Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


Genealogy in Hertfordshire

Editorial Blog

May 2010 Archive


Home Page

Currant Blog

This Blog is to provide up-to-the minute information on updates together with some background on how I run this web site, plus more general genealogy news.

If you have any Hertfordshire history news that should be reported here, please Tell me about it


Friday, May 28th, 2010

Volunteers wanted: Philip, who runs the excellent web site www.prestonherts.co.uk for the village of Preston, emailed to tell me he had written an article "The Evolution of a Family/Local History Web Site" for the April issue of Family Tree magazine - and is planning to write another "Life in a Victorian Country School" based on the Preston School logbooks. This suggests a way this blog could become more helpful - by including details of Hertfordshire books and articles relevant to this web site as soon as they are published. There is no way I can afford to buy all the different national magazines which might contain relevant articles, or to join all the Hertfordshire local history societies, so would welcome people who are prepared to become correspondents who email me with snippets of news for inclusion in this blog. In future I personally plan to cover Hertfordshire People (The Journal of the Hertfordshire Family History Society), Herts Past and Present (Hertfordshire Association for Local History), The Genealogists' Magazine (Society of Genealogists),  Hertfordshire Countryside, the  Newsletter (and publications) of the Hertfordshire Record Society and the Tring Local History and Museum Society.  If you are a member of a Hertfordshire Local History Society, or regularly subscribe to a genealogy magazine you are invited to become a correspondent. for the current and future issues.

Business Records: Keith's great grandfather Sidney George Thomas Daniels worked in the Buntingford grocers shop of  the firm of W. B. MOSS, Hitchin. I was able to find out quite a bit about how the company developed but it is unlikely that detailed company records of employees survive. This is a common problem. If your family was very well-to-do, or very poor (or criminal) there is a good chance that some records survive of their activities, but (apart from census returns when relevant) details of employees of small businesses rarely survive.

Other emails: There has been some more correspondence about my Atherton relatives (q.v.) and a vaguely worded question about a place which I assume is not in Hertfordshire.  Despite another generous donation the contributions to mental health in Hertfordshire have been disappointingly low this year - and are half of what they were at the same time last year.

Another call on my time: Some time ago I decided to write a book on my experiences in the computer industry between 1965 and 1990 but never got very far. However I will be giving a talk "Why we don't have Friendly Computers" at the end of July. The talk will look at the way in which the technological stampede to make money by exploiting the computer actually meant that an important area of fundamental research into designing a human-friendly information processor (as distinct from "obvious" developments of the stored program computer) was never properly explored. In addition to preparing a computer presentation for the talk I will probably set up another web site containing copies of key publications. While I should still be able to deal with queries and running this blog, there may be delays in routine updates and maintenance of the information web pages.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Where are you all? Maybe its the warm weather but there has been a gap of 5 days without any new "Ask Chris" or "Tell me" messages and I was beginning to get depressed about the silence and wondering whether running this site was a waste of my time. Then a message arrived asking about a birth in 1946 - when the guidelines make it clear that I don't answer questions relating to people after 1920! Well there is at least one person who has visited my site - and it turned out that the place where the birth took place was an interesting historical building, Verulam House, St Albans, which has its own Wikipedia page. It was originally built as a major coaching inn to service the London to Holyhead turnpike - but closed when competition from the railways reduced passing traffic. It became a private house, then the Bishop's Palace, and during the 2nd world war a temporary maternity hospital. So at least this misdirected request cheered me up.

So why not cheer me up - and if you haven't got a question take a few minutes to Tell me how you have found this site useful - or how you feel it could be improved.

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Google Map: Testing nearly 200 pegs over the last few days, plus some amendments, meant that all pegs now take you to the correct page. Quite a few still need pictures on the peg and/or the link page and in some cases it may prove difficult to obtain relevant early post cards, etc. I have therefore decided that where possible I will take a limited number of modern photographs, starting with the following places:



Potten End

In each case a small number of pages have been added and the relevant web pages have been moved.

Digging out some old research. Most of my own genealogy research was carried out between 1977, when I used family history data to test an experimental data base system, and 1988, when the computer running the software was scrapped and I could no longer update my files! I have a complete listing (in alphabetical order) of nearly 1000 pages and 6000 individuals, but no family trees. The volume is too big for my scanner! In addition, buried at the back of the garage are several large boxes of listing on individual families - with trees. This can make it difficult for me to answer questions about my my relatives where they are not direct ancestors.

