I am also grateful to Nicholas Kirk Davies for the following information.
My Father, Thomas Wyndham Davies (b Ton Y Pandy) has researched several strands of our family tree. This particular strand stretches from his mother Susannah back to Ann Bands whom we have in common.
Other strands go via the Davies clan of Gilfach Goch into the mysts of time and Newcastle Emlyn and included some colourful characters. Uncle Billy, who died at Brunete in Spain for one. Another strand connects us to the Riddifords and thence to Australia with a hint that I might be cousin to Kylie Minogue, but probably not.
Nicholas Kirk Davies (b 1955, Hereford).
Now, Ann Bands, my great grandmother, and her sister Sarah Bands, came from Tywardreath, Nr. St. Blazey in Cornwall. There were other brothers and sisters, one in particular named Louisa, who I shall mention in a moment. Ann and Sarah's parents were Martyn Bands and Catherine Davey, both from Gwennap, not too far from Tywardreath (and very well known as one of the places John Wesley used to thump his bible!). Martyn's parents, Ann and Sarah's grandparents, also from Gwennap, were John Bands and Sarah Gribble, and both born about 1760. (My word, this is going back a bit! 250 years!! **When America was still a colony!).
(I have been to Gwennap, and visited the "pit", which is a great depression in the ground formed by the filling-in of a mineshaft, and now occasionally used as an open air amphitheatre. Very impressive! Although I didn't know at the time that my forbears came from there).
Browsing through the 1881 Census for Yspytty Ystwyth I came across:
(The Black Lion was home to several related families!)
Dwelling: Black Lion
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
John MESSER M 49 M Gwennap, Cornwall, England Rel: Head of Family Occ: Lead Miner
Sophia MESSER M 49 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Wife Occ: Lead Miners Wife
Sarah A. MESSER U 19 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: Formerly Domestic Servant
David MESSER 11 M Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Son Occ: At School
Harriet L. MESSER 9 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: At School
Lydia MESSER 7 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: At School
William THOMAS U 29 M Merthyr Tydfyl, Glamorgan, Wales Rel: Lodger Occ: Clock Cleaner & Maker
Dwelling: Black Lion (a)
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Richard DAVEY W 70 M Gwennap, Cornwall, England Rel: Head of Family Occ: Mine Blacksmith
Emily A.E. DAVEY U 28 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: Household Duties
Mary Ellen DAVEY 14 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Grand Daughter Occ: At School
Dwelling: Black Lion (b)
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Henry MITCHELL M 35 M Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Head of Family Occ: Lead Mine Agent
Margaret MITCHELL M 32 M Llanfihangel, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Wife Occ: Lead Mine Agents Wife
Rebecca E. MITCHELL 14 F Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: At School
Margaretta C. MITCHELL 9 F Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: At School
Henry J. MITCHELL 4 M Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Son Occ: At School
Dwelling: 4 Wesley Terrace
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Morgan JONES M 31 M Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Head of Family Occ: Lead Miner
Louisa JONES M 31 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Wife Occ: Lead Miners Wife
John JONES 10 M Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Son Occ: At School
Anne JONES 7 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: At School
Agnes R.L. JONES 5 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter Occ: At School
Mary E. JONES 2 F Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Daughter
Thomas M. JONES 5 mo M Yspytty Ystwyth, Cardigan, Wales Rel: Son
Cathrine S. BAUDS W 76 F Snyat, Cornwall, England Rel: Mother In Law Occ: Lead Miners Widow
Studying the entry for the Black Lion above there is the name JOHN MESSER from Gwennap. Considering my mother's comments about her family's ancestral names this is a helluva coincidence by anyone's measure. Not only that, he was married to SOPHIA. Although there is no indication of her family name I wouldn't mine taking on a bet that she was Sophia Jacob - David Jacob's daughter, born in 1832 and mentioned above. Her age tallies exactly with the census extract. So the Gwennap John Bands and his son Martyn Bands - Sophia Jacob's uncle, who also came to live in mid-Wales and was buried at Tregaron, must certainly have known the Gwennap John Messer, and the romance appears to have blossomed from this close relationship of these Cornish families. (I'll have to do a bit more digging in the Gwennap Pit to find more of the Messers!) And is it any more than a coincidence that John and Sophia Messer named one of their daughters SARAH, and possibly SARAH ANN as "keeping it in the family" names complimenting Sarah and Ann Bands? Maybe even to compliment Sarah Gribble - Ann and Sarah Bands' grandmother.
