Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Geoffs Genealogy Update 18 October 2011

This is probably my last post on this blog.

Its purpose is to let you know that the Geoffs Genealogy website has had a complete makeover, courtesy of my daughter - Helen - and my son - Alex. They have been working on this project these past few weeks, and have produced a new design and a very much better website, with excellent functionality.

I hope you will enjoy looking at the new site. At the moment the content is the same as on the previous site, but I hope to be adding some new stuff before long.

The tree has been updated, and also benefits from a new look. Enjoy!

As the new website includes a blog, this blog is rendered superfluous. All the posts from this blog have been copied across, and can be read on the website.

Just a reminder of the web address: www.geoffsgenealogy.co.uk

Friday, 30 September 2011

Geoffs Genealogy Update 30 September 2011

The highlight of September has to be the week we spent in France, in the beautiful Aveyron
countryside. Fabulous weather, lovely food and some really stunning places to visit ensured that we had a smashing break. We thought that was our summer finished, but with its usual unpredictability the British weather has given us a surprise, and September is going out with a spell of gorgeous weather that far exceeds anything we had in what has been a pretty nondescript sort of summer in England. We must enjoy this while we can, of course, because without doubt our normal autumn weather will take over 'ere long.

We are now nearer to sending out the trees to those people who have been awaiting them patiently these past three months. They are nearly ready, and we have an up to date list of Bankes descendants who have requested copies, so hopefully we will get that job done very soon.

In the time I have had available in the past couple of months I have been updating my treeing records, and doing mundane things like filing my pieces of paper. I am never keen on these jobs, but if we are to be able to find the records we want when we want them we need to attend to them in a methodical way, and if you had seen the great big pile of paper that has been building up in my study you would appreciate that the attention I'm currently giving these tasks is well merited.On top of that, it is now time to start work on the December edition of the Shropshire Family History Society Journal, so that will occupy me quite fully for the next few weeks.

As I'm having a break in my research activities it is probably a good idea to reflect on the areas of research that I want to concentrate on when I get back fully into my research.

There are a number of issues that I want to address. I'll briefly mention two of them:

1. Just where did John Bankes (abt 1650 - 1719) come from and who were his parents?

I know, I've harped on about this at length many times before, but although I am not actually directly descended from this man he looms so large over our research activities that I really would love to resolve this issue. My reading of the Court of Chancery documents tells me that at one time he owned property at Roding, which I believe probably was situated in the Epping Forest area. I aim to follow up on this, to try to ascertain what was this property, and how Bankes came to hold it. Did he, I wonder, hail from that neck of the woods? A long shot, but worth a try. I expect to be in touch with Essex Archives service before too long, to try to develop this line of enquiry.

2. I am actually descended from Mary (Rand) Mitchell (abt 1668 - 1739), half sister to Bankes, so it does occur to me that over the years I have not devoted nearly enough effort to tracing her Rand origins. There is a reason for that, in that I live in Shropshire and do not often get the chance to look at records that I may need to research in order to pursue this research. Up to now the relevant information I have found has been held in London, but given the fact that many people moved into London from outside the City, there is no telling where this chase may take me.

When I researched "our" John Rand (abt 1684-bef 1745) I found more than one record stating that he was a Barber Surgeon of London.

We have traced a record of the Apprenticeship and Freedom relating to a John Rand, Barber Surgeon of London. This document was dated 1697, and concerns a John Rand, son of Samuel Rand of Chichester, Sussex. As we know from Bankes's will that his half brother, father of John Rand born abt 1684, was named JOHN RAND, logic suggests that this Samuel cannot be "ours". However, a search of the Freedom Admissions of the Barber Surgeons' Company , and the City of London Freedoms Index has revealed that this man was the only John Rand to become Free of the Barber-Surgeons' Company whose date of Apprenticeship coincided with the time frame expected of "our man".

All very confusing.