Today I had an email from Cousin Neil relating to a shared ancestor, Nathan Atherton, grandfather of Maria Atherton. Neil mentioned an online Atherton One Name Study and a quick check showed that I had much information about one branch of the family which is not included. I found that my camera makes very satisfactory copies - and if I can make time I will try to get some of the listings from the back of the garage and produce CDs on various branches of the family ...

Thursday, May 20th, 2010


Thomas Corum School

Tring & District Local History & Museum Society: Last night I attended their A.G.M. followed by a very interesting personal account of life as a child in the Thomas Coram Foundling School at Berkhamsted in the 1930s/40s. The Society's newsletter gives details of a detailed manuscript by John Savage - History of Tring's Bus Services from the early horse bus service to the station to the present day. The Next meeting will be on July 21st on Neandertals - the ancestors no-one wanted.  There is now a web site for the Tring Local History Museum and work towards opening is well underway.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

News from the Hertfordshire Record Society Newsletter: Two new volumes are to appear shortly. They are Volume XXV, Datchworth Tithe Accounts (for 2009), and Volume XXVI, The Diary of John Carrington of Bramwell, 1798-1810 - Part 1 (for 2010). Work is continuing on the Barnet Tithe Map, which should be available later this year (free to members). Details are also given of future publications. (Details will appear on this site when they are published.) The newsletter also reports excellent reviews of The Impact of the First Civil War on Hertfordshire 1642-47. The Society's A.G.M. is at the Village Hall, Bramfield, at 2.30 pm, 19th June, followed by a visit to Bramfield Church. - so there is still time for you to join the Society and attend. Of more interest to many of you will ne the Society's Symposium on Brewing and Malting to be organised by the Bishops Stortford Local History Society on 12th November. Maybe I will see some of you there. The cost to non-members will be £16.00, lunch £7 extra.

New Book Pages: One of the aims of this web site is to encourage visitors to explore the world of books about Hertfordshire. Over the years I have accumulated a long backlog of books which should be included. Creating a full review page for each book, including contents list, sample txt and pictures, and other observations, takes time - but for some books few people will visit the pages. In the case of the following books I have created a page with a copy of the cover and brief publication information - and will fill in the details once I know that someone is interested. This will allow me to list many more books.

A related problem is keeping up with all the new books and booklets being published relating to Hertfordshire, in some cases by local societies or by the author. If you are aware of omissions on my site please let me know - or even better provide a review copy - in which case I will add a full review page.


If you

want more


on any of

these books

Country Women at War   Images of Letchworth Garden City     Paper Pioneers   Redbourn through time
Aldbury   Letchworth Garden City     Apsley   Redbourn
Welwyn Briefly   St Albans in Camera   The Second Tring Collection   Tring Silk Mill   Tring 1951-2000
Welwyn   St Albans   Tring
Hertfordshire Garden History   A Century of Archaeology on East Herts   Hertfordshire Secrets & Spies   Then there were two   Village Chronicles
      Kelshall, Rushden, Sandon, Therfield, Wallington

Picture from http://www.fotosearch.com/Emails & Updates: Francis reports that to the people in the photograph on Heath Farm, Watford are not from the Comyns family - so can anyone else identify them? Geoff provides information on a picture painted by Evacustes A Phipson, which helps track his movements around the UK by identifying where he was in 1905. Penny provided an update to SYMINGTON, Markyate area & St Albans, 19th century.

Lucas provided more details of the work on Bernards Heath. The area affected had been part of Heath Farm about 200 years but by about 1900 the area was covered with brick pits [see map]. The evidence, including an item dated 1941, suggests that the material being exposed is all 20th century domestic rubbish, which was used to fill in the pits.

Brian runs a web site called In and Around Stanstead Abbots at www.stanstead-abbotts.co.uk which has hundreds of photographs and post cards (old and new) of the village and nearby places such as Stanstead St Margaret and the Rye House.

High Resolution Digital Images: I get a number of requests for high resolution scans of old out of copyright prints and postcards for use in family histories - or to put into picture frames, and I help where I can (Donation). One of these pictures will be appearing as an illustration in a book - possibly later this year - and I will post details when I get them. (One has already appeared in the TV programme "Who do you think you are?")

L.D.S. Holdings of Trade Directories: A quick query about directories led me to carry a check on LDS Directory Holdings for Hertfordshire and I was interested to note that the LDS has apparently not extended their Hertfordshire directory  holding since 2001!

