Professional Research in London

Geoff in Ireland 296x300 Professional Research in LondonHi

Welcome to my research pages. My name is Geoff Swinfield and I am a professional genealogist covering all of the British Isles. This is achieved using all the major online databases and the resources found in these London repositories:

Society of Genealogists, LDS London Family History Centre, London Metropolitan Archives, Westminster Archives, British Library, Guildhall Library, Principal Probate Registry and The National Archives.

If you would like to discuss your research and/or need any assistance, please use the Contact Us Tab at the top of this page or telephone: 0208 325 3670

Address: 14 Beaconsfield Road, Mottingham, London SE9 4DP

Career

Research Director of Achievements Ltd (1983-1993) and Ancestors Ltd (1993-1999).

Proprietor of Geoff Swinfield Genealogical Services (1999 to date).

Teacher of genealogical sources and techniques at Society of Genealogists and to family history societies.

Collaborated with a number of medical establishments to apply genealogical techniques to the study of families with inherited diseases.

Probate and intestacy research for solicitors and other professionals.

Qualifications

Licentiate in Heraldry and Genealogy (LHG), PhD in Genetics.

Specialisation

General genealogy throughout Britain, probate research, tracing living relatives and finding missing people.

DNA tests and their application to genealogy.

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By Di Bouglas

Following discussions with other professional genealogists, it has become apparent that we all want to know more about how to deal with taxation matters related to running a small business. I have now been able to arrange a talk by leading HMRC expert, Fiona Heritage. Fiona had 29 years experience with HM Revenue and Customs and now runs her own consultancy, TaxClever. She will cover self assessment, what expenses can be claimed, record keeping and NI contributions and there will be ample opportunity to ask questions. With the 31st January deadline looming for filing your return for 2012/3, this is an ideal opportunity to make sure you are claiming everything you can, whilst staying on the right side of the law.

The talk will be at the Society of Genealogists at 2pm on Thursday 9th January 2014. Directions can be found on the SoG website.

For anyone who is an SoG member, Thursday is their late night, so you will also have the opportunity to stay until 8pm and use the library.

For those who are not SoG members, or are not familiar with what the library has to offer, we are going to arrange for an optional free tour of the library after the talk has finished.

Places are limited and I’m expecting that this might be a popular topic, so advance booking is advised. The cost is £6, to include light refreshments, which can be paid in advance by cheque (payable to Diana Bouglas). It might be possible to turn up and pay on the day, but please check with me first to make sure there are still places available. All are welcome. You don’t have to be an AGRA or SoG member, or even a genealogist. Please contact us using the tab at the top of the page (not the SoG) for further details.

 

 

 

Incest and Folk-Dancing

by Geoff Swinfield FSG

On 17th January 2013, Steve Jones, the eminent geneticist, gave his presentation Incest and Folk-Dancing: Two things to be avoided at Gresham College, Barnard’s Inn Hall, just off Holborn in London. The Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College, London, took his very amusing title from the famous quotation by Sir Thomas Beecham. Of course, he mainly concentrated on the former.

He first looked at what makes males so different to females in most species of animals. In most cases, this is due to the inheritance of that very odd structure, the Y-chromosome, which appears to be a former shadow of the X-chromosome from which it has deteriorated over millions of years. For many reasons, especially the testosterone which it generates, it causes male humans to succumb, at a much higher rate than females, to death from virtually every cause of disease and accident. Indeed, men are ten times more likely to be murderers and to be murdered than are women.

Steve then looked at how males and females differ in the relative production of their sex cells. How does their strategy affect the ability to find a mate and successfully reproduce their genetic code for future generations? For some reason, women, and females of all species which partake in sexual reproduction, are prepared to pass only half their genome on to their offspring whilst acting as a conduit for their partner’s share. The benefit is, of course, the inheritance of variation caused by mutation, which ultimately allows the species to evolve through natural selection. Amazingly, Steve quoted, that all the women in the world generate about 400 eggs every second, from which, on average, 5 babies are born. To fertilise those, men are generating “river loads” of sperm, when only a few are needed.

