Alexander Beaty / Beattie Shankland

Anne Shankland, Winchester, UK

The name Alexander Beattie (or Beaty) Shankland is a distinctive one. I noticed that it occurs not once but twice in our database, at about the same time period.

The first occurrence is Alexander Beaty Shankland, who appears among the American records in the database. We have not only the dates of his birth, marriage, and death, but we also have a short printed biography of him, contributed by Ron Shankland. Alexander Beaty [sic] Shankland was born in 1816 in New York State, the son of Jesse Shankland. He married Sarah Scovel in 1842, and moved to Tennessee where he became first a newspaper proprietor and editor, and then a real-estate broker. He had two children, James H and Sophy Lilly, both born in Tennessee. He died in 1877.

We can trace his family line back through several generations, and discover in doing so that Beaty was the name of his great-grandmother. In fact, it appears that he had two great-grandmothers whose maiden name was Beaty! On the male line, his grandfather was Alexander Shankland, son of Robert Shankland and Sarah Beaty; and Alexander Shankland was married to Vintentia Willson whose mother was also apparently a Beaty. It may be worth noting that the Beaty name occurs nowhere else to my knowledge in this line.

The other occurrence of the name is Alexander Beattie Shankland, for whom we have much less data. In fact we have only one scrap of information: that he had a son in London in 1843. The St.Catherine's House Registration Indexes list a child, Francis, born in the third quarter of 1843 in the Kensington, London, registration district; this of course gives us no further information about Francis' parentage. But there is also an IGI entry for the London area, which shows the christening of Francis Shankland, son of Alexander Beattie Shankland and Elizabeth Cape, at St.James, Paddington, London, on 28th August 1843.

So it appears that we have two people called Alexander Beaty/Beattie Shankland, apparently of very similar ages, one in America and one in London, England.

What brought this to my attention recently was an item of information we have received from F.O.N.S. (a research service that the Shankland One-Name Study uses), relating to Alexander Beattie Shankland. This clearly refers to the London one, since it gives his address as "Liverpool Street in the city of London"; but it establishes a surprising connection with America:

23 February 1832 : A grant unto Alexander Beattie Shankland, of Liverpool Street, in the city of London, that he hath lately had communicated to him by a foreigner resident in America "A new method of cutting, working, and planeing of wood, minerals, and metals by means of machinery".

There are further patent grants in April 1832, July 1832, and then in May 1834, by which time Alexander Beattie has moved to Egremont Place, St. Pancras (and is now described as "a gentleman"). All the patents are for machines similar to that given above, two being for shaping wood and two for spinning flax, hemp or wool; in each case the application is "a communication from a foreigner residing abroad".

It appears that our London Alexander Beattie Shankland is working (maybe informally, as a personal favour) as a patent agent for a friend or relative in America. Who, then, was this American contact? What is the connection? Is there any link with the American Alexander Beattie Shankland? Is it simply coincidence that the two people with such similar names should be living at the same time, one in America and one in England, and that one of them has demonstrated strong links between the two countries?

Anyone out there got any answers? ... any clues? ...


Anne Shankland, September 1996