BONE, Flamstead, late 19th century

May 2001




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.

Arthur Bone (arthur.bone @t of Ontario, Canada, writes "In the 1881 census my .great grandfather James Bone (61) and his wife Sarah (63) were living with his wife at Pie Corner Cottage. Is there any way of checking the Flamstead cemeteries to see when they died. They lived most of their lives in Flamstead, so it would be logical they were buried in Flamstead. Also what was Pie Corner Cottage. Would it be as we say a seniors residence?"

There is a lot to be learnt by looking at neighbours in the 1881 census - and not just extracting your relatives and ignoring the rest. If you look the census you will find that there were 12 cottages at Pie Corner, Flamstead. I list the heads of households, many of whom had large families:

Jonas FLITTON, 78, Ag Lab Thatcher
Mathew WRIGHT, 46, Ag Lab Ploughman
Frederick BANDY, 48, Ag Lab
William GODFREY, 72, Ag Lab Retired
William BANDY, 30, Ag Lab
Alfred BURGESS, 32, Coachman
Abel GODFREY, 32, Ag Lab
George GINGER, 60, Ag Lab Ploughman
Thomas DUMBLETON, 51, Blocker (Straw Hat)
James BONE, 61, Straw Manufactor (Plait)
Josiah GREGORY, 59, Ag Lab
Thomas CHALKLEY, 49, Ag Lab

You will see that all but one of of the cottages were occupied by working men - including your ancestor - and they would appear to be completely normal country cottages. A number of them may have been tied cottages - for men who worked on a local farm - perhaps nearby Church End Farm, Flamstead. It may be that the retired agricultural labourer was only in residence because his kind-hearted former employer had not evicted him when he was no longer working. For the vast majority of the population you worked till you dropped and then died at home or - horror of horrors - you ended your days in the dreaded workhouse. The comparatively well-to-do would have normally employ domestic servants to care for them in their own home. Occasionally a kind benefactor would build and endow some alms houses - although there might well be restrictions as to who might qualify to have one. Thomas Saunders erected four in Flamstead in 1669 and there were also 16 cottages associated with the Beechwood Estate erected in the 19th century - with former employees of the estate undoubtedly have had first call on the accommodation.

The book A New History of Flamstead has several pages mentioning Pie Corner, and some of the people who lived there - but not James Bone. However it is clear from the book that in the late 19th century there were 12 cottages. Four were in a 17th century farmhouse - split into four - and now one again. There as also a double row of thatched cottages - which if I read the book aright consisted of 8 dwellings. These may well be the old cottages at Church End, illustrated in the book, which were condemned as unfit for habitation in the 1930's and demolished. By comparing the 1881 census with the 1871 and 1891 census (on microfilm) you may be able to deduce whether your ancestor lived in the former farm house or the thatched cottages.

The Hertfordshire Family History Society have indexed many church graveyards, including St Leanard's, Flamstead, which may be brought from them on microfiche.