Then there is Joseph Rand (b abt 1694). We know from several sources that he was a Carpenter, and we found his apprenticeship record dated 1708, in which his father (ie Bankes' half brother) was named as Joseph Rand, late Citizen & Haberdasher of London deceased. If I'm recalling this correctly, this Joseph Rand Haberdasher of London would have been a brother to Samuel Rand of Chichester, and both of them would have been half siblings to John Bankes. Certainly the thesis that Bankes's half brother may have been a Freeman of the Haberdashers' company seems tenable. The only snag is that the most thorough searches of the Haberdashers Company archives showed no record of this Joseph Rand, Haberdasher! Even the member of staff I asked at Guildhall Library was at a loss to explain this.

Then, to confuse things further, There was a Virginal Maker in London in the 1660s named John Rand, and his wife Mary. They had a son - John - baptised in 1661, and a daughter named Mary, baptised 1668. Interestingly (or maybe merely coincidentally) these baptism dates coincide more or less precisely with the chronology I had calculated for my Rand forebears. Additionally, these people had links to Oxfordshire, and so did John Bankes' first wife - Elizabeth Atherton (abt 1640 - bef 1715).

I would not be surprised if I have confused you with all this. It is all very confusing, but imagine the sense of triumph I shall have if I manage to solve any of these mysteries!

I'll let you know when I start out on these trails.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Geoffs Genealogy Update 30 August 2011

A couple of weeks ago we went to a Jamboree of the Maliphant clan, which was held at Upton Castle in Pembrokeshire www.uptoncastle.co.uk. Whereas the reunion that we organised in June was a gathering of people descended from one couple - the parents of John Bankes' Rand siblings - this was a gathering of people with a connection to the Maliphant name, and hence more of a one name gathering. Where does Maliphant fit in to my family history? Well, Jan's 2 x maternal Welsh grandmother was a certain Ann Maliphant (1836-1918) who married Evan Hughes in 1855, so she is qualified to attend the gathering.

The Maliphant name has been traced in this country back into Norman times, and at one time people of that name owned Upton Castle, hence the significance of this venue to members of the clan. Unfortunately, the weather was not too kind to us on this occasion, but everybody who attended seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, which was the main thing. You can see some photographs of the event at the Maliphant Jamboree website.

The building at Upton Castle is not open to visitors, although the superb gardens are available for public viewing on payment of an admission charge. We were served up a lovely lunch and made to feel very welcome by the owners of the castle - Stephen and Pru Barlow, and were allowed access to parts of the grounds not usually open to public viewing.

Having organised our reunion with Helen in June I can appreciate how much work must have been done by Andrew & Bruce Maliphant to make this event possible, and they will rightly take great pleasure from its success. This was the third Maliphant Jamboree. The next one will be held next July in Swansea. If you have a Maliphant connection I'm sure that you would be most welcome to attend.

It's now over two months since our Bankes Descendants Reunion, and Helen and I are aware that we still have not managed to finish off the work of preparing the updated trees for the people who requested copies. Quite honestly, we have been so busy since the big day that we simply have not had time to complete the job, so our apologies for that. Probably a classic case of "biting off more than we can chew". We have now completed the extra research that we needed to do to bring the Pedigree as up to date as possible, and hopefully we shall be able to make the necessary amendments to the tree and contact the relevant people in the next few weeks.

Similarly, I have not added the photographs of the event to the Geoffs Genealogy website. This is due to a number of factors, which I won't bore you with. Suffice to say that I shall rectify the situation as soon as I can, and in the meantime am including a few photos in this posting, just to whet your appetite!

The wonderful thing about these family or one name gatherings is the way in which a group of people from different backgrounds and geographical areas invariably get on so well together with people who they have never met. Of course, we are not really thrown together - we choose to attend, after all - but it really is a very good experience and a positive reflection of human nature.

