Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


Genealogy in Hertfordshire

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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

For more recent items see the Current Blog
 25 November 2010


Where are the Redbourn Tabernacle Records?  Fiona is researching John CAMPBELL, The Tabernacle, Redbourn, 1870-1884 and asked a "simple" question about the possible location of records.  I chase up a number of possible sources and in doing so input details of two additional Redbourn books. I also discovered that the Rev. John Campbell spoke at the same 1884 meeting as the Rev. Thomas Watts (see 2003 reply on WATTS, St Albans, 1865-1880s).



Some additional Redbourn Sources


A Redbourn Commoner

by Geoff Webb (1989)


The Character of Redbourn

by Geoff Webb (1989)


Photographs from the Geoff Webb Collection of old Redbourn are available on the web site Hertfordshire Memories.

The Hertfordshire Extensive Urban Survey on the archaeology of Redbourn is available online.


More Hertfordshire Views

Old House, Bucks Hill,


High Street, Northchurch


Valentine Series 41577


Hertfordshire Extensive Urban Survey: A valuable web site giving maps of historical information, details of key buildings, information on local market places and industries, and useful bibliographies. Places covered are Abbots Langley, Ashwell, Baldock, Berkhamsted, Bishop's Stortford, Braughing, Buntingford, Cheshunt,  Cow Roast, Harpenden, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford, Hitchin, Hoddesdon, Potters Bar, Redbourn, Rickmansworth, Royston, Sawbridgeworth, Standon, Stanstead Abbots, Stevenage, Tring, Ware, Watford, Welwyn, and Wheathampstead. An entry has been added to the Key Site Menu, and entries will also be added to each of the menu of all places involved - and to the Vital Data Page and general Maps pages for those which do not yet have individual menus.

St Albans Urban Archaeological Assessment: This has been published as the book  Alban's buried towns : an assessment of St Albans' archaeology up to AD 1610 by Rosalind Niblett and there is also a database, but the site is under development and currently closed to the public.

Herts FHS News


Next Meeting  11 December: Chris Chapman will talk about Christmas Past. Please note that this is a week earlier than normal.

Hertfordshire People:  The December Issue is now out. There are the usual collection of successful family research stories and I noted articles entitled James William Floyd (1867-1958), The Lawman / King / Frost Families of Hertfordshire, From Butcherley Green, Hertford to North London (Hoddy), The Jackson and Hayden Families in Hertfordshire and From Stoneykirk to Hatfield (Corcran). There are articles on The Great Bed of Ware and the Parish Church of St Luke, Bishop's Hatfield, three book reviews, and other short news items and queries.


21 November 2010

The Resident





Following a short break from updating this web site  I have returned to spend a couple of days full time to get together some interesting new material, in addition to answering some queries. In future I plan to have weekly updates (although not all as big as this one).

In my last blog I mentioned need to avoid dipping into my pension to support this web site, and things are moving in the right direction. My sales of duplicate material, etc., on ebay have more than covered my costs so far this month, allowing me to acquire some antique Bedfordshire maps to illustrate the northern borders of Hertfordshire, and some interesting old postcards. Where I cannot get review copies of recently published books I have decided to borrow them from the public library.

This evening I have posted a number of items for sale on ebay (including some about Hertfordshire) - in each case the sale will result in a donation to the Children in Need appeal.

Finally I am delighted with a generous donation which has boosted the amount received from the people who find this site useful, but at 663 (including Gift Aid) we are still in real danger of falling seriously short of the end of the year target of 1000. Remember, when you are researching your family history on the Web, in the comfort of your own home, that Christmas can be a very lonely time for people with mental health problems - and every little helps.`


Hertfordshire Family History Society




 November Meeting.


Have you had a good look at the original documents? On Saturday I attended the Herts FHS November meeting. The Computer Group speaker was Jeanne Bunting on "Is the Internet killing the thrill of the chase?" There were plenty of examples of the limitations of online indexes - with many errors, and  cases where the original documents contained vital information that is not recorded online. The lesson seemed to be that while the current online facilities allow you to identify the documents you need to consult - people who think they can simply work from online indexes (and other people's unverified family trees) miss out on much of the information that coverts those ancestral names into once living real people - and increases the chances of making mistakes,

What did your Great Grandmother do? The main speaker was Nicola Verdon, who spoke on "Women's work in the 19th Century." One of the interesting aspects of her study is the problem of finding out what work country women did. Many accounts come from parliamentary reports on working conditions - and were written by middle class men who may have had little real understanding of daily life in a rural community. The census is some use, but does not record occupations for women who do a bit of this and that depending on the season of the year.

