More Research on our George and Mary Brayne Baxter Family in London

As promised I continue my research preparation for my trip to Britain.

I have mentioned in  former blogs I am preparing to visit Britain in a few weeks to attend a Family History Cruise with Unlockthepast on board the Marco Polo. Full details of this Conference Cruise can be found at

After the cruise I plan to spend a few days in London at various archives and libraries researching and getting copies of documents that have not been catalogued or scanned, in the hope of finding more information on some of our families..

I have stated in former blogs my maternal ancestor Thomas George Baxter b 1816 was transported to Sydney on board the Roxburgh Castle as a convict in 1832.

I have spent considerable time researching not only the life of Thomas George as a child, but also his parents, George and Mary Brayne Baxter, and their circumstances. Although Thomas George was termed an ‘errand boy’ on his convict indents, we do know that his father was a ‘bookbinder’, as it is recorded on Thomas George Baxter’s, death certificate, as well as his church baptism entry and those of his siblings.

In the London Directories of the early 19th Century, George Baxter is listed as a ‘bookbinder’.

For many years a coloured print called ‘The York Mail Leaving”,has hung on my wall . It is a picture of a London Street, with a stage coach in the foreground. There in the middle of the picture is ‘Baxter Bookseller’” shop. I always wondered if it was connected to our Baxter family. Was it possible to find out.?

As a ‘bookbinder’ is an occupation of the ‘book trade’ one could assume that the father, George Baxter might belong to the the guild usually associated with the trade, which is the Stationer’s Guild.

A brief history of this Guild can be found at

The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (usually known as the Stationers’ Company) is one of the Livery Companiesof the City of London.

In 1403, the Corporation of London approved the formation of a Guild of Stationers. At this time, stationers were either text writers, lymners (illuminators), bookbinders or booksellers who worked at a fixed location (stationarius) beside the walls of St Paul’s Cathedral.” Booksellers sold manuscript books, and later printed copies thereof produced by their respective firms for retail..

Printing gradually displaced manuscript production so that, by the time the Guild received a Royal Charter of Incorporation on 4 May 1557, it had in effect become a Printers’ Guild. In 1559, it became the 47th in City Livery Company precedence…..l. During the Tudor and Stuart periods, the Stationers were legally empowered to seize “offending books” that violated the standards of content set down by the Church and State…”.

The Stationers’ Charter, which codified its monopoly on book production, ensured that once a member had asserted ownership of a text (or “copy”) no other member was entitled to publish it. This is the origin of the term “copyright”. Members asserted such ownership by entering it in the “entry book of copies” or the Stationers’ Company Register..

Stationers’ Hall is at Ave Maria Lane near St Paul’s Cathedral. The building and hall date from circa 1670. “

On the subscription websites of The Genealogist Findmypast  and there are numerous indexes and documents associated with apprenticeships, Freedom of the City, taxes and rates of the City of London. There are many references to the Baxter surname, and several George and James, some of whom were in the time period of interest for our family. There were even some Baxter’s belonging to the Stationers Guild.

It was time to make a list of all those who could have a possible link, and investigate each one, until I believed that they had no connection. This step takes much time searching all available records.

One of those I investigated was Gilpin Baxter of Hertfordshire, who was apprenticed to William Tricketts a “Citizen and Stationer of London”in 1733. On the completion of his apprenticeship he became a member of the Stationer’s Guild and had the Freedom of the City to trade. He had bookshops in Cornhill, and Leadenhall Street. He also had a number of apprentices including- Richard Sheppard, 1761; Dan Forster, 1766; Benjamin Barons, 1773; John Clarke, 1777 and Samuel Gardener in 1781. Gilpin Baxter married Rachel North. Unfortunately he suffered a change of fortune and was declared bankrupt. He appears to have returned to the family seat in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire where he died in 1795.

By using clues in the my picture on the wall such as the Temple Bar, and businesses, which I traced through directories and tax records, I can confirm that the shop ‘Baxter Bookseller’, is that of ‘Gilpin Baxter’. However is he connected to our family?

In a former blog I wrote about how I was able to establish that George Baxter’s parents were James and Elizabeth Baxter (nee Dixon). This I was able to confirm from parish register’s of St Faiths, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Their address was Ivy Lane, off Paternoster Street. In his will written in 1796, James Baxter’s occupation was given as ‘claspmaker’, another connection to the book trade.