The next part of the presentation looked at how closely we are all related to each other. The chances are that we were something like 6th cousins to the person sitting next to us. Yes we are all descended from those who unknowingly were committing some form of incest! There are just not enough separate ancestors to go around. All our pedigrees show some degree of “inbreeding” through sharing common ancestors on many lines of descent. He illustrated just how far that can go with members of European royal households. In some instances, where over seven generations there should be 128 different ancestors, a number of “royals” have far less than 20, the lowest being just 8!

Why is important to “out-breed”? That will reduce the chance of passing on inherited diseases. In some isolated populations, such as in Finland, where lineages can be traced back to very few ancestors, this has culminated in the appearance in recent generations of “recessive” diseases.

This same lack of a wide choice of mates and inherent “incest” has also produced, in some isolated Italian valleys, the elimination of many of the original surnames which had flourished there. If some men only produce daughters, their family name will be lost. Eventually it is possible for everyone who lives there to have the same surname. In the neighbouring valley, the entire population is called something else!

DNA can now be used to study inbreeding. Using Turi King’s study at Leicester University of the Y-chromosome and surnames, Professor Jones showed that those men who have rarer surnames, such as Attenborough, are very likely to have the same form of the male chromosome. On the other extreme, those with the commonest surnames such as Smith (and Jones) will carry the full range of Ys from all parts of the human species.

We can now study all the other parts of the genome, the autosomes (or non sex-determining chromosomes) through so-called “runs of homozygosity” (ROHs). Looking at the inheritance of identical large blocks of the genetic code within populations, it is possible to measure their level of in or out breeding. Thus amongst the indigenous inhabitants of some islands off the coast of Croatia, there has been a very high level of inbreeding. [Interestingly, that is very close to the area where he went to do his snail experiments in the 1970s. I was able to remind him afterwards that, as an undergraduate, I had been part of the last of those expeditions as long ago as 1972]. Very high levels of ROHs demonstrate that they, as do those from The Orkneys, must have the same common ancestors on many lines of their family tree through inbreeding or varying degrees of hidden incest.

A fascinating insight into this “sin” and its impact on population genetics was thoroughly enjoyed by all those who were lucky enough to be present. We look forward to learning about the similarly wicked effects of folk-dancing on mankind in a future talk. 

Ordering Recent Death Certificates in England & Wales

by Geoff Swinfield

 

I have recently completed a research project in which I was commissioned to obtain copies of over 200 death certificates of people who died in 2011 and 2012. This proved to be a very taxing task!

Online access to the indexes of registration for England and Wales extends only to the end of 2006 through FindMyPast.co.uk and Ancestry.co.uk. After that, currently to the end of the June 2012, they are only available for research on microfiche at seven large libraries. Those are the British Library and Westminster Archives in London and the main city libraries in Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Plymouth and Bridgend. Using the two access points in London, references were found for all the registrations. Now came the task of ordering copies of the documents.

The certificate ordering service of the General Register Office only allows copies of certificates which were registered more than six months ago to be requested at £9.25 each. Even then, a few could not be produced because, although the full reference appears in the national indexes, having been entered locally, copies of the documents have not yet found their way to the Registrar General’s collection in Southport. This enabled me to obtain 153 of the required copies.How was I to obtain the missing documents and the more recent registrations which amounted to 52? They would have to come from the local registrars.

Armed with the name of the relevant registration district, the number of the individual subdistrict and the 9-digit national reference number for each event, all of which appear in the national indexes, I naively believed that, by contacting each register office, this would be a straightforward process.