Changes in HALS Opening Hours. The cutbacks in Local Government Budgets are beginning to bite. No libraries are being closed but hours are being cut back, and some may be closed entirely on some days. HALS will also be affected.

December Meeting: This will be on December 11th when Colin Chapman will talk on "Christmas Past."

Questions and Other emails



Questions and Other emails



Questions and Other email


Was John's father a Knight?

Simon is researching his Winch ancestors and John was baptised at Tewin in 1669 (see WINCH, Tewin, circa 1669). John was not born when the heralds carried out a visitation, so was he the son of Richard mentioned in the 1669 Visitation. The body to state whether John was the descendant of a knight, and hence entitled to use Arm, is the College of Arms, but I look at the Hertfordshire evidence. which confirms that at the relevant dates a Richard Winch, Esq., was resident at Tewin, but does not confirm he later became a Knight.

     My answer includes a useful comparison between the various Hertfordshire County Histories (Chauncy, Clutterbuck, Cussans and the Victoria County History) and it seems that in this case the later authors simply followed what Chauncy had said, with little new information being added. While one of the problems with the internet is the ease that people can copy other people's research without checking, the same problem of copying without checking has always been with us (see The Dangers of Internet Genealogy) and emphasises the need to check original records (or their digital images) wherever possible when dealing with secondary sources.

Other Emails

     I have also been involved in various email exchanges. Some will hopefully lead to postings on this web site, such as information of Heath Farm Dairy which Gerard has found in an old (circa 1914?) St Albans Guide. Andy has drawn my attention to a broken link to pictures of St Albans, and some pictures he has on flickr and as a result I am am in the process of preparing a page on looking for pictures of Hertfordshire, and updating the St Albans information. Mary has promised to send two books for review.

     Some queries do not involve Hertfordshire, but I find interesting. Paul originally spotted the page on E. A. Phipson - and is interested in his relative Emma Phipson. We have found she had an interest in wood carving, but why did she displayed a sideboard in the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 which is not what one might expect of a Victorian Spinster with apparently independent means. So far we have no evidence of her producing, much less exhibiting, any furniture in England.

    I also get some inadequate queries (often addressed to the "Webmaster" rather than the "Resident Genealogist") where it is clear that the questioner has been too lazy to find out what the site offers before typing in their question. In some cases it would seem that all they have done is to look up a few names on the web, having never read a book about searching for your ancestors, joined a local group, done an online tutorial, purchased a certificate, etc. As a result I have set up a friendly "circular" reply which includes a box where I can add a couple of friendly pointers. While I try to be helpful to beginners I honestly do not have time to draft replies which are little more than rewrites of help pages already on the web site.

     I have also discovered a batch on earlier messages where I started to draft a reply, in some cases while waiting for further information which never arrived. Should you have contacted me earlier this year and are still awaiting a reply, please contact me again if you have still not sorted out the original difficulty. To help clear my desk I will be deleting all these old drafts at the end of the year if I haven't heard from you.


Bedfordshire Maps

from 19th century

  The Bedfordshire-Hertfordshire Border

Cary 1803

  Collins 1850   Cassell 1863

Boundary Changes along the border have affected the following parishes: Caddington, Holwell, Kensworth, Markyate, Studham


 Review of some 21st Century Books



If you (or your local history society) have a book or booklet that you would like reviewed tell me and I can supply an address for you to send me a copy.


Officers of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry 1794-1920

by J. D. Sainsbury

A very useful reference source of information if your ancestor was an officer in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry and you want to know more about what he did. As an example of the type of information it contains I give the biographies of the Halsey Officers from Gaddesden Place, Great Gaddesden.



The Hertfordshire Volunteer Regiment ... 1914-1921

by J. D. Sainsbury

This is another excellent military history from the pen of J.D. Salisbury, which throws light on an often unreported side of the war - the Volunteer Units which were the equivalent of the "Dad's Army" of the Second World War. As an example I give an extract describing a training exercise on No Mans Land Common in 1915.



Hertfordshire Children in War and Peace, 1914-1939

by David Parker

This is a well  researched and detailed book which will throw a light on how the First World War, and the subsequent peace, affected the education of the parents and grandparents of many of us. It contains a significant amount of useful information and is a must for anyone researching a school history who wants some useful background on this period.



We have to deal with the Farmers

by Margaret Bower

This book contains a number of well written student essays on a variety of subjects. These include the effects of the Education Acts in the 19th Century, the management of Hertfordshire County Council Smallholdings in the early 20th century. There is material of particular interest to people researching the villages of Willian and Aston.









