Hertfordshire Genealogy

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Genealogy in Hertfordshire

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September 2010 Archive


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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

Thursday 30th September


Old News: A Fatal Road Traffic Accident in 1885: Road accidents were common during the 19th century in the busy streets in and around St Albans. In this case a cart turned over and crushed Edward Montague, of the White Horse beer-house, Barnet. The newspaper account of the inquest not only gave details of the accident, including evidence from the witnesses, but also lists the people who made up the jury.

The Road through Hatfield circa 1720: A page Hatfield in 1720 has been created  which includes the area around Hatfield as shown on Owen & Bowen's Strip Map, together with a brief description of the town.


Wednesday 29th September

Today's Post Card

The School Chapel and Castle Street, Berkhamsted

Castle Street Berkhamsted (new page) ran from beside the Parish Church to the Castle with the ancient School on the north side. In 1800 a bridge was built to take it over the newly built canal, and in 1837 access to the castle was cut off by the Railway line. The School Chapel was comparatively new having been dedicated in 1894. The card was published by E. Needham, of Hemel Hempstead, who was also editor of the Gazette Newspaper.

A brief history of Hunsdon with a map from 1746:  The History of Hunsdon as briefly described in The Agreeable Historian together with a detail from a contemporary map




Tuesday 28th September


Does this card show the troops at Ashridge in 1914?: Robenn sent digital images of a post card sent from the military training camp at Ashridge which I describe in my book The London Gunners come to Town. In answering the question I provided some general information on Event Post Cards in the early 20th century which could be useful with anyone trying to identify such a card. In this case the picture is almost certainly a theme card with no connection with the camp.

Some Quickie changes:

Bull Baiter's Farm, Elstree: Anthony has drawn my attention to the fact that the book

Elstree & Boreham Wood in Camera contains pictures of the Bull Baiter's Farm and the Hambrook family.

The Life of the Rev. Thomas Collins - Chris pointed out that this book is now available on Google Books and I have added a link and a brief extract about the 1847 St Albans election.

Wormley in Hertfordshire. Brief details of 1977 edition (reprint?) of this book added.

The Road through Baldock circa 1720: A page Baldock in 1720 has been created  which includes the area around Baldock as shown on Owen & Bowen's Strip Map, together with a brief description of the town.


Monday 27th September


More light on an early paper maker in the Gade Valley: The first Fourdrinier paper making machines was installed in Frogmore Mill, Hemel Hempstead, in 1804, and between 1817 and 1832 the lease was held by members of the Nash family. Little appeared to be known about the origins of this family and how they became involved in paper making. Then Peter asked a question about the birth of Ann Nash in about 1828. In trying to find (unsuccessfully) where she was born and/or baptised I found more information about the the family - including evidence that William Nash (1765-1824) had been born in Hemel Hempstead and might have been a blacksmith. This suggests a possible career pathway of "paper making machine engineer" at a time when paper makers all over the world were looking for skilled engineers to operate their revolutionary new machines. For extensive details see NASH, Frogmore Mill, Hemel Hempstead, Early 19th century. There are still some gaps to fill in before the story can be confirmed - so Can you help?

Hemel Hempstead Paper Makers: In trying to find out about whether the Nash Family were making paper before 1800 I drew up a list of the Paper Makers of Hemel Hempstead in 18th century. It includes a map of the papermaking area around Two Waters. This also serves as a demonstration of how useful the Hertfordshire Militia Ballot Lists can be in researching 18th century occupations in Hertfordshire.


Saturday 25th September



Today's Post Card

The Gas House, Stevenage



The card is titled "Gas House (The Oldest House in Stevenage)" and shows the building that was the Old Workhouse. The card was published by the Stevenage stationer, Herbert J Banks, in the RA series.

A Book on Stevenage published in 1902

    Barn at Castle Inn   The Old Workhouse

Triggered by the need to find out more about the Gas House I have created a page on a book, Notes on Stevenage, that was published over 100 years ago. I have provided two extracts. One describes the origins of the Old Workhouse while the other explains the presence of Henry Trigg's coffin in the rafted of an old barn.