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

News from Hertfordshire People: I have been rather slow in getting round to reading the March edition of Hertfordshire People (Journal of the Hertfordshire Family History Society) so discovered too late that HALS was having a special event today. However there were three other dates to add to my diary - and if you live in or near Hertfordshire you might like to add them to your diary as well,

29 May  

The Herts FHS meeting at Woolmer Green is entitled A Weaver at Waterloo - The Women in His Life

26 June   The Herts FHS meeting at Woolmer Green is entitled A Visual Inheritance
24 July   The Bucks FHS is having an open day at Aylesbury - well worth visiting if your ancestors are just over the border into Bucks.

This issue of Hertfordshire People contains the usual number of news, articles, and summaries of talks linked to Hertfordshire. I particularly enjoyed A Highland Lass alone in St Albans and several other articles - but of course those of you who are seriously interested in your Hertfordshire ancestors will already be  members of the Society. The Society has just published the memorial inscriptions for the parish of Aldbury.

While  mentioning meetings the Tring and District Local History Society has their AGM next Wednesday, ande have recently announced that the talk will be  My Life in the Foundling Hospital School.

Picture from http://www.fotosearch.com/The Postcard Detective: Aidan provides some information relating to Charles Martin, funeral director, which may be relevant to The Funeral Procession, Bishop's Stortford, circa 1914. I have taken the opportunity to email the Rhodes Art Complex at Bishops Stortford, as they have a collection of material on Sir Walter Gilbey (of Gilbey's Wine Co.) and may be able to provide further information relating to the funeral. While in the mood I also email the First Garden City Heritage Museum and the Walthamstow Historical Society to see if they can help with May Day Parade with a Suffragette.

Update and eBay: I have posted some more surplus items from my library, including some relating to Hertfordshire, for sale on ebay. As the result of documenting the sale of the post card of the Old Cambridge Road north of Ware I have added additional information to the High Cross page.  

The Interactive Hertfordshire Map: Extensive work today on the Google "My Map" links means that all the new link pages created last Tuesday should now be accessible from the appropriate pegs on the map. This means that all pegs on A Guide to Old Hertfordshire now have a link to place pages on this web site. Further work testing is needed and pictures provided for a few of the pegs - and this should be completed by the end of May.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The May issue of Hertfordshire Countryside contains an illustrated article on the village of Bramfield.

The May issue of Family Tree contains an article on online digital archives and indexes for newspapers which I need to follow up to see how useful various national newspapers are for 19th century Hertfordshire news. If you have any success in extracting useful Hertfordshire data from early newspaper online indexes please Tell me about it

Dan went to St Albans Grammar School and asked where he might find a print of the Abbey Gateway, St Albans, which was part of the School. I am not in a position to advise on modern prints but have created a page - Prints of St Albans Abbey Gateway - showing a number of old prints. I have also posted a couple of other early prints by John Hassell. (My father went to the school during the First World War and had lessons in the gateway.)  [This page has been cross-linked to many other pages.]



Prints from J Hassell, 1817-18



St Albans Abbey


St Albans


Abbey Gateway

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010


I got distracted by this sad looking card of a procession and decided to find out more about it. As printed the only clues are that it is later than about 1905 and the publisher has a studio in [Letchworth] Garden City.  However a digital scan of the main image produced very satisfactory results and it was posted with a helpful but somewhat cryptic message. An investigation suggests one of the figures could be a leading suffragette, Dr Elsie Inglis, and it was taken on May Day 1909. But where was it taken - and can any of the other people be identified?


Can you help

The Postcard Detective

May Day Parade with Suffragette?


Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Linking places on the Google Map of Old Hertfordshire has been delayed and will be given priority this week. The process involves creating two pages for nearly every place. One provides the basic link (which can be entered directly from anywhere on the web) while the second ensures that the relevant page and menu are placed in a suitably defined window. This is done and tested off-line and the pages are then loaded online. Changes to Google Maps can only be made online and in linking the marker on the map to the page on my web site it is possible to make mistakes without realising it - with no "go back to how it was" facility.   I have decided to provide all the web pages needed now, and later this week have a session doing the map links. There will then have to be another online testing session to ensure all the links are working satisfactory. Linking web pages have been created for: Hinxworth, Hoddesdon, Holwell, Hunsdon, Ickleford, Ippollitts, Kelshall, Kensworth, Kimpton, Kings Langley, Kings Walden, Knebworth, Leavesden, Lemsford, Letchworth, Leverstock Green, Lilley, Little Berkhamstead, Little Hadham, Little Munden, Little Wymondley, London Colney, Markyate, Meesden, Mill End (Rickmansworth), Much Hadham, Napsbury, Nettleden, Newgate Street, Newnham, No Mans Land, Northaw, North Mimms, Offley, Oxhey, Park Street, Pirton, Potten End, Preston, Puckeridge, Radlett, Radwell, Redbourn, Reed, Rickmansworth, Ridge, Royston, Rushden, Sacombe, Sandon, Sandridge, Sawbridgeworth, Shenley, Shephall, South Mimms, St Albans Abbey, Standon, Stanstead Abbots, Stanstead St Margarets, Stapleford, Stevenage, St Michaels. Stocking Pelham, St Pauls Walden, St Peters, St Stephens, Studham, Tewin, Therfield, Thorley, Throcking, Thundridge, Totteridge, Wadesmill, Wakeley, Walkern, Wallington, Waltham Cross, Ware, Wareside, Waterford, Watton, Welwyn, Welwyn Garden City, Westmill, Weston, Wheathampstead, Whempstead, Whitwell, Widford, Willian, Wormley, Wyddial. These pages have been tested offline and loaded online in preparation for linking to the map.