I was amazed to learn that the unique national number, attributed to each recently-registered event since the beginning of 2011, means virtually nothing locally. Most did not know what it meant or stated that “no-one has ever given us that information before when applying for a copy”. One registrar was surprised that I could quote the number and could use it to identify the correct document. Most required to know in which of their districts the event had been registered. Of course, I did not know that as the national indexes only provide a (sub)district number. Foolishly, I thought that by telling Surrey that the event was recorded in their area “7591L” that would inform them whether the document was at Guildford, Weybridge or any of their other offices. No such joy.

Incidentally, the 9-digit reference appears on every very recent (2011/12) certified copy, whether it comes from the GRO or a local registrar. This is presumably generated by the Registration Online (RON) project which was to enable rapid capture centrally of new registrations. Why can’t this be used to identify and produce any certified copy, wherever it is ordered or issued?

Often, the telephone was answered by a call centre which also dealt with the council tax and non-collection of waste. Application could only be made “on completion of a form” and I was asked to provide information about where the person had lived and died and in the case of women their maiden surname! None of which I knew! That is what I wanted to discover by obtaining a certified copy for my client.

How much was I charged for my pains? A number of the offices wanted me to tell them if the copy I needed was in a “current” or an “archived” volume as that determined its price. This was regularly quoted at £7 for a very recent record but £10 if the relevant volume was now full. As I did not have access to their records, I was at loss to know how I could have that answer! They would have to go to check.

What I eventually paid ranged from £15 as the standard charge for each copy from Monmouthshire down to as little as £4 for a certificate from South Gloucestershire. They are certainly a law unto themselves.

What struck me about the whole project was that, despite the objective of the DoVE (Digitisation of Vital Events) system, introduced in 2005 and suspended in 2010, which would link local registrars together, streamline the registration process and provide centralised access to records, this has not been achieved in any shape or form.

Useful Links:

Order BMD Certificates

Civil Registration (GENUKI page)

Holders of GRO Indexes

Register Offices in England and Wales

 

 

 

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by Di Bouglas

Following the last sessions in April, a further meeting of users was held today at First Avenue House, home of the Principal Probate Registry and London search room. There was very little new information, but the following is a summary of what was discussed.

John Briden will be leaving on 31 May 2012. There is no direct replacement for him at the moment. We were introduced to Mark Burdon and Di Rice who are based (I think) at Newcastle and Oxford registries and oversee the northern and southern areas respectively. They will be taking over from John for now.

Despite some concerns voiced by users, we were told that there are no current plans to close the London search room, although there were also no guarantees that it will remain open in the long term. Plans are being developed to drastically reduce the need for a face-to-face interview in order for a probate to be granted. The current oath will be replaced by a ‘statement of truth’ in non-contentious cases, which will require only a signature. If the numbers of searchers is also reduced following the introduction of the online calendar, then clearly it will be difficult to see why the premises now in use on the 7th floor at First Avenue House will still be required. There was no mention of providing a service for those who cannot or do not want to use the online calendar.

As suggested previously, the one-hour copy service will not be reintroduced. It is likely that the current 48 hour service will become 24 hour, once its delivery can be guaranteed. The postal service for London orders might be reduced from 10 working days to perhaps 3-4 days. A review of the charging system might result in a higher fee being charged for a faster service. This seems to be a new idea. We have always understood that the cost would always be the same, irrespective of production speed. The counter clerks will still have some discretion to produce an urgent copy in an hour, where they can be persuaded of a pressing need.

A multi-tier system might be considered for online orders as well. We were told that the current delivery time for orders produced via Leeds was three weeks and that this was now being met in almost 100% of cases. This is an acknowledged improvement on the problems experienced when Ancestry first put the calendars online and orders placed through Leeds (and previously York) jumped from 1500 to 4500 a month. The level is now about 1100 a month, with no apparent rise yet noticed since Ancestry’s latest increase in their coverage to 1858-1966 just last week. It is hoped that systems will be in place to cope with any increase in demand when the online service begins. A ‘soft’ launch is planned, to try and avoid a ’1901 census’ type system failure.