In the process of researching the extra people who we have been adding to the Bankes Pedigree I have become acquainted with a couple of very interesting characters, who were both flying planes in the early days of aviation. In the course of our Bankes Bingo game at the Reunion Helen mentioned John Thearsby Bankes Price, who was a true World War One hero. To quote from Helen's notes :

John Thearsby Bankes Price (1895-1916) was born [in Chicago] the following year.

[He] appears to have been [his parents'] only child; he ... had an eventful life as a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service, flying biplanes in the first world war. He was present at what has been described as “the most historic and significant episode in naval aviation” – the first ship-launched airborne torpedo attack on a ship on 12 August 1915. After many near misses he was killed on 17 September 1916, when after engaging enemy aircraft over Turkey. His Schneider seaplane, for no clear reason, burst into flames, killing the pilot.

I was able to look at a number of the accounts of WW1 actions that John was involved in, which Helen had used in her research. He was flying his biplanes over the Dardanelles and also over Egypt and Palestine, based on the vessel Ben My Chree. I even found an artist's impression of one of the attacks that he took part in. It really is amazing what we can find on the internet!

The other flying man was Harold Essex Reynell (1887-1972). He was the son of Bankes descendent Eugenie Mary Davies (1856-1908) and her husband, Harold Essex Reynell (b 1853). Eugenie married her spouse at her home parish church of Llangain, Carmarthenshire, in 1881, but the couple must have moved to live in Kobe, Japan, in the early years of their marriage because that was where Harold Essex Reynell Jnr was born in 1887. It was also the place in which Eugenie died in 1908.

By 1916 Harold Jnr was serving in the British forces in the First World War - a Captain in the Black Watch. However, he was also recorded in the listings of holders of Aviators’ Certificates that were compiled by the Royal Aero Club, although I suspect that his flying activities were more pleasurable than those of John Thearsby Bankes Price.

After the war he seems to have been quite an international traveller, as there are a great many passenger lists in the archives that attest to journeys that he made with members of his family - chiefly between the UK and USA or Canada, but also to the Philippines. He married in 1917, to Georgiana Catherine Liddell (1898-1981), and they had two children.

As I said, the details of these people have now been added to the ever-growing Bankes Pedigree.

Have a good month.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 July 2011

July has been a busy month. In the first part of the month we were in Austria, enjoying a few days holiday in wonderful scenery and lovely weather. He had a super time, and included in our stay a visit to Salzburg, birthplace of one of my heroes – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

We visited Mozart’s birthplace, and were totally absorbed for a couple of hours, looking at many kinds of Mozartabilia – letters by the great man, his hair, his violin and harpsichord. All wonderful. If you are ever in Salzburg I can recommend this to you, even if you aren't

On my return to the UK, early in July, we went to see a tremendous open air production of Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors at Stafford Castle. We go to the Stafford Festival Shakespeare production every year, and are always entertained quite superbly. This year was no exception. If you live within reach of Stafford and haven’t yet done so I heartily recommend that you give it a try next year, when the play will be Romeo & Juliet.

Next, I had to crack on with preparing the next edition of the Shropshire Family History Society journal, which will be published in September. I always find it a fascinating challenge, choosing the right content to fit together in the 48 pages available, correcting the typos and fitting it all together. It is a job I’ve done for quite a few years, and one I still enjoy.

All this has meant that I have had little time available to deal with the aftermath of the Bankes Reunion, which we held in Surrey on 18th June. A number of attendees kindly advised me of Bankes descendants who need adding to the tree, and also quite a few people have requested pdf files of their section of the tree. I have started working my way through the additions, and when I’ve got those all sorted out Helen and I will pool our resources to make the necessary addition s to the tree and send out the pdf files.

I’m aware that I also need to put on my website some of the photographs from the event. I’ll get around to that as soon as I can.

My apologies if this all seems to be taking quite a while, but alas, in addition to all this activity I have to earn a living as well, and thus time is limited.

