Friday, 31 December 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 December 2010

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that I have spent some ttime over the past couple of weeks working on some updates to the Geoffs Genealogy website. These updates are very much overdue, and are a "work in progress". To date they are as follows:

The Bankes Biography page now encompasses the information I found about Harcourt Buildings in the Temple, London, which was built by Bankes in 1703. I have also included in this text some information about sightings of Bankes in the Window Tax and Land Tax returns, and tidied up the text in some places.

The Articles section of the website has undergone significant change, with the addition of three more articles, all of which have been published in Family Tree Magazine. The titles of these are:

  • Livery Companies - Apprentices & Freemen
  • Understanding the Gazettes
  • Life & Death in the Nineteenth Century
Hopefully you will find something of interest in these.

I have reviewed the text on the he Arthur Ackland Hunt, Artist page, updating it where necessary and correcting one or two errors. Probably the most significant addition to this page is the information I gleaned from the 1911 census.

I have also done some work on the Links page, taking off one or two links that are obsolete, updating a couple that had changed, and adding a few that I hope will be of interest to you.

I shall be making further changes to the website over the next few weeks, and will keep you informed in my next blog posting.

The first ever Reunion of John Bankes' Descendants is now only six months away, and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to meeting some friends and relations again, and also meeting some Bankes Descendants for the first time. The people who have already said that they will come include descendants of Mary Mitchell, Joseph Rand, and Anne Deane, so you can see that whichever of Bankes' siblings you are descended from, the event should be relevant to you.

If you haven't yet decided whether or not to attend, I urge you to come and share what we are sure will be a very good day. It helps us greatly if you could commit to coming sooner, rather than later, so that we can form a picture of how many people are coming and plan accordingly.

It is now time to close this blog for the year, and attend top the festivities. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 30 November 2010

Well, the weather here in Blighty certainly has taken on a wintery chill in the past week. As I write this we in Shropshire have a covering of snow on the ground and are having to contend with icy roads and footpaths as we wend our way to the office or the shops etc. It’s very unusual for this sort of wintry weather to invade our shores so early – winter hasn’t even started yet – and following quite a harsh winter last year it certainly is most unwelcome. To counter thoughts of the winter chill I am keeping my mind on the fact that it is only seven months to our Reunion of Bankes Descendants, which will undoubtedly be held in blazing sunshine, next June.

Bookings for the reunion are going well, and we expect to have a great day, with people from all the branches of descent from John Bankes’ siblings in attendance. I do hope that if you are a Bankes descendant you will reserve yourself a place at this event as soon as possible. Just to clarify, the only qualification you need to be able to attend is that you are able to trace your ancestry to a sibling of John Bankes, Citizen and Haberdasher of London (abt 1650 – 1719). It doesn’t have to be a male line of descent. My ancestral link back to Mary Mitchell is mainly via a female line, but I am still very much a Bankes descendant, and proud of it! If you are not sure whether you can qualify, have a look at my website, and see whether you can find your forebears on the Bankes Pedigree. If you are still not sure whether you are a Bankes descendant send me an email using one of the links on my website. I’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Just to clarify, the half siblings of John Bankes were:

John Rand (abt 1661 – bef 1716)

Joseph Rand (abt 1665 – bef 1708)
Mary Mitchell (abt 1668 – 1739)
Elizabeth Hopkins (abt 1662 – 1728)
Anne Deane (abt 1679 – aft 1733)

A couple of months ago I told you about my research into the first known wife of Robert Hanham Collyer (RHC) (1814 – abt 1891). You may recall that I had traced the death and probate record of Susannah Hawley MacDonald (abt 1815 – 1869) and had learned quite a lot about her and her kinsfolk. At the time I ordered a copy of her will from the UK Probate service. In the past I have found that a copy of a will would take but a few days to arrive, but in this case it took a whole month before I received it! When it came it was accompanied by a note apologising for the delay, which was caused by a huge increase in the number of orders for copy wills. Apparently steps are being taken to deal with the situation, which I assume means extra staff. It does not surprise me that the number of orders for copy wills has gone up so markedly. After all, the Probate Calendars from 1858 onwards started to appear on during the summer, and one would expect this to result in a significant number of orders. Hopefully the Probate Service will get this sorted out sooner rather than later. It must be quite a money-spinner for them.

Anyway, Susannah’s will was an interesting document, which yielded several important pieces of information.

Firstly, it named the cemetery in which she wanted to be buried. Not that unusual in itself, but what was unusual was the fact that she stated that her son had been buried in grave number 16074 at Kensal Green Cemetery in West London, and she wished to be buried with him. Kensal Green is a vast cemetery, and I feel sure that quite a few Bankes descendants were buried there. I have never searched its burial registers, but I certainly need to do so sometime. I believe that a copy of the early records – up to 1872 - is held at London Metropolitan Archives, so I should add this to my ever growing research list for my next trip to London. The cemetery is owned privately, by the General Cemetery Company, and I guess they may be able to advise the whereabouts of the more recent records.

Susannah named her deceased son as Summer MacDonald – an unusual forename, I think you will agree. I have encountered Summer previously, as a passenger list dated 28 July 1845 recorded his arrival in New York with his mother and stepfather – Robert Hanham Collyer – after crossing the Atlantic from Liverpool on the vessel St Patrick. Actually, in this record, Summer was named as Somerset R McDonald, and his age stated as 7 years. Thus he was apparently born c 1838, about two years after Susannah had married her first spouse, Robert Collins MacDonald. To date my efforts to trace Summer / Somerset in the records have proved unsuccessful, but I am keeping an eye open for him as I carry out my research. It is perfectly possible that he was not born in England or Wales, as I do not know where his family may have been at the time of his birth.

Another interesting aspect of Susannah MacDonald’s will is that she gave information about deceased members of her family. If I had not already known I would have learned that her late father was James Clarke of Sid Abbey in Devon. Her deceased spouse – Robert Collins MacDonald – was a Major in the service of the East India Company.

The will had three codicils, each of them revising the bequests. Through these codicils we can see that prior to 1863 Susannah had been resident in Bath, Somerset, but in 1863 she was living in Bayswater, Middlesex. When she made her first codicil in 1865 she had moved back to Bath, but by the date of her second codicil in 1867 she had returned to live in Bayswater and she was still living there when she died, in 1869.

Bequests were made to a number of family members, but the over-riding thing about this will so far as I’m concerned was that at no point did Susannah name her second husband, Robert Hanham Collyer (RHC). At the time this will was made RHC was in his second marriage, to Emily Jeans Clements Collyer – a marriage that was annulled in 1864, because at the time of the ceremony Susannah was still alive (see previous blog postings). It seems that the break-up of Susannah’s marriage to RHC was probably a stormy affair, and she cut him out of her life completely, reverting to her first husband’s surname. However, as it seems that the couple were never actually divorced, legally they were still married at the time of Susannah’s death, and my understanding is that under the law relating property belonging to married women, RHC would have had a good claim to her estate. My assumption is that that is why RHC sued Susannah’s executor in the Court of Chancery in 1875-6. However, the available records indicate that he did not win his case.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 1 November 2010

I'm pleased to say that a number of people have said that they aim to be at the Reunion of John Bankes' Descendants in June 2011,and we are hoping very much to get a good attendance.