One thing which was revealed today was that the Probate service is charged differing amounts by their archive provider, Iron Mountain, depending on how quickly a copy is required. They have three levels: 45 minutes, 24 hours and 10 days. So clearly the current £6 we pay for any copy is not based on cost recovery, or our fees would also have to be tiered to reflect the differing fees which are paid to Iron Mountain.

It is still hoped that the online calendar will start rolling out later in 2012, with the Soldiers’ Wills being the first to be released, followed by the most recent period (1996 to the present). The method of searching the older, scanned calendar books will be by year and then a number of letters of the surname. This has now been increased from the first three letters of the name. What to has not been decided, but 7-8 characters was mentioned as a possibility. The final decision will depend on cost. Apparently, the more letters included in the search, the more expensive it is to set up.

Once the online calendar is finished, there are plans to make it available under licence, including the Soldiers’ wills, so it is likely that versions will appear on the big data providers’ websites. The end date of licenced calendars has not yet been decided, but very recent data will not be included. Following on from this, consideration may be given to scanning older wills and grants. Currently, only 2004+ and the Soldiers’ Wills have been scanned completely.

We were assured that the online calendar will be totally complete. In other words, checks have been made to ensure that every page of each book has been scanned. The books used include all annotations and folio numbers. The online version will also serve as one of the Probate Service’s own copies of the full calendar, so they need it to be reliable.

Willfinder will continue to be used in the search room. In any case, it is the system used to by staff to order the copies from Iron Mountain. They have the capability to override any apparent negative search result and it is possible that this might be extended to users, in order to further automate the ordering system at First Avenue House.

Further meetings for users were promised, with another perhaps in about September, prior to the online launch, so that the system can be discussed in more detail. There might also be the possibility of involving users in beta testing.

Oh yes, and we were also promised that the bell on the cashier’s counter will be fixed and replacement bulbs will be stocked so that both fiche readers will be available for use! We shall see…….

Probate Calendars to be Online Soon

(written by Di Bouglas)

Some interesting information has been revealed about the long-awaited online access to the probate calendars for England and Wales. At two meetings for users held on 17 April, John Briden of the Probate Service outlined plans for the calendars to be put online, some hopefully by the end of 2012. John was accompanied by a team from Iron Mountain, the archive facility which currently holds the contract for storing post 1858 wills and providing copies on demand. They gave a demonstration of how it will work, although some final details of  the search are still to be decided.

The calendars, which exist in paper form up to 1996, have already been scanned and will be available to browse by the first few letters of a surname. There will also be the facility to jump from one year to the next. This will not be a completely searchable index, as is the case with the data for 1861-1941 currently on Ancestry. It will be much like using the books and fiche at the registries. The search will be free and there will then be the possibility to order copies for delivery online. From 1996 onwards, the format will be a redacted version of the Probateman database, with details of potentially living executors being omitted for privacy reasons. We were assured that the flawed and incomplete Will Finder system will be abandoned.

Another exciting piece of news was the digitisation of 300,000 wills of solders killed in action, which are held by the Probate Service but never included in the calendars as they were dealt with by the War Office and later the Ministry of Defence. We understand that they cover casualties from all conflicts from the Crimean War onwards. They do not include officers.

The soldiers wills will be the first to be released online, so we should see them later in 2012. They will be searchable by surname, regimental number and year of death. Again, copies may be ordered online.

Also discussed was the withdrawal of the one-hour service at the London search room and its possible future reinstatement. At the moment, this looks distinctly unlikely, but following the introduction of a replacement 48 hour service, which has been much easier to deliver, there seems to be the possibility of a 24 hour service being introduced at some time in the future.

The Probate Service is eager to receive feedback, so they can understand the differing requirements of a wide range of users. More meetings are planned, beginning on 8 May.

Migration & Genetics

On Thursday, 26th January 2012, the Migration Museum Project held at a seminar on the subject of “Migration and Genetics”. This was the third in a series of gatherings, where a wide range of scientific subjects can be discussed, which have been held at the Dana Centre, part of the Science Museum, in Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London.

