The Family of Michael Christian Backler and Ann Mary Fahnert

Michael Christian Backler married Ann Mary Fahnert on 2nd May 1777 in St Mary Mounthaw parish in London.  The actual church was probably St Mary Somerset, because the parishes were combined when both churches were burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and only St Mary Somerset was rebuilt.  Presiding over the marriage was Philip Batteson, with one of the witnesses being John Lampert, the pastor from the German Lutheran Church at The Savoy.

Other family records in German at The Savoy, show the family name as Bäckler, with an umlaut, the two dots over the ‘a’.  This has a diphthong effect and makes the pronunciation similar to Beckler and other records also suggest a diphthong as in Baeckler.  In this case the surname in the record is shown as Beckler.  Ann Mary also has her surname spelt as Fanert and in this record as Fahmert.  I have chosen Fahnert as the most likely spelling from the frequency of this spelling.

Ann Mary was born in London in 1756 and I have not been able to find out when she died.  In the case of Michael Christian, I have a date of death as 3rd May 1803 in Bristol, but do not know when he was born.  There is a record of him working at Daubney’s in Bristol in the 1780s (see the blog page Sugar Refining Backlers in Bristol and London).  At some point the family relocated to Bristol.  Three of their children were born in London between 1778 and 1782, then there was gap when the youngest two were born in Bristol between 1796 and 1797.  It may be that Ann did not join her husband in Bristol for a number of years, if he did indeed work at Daubney’s in the 1780s.  Further information on each of their children follows:

  • Johann Christoff Backler was born on 10th July 1778 and baptised at The Savoy on 25th July, with the record being in German.  His father was recorded as Michael Bäckler and his mother as Anna Fanert.  The record was written by Pastor Lampert and the sponsors were Marcus Seldenschlo and Johan Baeckler, the latter presumably being Michael Christian’s father.  Two different spellings of Backler in the same entry!  There is a later entry that is crossed out that references back to this one, but dates the birth as 28th February 1779.  This time Michael Christian Bäckler was identified as the father and Anna Fahnert (with the ‘h’ added) was the mother.  The sponsors were Christoff Seldenschlo (not Marcus), Johann Backler (a double ‘n’ used for both) and Ernestina Amalia Lampert, signed off by Pastor Lampert.  Johan Christoff was a goldsmith in Litchfield Street (see the blog page Backlers – The German Connection).  He Anglicised his name to John Christopher or Christopher John and Married Harriet Wettig on 27th October 1807 at St Marylebone.  Johann Christoff died on 29th March 1838, aged 60, in London and he was buried on 4th April 1838 at St Giles and St Georges.
  • Elizabeth Catherine Backler was born 29th December 1780 in London and baptised at St Peter, St Pauls Wharf on 14th January 1781.   Her parents were identified as Christian and Ann.  St Peter was another church that did not exist, because it was burnt down in the Great Fire along with nearby St Benets.  The parishes were merged and only St Benets was rebuilt.  Elizabeth died a spinster in 1855 in London.  She wrote an important will in 1844, identifying Michael Christian, Henry and Sarah as her siblings and Mary Ann Noakes (daughter of Michael Christian) as her god-daughter.  The will was proven by her sister Sarah in 1855, as her only surviving sibling (see the blog page The Will of Elizabeth Catherine Backler).
  • Marya Anna Backler was purported to have been born on 18th December 1781 and baptised on 27th December 1781.  This record is crossed out at The Savoy and appears to be an error.  I can find no further records for Marya Anna.  The entry was signed by Pastor Burckhardt with the sponsors being Johan Backler and C. Seldenschlo, and identified Michael Christian Bäckler and Anna Fahnert as the parents.
  • Michael Christian Backler was born on the 10th August 1782 and baptised at The Savoy on 8th September.  The dates were overwritten from April and the record is in German.  His parents were identified as Christian Michael Baeckler and Anna Fanert.  Michael Christian’s name was spelt the same as his father.  The sponsors were Gottlieb Kohlbeck and Ann Holman.  Clearly record keeping at The Savoy was not as good as it should have been.  There were other annotations in German and the record was not signed by a Pastor.  Michael Christian was involved in sugar refining in Bristol, where he worked at Daubney’s before 1805 and at his own company in London.  He married Mary Tibbin in Bristol on 12th October 1805.  They had a daughter, Mary Anne Backler, on 15th July 1807 in London and she was baptised at St Annes, Soho on 23rd August 1807.  Mary Anne married Thomas Noakes at St James, Westminster on 26th August 1827.
  • Sarah Backler was born in Bristol in 1796.  She remained a spinster all of her life and died in London in 1869 in the first quarter.
  • Henry Backler was born in Bristol in 1797.  See the blog page Henry the Tailor of Bristol and London.  He died in London in the third quarter of 1855.  Henry married Elizabeth Meddings in 1826.  The marriage was recorded in Brighton dated 2nd April and Westminster dated 2nd May.  Elizabeth was born in Mapledurwell, Hampshire according to the 1881 census and her age was given as 84 so she was born in 1797.  She died in the fourth quarter of 1885 at the ripe old age of 89.  Henry and Elizabeth founded the South Australian dynasty through their son, Thomas Christian Backler, which is detailed in the blog page, South Australian Backlers.

This research has connected together all of the siblings of Michael Christian Backler Senior and Ann Mary Fahnert.  There is a small amount of room for doubt, because of variations in the first name combinations and changes in the spelling of surnames.  However, there is enough documentary evidence to link the siblings together and to correctly deduce their parents.

As far as my own family connections are concerned, it is intriguing that both families were in Bristol at the same time, but it may be that there is no connection at all.  It is also possible that my ancestor, Samuel Backler, who is noted as being a London shoemaker, could be related to Michael Christian Senior.

The Johan Backler recorded twice in The Savoy German Lutheran Church records as a sponsor at baptisms, could be Michael Christian Senior’s father.  I can only find references back to the Mecklenberg province of Germany for this name and it is linked to others recorded in Mecklenberg, also members of the German Lutheran church.  Whilst I can’t establish the family connections, there are none recorded earlier in London, where the records began in the previous century, so it seems that Michael Christian Senior’s father Johan, may be the first one to have emigrated from Germany.

This research has proven that the Backler Connections from Michael Christian Backler Senior run from Germany, through Bristol and London all the way to South Australia.