Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


Genealogy in Hertfordshire

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March 2011 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

For more recent items see the Current Blog

28th March 2011


Spring in Hertfordshire

Most of our Hertfordshire Ancestors would have worked in the countryside and been very familiar with the changes in the seasons - something that those of us who live in town can easily forget. As they worked in the fields, or walked along the lanes, these are flowers that they would have seen at the end of March

Now that Franci has gone I don't get out as much as I should - as my Doctor recently reminded me. These photographs were taken two days ago, at the College Lake Nature Reserve, near Tring, which is just on the Bucks side of the county boundary.

25th March 2011

Family Events


This is a new web site which plans to provide council burial records of town cemeteries, etc. Searching is free but you need to join the site in order to see the original documents, grave yard plans etc. At the moment coverage of Hertfordshire is limited to Broxbourne (25,291 burials between 1855 and 2003 at Bury Green Cemetery, Cheshunt, and 11,221 burials at Ware Road Cemetery, Hoddesdon). I understand some of the Dacorum Borough Council records for Heath Lane and Woodwells Cemeteries, Hemel Hempstead, Kingshill Cemetery, Berkhamsted, and Tring Cemetery will be available shortly.

Web Sites

Your Questions Answered

A Hertfordshire Grocer has branches in Yorkshire

Simon found the information on W. B. MOSS, Hitchin, from 1861 and  reported that they had a branch in Otley, Yorkshire. Census returns show that two W. B. Moss's sons married Yorkshire girls and set up businesses in Otley and Ripon.

St Pancras Schools, Leavesden

Gail asked about the records of children who were at the schools set up in Hertfordshire. Because the children at the schools were referred there by workhouses in Middlesex the first place to look is the London Metropolitan Archives. I have added a note to the Leavesden page.

The reason why Dyson Levick come to Harpenden?

Anthony has done some extensive research and the new evidence strongly suggests that when Dyson and Lizzie were living in Harpenden with a young family Dyson's wife Annie was still living in Yorkshire. As a result the "wife" being sought could be Lizzie Wilmot, aged 19, living at London Colney at the 1901 census. See LEVICK/WILLMOTT, Harpenden, early 20th century


The Stanville Football Club (continued)

Mike writes: Although I had not heard of this club the suggested portmanteau origin seems reasonable.  The approximate timing is also interesting because the Cavendish estate had been developing since 1883 followed shortly after by Stanhope and Granville roads and part of Camp Road, near the area known today as the Crown.  At that point in time there was no Fleetville and the Midland railway separated this area from the rest of the city.  Apart from Clarence Park (from 1894) there were several other playing spaces - part of Watson's old nursery, then in the hands of F Sander, most of the Gaol Field west of Camp Road, and the home field of St Peter's Farm

     Mike is publishing a book on St Albans' East End later this year and I hope to be able to post details here when copies become available.


St Albans

17th March 2011

Your Questions Answered







Why Checking the Source Documents is essential

If you are stuck looking for an ancestor at the beginning of the 19th century a read of the case of William Ashby should give you some ideas as to where to look. Nick was up against a locally common name and no immediately obvious candidate. Various ways forward were considered - such as looking at William's children and occupation. Two pieces of information proved essential in positively identifying his parents. The first was a crossed-out place of birth entry on a census return (not covered in the computer indexes used). The second was a witness, Rebecca Ashby, at William's marriage (witnesses are not listed on the online computer indexes). There was only one possible Rebecca in the indexes - who had a brother called William of exactly the right age. Rebecca married and in the 1871 census her place of birth was the same as the crossed out name given in 1851 for William. See ASHBY, Watford Area, Early 19th century

Why did Dyson Levick come to Harpenden?

Dyson Levick and Lizzie Willmott had two children in Harpenden before moving to New Zealand  before 1910. Research suggests that Dyson had no prior connections with Hertfordshire - and probably came from Yorkshire. More information is needed from New Zealand to take the story further  See LEVICK/WILLMOTT, Harpenden, early 20th century.

