The case of the four-fingered man

Aren’t family resemblances great? I can look at photos for hours, trying to see a trace of an ancestor here, a hint of someone else there.

So when I received a photo earlier in the week of a very old family photo my first reaction was, ‘Oh he has to be a Bannister!’

But is he? And if so – which Bannister?

Maybe George; a former convict, and the ‘father’ of the Bannister line in Tasmania?

Or perhaps one of his children…

Comparing the photo with two of George’s sons – William and Alexander – and their wives, we can possibly rule them out. While he bears a resemblance to Alexander (those eyes!), this is clearly not the same couple.


Well that…plus this man is missing a finger on his left hand! A pretty huge clue if we can track someone down who may know old family stories, or have other photos hidden away.

So it is George?

In the full photo, several of the children are wearing styles of clothing typical of the mid-late 1880s, including wide, frilled lace collars and horizontal patterns.

Bannister children

George would have been in his early 70s then and Ann in her mid-50s, and this couple looks younger than that I think (but maybe not).

There are other elements in the photo that suggest it’s actually early 1900s, so it could be another son, Samuel, who would have been in his 40s at that time.

But – there are nine children in the photo, and Samuel and Ellen only had eight that I know of (and the genders / ages don’t fit).

Bannister Osterley

So who are you, Mr four-fingered man?

Let’s just say the detective in me has fully kicked in, and I’m loving it. Other family are also on the case, and in time, I’m hopeful we can solve it.

Or at the very least, have fun trying!



Are you descended from George Bannister and Ann McCabe? Are you able to help identify this family or date the photo?

Please feel free comment here or get in touch. 🙂


Images of William and Christina from the Rainbird family collection (via user rrainbird1).

Others from the Bannister family collection (descendants of Ned and Vera).  Thank you for sharing.

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