Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


Genealogy in Hertfordshire

Editorial Blog

April 2011 Archive


Home Page

Currant Blog

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

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

For more recent items see the Current Blog

21st April 2011





Your Questions Answered

Every Post Card Tells a Story ...

This post card, of the Old Forge, Bushey High Street, has proved very interesting. The blacksmith's shop was held by the Goldsmith family from the early 18602 to about 1908 - and as the post card was published in about 1906 the older man in the bowler hat could be Alfred Goldsmith. The card was probably brought from the newsagents shop run by Mrs Beatrice Eden, and published by her brother Sydney Giles. In addition the card was posted by Edeva Harcourt, the daughter of George Harcourt - one of the painters who worked with Hubert Herkomer. As a result I have also indexed the page as George HARCOURT, Artist at Bushey from 1889 to 1947.




Post Card Detective

... So can you help?

Sharon has this picture of a farm house? which is labelled "Uncle Herbert, Essendon" I have found a possible Uncle - a retired civil servant called Herbert Stocks, but have not been able to link him to this house - Can You Help?


Rogues Gallery

Your Questions Answered

Building Houses in St Albans circa 1880

Greg has recently moved into a house in Oswald Road, St Albans, and has got a copy of the old deeds from the time the plot was brought by an engine driver called Robert Bail from George Far Arnold. I review the early history of the road - and explain that more information will be in the St Albans Central Library. Using census data I also suggest how Robert had enough money to become a landlord of several properties. See BAIL, Oswald Road, St Albans, from 1878

St Albans

Napsbury Military Photographs

J Burns has sent details of photographs of the hospital, some showing her grandfather - and as they are numbered it makes it possible to tighten up the dates on other numbered cards produced by Riccardo Studio, St Albans.



Maps of Herts & Beds from 1784

These maps, by Thomas Conder, and based on earlier maps, was published in 1784 for Walpoole's New & Complete British Traveller. Large versions of the maps are available online.

How To ..


Pigot's Directories

Prompted by an enquiry from Jon I have updated the information page to include details of the various editions published:

Pigot & Co's London & Provincial New Commercial Directory for 1823-4

Pigot & Co's London & Provincial New Commercial Directory for 1826-7

Pigot & Co's London & Provincial New Commercial Directory for 1832-3-4

Pigot & Co's Royal National and Commercial Directory and Topography of the Counties of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, September 1839

Relax in the Hertfordshire Countryside

Marsh Marigolds (also known as King Cups) in the Millhoppers Reserve, on what was almost certainly and old drovers' road between Long Marston and Wilstone, near Tring.

14th April 2011

10 Years Old

14th April




Message from the Resident Genealogist


A review of the last 10 years and a look to the future

Ten years ago I completed the preparation for this web site and at about 10.30 in the evening I posted messages that this site, which replaced an earlier bulletin board, was up and running. Since then the site has grown enormously. Hundreds of queries have been posted, hundreds of books have been reviewed, and the single page for each of the larger towns and villages has expanded so that now places like Tring and Watford are covered by what amount to quite large web sites of their own, although many places need more work to get them up to standard. The site is clearly heavily used - with around 20 visitors an hour. Many are directed here from other sites, while pages from the site often appear on the first page of Google searches.

     Over the years a number of changes have been made. The tutorial seemed a good idea but the statistics showed it to be little used and its further development was abandoned some years ago. A Guide to Old Hertfordshire is used quite a lot - but not as frequently as I had hoped but this blog definitely seems to be a winner.

    Not only has the site grown, but so have the number of other relevant sites on the Web. This has caused difficulties as I do not have time (or money) to keep up to date on every other site which contains relevant information, and while I am always adding new links I am increasingly aware that there is a problem keeping up with changes elsewhere.

    For me any desire to celebrate 10 years of success are tinged with other feelings. After posting the messages to say the site was now available ten years ago I went to bed, leaving my wife to watch a film on TV. About two hours later I was woken by a knock on the front door. I looked out of the bedroom window and my wife is speaking to two people, one of whom is a policeman. My heart dropped. 15 years earlier we had a similar visit to tell us our daughter Lucy had been killed in a fall. This time the visit was to tell us that our other daughter Belinda had been found dead in a toilet at the hospital where she was a patient.