The notes relating to the talks that were given at the reunion are available for viewing on the internet at the following urls:

• The slides for my talk on John Bankes can be seen at:
• The slides for the Bankes Bingo can be seen at:
• The slides for Helen’s talk on Robert Hanham Collyer can be seen at:

I have no treeing research to report this month. I would just like to mention a concert that Jan & I attended last Friday (29th July) at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. It was a programme of music composed by Richard Strauss, William Walton and Sergei Prokofiev, all played by my favourite band - The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) – a fantastic orchestra – conducted by Andris Nelsons. All the pieces performed were new to us, and all were quite spectacular! The highlight was the performance of Walton’s Violin Concerto by that most incredible violinist, Midori. She left us all quite spellbound by her skill and artistry. It really was a privilege to have been there. The CBSO and soloists then decamped to London and repeated the performance at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, 30th July. I watched it all again on tv, and again I was spellbound!
If you like classical music, do catch this on the BBC iPlayer. You won’t be disappointed. As for me, I’m a sucker for all this stuff, so I’m off to give ear to the latest BBC Promenade concert.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Geoffs Genealogy Update 23 June 2011 - Bankes Reunion

Our Reunion of John Bankes’ Descendants took place last Saturday, 18th June 21011, at Coulsdon United Football Club’s clubhouse in South London. After a downpour the previous day, which caused difficult travelling conditions for some of the attendees, the weather on the big day was much improved – showery with sunny intervals.

The Reunion was attended by 43 descendants of the half siblings of John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher of London (c1650-1719), who came to Coulsdon from far and near. Their ages ranged from 12 to 96!

Our ice breaker was a game of Bankes Bingo, organised by Helen (Culshaw) Mitchell. This provided some light hearted amusement, whilst enabling us all to learn a bit about the lives of some of our forebears.

This was followed by a talk, given by Geoff Culshaw, the writer of this blog, on John Bankes. I outlined what we have learned about Bankes over the course of some 24 years of research, and how we have obtained the information. I also mentioned some of the things that we don’t know about Bankes. Basically, we know quite a lot about his business life, but lack information on the dates and whereabouts of his birth and first marriage.

It would be lovely to think that we may solve this conundrum one day, but it does not seem likely at present!

After a period of mingling, including a splendid buffet lunch, we reconvened for our second talk. This was delivered by Helen (Culshaw) Mitchell, and had as its subject the amazing Robert Hanham Collyer. A glance through the Robert Hanham Collyer Chronology on the Geoffs Genealogy website is sufficient to tell you that this was no ordinary Bankes descendant. By turns he was a medical doctor, a showman, a gold prospector, an inventor, and a host of other things as well. Helen related his life story in an informative but lighthearted style, and provided all of us with a most entertaining talk.

There was then a little time left for further mingling before the attendees started to wend their way to their homes. All said that they had enjoyed the event very much. Many of them had learned something new about their family or the Bankes Pedigree, whilst others had met "new" relations or become re-acquainted with people they had not seen for many years..

I must just mention the enormous family trees that adorned the walls of one of the rooms at our disposal. There were three trees, which Helen and I had specially produced for the occasion - one each for descendants of our eighteenth century ancestors Mary Rand, Anne Rand, and Joseph Rand. They took up three of the four walls of a very large room, and people were able to enjoy looking at their own section of interest. Attendees were encouraged to write on the trees, adding information that was missing, or correcting any errors that they could spot. Many people did this, I’m delighted to say, and it will be my task to assimilate this extra information into my records.

Attendees were told that if would like a copy of their section of these trees they should contact either me or Helen. We will then provide them with specially formulated pdf file and the name of the printer who produced the tree for us, so that they can obtain a copy themselves.

As soon as we can manage it we shall post the slides from the two talks on the internet. We will let everybody who came to the event know when we have done this. We also plan to make available the notes that were used for the Bankes Bingo game.

One disappointment for me was that my photographs of the event did not come out at all well. I have therefore asked whether anybody has some photographs that they are happy to share with me. I have already received one positive reply to this plea, from Don Bates, and I thank him very much for that. If anybody else can help me I shall be very grateful to them.