Mad Lucas - The Hertfordshire Hermit

James Lucas (1813-1874) barricaded himself in his home at Great Wymondley and became widely known for his actions.

I have added some additional information plus links to other sources.


Abbot's Hill, Abbots Langley

 Abbots Hill was built at Abbots Langley by John Dickinson, the paper maker, in 1837, and later the home of Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist. It is now a school,

I have added some notes from Abbots Langley, A Hertfordshire Village


Dr Tibble's Chocolate Factory burns down

A post card showing the fire that destroyed Dr Tibble's Vi-Cocoa Factory at Callowland, Watford, on 7 February, 1903.



The Puckeridge Hounds

A picture of the hounds from 1904

I have added an extract from a 1946 article from the Hertfordshire Countryside, together with some other sources of information about a hunt that dates back to 1725.


The Tallow Works Fire at St Albans in 1911

The page on Wiles & Lewis's Tallow Works in A Short History of Bernards Heath had a poor quality picture with flames painted in. This is a straight photograph of the same view.


The Web Masters Report

I am in the process of checking (and correcting) some broken links, and also what to check out some further web sites which should be directly accessible from this site. This will include some new work on Wikipedia. Please tell me if you have any suggestions for improvement.


18 November 2010

A Statement from the Resident Genealogist: Some of you may have noticed that there have been no updates for over a week. Believe it or not, I have other things I want (or need) to do apart from running this web site. Some of them had become a little neglected of late and I decided to take a few days off trying to catch up and to find a better way of organising both my time and my financial resources.

In the past I have not only been running the web site, but I have also been building up a library of reference works on Hertfordshire (both books and CDs) together with the large collection of post cards used to illustrate the web site. In theory this was funded by selling of some of my book collection on other topics, and disposing of duplicates, but in practice I have been subsidising the site to an extent greater than the donations I have been collecting for mental health! For much of 2010 I have been too busy running the site to bother selling anything and have dipped quite deeply into my pension to pay for purchases and subscriptions..

In the light of the current economic situation I am planning to be cost neutral 2011 - with sales of unwanted library items covering all my costs related to this site and the reference library. One effect will be to reduce the amount of time I can spend to this site by the amount of time I spend on selling on eBay. (Reducing purchases will have little effect on the display of new material as I have a back-log of material waiting to be reported on the web site. The only exception will be for new books and booklets - where I will be more dependant of the receipt of review copies.)

From the beginning of December I will aim to post a blog detailing updates once a week (probably Thursday of Friday in time for the weekend) with ebay sales (under the name Chris_from_Hertfordshire) ending on the Saturday or Sunday.

7 November, 2010


What a Blow!  Nick has produced some useful additional information on BLOW, Bernards Heath, St Albans, circa 1900 which is interest to me because James Blow and my great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds, were both churchwardens of St Saviour's Church


What no Will! Anthony fills in some details of MULL, Barnet, 1871. It would appear that the one-time proprietor of the largest newspaper in India died without leaving a will.




St George's School, Harpenden

Valentines Library


Haileybury College

Charles Vaughn, pu 1908

Grammar School,


Valentine 55191 JV

Catholic Church,

St Edmunds College,


Links from Wikipedia: I searched Wikipedia for links to this web site and discovered about 60, many of which were broken. Wikipedia pages with new or revised links (in most cases previously broken) to this site are: Abbots Langley; Albury, Hertfordshire; Aldbury; Aldenham; Amwell, Hertfordshire; Anstey,_Hertfordshire; Apsley; Ardeley; Arkley;; Ayot St Lawrence; Boxmoor; Caldecote, Hertfordshire; Clothall; Cottered; Cow Roast; Flamstead; Gaddesden Place; Hertfordshire; Kings Langley; Lemsford; Little Gaddesden; Markyate; Newgate Street, Hertfordshire; North Mymms; Nasty, Hertfordshire; Radlett; Tring; Spencer-Smith Baronets; Reed's School; Pope Adrian IV; Sir Stephen Lushington, 1st Baronet; Knights Templar School; Hippolytus of Rome; Gillian Rubinstein. To help others, if you ever find a broken link to this web site tell me and I will see if it can be repaired.

Revamp for Harpenden: The Harpenden page has been restructured - with a picture menu to linked pages - to make it easier to introduce new material in future. A new page has been created for St Nicholas.

