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Patsy Kensit

Patsy Kensit - how we did it

Great-great-great-great-grandfather: James Mayne MA

Finding a clergyman practising in the heart of the East End of London presented an unexpected irony. Suddenly we were presented with a man of the cloth, who by the very nature of his title and job commanded respect and authority. Yet generations later the same family lost its footing and turned to the criminal underworld. We were interested to find out more about James Mayne.

Step 1

The online Clergy of the Church of England Database keeps a record of the ordination and appointments of many clergymen between 1540 and 1830 in England and Wales. This gave us a timeline for James Mayne's clerical appointments until 1830.

Step 2

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Look through the parish registers with Patsy and ecclesiastical historian Arthur Burns.

Parish Registers are not only a useful tool to find out an ancestor's baptism, marriage and burial records, but they can also give an insight into parish life. The sheer volume of baptisms, marriages and burials on a daily basis emphasised just how busy James Mayne must have been.

Step 3

Newspapers help to provide information about a period. The British Library in London holds an impressive collection of newspapers, the majority of which can be viewed at their Newspaper Reading Rooms in Colindale. The Times has an online digital archive documenting 200 years of history dating from 1785. This resource helped to profile James Mayne further, identifying him as the president of the 'Bethnal Green Association of Destitute Poor'. It also revealed the letters MA (Master of Arts) after his name. This set up a further and exciting mystery as to where and how this academic qualification was obtained.

Step 4

The first place to look for details of a degree from this period is through the Alumni records of degrees awarded by Oxford and Cambridge. These records are available online. If this is not successful, ecclesiastical degrees were awarded by Lambeth Palace, by the Archbishop of Canterbury no less! In this case our research confirmed that James Mayne was awarded his MA by the Archbishop at Lambeth Palace.

Step 5

Hanslope Church
Hanslope Church

Once again a newspaper helped provide the final details of James Mayne's life. The Ecclesiastical Gazette revealed that he eventually left Bethnal Green for the quieter neighbourhood of Hanslope in Buckinghamshire. Since making the programme, an extensive research document charting the life and career of James Mayne MA has been published. (See related links)

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