A Bushey man becomes a Congregational Minister in Derbyshire

When I first looked at POTTEN, Watford, late 19th century I could not find Henry Thomas Potten in the 1891 and 1901 censuses. A check of the 1911 census showed him living in Derbyshire with children born in Ireland in the late 1890s. Marina says he later went to Brighton.

Old News

   The Sandridge Night Soil Cart, 1899

The St Albans Rural District Council was responsible for sanitation, and in the summer there was problems with the arrangements to empty chamber pots in the Bernards Heath area of the parish of Sandridge.


  A Different World - Ashwell before 1939

The review page describing this delightful book has been extended and now includes the contents, the text from the dust cover, and more pictures.





Freemasons in St Albans

Jon kindly provided a list of the Freemasons in the Halsey Lodge, St Albans, in 1879, which included my great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds. He also supplied a list of the first St Albans Lodge from 1845. I have added details of the Halsey and St Albans Lodges, together with Jacob Reynolds' certificate, and an invitation to the unveiling of the foundation stone at St Albans Grammar School.


St Albans

A brief history of Puckeridge with a map from 1746

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

   In addition the Puckeridge pages have been reformatted and a dedicated menu added.



The Stanville Football Club (continued)

Robert has suggested that the Stanville Football Club may have been based on the Stanhope Road/Granville Road area of St Albans. This seems very likely  as an Albert Johnson (born 1875) was living in Granville Road in 1891.

     Can anyone confirm this? And did the well-to-do gentleman with the cigar live in a large house in the area?


Can You Help?

     Make at date with Forbidden Love

The next meeting of the Hertfordshire Family History Society is at Woolmer Green on March 26, when Frederick Feather is talking about "Forbidden Love". It sounds interesting. We all have a bit of it in our family trees - One of my own ancestors, Daniel Hill, went up to London to marry his late wife's sister - which was forbidden under church law at the time.


Visitors from Google and other sites

Statistics suggest that a small number of pages are visited from search engines many times each month - only for the visitor to quickly move away from the web site. In some cases, such as Hatfield House, the visitor may have been looking for the official web site - and I provide a link to that site - so the visitor's needs are satisfied. In some other cases, such as Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Military Hospitals in Hertfordshire in World War One, St Albans Pageant the page could be more inviting, with better links to the rest of the site and this has been corrected.. In a few other cases the page title and keyword have been modified to indicate that the information on the page is historical.

13th March, 2011

Official Opening of the Tring Local History Museum this afternoon
  Tring's Mayor cuts the ribbon, and at the following celebrations the Lord of the Manor of Tring (Lord Rothschild) turns to Tim Amsden, chair of the local history society.

11th March, 2011

Your Questions Answered


A Hertfordshire Place Name recorded in Scotland

Cyril's ancestor Isaac Schooling was born in Hertfordshire and joined the army. In 1871 he was posted in Scotland and his place of birth was recorded as "Sagham, Herts". Can you guess where in Hertfordshire he was born before you look at SCHOOLING, xxx, circa 1836.


More on the Catling Family of Bovingdon

Sue has commented further to say that there were four Catling marriages in London between 1854 and 1868. Three of them were in St Pancras Old Church (convenient for anyone travelling to London by train).



Old News

The Stanville Football Club

I recently spotted a large group photograph of the Stanville Football Club on ebay, taken by a St Albans Photographer. But who were they? They were clearly a local amateur team active between at least 1893 and 1901 but I have not discovered where exactly they were based or the names of anyone in the photograph. Who is the well-to do man with the cigar in the photograph? Was he the club sponsor/chairman and was he a prominent business man in St Albans? And why the name "Stanville"?


Can You Help?

Whit Monday Sports at St Albans, 1893

Until Clarence Park was opened the St Albans Cricket Club held an annual athletics day on my Great Grandfather Jacob Reynolds's meadow, on Heath Farm, Bernards Heath. While many of the competitors were local it is clear that many people came to St Albans for the day to watch or participate. I have listed all the people mentioned in the lengthy report of the event. It includes two members of the Stanville Football Club.

