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.