Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 28 November 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Geoffs Genealogy Update 14 November 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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