Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Geoffs Genealogy Update 3 September 2008

I'm a lucky chap. Since my last blog entry I have had a pretty good time.

Firstly, at the start of August I went off to Portugal for a week of sunshine, good food, and super company on the Algarve. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this holiday, and a brief escape from the rigours of an appalling English summer.

Secondly, over the August bank holiday weekend Jan and I went to North Wales. We stayed a couple of nights at Llandudno, in a really lovely bed & breakfast. It is many years since we last visited Llandudno, and I had quite forgotten what a fine traditional seaside resort it is. It truly is well worth a visit, if you have a mind to spend some time in North Wales. The reason for our brief sojourn in the town was our annual visit to Bryn Terfel's opera gala night at the Faenol festival. Although the weather over the weekend was pretty fair, on the evening in question it was quite poor, although the rain did hold off for the duration of the concert. However, the concert was quite as wonderful as it always is. Bryn was joined by Diana Damrau (soprano), Nadia Krasteva (mezzo) and Johan Botha (tenor) - all great stars of the Opera world, and they gave us a terrific show.

We have one more open air event to attend this year, and we are praying for a decent evening (seems unlikely though). On 13 September we go to Swansea to attend the BBC Proms in the Park concert - the Last Night of the Proms. Last year we enjoyed this event enormously, so we are going again.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to be contacted by Glenva, in Australia. She is a distant cousin of mine on the Holliday line, and we have exchanged information about our respective Holliday forebears. Our common ancestors were John Holliday (c1812-1874) and his wife, Louisa Matthews (b c1826). It will take me a while to enter up all the material Glenva has sent me, but I shall have the job completed before long.

The Hollidays are not Bankes descendants. They are the family of my late grandmother - Alice Louisa (Holliday) Smith(1891-1982), who married George William Smith (1886-1940). You can find them on the tree on my website. The Hollidays seeem to me to exemplify a recurring theme in family history research which I find endlessly fascinating - the way in which a family's economic and social fortunes can turn around completely. This usually seems to happen as a result of a single chance event, such as a fortunate or unfortunate marriage.
Those of you who have watched the BBC TV series Who do you think you are will have observed this many times. Recently it showed how the fortunes of Patsy Kensit's forebears had veered between pillar of the community respectability and criminality.

I think it fair to say that over the last couple of centuries the Hollidays have generally been pretty ordinary working folk. They do not seem to have been particularly prosperous, in fact in one particular case in 1901 family members were in a London workhouse. Around 1880 James Frederick Holliday (1853-1938), a cousin of my great grandfather, decided to go to Bolivia to visit his brother, an engineer working in that country. In the course of his trip he stopped off in Santos, Brazil. There he had an encounter with a British man, the upshot of which was that he got a job working in Brazil and settled there. See what I mean about a family's fortunes turning on a chance event? In 1882 James married Elizabeth Daly (c1856-1926) in Rio de Janeiro, and they founded a branch of Brazilian Hollidays. This branch of the family seems to have lived through a few turbulent times, but came through to achieve considerable prosperity - leaving their British relations standing, in fact. If you look at the Holliday Family in Brazil Blog
you will be able to read their story. George Holliday has set up this blog, which is effectively a Holliday family archive. Lots of wonderful stuff here - photos, transcriptions of letters and much more.

My cousin Pat has been beavering away of late, investigating John Bankes (c1652-1719). She had found that a certain Edward Banks, Haberdasher of London, was a Sheriff of the City of London in 1563-4, and wondered whether he could be a forebear of our John Bankes, Haberdasher. She carried out a very interesting piece of research, obtaining the wills of several members of Edward Banks's family. They came from Shelford in Cambridgeshire.

The upshot of all this effort is that there was not an obvious connection between our JB and the Shelford family, but - of course - that does not necessarily mean that no connection existed. The hunt goes on!

Another recent contact was Barbara, who is descended from Anne Deane, half sister to John Bankes, on the Fiveash line. Her grandmother was Alice Maud Fiveash (b 1883) and her husband, Richard Williams. Barbara has kindly sent me some information about her grandmother's family and the line down to her, all of which was "news to me". Another part of the Bankes Pedigree filled in.

The time of the open weekend at Haberdashers' Hall draws near, and I'm certainly hoping to take the opportunity of visiting the new Hall. If I make it I'll tell you about it in my next blog entry.


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