I now have a copy of Gilpin Baxter’s will, but there is no information, which would connect our family at St Faith’s. Nor in the apprenticeship records connected to Gilpin Baxter, were there any of his apprentices by the name of Baxter, Dixon or any surname known to be connected to our family.

I continued to research all persons on the my list, but found no connection to the Stationers’ Guild and our family.

It was time to look elsewhere. I went back to the Freedom of the City records on where there was a ‘George Baxter’ who was granted the Freedom of the City with an approximate date of 1807-1808.

I have noted that in many on-line Baxter trees in as well as other commercial sites this document appears to be attached to our family line, but no one has explained why they have attached this document. It appeared to me, it is just because it was there, and for no other reason.

I do not dispute that this record is connected to our family, but will now explain the research and how I know and can prove it is so. Note this is for the ‘Haberdashers’ Guild’ not for the ‘Stationers’ Guild.

I downloaded and printed out the scanned document referenced as from the London Metropolitian Archives. This document stated that ‘George Baxter, was son of James Baxter Citizen and Haberdasher of London, the claim was one of Patrimony, and he was presented by Warden Samuel Spence. There followed a list of signatures all of whom were Citizen’s and some Haberdashers. It was also notated with the address ‘Ivy Lane, Newgate Street and ‘Copy 1765- Born 1782.”

I found a similar document for “James Baxter, son of James Baxter “. I believe this James Baxter is the elder brother of our George Baxter. However I need to do more research on this document before I can claim it completely.

Another useful extract from

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers is one of the senior Livery Companies of the City of London. The organisation, following on from the Mercers’ Company, another Livery Company connected with clothing and haberdashery, received a Royal Charter in 1448 and has records dating back to 1371

A haberdasher is a person who sells small articles for sewing, such as buttons, ribbons, zips and other notions such as pins and needles.

The Company ranks eighth in the order of precedence of Livery Companies; as such it is regarded as one of the “Great Twelve City Livery Companies”.

This Company has its own website at It has also commissioned two histories of the Company, by Ian Archer. I purchased the first of these called, ‘The History of The Haberdashers’ Company,” which was published in 1991. I found this publication invaluable for my research, particularly Appendix 1, which is a List of Masters and Wardens, 1582-1990. From this list I can confirm that Samuel Spence was a warden of the Haberdashers’ Guild in 1807.

Before we add this document to our family it is well to stop at this stage and ask ourselves have we followed the Golden Rule of Genealogy to confirm our research, that is moving from the known to the unknown.

We can confirm from other records including St Faith’s Baptism registers that James Baxter was born in 1770 and George Baxter 1782, as well that both were sons of James and Elizabeth Baxter (nee Dixon). The family’s address can be confirmed from burial and tax records. We know that the father James Baxter,deceased at this time, was a member of the Company because the claim is by ‘Patrimony. ‘Copy 1765’ refers to the father’s registration in the company registers.

I will explain more about James Baxter’s admission and membership of this Guild in a later blog.

Family members and others, please remember this research and blog are copyright to myself. If you wish to add this to your own family research either on-line or other forms of notes and publication please do the right thing and acknowledge my work.

I have been researching and writing for over forty years and have researched and written about many of my family lines, some back to the Middle Ages. I have always generously shared my research, but now find much of it has been ‘cut and pasted’ straight onto the ‘net’ under other peoples name.

Some of my published family book lineages have been keyed into large data bases and uploaded without one reference to where it came from. In this case it is not only my work that has been disregarded, but there is no acknowledgment of the many other family members and researchers who contributed to the publication, all of whom I named and acknowledged in the printed book.

Now all you ‘instant genealogists’ and new to family history research get into the spirit of the game, and acknowledge all those friends and family, who help you along this journey of discovering your ancestors. Remember and other big sites can only point you in the right direction if someone has done the work and it has been put on their site, be it scanned documents or family trees. Or they have partnership arrangements with other archives, libraries and repositories to access their records. Do try to find out about the original depositor, author or owner of the records used. It takes many people and many records so that you can press a button and access ‘your family history’.

Please show you are at least a little grateful for this privilege.