It should be a really enjoyable day for all of you who are interested in the Bankes Pedigree, and we are hoping to meet people from all the various lines of descent from the half siblings of John Bankes.

One person said to me the other day that she did not feel that the event was for her as she has only a tenuous link to a sister of John Bankes. In fact, Anne Deane (abt 1679 - aft 1733), half sister to Bankes, features in her family history, so she has just as much of a claim to be a Bankes descendant as I do! The point is that you will hopefully be able to meet people who are descended on the same line as you, and thereby enjoy a social event, as well as maybe adding to your knowledge.

Anyway, for information about the event please visit
our special page on the Geoffs Genealogy website.

A while ago Ancestry placed online a collection of images from London parish registers dated 1538-1812. These were unindexed at the time, but valuable insofar as you could search through them page by page, as we used to do in records offices in pre-internet days. Well, a couple of weeks ago Ancestry published an index to these records, making our searches so much easier. Needless to say I've been spending some time searching these records - with considerable success.

Some years ago I traced a marriage licence allegation relating to a marriage in 1715 between a certain Robert Mitchell and Elizabeth Russell. The forename of the bride tied in with the facts we had gleaned from the Haberdashers' Company's Bankes Pedigree Book, and these factors made me think this document could relate to my family. Comparison of the signature of this Robert Mitchell to a sample of the signature of "my" Robert Mitchell, Skinner of London (abt 1692 - bef May 1742) was inconclusive. I thought them similar, but there were nine years between the two specimen signatures, and as Robert was a young man at the time it is reasonable to suppose that his signature was evolving at the time. I entered Elizabeth Russell on to my tree, placing her surname in brackets to indicate that there was an element of uncertainty about this.

Some time later I found the Will of Elizabeth Bankes (d 1733), widow of John Bankes, as well as some documents in the Court of Chancery relating to proceedings involving this lady. The will, which was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1733, included reference to Elizabeth's daughter Elizabeth Mitchell, wife of Robert Mitchell, and this relationship was confirmed in the Chancery documents. I already knew that Elizabeth's surname on her marriage to John Bankes in 1715 was Trevers. This latest piece of evidence indicated that if I was correct about Elizabeth Russell being the wife of our Robert Mitchell, Elizabeth Trevers / Bankes had probably been married previously to a Mr Russell.

I found several other pieces of evidence, which gave me more information about Elizabeth's family. As far as I know she had two other daughters, besides Elizabeth. I discovered the names of their spouses, and also the names of their children. Still, I could not definitively resolve the question about Robert Mitchell's wife and John Bankes' widow, and this poser remained "on the back burner" for a number of years ..... until now.

Using the parish registers on Ancestry I traced the marriage of Hannah Russell to
Edmund Jones at St Olave Bermondsey in 1705. I also found the births of two of their children in the same parish in 1706 and 1708, confirming the information I had found. Further confirmation of the Russell connection came in the discovery of Arabella Russell's marriage to John Young at Bermondsey in 1711. Mr Young evidently died after a few years, and Arabella remarried in 1730, her new spouse being John Craister.

Actually, Mr Craister died in 1739 - I have a copy of his will - and sometime later Arabella married for a third time, to Richard Spindelow, Gentleman of St James, London.

All of these marriages took place by Licences, granted by the Vicar-General's office. I have ascertained the dates of these licences and hope to be able to look them up sometime in the new year, at the Society of Genealogists in London.

As if all that was not enough, I have also traced more information about the children of the above mentioned Hannah Jones. For instance, I now know that in 1752 a daughter named Alithea Jones married a doctor in Bedford!

So there we are. the pieces of information I found in the Ancestry parish registers have not only enabled me to prove that the surname of Robert Mitchell's wife was indeed Russell, and that she was the daughter of the second wife of John Bankes, but also provided the links to piece together all the other bits of information about Elizabeth's family that I had previously found. I have not managed to find her marriages to Mr Russell and Mr Trevers, or the burials of her first two spouses, but I am satisfied that these events did take place and hopefully I may find them one day. For now, my next task is to enter all this information into my computer records.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 04 October 2010

The most important piece of news this month is that we have fixed a date for the first ever reunion of descendants of John Bankes, Citizen & Haberdasher of London (abt 1652-1719).

We are at the earliest planning stages at the moment, but we shall be setting up an extra page on the Geoffs Genealogy website in the next couple of weeks, and this will provide full details of the event, which will take place at Coulsdon, Surrey on Saturday 18th June 2011.

Coulsdon is south of London and just north of the M25, and thus very accessible to travellers (including me). We will provide full instructions on how to get there well before the event.

I should say at this stage that we are very grateful to cousin Dot, who is not only playing a big part in the organisation of the reunion, but also has made available the building in which we will all meet. A very warm "Thankyou" to you, Dot.

We will need everybody who is coming to book in advance, so that we know how many people we are catering for. Unfortunately, we cannot run the event on a "free of charge" basis, but we shall keep the charge to an absolute minimum needed to cover costs. In truth it's your attendance we want, not your money!

I can't tell you how excited I am about this. It should be a really great day. Hopefully a chance to meet old friends, make some new friends, and to share our common family history with fellow Bankes descendants. The only qualification you need to attend is a place in a line of descent from one of Bankes's half siblings!

Incidentally, if you have any ideas of particular features or activities for the reunion please do let me know. It is perfectly possible that you may come up with something that we have not considered!

Following on from my previous blog entry, I have been busily adding to our research into the life of Robert Hanham Collyer (1815 - Abt 1891) and those who played a part in his life. Due to time constraints I need to bring this research to a halt - for the time being, that is.

In doing this research I have found some really interesting material about Robert and the lady who we take to have been his first wife - Susannah Hawley (MacDonald) Collyer, nee Clarke.

In a court hearing in 1873, at which what we believe to have been his second marriage was annulled, Robert stated that Susannah had left him in 1846, within a year of his marriage, and he had not heard from her since. He further said that in 1859 he had been told that she had died, and he believed this to be true because the information came from a person who he regarded as reliable. Strange that he couldn't recall this person's name, but we'll leave that to one side.

As I was annotating these court proceedings for my records I thought that this evidence by RHC seemed barely believable, and set out to see whether in fact it stood up to examination.

