OAKLEY, Leverstock Green,

19/20th century

Based on emails, March 2001



Leverstock Green

PLEASE NOTE: When this question was asked the amount of information available online was very restricted and the only census available (on a CD) was the 1881 census. The answer given below should be carefully checked using the additional information now readily available online.

Eleanor Yvonne Hatch (eyhatch @t interact.net.au) of Australia, says: My grandfather Joseph OAKLEY, born 1875, died 1939 Ipswich Suffolk, was married twice, the second time to my grandmother, Maude Elizabeth CANHAM. (b 1887, m.Oct 1912 St Matthew's Ipwich, d. 20 August 1952, Ipswich). According to some unverified family notes, my grandfather, Joseph Oakley was born in the parish of St Michael's Huntingdon in 1875, his father (my GGF) being Henry OAKLEY. Joseph OAKLEY had five siblings: Arthur (or Alfred), Albert, Mary (or May), Benjamin and Florence. Florence 'lived in Norfolk', Arthur (or Alfred) 'lived in Saltash, Cornwall', Benjamin 'died in WW1'. Albert lived at Hemel Hempstead during WW2, and apparently some of the family worked at Apsley paper mill. Albert's wife could have been called Edith, and they possibly lived at Apsley End in WW1.

Martin Edwards, Chairman of the Cambridgeshire Family History Society, has supplied her with details of a possible 1881 census entry for 30 Little George Street, St Pancras, London:



Leverstick Green, Nottingham(shire)





Leverstick Green, Nottingham(shire)








Frances K. OAKLEY





Florence M. OAKLEY


Westwick, Cambridge(shire)



William G. BENNETT


Westwick, Cambridge(shire)



She suggests that "Leverstick Green" could be Leverstock Green, Herts, and is looking for more information about her great grandparents and their family.

A quick check on familysearch shows that Henry OAKLEY married Rachael BENNETT at Leverstock Green, Herts on 20th June 1874 and a check of the marriage register/certificate will provide additional information about the couple. An additional check of the baptism index of the Vital British Records Index (VBRI) shows that Joseph OAKLEY was baptised on 13th June 1875 and Frances Kate OAKLEY was baptised on 20th May 1877, both at Leverstock Green. (The Leverstock Green baptism registers are indexed to 1927 and there is no entry for Florence OAKLEY- who may have been baptised elsewhere - and not yet indexed.)

A quick check on Henry OAKLEY was negative (maybe I didn't look hard enough) but I was more lucky looking at the VBRI which shows that Rachel BENNETT was baptised at Leverstock Green on 10th June 1853, the daughter of John and Hannah BENNETT. Two siblings are recorded, Eliza BENNETT baptised 9th June 1850 and James BENNET on 23rd March 1856. The VBRI does not cover the Leverstock Green baptismal register before 1849 - so you may wish to check familysearch for any family baptisms or marriages before that date, together with the 1851 and 1861 census microfilms for Leverstock Green, which should show the BENNETT family with their children.

In fact John BENNETT is listed in the 1881 census as a 79 year old agricultural labourer, born at Leverstock Green and living in the parish of St Michaels, St Albans. With him were his 69 year old wife, Hannah, a straw plaiter (as were many women at the time as St Albans and Luton, Beds, were the centre of the straw hat trade) with their daughter Eliza BENNETT was 30 years old, an unmarried straw plaiter - both born Leverstock Green. The location within St Michaels is not specified on the census return but a check of the neighbours shows one was a William COOPER, hay dealer. A check in the 1882 trade directory shows that William COOPER is listed as a hay dealer in Leverstock Green - so I suspect that John and Hannah BENNETT probably lived in or near Westwick - which is close to the parish boundary between St Michaels and Leverstock Green - but much closer to the latter.

B.T.W. At the time of the 1881 census James BENNETT was a footman in the household of Lord Cavendish at 21 Carlton Terrace, St Martin In Fields, London.


The 1881 census entry for the OAKLEY family shows how careful you must be - as it seems certain that the family is the right one - but the places of birth appear to be unreliable. Errors could have occurred at several stages. The original return, which may have been from verbal answers, particularly if Henry OAKLEY was illiterate, may simply have said "Leverstock Green" and "Westwick" and when the enumerator copied the information into the census book added "Hunts" - because he was confusing it with Leverston, Hunts, and wrote "Cambs" because he knew there was a village called Westwick in Cambridgeshire. However he may have correctly recorded "Leverstock Green, Herts" and the person making the index could not read his writing and misread "Herts" as "Hunts" - and then coded it as Huntingdon(shire). I cannot explain the "Lincoln" - could the indexer have misread a very difficult "Herts" as "Lincs"??? The answer to this question may become clearer when, like all good genealogists, you check the microfilm of the original census book at your nearest LDS Family History Centre (address given on the familysearch website).

It is possible that the family reference to St Michael's, Huntingdon [Hunts?], may also be a misread of St Michael's, Herts.


With reference to your 20th century links with the Hemel Hempstead area I carried out some extensive research on the First World War when I wrote the book "The London Gunners come to Town". B. OAKLEY is recorded on the Leverstock Green and Hemel Hempstead Town war memorials - but not on the John Dickinson's war memorial - which suggests he did not work at the Dickinson's paper mill.. (You should be able to get more details from the War Graves web site.) The only OAKLEY references in the book are to the firm BAGNELL & OAKLEY and to Private E. T. OAKLEY who was one of the members of "F" Company, Hertfordshire Regiment (Territorial Force) and who would probably have been one of the part-time soldiers who was on their annual camp at Ashridge (a few miles north of Hemel Hempstead) when war was declared in 1914, and who was on the Western Front for Christmas 1914.