Sunday, 30 December 2007

Geoff's Genealogy Update 30 December 2007

Another Christmas has come and gone. All that planning and it's over in a trice! I hope you had a good time, and will enjoy a happy new year.

2007 has been a good year for Geoffs Genealogy. Lots of new contacts made and new information discovered. My sincere thanks to everybody who has played a part in the successes of this year; I'm sure there will be more in 2008.

I've started preparing material to update So far I've re-vamped the Arthur Ackland Hunt page to take account of material received since it was set up, two years ago. I've also updated the page on Thomas Hunt, Doctor, although in that case there is not as much new material to take account of. I have decided that I shall upload all the new and updated pages together, so there is nothing new to see at the moment. Progress will be delayed over the coming weeks as I have to work on the next edition of the Shropshire FHS journal, but I'll get the job done as soon as I can.

Whilst I've been reviewing the new material re Arthur Ackland Hunt I reprised the marriage of his daughter - Amy Winifred Hunt - to Rev William Starkie Shuttleworth. This marriage took place in 1911 at Salisbury Cathedral. Although Amy's groom was not a Bankes descendant in the strict sense, I think it good to have a look at his background and thus get a feel for the social circles in which the Hunts moved. As William was a clergyman in the Church of England I was able to learn quite a lot about him by consulting an appropriate issue of Crockford's Clerical Directory. This told me of his graduation from Cambridge University as an MA, his entry into the ministry, and his various postings. Furthermore, as he graduated from Cambridge I was able to look him up in another invaluable volume - Alumni Cantabrigienses compiled by JA Venn, Cambridge (1953). This repeated much of the material found in Crockford, but added information re William's parentage, his marriage to Amy, their address in Salisbury, and the date of his death.

Using the information I had gained from Crockford, I was able to trace William Starkie Shuttleworth on some censuses. I also traced his first marriage and the death of his first wife, which occurred in 1904.

Finally, I found an entry on a Rootsweb mailing list at which was posted in 2000 by a certain Murray Shuttleworth. This includes a list of Shuttleworths who were descended from Henry de Shuttleworth (born about 1300 at Shuttleworth Hall, Hapton, Lancashire). You will not be surprised to learn that the list includes our man - William Starkie Shuttleworth, born 1839.

Of course, I would want to research Murray Shuttleworth's information before assuming that it is correct, but it does seem quite possible that Amy Hunt's spouse was a member of a very notable family.

You never know where this treeing lark will take you, do you?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 12 December 2007

Blog time again.

Christmas is now less than a couple of weeks away, and I think I'm more or less up to speed with that. The main mailing of cards have been sent, and the pressies have been bought. In the next few days the Christmas Tree will be set up at chez-Culshaw and we will then really know that yule time is with us. I'm looking forward to seeing my brother again, as I don't see him very often. It will be good to be able to relax for a few days with the family.

We are well into the UK winter now. Personally, I can't wait for the longer daylight hours to return. There are aspects of winter that I like - football, for instance, but for me the worst aspect of that season is the shortening of the daylight hours. I cannot wait for 21 December to pass, so that we can start moving towards the Spring.

You will not be too surprised, I'm sure, to learn that during the past couple of weeks I've been busy on the treeing front. I think I mentioned in my last notes that I was recently contacted by an Australian member of the Benzoni clan, and this has led me to spend some time working on this branch of the Bankes pedigree. The Benzonis hailed from Italy. Some time in the first part of the nineteenth century they made their way from Italy to London, and Charles Benzoni (b Como, c1811) married a Bankes descendant - Eleanor (Brannon) Crow (b London c1809). Eleanor was descended from Ann Deane, half-sister to John Bankes. They went on to have four children, and Ted in Australia has kindly sent me details of his descent from these people. Ted, if you are reading this, I am working on the printouts you sent me and will contact you again when I've updated my records.

Last week we also exchanged emails with a South American Sayer researcher who lives in Colombia. The Sayers are on Jan's part of the tree. Samuel Sayer (circa1799-1866) and his wife Elizabeth Utting (b circa 1803) emigrated from East Anglia to Colombia in the nineteenth century and many of his descendants are avid family history researchers. It is always a pleasure to hear from them, and we were delighted to add a new contact.

I have also been delighted to hear recently from a Culshaw researcher. Alas, her research was not on my line, but I was delighted to be able to put her in contact with a very long-standing friend and fellow Culshaw researcher, whose research does link to hers.

I still have a lot of material to work through that was sent to me by Chris a few weeks ago. I've mentioned Chris before. She is another Culshaw researcher, whose research does link to mine. She sent me "Heaps" of material about the Heaps branch of her family, and I'm looking forward to working my way through it.

On the Guyatt front Pat has done some really great research, which has resulted in us obtaining some fantastic information about the branch of the clan that spent some time in Plymouth and served in the British army. I am looking forward to studying the latest material in the next few days. I have mentioned this research avenue before, but not elaborated. I'm doing the same again - not that I want to tease you; rather because it would take a long time for me to explain this research properly, and a blog does not seem the appropriate place to do that. If any of you would like to know more about this research please contact me through the link on and I'll be pleased to tell you about it.

I also have a number of other items of research that I need to get to in the new year, so there's no sign of the pace slowing in the near future.

At this time of year I am usually beavering away, preparing the next lot of updates to the website. Alas, this year I am all behind. I haven't started yet!

I have plans for some new pages,and some significant amendments to existing pages, but at present I can't say when they will enter cyberspace.Sorry about that. It's going to be a case of "watch this space", I'm afraid. Hopefully we may be able to get an updated tree in place on the site before too long, however.

That's it for now. See you in another couple of weeks.

Have a very happy Christmas and a happy & healthy new year.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 28 November 2007

The pace of research doesn't show any sign of slowing. In the past couple of weeks I've had the good fortune to receive a lot of information to add to our ever-expanding archive. I'll briefly describe it now.

Firstly, from a Bankes descendant in Australia I received some information on the Benzonis, which brings one branch of that line that line down to the present day. It appears that this particular strand of the Benzoni clan changed their surname to George at sometime between 1912 and 1930. Neither I or my correspondent know why this was done. Possibly something to do with wanting/needing to adopt a more British persona. Who knows? Any suggestions would be very welcome.

I've mentioned previously that I have been in frequent contact over the past few months with a descendant of Arthur Ackland Hunt (1841-1914) and his wife, Emma Sarah Blagg (1838-1896). A couple of weeks ago I visited Stafford Records Office to take down the first tranche of Blagg data from the parish registers for Cheadle, Staffs. This covered approximately 1780 to 1840 and whilst it did not bring to light much in the way of new information, it confirmed data we had already ascertained from the IGI. It is always advisable to check events that appear in indexes in the parish registers. We are all prone to error, and indexers are no exception to that rule. Thus a check of the register may bring to light an mistake. Also, sometimes parish registers contain additional facts that add to your knowledge, but cannot be indexed.

It will take a number of visits to the records office for me to complete the collection of Blagg entries in the Cheadle records, and as I don't go to Stafford all that often this work will probably be ongoing for some while.

As I was concentrating my attention on this, an email dropped into my inbox which came from my Hunt correspondent, and contained what to me was great treasure. I received two beautiful photographs - one of Arthur Ackland Hunt and the other of his spouse. They are truly wonderful pictures, and I am absolutely thrilled to receive them. I've said this before, I know, but I'll say again how wonderful it is to see photos of people who previously only appeared as names on a pedigree. The ability to "put a face to a name" certainly personalises our research no end - and brings it to life. Thankyou, Richard.

