Friday, 29 January 2016

A walk down memory lane...

Today I took a trip to Melbourne to attend a seminar (Writing a Non Boring Family History at the Public Record Office Victoria). PROV happens to be just a short walk from the unit I lived in about 18 years ago, so I was back in familiar territory. It struck me as I looked down the street towards my old home that I was living right across the street from the house my great-great grandfather, George Amos, owned! I never knew that at the time, but just last week I discovered some old directories that revealed George Amos' address. It certainly is a small world!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Registers and what can be found therein

One of the enjoyable parts of genealogy is when you find something that helps you connect on a personal level with your ancestors. Today I had such an experience. Whilst going through the four generations of Amos' who will feature in my family history book, I discovered a scan of the Stretford Marriage register which has the entry for Amos BANNISTER (1730-1796) and Catherine ROBINSON. Not only did this help me pin down a more exact date for their wedding, but it lists the dates when their marriage banns were read and has details about Catherine's origins which will help me push back a little further on that line. Oh, and there's a little bonus too...

Looking at the entries on the page it is appears that each entry was signed by different people and the handwriting is quite distinct for each signature. So it is unlikely that this is a transcription of an original document, but a scan of the original register itself. That makes it quite probable that I am looking at Amos BANNISTER's actual handwriting. I never thought I would be looking at the signature of my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather from 1757 - it just makes this project all the more personal and relevant somehow.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Family Reunion Book thoughts

I have decided to compile a short book for our family reunion next year. The subject of he book will be the four generations of my ancestors who lived in Stretford, beginning with Amos BANNISTER who was the first to move to Stretford and ending in George Amos BANNISTER who came to Australia. Their lives, from the birth of Amos to the death of George Amos spanned a total of 152 years and I have most of the relevant vital documents plus a large number of other supporting documents with which to build a story.

As a first step I have started re-verifying my research for these people, double-checking my sources, making sure I have proper citations and checking that I have not missed anything. The next step will be to create a timeline for each person and to scour the newspaper archives for any relevant articles which might be included. Then I can start writing the stories.

Once I have the book written, I will need to find somewhere to get it printed. I could go for the "cheap and nasty" route of simply photocopying it and using a comb binder, but maybe there are some self-publishing/print-on-demand options that might be more appropriate? So I guess I should start looking at the available services and start trying to compare prices. Does anyone have any experience with self publishing?

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Family reunion idea: Family history book - take 2

Okay, after some thought I think I have come up with a good approach. The working title for the book is The Footsteps of Amos: From Stretford to Melbourne and it will cover the period from when the first Bannister moved to Stretford up until when my great-great-grandfather, George Amos BANNISTER emigrated to Australia. I will include events up to and including his death, but no further. This will tell an interesting story of the "Stretford years" and should allay some fears that had previously been expressed by some family members over their privacy. Time permitting I will try to produce a couple of smallish pamphlets covering some of the more interesting stories from the Melbourne clan as I have a lot of newspaper articles from Melbourne newspapers in the late 1800s and early 1900s which I would love to share. I will also attempt to produce a chart showing George Amos' descendants, but with no dates - I think it would be good to know where we all fit into the tree and what our relationships to each other are.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Family reunion idea: Family history book

I am looking for ideas for our family reunion next year and one idea I would like to explore is creating a family history book. I have traced the Bannister line back to the early 1700s in Cheshire and Lancashire in England. In the course of my research I have uncovered a number of interesting stories and anecdotes about our ancestors and their families. If I were to start with the earliest researched ancestor and produce a family group chart for each generation, I could then intersperse the family groups with relevant stories. While I don't have any photographs of any of my English ancestors I do have a large number of parish registers, newspaper articles, wills and other documents that I could include.

To help make things more relevant to the attendees at the reunion, I could include all descendants of my great-great-grandfather, George Amos BANNISTER, who was the first of "our" Bannisters to come to Australia. With luck we will have most of George Amos' descendants at the reunion, so I a, sure there would be some interest in such a book...

However... I don't think I would be able to produce a complete descendant chart in the time available, so I may have to make a decision on a cut-off point. Perhaps up to and including my grandfather's siblings would be good enough? I will have to give some thought to just how far up and down the tree I go with this book...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Returning to action...