Friday 24th September



Today's Post Card

Fishpool Street, St Albans


St Albans

Fishpool Street is the road between the centre of St Albans and St Michaels and was the main road North until bypassed by Verulam Road in the early 19th century. The card is a "pencilette drawing" published by Photochrom and posted in 1943. It is based on a somewhat earlier photographic post card published by the same firm.

Were there Hobgoblins in Hertfordshire? Alan has a family photograph of  Bull Baiter's Farm but does not know where in Hertfordshire it was. I discover that it was in Elstree and was formerly called Bullbeggars (= Hobgoblin or Scarecrow) Farm and is now lost under housing in Boreham Wood.


Thursday, 23 September



Today's Post Card

Queens Road, Watford



Queens Road, Watford, was constructed  in 1860 and this Blum & Degan card from about 1905 shows the Public Library, built in the 1870s, with Boots, the Chemist beyond. The spire of the Wesleyan Church (erected in 1880) can be seen in the distance.

The Beginnings of Mechanised Paper Making; The book Frogmore & the First Fourdrinier tells the story of the Frogmore Mill, This is where the first Fourdrinier paper making machine was installed in 1804. The mill still exists and there is now a museum The Paper Trail which includes a huge Victorian paper making machine.

A Road Map from circa 1720: An uncoloured enlargement of the road between High Barnet and Baldock had been added to Owen & Bowen's Strip Map through Hatfield and Baldock, 1760. A detail from the map, with a short description, can be seen at  Stevenage in 1720.


Wednesday, 22 September



Today's Post Card

London Orphan Asylum



The London Orphan Asylum to maintain, clothe, and educate respectable fatherless children of either sex, who are without means adequate to their support, wherever resident. It was originally in London but moved to Watford, the foundation stone being laid in 1869. The card was published by Blum & Degan, and was posted to a Miss B. Robinson, who apparently had some previous connection with the place.

Post Card Publishers: In preparing this post card it was decided to set up a page for Blum & Degan cards - which include many excellent early views of Hertfordshire and where the publication date can be estimated to within a couple of years.


Tuesday, 21st September



Today's Post Card

East Barnet Church


East Barnet

Cards framed in this way were popular in the years leading up to the First World War and this embossed card undoubtedly comes from this period. The church was erected about 1100 and partially restored in 1899. The Rev. George Trentham May became vicar in 1909. The card was published by The Bazaar, New Barnet.

East Barnet in 1863 - The Description from Danks 1863 Directory has been added.

Ballards Buildings, Watford - Following a query on Rootsweb mentioning  Ballards Buildings I have added a link for these overcrowded Victorian era slums onto the Watford Menu.

Another UNCLE turns up - perhaps this is the correct one: Commenting on UNCLE, Much Hadham, early 19th century Anthony pointed out that the new pilot search facility on familysearch shows a Joseph Uncle born in 1806 in Standon, the adjacent parish to Much Hadham, which is not shown in the "normal" facility. My original response has been extended to to include the additional information.

New Facility at familysearch gives extra records: Thanks to Anthony I have now discovered that there is a new search facility on familysearch which not only has different forms but also has ADDITIONAL RECORDS. On of the problems with many online search systems is that it is sometimes hard to find what they do not contain. In the case below the problem was that the normal familysearch facility did not include as many baptismal register entries for the parish of Standon as the new version! ~ To access the new version select "Record Search Pilot" from the drop down list under the "Search Records" button.

Later this week: The Tring Local History Museum will be open to the public for the first time on Friday. On Saturday the The Herts Family History Society meetings main talk will be hearing about a "Visit to Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City while their Computer Group will be considering "Occupational sources on the Internet." Also on Saturday there is a conference at the British Schools Museum, Hitchn, "Celebrating the life and works of Joseph Lancaster & 200 years of education on the Museum site."