Robert and Bridget Sherwood of Monasterevin, County Kildare Ireland

In my last blog on my Sherwood family, who arrived Sydney on board the Premier on 2 July 1840, I wrote about newspaper records that gave me much information about the ship and voyage itself.

This blog I’m going to concentrate on government records available concerning the immigrants themselves.

In the 1840 time period for my Sherwood family there are two sets of surviving government records. The Bounty Immigrant Lists and the Certificates of Entitlement. These are found on microfilm at State Records of NSW, and various libraries and family history societies throughout Australia. These records have also become available as scanned images on through a partnership arrangement with the State Records of NSW.

Be advised they are two separate sets of records for assisted immigrants. They were created by two different agencies for different purposes, and both sets of records should be consulted to get the more complete details on your immigrants.

Records for Government assisted immigrants were organised into three sections. Families, which included husband, wife and children under about sixteen years of age; and single males and single female over about sixteen years of age.

The Bounty Immigrant Lists were made by the agents representing the shipping agency contracted for the shipment and safe arrival of the Government assisted immigrants. These agencies were paid by the ‘head’. So much per male adult, female adult and a sliding scale for children. The information was collected by the agency when the immigrant presented themselves at the immigration depots to be allocated a berth on the available ship. The information given verbally, recorded name, sex, age, religion, education, occupation and where they had come from. The information was collated and application was made to the government for the ‘bounty’ per head shipped.

Now let us look at these records for my Sherwood family.

Premier, 2 July 1840

Sherwood, Robert, 39 years, Cotton-weaver, Protestant, reads and write, of County Kildare, Ireland

“ Bridget, 35 years, House Servant, Protestant, reads, of County Kildare

“ Robert, 16 years, son, Protestant, reads, of County Kildare

“ Nelson, 14 years, son, Protestant, ditto, ditto

“ Joseph, 10 years, son, Protestant, ditto, ditto

“ Emily, 6 years, daughter, Protestant, ditto, ditto

“ Margaret, 4 years, daughter, Protestant, –

William Sherwood can be found in the single males list. Alice and Emily Sherwood can be found in the single female list.

The Certificates of Entitlement were created by the agents for the Government department responsible for Colonial Immigration. To qualify for free passage and assistance each emigrant had to satisfy certain selection criteria. They were also to supply certain documents to show their good character, age, usefulness when they arrived in the colony, ie trade, capacity to work etc. The information was given verbally and by the presentation of necessary documents. The agents filled in a proscribed form and each immigrant ended up with a ‘certificate of entitlement’ to free government assistance to emigrate.

These records are organised by ship and then under family, single male and female with a separate certificate issued for each adult immigrant with the younger children appended to their parent’s certificates.

The ‘Certificate of Entitlement” for Robert Sherwood can be summarised as-

Robert Sherwood a married male immigrant

Arrived by: Premier

Brought out by: Mr Capper

Native of : County Kildare, son of John a farmer and Mary his wife

Calling: (occupation) Cottonweaver

Age on Embarkation: 40 39

Persons certifying Registry of Baptism: not certified

Character and person certifying same: good, J Smith Barry JP

James Molloy JP

State of bodily health, strength and possible usefulness: good

Religion: Protestant

Remarks: Reads and Writes

It is interesting to note Robert’s age was stated as 40 and then corrected to 39 (years). In fact his true age was well outside the age guidelines for government free passage. Note his baptism was not certified. If it had been his true age would have been discovered.

His wife, Bridget and adult children, William, Alice and Emily, all have their own certificates giving further clues to this family and their life back in Ireland. For example those certifying character are often their former employer in cases of single immigrants.

By extracting and collating all the information from these records enables me to build a profile on each of these immigrants which will ultimately assist me in my research in Ireland.

I have noted in many Sherwood Family Trees on line that there is much confusion concerning “Emily Sherwood , 17 years” and “Emily Sherwood aged 6 years”, and people have ignored one or the other of these ‘Emilys’. in their trees. As I said before the Bounty Immigrants List and the Certificates of Entitlement were created by different people for different purposes and therefore both ‘Emily’s’ belong to the family in some way. With further research in Ireland and Australia, I believe I have now resolved this problem and will explain further in a later blog on this family.