During the past couple of weeks the ongoing Guyatt work has prospered - thanks almost entirely to the efforts of my cousin, Pat. She has established that the branch of the clan that were enumerated in Devon on the 1881 census served in the army. William Freeman Guyatt (b 1847) was a Gun Maker by trade, and appears to have signed up with the Welsh Fusiliers as an Armourer in the late 1870s. It appears that after his death (sometime between 1881 and 1891) and his wife's death (in 1890) his sons were taken into the Royal Military Asylum at Chelsea, and they subsequently served in the army.

There is much still to learn about these Guyatts, but the information that Pat has already uncovered in the past few weeks has proved extremely interesting.

Last week Jan and I went to Symphony Hall in Birmingham to attend a CBSO concert. The weather was atrocious - heavy rain and wind etc - and the traffic jams on the way made us wonder whether our journey was really worthwhile. We needn't have worried. We were treated to a fantastic concert. Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto was performed with consumate skill and gusto by Christian Tetzlaff, and the orchestra - brilliantly conducted by Edward Gardner - gave superb performances of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture and Mahler's 1st Symphony. What more could we ask for? What a shame the hall was 1/3 empty.

We are so lucky to have an orchestra of the quality of the CBSO available to us, and a fantastic venue like Symphony Hall. Here's to the next time!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 14 November 2007

It's that time of year again. Here in the UK the nights have well and truly drawn in; the weather is colder the clocks have been turned back an hour and the garden has been tidied up. Christmas looms on the horizon and the shops are getting busier. I think there is a good case to be made in favour of hibernation - in fact I've probably just made it! Still, these colder, darker evenings are the perfect time for a bit of family history research on your computer.

In the last couple of weeks I've completed (for now) the Archer research I've been doing over the past couple of months. When stuck together the resulting family tree extended pretty well across our lounge - a most impressive spectacle! I hope that Brenda was pleased with it - I certainly enjoyed working on it.

I had a nasty shock on Sunday, when I realised that my memory stick must have been in my shirt pocket when that garment was consigned to our washing machine! Oh my goodness; I had done a lot of work on a local history project and not saved it to my computer. I cursed my stupidity and prayed!

The memory stick was found in the washing machine and with bated breath I slotted it into my computer. Nothing. The computer did not register its presence in the usb port. Oh dear - all that work lost due to my failure to make sure the data was secure!

But salvation was at hand in the form of my resident genius, aka younger son. He told me that when the memory stick dries out properly it may prove to be ok, and sure enough, that was the case! Last evening I was able to see all my precious data on the computer screen. Thank goodness! Much as I enjoy local history research I did not really want to reprise a couple of months' work.

The moral of this tale is that we should always back up our data. I hope that this near escape has taught me a lesson, but knowing me I'll probably regress again at some time.

Thanks to some help from my cousin Pat we've partly cracked the problem of the Devon Guyatts. I'm not sure whether or not I've mentioned this particular problem before, but in case not it concerns the existence on the 1901 census of a youth named Alfred Guyatt in the household of Rowland Simmonds and his wife, Caroline nee Guyatt. Who was he?

Well, we think we have found the answer, but have a little more work to do to clear the matter up beyond all doubt. I won't go through it in detail here, but if any of you are interested in this poser please feel free to drop me an email and I'll explain it to you.

More developments. Thanks to a contact made via the website Jan has made contact with a distant cousin on her Carmarthenshire Richards line. The gent in question still lives in the area inhabited by his forebears in the nineteenth century; lucky fellow. Carmarthenshire is a truly beautiful part of the UK.

I've booked a microfiche reader at Stafford Records Office for a couple of hours this coming Saturday, so that I can check the Cheadle, Staffs registers for Blagg events. I mentioned the Blaggs in previous posts a while ago. They were a prosperous midlands family, one of whom married into the Hunt family and lived the rest of her days in Kidbrooke, now in south east London but then in Kent.

Finally for today, have you noticed that the non-conformist non-parochial records held by The National Archives in classes RG4 and RG5 have now appeared on the web? They can be seen at I have already used these records extensively at the Family Records Centre, as quite a number of Bankes descendants were non-conformists, but I shall certainly be making good use of this resource in the future.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 29 October 2007

Yes, I know I'm late with this post. I'm sorry to have disappointed my avid readers over the past few weeks, but I simply have not found time to post until now. How hectic life is for a treer!

What have I been doing since I last posted to this blog?

Well, I've attended two family history fairs- at Shrewsbury and Telford - and I've been editing the next edition of the Shropshire FHS Journal - due out in December. On top of that I've been obeying the edict of Voltaire and concentrating on my garden. There is so much to do in the garden in the autumn, and I've been assiduously tidying things up for the year. In fact the weather in the UK is quite warm for the time of year, so my plants have gone on flowering through the autumn. A lovely show. All ripped out now, though.

On top of all that I have been working hard on my family history records. I have had great fun these past few weeks on a number of activities. Firstly I updated all my Culshaw information, and then had the delight of receiving some lovely Culshaw photos from Chris. Wonderful! I've mentioned previously how much delight I get from seeing photos of people whose names appear on my family tree and this was joy unabated! I'm sorry to say that photographs are an area where my records are severely lacking - my family simply don't seem to have kept any. Most disappointing, but I truly treasure the pics that I have.

I've spent much time working on the Archer records. It had been my hope that by the time Brenda returns from Canada I would have completed this work and sent her my tree, but I'm afraid I have failed to meet this deadline. However, I'm not too far away from completing the task, so I hope it won't be many more days before I can commit a package to the post. Sorry Brenda, if you are reading this.

I think I mentioned , a few weeks ago, that we were planning to visit London and enjoy a tour of the new Haberdashers' Hall. Well, Helen and I did, indeed, go to London a week ago but, alas, were not able to go to the Hall. This was because the Haberdashers' Company received a late booking for the hall, and it was being used for a function on the day. This was a big disappointment for us, but we hope to be able to go to the metropolis next Spring, and maybe then we shall be able to visit Haberdashers' Hall.

Having got over that disappointment we put our time in London to very good use. We went to Guildhall Library and consulted some parish registers and probate records, gathering a clutch of Archer entries which in part confirmed Brenda's work, and in part added new information. Having enjoyed success at Guildhall Library, we hurried off on the tube to Islington and visited London Metropolitan Archives, where we enjoyed further success. I was able to see a couple of entries in the Middlesex Deeds Registers that related to the property transactions of John Bankes. Neither of these gave me any more genealogical information, but were further grist to the mill. We also found a number of parish register entries relating to our research on the Collyer, Smedley, Heppell and Hunt lines and the apprenticeship indenture of Samuel William Archer (1790 - 1870). This last record held a bit of a surprise insofar as Samuel, who was a Watch Maker, was a Freeman of the Baker's Company. I realise that Freemen did not necessarily have to be free of the Company strictly related to their trade - after all, John Bankes - a Carpenter and property dealer - was a Freeman of the Haberdashers' Company - but it certainly seems a trifle odd to me that a man who served his time as an apprentice watchmaker became a Freeman of the Bakers' Company. This situation seems to have arisen because Thomas Ward, Samuel's Master, was himself Free of the Bakers' Company, so presumably the same applied to all his apprentices.

It all goes to show that we never know what the next treeing discovery will bring. Life truly is full of surprises!

After a burger on Euston station we made the journey back to the midlands, arriving at home a bit tired, but thoroughly satisfied with our efforts for the day.

I think that is an appropriate point at which to close for tonight. Happy hunting to you all!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 8 October 2007

Time for another post.

I'm glad to say that my treeing activities are as busy as ever - busier maybe! The problem is how to keep up with it all!

In the past couple of weeks I've done some more work on the Culshaw material that I mentioned in my last entry. You will be able to see the additional content when I next update my website I'm hoping that I shall be able to do this just after the new year, but am struggling to get all the material ready in time.