 

Clipboard011 Migration & Genetics

 

 

 

 

 

Chaired by the news presenter, George Alagiah, the first two ten-minute sessions provided the background to the relationship now being enjoyed between the study of human history and the movement of populations and the recent developments in genetic testing. The archaeologist David Miles, author of The Tribes of Britain,  gave us his thoughts on what new insights genetic studies could add to the conventional understanding of the settlement of the British Isles by immigrants from continental Europe. Dr Turi King, geneticist of Leicester University and co-author of the recently published book Surnames, DNA & Family History explained the theory behind the use of genetic testing. Concentrating particularly on the Y-chromosome, what light did such studies shed on where those populations may have come from en route to Britain? What do they tell us about the surnames which we inherit principally from our fathers?

100 4243 300x224 Migration & Genetics

John Revis, George Alagiah and Turi King

 

Two further sessions centred on the experiences of Patrick Vernon and John Revis, whose test results had provided them with a surprising insight into particular parts of their own family trees. John had been tested by Leicester University during Turi’s study of surnames and was found to have inherited a Y-chromosome belonging to haplogroup A1a. This is its oldest form, never before found in Britain in someone who was not of immediate African origin. On recruiting other men named Revis, a Yorkshire surname, many were found to share this same very rare part of their genome and must be close relatives. This was proved to be the case through genealogical research conducted by myself and members of the Revis family.

Patrick’s experience was revealed through testing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which was inherited through the female line of his ancestry. This added significantly to his own genealogy which had been traced back to a slave on a Jamaican plantation about 1800. His mtDNA pinpointed that his maternal line of ancestry came from a village in Senegal which he was pleased to return to in 2004. This gave him a profound sense of homecoming.

After a short break, Turi King revealed the results of tests conducted in advance on men in the audience. We had with us men from all parts of Europe representing haplogroups: R1b, the typical western European male; I, who are of “Viking” stock; E, who hail from the Mediterranean shores; and J, particularly the part of that haplogroup closely associated with the Jewish Cohen lineage. Those tested gave us their reaction to how this made them feel about their paternal forefathers. Several had checked in advance with their mother to ensure that they had not been adopted!

100 4247 300x224 Migration & Genetics

Opening the proceedings to participation and questions from the audience, a wide range of points of view were expressed. These ranged from why the focus was so much on male ancestry to what such tests may tell us about the concept of “race” and prejudice. How did John Revis feel when the media wanted to know what it was like to have black ancestors? Would that influence his diet or habits? Of course, we all have ancestors who ultimately came “out of Africa”. Some just left rather more recently than others. In any event, we are only looking at two very specific parts of the genetic material, the Y-chromosome and mtDNA, which pass down through history along the extreme right and left hand sides of our family trees. In other words, the Y-chromosome is inherited by sons from their father and mtDNA passes from a mother to her children. At present, we have no way of learning where all our other ancestral lines, who contributed equally to our family trees, lived in the past.

The clear message from this very rewarding seminar was that as genetic testing techniques develop, they may become much more powerful tools to give us all, genealogists, archaeologists and historians, a clearer understanding of how that melting pot, which is now the British, was created.

Three Photographs

 

We were recently asked if we could help discover more about a photo of a lady in a wedding dress. Barbara Willis looks after the photo collection at the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne, Dorset. She explained that some years ago they had been given three photos and a dress by a local lady. The dress is a long gown with a print of pink and gold flowers. Luckily, the photos had been labelled on the back. Wouldn’t it be good if all our ancestors had taken the time to do that? The dress had been featured in an exhibition of wedding dresses at the Museum and Barbara wanted to know if it would be possible to find out a little more about the people in the photos, especially the lady in the dress.

