Answers to Questions


ANDERSON, Royston, mid 19th century

(Also Bassingborn and Therfield)

June 2001




 John Rouse (danensis @t of Chesterfield writes: I'm looking for my great great grandfather (James) Arthur ANDERSON who, according to the 1881 census, was born in 'Royston, Cambs.' Is this the same Royston that was in Herts? I've looked in IGI and downloaded all the Andersons in their batch file, but no Arthur!

I believe that Royston started in medieval times as a market between several villages at cross roads on the boundary between Herts and Cambs. The parish was formed in 1570 from five other parishes. It developed into a town in which part was in Hertfordshire and part in Cambridgeshire but is now all in Hertfordshire due to county boundary changes. This meant that in some places people born on opposite sides of the road may have been born in different counties, and there was plenty of scope for confusion.

I assume that your Arthur Anderson is the 29 year old railway clerk living in Doncaster with his family in the 1881 census. Had you noticed that there were several other male Andersons on the 1881 census born at Royston around the same time, who may be brothers. They include:

ANDERSON, Robert Head <1843> Birth: Hert Royston

Census: Hert Royston

ANDERSON, William Head <1848> Birth: Hert Royston

Census: Hert Royston

ANDERSON, Henry RyArt <1851> Birth: Lond Royston

Census: Kent Minster In Sheppey

People who worked in the "better educated" jobs on the railway were often moved around the country - see the research into the Aldbury Railway Workers in 1851.

I am not surprised that Arthur is not listed on familysearch - and neither are any of the possible brothers. They are also all absent from the VRI. If his absence came as any surprise to you I suggest you explore the web pages starting at family events, including the limitations of familysearch. As you know Arthur's birth year the obvious thing to do is to purchase Arthur Anderson's birth certificate from HALS. This will give you his parents' names and an address - and a check on the microfilm of the 1851 census will hopefully allow you to identify older siblings and the ages and birth places of his parents. (The census microfilm should be available to order at your nearest LDS Family History Centre - address on familysearch - which will be in Sheffield or Lichfield depending on which Chesterfield you live in.)

April 2002

John Rouse (danensis @t says: Thank you for your help with my previous query. I obtained the marriage certificate of my great-grandfather Arthur ANDERSON and Mary Eliza COPLEY from the Doncaster Register office, and they were married on Christmas day 1875, both aged 24, which means Arthur was almost certainly born in 1851 (unless his birthday was very late in December). Once again his place of birth is given as Royston, Cambs. His father was a butcher, John ANDERSON, and my mother recalls that they lived in Kneesworth Street in the centre of Royston.

The only J. Anderson, butcher,  listed in the 1851 Post Office Court & Trade Directory for Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex, is at the Common, Whetstone, Barnet, Middlesex, and there are not strong grounds for thinking that this is your John Anderson. If he was in Royston when his son got married he may have worked for a butcher such as William Allwood, High Street, or William Sell.

From what you say I suspect that you are under a misunderstanding. The marriage certificate represent the place of residence, not the place of birth.

So I wrote to HALS, and they have no record of an Arthur ANDERSON born in Royston in that year.

I wondered if anyone had access to the 1851 census, to see if there was a John ANDERSON, butcher, in Kneesworth Street at that date?

Have you yet visited your local LDS Family History Centre, where you should be able to make arrangements to search the appropriate 1851 census microfilms yourself.

I have looked in the IGI but coverage of Royston does not seem to good, there is a family of ANDERSONs at Sacomb, but I would not think they would describe themselves as coming from Royston would they?

The IGI at Familysearch shows that there were 32 Andersons baptised in Royston Parish Church (Batch number C072811) between 1800 and 1851, and this includes a John Anderson who may be you Arthur's father. There are also records for some non-conformist churches. I have no reason to suspect it is particularly defective - but as The Limits of Familysearch explains, there are many reasons why someone may not be listed. I see no reason to assume they came from elsewhere, although the 1851 census may suggest otherwise.

I have joined the Royston & District Family History Society to try and further pursue this line of enquiry.

A good idea - they are likely to have far more relevant local information than I could provide.

November 2003

John Rouse (danensis @t has provided an update: I finally got hold of the 1861 census, and found out that my ANDERSONs actually came from Bassingbourn, though my great grandfather himself put his place of birth as Therfield. However I did find his mother's name was Ann, and this has enabled me to find a marriage in FreeBMD. I am now looking at the 1851 census for Therfield to see if they were there at that time.

