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.