Monday 20th September



Today's Post Card

Great Hormead Bury


Great Hormead

Many Hertfordshire villages have a manor house called "The Bury" and Great Hormead is no exception.  This house was modernised in the early 19th century by Colonel Stables, who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo. This post card was published by Gordon Smith in about 1906.

No 10, "High Street, Much Hadham

An Interesting Post Card publisher from North London: Gordon Smith was a photographer who published some early post cards of London, Hertfordshire and Essex. I have now got information on sufficient numbered cards to provide a framework for dating other cards. The first cards were published in 1903 and it may be that all the Hertfordshire photographs were taken by Gordon before he died in 1906, the business continuing for another ten years.

No 2350, "The Mill, Broxbourne."

Some Wikipedia Links to this web site. Steven wrote to say I just wanted to mention that while reading about the War of the  Roses I discovered that there was no page about Bernards Heath on  Wikipedia, so I went and created one. It is only a stub at the moment. In fact there are already quite a number of links to this site from Wikipedia because people have found this site useful. I welcome all such links and so far this month people have entered this site from over 20 different wiki pages. Most were simply place pages (such as Bernards Heath) but the most unlikely being from the page on Maurice_Richard_Josey, someone who I had never heard of and who is not mentioned here.. I am often surprised what people find useful on my web site.

Sunday, 19th September



Today's Post Card

Cassio Hamlet , Watford



A view of Cassio Hamlet looking south along Hempstead Road, towards the Cross Roads, photographed by Valentine in 1908  Other cards probably photographed on the same day show the Lower High Street, Watford, and Leavesden Woods Avenue.

[I have decided to post a fresh post card view (almost) every day - the image appearing on the initial screen.]

Tell me about it

A New Mexico link with Berkhamsted: Using a metal detector Larry has found a watch fob bearing the name "William Cooper & Nephews" and a Chicago address. While I cannot check U.S. trade directories  there is little doubt that the Berkhamsted manufacturer of sheep dip was selling his wares round the world more than 100 years ago. The trading name William Cooper & Nephews was probably in use from about 1883. As an aside to the search I discovered that a Harry Harrowell was running the Sydney, New South Wales,  branch in the 1890s and I wonder if he could be the Harry Harrowell (then aged 11) listed in Berkhamsted in the 1881 census. Does anyone know of other people from the Berkhamsted area who may have gone overseas after about 1870 to sell Cooper's sheep dip?


Saturday, 18th September


Another case of a non-conformist birth before 1837? Marrion cannot find her ancestor's birth of marriage see UNCLE, Much Hadham, early 19th century. Because of possible errors in the marriage registration indexes (see A Comedy of Errors) she will need to get one of the children's birth certificate to find their mother's maiden name. A check on the census followed by a search on familysearch turned up a possible family of siblings who were baptised in a non-conformist chapel. An examination of the chapel register (1804-1836) may provide vital clues,

Apologies for the hiccup in Tell Me.

Thanks to Judith who told me that there had been a problem with Tell Me (between about 7th September until the 16th). Thanks to Craig this has now been fixed.. If you tried to send me a message and were unsuccessful please try again.


Thursday, 16th September


A New Local History Museum opens in Hertfordshire

The Tring Local History Museum is opening on 24th September and today I visited it on a preview day for members of the Tring & District Local History and Museum Society. While it is not a large museum there are some interesting displays of material of local interest, and supported by attractive information boards. One of the exhibits relate to the local cottage industry of straw plaiting, which is a subject which clearly interests many of the people who visit this web site. As a result I have re-organised the information pages relating to straw plaiting - inserting a large number of new links - See The History of Straw Plait.


Wednesday, 15th September


William Kay of Tring Park: Sandra believes there may be some connection (via the Manchester area) between her ancestor (who appears to have come into money later in life) and William KAY, Tring Park, 1823-1838. William Kay was instrumental in establishing the Silk Mill in Tring and information from More Tring Personalities suggests that there arguments over the property William left in his will. It will be necessary to look at the will, and possibly Court of Chancery records, to see if Joseph's wealth came from William Kay's estate.