Sometimes life throws you a curveball, sometimes it throws several. I have been absent from here for too long but now it is time to make a return to my genealogical efforts. In a nutshell, I stopped updating this blog some months ago due to a series of family issues and a(n as yet unresolved) health issue. My mother moved house and is now five minutes away as opposed to being seven hours away. This coincided with a visit from my sister who lives on the other side of the country and, well, this blog got pushed aside while I reconnected with my family. At around the same time I received some troublesome results from a blood test and my health became my number one priority. Then I guess I hit a brick-wall - not a genealogical brick-wall, more a motivational one. 8^/

Anyhow, family matters have settled down somewhat and while my health is still a bit of an issue I am starting to get back into the swing of things. Of course it doesn't hurt that I now have a new project to keep me interested. I am currently planning (with my father) a Bannister family reunion which will be held in March next year. We are inviting our immediate family, and all the cousins, aunts and uncles we can contact. We expect about 50 or 60 people to turn up and I am really looking forward to catching up with everyone.

We have come up with a few ideas for things to do at the reunion:

  • A family reunion guest book: Dad wants everyone to sign a guest book, which is a good idea, but I think we can make it better with a little effort. Instead of an actual guest book, I will print out some template pages with spaces for names, signatures and a short message. Then I want to photograph everyone who attends. After the reunion I plan to scan in all the signed sheets and paste in the photos, as well as a small family tree (parents, spouse + children where appropriate) and print out copies of the reunion guest book for anyone who wants. I think this will make a nice keepsake.
  • Custom placemats: We will gather lot of old family photos, newspaper clippings, and maybe even some old parish registers and other old documents, print them out and laminate them. These can then be put on the tables to be used as placemats. A few years ago my father and I were invited to a function at the Hazelwood-Churchill Football Club where they printed copies of old newspaper clipping about the club and used them as placemats. This was a good way of stimulating discussion as people read their placemats and shared the stories with others on the table. We just need to choose which photos/documents to use - I have way too many to pick from!
  • Slideshow: We will borrow a projector and create a slideshow of old photos and documents. This can be left playing all night and will be easy enough to put together.
  • Unidentified photos: I want to print out old photos we have with unidentified faces, pin these photos on a noticeboard and ask guests to identify the people they know. I am sure this will generate some intense discussion as people try to remember the names of the faces in the photos and it will help fill in some gaps in my records.
  • Photo sharing: We will be contacting all invitees to ask them to bring along any scanned photos/documents they have, along with blank USB sticks. I will have a computer (or two) set up in a corner where people can copy photos.
I also plan on asking invitees to bring along any documents (birth/marriage/death certificates, etc) so I can scan copies. Hopefully this will help me flesh out my own document collection.

In the interim I will be reviewing my family tree and looking for any interesting stories I can pull out. I am not sure if I will try to compile the information into a book, but that is also an option. I guess I have my work cut out for me. ;^)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Old Stretford - Chapter III - Places of Public Worship.


Places of Public Worship.

  My recollections of the Established Church
in Stretford extend over sixty-five years.  As
a child I was taken to the Old Church (or
chapel, as it was then called) before it was
pulled down.  It was built in 1718, at a cost
of £470.  This chapel replaced a still older
one built about 1538.  Originally in the
diocese of Lichfield, it was afterwards trans-
ferred to the See of Chester.  In 1821 and
again in 1824 the chapel was enlarged;
strange to say the cost was chiefly defrayed
out of the Poor Rate, levied by the overseers.
In return a large number of free seats were
allotted to the use of the poor.  In all there
were 450 sittings.  A sun-dial stood in the
old chapel yard, and here in olden times the
parish clerk used to give out notices of sales
by auction and announce parish meetings.
  I remember sitting near the old Communion
Table and spelling out the Lord's Prayer and
the Ten Commandments, which were on
boards close to it;  also seeing the Hinde
scholars come into church in their quaint
costumes--the boys in green-tailed coats and
knee breeches, the girls in green hats and
dresses, with white linen capes.  This charity
was founded by Mrs. Hinde prior to her death
in 1724.  She was the widow of the Rev. John
Hinde, Fellow of the Collegiate Church, who
officiated at Stretford, and subscribed £100
towards building the chapel.  The income of the
charity was derived from land in Salford and
Manchester, and it was to be devoted to the
education of twenty poor children, ten from
Stretford and ten from Manchester.  In 1788
the number of the charity was increased to
fifty.  A tablet to the memory of Mrs. Hinde
may be seen in the Manchester Cathedral.
  Lady de Trafford, wife of Sit Thomas de
Trafford, was a Protestant, and used to sit
at the Old Chapel in a pew near ours, whilst
her husband went to the Roman Catholic
Church at Barton or Manchester.  In case
of mixed marriages it was often the custom
to bring up the girls in the faith of the
mother and the boys in that of the father.
One of Lady de Trafford's daughters married
the Rev. Mr. Sparling, a Protestant clergy-
  Connected with Stretford Old Chapel it is
recorded that the noted Henry Newcome
preached there in 1679, and that John Collier,
father of Tim Bobbin, was minister in 1708-9.