Stereoscopic Views by Downer of Watford

Frederick Downer produced a large number of post cards in the early part of the 20th century, but had been a photographer in Watford from at least 1871. This view of a garden turns out to be of Watford Place and was taken in about 1880.


     Marriages Since 1840 to date - V & A Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum is planning an exhibition of wedding dresses in 2013 and is asking for people to submit pictures online. Let us make sure that there is a good percentage of Hertfordshire weddings.

8th March, 2011

Newly Published

    A Real Fairey Tale in Hertfordshire

Philip Wray, who has made a number of contributions to this site in the past, has written up details of his Fairey ancestors of Hitchin for the April issue of Family History Monthly (in shops 10th March). The article shows that sometimes records have survived that mention the poor in the 17th and 18th centuries - and demonstrates what can be found in Records Offices and Libraries.

 The Hertfordshire Countryside now has a web site

The Hertfordshire Countryside magazine has been published since 1946 and the early issues contained many admittedly often short articles of interest to the family and local historian. It is still published monthly, and while it now contains more "life style" material it still has several articles each month which reflect on the history of Hertfordshire, In the March issue there is a long illustrated review of a book, Hertfordshire Geology and Landscape, published by the Hertfordshire Natural History Society, an article on Watford Technical School, and an article on the village of Therfield with many pictures of the older buildings.


From the Help Desk

     I've got so much information but it doesn't fit together ...

Beverley's question about WEEDON, Abbots Langley, late 18th century raises an issue that affects a lot of visitors to this site. The surname is locally quite common - and she is not certain which John Weedon is which. This is one of the most frustrating types of question I can get - because to solve it you really have to identify all the John Weedons in the area - and many other people with the same name - collecting information from many different sources - some of which may only be available as unindexed documents in a Records Office. This can be frustrating work with no certainty of success. If you have a similar problem you may well find it useful to see what I have said.

     I have had a similar problem and will give details to indicate the amount of work that can be involved.. Over 30 years ago I was looking for the parents of William Speed Locke. We had his birthday (15th February 1792) from family records, and the census said he was born in Aylesbury. I combed all the records I could think of collecting references to members of the Lock(e) and Speed families in the area. and ended up with lots of pieces which would not fit - so I gave up trying. A little later I was looking for information on the Wilgoss (or Wildgoose) and Gibbs families in Aylesbury and spent a happy afternoon looking line by line through two massive "Overseers of the Poor" ledgers. I extracted entries about the welfare payments to members of one Wilgoss family and the trading activities (supplying second hand clothes) of Robert Gibbs. On the last page of the second ledger there was a list of miscellaneous receipts. A one line entry established that William Speed had paid for Widow Lock's lying in month at the right date! It was an illegitimate birth where the father accepted responsibility. A supporting piece of information turned up by chance in a scrapbook (relating to the Gibbs family) which included a 19th century press cutting reprinting an 18th century diary, which included details of the death of Widow Lock's husband a few years earlier. With these extra pieces it was possible to fit a number of other facts together to make a coherent story. Unfortunately I have still not been able to prove whether it was William Speed senior or Junior who made the payment. If there was a baptism it would almost certainly have been at a non-conformist chapel whose records have not survived for that date.

6th March 2011

     Make at date with Forbidden Love

The next meeting of the Hertfordshire Family History Society is at Woolmer Green on March 26, when Frederick Feather is talking about "Forbidden Love". It sounds interesting. We all have a bit of it in our family trees - One of my own ancestors, Daniel Hill, went up to London to marry his late wife's sister - which was forbidden under church law at the time.

     News from the Dacorum Heritage Trust

The Dacorum Heritage Trust newsletters are now available online. The December issue gave details of the Tring Local History museum, and the March issue includes the history of Birtchnell Menswear shop. This Victorian building in Berkhamsted High street collapsed while undergoing building modifications in January. Percy Birtchnell was a local historian who wrote A Short History of Berkhamsted.