     All this has set me thinking about the future. The site may be ten years old - but I am also ten years older - and slower both physically and mentally. Both my wife and I are hoarders and my son very reasonably pointed out that when we go he would not know which of the papers are precious family relics, which were of marketable interest, and which were best consigned to a skip.

Trapped by the Box


     One of the big problem areas relate to the papers on my former university research - which are stored in the garage, and which throw a light on the early history of computers. I touched on this problem on the September 2010 blog when I said:


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.

     Progress has been very slow and I have decided that a better approach would be to "write the book" by running a blog" on the subject. If there is no interest I can feel free to allocate the contents of the garage to the skip. If the material proves to be of interest to experts in the History of Science I might find a university which was prepared to give the papers a home. And if my research proves, after many years in the limbo, to be of serious scientific interest after all I might end up flooded with messages. I am still feeling my way on the blog -  but please feel free to visit it. It has only been publically visible for a few days but I have already had visitors from the UK, USA, Australia, Finland, Russia, and Spain, although none have yet made any comments.

How you can help


      How will this affect this web site. I have no plans to discontinue it - but I will have less time to spend on it. My initial target will be two or three updates in each weekly blog - but much depends on how much traffic the Trapped by the Box blog generates.

      There are ways in which some of you may be able to help. If you know of a web site, book, magazine article, etc., which is relevant to this web site why not take a few minutes to tell me about it. It is very hard with me to keep up with all the new web sites about towns and villages which may contain historically relevant text or pictures. It is even harder for me to know about Hertfordshire related articles in family history magazines (including newsletters published by family history societies worldwide). It should only take you a few minutes to send me details and I can easily add them to the blog and/or the relevant page on the site.

My daughter Belinda helped to set up the Aylesbury Clubhouse - now renamed Renaissance and run by Hightown Praetorian - to provide day services for the mentally ill.

Earlier this week a charity shop was opened in Tring to raise money to help support Renaissance.


8th April 2011

Your Questions Answered











The Watch that Chapman made

A pocket watch has been give to a historical collection at Port Arthur, Tasmania, and Jody wants to find out more about it. In reply I review the early watchmakers at Watford and suggest that the watch was made by James Chapman (1760-1817) or his son John Chapman (1782-1860?). See CHAPMAN, Watchmaker, Watford, Early 19th century


Ambiguous Records circa 1700

Brian has a problem with ORGAR/ORGER, Much Hadham area, 17th/18th centuries in that there are many people called Orgar in the area - and there is a problem in linking them together in an unambiguous manner. I review this situation and make some general suggestions.

 Calendars of Court Records

In order to demonstrate the types of information available I give entries from calendars of Court records relating to the Orgar family..

Much Hadham

Court Records

A GATWARD Clock turns up

The Gatward family of Hitchin were clock and watchmakers in the 18th century (and the shop still exists today). James reports that he has a GATWARD long case clock that was made by the Samuel Gatward who was born in Hitchin but moved to Huntingdon.

   When this family was first mentioned here in 2001 I write: If anyone can link this interesting Hitchin family with Samuel Gatward of Hemel Hempstead I will be delighted to hear from you This question has still not been answered. It is just possible that he is the Samuel who moved to Huntingdon, but things do not fit as well as I like. Has anyone else any ideas?


Hemel Hempstead


The Manor of Ponsbourne, Hatfield

A map has been added, from an program sheet for an unnamed event, to show the location of the park.



The History of Stagenhoe, Preston.

Philip has just posted the history of Stagenhoe on the Preston web site he runs. There is also information on work done by Sir Edwin Lutyens in the area. He also reminds me that there is also information on work done by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in the area.


1st April 2011

Message from the Resident Genealogist

Just because it is on the Web doesn't make it right.

This is perhaps a good time to remind you all that all sources can contain errors, including this site, and I am always grateful when such errors are drawn to my attention. This week's Blog includes two corrections.

      I have been looking for an old postcard image of Great Munden for years without success - and thought I had found one - but having used it to illustrate the village I found the card was of a large house near Watford called Munden,.