After all the months of planning, it seems strange to think that the Bankes Reunion is over. Now, on to the next task - preparing the September edition of the Shropshire Family History Society journal. That will occupy me through most of July.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 May 2011

On 19 May I went on the Shropshire Family History Society coach trip to the National Archives, at Kew. I had a few things to reprise there, plus one new source to look at.

Some years ago my daughter, Helen, went to Kew and researched the Admiralty records relating to Bankes Mitchell, who died at sea in 1763. When Helen did this research it was not possible to take photographs of the source material, and I thought it a good plan to have a look at these most interesting records myself, and photograph them.

The records are quite fascinating. The Captain’s log gives you so much information about the day to day whereabouts of the ship, damage sustained by the vessel and consequent repairs, and the deaths of seamen. It is quite compelling reading. I was amazed to see that in 1763 the voyage from the UK to the West Indies took a mere six weeks. This seemed to me remarkably fast progress, so I checked several voyages. The time at sea was roughly the same in all cases.

Bankes Mitchell died a mere two days before the Hampton Court anchored off Plymouth on 20th August 1763, and was buried at sea at 10 o’clock am.

Before starting its voyage home in July 1763 the Hampton Court had been moored in Havana harbour for the best part of a year. Presumably the ship was part of the British force that secured Havana after its capture from the Spanish in 1762, during the Seven Years War. In the Treaty of Paris of February 1763, which ended the worldwide conflagration, Havana passed back to the Spanish.

As I’ve said before, it’s always good to place the lives of the people you encounter in your research in their historical context, and this piece of research certainly did that.

Next I reprised the great big box of records relating to the Court of Chancery case that resulted from the dissatisfaction of some of the beneficiaries of John Bankes’ will. This box (TNA source ref C105/21) contains various written artefacts that were presented as evidence in the case – a real mixture – Bankes’ accounts, rental agreements, indentures recording the transfer of property, tradesmen’s bills from Bankes’ lifetime, Bankes’ will, and loads more. I recall how excited we were when we first came face to face with this box a few years ago, and although I already hold photocopies of some of the items I relished the opportunity to photograph as many as I could.

How wonderful to handle the very documents that our forebears handled all those years ago, to see their signatures etc. Fantastic. I now have digital images of many of these items and face the not inconsiderable task of cataloguing them! That will have to wait until after the
Bankes Reunion.

Lastly I looked at the divorce papers relating to the proceedings brought against Edwin Claringburn by his wife – Mary Jane nee Lambert – in April 1909.

Apparently in 1905 Edwin had left Mary Jane and set up home with a certain Florence Farrel. The liaison between Edwin & Florence had produced a female child before Florence died in February 1909. There was no reply to these accusations from Edwin Claringburn, and the divorce was granted by the Court.

The thing about this that I found surprising is that the papers relating to the case included a copy of the marriage certificate relating to Mary Jane Lambert’s marriage to Edwin in 1897, and a copy of Florence’s death certificate. Her death was registered in the name of Florence Clarke by Edwin Clarke(!). That would have been very hard to trace by normal means.

This proved, once again, how valuable Court records can be. If you get a chance to use them in your research you will be lucky indeed.

Also, always remember to take your digital camera to you when researching at TNA. Unlike most archives, there is no fee to pay if you want to use your camera, and they even provide camera stands to combat our shaky hands!

Bankes Reunion is now only 18 days away, and we are still working towards what we are sure will be a really enjoyable event. Here’s hoping that the sun shines on us, that all the people who are attending have safe journeys, and that we all have a jolly good time!

See you there!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Geoffs Genealogy Update 9th may 2011

I'm a bit late writing this blog entry, the result of a couple of days' sojourn in Carmarthenshire. We had a great time in South Wales, and included in our crowded itinerary re-visits to three graveyards of significance to the Welsh branch of the Bankes Pedigree.

Why revisit these graveyards?

