographs and the Middlesex Deeds Registers. At present it also holds the records usually held at the Corporation of London Records Office in the City of London, and these include the records of Freedoms of the City of London. It holds these records while the Guildhall in the City of London is undergoing some alterations, but they will be returning to their usual home in due course.

The LMA is, itself, in a period of considerable renovation at present, and in fact was closed for a period until a few weeks ago. More details about LMA can be obtained from the LMA website

When I go on a research trip I always take a long list of research jobs to do. I never manage to do anything like everything that is on the list, but I find that if I get fed up working on one area of research it is good to have a choice of other things to do. I find it good for morale to always come home with some sort of positive result – even if it is something that does not seem all that important to my research. I therefore make sure that my list includes a few “soft targets”.

On this occasion I decided to look at the parish registers for Christ Church, Spitalfields, concentrating on the baptisms 1843-1875. I knew from the IGI that this record should include several entries relating to the Hazeltine and Winmill families. Adam Hazeltine was the first spouse of Mary Ann Smedley (b 1819), and George Winmill was her second husband.

Sure enough, I found the entries I expected. We should always aim to check entries found on the IGI against the original register, partly because it is always possible that the index entry contains an error, but also because the original entry may well contain information that is not shown on the IGI. In the entries I looked at I found out the father’s stated occupation and the address of the household for each entry.

We also found the baptism, at St Thomas, Stepney in 1857, of William Thomas Archer, son of Samuel and (we assume) Emma Mayhew. Oddly, the mother was not named in this entry. We think that this was merely an oversight on the part of the vicar, as in the next entry the mother’s name was also omitted. Very odd.

Helen and I looked for a number of other entries at LMA, without success. That was a bit disappointing, but our disappointment was tempered by the several good finds that I had made when looking at the Wills Calendars in the morning. We adjourned to Euston Station for a well earned burger meal and a punctual ride home, courtesy of Virgin Rail.

  • This page was last updated on Friday March 7th, 2008.

Geoffs Genealogy Update 30 April 2007

Well, I’m pleased to say I was right!

Last week I told you that I believed I had cracked the problem of pushing the Guyatt family history a bit further back in time. If you recall, I had sent for a birth certificate that I believed would prove that Rosa Hannah Guyatt (b 10 Dec 1849) was the daughter of John Guyatt and his wife Caroline (nee Smedley). I’m pleased to report that the document fulfilled my expectations! This being so, we had established that “our” John was born c1826 at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. His spouse was born c1822 at Walworth, Surrey.

Armed with this information I have obtained a veritable plethora of Guyatt and Guyatt related census entries, which I am sorting through slowly but surely. I have also noted a number of Smedley baptism entries, all from the parish of St Mary, Newington, Surrey, which appear to relate to siblings of “our” Caroline Smedley. Obviously, I need to look at the relevant parish register to begin to substantiate this, and it may be a while before I can do this.

The censuses tend to show that the Guyatts moved out of High Wycombe after the mid nineteenth century. By using I have tracked a number of them to London. In one case the family arrived in the capital via Norwich!

Boosted up by this success Helen (my daughter) and I made the journey to Bucks Record Office at Aylesbury on Friday. We were able to find the baptisms of John (in 1827) and his many siblings in the parish register. The same source yielded up the burials of several of the children, and also of their father – another John Guyatt. He was buried in 1837, aged 53, so was born c1784. Unfortunately we do not know where he was born, and as he died before the date of the 1841 census we cannot ascertain whether he was born in Buckinghamshire or not.

One strange thing was that although we were able to find the baptism of John (b c1826)’s brother, James Guyatt, we could not find this marriage, or the baptisms of any of his children. Very odd. Maybe he was a non-conformist? We have traced the family in census records, so we know that they existed!

Helen and I had a good day at Aylesbury, looking at a great variety of records and receiving great help from the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies staff. The unfortunate thing was that we were unable to track down any more generations of our Guyatts. It seems likely to us that they were only resident in High Wycombe for a short period.

Once again, this research has proved that our forebears were a very mobile lot! I know that many people assume that our forebears did not move around much, but our Guyatts well and truly dispel that notion.

See you next week.

  • This page was last updated on Monday April 30th, 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.