In most short sketches of Kate Hankey that appear in collections of stories about hymn origins, she is simply identified as "daughter of a London banker." The search for her parents and family began with the 1881 census of England, available through the LDS Family Search web site.
The London household at 78 Ebury St. included Reginald Hankey (age 48), a retired banker, and his sister Arabella C. Hankey (age 47). Arabella's birthplace was given as Cumberland Ter., London, and Reginald was born at Portland Pl., London. The household at 59 Portland Place included Thomson Hankey (age 75), a magistrate, and his wife Apolline A. Hankey (age 72). Thomson was born at Hackney, Middlesex, England and Apolline was born in the United States.
While Kate Hankey's middle name is often found as Katherine, both the 1881 census and her death certificate give a middle initial of 'C', and an undocumented source states that she was christened as Arabella Catherine Hankey, with her friends using the diminutive name of Kate. A copy of her death certificate from the General Register Office gives her name as Arabella Catherine Hankey, with the informant being "Agnes E. Rashdall, Niece in attendance."
Two key resources were located with family information. First, the Dictionary of National Biography - Supplement, Vol. II, edited by Sidney Lee (New York and London, 1901), pages 585-86, provide the parents of Thomson Hankey, his wife Appoline<sic> Agatha Alexander, and her father. Included are dates and extensive information about the career of Thomson Hankey.
While the 1881 census does not establish that Kate Hankey was the daughter of Thomson and Apolline Hankey, the ages, birthplace of Reginald and residence of Thomson Hankey certainly are strong evidence that she was. A review of available birth and marriage indexes reveal the Kate's niece (from death certificate) was the daughter of John Rashdall and Emily Hankey. If the stated aunt-niece kinship between Arabella C. Hankey and Agnes E. Rashdall is correct, Emily (Hankey) Rashdall would be a sister of Kate Hankey and her brother Reginald Hankey. Documentation of the parents of these Hankey siblings is desired.
With knowledge of family history resources in the United States, extensive information on the Alexander family in Woodford Co., KY and other families connected to the Alexanders by marriage was located. The connection of the Alexander family to the Biddle family led to the second key resource that provided the required connection of the Alexander family in Kentucky and the Hankey family in London. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania includes an extensive collection of Biddle Family Papers, with an annotated list of the archive contents. Among the annotations is:
"Biddle, Thomas, 1776-1857. Family papers, 1769-1954. (3 linear ft.)
"Thomas Biddle married Christine Williams, the daughter of Jonathan and Marianne Alexander Williams. Christine Williams Biddle's brother, Henry Jonathan Williams married Julia Rush, the daughter of Benjamin and Julia Stockton Rush.
"The manuscripts consist of correspondence and other papers of Thomas and Christine Biddle and their descendants, as well as aunts Berthia, Christine and Jane Alexander and Isabelle Alexander Hankey, all of whom report on politics and family affairs in Scotland, England, and France. Another major correspondent is Apolline Agatha Alexander, a member of the Kentucky branch of the family who was orphaned and subsequently raised by Mrs. Biddle, with letters from London following her marriage to Thomson Hankey, Jr. "
A detailed account of the many notable Americans connected to the Alexander family is beyond the scope of presentation. However, a few kinsmen are identified as follows with their relationship to Marianne (Alexander) Williams (1758-1816), half-great aunt and foster grandmother of Kate Hankey:
In England and Scotland, there are many titled kinsmen of Kate Hankey. With the compiler being very unfamiliar with such titles and the proper use thereof, they will be omitted here to avoid errors, omissions and improprieties. One of Kate's kinship is as follows:
|Thomas Hankey & Sarah Barnard|
|John Hankey & Elizabeth Thomson
Thomson Hankey & Martha Harrison
Thomson Hankey & Apolline Agatha Alexander
Arabella Catherine 'Kate' Hankey
Kate and Camilla are 3rd cousins thrice removed.
|Susannah Hankey & Beaumonth Hotham
Louisa Hotham & Charles Edmonstone
William Edmonstone & Mary Elizabeth Parsons
Alice Frederica Edmonstone & George Keppel
Sonia Rosemary Keppel & Roland Calvert Cubitt
Rosalind Maud Cubitt & Bruce Middleton Hope Shand
Camilla Rosemary (Shand) Parker-Bowles Windsor
The ancestry of Kate Hankey will not be expentively developed, with the following chart providing a beginning for those who desire to pursue the details and ancestry further.