I'ANSON international
In response to a letter from Len Ianson in Australia this Bulletin Board was started in January 1999.  An archive of past letters has now been set up so that we don't accumulate too many on the page, yet do not lose interesting information (links below). MLI


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Re: Brian I'Anson's Family Histories - Oh, oh!!

21 February 2014  [LETTER 1]
From: Anthony Camp <anthonyjcamp@aol.com>
To: maureen.ille@one-name.org

Dear Dr Ille,

I wonder if you can help me?

I am interested in the development of genealogy in England and wonder if you know anything about the activities of one Bryan I'Anson and his apparent association with a firm called Janson & Co which for many years collected subscriptions to family histories that never actually appeared.

In 1933 the magazine Truth drew attention to the activities of Janson & Co, which was circulating people with relatively common surnames (examples are Warren, Finch and Bennett) announcing that it was compiling histories of their families, and offering discounts for subscriptions in advance. The firm had an address in Clapham in 1932 and then moved to Balham. Its activities were exposed in the Daily Mail in July 1933. The firm moved to Conduit Street in central London and in 1935 started collecting subscriptions for a history of the Cole family. In 1937 it sent out circulars for a history of the Roberts family. These circulars said that it had already published histories of the Armitage, Bannister, Chapman, Finch, I'Anson and Wightman families.

These published histories had in fact all been written by Bryan I'Anson and published much earlier in the years 1914-18. The Finch history, also credited to him, did not appear until 1933. I attempted to investigate some of the prospectuses for the phantom books for the Society of Genealogists in the late 1950s but without success. However, I was never quite sure that Bryan I'Anson actually existed. If he did, he had perhaps come to think that he could make more money by publishing false prospectuses than by actually publishing family histories. Now, looking at various things on the Internet, it seems likely that he did exist. Was he the chartered accountant Arthur Bryan I'Anson of Ayton Hall, Yorkshire (1873-1949)? Did he have some connection with I'Anson & Co?

Are you able to throw any light on these questions. If so I would be delighted to hear from you!

With every good wish and many thanks,
Yours sincerely,
Anthony Camp, MBE, FSG.

2 March 2014  [LETTER 3]
From: Anthony Camp <anthonyjcamp@aol.com>
To: maureen@ille.co.uk

Dear Maureen,

Looking again at my file this morning I suddenly noticed that a letter from Janson & Co dated 13 December 1936 to Colonel E. A. Loftus is signed "Janson & Co" in dark ink and that the signature of A. Bryan I'Anson on his daughter Frances Beryl's marriage entry at Epsom in 1929 on ancestry.co.uk [indexed as Berel] which I remembered and have now looked back at again, is in the same ink [the entry on ancestry.co.uk is in colour] and written with the same initial long loop and underscored with a long line with a little cross through it, all in exactly the same way. I have little doubt that it is the same man.

The British Library Integrated Catalogue shows that only the two books were published by Janson & Co, in 1933 and 1935. No other productions by the 'firm' are mentioned.

I also saw in the 'britishnewspaperarchive' that when William Mangles I'Anson died in 1926 it was Bryan's son Cecil who contested his will in 1927 without success. It looks as though the family's expectations were blighted at that time.

I was really looking at the file to see what I had on the bogus "Sir John Brunton" in Conduit Street, but it is very little as I could not find him anywhere. I now see on the internet that in 1936 he was corresponding with Nell Shipman about the production of films in Florida and the Bahamas (I assume in order to obtain money from her) and that the Nell Shipman Collection at Boise State University contains a profile of him (in a Pressbook in Series I of the Collection). I am very curious, but I doubt that I shall follow this up, for I fear it may be Mr I'Anson again!

With every good wish,
Anthony Camp.

25 February 2014 [LETTER 2]
From: Anthony Camp <anthonyjcamp@aol.com>
To: maureen@ille.co.uk

Dear Dr Ille,

Many thanks indeed for your very helpful two emails; I had not realised that Bryan I'Anson had married twice and that helps to fill in the gaps considerably and to identify him later. I do not think that there was any connection with the estate agent and there is some muddle about his earlier history as it was his father who was the waterworks engineer. At the risk of repeating myself somewhat I will set out now what I know:

In March 1933 the journal Truth drew attention to the activities of Janson & Co of 12-13 Prudential Buildings, Clapham Common, which had circulated people with the surnames Warren, Finch, Bennett [and others], announcing that they were writing histories of their families. They offered a discount if payment were made in advance, saying that a volume which would cost five guineas after publication could be purchased for £4, a deposit of £1 being required with the order, but that a copy could be secured by paying three guineas. The firm had left the Clapham Common address in September 1932, but letters were still being forwarded and it was now trading from 56 Alderbrook Road, Balham.

In July 1933 the Daily Mail described the activities of Janson & Co saying that some time ago 'a trickster living in obscurity in South London' had collected subscriptions for a history of the Bennett family which never appeared. The Daily Mail leader said, 'Some of these genealogies may be genuine, but in most imagination plays a large part. Human credulity, however, in such matters is only too anxious to be duped'. As a result of the article the firm commenced an action for libel against Associated Newspapers, the owners of the Daily Mail, but it was not pressed. The SoG member Phyllis Shield took an interest in Janson's activities and in October 1933 found that 'our slippery friend', as she described him, was living at 15 Evelyn Mansions, W.14. In 1935 another member had a circular about a proposed history of the Cole family from Janson & Co then trading at 6 Conduit Street, London W1, which was also the home of "Sir John Brunton of the Faculty of Genealogical Research" about whom complaints were so numerous that Scotland Yard took an interest and it was closed down. However, at some stage Janson & Co moved again and it was at 7 Princes Street, Hanover Square, sending out circulars about a projected History of the Roberts families, said to be by one "F. B. S. Roberts, assisted by a well-known historian and genealogist", which was to be published in December 1937, but again the book never appeared. The book's prospectus said that the firm had published histories of the Armitage, Banastre or Bannister, Chapman, Finch, I'Anson, Martyn or Martin and Wightman families. Histories of these seven families had indeed been printed and all had been compiled by Arthur ‘Bryan’ I'Anson (1873-1949). Five had been published in the period 1914-18, including that of I’Anson in 1915 'for the Genealogical Research Society', an organisation which did not exist, but the histories of the Finch and Martyn families had not appeared until 1933 and 1935 respectively.

