Friday, 24 October 2014

A mystery - as yet unsolved.

During my initial forays into the world of family history research, I came across an interesting tidbit. If I recall correctly, I had just discovered the UK National Archives, and had managed to locate and download a copy of my gggg-uncle George BANNISTER's will and, excited to see if I could find any other wills of interest, I started plugging various names from my family tree into the search box.[1] When I entered my gg-grandfather's name into the search box, a curious result was returned.

The document returned was titled Cause number: 1875 G30. Short title: Glegg v Raingill. Documents: Bill, interrogatories,... and listed a host of names, the majority of which appeared to be from one branch of my family tree. Among the defendants listed was my gg-grandfather George Amos BANNISTER and my great-grandfather, Amos Parker BANNISTER. The plaintiff listed was a Mr Edward Holt GLEGG - a name which meant nothing to me at the time. Not being located in the UK, a visit to the National Archives in Kew was out of the question, so I did the next best thing - I clicked the button to order a copy of the document. I filled in the form and waited for a quote of the estimated cost to digitise the documents. Unfortunately the estimate was much, much higher than I was expecting (from memory it was around £370!) so I let the matter lie for the time being.

Fast forward several years and I discovered the Gazette and was again searching for any references to wills or probate cases relating to my family. In the July 11, 1876 issue I found a notice referring to the court case above. The notice was directed at my gg-grandfather and requested he respond to the notice by the 20th July. Further copies of this notice were found in other issues of the Gazette and several other newspapers around the same time, but no details could be found regarding the nature of the case. Again I shelved this line of research and moved on to other areas of my tree.

Recently I was digging up some information about another interesting story in my family history for a magazine article and once more I stumbled on these articles about the Glegg v Rainfall case. In frustration I reached out to the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine Forum community. Thanks to a few suggestions in the forum, I learned that the Chancery Division of the High Court handled probate and estate cases, so I started to look for any deaths that occurred prior to the filing of the case in 1875. One name looked promising, Steven RAINGILL had died in 1874 and he was the brother of Matilda BANNISTER (nee RAINGILL) who happened to be my ggg-grandmother. A little more research of Steven and Matilda's family revealed that all the plaintiffs in this case were the descendants of Matilda and Steven, along with Steven's wife, also named Matilda. This was looking promising.

At this point, my thinking was that there must have been some problem with Steven RAINGILL's will which resulted in a court case. Further research revealed that Edward Holt GLEGG was the High Sheriff of Chester - the county where Steven died and was buried. The pieces were starting to come together, so for the next step I needed to locate Steven's will so I could try to understand what might have gone wrong...

[1] This was my research methodology at the time - plug random names into search engines and see what pops out!

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