Generation 5: Paternal 3x  Gt. Grandparents…

In theory, there should be 32 ancestors in this generation, but two ancestors (Fitzherbert and Mary Wright) in the last generation were siblings so shared the same parents. And we can’t confirm the natural father of our great grandmother Annie Birtwistle (née Hartley), so that branch is currently a dead end. That means we not only have a duplicate pair of ancestors at this generation, but also a missing pair.  And so there are actually only 28 possible ancestors we can currently trace in this generation.

We have only managed to find 26, partly because we are reaching the beginning of the Census records and therefore what I call the 3x Gt. Grandfather Enigma (see here). At the same time, not all records include the name of the bride’s maiden name making it difficult to trace their ancestry.

I should add that some of my mother’s maternal ancestors have been traced by deduction based on stitching together marriage, census records, etc. They might need a higher standard of genealogical proof, so should probably be treated as a working hypothesis or starting place for further research.

Previous generations can be seen at the following links:

Previous posts include:

Generation 5: Paternal 3x  Gt. Grandparents: Kirby + Watts | Baxendale + Turner | Maitland + Nisbet | McDonnell + MacNab  | Wright + Fitzherbert x2 | Beckman + Brockman | Fox + Brookhouse

Paternal > Paternal > Paternal > Paternal > Paternal Branch: Kirby + Watts

We only discovered that our 3x Gt. Grandfather was a George Goldsmith Kirby (1806-1868) relatively recently thanks to Cambridge University Alumni records. The rest has been put together from publicly available records and help from an academic.

We know GGK was born around 1806 in London and that his father was a ‘gent’ called George, and that he was admitted as a pupil at Gray’s Inn on 1 July 1825. His mother may have been called Mary (possibly Mary Ann Witch) and she and George might have lived in Charles Street in the parish of St Andrew Holborn.

Thanks to census records and The Times we know a lot about where he lived, his children, etc (see more in previous Generation 4 Paternal Branches post). And that he married Harriet Sarah Watts (1804-1893) on 20th April at St George’s, Bloomsbury, London.

Homes included Little Marble Hill on The Thames in Twickenham:

Little Marble Hill

The Law List of 1829 first lists GGK., as a ‘Special Pleader’, in the section for ‘Special Pleaders and Conveyancers not at the Bar’. His work address was given as 2 Churchyard Court, Temple (p. 53).

From 1830, Thomas Carr, Esq. has joined him at this address, and GGK is now listed as a ‘Conveyancer’, as he is in later census returns (p. 53). He last appears in the 1868 list, the year of his death, still as a conveyancer, but by this time he has moved to 7 Waterloo Place, Pall Mall (p. 197).

Thanks to Dr Timothy L Alborn at Lehman College, City University of New York we now also know that GGK became managing director of the Freemasons & General Life Assurance in 1838. The company changed its name to the Albert Life Assurance Company in 1849 and GGK managed it until he died in 1868.

According to Dr Alborn, being a “managing director” was a rarity among most life assurance offices, which typically separated salaried managers from directors. He was on around £400 a year, and to put this into perspective this was at a time when only about 10 per cent of population earned over £100 a year (from extract of Dr Alborn’s forthcoming book). It was, however, the 5% commission on sales where he made his money: in excess of £15,000 between 1863 and 1868, and probably at least £2000 a year for five years before that. It’s was, Dr Alborn believes, generous compensation packages like these that led to the failure of Albert.

It’s Dr Alborn guess (and it’s only a guess, since the Albert didn’t leave any records behind when it failed) that GGK was a mason, since he was “the original projector of the company” and it would be surprising that a non-mason would do this. He also explained that given the status of the company and when it formed, it was fairly normal for someone to come “out of nowhere” to manage such a firm in 1838.

He thinks GGK probably didn’t start making a lot of money until the name change and the string of acquisitions; his guess is that he earned huge commissions (in the £10,000 range) for some of these, given the purchasing price.

The Albert was taken over by GGK’s son Arthur R. Kirby, who was appointed one of the liquidators in 1869. He tried to get another company to take over the Albert’s business, but failed. Dr Alborn mentioned that Arthur appears in most accounts as well-intentioned but clueless. He also assumes that GGK was generally up to no good from at least the mid-1860s on.

There’s more about the Albert in Dr Alborn’s Regulated Lives: Life Insurance and British Society, 1800-1914 published in 2009.

