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

29 December 2010


Web Sites to Visit


Major changes are in progress at this important web site and there will be a talk on what is happening by Sharon Hintz, a Director of the London Family History Centre in South Kensington. It will be at 14.00 on 13th January at the National Archives, Kew.


Free Phillimore Handbook for the Genealogist

ArchiveCDbooks UK published a useful range of CDs relating to Hertfordshire some years ago, but the flow of new titles slowed down when the Irish branch took over the sales. They have just announced their New Year sale (50% off some titles) and mention that the UK branch is reopening in 2011 - so hopefully we will see some new Hertfordshire titles.  You can download a copy of Phillimore's Pedigree Work: A Handbook for the Genealogist published in 1914.




A brief history of Sawbridgeworth with a map from 1746

The History of Sawbridgeworth as briefly described in The Agreeable Historian together with a detail from a contemporary map.


Free Clip Art from The Stock Solution



Answers to Readers Questions


Estimating Date of Birth from Census Returns

While it is very useful that ages are given on census returns, it is easy to forget that many people were illiterate, and the age that was recorded may even be a guess by someone filling in the household form. Neil's question about David Stamp of Ware and his wife is a textbook example of different ages being recorded at different times, and can serve as a guide to anyone faced with a similar problem. I have therefore cross-referenced it under census returns.


Census Returns


More about RICKETTS of Ware.

John has provided some further information about RICKETTS & LECOUNT, Ware, Early 19th Century


The Missing HUTCHINSON Pedigree has been found

Earlier I reported that the Pedigree in Google Book was incomplete and Mike has kindly provided a copy of the full Hutchinson family tree. (HUTCHINSON, Ware, circa 1770 )

Learn by Example


Estate Agent Records can be very useful.

There can be a goldmine of information about your ancestors, and their property, in a wide variety of manuscript records. To illustrate the point I am posting some extensive information from the records of William Brown, of Tring. Some information and sample pages from his Client Account General Ledger have been available for some time (but not well signposted). I have now added information on four volumes of minutes of the Tring Agricultural Association - which includes lists of the competition classes and the names of the winners (and for some years the names of all the entries) I also give information on where other related documents can be found.

If you have never visited a Records Office, and are unaware of the information "hidden" in unindexed manuscript documents, you should visit these pages and look at some of the page images. If you want to look at a specific page that is not yet online, for instance in the Client Index Ask Chris for details.

Books about Hertfordshire


Mrs Humphry Ward of Stocks House, Aldbury

I have added brief details of a biography by Enid Huws Jones about Mrs Humphry Ward, the authoress who lived in Stocks House, Aldbury.


Church Guides at the Society of Genealogists

 The December Issue of the Genealogists' Magazine include a long list of Hertfordshire Church Guides to add to their already extensive collection, In addition they have a copy of The Monumental Brasses of Hertfordshire, by Lack et al, published in 2009 as Volume 16 in the Monumental Brass Society County Series.


George Upson, Saddler, Church St, Watford

I recently acquired a number of delightful pen and ink sketches of Watford. apparently made about 100 years ago, This one was labelled "Harness Maker, Church Street, Watford" and I decided to find out more about the occupants, The house/shop has now been demolished.



A lost Medieval Village is rediscovered at Preston

Philip has written an interesting article on how he linked the Domesday reference to Welei and a Wayley Green at Preston on an early 19th century map. A real detective story which shows the importance of getting your discoveries properly recorded. Philip also reports that a 1953 scrapbook history of Preston is on the Preston Website


From the WebMaster


Repairs and Maintenance Work

Work has started on a spring clean of the off-line master copy of the web sites. For instance this contains a number of "do not publish" pages of work in progress - some of which were been abandoned years ago for reasons such as the questioner never replying to a question  from me.

     Faults have been corrected on the following pages: High Cross, Ippollitts, SMITH, Aston, end 18th century, Young Girls at a Party?, Hemel Hempstead, The 1851 Census, The History of Straw Plait in Hertfordshire Questions relating to London Gunners. In some cases the fault meant that pages were previously inaccessible online. Further work is planned about the problem of "Link Rot".