I looked for Susannah on the censuses, and found her on the 1861 enumeration for Bath. She was living as an East India Company annuitant with a female servant, apparently in rented rooms. I also found a record of her death in 1869, at Hendon, then in Middlesex and now part of North London. The Probate Registry Calendars are now available on, so I was able to search for an entry for Susannah. Sure enough, I found it. In all these records Susannah gave her surname as "MacDonald" - the name of her first husband, who had died before her marriage to Collyer. It seems that she did not want to be associated with RHC, so when he said they had parted and never seen oine another again that was probably true.

I'm still very sceptical, however, about RHC's statement that he was told of his wife's death in 1859. As one finds out more about RHC, one learns not to take what he said at face value.

The probate record gave the precise date of Susannah's death - 20 August 1869, and told me that the probate was granted to a certain James Palmer Woodward of Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire. This name rang a bell. I recalled that in a High Court action in 1877 Robert Hanham Collyer, the defendant, referred to a case he had brought in the Court of Probate against somebody named Woodward in January 1876. Unfortunately, nearly all the records of the Court of Probate have been destroyed, and it seems that the papers for this case are not available to us. However, my guess is that RHC may well have been suing James P Woodward in respect of the probate of Susannah's will. If I'm correct in this it means that RHC certainly knew about the date of Susannah's death by 1876. Probably we shall never know whether he knew earlier than that, but I'll keep a sharp eye open for further evidence.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 August 2010

There I was, looking to do a bit of treeing on the August Bank Holiday Monday. When I attempted to log on to the internet there was nothing!

OK, I thought, it will probably repair itself in a while, but by the evening we still had no connection, and there was nothing obviously wrong at our end. I phoned my supplier, who attended to my call with great politeness, but the remedies they prescribed didn't work, and thus I am now waiting for them to test the line. It is all very frustrating, and serves to remind us of how much we take the wonders of modern technology for granted.

In the meantime, I am preparing to write a long-overdue letter to Jim, my Collyer cousin in the USA. Jim has treated me to much information about his branch of the Collyer dynasty, and I really feel quite guilty that I have not really given him much in response. I'm therefore spending some time preparing what I hope will be a sizeable package of treeing goodies relevant to his interests. In these circumstances we often turn to our old friend Robert Hanham Collyer (1814- abt 1891) and this time is no exception.

I thought that before selecting the material to send to Jim I should update RHC's record on my database, so I've been giving attention to dealing with that pile of paper that I've had on the shelf for about eighteen months. I've now almost completed that job, and thus can see laid out on screen the full extent of our knowledge about this man. This is by no means the whole picture, as every time I type his name into Google and carry out a search I find more references listed that there was the last time I did it. There is plenty more to dig into in future, assuming I have an internet connection!

I've written before about this absolutely remarkable individual - I use the word in its proper sense, as he truly was an INDIVIDUAL!

For the benefit of those who aren't familiar with RHC, I would just outline his career by saying that he was born on the channel Island of Jersey in 1814. From 1833 to 1835 he was a medical student at London University, before emigrating with his parents and siblings to the USA. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1836 on the vessel Kensington.

He then obtained his medical degree at Berkshire Medical Institution, Pittsfield, Massachussetts, and embarked on his career proper.

He was a leading advocate of mesmerism and phrenology, having studied under Elliotson and Spurzheim, and toured the US and Europe lecturing and giving demonstrations of these techniques. He also claimed to have discovered anaesthesia, and was annoyed that he had not been credited with this achievement. He claimed to have carried out surgical operations, including the dislocation of a hip, and the extraction of teeth, and actually incorporated tooth pulling into his lecturing performances!

It is evident that he was blessed with a very fertile mind, being responsible for a large number of scientific inventions, including a gold crushing machine (in 1854) and an " Improved mode of preparing the residue of beet root, mangel-wurtzel & c., left after sugar-making and distillation, to be used as a material in making paper" (abt 1856). Quite a range there!

He wrote many published works, mainly on the subject of mesmerism and phrenology, but possibly his best known literary work was Lights and Shadows of American Life, published in 1838, a description of his initial tour of the the USA.

Although a naturalised American, Collyer spent a great deal of time outside his adopted country, and can often be spotted in the English records. In fact, he appears to have been based in London from about 1855 to about 1877.

His private life was a tangled one, to say the least. We know of at least five female partners or wives, although we have only traced two marriages, both of which took place in England. One of these marriages was to a sixteen year old girl. Collyer admitted to being 41 at the time, but in fact he was 50! The marriage produced two children before the then Mrs Collyer realised that her husband had a previous spouse who was still alive! She sued for an anullment of the marriage, which she was granted in London in 1873.

In 1838 he came to suspect that his then wife was having a liaison with Captain Marryat, the author of the book Children of the New Forest. He hid under the bed in his Louisville hotel, and when the couple arrived in the room, and started doing what people do in these situations, he emerged from under the bed and confonted them. Imagine the scene! Captain Marryat concocted a very thin alibi for his actions, and the newspapers had a fine time over the affair. However, in the event, the good Captain and Collyer resolved the matter without the need of a duel or a court case, and the affair died down.

There are many other aspects of Robert Hanham Collyer's life that I have not mentioned, many of which you would certainly find most interesting. This man has continually surprised us for the past 15 years or so, and we are quite sure that there is still plenty more for us to discover. He was dismissed as a quack and a charlatan by many people, and one can see why. That said, he was obviously a very talented man.

Jim, you have a treat in store for you!

Oh, by the way, my internet connection has been repaired, so I can now upload this post!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 16 August 2010

Those of you who have a Facebook presence will probably be interested to know that we now have a Bankes Descendants Facebook group. You can join the group by clicking here.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Geoff's Genealogy Update 09 August 2010

I've just returned from a week in the wonderfully beautiful Aveyron department of France. Mostly good weather, lovely food and lots of interesting places to visit. What could be better?

Treeing has taken a bit of a back seat in the past few weeks, but I have one or two items that hopefully may interest you.

A few months ago I bought a new genealogy computer program, with a view to updating the software I use to keep my family history records. I have always used Family Tree Maker, which I have found to be very user friendly. I have, however, always had reservations about its reporting features, as I have found them rather limited. My new acquisition is Family Tree Maker 2010. This version of FTM is radically different from the 2006 version that I have been using, so much so that I have shied away from using it, fearing that my precious treeing time will be taken up in getting accustomed to it.

Well, as an intermediate step I have put the new program on my laptop, and having played around with it for an hour or so my initial impression is that it seems an improv ement on previous versions. It will take a few days to find my way around it properly, but the reports appear to offer much more flexibility, and the on-screen space is used far more effectively than previously. The program also offers a number of new tools, such as a mapping facility to show you where your forebears lived. I feel fairly confident that I shall be using this program as my main genealogy package before too long.

It may be of interest to you if I mention acouple of websites that have recently come to my attention, which I think could be of great help in our research.