  Stretford Church was originally a chapel
of ease, under the parish of Manchester, and
in the early days Dr. Elsdale, Master of the Man-
chester Grammar School, held the living for
thirty-one years, residing in Manchester, and
coming down once or twice a week to visit
the sick.  When he came down to take the
services on Sundays he had either to walk
from Manchester or to come by the "swift
packet," for which the Bridgewater trustees
gave him a free pass.  He sometimes had to
preach, watch in hand, and to cut short his
sermon in order to catch the boat.  In
the interval between the services he
dined at the Angel, in a room known as the
"Parson's Parlour."  After doing this for
nineteen years he secured in 1839 the services
of the Rev. Joseph Clarke, M.A., as a locum
tenens, and that gentleman afterwards suc-
ceeded him as perpetual curate.  Subse-
quently Stretford was separated from Man-
chester and became a rectory.  Mr. Clarke
officiated at Stretford for twenty-three years.
He was a tall, gaunt, earnest man, of the
evangelical school, always wore bands, and
preached in a black gown.  When Mr. Clarke
first came to Stretford, he had by no means
a "bed of roses."  The congregation and Dr.
Elsdale had got to cross purposes, and on the
first Sunday he preached no one offered any
welcome or hospitality to the new curate or
his wife, and they had to follow Dr. Elsdale's
example, and dine alone in the "Parson's
Parlour" at the Angel.  At that time there
was a great dispute about the right of the
Overseers to lay a church rate.  The offi-
cials had been very peremptory in demanding
payment, and had injudiciously served
summonses on Mr. Braybrooke and other in-
fluential inhabitants at Old Trafford, who
joined together and sought the advice of Mr.
John Owen, a well-known Manchester
solicitor.  The case came before two magi-
strates, who decided that the rate was illegal
because Stretford was not a "parochial
chapelry."  Eventually the opinion of Dr.
Phillimore was taken, and the Overseers
appealed against the previous decision.
Before taking further action, however, they
interviewed Mr. Owen and his clients, and
allowed them to see Dr. Phillimore's opinion
as to the legality of the rate, and this was so
clear and decided that the objecting rate-
payers gave way and decided to pay the


  In 1841 the parishioners proceeded to build
a new church at a cost of £3,200.  Sir
Thomas de Trafford gave the land and £100.
The site was a field called "The Wagstaff,"
once used for bull-baiting when that practice
was in vogue.  Lady de Trafford laid the
foundation stone of the new Parochial Church,
to be dedicated to St. Matthew on September
30, 1841, and it was consecrated by the Bishop
of Chester on October 10, 1842.  All the sub-
scribers to the building fund had pews allotted
to them, but as my father, though a con-
tributor, did not look after his interests,
our family got an indifferent one in
the extreme front, and under the pul-
pit.  It was a seat of peril, for a
book and afterwards a candlestick, fell
into our pew, fortunately without hurting
anyone.  The rector's family occupied the
adjoining square pew.  Behind them sat Mr.
James Crossley, of Ashton-on-Mersey, and
when he left, Mr., afterwards Sir, Thomas
Bazley, of Hayesleigh.  Not far away Mr.
John Frederick Foster, the well-known chair-
man of Quarter Sessions, had a pew.  His
statue is to be seen in the Assize Courts.  Just
behind him sat Mr.William Joynson, of Sale,
a very kind benevolent old gentleman, whose
sons, Richard and Walter, followed in his
steps, and are recently deceased.