26 December 2010



Aldbury in the Snow

Boxing Day 2010


Philip, one of the regular visitors to this site, has an article "Re-discovering a 'lost' manor and hamlet" published in the January issue of Family Tree Magazine. It relates to Welei near Hitchin. I will be giving more details in my end of the year posting later this week.


21 December 2010

From the Resident Genealogist

Merry Christmas

The latest updates are new contributions to the Rogues Gallery  and can be considered as problems to be solved if you have some spare time to do some extra research during the Christmas Holiday.

There will be one more update run & blog before the New Year.


I recently purchased 7 old mounted photographs of large groups of people, including 2 of a football team displaying trophies, one group and one with a horse drawn omnibus apparently involving the same people on the same day, and three wedding groups. A bearded man appears in all but one of them, and the photographers come from Hemel Hempstead or Berkhamsted. I have carried out a detailed examination of the photographs but am uncertain whether the bearded man is the same in all the photographs. What do you think and can you spot any clues I may have missed?



While it would be nice to be able to identify the old lady the chances of doing so are low. The real point of interest relates to the photographers. J & A. G. Hopkins, of Hoddesdon. They first appear in the 1886 Kelly's directory for Herfordshire as "Hopkins Bros. photographic appliance and camera manufacturers, patentees & sole makers of the simple slide & reversible camera back" but are only listed as photographers in 1890. This suggests that they were not very successful camera makers - so Do any examples of their cameras survive? Are there other photographs (preferably dated with informative backs) which would help document their careers as photographers?


Tell me

If you can help

Frozen Fruit for the Birds

A temperature of -19.6C was recorded at Chesham, Bucks, above five mile from where I live, two days ago. I am sure it wasn't much warmer here in Tring!

10 December 2010

A message from The Genealogist after a particularly busy week.


Many Thanks to Contributors to this site

A busy week in which almost all the activity has been triggered with your help. The most important contribution has been by Mary who, on behalf of the Braughing Local History Society, has provided review copies of Victor Tott's books on Braughing. It is not practical for me to join every local history society in Hertfordshire - so if you want the work of your society to be publicised on this site it is important that you keep me informed of what you are doing.

     Carol's contribution was important in a different way. This site grows incrementally and at any one time there will be pages which need updating, and broken links, both internal and external. Carol simply reported a broken link relating to The Grove School, Watford. This proved to be a case where a number of pages existed but due to an error had not been published online. The fault has been corrected.

     In addition we have had interesting questions from Nick, Sioban and Val. Simon has provided an update, John a military photograph, and Dave an "old news" item. I was also able to provide James with a high resolution image of the pub where he lived as a teenager.

      I am currently planning one further update between now and Christmas - the actual day may depend on social activities. Another update will be between Christmas an the New Year.


Tell me

 if you find something wrong, or incomplete, on this web site.

New Books


An Excellent Local Book on Braughing

While this book is on a single Hertfordshire Village is is of a much wider interest. Victor Tott lived and worked in the village for virtually all his life and when he retired he decided to record his memories of the village in the early years of the 20th century. His book, The Braughing of Victor Tott, is not only a delightful account of rural Hertfordshire in a typical village, but also a useful model for others who are not professional historians, but who wish to record their own memories for other generations.



Answers to Readers Questions




Answers to Readers Questions




Answers to Readers Questions



What happened to Mary's Parents?

Siobhan has a problem in identifying the parents of a Mary Rose, born in Watton, as her identity is complicated by a somewhat confusing census entry. If a series of birth and marriage certificates are purchased Mary will probably turn out to be a niece of the William, who was transported to Australia and ran the Devonshire Hotel, Brighton, Victoria. See ROSE, Watton-at-Stone, early 19th century


Walter Wall, Landlord of the Fishery Inn, Boxmoor

Nick has asked the kind of question I like (WALL, Boxmoor, c1880)- the relevant facts are carefully laid out, together with the sources already consulted. This allows me to concentrate on the sources that have not yet been considered. I find that the Fishery Inn was probably owned by the Kings Langley Brewery (and suggest how this might be confirmed) and I point out that the death of Walter Wall's former employer may have provided funds for the move.