Firstly, not exactly new, but of great value is the online Welsh wills section of the National Library of Wales website. Here you can see the actual wills of your Welsh ancestors whose probates were dealt with in the Welsh ecclesiastical courts up to 1858, free of charge. The search mechanism is easy to use, and you can view and / or print out the wills free of charge. I've already found a few interesting specimens that relate to people on the Welsh branch of the Bankes Pedigree.

Actually, I have a bit of a problem with one of these wills. Information from the Bankes Pedigree Book tells me that Charles Davies, spouse of Elizabeth Price (Abt 1753-1833), daughter of John Price and Deborah Rand, died in October 1817. I have found a will that seems to fit
with that information. However, the frustrating thing is that there is a distinct shortage of names mentioned in this document, so it is not possible to say positively whether or not this was our man. I don't think this will was drawn up very well, as it was very loosely worded and lacked personal detail to identify the beneficiaries, but presumably it served the purpose.

London Lives 1680-1800 is a really great user-friendly website for those of us whose interests lie in the Capital in the eighteenth century. To quote from the website:

"London Lives makes available, in a fully digitised and searchable form, a wide range of primary sources about eighteenth-century London, with a particular focus on plebeian Londoners. This resource includes over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages from eight London archives and is supplemented by fifteen datasets created by other projects. It provides access to historical records containing over 3.35 million name instances. Facilities are provided to allow users to link together records relating to the same individual, and to compile biographies of the best documented individuals..."

I've done some preliminary searches on this site, and found some references that I'm pretty sure relate to my ancestor - James Jacobson (Abt 1692-1759) in the parish chest records of St Botolph, Aldgate, so it's well worth giving this a go.

My mention, in my last blog entry, of my search for the Gearys in the censuses and civil registration records led my cousin Pat to do a bit of delving - with very successful results. Thanks to Pat I now know that in 1911 Thomas Geary was living in Bath, Somerset, in the household of Frances Hill, a spinster neice, who was aged 72. In fact, apart from Thomas and two female servants, the household consisted of three other spinster relations, ages ranging from 46 to 71. Th
e entry showed that Thomas was a widower, thus giving me a starting point in the search for the death of his wife - Louisa (Hunt) Geary.

I found what looks like Louisa's death entry in the civil registration indexes in the March quarter of 1903, the death being registered at St Albans, Hertfordshire. Due to the prohibitive cost of B/M/D certificates I have not sent for the certificate, but I would be amazed if this were not the relevant entry. There are no other entries for a Louisa Geary in the period 1901-1911, and the age ties up as well. I wonder what the Gearys were doing in St Albans. maybe there were more relations in that area.

Next I set out to find the death of Thomas Geary, sometime after March 1911. I looked at The Times Digital Archive Online website, which is often accessible via your local library, and although I could not find a death announcement, I did find a most interesting item in the Points from Letters column of 27 May 1922. Headed A Link With 1770, it reads:

'Lieutenant-Colonel Drage's account of his link with 1787 is an interesting one, which I can comparewith that of my own great-uncle, Mr Thomas Geary, barrister-at-law, who was born in 1828 and died at Bath in 1916. His father was born in 1770, and the two lives, therefore, covered a period of 146 years between them. Should my youngest brother, Rev B H Geary, VC, or any of the younger members of my father's family, reach an advanced old age, a period of over two hundred years will have been covered by the three lives, as the above brother is only thirty-one now. - Mr A Bernard Geary, Sports Club, St James's-square, SW.'

This set me off looking for Thomas Geary's death entry in the civil registration indexes. I found it in 1914, not 1916. His death was registered in Bath during the March quarter of that year.

So there we are, another gap in the Bankes Pedigree is filled in.

Happy hunting to one and all until the next time.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 17 July 2010

I’m rather late with this blog entry. I’ve been working on several projects at the same time, and resolved to finish them before blogging. Sometimes I have to discipline myself in this way, in order to get things done. Anyway, I’ve just completed my last task - the preparation of the next edition of the Shropshire Family History Society journal - so am able to revert to what passes for “normal”.

A few weeks ago Mrs GC and I went on a guided walk, looking at the remains left behind by what used to be a thriving mining industry on the outskirts of our home town of Newport, Shropshire. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in what is now woodlands, men used to mine limestone, transporting it by canal to the River Severn for on-shipment, or by means of the main road to Wolverhampton & Chester, which still runs past our town.

I’ve lived in the town for over twenty years, and had been aware that that there had been mines in the area in the past, but have never really delved into local history, and was very surprised to see the number of shafts and kilns in the area, and also the remains of an engine house that probably dated from the 1790s. We also saw one of the canal basins associated with this industry, and learned about the course the canal took from Pitchcroft to nearby Lilleshall This was certainly an evening well spent, and opened my eyes to the fact that what is now a beautiful country area was once a hive of industry.

Moving on to the Banks Pedigree, I have recently found some information about the Jacobsons.

Esther Jacobson was a daughter of William Jacobson & Mary Gutteridge, being born on 25 November 1770. A few months ago I traced her on the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses. Throughout this period Esther was living with her sister in law – Sarah Jacobson - the wife of Esther’s brother, another William Jacobson (1776-1834). They lived at 6 York Place, Shoreditch, which was William’s address at the time of his death. In William’s will, proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in October 1835, Sarah inherited all his leasehold estate, and that presumably included the York Place residence. Thus, Sarah was shown as the household head on all these entries. I also note that on all these entries, the two ladies had servants in the household, one in 1851, and two in 1841 and 1861.

Sarah died in the September quarter of 1863. I found the relevant entry in the Civil Registration index. In the June quarter of the following year, Esther also died, at the ripe old age of 93. When I was at Kew in May I found the entry for her probate in the National Probate Registry Calendar, which enables us to pinpoint the precise date of her death, and also her address at that time.

More grist to the mill!

Another area of research I’ve ventured into recently concerns Thomas Geary and his spouse, Louisa, nee Hunt. Thomas was a London barrister, and he married Louisa, the eldest daughter of Thomas Hunt, Surgeon, in 1860, when she was 31 years old. Until quite recently we knew little of these people, except their approximate birth dates and the fact that they married in 1860. We have never traced any children of this couple, and it seems that there were none – at least to judge from the relevant census entries. I have traced Thomas & Louisa on all the censuses between 1861 and 1901, and nowhere is there any record of children.

The 1861 census was taken only seven months after Thomas and Louisa were married, and shows them living with Thomas’s parents in Fulham. Thomas senior had been born on the Isle of Wight, and was a fund holder, aged 90, but there is no record of his occupation during his working life. He must have been prosperous, though, to judge from the fact that there were three servants in the household.

By 1871 Thomas’s father had died, and his mother was living as a widow (aged 88) in the household in Kentish Town, then in Middlesex but now part of North London. Thomas and Louisa “only” had one servant, - a lady who had seen service in his father’s household in 1861.