 

Budden 3 156x300 Three Photographs

Barbara Budden wedding dress 8.10.38

 

 

 

Budden 2 182x300 Three Photographs

Father Mother Dorothy Blake & Barbara. Just before 2nd war at Acton. Parents Golden Wedding anniversary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budden 1 300x228 Three Photographs

August 1920 Constantinople. Capt E J B Budden Middlesex Regt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, we had a date in 1938 and what we thought was a fairly uncommon surname. The people at the Museum thought the donor of the items was a Mrs Blake-Budden, but there is no birth, marriage or death to be found in the indexes of general registration for anyone with the surname Blake-Budden. As the group photo referred to Blake and Barbara, perhaps there were the forenames of the couple. Disappointingly, there were also no entries in the indexes for a man called Blake Budden.

A search for the marriage of anyone called Barbara to a man with the surname Budden met with more success. There were only two during the 1930s and one of these was for a groom with the same initials as the soldier photographed in Constantinople. Eustace J B Budden and Barbara S Budden married in Chelsea registration district in the December quarter of 1938. The surname Budden is apparently much more common that we had first thought, especially in the Dorset area. Perhaps the couple were cousins. We could conduct further searches in the future to check that out.

Eustace James B Budden was born in the Brentford district in 1891. We also found his baptism online at ancestry.co.uk, which confirms that his full name was indeed Eustace James Blake Budden, christened on 15th September 1891 at St Mary’s, Acton. He was the son of Robert Blake and Edith Westaway Blake, of 5 Rosemont Road. Perhaps he preferred being called Blake rather than Eustace!

The family was found in the census of 1891 living at Rosemont Road, in 1901 at Florence Road, Ealing, and in 1911 at 43 Corfton Road, Ealing. They were all Londoners and Eustace was their only child. The parents, Robert Blake Budden and Edith Westaway Force, married in 1890 at Brentford.

Budden 1911 300x177 Three Photographs

Budden household 1911, 43 Corfton Road, Ealing

The 1911 census described Blake as “Student, University College”.  From an online list of all graduates from 1836 to 1926, we found that Blake obtained his BSc at University College London and appears to have graduated as late as 1919, with the Great War interrupting his studies. There is a World War I medal card for him, also available through Ancestry which confirms that he was a captain in the Middlesex Regiment.

 

The National Archives holds an officer’s record file for him  (WO 374/10605). It tells us that Blake was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 1910, after serving in the Officer Training Corps whilst he was at Repton School. At the outbreak of war, he was on an extended stay in Frankfurt and was taken prisoner there in August 1914. He saw no active service, remaining a prisoner for the duration of the War and was repatriated shortly after the Armistice in November 1918. Soon after his capture, his father, Robert, wrote to the War Office to enquire whether there was any possibility of Blake being included in an exchange of British nationals, suggesting that his knowledge of languages would make him a useful officer if only he could be released. After the war, Blake served as a Railway Traffic Officer with the Allied Forces of Occupation in Constantinople. He relinquished his commission in 1922 and travelled back to Britain on the Orient Express.

Budden 4 300x186 Three Photographs

 

Budden 5 239x300 Three Photographs

Barbara Sloggett Budden’s birth was registered in the March quarter of 1900 in the Christchurch district of Dorset. Her death in Bournemouth in June 1990 gives the exact date as 30 January 1900. She donated the dress and photos to the Museum just two years before she died.

Barbara’s family were living at Boscastle, Iddesleigh Road, Bournemouth in 1901 and 1911. Her father, Horace, was a merchant tailor and her older sister, Dorothy, was still at home in 1901. By 1911 she was living with relatives in Hammersmith. Horace Budden had married Laura Evangeline Anderson in Brighton in 1889.

As Robert Blake Budden died in 1932, at the age of 77, in Brentford district, the group photo must be of Barbara’s parents’ golden wedding anniversary, rather than Blake’s.

Apart from Blake’s service record, which we copied at The National Archives,  the rest was all discovered during an evening’s browsing on the internet.