A Sherwood family of County Kildare, Ireland

As I mentioned in a former blog I am preparing to visit Britain in a few weeks to attend a Family History Cruise with Unlockthepast on board the Marco Polo. Full details of this Conference Cruise can be found at

One of my ancestral families from Ireland is a Sherwood family. From documents I have collected in Australia I can briefly outline my family as below.


Robert Sherwood, bc 1765, Monasterevin,County Kildare Ireland, Married 1818 in Kildare, Bridget Hannah Dunn.. Emigrated to Sydney per Premier in 1840. Issue included: William Dunn, b 1820; Amelia (Emily), b 1822; Robert, b 1825; Nelson, b 1828; Joseph, b 1830; Emily, b1833; Margaret, 1835.

Robert Sherwood died in 1860 and Bridget Sherwood in 1867. Both are buried in Sydney.

I have copies of several documents including Robert’s Death Certificate, Church Burial Entry and newspaper death notice in the Sydney Morning Herald., of 24 Sept, 1860 which states:-

At his residence, Balmain, on the 21st September, Mr. Robert Sherwood, aged 104 years, late of Malpes Court, New England, and formerly of Ivy House, county Kildare, Ireland. He served forty-two years in the army, and was highly respected by all who knew him.”

The earliest records I have for this family in Australia are their immigration records. Originally I located these records some forty years ago from the card indexes held at the NSW State Archives now State Records of New South Wales. This index gave me the information that the family arrived on the Premier on 2 July 1840. This index is now on I have always found newspapers to be a great source for family history, and I encourage all family historian to tackle this great resource. I followed up the arrival of the Premier in the shipping intelligence and other sections of the Sydney Herald (Sydney), and other surviving newspapers of that time.

In the newspapers there is often information concerning the voyage and the ship itself, not found in the Harbour Masters Papers or other Shipping records, but sometimes much more, which adds to the family’s story. When looking for details on the voyage of the Premier in 1840, I certainly found some interesting information.

PREMIER, 560 tons, Weir, master, from Plymouth April 2nd, with 159 immigrants. Passengers, Mr. Ross, and T. Turner, Esq., surgeon. Agents. T. Gore and Co.

News – The William Mitchell had arrived from this port previously to the Premier sailing.

The Premier brings a fine and healthy looking body of Bounty Immigrants; during the voyage. only four infants were lost. She had an   uncommonly swift passage (90 days), though   becalmed for some time off the Cape.

However, by far the most interesting information was that there had been a mutiny on board.

The crew, incited by some Sydney crimp-taught fellows who were among them, mutinied and one of them had the audacity to strike the commander, after having given him the lie.

A mutiny you say! Great, how can I find out more about that?

Of course these sailors were incarcerated in the Sydney Gaol on arrival and hauled before the Courts to explain themselves. These Court cases were reported in the newspapers of the day, as well as other news items about the mutiny.

The fullest report by the Surgeon Superintendent Mr John Turner., was published in the Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser. , 4 July 1840. Here is a short extract-

MUTINY ON BOARD The “Premier” Immigrant Ship   Dear Sir,–To prevent misconstruction, the following account of the mutiny on board the Premier, from the Log-book, is at your service, if worth inspection. I remain yours obediently, J. TURNER, Surgeon. ” I have much pleasure in bearing testimony to the ready and willing manner in,which most of the male Immigrants came forward on Tuesday the 6th of June to assist in navigating the ship under circumstances of a most trying nature.. ……

The Court Reports of the 7th July published in the same newspaper on the 8th and 9th of July gave further details. The full extracts run to some twelve pages of notes for my Sherwood Family History file.

All these newspapers can be freely accessed online in Digitised Historical Newspapers through Trove on the National Library of Australia website at

Although my ancestors are not named in these reports we know that approximately twenty four male immigrants of about forty five assisted the officers and apprentices to ‘man’ the ship for about two days. There is no doubt all on board would have been aware of what was happening. It would have been very traumatic for many, especially during the gales as most were from poor farming communities of Ireland, and had never been to sea before. What great details to add to the story of the Sherwood family’s voyage to Australia.

I encourage everyone interested not only in the Sherwood family, but anyone descended from one of the 30 families or the 16 unmarried men or 35 single women on this voyage to look up these newspapers to get a feel of what went on at the time.

Next blog I will be discussing surviving government records available for the Premier’s, 1840 voyage with information about the immigrants themselves. I will be looking at these records for my Sherwood family.