In 1881 Thomas and Louisa’s Paddington household was smaller – just Thomas and Louisa and Louisa’s sister – Esther Maria Hunt. By 1891 it was smaller still – just Thomas and Louisa – no relatives or servants, and the 1901 entry is similar. On both these censuses the household was at Kilburn Park Road, Willesden, in Middlesex.

I have tried to find the family on the 1911 census, but without success. I thought maybe they had died before 1911, but then I found an item in The Times newspaper of 27 May 1922 which gives Thomas’s date of death. It was a letter, written by a great nephew of Thomas named A Bernard Geary, and states that Thomas Geary died in Bath in 1916. As Thomas’s father had been born in 1770, the writer of the letter cites this as an example of inter-generational longevity in that the combined lives of father and son spanned 146 years. Armed with this information I looked for Thomas Geary’s death in the Civil Registration Indexes of 1916. It was not there, so I extended the search range and found the entry in the March quarter of 1914. The registration district for this event was Bath, in Somerset, so presumably Thomas had died in or near that lovely town.

I have not obtained Thomas Geary’s death certificate, but have wondered why he was in Bath at the time of his death. Maybe there were other family members living there? I can’t find any on the 1911 census. Possibly he was in a home for the elderly in Bath.

I still have not managed to find the death of Louisa (Hunt) Geary, although I keep on going back to this from time to time. Quite possibly her surname was mis-spelt, which may also explain why I have not found either of these people on the 1911 census.

I leave you this time with a really great website that I came across a couple of weeks ago. If you are interested in 18th century London, as I am, take a look at Lucy Inglis’s Georgian London blog. It is full of interesting articles about Georgian London, and was voted History Website of 2009 by the readers of History Today magazine. I’m finding much to interest me there, and I’m sure you will, as well. There are also a number of interesting sites in the Links section.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 30 May 2010

On 20 May I visited The National Archives at Kew, travelling on the coach that is so splendidly organised by Shropshire Family History Society.

I have been visiting Kew for about 20 years, on and off, so you would think that I know the ropes pretty well. I like to think that is the case, but unfortunately I still get caught out by something nearly every time I go there, as you will see…...

Unfortunately, my TNA reader's ticket had expired last November. The tickets last for three years, and quite rightly the people at TNA needed to see some id from me before mine could be renewed. My frustration was that I knew the details of some of the sources I wanted to look at, but could not order them in advance because my ticket had expired. If you are able to order documents in advance they can be made ready so that you can plunge straight into them on your arrival, thus saving about 40-60 minutes of valuable research time.

The renewal of my ticket was my first priority on arrival at TNA at about 10.30 am. I had with me my two items of id and sought the renewals desk. When I originally obtained my ticket the desk was on the ground floor, easy to find as you entered the building. Although there was a queue of people seeking tickets TNA had several staff on hand and the queue was dealt with very speedily. Between then and now, however, TNA has had to make economies and reorganisations, and the current system left much to be desired. The location of the tickets issuing desk has been moved to the second floor, and it is now in a room that seems not large enough to enable people to queue in reasonable comfort. There was only one person manning the desk, and as it was taking about 7 minutes to deal with each case, we punters stood to lose a significant amount of valuable research time. There were about seven people in front of me, so you can see that I stood to lose about 50 minutes before I could even order my documents!

We Brits are great at queuing, and we all stood there chatting and behaving ourselves. After a while one of our number politely asked the chap on the desk if a second desk could be opened up. He made a quick phone call and after a few more minutes a reinforcement arrived. This young man did not look too happy, however. He barked some instructions to we queuers, adopting a tone that I thought totally unnecessarily stern, and in so doing he certainly ruffled a few feathers. However, we all bit our tongues, and it has to be said that his arrival did speed up the process of issuing readers’ tickets. He dealt with my case, actually, and I emerged with my new ticket after about 35 minutes.

Off I strode, to order my first three documents, eagerly tapping my fingers on the keyboard. I had decided that my priority was to investigate Michael Bayly Smith’s career working for the Great Western Railway in the mid 19th century, and ordered two of that company’s Registers of Clerks – sources refs RAIL264/3/20 and RAIL264/1/25. I also ordered another item – a bit of a mystery item – that I had identified in the TNA Catalogue. I’ll come to that later.

On being informed that the pieces I had ordered would be ready for my use in about 40 to 60 minutes, I decided to spend the interim period by looking up some wills in the Calendars of the National Probate Office. This I did with some success, and after 45 minutes I made my way to the original documents reading room to see whether my documents were ready.

As I went through the scanner that we all have to pass through on entering and leaving the reading room I was sternly reprimanded by the person who checked my papers. My offence? The pencils I was taking into the original documents area had erasers in the ends! I knew that erasers are a taboo in this area, but had overlooked the fact that my plastic cased pencils had erasers in the ends. An error, certainly, but surely not worthy of such a severe telling off as I received!

The crisis was resolved by the simple expedient of removing the offending items from the pencils and leaving them on the lady’s desk. I was advised, none too graciously, that I could collect them on my way out.

I eagerly collected the first of my documents and quickly found the entry relating to Michael Bayly Smith (abt 1828-1873). It was written in a very fine hand, and recorded his postings from 1846, when he joined the company as a young man, to 1862, when he resigned from the company. This record shows that he served at a number of stations, starting at Gloucester, then continuing at Trowbridge, Melksham, Warminster, Chippenham, Chester and Wolverhampton. In 1846 he earned £70 per annum as a passenger clerk and by the time he left the company he was employed as a goods agent, earning £155 pa. As well as annotating the details of these pages, I photographed the relevant pages of this source. This is one of the very good aspects of TNA. They will let you use a digital camera to photograph items, so long as you don’t use a flash and you only use the images for private study. They even provide camera stands to enable you to take your photographs. Excellent.

We know that by the time of the 1871 census Michael had married, and was living in Brixton, South London. He was then working as a Railway Superintendent of Goods Traffic, but we don’t know how long he had been in London, or where he had been during the years between 1862 and 1871, except that he was married in 1870, at St Saviour, South Hampstead.

Sadly, Michael died in 1873, aged about 45.

When I went to look at the second source I found that I had been given the wrong document! I don’t think I had ordered it incorrectly, but maybe I had. Anyway, on trying to re-order it I found that somebody else was using it at that time. Can you believe that? Out of all the documents in TNA, two researchers wanted the same item at the same time! More frustration!

When I told the young man on the desk in this department he was most helpful, and said he would try to intercept the document before it went back to storage. I should leave it about an hour and then go back to him. More delay! I went off to my lunch.

I soon ate my lunch, and was ready for the fray again. However, the requisite hour had not passed since my conversation with that nice young man, so I decided to go and look at that other (mystery) document. This was the first of several documents I had identified in the TNA catalogue that related to Antonio Da Costa (abt 1783-1850). Antonio married Sarah Love Hunt, a Bankes descendant, who was a daughter of William Hunt (b abt 1763) and Sarah Love (b abt 1763). William was a son of Thomas Hunt the lawyer (abt 1723-1789) and his wife, Mary Jacobson (abt 1737–bef 1806).

