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Tracing my great great grandfather Henry Banfield

London, England
United States
Hi - I'm new to this. I've got a great great grandfather or maybe great great great. His name was Henry Banfield and was likely born in 1823 or maybe 1822. I also know that when he arrived in New York on April 7, 1851 he was 28 years old and his stated occupation was bricklayer. He sailed on the 1,150-ton three-masted packet-ship Devonshire of the Swallowtail Line out of London.

I've browsed around a bit and have seen some census records posted. There are some Henry Banfields born at that time. Every other relative in our family over in the states is a George, Ann, or Alfred it seems, but this doesn't seem to narrow it down as these seem to be super popular names in England during this period.

I'm living in London now and recently learned about my relative. It's really interesting to think he may have walked around on the same streets and maybe even had a pint in one of the older pubs. It seems most likely that he came from somewhere outside of London. It would be great if I could figure this bit out as we don't know anything about this line of our family history outside of the U.S.

Given this information - can anyone recommend a good starting place for me to try to learn more? I see that I can pay money to access records on some websites, but I'm not sure I will find out much from these? Thanks!

there are some great sites to use for a fee, ancestry is the one i use and i find it really good, also the family history site LDS {latter day saints} is a good site and is free. best to start with what you know. where the relative was born and when.and see what you come up with the put a post on the forum and hopefully someone may be able to help or point you in the right direction. happy hunting sue:)
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This might be him in the 1841 census.

Henry Banfield
Age: 18
abt 1823
Gender: Male
Born: Kent, England
Civil parish - Wrotham
Hundred - Wrotham
County - Kent

Occupation: Bricklayer.

Reg district: Malling
Sub-regi district: Wrotham

Benjaman Banfield 45. Occ. Bricklayer.
Mary Banfield 43
Henry Banfield 18
Alfred Banfield 13
Sarah Banfield 10
Harriott Banfield 6
Benjaman Banfield 4
George Banfield 4

He does not seem to appear in later census.;)

Wrotham is about 20-25 miles South East, from the port of London.

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Congrats Steve on a great find.
If it's the correct Henry & it sure looks like, his baptism is in LDS
to Benjamin & Mary.
Plaxtol, Kent. 9.10.1822

I looked in Castle Garden website, there is a Henry Banfield
bricklayer arriving 7th April 1851 (before UK cenus as mentioned)
28yrs male aboard the ship 'Devonshire'
from London.
I looked for more Banfield same arrival date with no luck.

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If this is the right family found by Steve, it would appear he travelled alone as the family are still in the uk on the 1851/61 census.

this may be his parents

Name: Benjamin Banfield
Spouse Name: Mary Sowell
Record Type: Marriage
Marriage Date: 09 Jul 1809
Parish: St George in the East
County: Middlesex
Borough: Tower Hamlets

Hi - Thanks everyone! Really appreciate the help. I also found the 1841 census and so was coming to this conclusion, but all this new evidence too... Seems pretty conclusive right?

I've been looking on Google street view. What a pretty little village! With some nice pubs too. I'm also noticing lots of brick houses. :) So I definitely will make a trip to have a walk around. Cheers.

Hi Lee -

Thanks for the link. Yes, makes sense he was from a poor family as he was a bricklayer. Also, mostly poor people immigrating to the states in that era. The "melting pot" - a country of poor people looking for something better. :)

Was there something else on the site that would indicate he was poor? Or poorer than you would assume for a country labourer immigrating to America?

I'm now especially interested in where he might have lived. I suppose it is less likely the place is still standing if it was a poorer dwelling? Finding a dwelling or grave of other relations would be interesting too, but maybe these were also only made for wealthier families? Thanks.


Hi Peter...my feeling is they lived in cottages so the dwellings may well be still standing.
If you look at that link with the family info the Workhouse is mentioned....this is a sure sign of poverty,but not sure about your relly.....the link has many Banfields in Wrotham area so obviously some way related to your family....other members may be able to untangle that link for you.

Maybe send an email to the Newspaper in the above link with a brief outline of what you want to know.....Sevenoaks Chronicle is the paper in circulation for the Wrotham area.
If not an email...give them a call.
I am pretty certain you would get some info.....and maybe even from a relative of yours.
Most local newspapers are only to happy to put a little advert in a page to help out.
If not then visit Wrotham for the day and ask around....you just never know you may strike lucky.

Good luck with your search...whatever you decide to do.
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