I've had some more information from Brenda on the Archer line, and am working my way through that at present. I find this line very interesting - many of the Archers were watchmakers, and I am having great fun trying to trace them on censuses. I think I've added one or two extra names to the tree, and I've certainly learned a lot about the family.

Brenda has also sent me some lovely photos, which I am delighted to receive. It is always wonderful to see a photo of somebody whose name appears in our records. It brings history to life!

I have had a look at the online index to Abney Park Cemetery, and am pretty confident that I've identified the burials of some of the Archers there. Another lead to investigate.

I think it may be possible to add to our knowledge of the Archers by looking in the Clockmaker Company records at Guildhall Library, London, or London Metropolitan Archives, and I hope that I may be able to have ago at this in the next few weeks. Livery company records have proved very useful to me in the past. Apprenticeship records can tell us the identity of the father of an individual, and his (or her) age at a given date. Additionally, if the person we are researching played a part in the activities of a livery company he or she may well feature quite often in the company records. For instance, this was true of John Bankes, who served on the Court of Assistants of the Haberdashers' Company.

My cousin Pat in Wales has done some research into the Devon Guyatts, and may well have found the answer to an outstanding conundrum, so I'm very grateful to her. She has also responded to my question in my last blog entry, and sent me some information relating to the Simpsons of Carmarthenshire, which is great. Thanks very much Pat, if you are reading this.

In a couple of weeks time I am hoping to make my first ever visit to the new Haberdashers' Hall in London, along with Jan and Helen. We are really looking forward to this trip, so hope that there are no last minute snags to prevent us going. I'll let you know how we get on.

Finally, I would just like to express my disgust at the impending closure of the Family Records Centre in London. This is going to make life much harder for most people travelling to London to carry out their research. The extra journey out of London to Kew will reduce the amount of time people have in which to do their research, and also add to their costs. Not only that, but we shall lose the ONS facility for ordering certificates in person. Unfortunately family historians are not a powerful lobby group, so have no influence on this particular Government cutback, but we do have our votes, to use when the opportunity arises!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 23 September 2007

Hello again

It's been about ten days since my last post. In that time I have been working mainly on my Culshaw line - the first time I've done so for quite a time.

Last January I received a really great family tree from a Culshaw researcher. It adds a new chunk to my existing tree - showing the line down from Benjamin Culshaw (c1828-aft 1900) and his wife Barbara Blackwell (C1828-Aft 1891). Benjamin was a son of Thomas Culshaw (c1788-1864) and his wife Margery Cheetham (c1789-1876). He was also a brother of my direct ancestor - James Culshaw (c1834-1923).

I have had great fun studying the new information, looking for more information about the people concerned, and adding the new data to my tree. I've not finished the job yet, but will hopefully be able to do so in the forthcoming days.

My Culshaw research has been stuck at the same point for the best part of 20 years. I know that John Culshaw was born c1760 in the Ormskirk area of Lancashire, that he married Ellen Hesketh at Ormskirk in 1787 and that the couple had at least five children between 1788 and 1798. The family moved to Leyland some time before 1820, and later my direct forebears moved the short distance to Farington.

My problem lies in identifying the parents of John Culshaw (b c1760). There were quite a number of Culshaws in the Ormskirk area at the time, and generally speaking they were quite humble folk. I have not yet been able to find any records that enable me to identify the next generation of my ancastors. I have tried a search of the Culshaw wills, but that did not yield any useful information.

A further development this week was a contact from a Richards researcher who may well prove to be a cousin of my wife - Jan. This research is centred on Carmarthenshire. The omens are looking quite promising that her Margaret Richards who married David Simpson and lived at Glantowy, Llanegwad before dying in the 1840s may well be connected to our Richards clan, which also had associations with Glantowy, Llanegwad in about the same period.

If, by any chance, you think that you may be able to help us solve this conundrums, I would be delighted to hear from you.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 11 September 2007

Last weekend we went for a short break in Carmarthenshire. We were encouraged to do this by the prospect of going to the Proms in the Park concert in Singleton park, Swansea on Saturday (8th September), but we also took the opportunity to visit my cousin - Pat, and her husband John. We stayed at our favourite B & B, enjoyed fantastic breakfasts and some lovely weather. Went to a couple of places we had not previously visited, and spent a fascinating couple of hours looking at antiques. Do you think we were able to resist temptation in the antiques shop? Of course not!

The concert was great. Aled Jones was the compere, and the performers included two fine sopranos - Natasha Marsh and Rosemary Joshua - as well as that fine euphonium player David Childs (and his dad). We had a smashing time - lots of great music played by the BBC Welsh National Orchestra, and lots of audience participation. There's something about a crowd of Welsh folk in full voice!

There were many thousands of people at the concert on what was a lovely day. Absolutely excellent, and we hope that we may be able to repeat the experience (including the weather!) sometime in the future.

On the treeing frontI have received a lovely family tree from my newly found Archer cousin. I haven't yet had time to study it in depth, but it is apparent that it will add considerably to my knowledge, as I had no previous knowledge of this particular line.

Our Archers are an interesting family. My Nathan was a printer in London (1793-1845). He appears to have died a most unpleasant death - I certainly won't share the details of it with you - leaving behind a widow - Mary Ann (Stephens) Archer (1792-1885) and a daughter - Mary Ann Archer (b 1830). Mary Ann married a certain John Brown Smith. I have traced her on the 1881 census, living as a widow in Hackney, Middlesex, but have not yet managed to find out when and where she died.

Nathan's parents were Thomas Archer (c1752-c1810) and Hannah Bide (c1760 - aft 1809). Thomas was a watch finisher. I have a note of his apprenticeship (1763) but - wouldn't you know it? - it does not state his parents' names. Hopefully we may be able to extend the line back in time a bit sometime soon.

Nathan had a number of siblings, and my new found cousin is descended from one of them - Thomas Archer (1786-bef 1870).

I'll let you know how this research develops. As the records we need are likely to be held in London it is likely to be a fairly long term project for me.

Other than that I've reprised my Guyatt research and added a little more information. I had previously failed to find William Guyatt (bn c1823 at High Wycombe) and his family on the 1871 census. Now I know why. His surname was indexed on Ancestry as Geogatt. When I found him he was listed as a patient in St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. Where were his children? I thought. Well, they were indexed as Guryutt and living together in a household in Hackney. Trust me, the census entries do not look anything like the names in the index. It just goes to show, once again, that we need to think laterally and try every search method we can think of when we search for our forebears in indexes.

Farewell for now - and happy hunting!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 29 August 2007

I've spent quite a bit of time this week looking at the Blagg family of Cheadle, Staffordshire. Although they were (are) not Bankes descendants in the strict sense, one of their number married Arthur Ackland Hunt in 1879, and therefore the family feature on the pedigree. I had carried out some research into the Blaggs some time ago, and my interest in them has now been stirred again by the new contact I referred to last week, who is descended from Arthur Ackland Hunt.

The Blaggs were very prosperous people. They lived in Cheadle for most of the nineteenth century, and appear to have links to the Nottinghamshire Blaggs, who lived in the Mansfield area. Among the items I have managed to obtain are:

  • Transcriptive summaries of a number of legal documents relating to these people,
  • Census entries
  • Gravestone inscriptions
  • Biographical notes relating to a family member who was particularly well known.
  • A photograph of a sampler made by a family member in the nineteenth century
  • A photograph of the family home in Cheadle - sadly since demolished.

All this without leaving my keyboard. Amazing! You can see why I missed my internet access so much when it was denied to me for a few weeks.