Tuesday, 14th September


Field names and trying to identify the land your ancestors farmed: George is trying to trace a field with the name "Yerby's Field"  which could be in the Tring area. Because identifying field names can be difficult I have supplied a new advice page on Field Names (normally accessed from the Subject Index).In addition I have checked to see if anyone called Yerby owned property in or near Tring - see YERBY, Wilstone, Tring, circa 1800.  The search showed that there was a document in the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies referring to the sale of a property in Wilstone (a hamlet associated with Tring) by Sarah and Elizabeth Yerby at some date prior to 1819. An full examination of the letter (and others from the same source) may provide more specific details but it is likely that the most important parchment documents have been sold off, possibly to private collectors. (see What happened to that vital record? for a discussion of the general problem.

 Some More Windmills: The Windmills page has been updated to include a post card image of the Great Hormead windmills plus links to maps showing the locations of long demolished windmills on Bernards Heath, St Albans.

Updating the Subject Index. Over the years the Subject index has been rather neglected and in future the aim will be to  insert new entries when anything appropriate is updated.


Monday, 13th September


A Warning for Beginners: One of the problems of the world wide web - and packages such as Ancestry - is that many beginners rush in collecting names without having any real idea of how to build a RELIABLE family tree and the hazards of all the incorrect information online, often posted by people who know less about genealogy than you do. The traps is that it looks so easy - and it is even easier to make mistakes - and once you get to the harder stuff you have not even learnt how to do the simple stuff properly.

Extra Post Card Views


  Batchworth and Mill End, near Rickmansworth   Great Amwell Post Office   Maple Convalescent Home, Harpenden  

Trapped by the Box: I am planning a book about the history of computing and the way the speed of developments have actually discouraged some kinds of Blue Sky research into the design of more user-friendly systems.  Today I emailed  the National Museum of Computing, with a query and also updated the CODIL page on this web site to include a link to the main published paper on my own computer research.


Sunday, 12th September


Was your ancestor a Lunatic? Records of the Bishop's Stortford Poor Law Union, covering parts of Hertfordshire and Essex, between 1834-1852, can be searched for free on the National Archives. The Union covers the Hertfordshire parishes of Albury, Bishop's Stortford, Braughing, Brent Pelham Furneaux Pelham, Great or Much Hadham, Little Hadham, Sawbridgeworth, Stocking Pelham, and Thorley. The documents are correspondence relating to the management of the Union, rather than records of admissions and discharges. However the examples I quote included a list of lunatics and idiots in 1847 by name and parish, and a reference for a baker wanting a job at the workhouse. In addition one cannot help feeling sorry for the unnamed destitute woman who had been refused admission.

Beer Prices in St Albans - Pick up an old newspaper (from 1882) and buy your beer in bulk at less than 1p a pint.

Redbourn in 1746: Read what The Agreeable Historian has to say about Redbourn - together with a contemporary map of the area.

Saturday, 11th September


More about a well-to-do Wheathampstead family (and a book about the ordinary man in Victorian Times):

Anthony provides some information about George Upton Robins senior, (ROBINS, Wheathampstead, late 19th century). He was father of the author of the book I reported on recently - Lays of the Hertfordshire Hunt. I checked my files and discovered a number of other references. The book George and Henry (reviewed here for the first time) describes the lives of two Wheathampstead men at the lower end of the social scale. It throws some light on the relationship between the poor and the lady in the big house. In addition there are a number of references from the Herts AdvertiserG. U. Robins was at the same meeting of the St Albans Farmers' Club attended by  Edmund Fawcett (reported two days ago,) which my great grandfather Jacob Reynolds also attended. He also donated to the fund for the St Albans Cricket Club Pavilion on Bernards Heath (new page with long list of names) and enjoyed hunting - see Hertfordshire Hunting Notes (new page).