Bryan I’Anson, the son of a civil engineer for a waterworks company [but not himself a civil engineer], had been a fairly prosperous Chartered Accountant in Middlesbrough [he was described as an accountant's clerk in 1891, as a Chartered Accountant Employer in 1901 and 1911] but his father died in 1915. Bryan I’Anson and his wife had moved to Epsom, Surrey, by 1918 [when they appear in the Electoral Registers there]. Two of his books in 1917-18 were published at the 'Author's Private Press'. The couple had an office or flat at 10 Bush Lane in EC4 in 1920-2 [Electoral Registers]. He described himself as an accountant when an executor to his mother in 1927, at his daughter's marriage in 1929, and at the probate of his first wife's will in 1931. After his first wife's death at Epsom in 1930, aged 51, he seems to be the man described above who lived at various addresses in south London though he  has not been found on the electoral registers there. In 1935 he was at 60 Warwick Street, Westminster; he married again in 1936 and the couple continued at that address until at least 1939. It seems that after his first wife's death I'Anson intended to compile more family histories and was the man, perhaps the only man, behind "Janson & Co", but after the publication of the history of the Martyn family in 1935, no further books appeared. Indeed it looks as though there was no actual firm as such and that the name "Janson & Co" had just been adopted without formality. So far as I can see his publishing and money raising activities ended with the police involvement at Conduit Street in 1936 and his second marriage that year. He died in Kensington in 1949 [without leaving a will or administration] and his widow in Chelsea in 1981.

I had wondered if someone else had been using his name but from what we now know, that does not seem to be the case.  It is a fascinating story but very typical of frauds both here and in America at this period.

I am most grateful to you for your assistance and if my great book ever appears you will find yourself in an appropriate endnote.

Thank you very much indeed.
Yours sincerely,
Anthony Camp.

Date: 3 September 2013
From: Barbara Hofmann <barbh1124@yahoo.com>
To: ianson@one-name.org 
Sent: Tuesday, 3 September 2013, 0:55
Subject: Joseph Ianson. Mt Freedom. NJ


My father was the grandson of Joseph I'anson. I know the family dropped the "I" sometime around the civil war which I understand Joseph was a part of. My father was Hubert Anson bron in Morristown in 1911. I grew up in Roseland, and we saw the headstone of Miles I'Anson. I went to the Morris County library in the 1970's and viewed the record of Miles' plantation granted to him by William Penn, on microfilm. Please contact me with further information on my family. I am the last Anson from that family line. 

Barbara Anson Hofmann

3 September 2013
My father was Hubert Anson, born in Morristown, NJ on March 12, 1911, died February 15, 1999.  His mother was Elizabeth Hibbs Anson.  I do not know his father's name, other than Anson since his father died when he was 2 years old.  His grandfather was Joseph I'Anson, who fought in the Civil War and lived and died in Mt. Freedom, NJ.  In the 1960's, I actually saw the family gravesite, with Miles' headstone, as well as Thomas I'Anson, and several others.  It was overrun with weeds, and I'm sure it was demolished sometime after that.  I also saw Joseph I'Anson's gravesite in the churchyard across the street from the house where he lived.  It was identified as he being in the Civil War fighting with the Union Army.  My father, Hubert Anson was married to my mother, Mae Schultz Anson in August, 1938.  My mother was born on Nov. 21, 1914 and died on May 7, 2007. 

18 September 2013
I can only assume that my father's father died when my father was young, since that is what I was told. However, I have no way of knowing for sure, but I do know that my father's grandfather was Joseph I'Anson and that he changed the name to Anson, dropping the "I". 

Also, my father's mother was Elizabeth Hibbs, so my father's father should have been listed on the marriage certificate. My grandmother was about 88 when she died in 1961, so she would have been born sometime around 1870 and I would guess she married a man around the same age. My father was born in 1911 and he had a brother named Archibald who was born in 1909 or thereabouts, and died around 1922 or 1923 (was killed by a car hitting him while walking).

I appreciate your continued research.

Barbara Anson Hofmann


Date: 8 February 2014
From: Katie D Solomon <ktdsolomon854@gmail.com>
To: ianson@one-name.org

My name is Katherine Delorise I'Anson. 
My father was Gordon Arthur I'Anson who was born 13 May 1921 and died 6 Jul 1947. 
His parents were Robert Milton I'Anson and his wife was Edith Evelyn Rennells. 
His father was born on 12 Nov 1833 and his mother was born 1887.  Robert M I'Anson died 18 Feb 1930 and mother died in 1934. 
Robert's parents were Theodore B I'Anson born 1848 and died in 1911; and Lillian Hewett born 26 Apr 1865, died 8 Dec 1933. 

I would really love to receive other info regardind the I'Anson family.  My cousin is Bryan I'Anson.  My e-mail address is ktdsolomon854@gmail.com 
Thank you

Katherine Delorise I'Anson Solomon






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