The Knight connection looks more likely

Simon fills in a few more details about WINCH, Tewin, circa 1669


Who inherited Sir Benjamin Rawling's property

Val's question about Sir Benjamin RAWLING, Lilley, 1775 could have been almost impossible to answer, but fortunately a 1827 history included a pedigree providing the answer.


A Will supports an earlier posting

Mike provides more evidence for the surving daughters mentioned in HUTCHINSON, Ware, circa 1770


Postcards of Hertfordshire Pubs

James used to live at the Old Elm and I provided him with a high resolution scan of the postcard - and also corrected a broken external link by connecting to the WayBack Machine.

Missing date is made available by adding suitable links


Grove School Watford - A Lost School is found!

Carol reported problems accessing the pages containing information on The Grove School, Watford. and I discovered a lot of pages which were inaccessible online - but were visible to me offline!

     About three years ago I posted Phyllis's memories of The Grove School, Watford as a word file, and this led to her providing further information in the form of a school prospectus, school photograph, etc. I prepared some additional draft pages containing this information.

     When Phyllis had started at The Grove in 1925 the school had just relocated - having previously been Moreton House School, Dunstable. Quite by chance I had a bound set of The Moretonia - The Moreton House School magazine and I created a number of additional draft pages, including a full list of the pupils immediately before the move plus a list of the Old Girls, many of whom came from Beds or Herts.

     For some reason these draft pages were never activated (so were never posted online) but online links to them were included. I have now corrected the fault by lupdating relevant links and posting the pages online. - see The Grove School, Watford.

      In addition to reformatting the pages , and making them accessible I have added a page on E. M. Brent Dyer, who was a teacher at Moreton House School, including an article she wrote on a visit to the Tyrol prior to the publication of her first children's book in that "Chalet Series".


Scarf, Grove School, Watford

Moreton House School, Dunstable

Moreton House School logo


One Guinea Reward for Return of Dog, 1819

John Catling (see CATLING, Hemel Hempstead area, c. 1815) will pay another two guineas for the conviction of the men who stole the dog from the Swan Inn, Box Moor, Hemel Hempstead. (Advert from the County Chronicle provided by Dave)



A Herts Regiment Platoon at Camp

John provides a group photograph of soldiers from Berkhamsted at Cardington, Bedfordshire, in 1921. Most of them are named. Surnames are Bristow, Dell, Draper, Halsey, Maunders, Moore, Ringshall, Rowe, Sharp and Waller. See The Hertfordshire Regiment in the 1920s.


Railways in Hertfordshire in 1895

George Philip published atlases and this map, published in 1895, has been selected because it clearly shows the railways - and their relationship to the villages and towns in the county. A large version is included for clarity.

Our Sponsored Charity


Are you planning to have a Very Merry Christmas?

Remember that many lonely people with mental health problems find Christmas, and the dark days of winter, a very depressing time. This site is still over 300 short of its 1000 target for 2010 and if you have not supported it this year there is still time for  a donation. Even if we fall short of the target (and with you generosity we can still make it) every donation of 5.00 or more means a better service for the mentally ill of Hertfordshire.

2 December 2010


The Genealogist's Report for November



The Genealogist's Report for November



The Genealogist's Report for November



Managing the Work Load

While there is much to be done it is clear that I need to control the amount of time I spend running this web site. My current work plan is to update the web site once a week. I would aim to answer one serious answer to a query, new material for one town or village (possibly linked to the same village as the query), and a group of post card images and/or some new book reviews. I will also post news of interesting web site I have discovered (or ones which you kindly tell me about). If I have any time left I will address the backlog of pages needing updates, etc., and priority will be given to relevant contributions from the users of the site. Once a month  I will write a report - such as this one, touching on other matters covered.


 Highlights for November

This site depends on a stream of interesting questions and the top queries this month involve very different topics. A query about a post card resulted in Bedwell Series, Bedford, of Postcards - which allows some  Hertfordshire view cards to be accurately dated. MULL, Barnet, 1871 establishes a link between Hertfordshire and a major Indian newspaper. WINCH, Tewin, circa 1669 not only links in with the Visitations - but also demonstrates how historians copied from earlier historians. A query on the location of records on John CAMPBELL, The Tabernacle, Redbourn, 1870-1884 resulted in me providing some new reviews on some books on Redbourn and a link to a St Albans newspaper cutting.