The internet is a truly remarkable means to family history research, and we should all feel very grateful that we live in the internet age. It is important, however, that we treat the information we obtain with a degree of circumspection. The material I describe above comes from what I would consider to be reliable websites -, Nottingham University etc. I therefore feel pretty confident that it is accurate. However, not all websites are that reliable in terms of the quality of the information they display, so we shouldn't view them uncritically. This applies equally to my site - . Although I try to be as accurate as I can in compiling the information that goes online I am as prone to error as the next person! If you spot any errors on the website I'd be grateful if you would let me know.

Further excitement this week - I've been contacted by a lady who visited the website and is descended from our common ancestors Thomas Archer and Hannah Bide, who married in London in 1794. She is therefore my cousin, and I'm very glad to hear from her. I look forward to exchanging information with her and furthering our research. I'm sure that we shall be able to help one another very much.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 20 August 2007

I'm back!

At last I am able to resume posting to this blog!

If you have missed me over past four weeks, during which my internet services were not working, I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. I won't even try to explain why I was not able to receive internet & email services over this period. Suffice to say that although internet service providers are no doubt very good at what they do in normal circumstances, my experience is that they do not cope at all well when something unexpected happens.

Anyway, I'm back with a new ISP, so here goes ...

I spent ten days of the past four weeks on holiday. We went to Lake Garda in Northern Italy, and had a really super time. Jan and I were on the go for pretty much all of our sojourn in Italy - visiting places of great beauty and interest. Among our treats were visits to Verona and Venice - both quite superb cities. I'd love to go there again some time, but for now am grateful to have been to both places just for one day.

The main reason why we went to Northern Italy was to enable us to visit the ampitheatre in Verona and see an opera performed there. We did just that. We saw a fine performance of Verdi's Aida - lavishly produced and superbly performed. The only downer was the discomfort we - and the other punters - felt from sitting on the stone steps of the ampitheatre for five hours! Even the seat pad that we hired could not save our backsides from a quite uncomfortable experience. Next time we go we shall book reserved seats!

Also, since I last made an entry on this blog, the English football season has started. I'm back to my usual seat, supporting my local club, and enjoying that greatly.

I expect you are wondering whether we have had any interesting treeing developments these past few weeks. Well, as I have not been able to use the internet, and I haven't visited any records offices, you will understand that progress has been limited of late. However, there are a few items that I shall mention.

Over the past few weeks I have taken the opportunity to enter more records on to my family history software, and thus bring my records a bit more up to date. This has not generated any new information to speak of, but does mean that when we next update the geoffsgenealogy website there will be more information available to view on the family tree.

I had a letter from my cousin Pat, in Carmarthenshire. She told me off for not visiting her when we were down in her neck of the woods in May, and also sent me some very interesting material that she has gathered to add to the Guyatt research I have described in earlier postings on this blog. I shall be reverting to the Guyatts in the near future, and will certainly write to Pat very soon.

One of the joys of family history research is the contacts we get with fellow researchers who are interested in our lines of research. I have enjoyed two such contacts in the past few weeks. One was from a lady who is descended from Anne Deane, half sister to John Bankes, on the Fiveash line. We enjoyed an exchange of information which, I think, was of value to both of us. The other contact has occurred in the last few days. I have been contacted by a Bankes Descendant on the Hunt line. This person is descended from Arthur Ackland Hunt, the artist who features on my website. The Hunts are fairly closely related to my family, and I am delighted to have made contact with a member of that clan. We have already helped one another by exchanging information, and hopefully we shall be able to build on that in the future.

I'll keep you posted on these, and other developments as we go along. For now it is time for me to go to work, so I'll sign off until next week.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Geoff's Genealogy Update 30 July 07

Unfortunately, due to a technical problem, there will be no blog updates for the next few days. But all being well the blog will be back soon! Watch this space...

Thursday, 19 July 2007

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 .....

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 12 July 2007

First the bad news. We have had to disable the email links on the Geoffs Genealogy website, so unfortunately if you send me a message via one of those links it will not reach me. The reason for this is that last Sunday some immensely clever person managed to send me 1800 returned mail messages. I know that once this has happened the volume of such spam is only likely to grow, so had no choice but to disable the address. This, I'm afraid, is the price you pay for using an email address on the web.

When we have time we will, no doubt, set up an alternative means of contact for visitors to the site to use, but that won't happen immediately. I'll keep you posted.

Of course, you can always contact me via this blog.

On the treeing front, not much to report this week. I completed my viewing of the High Wycombe baptisms at my local LDS Family History Center - noting all Wright entries back to 1750. To advance this research I need to look at some more films - marriages particularly. I'll get to that eventually, all being well. For now, I'm giving myself a few weeks off from visiting the LDS Family History Center. My search of this film confirmed, again, that my Guyatts were only at High Wycombe for a short time. I wonder where they were previously?

Most of my time these past few days has been spent working on the next edition of the Shropshire FHS Journal, which will be with the members in September. It's almost finished, and contains some good stuff.

I've also carried on updating my family history records with all the material we've discovered recently. The latest additions are the items I found when we visited The National Archives in May. Entries from the Calendar of Wills proved in the Principal Probate Registry.

Tonight we are off to see the open air production of Much Ado about Nothing at Stafford Castle. The weather doesn't look too great, but fingers crossed! At least the audience are under cover!

Have a good week.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 03 July 2007

This has been a fairly quiet week on the treeing front. My only excursion was to the LDS Family History Center at Telford last Thursday, where I continued my progress working on the baptisms registers of High Wycombe.

I took the precaution of re-searching the entries dated from 1820 onwards, looking for Guyatt entries. I had already looked at this period during my visit to Aylesbury in April, but reprised it in case I had missed anything. Sure enough, there was one entry that had escaped my eagle eye the first time. It was the baptism of the first child of James Guyatt and his wife, Elizabeth. Caroline Matilda Guyatt was baptised on 14 September 1845, and was duly noted.

I am now as confident as I can be that I have recorded all the Guyatt entries from this record.

I then started looking for Wright entries prior to 1782, when Joseph Wright was born. So far I've got back to 1770, and noted twelve entries. Of course, it is unlikely that all the entries are relevant to my research, but if I note them all now some of them will probably fall into place when I get more information to link up with them. It seems likely that my ancestor was Joseph Wright, who married Elizabeth Atkins in 1782. I am therefore noting Atkins entries as well.

For my purposes it is encouraging that there appear to have been few people named Wright and Atkins in the registers at High Wycombe at the time I am interested in. Hopefully this will be an advantage in trying to trace my line.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 26 June 2007

The past week has provided much of interest.

Last Tuesday I was at a monthly meeting of the Shropshire Family History Society at the shirehall, Shrewsbury. While we were hearing a talk about the history of Shrewsbury Town Football Club and their now defunct ground - the Gay Meadow - all hell let loose outside! Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and the rain came down with such force as is rarely seen in this part of the world. The lights went out for a short while, but our speaker manfully carried on!

By the time I left for home the rain had eased a little - it was by then only thrashing it down! The M54 motorway was awash, as were parts of Newport town centre. Not a good night to be driving! I was glad to get home.

On Thursday last I was booked in for a session at the LDS Family History Center. The usual venue is having some work done to its roof, so the Family History Center has been temporarily relocated in the new LDS temple at Lawley. What a magnificent edifice that is! It really stands out - being visible from quite a way off. A white building, built in what I would describe as a colonial style. The inside is also impressive.

The object of my research this time was the Wright family of High Wycombe. I had arranged the loan of a microfilm containing baptisms at High Wycombe 1782-1810, but in fact the film contains records from a greater time frame than that. I found the baptisms of the children of Joseph & Elizabeth Wright - nine of them between 1782 and 1802 - and then another, dated 1810. My ancestor - Hannah - was baptised in 1789. There seems little doubt that this is "my" family, as there were no other Wrights bearing the names Joseph and Elizabeth.

