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!