Anyway, the Da Costa name is sufficiently exotic to fascinate Mrs GC immensely, so I feel it my duty to find information about them when the opportunity arises. Hence my interest in source ref C205/2/72, which is described in the catalogue as “Aliens named: Antonio Da Costa: Middx temp George IV”.

I had no idea what I may find in this source. I know that Antonio was foreign. In the latter years of his life he was Brazilian Vice Consul in London, so I surmise that he may have been born in Portugal. If only he had lived an extra year, I may have found his birthplace on the 1851 census, but no such luck - for him or me!

I know that from 1792 aliens were forced to register with a Justice of the Peace where they resided, and believe that there were further laws passed in the 1830s to force people born abroad to register on arrival in the UK, but my knowledge on these matters is sketchy, to say the least.

Anyway, on opening the box containing the document I had ordered I knew I was facing a problem. The bundle was enormous! How somebody had ever managed to fit it into the box I shall never know! Furthermore, on first sight “my document” appeared to be missing – at least, it certainly was not in its correct place in the bundle. Eventually I found it, but in doing so I had to disturb all the other parchments in the bundle, making the task of putting them back in the box even more formidable!

The document consisted of two very large hand written parchments. It appeared that some London gentlemen were making a complaint against our Antonio, saying he owned property on Claremont Terrace, Pentonville, London that he was not entitled to own. I had lost so much time already that I really did not have time to do justice to this document. I decided to photograph it and study it later, at home. The photographs were duly taken, and I intend to go back to this source when time permits. However, I then had the task of getting the bundle back into the box.

I did try – honestly!

Unfortunately I found the task impossible, and it was with some embarrassment that I went to the documents desk seeking assistance. The chap there sent me over to the enquiries desk, and the man there tried to send me back to the documents issuing desk! I felt like a tennis ball, being despatched across the room by these two individuals! Finally, the man on the enquiries desk came and looked at my box and my bundle. He agreed that my task was pretty much hopeless, and moved the documents and box into the documents issuing area, for somebody to sort out.

Now I went back to look at RAIL264/1/25.

This time the document was there. Actually, it really repeated the information I had gleaned earlier in the day, from source RAIL264/3/20, so it didn’t take me long to complete my work with it. I photographed the relevant pages of this source, and went back to the fiche readers to further search the wills calendars, collecting my erasers en route.

TNA has a great many computers available for use, and it is well worth using them while you are there. You can use them to search among the many TNA records that have been placed on line by commercial firms, and the beauty is that you do not have to pay for looking at these records. As there were quite a number of non-conformists among the Bankes descendants, I decided to round off my day by looking at the non-conformist records that are online at I found a number of relevant entries, but the one that gave me the greatest pleasure was the marriage of John Price (abt 1720-1756) to Deborah Rand (abt 1721-abt 1765). Deborah was a grandchild of John Bankes's half brother, Joseph Rand. These people were not my direct ancestors, but over the years I have been in contact with many people who are descended from them, and I have been seeking this record for about 15 years. They were married at the Fleet Prison in London on 19 October 1745 (source ref RG7/222, fo 27).

Our coach left TNA at 5 pm sharp. I had spent a very busy day, with many frustrations but also a fair amount of success. In spite of all the hassles I look forward to the next trip to TNA in September. At least then I shall be able to order documents in advance of my visit!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 7 May 2010

We are now well and truly into Spring in the UK, and I must say it is a joy to see all the bulbs flowering in the gardens and at the roadsides.

Quite a bit of my time over the past month was spent preparing the June edition of the Shropshire FHS journal. This has now been "put to bed" and is with the printers.

I've continued with the ongoing process of updating my family history files, mindful of the need to update the Geoffs Genealogy website as soon as I feel that I've done as much as I can.

An email from Ginny a few weeks ago, set me off researching the McRodden line. The McRoddens entered into the Bankes Pedigree in 1897 when Thomas David McRodden (abt 1875 - 1912) married Mary Ellen Jones (b 1876). Mary Ellen was a Bankes descendant, being descended from Joseph Rand, half brother to John Bankes. She was a daughter of John Jones & Mary Rees - you can find the family on their tree on Geoffs Genealogy if you are interested.

Anyway, after a few nights spent researching on the internet I now know that Thomas D McRodden was Irish, being born at born in Balbriggan, Dublin. I have traced eight children of this Thomas & Mary, and in some cases I've been able to trace their descendants. All very pleasing. Another twig on the tree!

The McRoddens lived in South Wales, in the Cardiff area, and my research suggests that there may still be some members of the family in that area.

Speaking of South Wales, last weekend we went to Carmarthenshire - an area we often visit to enjoy its lovely scenery and tranquility. On this occasion we visited Llanegwad church, seeking some monumental inscriptions. We have a number of relevant burials records that we obtained from the parish registers, and had visited this graveyard before, but had no success in our search. Nevertheless, we thought we would give it another go. Well, I'm sorry to say that the state of this graveyard was very bad indeed. I understand the modern trend towards treating a churchyard as a nature reserve, although I don't agree with it, but I have to say that this is quite the most unattractive graveyard I've ever visited. The photo gives you some idea of the problems we family historians face when searching for a grave there. Needless to say, our search was fruitless, and sadly we cannot see any point in trying again.

During the past few weeks I've also managed to fit in a bit more research on one of my Lancashire lines.

John Cross (abt 1820 - abt 1868) married Elizabeth Culshaw (abt 1823 - 1864) in 1843 at Penwortham, just outside Preston. They had eight children, and I have been piecing together the lines of descent from one of their sons - Robert Cross (1856 - 1908) and his wife, Mary Carr (abt 1854 - 1931).

Mary Carr was born at Birkdale, near Southport, and this was where the family settled. To my knowledge they had ten children, and I've managed to trace a lot of information about them and their descendants. All very satisfying. I have found the 1911 census extremely useful in this and other research. It is great to be able to gain information telling us how many years the people on this census had been married, and how many children they had had, and to be able to use this information to firm up our research. Also, when you look at these forms you are seeing the actual signature of your ancestor. A rare treasure indeed!

I'll just mention one or two sources of information that I've found useful recently. Firstly, Google Books. If you haven't used this resource in your research yet, I urge you to do so. I won't attempt to explain the scope of this wonderful facility, which is free and expanding all the time! To find out about it have a look at

Another resource well worth looking at in your research is Google Street View, which is available from Google Maps. By using this facility you may be able to see the actual street or building in which your ancestor lived. Of course, this is not always possible. Many of our forebears' homes have been demolished, and even if they still exist it may not be possible to identify the correct house because of changes to the house numbering system. However, a search of Google Street View can often pay off, so it is definitely worth a shot.