I shall return to the Family History Center this Thursday, and research this film further. I'm looking for any further Wright entries, as they may prove to be relevant to my research.

Last Friday evening Jan and I were looking after our grandchildren, and I passed away the hours by doing a bit of internet research, mainly on I looked at a couple of lines, but had the most success with the Heppells. I am quite amazed at the success I've had with this line of research since I started looking at it last Autumn.

On this occasion my main sighting was Richard Bryan Heppell (born 1812 in Sunderland). On the 1851 census I found him living with his spouse and two sons at Mile End Old Town, Middlesex. I then looked at the Civil Registration index and found his marriage, which took place in December 1837. His wife was Ann Maria Holt, born c1817 in Somerstown, Middlesex, and their marriage took place in St Pancras registration district. Furthermore, I traced both his sons in the births index, born 1838 and 1840 in Islington registration district.I then looked for the deaths of Richard and Ann. Free BMD told me that there were two entries for the name Richard Bryan Heppell, one in Sunderland in 1854 and one in Stepney in 1861. I pretty well knew that the 1861 entry would be my man, but needed to prove it to myself - after all, he could have moved back to Sunderland and died there. I therefore sought him on the 1861 census in Stepney, and I found him - albeit indexed as Keppell! There is no doubt that the man who died in September 1861 was the man I was interested in - the son of George Bryan Heppell (1777-1832). I wonder who the man who died in Sunderland in 1854 was. Probably a relation, I would imagine, as the Bryan name appears a number of times in "my" Heppells. I shall have to look into that.

All this leads to further questions (wouldn't you know it!). What became of the two boys, and when did Ann Maria (Holt) Heppell die? I haven't yet started to investigate the boys, but I have found a death in March quarter 1886 that may well relate to Ann. The age ties up, and the location was Stepney. However, I need to prove it, and if this was her it begs the question of where Ann was in the period 1861-1886? I haven't yet found her on the censuses.

Incidentally "my" Richard Bryan Heppell had a most interesting occupation. He was a Coal Meter. I had never before heard of such an occupation, so I looked it up on an online dictionary at This told me that a Coal Meter was 'A licensed or official coal measurer in London'. Further information on Richard's occupation came from 'Coal Trade: Introduction' the Journal of the House of Lords: volume 62: 1830, pp. 1435-437. URL:, which told me that:

'The Coal is heaved out of the Hold of the Ship into the Lighter under the Inspection of a Meter appointed by the Corporation of the City of London. He is entitled to have an Assistant. The Meter is paid Three Shillings a Day, and Three and Sixpence in lieu of Eating and Drinking, although generally the Captain invites him to Dinner.These Payments are in addition to Four-pence per Chaldron Metage, paid to the Corporation of London, out of which they allow One Penny per Chaldron to the Working Meter, and provide the Vats, leaving a Clear Annual Surplus of about £16,000, which is applied to the general Purposes of the Corporation, and to One Halfpenny per Chaldron paid the Meter by Government.

Evidently Richard had a very responsible job. I shall have to check whether there are any records of his employment in the Corporation of London archives.

That's about all for now, until next week.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 15 June 2007

The fact that this is my first posting since 5 June is indicitave of the fact that I have been quite busy these past ten days. During this period I have made progress on several lines of research.

Firstly, on 7 June I went to the LDS Family History Center to complete my research into the Baptisms at Monkwearmouth, Co Durham, 1716-1823. I searched the last part of the microfilm, and found records of the baptisms of three of the children of George Bryan Heppell and his wife, Ann nee Liddle. These entries went beyond the basic information to record the birth dates of the children and their mother's maiden name. Very valuable information.

Having completed this research, I made a start on my next research enterprise - searching the records of baptisms at Newington, Surrey, for entries relating to my Smedley clan. I had already searched the IGI for these entries, and knew that the film should contain records of the baptisms of six daughters of William and Mary Smedley, so the discovery of these records was no surprise to me. What was a surprise, however, was an 'extra' Smedley baptism - their son, William, baptised on 20 January 1828. This came near the end of the register, after the girls' entries, and its discovery was quite a thrill. Once again, this register contained the birth dates of the children, and in the case of the entry relating to William, it included the annotation "Father deceased". I had surmised that William had probably died before the date of the 1841 Census, but here was a piece of information that narrowed down the date of his demise to within nine months! Especially valuable because up to the date of the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837 such events are often difficult to trace.

In addition to the above gleanings, I had some success on the Guyatt front. I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that I knew of a marriage at Eton in January 1844 between a certain James Guyatt and Elizabeth Holden. I believed that this James may have been the brother of "my" John Guyatt (bap 1827 at High Wycombe), but was surprised to see that he had strayed to Eton. Well, I ordered the relevant marriage certificate, which duly arrived the other day. As I had hoped, it showed that James was a hairdresser, and his father was John Guyatt, Carpenter. This fitted my man, but was not conclusive proof of his identity. However, the clinching evidence was the fact that the witnesses to the marriage were William Guyatt and Amelia Harding. Knowing that "my" James had a brother named William who married a lady named Amelia, I thought that this was probably the proof I sought. Sure enough, when I checked the Civil Registration Indexes online at I found that in 1846 William Guyatt married Amelia Harding in London. Hey presto, two genealogical problems were solved by one document!

My research is "on a roll" at the moment! Hopefully, when I next update the blog I will have yet more progress to report.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 5 June 2007

As the three microfilms that I had ordered from the LDS all arrived together last week I thought I'd better get stuck into loking at them, so last Tuesday I went to my local Mormons' Family History Center.

I decided to start with the film that contains late c18 to early c19 baptisms at St Peter Monkwearmouth, searching for Heppell events. See my previous posts re my Heppell research if you wonder what on earth I'm on about!

As I started searching I noted that the events were listed as births, rather than baptisms, and were grouped by family. In other words, you saw all the births for one family, all recorded together, then all the events for another family and so on. Thus, the events relating to "my" Heppells were all recorded in a cluster. In twenty years of treeing I've never seen baptisms/births recorded in this way. After a while the reason for this became clear.

The parish register for contains an annotation written by the vicar, which states that on 16 October 1785 there was a fire at the clergyman’s home, which destroyed the previous original registers. The records that had been lost were listed as follows:

Marriages up to 16 October 1785
Baptisms up to 2 September 1779
Burials up to 3 January 1768

The register of births (sic) was reconstructed by advertising for people who had been involved in baptisms at the church to bring the relevant documentation to the church, where it was re-recorded. Thus, births were listed by family. This certainly makes it easier to search the register, as once you find the first entry you find the lot. Anyway, after each family’s entries the informant signed a declaration as follows:

“The above details taken from a copy in my possession so witness my hand this 27 Day of June 1791 (signed) John Heppell"

John Heppell was the ancestor of my mother's cousin - Alice (Heppell) Wren, and he had a very fine signature indeed. If you can judge from the signature he must have been quite well educated. I discovered that he earned his living as a coal fitter, and, curious to find out what this term meant, I googled it. I discovered that a coal fitter was a “middle man” who arranged the sale of coal between the coal mine owners and the purchasers. As such, he was probably a bit above the ordinary working man.

I think I have now pushed my Heppell research back to the marriage of John Heppell to Mary Abbs at Monkwearmouth St Peter’s on 19 December 1768. Although I have only seen this record on the IGI I feel confident that this is the correct entry, because "my lot" seem to have been the only Heppells in the parish. Naturally, I looked on the IGI for a baptism of John Heppell, and here things became a bit trickier, as there were a number of candidates, none of whom were baptised at Monkwearmouth. My favourite would be John Heppell, baptised 28 Feb 1737 at Chester le Street – about 20 miles from Monkwearmouth, but I am probably wrong. The reasons why I favour this man are twofold, and highly suspect. Firstly, I note that John Heppell's son George Bryan Heppell’s first wife – Mary Fish – came from Chester le Street, and their marriage took place there. Secondly, of all the candidates listed on the IGI, the date of this man’s baptism best fits my idea of when I would expect our man to have been born.