In front of the Communion Table were two
gaunt double deckers, one used as a reading
desk, and the other as a pulpit.  In a box at
the front of the former sat Joseph Hampson,
the parish clerk, commonly called "Joe," and,
perhaps, the best-known man in the village.
On weekdays he was boss of a gang of men
employed by the Bridgewater Trustees to
keep the canal and its banks in order.  A
broad, stout man, he was just in his element
in an iceboat swaying about with the view of
keeping a passage open for canal boats in
frosty weather.  At church on Sundays he
was fully impressed with his own dignity.
He had a stentorian voice which sometimes
drowned that of the minister, and as the
Psalms were said, and not sung, he had full
play.  His eyes were all over the church, and
if the stove was running low, or a Sunday
scholar was misbehaving himself, "Joe"
marched from his box and poked the fire, or
cuffed the lad, regardless of all proprieties.
In later years when Mr. Hart, rector,
was about to officiate, and the was
no water in the font, "Joe" was
sent for some.  On his way back the
choir lads laughed at him, when he
at once put down the jug, and without think-
ing of the sanctity of the place, boxed their
ears.  Joseph Hampson held his position for
fifty-four years under five different ministers,
and it was said "rectors might come and
rectors might go, but Joe went on for ever."
But this was scarcely so, for he died in 1881.
The first of his family became clerk in 1750,
and the office had been, with one short
exception, in the hands of the family for 130
years.  Joseph Hampson was succeeded by
his brother William, and afterwards his niece
filled the office.
  I have in my possession a book entitled
"The Wreck of the Orion," written by Mr.
Clarke, wherein he describes his marvellous
escape in June, 1850, when the steamer,
which plied between Liverpool and Glasgow,
was wrecked off Portpatrick on the Scotch
coast.  Mr. Clarke had to swim for his life,
and was most fortunate in being picked up
by a boat when he was at the last gasp.  He
was one of the few saved.  Among the drowned
was Mr. Roby, author of the "Traditions of
Lancashire."  As a testimony of thankful-
ness and respect Mr. Clarke's congregation
presented hum with an address, accompanied
by a purse, and tea service, of the value of
£200.  This mark of esteem he valued most
  The living of Stretford is in the gift of
the Warden and Fellows of the Cathedral
Church; the endowment consists of land at
Flixton and Culcheth, and Mr. Clarke in 1840
estimated the net annual income averaged
£190 per annum.  During his tenure of office
a church and schools were erected at a cost of
£4,500, and a parsonage, costing £1,200.
When he died a chancel was erected to his
memory at a cost of £1,170.
  At Stretford Church when I attended, a
practice prevailed which has since been
abandoned.  About mid-service there was a
rustling of feet caused by the churchwardens
and sidesmen leaving their pews and assem-
bling at the church door, each with his church-
warden's silver-tipped staff in hand.  Thus
equipped they sallied forth, and called at all
the public-houses in the village, to see if the
ungodly were indulging in beer, instead of
coming to church.  Then after looking after
loiterers in the churchyard they returned to
their pews just in time for the sermon.
Rumour says that sometimes the church-
wardens themselves thought they needed re-
freshment, but into this we need not inquire
too closely.
  A curiosity of the church was old Tommy
Mellor, the apparitor, who never seemed at
home after he adopted his uniform.
  Attached to, and between the Blind Asylum
and Deaf and Dumb Institute, was a chapel,
opened in 1837, and intended mainly for the
inhabitants of the Institutions, but which
also served the churchgoers of Old Trafford.
The Rev. Thomas Buckley was chaplain to
the Institutions, and also to the Chorlton
Union Workhouse.  The chapel when opened
did not receive the Episcopal blessing, but in
time some of the congregation wished to
have it consecrated, and that Mr. Buckley
should become the incumbent.  The gentle-
men who were desirous of making the change
induced Dr. Prince Lee, the then Bishop of
Manchester, in 1857, to consecrate the church.
This caused much unpleasantness, and Dr.
Samuel Crompton, in 1862, discovered that
the consecration had taken place contrary to
the terms of the trust deed.  After a long
and angry controversy the church was re-
conveyed, and new trustees were appointed.