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

I have updated the section on the book The London Gunners come to Town to include some sample pages. [Links and pages reorganised August 2010]

In running this web site I have built up a library of books and other materials relating to Hertfordshire. This was initially funded by selling of no longer needed parts of my library on ebay. Over the last year I have been too busy to sell off duplicate and redundant material but have continued buying - and the drain on my pension needs to be plugged. I am now starting to sell again - under the name chris_from_hertfordshire. The aim will be to advertise at least a dozen items a week - and to make sure that some of them relate to Hertfordshire.

Possibly as a result of getting no sleep on election night I have been dozing off all day - and didn't do the updates I had planned,

  Postcard Images
  The Chapel & Manse, Sandon
  Champneys, Wigginton, near Tring

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Following the holiday there were about 20 emails that needed reading - my security package having already "disposed of" some 180 spam emails. Not all required replies and the rest were comparatively straight forward and I decided to deal with them all today.

Reg Hounsell is holding an exhibition relating to

The Villages served by the Royston Post Office.

Saturday 12th June to Saturday 7th August.

Held at Royston and District Museum

Reg has kindly provided a scan of a post card showing a shop run by Harradence of Ware.


Reg adds: The exhibition, concentrates on postal service to villages mainly to the North and East of Royston, building on the 2008 exhibition ‘Delivered to your door’; which mainly described the development of Postal Services through Royston from King James's time and the introduction in 1837 of its ‘payment in advance’ Penny Post service to the surrounding area. Payment in advance meant that the postman – or Letter Carrier as he was called then – no longer had to collect payment for postage from letter recipients. As a result, slots began to be fitted to the front of doors. The exhibition consists of ‘story boards’ containing relevant information on the ‘post receivers’ and Office development of each village served. Interspersed are display ‘frames’ containing more than 100 examples of the mail items posted or received in the surrounding villages in the past 250 years.

Much of the exhibition deals with villages in Cambridgeshire and some villages south of Royston were served by Buntingford, which is outside my coverage. Reg has some information and/or pictures of places like Reed, Barley, Barkway, Buckland and Sandon, it is small in comparison with the whole exhibition and the plentiful information and covers from South Cambridgeshire villages.   

Important - The exhibition will be on the 1st floor 'gallery' of the museum. As we do not have a lift, it will not be viewable for anybody unable to climb the stairs.  However, the Museum opening times now include Sunday afternoons from 2pm to 4.45pm

If you have early post cards showing specific events, buildings, etc., which you can make available for the web site please tell me.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

There has been no activity on this site for a week as my wife and I have just taken a holiday in Yorkshire. In addition to visiting  relatives we relaxed by the coast at Hornsea and Scarborough, and by visiting various historic sites. We stayed at Beck View Guest House, Beverley - and can strongly recommend it. I enjoyed walking round the ancient town of Beverley - including looking at the many sculptures of figures playing Medieval musical instruments at the Minster. Because of my interest in the canals in Hertfordshire I was delighted for the opportunity to explore Beverley Beck, which is a short canal connecting the town with the River Hull - and which served as the town harbour from Medieval times till the 20th century. Most deserted Hertfordshire villages are difficult to understand when you visit the site, and I took the opportunity to visit Wharram Percy. This lies in a valley on the Wolds Footpath and is one of the most intensively research medieval village sites anywhere in the country. Other places visited included Castle Howard and Sledmere House.
Some photographs of the Yorkshire Holiday
Beverley Beck (canal) Wharram Percy Medieval Village
The Lock adjoining River View along the Beck Reconstruction of Village Site of Long House Carvings on Church Tower

This site supports the charity Herts Mind Network

Please consider making a donation to help the mentally ill of Hertfordshire

April 2010 Blogs

Earlier Editorials