I’m not sure how much further I shall pursue these Heppells. I’m very pleased with what I have achieved, and may decide to call it a day at this point. However, Durham is a beautiful county, and if Jan and I should once again go there for a holiday I would certainly not rule out a visit to the repository that holds the records for the county.

I shall return to the Family History Library on 7 June, to continue looking at these microfilms.

See you next week.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 28 May 2007

Last Thursday (24 may) I went on a Shropshire Family History Sovciety 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.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 21 May 2007

On Tuesday last, 14 May, I attended a monthly meeting of the Shropshire Family History Society at Shrewsbury, as I usually do on the third Tuesday of the month. The speaker gave a most interesting talk about Rev Robert Foulkes, a Shropshire parish priest who was executed for murder at Tyburn in London in 1679, after a trial at the Old Bailey. This tale has everything - sex, violence and hypocrisy - all the ingredients for an attractive tale! Added to that, the speaker gave us an outline of the main source he had used - the records of the seventeenth century ecclesiastical courts. These records contain witness statements by people who took part in legal proceedings, and provide a rare opportunity to hear the account of the ordinary man in the street (albeit after some amendment by the lawyers). Fascinating.

As a matter of interest if you want to read a transcription of the trial of Foulkes you can do so at This is a site that I have used a number of times in researching my Jacobsons and Collyers, some of whom played a part in trials at the Old Bailey (as witnesses, you understand!).

As ever, I've been busily entering details of Bankes descendants into my database. I've just about completed work on the Guyatt and Smedley lines for now. Through the LDS I have ordered a microfilm of the parish register at Newington, Surrey, which will enable me to check out the entries I recently found on the IGI. These entries appear to record the early nineteenth century baptisms of the siblings of "my" Caroline Smedley.

On Thursday I am going on a coach trip organised by the Shropshire Family History Society to visit the National Archives at Kew, London. I have a great long list of items to search at Kew but, as ever, will not have time to acomplish more than a small proportion of them. Ce'st la vie!

I'll let you know how I get on next week.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 14 May 2007

Once again I have spent most of my available time this week adding information to my family history database. I've been concentrating on adding the recently discovered Guyatt material, and have made good progress.

As a consequence of our recent visit to Buckinghamshire Records Office at Aylesbury I have obtained some more potentially exciting information regarding the family of Hannah Wright (c1789 - >1841), who married "my" John Guyatt at High Wycombe in 1817. The Bucks Family History Society has compiled a name index for the county. They have obviously carried out a very thorough trawl through the county's records, and against the name of each individual appearing in the archives they have logged the detail gleaned from each record. The result is a fantastic research tool; with luck, you can go directly to the information you want.

I should add that this index is not complete yet, but it is very extensive and if you have Buckinghamshire ancestry you really must make use of it.

Anyway, from this index I have gained a series or references relating to what seems to be "my" Wright family. From this I learn that Hannah's parents were probably Joseph Wright and Elizabeth Atkins, who married at West Wycombe on 8 July 1782. I have a list of what appear to have been Hannah's siblings. there were nine of them, born between 1782 and 1810.

This brings me to one of my favourite "hobby horses" (sorry!). If you are interested in family history you really must make use of family history societies. Join them, and avail yourself of the wonderful finding aids that they have produced. Typically, you may find that the society local to your research has produced census indexes, parish register indexes, indexes to quarter sessions records etc. All societies that I know of have members' interests database, and offer the opportunity for you to have your interests published in print or on the web - or both. Not only that, members will receive a society journal several times a year. This will contain a wealth of information - members' articles about their research, notices, members' interests and the like. As if that wasn't enough, you also get the opportunity to attend meetings of the society (usually held monthly) where you can meet other members and exchange experiences and ideas.

I have visited my local LDS Family History Center, and ordered the parish registers for High Wycombe on three months loan. The film may take a while to come, but when it arrives I should be able to view the actual records relating to the baptisms of Hannah Wright and her siblings, and thus add still more information to my records.

That's another facility you should make use of - your local LDS Family History Center. Your family history society will be able to tell you where your nearest one is, and how you can make use of it!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 8 May 2007

Once again I'm a bit late in making this post. A number of events have conspired to bring this about.

Firstly there was a vital football match to go to on Saturday (5 May) - my team won, and gained promotion for the second time in three years! Brilliant. Non league football is so much more exciting that that Premiership stuff!

Then there was a very pleasant couple of days spent with my dearly beloved in Carmarthenshire. The weather finally gave out after a fantastic few weeks of summer-like conditions, but it was not too bad, and we have alovely time.

Whilst in Wales Jan and I passed through Lampeter, in Cardiganshire. As I'm sure you will understand, a treeing addict like me could not resist calling on some Bankes descendants who are buried in the churchyard at Lampeter. We spent an interesting hour checking on gravestones, and collected some promising looking monumental inscriptions, viz:

John Price (c1796-1851) of Lampeter and his wife Mary (nee Price) (c1804-1869) were in one grave, with several of their children. In another grave was one of their sons - David Price (1831-1911), his second wife Anne (nee Jones) (c1838-1921) and their daughter Mary Ann (nee Price) Evans (c1882-1966).

Further over was the grave of Hugh Bankes Price (1865-1933) and his spouse Elizabeth Mary (nee Hayden) (d 1959). Sadly, this grave was in a very bad state of repair.

The last grave we found was that of a certain Marian Bankes Davies (1869-1940) and her spouse John Davies (1868-1951). They had at one time been resident at Cruc-y-Bar. To judge from the use of the Bankes name it seems likely that Marian featured on the Bankes pedigree, but at present I can't fit her in. If anybody reading this knows who this lady was I'd appreciate an email via my website

I know it's a bit of a long shot, but in this fascinating hobby you never know where the next bit of information is coming from.

I'll now revert to entering all that Guyatt data into my computer. See you next week.

Monday, 30 April 2007

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.

Monday, 23 April 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???.......

Monday, 16 April 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 16 April 2007

Hello there!

The last week has been a quiet one, as far as my research into the Bankes Pedigree is concerned. I have really been quite preoccupied with work on the June 2007 edition of the Shropshire Family History Society, so have not had time for much else. On top of this I have been enjoying my garden in the superb British Spring weather, visited Attingham - a splendid house just outside Shrewsbury which is owned and maintained by the National Trust - and on Friday last we went to Birmingham to see the Welsh National Opera perform Bizet's Carmen.

I think it fair to say that in general the average Brit does not care for opera - too "highbrow". I was the same until, in my early thirties, I studied Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro as part of a degree course. I approached it with some trepidation, but my eyes were opened to this most wonderful work of art, and I became aware of what I had missed up to that point in my life! Since then I have been hooked on opera. I don't understand the finer points of music, but I like to think that I do appreciate magnificent art when I see or hear it, and to see world class artists perform such wonderful material in a top class setting is surely one of the greatest treats available to man!

If you haven't realised the wonders of opera I suggest you try it as soon as you can. Approach it with an open mind, and see what happens!

Rant over. See you next week.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 09 April 2007

A happy Easter to all of you!

Here in the UK we are in the last few hours of the bank holiday weekend. It really has been a great weekend, with beautiful weather and these lovely light evenings.

The week has been a quiet one, as far as treeing is concerned. I've been busily working on the June 2007 edition of Shropshire Family History Journal, which I edit. It's coming on well - all on schedule.