The last resource I want to remind you of this time is the Times Digital Online Archive. This is a subscription service, and it is probably unlikely that you will want to subscribe. However, it is worth asking your local library whether you can access this website via their website, as many libraries subscribe and make The Times Digital Online available to its readers free of charge. If you can get access in this way you will be able to search 200 years of The Times newspaper - invaluable as a source of information about the life and times of your ancestors, and if you are lucky you may find an ancestor mentioned. In my experience the quality of the indexing is very good.

I think that's enough for now. Good hunting!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 March 2010

Another month gone, and still no updates to the Geoffs Genealogy website.

I'm still trying to get as much data entered on the tree as I can, so that when it eventually does appear on the web it will be as up to date as possible. I've been using online resources to find births, marriages and deaths in the civil registration indexes. I'm taking a bit of a chance in this, as without buying the relevant certificate there is always a possibility of adopting the wrong index entry. However, the cost of buying certificates en bloc is prohibitive, and my experience tells me that the number of errors I have made using this method is very small. Where I am in doubt about an entry I either omit it entirely or add a query to the record. Hopefully I am not undermining the validity of our research.

Mention of the cost of BMD certificates in England & Wales leads me to mention the quite extortionate increase that the UK government has applied with effect from 6 April. From this date the cost of a certificate will rise from £7.00 to £9.25. Really, I realise that our nation is skint, but this is ridiculous! Apparently the official line is that this quite exhorbitant increase is justified by the need to make sure that the fee charged reflects the cost of producing the certificates. I ask you, does it really cost £9.00 to copy a certificate and post it out? If so, I would suggest that some changes are needed in the way the General Register Office (England & Wales) operates.

I explained, in my last blog entry, how the 1911 census record for my great grandparents told me that John (1855-1924) & Elizabeth (1853-1931) Culshaw had had three children who had died before April 1911. Prior to this I had no knowledge at all about these extra Culshaws, each of whom had been born and died between censuses. I explained that I had identified the three missing children from civil registration indexes and also from the records of baptisms at St Mary RC, Leyland. The next logical step was to send off for some of the relevant certificates. I wanted to prove that I had records for the right people, and also to find out what caused the deaths of these poor souls.

The forthcoming price increase led me to order four certificates while the price is still £7.00, and these documents enabled me to piece together these details re my Culshaw forebears.

I now know that Abel Culshaw died at Preston, Lancashire on 11 August 1876, aged 6 months, the cause of his death being "Marasmus Pneumonia". According to the web page "Causes of Death in the Late 19th Century mentioned in the Register of Deaths, 1893-1907 " Marasmus was a "Progressive emaciation and general wasting due to enfeebled constitution rather than any specific or ascertainable cause." Abel was John Culshaw & Elizabeth nee Bennett / Eastham's first born child, my grandfather was their second born.

James Culshaw was born in August 1879, and was no doubt named after his grandfather - James Culshaw (1834-1923). He died only nine weeks after his birth at the family home in Farington, just south of Preston. The cause of his death was "Convulsions 24 hours". I don't know what may have brought about the convulsions. The above website suggests that tetanus could have been a cause, but doesn't really offer an explanation. Possibly James was suffering from a fever.

Amy Ann Culshaw died at Farington on 5 October 1884, aged one year. She had been suffering from meningitis.

All these deaths were registered by John Culshaw, father to the children, within two days of the events. John had been present at all the deaths.

Finds such as these remind us just what a dangerous place the world was in the nineteenth century, and bring home to us the very high rates of infant mortality that existed in those days. If you are interested in this aspect of our research you may like to look at my work on late nineteenth century infant mortality, which is available on my website. John Culshaw was an ordinary working man. As far as I know he was not particularly poor, by the standards of the time. I doubt whether the living conditions of his family were particularly poor. Yet three of his seven children died so young.

I wonder about the attitude of people towards infant mortality in those days. Nowadays in England a child's death is quite rare, and rightly viewed as a disaster, but when infant mortality was so much of an everyday experience social attitudes towards it must have been different.

In addition to all the information we have found recently about the Culshaws, we have in the past few weeks filled in much information about the Eastham family. If you are interested in all this you will be able to see these records on the tree when we eventually get around to uploading it to the website.

These new breakthroughs in our Culshaw research came about thanks to our recently established contact with our long lost Lancashire cousins. A couple of weeks ago we went to Preston and met these cousins. It was a real pleasure. They made us very welcome, and we had a fine old time, talking about various family topics. My Dad met his first cousin, with whom he used to play as a lad, for the first time for about 65 years! You can imagine that it was quite an occasion.

It's really great when our hobby leads us to such a joyous conclusion. Truly the icing on the genealogical cake.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Geoff's Genealogy Update 28 February 2010

The Who Do You Think You Are Live family history show at Olympia, London took place last weekend, and I was there on Saturday and Sunday, lending a hand on the Shropshire Family History Society stand. I have no idea how many people visited the show over the weekend, but believe me, the figures are bound to be hugely impressive. Our stand was manned by five people on Saturday, and we were all kept busy for most of the day. We still had time for a look around, however.

A large number of commercial websites were present. All the familiar names like Ancestry, Find My Past and S & N Genealogy had large stands with lots of merchandise on sale, lectures being given, and lots of information available. Family Search also had a big stand, and plenty of people available to help punters. I have always found the people who man the LDS family history centres around the country to be extremely helpful, and that was certainly true of the people who manned the stand.

I was a bit disappointed by the number of family history societies that were present. In particular, it seemed a shame that some of the larger societies - Birmingham and Lancashire, for example, had not attended. Judging from the interest in the Shropshire FHS stand, I'm sure that their attendance would have been well worthwhile, and appreciated by their members in the south east of the country.

It is a commonly held belief in my family that the Guyatt name is of French origin (my gt grandmother was a Londoner named Hannah Guyatt [1857 - 1903]). I have traced the Guyatt line back to 1800, and am awaiting the next moment of inspiration to enable me to make further progress, but have not yet found any evidence of French ancestry. However, I do believe it quite likely that the name originates from France. My main reason for this belief is the reference to the name in A Dictionary of English Surnames (Oxford). I am quite sceptical of surname dictionaries, as I think that many of them are not very well researched, but I do consider the Oxford version to be one of the best around, as it carries lots of citations and appears well researched. Anyway, whilst at WDYTYA I took the opportunity to ask the people from the Huguenot Society to check their database for the Guyatt name.

The outcome of the search was that the Huguenot Society's database contained eighteen references to the Guyot name, but none to Guyatt or Guyat. It seems quite possible that Guyot could be a variable of Guyatt, but to find out more about these references I would have to buy more information. I'm not about to do that at the moment, partly for cost reasons and partly because I have loads of other treeing research on the go at the moment.

All in all the WDYTYA show was a great success for our society. We had loads of visitors to our stand, and hopefully were able to help many of them with their research. It is very likely that we shall be able to return to London for next year's event.