Well, I have to confess that I have mislaid the photographs we took on our previous visits, and as the Bankes Descendants' Reunion is now only a few weeks away I am trying to ensure that I have available as much material possible for the big day.

The three graveyards we visited were St Bridget, Llansantffraid and St Michael, Llanfihangel Ystrad, both in Cardiganshire, and St Cain, Llangain. The first of these is located on the Cardiganshire coast. We arrived there at about lunch time, mainly looking for the graves of members of the Herbert family. David Herbert (abt 1767 - 1835) was vicar of this church, and in 1796 married Mary Price (abt 1777 - 1856), daughter of Joseph Price (abt 1747-1817). As far as we know Mary & David had five children and when David died in 1835 his son, William Herbert, took his place as vicar of this parish. William was vicar of Llansantffraid for 48 years and lived to the ripe old age of 98.

As was the case when we previously visited this church, we were able to go inside the building and photograph the memorial to the Herberts on the East wall of the church. It is a lovely church, set high above the Cardiganshire coast. Many of the graves bear witness to the fact that many of the people who lived here in the nineteenth century were mariners, and the hazardous nature of their daily lives. A number of the Bankes descendants were mariners.

Next we went to Llanfihangel Ystrad, which is situated a few miles to the west of Lampeter. We had a list with us, detailing the graves thet we had photographed some years ago, so finding them now would surely be easy! Well, perhaps not!

We made several circuits of the graveyard but still failed to find some of the graves. This doesn't really matter much, as we already have a record of the inscriptions, but it would have been nice to be able to complete the job.

Last time we visited this churchyard we had difficulty finding the graves of Charles Davies and the above mentioned Joseph Price, both of whom died in 1817. Eventually we realised that they must be the two graves that were covered (and I do mean covered!) in ivy over towards the gate. I had to strip the ivy off the graves before I could confirm that these were, indeed, the graves of Charles and Joseph. Well, by the time of this latest visit the ivy had well and truly covered these graves again. I saw no real need to attempt to remove it this time, so photographed them as they are.

Joseph Price was a son of John Price (abt 1720- abt 1756) and Deborah Rand (abt 1722 - abt 1765), who I regard as the founders of the Welsh branch of the Bankes Pedigree. They lived in Llanfihangel Ystrad, and I believe it highly likely that they were buried in the churchyard ao St Michael's. However, there is no stone in their memory, and the burial records for the relevant years have apparently been lost, so there seems no way of researching this.

Later in our short stay in Wales we visited Llangain, a small village just outside Carmarthen, to re-visit the church of St Cain. Here are buried Charles Bankes Davies (abt 1825 - 1870) with his spouse, Mary Ann, nee Rees (1819 - 1897), and their son, another Charles bankes Davies (1859 - 1925). We found all these graves and photographed them, but noted that whereas when we visited them a few years ago they were quite easily read, by now the stones have become covered with a brown coating, and are all but unreadable.

On returning home I recalled that a couple of years ago we visited the library in Swansea and I found an interesting book on the hisitory of Llangain (The Book of Llangain by Haydn Williams, pub Halsgrove, 2007). This book contains some photographs of the rather grand house that is Lwyndu, the Llangain home of the Bankes Davies family until it was sold in 1926. There are photographs of the house, the coach house and the lower lodge (which we have seen previously). There is also an obituary to Mary Ann (Rees) Davies, that was published in The Welshman when she died in 1897, and information about the Bankes Davies family. Appparently, inside the church there is a memorial to Charles Bankes Davies and his son of the same name. I've copied all this stuff for possible use at the Reunion in June.

Yes, the reunion is now that close! We are busily working towards what we hope will be a smashing day. If you are a descendant of one of the siblings of John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher (abt 1650 - 1719) please do visit my website and book a place at the reunion. People are coming from near and far, and we are really looking forward to meeting you all.

In the next few weeks we will be sending information to all the people who have booked, telling them how to find the Reunion venue and information about timings etc. In the meantime, I hope May is good to you.

Happy hunting!