Extra Post Card Views

  Queenswood School, Hatfield   Post Office, Shenley    

Friday, 10th September


LATE NEWS: On Saturday there is a fund-raising Bike and Hike round the churches in Herts and Beds. This means that many which are often locked will be open - so it can be a good chance to have a quick look at a number of churches in the area that your ancestors came from. Apologies for the short notice - but as it is an annual event look out for it next year.

How did you become a Professor of Music in the early 19th century: Wendy's ancestor, George Catlin, of Hertford, was described as a cobbler in the 1830s, but was a Professor of Music in the 1840s and 1850s. I survey other Professors of Music in Hertfordshire and suggest how he may have got musical training while living in Hertford.


Thursday, 9th September


Latest news from Hertfordshire People: The September Newsletter of the Hertfordshire Family History Society contains articles with the following titles (If you want to know more - why not join the society.):

My Great Grandfather - Mysterious John Evans

The Brothers Family in Hertfordshire

A Biography of Henry Jeeves, my great grandfather

The case of Amos aka James Buck

Robert Payne - a life at the turn of the 20th century

My Great Grandmother, Emma Giles

The Mowse House

and the usual mixture of short and news items, etc

Edmund Fawcett - A Hertfordshire Man of Mark: Alister's ancestor was Edmund Alderson Fawcett, (FAWCETT, Childwick Hall, St Michaels, c1863-1890) and I have been able to provide a portrait and biography from the book I have also been able to find some relevant old news relating to the poor rate in St Michael's parish in 1866 (Vestry) and St Albans Farmers' Club circa 1886.


Wednesday, 8th September


The Gap in the postings: Some of you may have noticed I have not posted a couple of days. On Sunday we drove up to Yorkshire and stayed overnight at Life Hill Farm, Sledmere (Highly recommended - excellent breakfasts - and a ground floor room with a wet room shower). On Monday we attended the funeral of my sister-in-law (I am sure she would highly recommend anything which could discourage anyone from smoking). Yesterday I took my wife to hospital for a routine knee replacement operation (her second) and returned home to start  "converting" the dining area of out house into a temporary bedroom, as when she returns she will not be able to manage the stairs for a few weeks. Postings may be a little erratic over the next few weeks because of "other duties" but priorities will be given to answering enquiries (and please keep them coming - as replying to them keeps me cheerful).

Kings Langley in 1746A description of the village from The Agreeable Historian together with a detail of Robert Walker's map has been added.

Great Gaddesden: Why not visit the Friends of Great Gaddesden Church web site - |Link added to the Great Gaddesden page.]


Sunday, 5th September


Lays of the Hertfordshire Hunt: Why not relax with a book of poems, mainly about hunting in Hertfordshire. The first quoted poem shows why keeping records can bring a smile to the face of future generations. Another quoted poem describes the relationship between the hunt and the local farmers. The author, George Upton Robins, whose parents lived at Wheathampstead, was killed in the First World War.


Saturday, 4th September


Hertfordshire and the National Roll of the Great War: The Luton Volume includes details of a large number of people who contributed to the Great War effort. Most were in the Army and fought (and in some cases died) at the Front, but others were involved in other ways - including women making munitions. Most of the Hertfordshire names come from in or around the towns of Hitchin, St Albans and Watford (map supplied), and the original text is available as a reprint, on CD, or as online date bases.

We have a murderer at large in our neighbourhood.

I am furious. Click on the picture that shows the horrifying "Bullet Holes".


Friday, 3rd September


A Technical Problem: A wide-spread fault has been detected which means that if people enter the site from a search engine the Places button designed to provide them with a menu did not always work. It is believed that the fault has been corrected with a global edit involving about 150 pages, together with a manual edit of some 50 special case pages. Initial tests suggest the correction has worked but there may be one or two pages where the Places button produces rogue results. If you encounter such a problem please tell me about it.

