SILK, Hertford, 1800-1850

June 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.

Lisa Taylor (concept1 @t of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, is researching the name Silk and Hertford has come into the picture. George SILK married Eleanor Mary FRENCH. Known surviving children (to my knowledge) are Octavia Louise Silk and Mary Ann Silk. Mary Ann also goes under the name Marie Antionette Marion and Maria. George and Eleanor may have had 2 boys names Thomas and Thomas Bonlly. All of these children were christened at St Andrews church, Hertford, (dates provided - research source Peter Lowe Index) and the family residence is listed in 1851 at Somers Town, Middlesex. Eleanor Mary Silk's parents were Marie(a) Adelaide French (nee Questel)(Questelle) and John French. John and Marie French are also listed as residing in 1851 at Somers Town, Middlesex.

Eleanor Mary Silk died 1882 aged 78. in Prahan, Melbourne, Victoria. Maria (Mary Ann) Antionette Simonsens (nee Silk) died in 1914 Carlton, Melbourne, aged 79. Something else came to mind that maybe of use. Eleanor Mary Silk was a Creole and contested a will (which was made in her favour and disputed by relatives) it was known as THE RICHMOND HILL ESTATE which in 1863 or there about was still in chancery. Eleanor Mary then came out to Australia. I am still to find the proper date when she arrived. I have a date which is Nov 1873 on the ship The Northumberland but the passenger information lists her age as being 40 and this does not add up.

I don't know the Peter Lowe Index, but the baptisms at St Andrews, Hertford, are indexed and freely available online at familysearch. In addition to the ones you know about there are two possible relevant entries on the recently issued National Burial Index - which includes burials at St Andrews. I list the suggested family:

1827? Henry Silk - buried 8 May 1835 aged 8+ (parents not given)

1828 Mary Ann Silks - baptized 7 May 1828, parents George & Eleanor SILKS

[One would have expected at least one other child in this gap]

1834 Octavia Silk - baptized 22 June 1834, parents George & Eleanor SILK

1836 Thomas Bonlly Silk - baptized 12 June 1836, parents George & Eleanor SILK

John Bentley Silk - buried 26 May 1837 aged 1 (parents not given)

I suspect these may be one and the same child - "Bonlly" looks like the kind of transcription error which one has to expect on the IGI at familysearch. Your question seems to indicate a flexible approach to naming!

1840 Thomas Silk - baptized 5 June 1840, parents George & Eleanor Mary SILK

In addition I note the following trade directory references:

1823 Pigot's Hertfordshire: No Silk listed as a attorney in Hertford

1839 Pigot's Hertfordshire: George Silk, Attorney, St Andrews Street, Hertford.

1850 Post Office Directory for Hertfordshire: No Silk listed in Hertford

And the following burial entry for St Andrews:

19 May 1830, William Silk, 47, Hertford, St Andrew

Given the above information I guess that the family's stay in Hertford was just an episode and you will need to look elsewhere for most of the information. Because George Silk was an attorney you should be able to find more about him from the law lists (some of which may be available to you on microfilm). He is also very likely to have made a will which could be an excellent source of information. It may be that the William Silk who died in 1830 was his father - so it could be worth looking for his will as well.

You say that Eleanor Mary Silk was a Creole which presumably means that she was born in the West Indies of Spanish or French ancestry and I am afraid I have no knowledge of researching this area. Information on the legal dispute you mention - and the will that caused all the problems - are also key areas to research her background - but again this is outside may area of expertise - and probably has nothing to do with Hertfordshire.

If you have not already done so I would recommend that you track the Silk family down in Somers Town in the 1851 census which should give George's place of birth - and Eleanor's country of birth.

Peter Lowe (Peter.Lowe @t Bigfoot.Com) of Hertford writes: Excellent information on your web site! I am the Peter Lowe that Lisa Taylor referred to. I guess she visited my Web site ( The Silk family is accessible more directly from . The 1851 Census lists Maria A. FRINK (?FRENCH) and grandson Thomas SILK (born 1840). Thus far I have not found any reference to George & Eleanor Mary SILK other than from the Hertford Baptisms. You mention a burial of Thomas Bentley SILK. This may be a good clue as Thomas SILK mar. Hannah BENTLEY in 1761 in Lolworth, Cambridgeshire. Maybe George Silk, attorney of Hertford, was a son or grandson of Thomas. Thomas SILK and family were from Dry Drayton. I will contact Lisa Taylor directly as well.

July 2001

Lisa Taylor (concept1 @t has now provided the following information from Eleanor Mary Silk's Australian Death Certificate: Eleanor Mary French was born about 1804, in London England and died in 1882 at Prahran, Victoria, Australia, of old age exhaustion aged 78 years), Her mother was Marie Adelaide Questel and her father was James French (planter). She married George Silk (clerk) at Kensington, London, at the age of 17, and at the time of her death her children were George (??), Charles (58), Adelaide (deceased), Ellen (54), Henry (50), Charles? (49), Marion (48, born Hertford), Emily (44), ??? (deceased), Thomas (deceased) and Octavia (36).

Don't we all wish that English death certificates were so helpful. It clearly shows that the couple had a family prior to moving to Hertford. There is not an exact match with the information from Hertford I gave earlier and it would be appropriate to look at a microfilm of the Hertford registers - as there may have been indexing errors. In addition the 1841 census for Hertford might include some additional information - although it is less detailed than the later censuses.