The elusive Banyars

St. George’s Church, Hanover Square. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I almost hesitate to post this blog, as so much remains to be found – but the roughest outline of a family behind one of my intractable brick walls seems a good excuse to write about it (and seek the collective thoughts of Vita Brevis readers!).

Goldsborough Banyar (or Goldsbrow Banyer)[1] was my great-great-grandmother’s great-grandfather, and an important figure in late colonial and early Federal New York. Perhaps because he spent much of his career in Albany, and the surname died out – despite heroic efforts by Goldsborough, his daughter, his grandson, and his great-grandson – the origins of the Banyar family have been lost. While his descendants have given masses of papers to the New-York Historical Society, nothing in that collection seems to yield a clue about who he was before he came to New York as a young man. His name, Goldsborough, should be a clue – and so it appears to be.

I do not think I have seen a reference to his baptism at St. George’s Church in Hanover Square, in London, although the month and year of June 1724 (and the London location) are generally associated with him. A casual search for his name at Ancestry yielded an exact date of birth and baptism: he was born 3 and baptized at St. George’s Church 20 May 1725, son of William and Elizabeth Banyar.[2] Was he, as I had long assumed, the son of William Banyar and Elizabeth Goldsborough, who married at Soham in Cambridgeshire on 7 May 1723?[3] Perhaps so – but some time spent going through the records of St. George’s and other London parishes begins to paint a picture of the larger Banyar family.

I have yet to pin down much on William Banyar, although there was a long-settled Banyar family in Soham, including two Williams, sons of William and Elizabeth [Perry?],[4] baptized there in 1695 and 1700.[5] By the same token, Elizabeth Goldsborough, daughter of John and Elizabeth [Shinn?], was baptized at Soham 21 July 1701,[6] and it looks like John and Elizabeth had a large family.

Goldsborough was not the first child of his parents, as it happens: their eldest child was William Banyar (Jr.), born 24 March [1723/24] and baptized at St. George’s 14 April 1724. A daughter, Rebecca, was born 27 March and baptized at St. George’s 23 April 1727.[7] (Another Rebecca, with parents unnamed, was baptized at St. George’s in 1732; perhaps it was she who married Henry Alvey in 1771.[8])

As I tugged on these loose threads, I was very surprised to discover another Goldsborough Banyar, baptized in London in 1753!

As I tugged on these loose threads, I was very surprised to discover another Goldsborough Banyar, baptized in London in 1753! The son of William and Margery Banyar, this younger Goldsborough was born 3 and baptized at St. George’s Hanover Square on 14 January 1753.[9] This pair sent me looking for (another) William – was this my ancestor’s brother, or was this a second marriage for his father? I hadn’t yet found William Jr., and naming two sons Goldsborough could be considered a bit much, but I soon found the marriage of William Banyer of Lambeth, Surrey, and Margery Ayres of the parish of St. Mary le Bone, Westminster, married at St. George’s Chapel in Mayfair on 26 February 1744[/45?],[10] as well as William (Jr.)’s baptism in 1724.

William and Margery had other children:

  • Elizabeth Banyar, baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Lambeth 2 April 1746[11]
  • William Banyar, born 14 and baptized at St. George’s Hanover Square 27 June 1750,[12] as well as
  • Goldsborough Banyar, born in 1753

I have struck out on probates for everyone I’ve named (saved for the first-born Goldsborough Banyar), although I’ve found promising death records for Elizabeth Banyar (presumably the widow of William Sr., buried at St. George’s 20 May 1768[13]) and Margery Banyar (likely the widow of William Jr., buried in her home parish of St. Mary le Bone 7 August 1790[14]).

A final, and tantalizing, detail emerged as I looked up the license for William Banyer and Elizabeth Goldsborough’s marriage in 1723. Remember that William Banyar was of Lambeth in 1744, when he married Margery Ayres. It turns out that William Banyar, the bridegroom of 1723, was of Lambeth when he married Elizabeth Goldsborough in her home parish of Soham.[15]

These locations, surplus to Ancestry’s reporting requirements, emerge when reviewing the parish records (or those of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury).

To recap:

  • William Banyar of Lambeth married Elizabeth Goldsborough of Soham in 1723
  • William and Elizabeth Banyar named their son Goldsborough in 1725
  • William Banyar (Jr.) was of Lambeth when he married Margery Ayres in 1744; this couple named a son Goldsborough in 1753

As I say, there is much more to do here, but how nice when a few puzzle pieces shake out into a comprehensible outline!

Notes

[1] Goldsborough Banyar (1725-1815) was married to Elizabeth (Naden) Appy 1767-97.

[2] Westminster, London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1558-1812 [database on-line].

[3] England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973 [database on-line].

[4] Ibid.

[5] Both boys apparently died young. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line].

[6] England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]; England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973 [database on-line].

[7] Westminster, London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1558-1812 [database on-line].

[8] Westminster, London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1558-1812 [database on-line]; Westminster, London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1935 [database on-line].

[9] Westminster, London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1558-1812 [database on-line].

[10] Ibid.

[11] London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line]. She is likely the Elizabeth Banyar, “a child,” buried at the Church of St. Mary le Bone 25 August 1749 (ibid.).

[12] Westminster, London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1558-1812 [database on-line].

[13] Ibid.

[14] London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line].

[15] G. G. Bruce Bannerman, Allegations for Marriage Licenses in the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, in the County of Suffolk, Visitation Series, 117 vols. (1869-1977), 69: 78, in Publications of the Harleian Society.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward has been NEHGS’ Editor-in-Chief since 2013. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

5 thoughts on “The elusive Banyars

  1. While I’ve been at this for a long time, I do not remember running across the reference
    “ was born 3 and baptized” before. Would you please explain. Thank you.

    1. The date range is within the month of May 1725: birth on 3 May, baptism on 20 May. I try not to repeat elements (unless it is to make something vague clearer, as in the case of William Banyar Jr.). Goldsborough was presumably born in London, in the parish in which he was baptized, but the only information contained in this record is day and month of birth, and day, month, and place of baptism.

  2. Scott – Is the Goldsborough Banyer [sic] that married Maria Jay (1782-1858), granddaughter of William and Susannah (French) Livingston, the grandchild of your line? Unfortunately have no other information other than the couple had no issue.

    1. Goldsborough Banyar Jr., son of Goldsborough and Elizabeth (Naden) Banyar, married Maria Jay — they had at least one child, Sarah Jay Banyar, who died young. Martha Banyar/Banyer, daughter of Goldsborough and Elizabeth, married Jacob Le Roy [Jr.], and their children included Goldsborough Banyar Le Roy, later G. Le Roy Banyer, who died unmarried. It was his nephew, John Campbell White [of C.], who changed his name to Goldsborough Banyer and died in 1904. So you can see that a lot of thought went in to keeping the name going … but, after 175 years, it died out (at least in America).

      1. I should add that it gets tiring, switching between Banyar and Banyer! I lean toward the former, since there seems to be a Banyard family in the neighborhood of Soham — but the name is consistently spelled Banyar or Banyer in Cambridgeshire records dating back to the sixteenth century.

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