4 November 2010


Thanks for your generosity: So far this year 528.82 has been raised in donations to help the mentally ill of Hertfordshire. This consists of 461 in direct donations, 61.60 in Gift Aid (a UK tax rebate), and 6.22 raised by people using the everyclick web search facility.  In addition I know some of you have agreed to make donations to your own mental heath charities and these are not included in the total.

     If you have not yet donated bear in mind that HALS charges 30 an hour including the time spent reading your letter and writing the report. Donations to this site are currently raising about 0.30 per hour of my time. Christmas is coming, and even if we don't make the 1000 target, your donations could still mean we exceed the 705 raised last year. Help the Mentally ill of Hertfordshire have a Merry Christmas by donating now.

Death of a Newspaper TycoonStuart wants more information about the death of Mathius Mull, one-time proprietor of The Times of India. While his family were living in Barnet in 1871 his links with the town seem limited and I suggest some possible means of finding where he was buried. See MULL, Barnet, 1871


Movements of a Travelling Theatre: When I originally answered Lynn's question on WELLS, Ware, 1885-1890 I mentioned Barnes' Excelsior Theatre. Laurence has found references in The Stage suggesting that his portable theatre was in Watford in September 1889.

Dagmar House School founded in 1855Mike's father, J. N. Bune, went to Dagmar House School, Hatfield and in 1925 won a best in form prize. The school crest on the cover shows that the school was established in 1855 with the motto DEO ADJUVANTE NON TIMENDUM EST




High St, Much Hadham Much Hadham Street

Moor Place, Much Hadham

Cave Gate, Wyddial

1 November, 2010


A Review for October: A busy time - with my "to do" list actually getting longer. The query I most enjoyed was identifying the identity of two pocket watches (CATLING, Hemel Hempstead area, c. 1815). I was able to post more information on the paper making family NASH, Frogmore Mill, Hemel Hempstead, Early 19th century relating to the Maori ward - and also to their blacksmith relatives (NASH (Blacksmiths), West Hertfordshire, from 1750).

One of the problems with this site is that the pages for many of the larger towns are in urgent need of reconstruction. Having spent some time restructuring the introduction to St Albans web pages I feel much better about that "blot on the landscape." 

The biggest external news is that you can now search online for the wills held at HALS. I also visited the exhibition in the City Museum, St Albans, and collected much information relevant to those whose relatives were patients in Hill End Hospital - details will appear in November.

I was able to find some attractive 19th century pictures in a Great Eastern Railway guidebook and a biography, Samuel Lucas - A Hitchin Artist (1805-1870). 

... any much more - see the October Blog.

Death of a Watchmaker: A photograph of the tombstone of George Varney, watchmaker of Hemel Hempstead, has been added to the page CATLING, Hemel Hempstead area, c. 1815.


More CHARGEs from Little Hadham  Karen has continued  researching CHARGE, Little Hadham, circa 1800 following the death of her mother, Yvonne, in 2004. She has filled in some gaps and has information on the family after they moved to East London and West Ham.  I have notified the other interested in the family

Please tell me if there is a problem: I have just discovered the page describing The Book of Hemel Hempstead & Berkhamsted had been corrupted about 5 years ago. Please remember that in a web site of this size there are going to be errors. If you find one please tell me so the problem can be cured.

Did your ancestor publish post cards? Graham wrote to say that he had discovered two of his Great Grandfather's post cards used as illustration on this site. I sent higher resolution digital images - and told him of other cards currently being advertised on ebay. The page Bedwell Series, Bedford, of Postcards is the result. It would seem that the attempts by this Bedford based publisher to market cards in Hertfordshire were remarkably short lived.




Amwell Church and Bridge Harpenden

Harpenden Lane, Redbourn

St James, Little Heath

The Hoo Anthony  has reminded me that The Hoo, St Pauls Walden is also known as Kimpton Hoo and I have updated the St Pauls Walden and Kimpton pages accordingly


The Silver Lion, Lilley Following a query from Jean I have updated the information on this former inn on the Lilley page.


Activity Report for October:  There were 20494 visits in September, of which 4497 were repeat visits (average 28 visits an hour). There were 61788 page views (3.01 views per visit) involving 2874 different pages, which means that pages that were visited were visited an average of 21 times each. The blog was popular with 733 visits (up from 662 in September). The biggest change has been in the use of findit - following the changes to the Name index to suggest its use if you wanted to find information on the many name lists on this site. Usage in October was double that of the average over the previous six months. More active searching might also explain the 20% increase in band width. There was a lot of work, redirecting links, etc., in reorganising the St Albans home page.

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