Thursday, 2nd September

A Day at the National Archives - and a list of goodies to come: The Genealogy Group of the Tring U3A (University of the Third Age) organised a trip to the National Archive at Kew and I went along to dig out some interesting information for this web site. I selected an number of different types of documents to use to illustrate the types of information available.

*   The Hertfordshire entries of the 1756 national survey of lodging and stables (WO 30/49) has lists of inns, and in some cases their landlords.. For instance in Wadesmill the Inns were The Feathers, The Balls, The Crown, The Anchor, The Hinde, The Black Bull, and the Half Moon.
*   Militia /volunteers pay lists for Hemel Hempstead  (WO 13.4371). For instance in 1807 the Serjeants were William Chapman, Samuel Aynworth, Thomas Sears, and William Wilks. The corporals were James Lawrence, John Puddephat and Thomas Belcher and there were two drummers  - Jeremiah Puddephat and William Hill junior, and about 50 privates.
*   Non-provided schools in Hertfordshire in 1906. (Government papers) Listing of school by town/village with summary details of each school.
*   Three Orders of Exchange of Lands under the Enclosure Acts (MAF 11/75). Two relate to land in Sandridge (one included land that had been part of Heath Farm, which was farmed by my great grandfather) and the other relates to land adjoining the River Lea Navigation.
*   In addition I used the coach journey to investigate the Hertfordshire coverage of Volume 5 of The National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918 prior to writing a review page.

.The plan is to to provide detailed information on all these documents (including lists of names) during September, alongside normal question answering and updates.

During the visit I attended a talk on the High Court of Justice records by the genealogist Chris Watts - I enjoyed the talk and also with meeting Chris Watts again. We worked together on a major military computer system called Linesman some 40 years ago. The hardware was already archaic when we were working on it and when a parliamentary question asked how big it was the answer was "Half an acre". The computer room had originally been built to hold 32 computers each of which consisted of 18 cabinets - and the effective power was probably not much more that the 1980s BBC computer (an early personal computer designed for school use).

Wednesday, 1st September

The Statistics for August: As usual the site has been very busy, with 19,000 visitors in August (236,000 in the last 12 month), 63,000 pages downloaded (660,000 in the year), and 355,000 hits (3,724,000 in the year).  On average there have been 26 visitors an hour, each visitor viewing an average of 3.27 pages. Over 2,200 visits lasted more than 5 minutes (showing that the visitor clearly found something to explore), and 127 spent more than an hour on the site. 2877 different pages were viewed an average of 22 times each.

In looking at these "average" figures it is important to realise that many visitors come from google, or other search engines, They look at the page they are presented with, decide it is not relevant, and immediately pass on. An extreme example is the Knebworth page, which at first sight appears to be one of the most popular pages on my web site (apart from obvious pages such as the home page). Knebworth is a popular tourist attraction and on Google Images a picture from the Knebworth page is number 2 in the list (after a page which only shows the gardens). In August the page was visited 601 times. Of this 571 visits almost certainly came directly from a search engine (most likely google images) and 560 people left the site immediately after watching this page. The pages describing books on Knebworth were only visited 7 times. It seems likely that over 500 people visited the page because they were interested in visiting Knebworth House, and were disappointed.. So that they leave with a favourable impression I have just placed the link to the official Knebworth House web site in a more prominent position nearer the top of the page.

The best way to understand what is happening is to assume that some 80% of visitors look at just one, or sometimes two, pages during a search engine directed visit. The remaining 20% (5 visitors an hour) look at an average of 10 pages a visit, and many come back to the web site on other occasions for more.

A particularly interesting feature is the Blog - It was introduced in April and the number of visits is increasing steadily: April 172, May 289, June 462, July 709, and August 771. Twitter was introduced to broadcast changes during the month and it will be interesting to see how fast its usage expands. The most disappointing statistic relates to donations which have reached about 35% of the years target - with only three months to go. Please remember that every little donation helps.

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