     Get Your pen out and sign

Occasionally I get messages from organisation who are trying to raise funds to preserve a  Hertfordshire church and recently I mentioned the web site for The Friends of Westmill Church. For the first time in 10 years someone has used the Ask Chris facility to ask me to sign a petition to preserve a historic building. It is not in Hertfordshire - but the Cleveland Street Workhouse is a very rare survivor  from the 18th century so why not support it. by signing the petition. At the same time why not tell me (with link to an appropriate web site) if there is some aspect of Hertfordshire's heritage that needs support.

Modifying the Menus

In using the "signature logo" a problem was noted with the logo as used to "sign off" all the menus on the web site. This has now been corrected - involving changes to over 100 pages. The logo was one used by a relative, Ursula Bloom(1892-1984), who at one lime was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most prolific famale novelist.

Intermission - 5th March 2011

Nearly 40 years ago there was scheme called "Plant a tree in '73" followed by "Plant some more in '74" My daughter Lucy planted a sycamore key in a plastic cup - and it had grown until it was by far the biggest tree in our end of the housing estate. However it had got far too big, but, because of what happened later, we didn't want to loose it entirely. So we called in Luke Mabbett, from Aldbury, who has done an excellent job pollarding the tree - removing the top 25 feet or so of branches without damaging the other plants in the garden!.

3rd March 2011

The Resident Genealogist


     There is a backlog in processing Messages

I need to keep my stress levels down  and over the last year this has been difficult. Franci, who we have had since Belinda died, passed away last year, so I no longer have relaxing daily dog walks. Because of my wife's disabilities I have much more to do about the house, and my office has become so muddled that a proper spring clean is essential. This week the sycamore tree planted by my late daughter Lucy nearly 40 years ago is having to be cut down - and the 10th anniversary of Belinda's death, is only weeks away.


[The above image is a harmless reproduction of what I saw]

 Running this web site is a way to relax - and reduce stress - so you can imagine my reaction when the above message came up on the screen. Somehow I avoided a total panic and immediately disconnected the automatic backup hard drive to ensure no data was lost, and disconnected the broadband link so nothing confidential could be sent out from my computer. Whatever it was that generated that message also told me there was a lot of really nasty malware on my computer and presented me with a button labelled "Remove". On selecting "remove" it then asked me for a subscription and I immediately became suspicious. I have been protecting my computer by Microsoft's Windows Defender and McAfee's software, with  no previous problems and no subscription was due. In addition how did so many nasties get through - and the wording of some of the messages were in rather poor English. Perhaps the whole thing was a trap to get my bank details. Whatever it was - it was sufficiently in control to stop me directly accessing my own anti-virus software, and the message reappeared if I logged out and then logged in again.

    As it happens I have several difference accounts on my system, so I switched the computer off and started again as a different user. This account appeared not to be affected so I ran an immediate scan using McAfee - then reset the system (which covers all users) back to a state 36 hours earlier. I then ran an overnight diagnostic scan  which removed three nasties. The problem vanished - so I reconnected the archive hard drive and the broadband link and repeated the process of resetting the system and scanning the drives, I have no idea how the infection arrived - but my computer now appears to be clean.

    The above incident has left me rather depressed, and I was already dropping behind in answering messages.  There is no point in rushing to catch up - as this could send my stress levels soaring. I need to quietly arrange my time better, limiting the time I spend on this site to between 1 and 2 hours a day, and spending more time on country walks. If you are someone who is waiting for a reply please be patient.  New message are welcome if you are someone who can add to some of the pages - particularly if you can report that you found my advice useful. Positive feedback (and donations to the site charity) cheer me up - and the more I can relax the more I can do to improve the site. ..

Post Cards of Stort Navigation

Bill has kindly provided digital images of cards showing the Stort Navigation in the parishes of Bishops Stortford and Thorley. The relevant pages (including the page on Bishops Stortford post card publishers) have been updated.