Handling the emails to this web site

There is a lot going on in the background and my email boxes for November contain 102 messages from users to this web site. These include exchanges for clarification, the receipt of pictures from users of the site - or supplying high resolution scans of some of the pictures. In addition I get 3 or four circulars or computer generated messages a day ranging from sales promotions for commercial genealogy sites to user statistics on this site. In addition I get regular news of possibly interesting Hertfordshire items appearing on ebay!. Most spam is captured by the ISP or my my security software

     I don't give a full answer (posted on the web site) to every query I get, but try  to provide a short response. One of the reason some queries are rejected is that the questioner is too lazy to think about supplying information available to them. A common mistake is to ask about their great grandfather without giving dates when I can't tell from the email whether the writer is 9 or 90, or whether their father was 16 or 60 when they were born. I am also getting an increasing number of queries from people who think all one has to do is to look up names online - and who consider it would be a waste of their time to read a book at the level of "Genealogy for Dummies" or read an online help text or tutorial.  I clearly do not have time to waste  giving extensive replies to people who are not prepared to learn.


For the next Blog

Next week I plan to include reviews of two recently published book on Braughing kindly provided by Mary (review copies are always welcome) and also draw up a page on finding pictures (both ancient and modern) of Hertfordshire, and also St Albans, following a suggestion by Andy, and may also include a page on old pocket guides to St Albans, following information from Gerard. If you can Ask Chris a well thought out query it might be answered almost immediately.





A very Important Small School in Hitchin

My first reaction was "Oh Dear" when Michael asked about an 18th century school master, BLAXLAND, Hitchin, 1788-1801, as normally few records of such schools survive. In fact a check online and in my own library succeeded  in identifying four former pupils. Three of these, Samuel Tuke (1784-1857), Joseph Jackson Lister (1788-1869) and Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen (1792-1836), made it into the Dictionary of National Biography.


Hertfordshire Children educated in Yorkshire

The above query alerted me to the fact that at the end of the 18th century Hitchin Quakers sent children to the Quaker school at Ackworth, Yorkshire. From a published list I have produced a list of Ackworth School Pupils between 1779-1878 who came from Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire.


The British Schools Museum, Hitchin

If you are visiting the area and want to know more about how your ancestors were educated be sure to visit the British Schools Museum at Hitchin. It is in a school founded in 1810 - and the oldest surviving building was built in 1837 to run under the monitorial system with 150 boys being taught in one room. I have written up an account of the visit I made in August, and there is much more information (including opening times) on their web site.


Books from The British Schools Museum

Schooldays 1810-1900

A History of the Buildings

Educating Our Own


In recent years many people have been researching their own village school and a good introduction to the schools for the children of the labouring classes  which opened in the 19th century is Bringing Literacy to Rural England - The Hertfordshire Example. If the history of your local village school has been published let me know so that I can include details on this web site.


Hatfield House in Olden Times

I have added a collection of engravings of Hatfield House and the associated old palace from 1773 to 1904.



The Webmaster's Report for November



Links with Wikipedia

A search of Wikipedia showed that there were a large number of broken links to this web site and during November most of these were amended and a number of new links were added. It is difficult to assess the effect accurately because changes were made on various dates throughout the month but it could be that the changes increase the flow of interested traffic from Wikipedia three or four fold. The figures for December should be a far better basis for comparison.


Site Statistics

During November the frequency of updating the blog was reduced to weekly, and the number of changes notified in the month was lower. This meant less visits from some of the regulars (who may have been checking the changes to the blog several times a week) and as a result there has been a drop in the number of visits to the Blog (from 772 to 617). This may also have affected the drop in the average number of pages seen each visit (from 3.01 to 2.78).  Otherwise the overall figures were slightly up, the number of visits going from 20494 to 20435 - which is about a 3% increase (to nearly 29 visits an hour) when you allow for October being 1 day longer than November. It should be noted that the overall statistics hide a great deal of variation as 998 visits lasted more than 15 minutes, suggesting some serious browsing on the site.

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