I have gained a few items of information about the Bankes descendants, but have also met with some frustration. The frustration comes from my inability to find Herbert Davies (c1795 - pre 1861) and his wife - Mary Ann, nee Clear, on the London censuses. I have traced Mary Ann in the 1861, 1871 & 1881 CEBs, and she was enumerated as a widow on all of these. However, based on information I have re the birth dates of their children, I would expect to find Herbert & Mary Ann on the 1841 census and possibly on the 1851 census as well. No such luck.

If anybody can help me re these entries I shall be very grateful.

The information I have gained was kindly sent to me by a visitor to Geoffs Genealogy and relates to the Heale family of Devon and Somerset. Elizabeth Katherine W Heale married Rev William Starkie Shuttleworth in 1869. She died in 1904, and Rev Shuttleworth then married Amy Winifred Hunt, who was a Bankes descendant.

I am always delighted to receive information relating to the people on the Bankes Pedigree, so please do not hesitate to contact me.

That's about all for now, as my favourite soccer team are kicking off in a few minutes, in front of the Sky tv camera. Up the Addicks!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 02 April 2007

So a new month begins. Here in the UK Spring has well and truly sprung. My grass has been attacked twice by my lawnmower so far this season, and the Spring bulbs have been magnificent.

I have had some problems with my email over the past few days. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say that we are now up and running again.

Once again, I've spent my spare time this week updating family history records and doing a bit of research. The main finding this week concerns Ophelia Eliza Florence Worthey/Kerr/Smith - I told you about her two or three weeks ago. She was my mother's aunt, and I was trying to trace the key events in her life. Because her family did not always use her first forename when recording events I needed to prove that I had traced the correct records in compiling her history.

I have just received her birth certificate, which I traced during my visit two weeks ago to the Family Records centre in London. She was definitely named Ophelia by her parents when she was born in 1865, although on census entries her parents dropped her first name and called her Eliza. Maybe they decided Ophelia wasn't such a good idea after all! She was probably known as Eliza in family circles, and that is there was no mention of Ophelia when she married William Henry Kerr in 1882. I'm confident that both these records relate to "our" Ophelia, though. I think her father's name on both records is a reasonable indication of that.

I shall add these events to my records.

Must go now - I have to go to work and earn a crust!

Monday, 26 March 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 26 March 2007

I'm a bit late writing this week's entry on my blog. Maybe that's because we lost an hour in the weekend just passed! I have never liked the practice of adjusting the clocks by one hour in Spring & Autumn, but there we are - I just have to put up with it!

The highlight of the last week was my visit to London on Thursday. One of the many fine aspects of the Shropshire Family History Society is that they run several research trips to London each year, and as I have many London research interests I always try to go on these trips when I can.

This time I spent most of my time in the library of the Society of Genealogists. The SOG library in London is a wonderful treasure house of things genealogical. Non-members, such as myself, can use the facilities on payment of a fee. I paid for four hours use of the library. I had carried out some research in advance of the visit, and went armed with a series of references of documents to look up.

The main focus of my research was the archive of Marriage Licence Allegations, issued by the Faculty Office and the Vicar-General's Office, that are held by the SOG on microfilm. I found most of the items I looked for, and actually got a bonus - the 1836 marriage licence allegation for a certain Isabard Kingdom Brunel and his intended bride, Mary Elizabeth Horsley. This document has nothing at all to do with my research, but as I came across it I could not resist taking a copy!

When I had completed my work on the Marriage Licence Allegations I spent some time looking at the Wills Calendars of the Principal Probate Registry. I had a list of Bankes descendants to check out in these records, and found quite a few of the entries.

I was also able to look at some monumental inscriptions on the counties shelves. I won't bore you with the details - suffice to say that I did find something of interest.

As I still had a little time left after leaving the SOG I visited the Family Record Centre at Islington. Here I looked up the civil registration reference for my mother's aunt - Ophelia Kerr/Smith (nee Worthy). I wrote about my research into her in my blog entry a couple of weeks ago. Since my visit to London I have ordered a copy of Ophelia's birth certificate and the marriage certificate re her first marriage. If the content of these documents meets my expectations they should prove my theory re this lady's life story. Fingers crossed!

Having accomplished all these tasks, I spent the last few minutes of my visit to London checking out some more entries in the Wills Calendars of the Principal Probate Registry, and found a couple more items of interest.

All in all, this was a most successful excursion, and to cap it all we had an excellent trip back to Shropshire - arriving at Telford in record time!

Unfortunately the powers that be are closing the Family Record Centre by April 2008, so we shall lose our coach trips to central London. Shropshire will presumably still run trips to The National Archives at Kew, but although that repository holds many things of interest to me, it is well outside central London, and I shall find it more difficult to visit the records offices in central London that have been so valuable to me over the years.

See you next week.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 18 March 2007

Here we are again, another Sunday evening - the end of the weekend. Another working week beckons, but first I need to spend a few minutes updating this blog.

I have one or two items to mention re this week's developments.

Firstly. I was delighted to hear from my distant cousin - Joao in Brazil. He is descended from James Frederick Holliday (1853-1938). James emigrated to Brazil in 1880, and generally speaking the Holliday clan prospered in their new homeland.

I have had some problems communicating with Joao over the past year. His emails to me arrive fine all the time; mine to him always fail to reach him. I have no idea why. I seem able to email all my other correspondents successfully, but not Joao. Anyway, Joao has contacted me by using a different email address and I have successfully reached him with my reply. This may seem a very small thing to you, but to me it is great. I can now resume contact with my South American cousins and hopefully learn more about them!

Joao sent me some lovely portrait photos that were among his grandfather's possessions. They presumably portray family members, but he has no idea who they were. What a shame! I think that all family historians know the feeling of frustration that comes from unattributed family photos. I really must take the time to annotate my photo collection, in case any of my descendants is interested in my family history in the future.

My other bit of news also concerns a photograph. My contact in Canada, who is descended from Robert Hanham Collyer (RHC), phrenologist and showman etc, has sent me a photo of his great grandmother - Emily Jeans Clements (b 1847) - who was one of the wives of RHC. RHC married her when she was just seventeen years old and he was fifty. The marriage ended in the divorce courts in 1874.

The photo shows Emily as a young woman, and is really lovely. How wonderful to be able to look at somebody who until yesterday was just a name on the Bankes Pedigree. Photos add a new dimension to our family trees, and we should never waste an opportunity to get hold on them.

Have a good week.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 11 March 2007

If there is anybody out there who can help me with an aspect of my research that has puzzled me for twenty years I would be so pleased to hear from you.

On my website you can read about John Bankes, Citizen and Haberdasher of London, who died in 1719 and in his Will left various bequests for the benefit of members of his family and their descendants. One of his half sisters - Mary (Rand) Mitchell - was my direct ancestor.

I know a great deal about Bankes and his business affairs. I have details of properties that he owned, I have seen his portrait and have samples of his handwriting. However, the thing I am struggling with is his parentage. I have drawn a complete blank on this.

The record of his Freedom (gained by Redemption in 1672) says, in effect, that he moved to London to work on the reconstruction of the city after the fire of 1666, having previously served an apprenticeship as a Carpenter. I know it's a bit of a long shot, but if you are looking at a set of apprenticeship records any time - inside or outside London - I would be obliged if you would look out for a John Bankes, born circa 1650, apprenticed as a carpenter.

I can't offer a prize to the first person to find such an entry and let me know, but I can promise my heartfelt thanks!

Have a good week.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 4 March 2007

This has been a pretty quiet week for me, but one item that may be of interest concerns Dr Thomas Hunt (1798-1879).