Wills – an Important Source

 

One of the most useful sources for family historians is probate documents. If an ancestor left a will, it will often contain information about members of the extended family, such as this one written by Henrietta Jones of New Southgate in 1945. Henrietta  Will of Henrietta Jones e1316773348109 202x300 Wills   an Important Source left monetary bequests to a whole list of relatives and friends.

We might also gain an insight into what kind of life the testator lived, what their occupation was, any property they owned, as well as details of  their personal estate such as jewellery and household effects.

Even if an ancestor died without leaving a will, the next of kin or their representative would have had to apply for a grant of administration in order to dispose of the assets of the deceased.

Since 12 January 1858, all wills in England and Wales have been proved and letters of administration granted by a civil probate court, replacing the rather complicated hierarchy of ecclesiastical courts which had been operating since medieval times. Copies were sent from district registries to the Principal Probate Registry (PPR) and they compiled annual calendars.

These calendaFirst Avenue House e1316773468990 266x300 Wills   an Important Source rs can be searched at First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, WC1V 6NP, with most of the more recent entries now available on computer, back to about 1920. Calendars for 1861 – 1941 (with a few years missing) have also been digitised by Ancestry and can therefore be searched online.

 

 

George Swinfield will 224x300 Wills   an Important Source

 

 

 

Copies can then be ordered, either by visiting PPR or by post. Full instructions are available on their website. Until September 2011, it was possible to get a same-day copy of any will or administration at PPR. This service was extensively used by intestacy professionals and ‘heir hunting’ firms. Unfortunately, the so-called one-hour service has now been withdrawn and the quickest option is to collect documents a week later.

It would be a mistake to assume that only our more wealthy ancestors left wills. This example shows that in 1948, George Ernest Tertius Swinfield left to his daughter, Frances Olive Payne, “one pair of steps, one deck chair, the hearth rug from my front room, one lamb wool bed cover, pots and saucepans and my ring…”. His other daughter, Sylvia, inherited her father’s bird cage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracing a Silversmith’s Family

 

We were recently commissioned to do some research by Geoffrey Munn, managing director of  Wartski of Grafton Street, London W1 and jewellery expert on the Antiques Roadshow. He had an interest in the work of Gilbert Leigh Marks (1861-1905) and wanted to find relatives alive today who might have information or perhaps photos of him.

Gilbert Marks goblet 157x300 Tracing a Silversmiths Family

 

Marks was a talented silversmith and metalworker who, despite his career being cut short by ill health and an early death, produced perhaps 700-800 pieces. His work is recognisable by its use of patterns taken from nature and he was considered one of the finest art silversmiths working in the Arts and Crafts tradition. Marks lived in Croydon and married Florence Elizabeth Ford (1864-1917) in 1888. The couple had no children and the aim of our research was to find living relatives of Florence’s large familyof brothers and sisters, some of whom had been left pieces of Marks’s work in his wife’s will.

 

 

 

 

We then went on to trace descendants of Marks’s assistant, Louis Movio, an accomplished metal worker and silversmith in his own right. Movio was born in Milan in about 1857/8 and also died young, aged only 43, in Birmingham.

with Geoffrey Munn 2 e1314267900282 300x222 Tracing a Silversmiths Family

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Diary Dates for 2011

I am giving the following family history talks during 2011. All are welcome to attend. Please click the links for more details.

Wed 11 May 7.30pm

Woolwich Family History Society DNA Tests for Family Historians

Wed 18 May 2pm

Society of Genealogists Parish Registers and Parish Chest Records Online

Sat 28 May 10.30am

Society of Genealogists

I’m Stuck

Sat 4 Jun 10.30am

Society of Genealogists My Ancestor Came From London

Tue 21 Jun 7.15pm

Shropshire Family History Society Finding Living and Missing People

Wed 19 Oct 2pm

Society of Genealogists

Tracing Living Relatives and Missing People

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