      The other involves a quotation taken from a book I was reviewing which referred to the architect Lutyens when it appears that the house was designed by one of his pupils - rather than the great man himself.

       I am sure there must be other such errors on my site - so if you spot any errors - or just something you think needs checking - PLEASE Tell Me. This not only alerts me to the need for a correction, but also helps anyone who reads the uncorrected page and is mislead by what it says.

How you can help

Fallow deer at Ashridge

Taken yesterday when relaxing away from the computer

Thanks for your Donations

The Herts Mind Network AGM is being held in Watford on 8th April

Some progress has been made towards the 1000 target to help the mentally ill in Hertfordshire. So far 200 has been raised (three month target 250), and there are quite a few people I have helped who have not yet made a donation - so more may be more on the way.  In addition three overseas questioners have, with my agreement, made generous donations to their local mental health charities totalling another 75.

     It is worth reminding everyone that the current economic uncertainties are squeezing a lot of families - which means a greater demand for charitable support services. At the same time the Hertfordshire County Council are cutting hard back on grants to charities and many kind-hearted people are finding it harder to make donations from their cash-strapped budgets. If everyone who found it useful made a donation of at least 5 (the price of a coffee and cake at Starbucks) we would have no difficulty in reaching, or even exceeding, the target. Don't let the mentally ill down.

Your Questions Answered

A Hertfordshire Grocer with branches in Yorkshire (continued)

Following last week's posting Simon has sent a picture showing the building W. B. Moss & Son erected in Otley, Yorkshire. See W. B. MOSS, Hitchin, from 1861

A Quiet Period ?

While there has been little to report over the past week this does not mean that there has been a compete absence of queries. In January I blogged Do you know when the First World War ended? and I still get a stream of off-topic requests. Some would appear to be from web beginners who have just discovered Google and end up on my site. In such cases I try and give some brief off-site guidance. For instance I recently got a request from someone asking if I could take a photograph of a modern grave in "my" churchyard. It was obvious that the questioner was unaware that hundreds of churches are pictured on my web site and thought that as I had a picture of the church he was interested in I must live there. I directed him to where he could get contact details for the church itself.















A brief history of Braughing with a map from 1746

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


What Happened to Fluffy, the cat.

My Great Grandfather, Jacob Reynolds, kept a scrap book and one of the entries is a poem by the young Ursula Bloom, who became one of the world's most prolific novelists, with over 500 titles to her name (or one of her many pseudonyms). The poem describes her horror at the way that farmers kept the number of feral cats on the farm to a reasonable level.

Bernards Heath

Munden, Leavesden, Nr Watford

The Home of Arthur Holland-Hibbert

This house lies close to the River Colne, in the parish of Leavesden, but close to Bricket Wood and often listed under Watford.  I have added details of the house, and a portrait and other information about Arthur, who has already been mentioned a number of times on this web site.

Bricket Wood



CORRECTION: Great Munden

Some time ago a picture of the house called Munden, near Watford, was posted by error on this page. It has now been removed. I am now lacking any old images of this village - can you help?

Great Munden

The Court, Chorleywood.

When I reviewed the book Rickmansworth & Chorleywood I selected three pictures as examples An architect, Michael, has now pointed out that the reference associating The Court to the Architect Lutyens is almost certainly incorrect, and I have added an amendment to the reference on my site, although the reference in the original book remains.




Web Sites


Local Newspaper Web Sites

 Most local newspapers now have good news pages - often with links to heritage pages and other matters I have decided to add links to the main menus of the following towns. So far I have added the following links:

The Webmasters Report


Statistics for March

Site Totals: (comparison with March 2010): Visits 20029 (21575) of which 4238 (4634) were repeat visits within the month; 3066 (2707) different pages were viewed, the total number of page views being 53920 (60288)

The Editorial Blog: This was viewed  556 times.

The Guide to Old Hertfordshire: Visitors to "Map" page 548.

Wikipedia: 436 (71) visits from 115 (27) different Wikipedia pages 


This site supports the charity Herts Mind Network

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

March 2011    February 2011  January 2011

December 2010   November 2010  October 2010   September 2010   August 2010   July 2010   June 2010  May 2010  April 2010   Earlier Editorials