Dr Alborn also sent me the advertisement for the Freemasons & Generalthat includes an impressive list of aristocratic patrons:


My father had a career in Life Assurance after earlier one as R.N. Officer, insurance and merchant banking. And there are other parallels including my brother’s earlier business having aristocrat on the board (his father-in-law) and his latter business being fund management related… albeit property and land.

Paternal > Paternal > Paternal > Paternal > Maternal Branch: Baxendale + Turner

Lloyd Baxendale (1822-1882)

I have searched high and low for a biography or obituary of the ‘road transport entrepreneur’ Lloyd Baxendale (1822-1882). Both is father Joseph Baxendale (1785–1872) and son Lloyd Henry Baxendale (1858–1937) have biographies in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

George Graham has catalogued some of the publicly available about him from census and marriage records as well as announcements in The Times, so we know – among other things – where he lived, who is children were, and that he married Ellen Turner (1830-1910) on 6th May 1851.

This includes his daughter Alice marrying our 2x Gt. Grandfather Alfred Octavius Kirby (see Generation 4: Paternal Branches) and her sister Constance marrying Thomas Edward Bagge. Constance was known as Aunt Connie by our grandfather Claude Kirby, even though technically she was his great aunt. He stayed with her and her family during school holidays because his parents were overseas.

What little else I have discovered about Lloyd Baxedale relates to his purchase of the Greenham Lodge estate in 1873 for £63,000 (see more here). It explains how his family made their fortune from the Pickfords removals firm, and that he was part of a wave of businessmen during the unique period of industrial growth in the Victoria era that superseded the aristocrats when it came to wealth. And how they used their wealth to buy into the world of the land-owning gentry.

It goes on to explain how he commissioned one of the prominent architects of the day, Richard Norman Shaw, to design a new house for him (Greenham Lodge). And how “the Baxendale family threw themselves wholeheartedly into the business of being ‘gentry’.” This included funding the construction of a new church as well as cottages for the estate staff, as well as building a rest home for sick employees of Pickfords on the southern slopes of the Common.

That’s about as much as I know, but I have also found a couple of pictures of Greenham Lodge:



Paternal > Paternal > Maternal > Paternal > Paternal Branch: Maitland + Nisbet

Early ‘Calotype’ of George Ramsay Maitland (1821-1866)

I know even less about my 3x Gt. Grandfather George Ramsay Maitland (1821-1866) other than he was son of Alexander Gibson Maitland and Susan Ramsay. He was also the younger brother of the Scottish liberal politician Alexander Charles Maitland who became the 3rd Maitland Baronet after the death of his grandfather. Alexander Charles also inherited the Ramsay title and lands through his mother, as all other male descendants were deceased.

The publicly available information George Graham has compiled shows that George Ramsay married Alice Anne Nisbet  (1825-1869) on 19th September 1848. She was born in Madras, India, and was the daughter of Josiah Nisbet and Rachael Majorbanks.

6 children have been identified. 1, possibly 2, died in infancy. Only the two sons married, our 2x Gt. Grandfather George Keith and his older brother John Nisbet who was later to become the 5th Maitland Baronet after the death of his cousin Sir James Ramsay-Gibson-Maitland (1848 –1897) known for being pioneer in the field of scientific aquaculture.  The two younger daughters did not marry.

The information George Graham compiled also shows that George Ramsay was a Writer, to the Signet. This is the third of our legal ancestors I have identified, including our 2x Gt. Grandfather Alfred Octavious Kirby who practicised as a Parliamentary Agent and his father George Goldsmith Kirby above who was a ‘Conveyancer’.

Census records also show that George Ramsay and his family resided at 6 Rutland Square and 54 Melville Street in Ediburgh, and later at Warriston Lodge, in the Parish of Largs.

I haven’t been able to find a photograph of Warriston Lodge, but after the death of their parents in their 40s (George Ramsay in 1866 and Alice shortly after in 1869), at least 3 of the 4 surviving Children went to live with their grandmother Rachael Nisbet (née Marjoribanks) at Ivy Hall in Richmond (now ‘an’ hotel). She is shown to be living on her own means and have several servants.

George Ramsay also appears to have had an interest in early photography or at least been the subject of early photographers. The portrait above is one of two of him from a collection of the Edinburgh Calotype Club, the first photographic club in the world and part of the earliest photograph albums to ever have been assembled (see more here).

Paternal > Paternal > Maternal > Maternal > Paternal Branch: McDonnell + MacNab

More to follow soon.

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