As far as my ongoing research is concerned, the most striking thing about the past few weeks has been the progress we have made with our research into our Lancashire Culshaw forebears. I have mentioned in previous entries that we had been rather flummoxed for a number of years in our efforts to find out more about the family for my great grandparents - John Culshaw (abt 1855 - 1924) and Elizabeth nee Bennett (abt 1853 - 1931). In my last blog entry I thimentioned that we had recently made contact with one of my father's Culshaw cousins. Well, the information she has given us has provided the answers to many of our long standing posers, and enabled us to further develop this line of research by filling in the detail of the siblings of my grandfather, William Henry Culshaw (1877-1925).

We now know that Elizabeth Culshaw (b abt 1885) married Matthew Birtwistle (b abt 1877) in 1910, this couple having one child. We also know that John Culshaw (b 1889) was married in 1915 to Mary Ann Rigby. As far as we know this couple had just one child.

The 1911 census entry for John Culshaw & Elizabeth nee Bennett informed us that their marriage had produced seven children, three of whom had died. This was a considerable surprise to us, as we only knew of four children, including my grandfather. Well, recently I was browsing the catalogue of microfiches currently sold by the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society, and decided to buy some of them. These were records relating to chapels and churches in the Leyland / Farington area, which I had not previously searched. I already knew that John & Elizabeth were Catholics, having found some family baptisms at St Mary's RC Church, Brown Edge, so I bought the fiches relating to St Mary RC church in Leyland. We struck gold, because the baptisms fiche contained the records of the baptisms of the three children of John & Elizabeth who had died before the date of the 1911 census:

1876 - Abel Culshaw
1879 - James Culshaw
1883 - Amy Ann Culshaw

I then searched the civil registrations deaths indexes on the Lancashire BMD website, seeking the deaths of these unfortunate children, and came up with:

1876 - CULSHAW Abel 0 Preston Preston PRES/170/42
1879 - CULSHAW James 0 Longton Preston LONG/11/64
1884 - CULSHAW Amy Ann 1 Longton Preston LONG/12/89

Yes, I know that I need to obtain the death certificates to be absolutely sure that I have identified the correct records, but there seems little real doubt about it.

So there we are, another few twigs on the tree. Now on to the next conundrum......

Happy hunting to one and all.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 January 2010

2010 has begun with some very harsh weather here in the UK. Snow, ice and wind the like of which we haven't seen for many a year, and it hasn't finished yet. As I type this it is snowing on my corner of the world. I'm sure that if you are reading this in Canada, or the eastern states of the US you will laugh at our concern at what is, compared to your winters, a mere smattering of snow, but when you are not used to these conditions it is no joke, I assure you!

The weather has meant that I've only been to one football (aka soccer) match since Christmas - and that was a lousy performance by my team in quite cold conditions - but the good side of it is that there is not much one can do outdoors, so one may as well settle down to some more research.

So what has gone on in our research this month?

Well, there never seems to be a dull month as far as treeing is concerned, and January has been no exception.

I was contacted by Darlene, who is descended from the Herberts of Cardiganshire. These people feature on the Bankes pedigree from the time when Rev David Herbert (1767-1835) married Mary Price (abt 1777-1856) in 1796 at Llanfihangel Ystrad in Cardiganshire. David was a descendant of a long line of Herberts, who had occupied premises (or maybe the right word is estates) on the Cardiganshire coast near Llansaintfraid for many, many years. I have a tree that was given to me by Christopher, a Herbert descendant, which takes the line back to the 13th century. Christopher told me that it had been researched by his mother, and there are many aspects of it that may not be correct, but it is certain that the family had been in that part of Wales for many generations.

The union of David Herbert & Mary Price produced five children, two of whom died in childhood. Of the three other children Mary Herbert (Abt 1806-1884) married Rev David Parry (abt 1794-1877), who was a very well known Welsh preacher - known as "Silver Bell", no less. Rev Parry was vicar of Llywell, Brechnockshire, for forty years before moving to a neighbouring parish - Defynnog - in 1862. When he died in 1877 he was buried at Defynnog. We have visited his grave, as Defynnog is on our usual route when we go for one of our many summer weekends in Carmarthenshire. Apparently there is a portrait of him in the vestry of Defynnog parish church, but we haven't seen it.

David and Mary Parry did not produce any children. The only one of the five offspring of David & Mary Herbert who had children was their son William Herbert (abt 1795-1893). He was vicar of Llansaintfraid after his father, and held that post for well over fifty years. He married Elizabeth Morice (1793-1892) and they had five children, all of whom lived long lives. One daughter married a clergyman and two of the boys were also clergyman. The second daughter - Frances Elizabeth Herbert - featured at some length in this blog two months ago.

Darlene has sent me a big Word file containing a great deal of extra information about generations of the Herbert family before the time of the above mentioned Rev David Herbert, and it will be an interesting exercise to go through this and see what I can add to our tree. There is also, of course, material relating to her line of Herbert ancestry from the father of "my" David Herbert, and I certainly look forward to looking at that.

There has been a very exciting development this month on my Culshaw research. Through using various detective methods which I won't explain in this blog, Helen has got in contact with the daughters of a cousin of my father who dad has not heard from for about 70 years. Dad's cousin is alive and well, and living in Lancashire, and I am at the moment planning a trip to Lancashire to enable him to meet and spend some time with her. This really is so exciting! Dad is absolutely thrilled, and from what I gather he is spending much time talking with her on the phone! Helen and I really can't wait to meet these "new" cousins.

This really is a wonderful aspect of our hobby. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to meet many cousins, some close and some more distant, all kinsfolk who I would never have met , but for this obsession of mine. I count myself very lucky in this respect.

As if that was not all, these newly found cousins have given me some more information about a lady who has had me baffled for many years. I have written previously in this blog about the mysterious Elizabeth Bennett (abt 1854-1931), and how I could not identify her parents. Well, thanks to nformation we now have I have a new lead on the problem, and high hopes that we may be able to "crack it". I'll let you know more when I've got something concrete to report.

Apart from the above, I've spent ages adding information to the Bankes Pedigree so that when we update the website the tree will be as up to date as possible. I'm going to need to draw a line under this at some stage, but will carry on for a while yet.

On top of all this, January was the month when I've been working on the March 2010 edition of the Shropshire Family History Society Journal. It's done now, and off to the printers, and hopefully our members will be pleased with it.

One last thing to mention. Over the last weekend in February the Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010 event is being held in the exhibition halls at Olympia, London. For the first time ever, we at Shropshire FHS decided to exhibit at this event, and five of us will man the stand over the weekend. I shall be on the stand on the Saturday and Sunday, 27 & 27 February, so if any of you are at Olympia on either of those days I'd be delighted to meet you. Of course, I understand that there will be many people there who are a lot more worthy of your attention than me, but I thought I'd
mention it, just in case.

Good hunting to one and all!