Twyford Lock R. Stort   River Stort at Twyford   Twyford Mill   Thorley Lock & R. Stort
South Mill Lock   South Mill Bridge   R. Stort at Southmill   At Southmill Bridge

Very few early Hertfordshire newspapers have survived, and I have just acquired a 1884 reprint of The Hartford Mercury from 1772 and reproduce all the Hertfordshire related items here. The majority of the paper is devoted to national and international news and there are only four short Hertfordshire news items. However the property advertisements are very interesting and there is a long list of the newspaper sellers in the county. This was a predecessor of the Herts Mercury.




Contacts through my family tree

Occasionally I get queries about my own relatives, and these can cause problems. Recently I have had two such queries. The first was easy. Sandra noted the references to Grove, Long and Palmer on the Who is relates to Who (3) tree. We both knew Beryl Grove (daughter of Richard T Grove and Ellen F Reynolds, and granddaughter of Jacob Reynolds). I was able to provide a copy of a press cutting from an old family scrapbook that I inherited from Beryl.. The initial exchange was "out of county" and so not directly relevant to this site - but further exchanges could include Hertfordshire interest.

    Julia's question about my ancestor Ann Tharp, Wife of William Cox, is more difficult. When I started out researching my ancestors in 1977 I made all the mistakes beginners make. I found an old family tree at HALS and slavishly copied it onto my experimental computer data base without recording where the data came from. This is in the days before computer indexes so checking was difficult - but I soon found that part of the tree was definitely wrong. I never finished checking it and many of my notes are now comparatively inaccessible. When I set up this site I added details of my Hertfordshire Ancestors up to William Cox, but decided not to go further until I had properly checked things out against modern indexes -  and I still hadn't done it. I have therefore put updating my ancestor pages on my "To Do" list.


The Friends of Westmill Church

There are many small rural parishhes in Hertfordshire which have problems with the costs of maintaining the ancient building and I was delighted to here from Nigel that a web site was being set up for the Friends of Westmill Church. Not only am I happy to added a link to the web site - but I have also taken the opportunity to update the Westmill page.


Local History in Primary Schools - Sandon

Most primary schools introduce history by using the Victorian period as an example - and earlier this week we helped to get a Victorian costume for my granddaughter for something her school is doing later this month. Mary wrote asking about sources and I have prepared a general page on The Use of Censuses in Primary Schools and updated the Sandon page and the pages on the books Village Chronicles and Then there were two.


Greg Football Cup Winners, 1911-12 (Walkern)

Another success from the pictures of football teams on this web site. Ann reports that Thomas Baggs Vye is shown in this picture. See also VYE, Walkern, before December 1912


Follow up on the Catling Watches

Sue writes to say that she is a descendant of George Catling (1799-1871). There is some jewellery with the names of George's parents - John and Mary, but unfortunately they have no further watches.  I have put her in touch with John, who has the watches..


Death of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was the sub-postmaster at Aldbury from 1917 and published a range of post cards of the village. His granddaughter, Stella, reports that he died in 1960.

The Webmasters Report


Statistics for February

Site Totals: (comparison with February 2010): Visits 19745 (19005) of which 5804 (4188) were repeat visits within the month; 3580 (2628) different pages were viewed, the total number of page views being 59360 54272)

The Editorial Blog: Three full blogs posted in the month - viewed  453 times.

The Guide to Old Hertfordshire: Visitors to "Map" page 537.

Wikipedia: 391 (67) visits from 99 (28) different Wikipedia pages 

Emails: I have sent or received 138 personal emails of which about 18 were unanswered or pending at the end of the month - due to various difficulties  unconnected with the web site, and the malicious software which invaded the computer on the 26th February. The later meant that nothing was done in the last three days in the month when I had hoped to clear most of the email backlog.

Overall: A distinct improvement from last year, and when one allows for the fact that February is 3 days shorter than January, the is a small increase in usage and a slight movement to longer visits.

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February 2011  January 2011

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