You can read about him on my website (

I have traced him on all census returns in the period 1851-1871, but have never found him in 1841. I decided to have a go at this. Information I already have, from the Royal College of Surgeons and the records of baptisms of his children, leads me to believe that he was living at Herne Bay, Kent, at that time. To confirm this I found him in Pigot's Directory of 1840, at 11 Marine Terrace, Herne Bay.

It should be an easy task to find the census returns for Herne Bay, using However, I could not find them. I looked at all sorts of research aids, including the listing of census districts in Kent in 1841 on, various reference books that I have at home, and internet sites such as Wikipedia and Genuki. No luck. I know that births of the children of Thomas were registered in Blean registration district, so I looked at CEBs for Blean. No trace of Dt Hunt! I then tried searching Census Enumerators' Books (CEBs) for Herne. Again, no trace of the elusive doctor.

I have searched the index to the 1841 Census Returns on, looking for Thomas, his wife, and several of the children. No trace of any of them. I can quite accept that the family may not have been in Herne Bay on 7 June 1841, but surely, I thought, I should be able to find the census returns for Herne Bay!

When I looked at Pigot's Directory for Kent, published c1850, I started to think of a possible reason for this problem. The description of the township told me that Herne Bay was fairly new creation, and had really not existed as a town before the mid 1830s. This raised the possibility in my mind that I was looking for a place that, as far as officialdom was concerned, did not exist in 1841! If this was the case, maybe the people who lived in Herne Bay were not enumerated, or alternatively, they may have been enumerated under the name of a nearby settlement.

I decided to ask the locals. Finding the website of the Kent Family History Society I sent an email, asking whether they could kindly tell me where I can find the 1841 CEBs for Herne Bay. I received a reply in no time! It said that Herne Bay did not really exist in 1841. I then asked whether they could suggest to me where I may find the relevant census returns, and I await their reply.

I have gone through all this in some detail in order to demonstrate two points.

Firstly, it is often that case that what seems at first to be a routine piece of research can surprise us and take us into areas that we don't expect. It seems likely that in order to research the Hunt clan in 1841 I need to be aware of something of the local history. Part of the joy of family history for me is that we learn so many other things in addition to who our forebears were, and we shouldn't expect the often excellent indexes that we have at our disposal to provide us with every answer.

The other point I want to make is the great value of family history societies. I realise that as I serve on the committee of my local society I can be said to be biased, but these organisations are worth their weight in gold, believe me. They provide fellowship, and access to vast amounts of knowledge in a variety of forms. Invariably, a request for help to a family history society is met with a positive and helpful response, and I recommend that all of us should (a) join at least our local society and (b) make use of the great resources that they make available.

It is a sad fact that in these days of growing internet research resources, less and less people are joining family history societies, and if it comes to the point at which societies start to fold we shall all be the poorer for it.

I visited my local LDS Family History Center on Thursday last, only to find that the film that awaited me was not the one I had intended to order. Instead of containing Baptisms at Monkwearmouth in the early - mid nineteenth century it contained Burials for the nineteenth century and late eighteenth century. As I had already transcribed the burials entries that interest me, there was very little I could achieve by using this film. I therefore searched a twenty year period in the late eighteenth century that I had not seen previously, and then returned the film.

I have ordered the film containing the baptisms that I do want to search, and hope that it will arrive in a couple of weeks time.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Geoff's Genealogy Update 25 February 2007

Well, another week has rolled by. It's hard to believe that already two months have sped past since Christmas. Here in the UK the days are lengthening and our thoughts are turning to the joys that come with the spring and summer - gardening, holidays etc.

During the past week I have been diligently entering more data into my family history records. So what, you say; you've been doing that since the blog started. True. However, there was a bit of a difference this week.

My mother used to speak fondly of her uncle and aunt - James Archer Smith and his wife Ophelia. They were more prosperous than mum's family, and helped them in times of need. Mum bore the name Ophelia as a third forename, named after her aunt. She hated it!

Some months ago traced the marriage of James Archer Smith and Ophelia Eliza Florence Kerr in Shoreditch, London in 1901, and this week this record came to the top of my pile of items for entry. I noted that although the groom was a bachelor, his bride was a widow, and her father's name was George Worthy (deceased). In the interests of getting the whole story (or as much of it as is possible) I decided to research the Worthy/Kerr clans, using the censuses on, the Mormons family search website and Free BMD.

I had quite a bit of success in this enterprise, tracing the families on several censuses. Ophelia's parents were George (b c1826) and Annie (b c1829) Worthy, Londoners both, and for the most part living in the Shoreditch area in the second half of the nineteenth century. I failed to trace their marriage, so don't know Annie's maiden name. I have also been unable to trace George's birth. George and Annie were enumerated on the 1891 census, but as per the marriage certificate I mentioned above, George had died by September 1901, and as I cannot trace Ann on the 1901 census, I suspect that she also may had died by then.

I traced the marriage of Ophelia to William Henry Kerr in 1882 by using Free BMD. I also traced her with her spouse and 3 Kerr children on the 1891 census. Free BMD tells me that William Henry Kerr's death was registered in the December quarter 1897. Ah! I hear you say. Without buying the certificates you can't be sure of these facts. True. However, I am very confident that I am drawing the right conclusions. The age of the deceased William Kerr just about ties with the age on the 1891 census. I'll let you know if it transpires that I am wrong!

In 1901 Ophelia was enumerated with her seven Kerr children, living in 2 rooms! How on earth did they manage.

All of this information was news to me. I had no idea that Ophelia's marriage to James was her second marriage. Still less did I know that she had all those children! Mum never mentioned any of this. However, there is one other surprising fact that has arisen out of this piece of research. In the records that I have found this week Ophelia was recorded as Eliza Florence Worthy/Kerr No Ophelia. However, on her marriage and death certificates her name shows as Ophelia.I wonder why. Mum hated her third forename, although I must say I like it. I wonder whether her aunt also disliked the name so much that she wouldn't use it. Quite possible, but even if that were that case it surprises me that her parents didn't use it when giving information to the census enumerator.

I really need to round off this by tracing Ophelia's birth record, and seeing how she was named. I hope to be able to do this soon, and will let you know the outcome.

All this goes to reiterate what I said in this blog a few weeks ago - it's amazing how much research you can accomplish online, without leaving home.

Finally, the microfilm I ordered a couple of weeks ago has arrived at my local LDS family history centre, so I shall be going there this week to start searching it for Heppell baptisms at Monkwearmouth c1765-1830.

Happy hunting!


Monday, 19 February 2007

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!

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Geoff's Genealogy Update 12 February 2007

Another week of entering census data into my Family Tree Database. is a wonderful resource, enabling me to find so much information without leaving my desk. I keep on discovering so much about Bankes descendants - when I first started treeing about 20 years ago I could never have imagined such riches!

On Thursday I drove through the snow to my local LDS Family History Center and this third session completed my viewing of the Monkwearmouth Burials 1792-1845. seeking HEPPELL entries. I still don't know why there were so many burials of Militia men in the early 1800s - but there were! They came from Essex and Lancashire as well as the local militia. Maybe I'll find out sometime.

I noted that there were few HEPPELL entries, and this makes me wonder where my mum's cousin's clan emanated from. More research needed there! I've ordered a further microfilm - Baptisms at Monkwearmouth late C18 - early C19. It will probably be available to me in a few weeks time.

This week my younger son and I bought a laptop computer. I haven't got to grips with it yet, but it looks very good, and should be useful on visits to records offices. Alex wants it for more meaningful reasons - to do with his course at Uni. I need to get my genealogy software installed, but there's no immediate rush.

This was a quiet week for contacts with other researchers. They tend to come in fits and starts.

Time to sign off now, as I need to go off to earn a crust!