What a story; I'll have to give all this to a grandson of mine who's a budding novelist.
2.Look, now, at the census entry for No. 4 Wesley Terrace. If the aged mother-in-law has been recorded with a grossly misprinted entry, she would certainly be CATHERINE BANDS, aged 76 and from some, again misprinted, place in Cornwall. If this is so, she could very well be Martyn Bands' wife, born CATHERINE DAVEY. They were married in 1827 at Tywardreath which would have made her age 23 at that time. Continuing with the coincidences, Martyn and Catherine named one of their daughters LOUISA, born in 1850 at Tywardreath. Louisa's age again tallies exactly with that of LOUISA JONES, the wife of Morgan, above, although I strongly suspect that she possibly wasn't aware of where she was born, and gave the census clerk her assumed birthplace, which had been her family's home as far as she could remember.
3.Look, next, at the census entry of the Black Lion (a). There is a Richard Davey, aged 70, also from Gwennap, where Catherine Davey was also born. More coincidence? Could he be her younger brother? And living in the Black Lion at that! See paragraph 6 below.
Whilst I'm thinking of it I must mention Ann Bands' sister SARAH. Although from Tywardreath she married a William Michell in 1851 in "the Aberystwyth District", and had a team of children, one of whom was SAMPSON MICHELL. Her husband also came from the West Country, near Tavistock, Devon - possibly from Mary Tavy. (See 4 below). This shows that they had both moved up to mid-Wales prior to their marriage.
One of their grandsons, via Sampson Michell, was William Bands Michell* (there's that name again - refer to John Bands Jacob above), a renowned figure in the lead mining industry near Yspytty Ystwyth, and known as "Captain Michell". The point of mentioning this is that there is a family bible, looked after by a cousin of mine, with an entry:
"Billy Mitchell died 6th April, 1924"
This was written by my grandmother Elizabeth Sophia Adams, the grand-daughter of Ann Bands, who was the sister of Sarah Bands, the grandmother of "BILLY MITCHELL". She must have maintained some contact with her family in Yspytty Ystwyth to have known this. I'm not too sure about his relationship to my grandmother - something like enth cousin, exth removed, but definitely something.
(Very important:: The surname MICHELL was unusually common in Gwennap in 1881, but seems to vary from census to census between MICHELL and MITCHELL, so I would take this to reflect the same family, but with whims of spelling).
4.In the census entry for Black Lion (b) there is a family of MITCHELLs. Again, because I strongly believe that all these inhabitants are family related, HENRY MITCHELL, 35, could well be HENRY MICHELL, born in 1846, one of the six brothers of the William Michell who had married Sarah Bands. All seven brothers (there were no sisters!) were from Mary Tavy, near Tavistock, and were the sons of yet another WILLIAM MICHELL and REBECCA …? of Mary Tavy or Tavistock.
Although Henry Mitchell / Michell has given his birthplace as Yspytty Ystwyth, this may well be for the same reason for Louisa's assumption in 2. above. Furthermore, he named one of his daughters REBECCA, which certainly reflects on his mother's name - presuming, of course, that he really is that Henry Michell, but I don't think there is much doubt of that.
