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John BEST (12 December 1776 - before 7 June 1841)

So far, we can trace Neil's BEST ancestry back to his great great grandfather, John Best. According to entries in the family bible, he was born on 12 December 1776. Sadly the bible does not give his parentage or place of birth.

The family bible confirms other records that on 24 June 1804 John married Ann Kemp (Neil's great great grandmother) at Christchurch, Spitalfields, London. According to the parish records, he was a bachelor "of this parish" which probably meant that he was selling the produce of the family farm at the famous Spitalfields market. Ann was born on 10 July 1784 in Eynsford to John Kemp and his wife Elizabeth, formerly Elizabeth Bennett.

Orpington, st Mary Cray; the Best butchers shop

The Best butcher's shop in Orpington. The photo was taken in 1911 at the time of the coronation of King George V, and the sign above the shop reads Best and Son.

In 1810 John Best set up a butcher's shop in St Mary Cray, Orpington (Kent, England) called Best and Son, which was to remain in the Best family for four generations. Click for more photographs of the Orpington / Crockenhill location.

Baptismal records support the entries in the family bible which show that John and Ann had a large family - and they named their first son John. Baby John, died almost immediately, and their third son was again given the name of John. That John Best is not in Neil's direct ancestry. It seems that he or a cousin by the same name survived into adulthood as we have photos of three John Bests (see below). Sadly we do not know which Johns they refer to.

The entries in the family bible, with additions from other records, censuses and communications from various descendants, provide the known details of the children of "our John" and Ann:

Henry Moon's brother, Augustus Graham Moon, emigrated with his family to Australia:

MOON, Augustus Graham, Alexandra, a native of London, and a nephew of Sir F G MOON, Baronet, arrived in Victoria in 1855 as an employee of the general Steam Screw navigation Company, but the Crimean War breaking out the operations of the company were suspended, and he entered the correspondence branch of the post Office. in 1867 he left Melbourne for Wood's Point as legal manager of many of the principal mines there, and remained there, being a large shareholder, until their collapse. Mr MOON has since then been closely connected with the Alexandra shire council, to which he is secretary and treasurer. he is also secretary of the Cottage Hospital and holds other posts; and he has for some time conducted the local newspaper.'

From - 'Victoria and its Metropolis, Past & Present', Vol IIA,'The Colony and its People in 1888', Chapter XV, 'The Upper Goulburn District', p. 329.

Augustus Graham Moon's wife was Octavia Hamilton (Frances Octavia Scrivenor), an opera singer in Melbourne and quite a scandalous figure.

Strangely, in spite of the bible's wealth of additional genealogy information on John's wife and descendants, his own date of death is missing. He was certainly dead before the 7 June 1841 census, because his wife was listed as a widow. The bible entries do state that he was interred in Crockenhill Old Burial Ground but sadly the monumental inscriptions there are now unreadable. What has been transcribed - see the research page - is ambiguous.

There was another John Best in the same area around the same time, and the two are all too easily confused. The line which is not ours comes from a John Best, born 1750, who married Ann Stevens Turner (or Ann Stephens Turner) in 1774 and died in 1826.

A John Best, not known which one A John Best, not known which one A John Best, not known which one A John Best, not known which one A John Best, not known which one

The following photographs all came to us labelled John Best, with no further information - and because of the history of photography they probably come from a date after the middle of the nineteenth century. They look to me like three different men, who may bear no relationship whatsoever to the John Bests described above. Can anyone help with their identification?

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