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Research Report: The Banks reference to Roger Terrill of Wapping and Copthall, 1621

by Conrad W. Terrill and Nancy Tyrrel Theodore (, 29 Apr. 2009

N.B. (26 July 2011): We've resolved the puzzle associated with this reference. As expected, and especially so after we learned much more about Roger Tirrell bapt. 1592 (see DOR articles on this Roger and on his son), the wrong subsidy reference was given in Banks's Genealogical Notes. His reference should have read "P.R.O. Subsidy 142/284, Co. Middlesex, 21 Jae. I. (1624/5)." You can read all about this in this DOR article.

This (preliminary!) (now final!) report deals with a reference, in the Charles E. Banks genealogical collection (which is currently in the custody of the Library of Congress), to Roger Terrill of Wapping and Copthall in 1621 [1]. At the end of this report you will find a challenge to examine for yourself the documents concerned, and to help us, if you can. It will not be easy. We had hoped to locate the source of this Banks reference, but we have not yet succeeded. The particular reference is in an oblong folio scrapbook—one of five belonging to a set called "Genealogical Notes" (not to be confused with another set of similar scrapbooks, comprised of four volumes, also called "Genealogical Notes"). This indexed set consists of manuscript notes trimmed and pasted onto the scrapbook pages. Each note pertains to a person (or persons) with a particular name. The note for Roger Terrill (see image) starts:

P.R.O. Subsidy 142/279 Wapping and Copthall
Co. Middlesex Roger Terrill
18 Jae. I

The rest of the note is not of interest to us right now—much of it contains errors, and we think it's a confusing blend of information pertaining to two different Roger Terrill's.

Another volume in the Banks genealogical collection is the original manuscript version of Banks's well-known and widely published Topographical Dictionary of English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650. This large volume too contains a reference to Roger Terrill, on page 249:


Wapping Roger Terrill Milford, Conn. Banks Mss

Here, Wapping is supposed to be the parish of reference (and thus possibly the parish of origin); Milford, Conn. is the first town of residence in New England; and "Banks Mss" is the reference supporting the proposed English origin. So the source of this information is obviously the reference shown above. And that information is supposedly from a 1621 (the 18th year of the reign of King James I) lay subsidy assessment roll (no. 142/279) which Banks examined in the Public Record Office in London sometime in the 1920's.

A large part of the huge Banks genealogical collection (56 volumes!) at the Library of Congress consists of many volumes of Banks's transcriptions of the subsidy rolls for the various counties. Roll 142/279 is a list for Ossulstone hundred in Middlesex County. Unfortunately, there was no subsidies volume in the Banks collection for Middlesex County. There was a volume for London, though, which was in Middlesex County in 1621. However, the name "Roger Terrill" was not in the index.

NTT wrote to the University of London in 1986, hoping to locate this record (roll 142/279) and to obtain a photocopy of the part related to Roger Terrill. Her letter was forwarded to the PRO, at Chancery Lane; and she received a reply from D. Crook, of the Search Department, who informed her that "The document in question is here and has the reference E 179/142/279. I cannot find the Terrill entry, although doubtless it is there, by a quick search because the roll is in very poor condition. It would therefore not be worthwhile to copy it for you. If you are ever here you are most welcome to come and see it."

In mid-April I (CWT), with my wife and step-daughter, took a short vacation trip to England, and asked NTT beforehand what there might be to see there of Terrill family history interest, and if there might be any useful small research task that I could perform while there. Nancy gave me wonderful tips, and as a result Judy and I (Judy's daughter Miranda was there to attend a conference) had a very rewarding trip. As far as research was concerned NTT informed me that the most important item would be this PRO document, and she provided me all the information I could have hoped for, to prepare in advance. So I spent a day at the National Archives (of which the PRO became a part in 2003). If you'd like to see my notes concerning this research, and to look at my pictures of the subsidy documents, you may do so by clicking here.

(An aside: Here's an interesting article on rolls, rotulets, parchment, vellum and paper that I found while preparing for my visit to the National Archives. It's by Mike Fitton, an honorary member of the Muskoka, Parry Sound Genealogy Group, of Ontario, Canada.)