5.Looking through the 1881 census for any BANDS in Cornwall I have found only one: MARY BANDS, a 49 year old widow living in Redruth. Redruth is not too far from Gwennap, only two or three miles. It seems, therefore, that all the Bands, except for this lady, had by this time left Cornwall to seek their fortunes elsewhere - in fact to mid Wales at the lead mines. Probably the tin extraction at Gwennap had been worked out well before this time, which gave John Wesley his chance to preach fire and brimstone in "the pit".
6.Further, trawling through the 1881 census for the Gwennap district I have found quite a few DAVEY families. Now, if Catherine Davey's age was as stated - 76, and if Richard Davey at the Black Lion was 70, I would hope to find some other brothers, unmarried sisters and widows named Davey in Gwennap at about this age. In fact I found only one possible brother, namely Henry Davey, aged 72, and three elderly widows named Davey of about the same age. However, there are other Daveys around the age of 40 or so: two males, namely James Davey aged 43 and John Davey aged 41 who by stretching the imagination could be the children of either Richard or Henry.
What I have found extraordinary is the the great move of the families of MICHELLs, BANDS, MESSERS and maybe the ISHMAELS from remote Cornwall and Devon to even more remote Yspytty Ystwyth in mid Wales. The postal service was up and running in those days, so communication would not have been a problem, but the logistics of the moves must have been formidable. Imagine the railway facilities from the West Country through to the Welsh borders or possibly through to Cardigan itself or Aberystwyth, then more rail journeys into the heart of the hills up the Rheidol Valley to Devil's Bridge, and then road transport to Yspytty Ystwyth. Not easy today. Bloody horrendous 150 years ago. But they did it!
And what happened to the rest of the Bands family - the other children of John Bands and Sarah Gribble of Gwennap, and then the other children of Martyn Bands and Catherine Davey? When I checked the U.K. electoral register for 2004 (computerised) I found only four, very dispersed throughout the country, but not in the West Country or Wales. The same goes for the remainder of the Michells. There must be scores who would be interested in their ancestry - perhaps?
TOM DAVIES, 5TH MAY, 2008.
P.S. I haven't found any ISHMAEL's in the family - yet. They could also be from Cornwall.
Here's some more fascinating information written by Tom Davies
ANN BANDS from TYWARDREATH, CORNWALL
1. GEORGINA (HART) from IRON ACTON, Nr. BRISTOL
2. My great uncle Jacob Edwin Adams - the grandson of Jacob Jacobs above, married a Georgina Hart and lived in Jones Street, Blaenclydach, Nr. Tonypandy, S. Wales. They had five children, David, Dulcie, Dorothy, Norman and Trevor. Trevor sadly died when a youngster following an accident which required a leg to be amputated, with further complications. My father was very fond of his Uncle Jake and Auntie "Ena", and remembers the family very well from the time he was a youngster in Tonypandy. He tells me that Auntie "Ena" was a very beautiful, loving lady with a most enchanting accent.
Does anyone know what else became of my father's cousins - the above offsprings, particularly Dorothy. Enquiries with people in Jones Street have revealed nothing. In particular, does anyone have any information about the family background of great Auntie "Ena" who, it is believed, came from near Bristol, possibly around Iron Acton.
Uncle Jake's father Thomas Edwin Adams (hence the middle forename!), although settling in Tonypandy after his marriage, came from Iron Acton. He married Elizabeth, the daughter of Jacob Jacobs and Ann Bands above and settled in Tonypandy.
It does not take much imagination to work out how Uncle Jake met Georgina, as very likely he was used to visiting his father's relatives in Iron Acton, or perhaps Georgina was visiting Tonypandy at the time of their marriage, as she may have been related in some way to Thomas Edwin Adams. Her surname is not known, but it may very well have been Adams also. More conjecture suggests that she was uncle Jake's cousin, through his father's family in Iron Acton.
One point known: Jake Adams and Georgina were married on 5th August, 1918, on the second day of his leave from France. This suggests that he went straight to Bristol on his leave, but that is also conjecture.