The 1861 census entry Film RG9/814 Piece 70 says "Kneesworth Street, Bassingbourn", then something that looks like "Leicester the Cottages". The next entry is for the railwaymen's cottages, so I wonder if this is something similar?

The family were:

John ANDERSON, Hd, 34, Labourer, Herts, Therfield.
Anne ANDERSON, Wife, 34, Cambs, Bassingbourn
Rachel ANDERSON, Dau, 11, Cambs, Bassingbourn
Arthur ANDERSON, Son, 9, Cambs, Bassingbourn
George ANDERSON, Son, 7, Cambs, Bassingbourn
Harriet ANDERSON, Dau, 6, Cambs, Bassingbourn
Louisa ANDERSON, Dau, 2, Cambs, Bassingbourn

In the 1851 census index I've found Film HO107/1708 Folio: 275A

ANDERSON, John, 24, Bassingbourn
ANDERSON, Ann, 26, Bassingbourn
ANDERSON, Rachel, 1, Bassingbourn

So presumably Arthur hadn't been born that early in the year? There is another family at the same reference, headed by a Siman (sic), 29 and Charlotte, 30.

From the marriage certificate I have found that my g-g-grandparents John ANDERSON and Ann ANDERSON, married at the New Meeting in Royston on 14 December 1848, The groom's father was George ANDERSON and the bride's father Joseph ANDERSON.

From the 1841 and 1851 census I think I can identify both families. Joseph ANDERSON was married to Mary, and in the 1881 census I have found Joseph (by then an old man) living with his daughter Ann and her son, John William on Kneesworth Street in Royston.

I wondered if anyone could tell me any more about the New Meeting? The certificate says "Married in the new meeting, Royston, Cambs, according to the rites and ceremonies of" [and then what looks like] "the Protestant Defenders of the Independent Congregations" though it is very difficult to read.

Do you know if the registers of the New Meeting deposited anywhere? Technically it was in Cambridgeshire, so we have this strange situation of half the Royston records being in one place and half in another.

There are always problems about cross-boundary records, and the general problem is discussed elsewhere under Boundary Changes.

The New Meeting is mentioned in Religion in Hertfordshire 1847-1851. Upton's 1847 survey's entry for Royston lists the parish church, two Independent chapels, and an Unitarian chapel. There is a note "The Royston Dissenting Ministers preach at Cottered and other adjacent places. The Independent Chapel (No 1) has been recently rebuilt in an elegant style and called 'St Johns Street Chapel'. Mr England the Minister has recently removed to Mill Hill School." The 1851 Ecclesiastical Census records that the Congregational Church, John Street, Royston was erected in 1843, replacing one which existed before 1800, the Minister being W G Barrett

The HALS web site should give details of the register holdings - but I don't think they have any relevant ones before 1860 - and many pre-1837 non-conformist registers have been lost. (see Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837?)

March 2005

Pam (pamster22 @t writes:  I'm tracing my family tree, Anderson is my Grandmother's maiden name. Frank Anderson is my Great grandfather and he was born in Foulmire, Cambs in 1866. His father was Job Anderson, born 1839 in Bassingbourn and his father was Joseph Anderson, born 1798 in Therfield, Herts. Joseph married Mary Dellar 20/11/1817 in Bassingbourn. I'm trying to find Joseph's parents.

It looks as if you are a cousin of  John and at about the same point as he was just over a year ago. Tracking down non-conformist families can be difficult, for reasons given above, and I suggest that at this stage you exchange notes with John Rouse.

March 2006

Claudine le Scour (clescour03 @t of Sykkylven, Norway, reports that George Anderson ( born c. 1852-54) emigrated to France before 1881, living in Chantilly, as "horse racing worker". He married Maud Drusilla Wall (1859-60 Corly ???  UK - 1898 Chantilly). They had 4 children:

I notified John Rouse (danensis @t  of Claudine's message and he replied: This is most interesting. My great grandfather Arthur ANDERSON was born 21 Dec 1851 in Royston, Cambridge and was christened 8 Feb 1852 in Royston New Meeting. His parents were John William ANDERSON, born 1825 in Therfield and christened 12 Jun 1825 in Therfield, and Ann ANDERSON (maiden name) born in Bassingbourn and christened 10 Jul 1825 in Bassingbourn. They married on 14
Dec 1848 in New Meeting, Royston. John William's parents were George ANDERSON and Mary, Ann's parents were Joseph ANDERSON and Mary DELLAR. They married on 20 Nov 1817 in Bassingbourn.

There are web pages for Royston and Therfield

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Page updated March 2006