The document was waiting for me when I arrived since I had ordered it in advance, and so I got off to a fast start. Things slowed down rapidly, though, when I unrolled it and tried to read it. It wasn't hard to find the "Copthall and Wappinge" section, but it was very difficult to read the names. An ultraviolet illumination lamp, provided by an archivist, helped enormously; but still, the going was tough! Although it was hard to read a name, it wasn't so hard to decide that the name couldn't possibly be "Roger Terrill." Very unfortunately, part of the second page containing the "Copthall and Wappinge" section was torn off. However, the National Archives' E 179/142/279 documentation [2] told me that the torn off part of this page could be found in document E 179/143/410 [3]. So I ordered that, fully confident that I would soon find the name "Roger Terrill." The document arrived shortly, and I read through "rotulet" (page) 3, but again there was no "Roger Terrill"! And it seemed to me that this partial page did not look like a proper match to the part I had seen before. It took some hand-waving (since the National Archives' policy is to let readers have only one document at a time) to persuade the authorities there to let me compare the two documents; but my arguments prevailed and they made an exception. Personally, I don't believe that the two pieces match. So I don't believe that I actually examined the torn off part of the first document.

(Another aside: If you would like to compare the tear characteristics on your own, the best images to compare are 0070 against 0081 or 0082.)

The E 179 database documentation informs us that the rotulets were stitched together across the top in the 1840's or 1850's, as part of a conservation effort. Some time much more recently they were archivally-treated (made pH neutral and encased within two sheets of very thin archival paper). I wondered if perhaps Banks, in the 1920's, had been able to examine the proper torn-off part. An archivist doubted this—in his opinion Banks saw the same document that I saw, except that he saw it before it was archivally treated.

Still, you have to wonder. I had found "Copthall and Wappinge," but not "Roger Terrill." Why not? The research I had done at the Library of Congress on the Banks genealogical collection was done in preparation for the trip to England, and although it seemed to me then that there should have been a transcription of the 1621 Ossulstone hundred subsidy roll there, I did not have time to look for it before the trip. After the trip, though, I renewed my search, and finally found the transcription in the London Subsidies volume. I was thinking that I could find the name "Roger Terrill" in the transcription, compare the transcription against my pictures of the actual roll, and determine whether or not "Roger Terrill" was in the torn-off and lost part. It seemed like a good plan, and I was very optimistic when I started reading the transcription. Can you imagine my dismay when I found that the transcription ended abruptly just after "Rosemary Lane"—the section just preceding "Copthall and Wappinge"?! The remainder of the transcription was nowhere to be found in the volume. No wonder the name "Roger Terrill" was not in the index!

(Yet another aside: If you would like to compare Banks's transcription of the Rosemary Lane section against the original document, compare London Subsidies.pdf pp. 18 and 19 against Rosemary Lane.jpg. You may in the process gain some appreciation for Banks's transcription skills! But is that last name on the list really "Rosamond Drew"?)

So where do we stand? The Banks collection does not seem to contain the remaining part of the transcription of the 1621 Ossulstone hundred list. Yet the source given for the Topographical Dictionary entry is P.R.O. 142/179. So, either Banks transcribed the Copthall and Wappinge part and his transcription did not make it into his London Subsidies volume, or else there has been some mistake. Could Banks's original notes exist somewhere? We don't know yet. NTT and I have discussed the problem at great length, and it's beginning to seem more likely that there has been a mistake. Let's turn our attention now to Charles E. Banks, and his genealogical collection.

Dr. Charles Edward Banks (1854-1931) was an officer in the United States Department of Public Health for forty years—from 1881 to 1921. He was Assistant Surgeon General at the time of his retirement. A Boston Evening Transcript obituary informs us:

"In addition to his distinguished service in his profession . . . [he] found time to make contributions to the cause of genealogy and local history that are of especial value. As far back as 1884 he was writing in well-documented fashion on topics relating to the early history of Maine, and his zeal for research was unflagging to the end. To his researches he brought a trained and scholarly mind, as well as a fund of sound common sense, and his keen understanding of men and events made him an unusually skillful interpreter of the trends of human life and provincial government in the days of colonization . . .

"Following his retirement from governmental duties he carried out a long cherished plan of visiting England to engage in researches into the ancestry and homes of the early settlers of New England, spending nearly five years in the task."

"Dr. Banks was a founder of the Anglo-American Records Foundation, Inc., with offices in New York. Among his published works are the English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers; the History of Martha's Vineyard, Dukes County, Massachusetts; History of York, Maine; the Planters of the Commonwealth; and the Winthrop Fleet of 1630." [4] (Note: The Anglo-American Records Foundation appears to have gone defunct with the death of Banks.)

Banks's Topographical Dictionary of English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650 was compiled several years after Banks died, by Elijah Ellsworth Brownell, who gathered supporting references from the notes and manuscripts compiled by Banks. [5] It seems likely to me [CWT] that Brownell was also the person who put the scrapbooks together, and perhaps it was he who donated the whole collection to the Library of Congress, except for three volumes of manuscripts concerning Martha's Vineyard which were donated to the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Brownell was twenty years younger than Banks, and he too was a prolific genealogical author, though not nearly on the same scale as Banks. A good deal of criticism has been leveled at Banks's work, but not much of it has been leveled against those works that he himself published, while he lived. Would he have approved of the posthumous publication of his notes? I think not. But was Brownell right to publish them? I think so. Banks's notes have been of great value to very many people.

Enough of Banks and Brownell! Wherein lies the mistake! One possibility is that the wrong subsidy reference has been given. The National Archives has two other Ossulstone hundred subsidy rolls that we know of. One dates from 1600 and the other from 1624 or 1625. Both have listings for Copthall and Wapping. The one from 1624 or 1625 (which unfortunately is badly damaged) could be the one on which "Roger Terrill" is listed. Banks provided partial transcriptions of both of these rolls in his London Subsidies. Neither transcription covered "Copthall and Wapping." [6][7]

So, frankly, we're perplexed! One useful piece of information has come out of all this, though. If Roger Terrill was indeed on a Copthall and Wappinge list, then that "Copthall and Wappinge" appears to have been part of Whitechapel. This "fact" is from the National Archives documentation for the 1600 roll (E 179/142/234), in which "Copthall" and "Wapping" appear as subheadings (the only two) under a "Whitechapel" heading. We know that there was a "Copped Hall" in the vicinity from a paragraph in The Royal and Bishops' Palaces in Old London, by Wilberforce Jenkinson. [8] This "Copped Hall" was in the parish of St. Botolph Aldgate, which was very close to Whitechapel. Jenkinson also mentions, "There were, however, several houses of the same name, 'copped,' said to mean a pinnacle or, possibly, a pinnacle truncated or 'topped.'" In addition to the one in St. Botolph Aldgate, Jenkinson cites a "Copped Hall" in Dowgate, another in the parish of St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, and a "Copthall Court" in Throgmorton Street. Other Copthalls in Ossulstone hundred can be found on old maps. There was a "Copthall Yard" in the parish of St. Leonard Shoreditch, north of the London Wall, and a "Copthall" in the parish of Hornsey, north of Shoreditch. [9][10]

We should mention that the subsidy listings which we have actually seen (including Banks's transcriptions) give "Copthall and Wappinge" or "Copthall and Wapping" as the section subheading. We think that the person who made the list wrote it this way in order to distinguish this Copthall from all the others in and around London. Banks apparently lopped off the "Wapping" part and gave it as the parish name in his notes. This is understandable, since "Copthall" was certainly not a parish. And the Genealogical Publishing Company, in its 1963 reprint of Banks's Topographical Dictionary, has changed Banks's "Wapping" to "Stepney (Wapping)," for some reason. Actually, the parish name was most likely St. Botolph Aldgate, or else St. Mary Matfellon (Whitechapel).

The challenge!

If anyone is able to read the 1621 Ossulstone hundred subsidy list, and can spot the name "Roger Terrill," CWT will of course be mortified; but both he and NTT will thank you for your help! Here's the link again to CWT's notes. The images of interest are 0085 to 0090, 0080 to 0082, and perhaps 0066 to 0076. CWT has not yet received the copies he ordered from the National Archives photocopy department. Good luck!

Postscript: This report will attain "final" status when we resolve the issues which presently perplex us, or perhaps instead when we give up! (It's now final. See the DOR article "Roger Terrell in the 1624/5 Ossulstone hundred subsidy roll" for our story of the resolution of this puzzle.)


1. Banks genealogical collection, Charles Edward Banks (1854-1931, at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. The manuscript collection is available in the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room; a microfilm copy (11 reels) is available as Microfilm 51304.

2. E 179/142/279, lay subsidy assessments for Ossulstone hundred, Middlesex, 1621, The National Archives (of England), Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.

3. E 179/143/410, miscellaneous membranes and fragments of Ossulstone hundred lay subsidy assessments, National Archives.

4. All of the biographical material on Banks is from a page from the Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress, Division of Accessions, 1935, found in the Library of Congress documentation folder for the Banks genealogical collection.

5. A summary by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, for Archive CD Books USA, concerning Banks's Topographical Dictionary (

6. E 179/142/234, subsidy assessment for Ossulstone hundred, 1600. National Archives.

7. E 179/142/284, subsidy assessment for Ossulstone hundred, 1624 or 1625. National Archives.

8. The Royal and Bishops' Palaces in Old London , by Wilberforce Jenkinson, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1921, p. 123.

9. "An Actual Survey of the Parish of St. Leonard in Shoreditch, Middlesex, taken in the Year 1745 by Peter Chassereau," from the British Library's on-line Crace Collection.

10. "A Survey of the Roads and Foot-paths in the Parish of ISLINGTON. From a plan in the Vestry Room, drawn in the Year 1735," by J. Hawksworth, 1811, from the British Library's on-line Crace Collection.