Answers to Questions


BARNES, Rickmansworth, mid-19th century

June 2001




Glenda (baruna @t of Western Australia asked the ENG-HERTFORDSHIRE-L list  Would SKS be able to look at the 1851 census for Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, for a Barnes family. I am looking for Jocelyn Barnes who would have been 10 in 1851 - he is listed at being 40 in the 1881 census. I have no other details of this Barnes family and would like to know details of other members of the family and occupations.

I don't have access to the 1851 census, but a check of the 1881 census shows that Jocelyn Barnes was then the Rector of North Huish, Devon. This immediately suggests that his parents would have been well-to-do - and so listed in the trade directories of the period. A quick check shows that John Barnes, esq., of Chorley Wood, Rickmansworth, is listed in the 1839 Pigot's Directory and the 1850 Post Office Directory. As the family was almost certainly Anglican a check in the Rickmansworth register index on the British Vital Records CD seemed appropriate and Jocelyn Barnes, son of John and Sarah Barnes was christened at Rickmansworth on 30th September, 1838. No other children are recorded. He is obviously a year or two older than you were expecting - but was at least born after civil registration had begun - so you can order his birth certificate from HALS.

July 2001

Glenda (baruna @t replied: you have me intrigued.  When you said that Jocelyn was Rector of North Huish in 1881 and that he therefore must have come from a well-to-do family - how did you come to this conclusion???  Was there something about being a Rector which was class orientated???  He must have been from a well-to-do family given the family that his daughter married into - Mary Hilda his daughter married Leslie Hay Macnaghten - a close relative of the Sir Francis Workman Macnaghten of Ireland (formerly of Scotland).  Sorry if I sound ignorant of the class system!!! If John Barnes is an ESQ does that mean that he had independent means and therefore no occupation is listed??

One of the hymns which everyone learnt at school during the first half of the 20th century was "All Things Bright and Beautiful" which was written by Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) It contained the verse:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate
He made them high and lowly
And order'd their estate.

This verse has been omitted from recent versions of the Hymn book as no longer being politically correct!

A well-to-do propertied gentleman would expect his eldest son to follow on with the estate and the younger sons would be educated at "public" schools such as Harrow and Eton (i.e. at private schools for the sons of the elite) and end up in the professions. As the universities were originally religious teaching establishments belonging to the Church of England this provided an ample supply of reverend gentlemen, often of independent means, to populate the large and commodious rectories and vicarages appropriate to their standing. The non-conformists were far more egalitarian and if your Jocelyn was a Baptist Minister I would have been far more wary about making predictions about his father - although I would probably expect him to come from a reasonably well-to-do shop keeping family or something of a similar status.

The mid-19th century trade directories separately listed the "gentry" (usually Esq. if no grander title) from those who where there because they were involved in trade. This does not mean that the gentry (which included Reverend gentlemen, and professional people) did not have an occupation - but that it was not carried on from their grand house.

While the class system was not that rigid it is reasonable to work on the basis that children marrying outside their social group would be greatly frowned upon. Occupation is often a key clue to social structure - but one needs to be careful. One branch of my wife's family were nail makers and another branch made pins. In the first group every member of the family over the age of about 5 made nails - as did most other people living in the same street, and each house had a forge in the garden. The other branch was at the other end of the scale - having climbed the social tree because of their active involvement in the Industrial Revolution. They lived in a grand house and owned a factory sweat-shop full of child labour. Emigration was another way to shake off at least some of the restrictions of the class system - which was probably at its most rigid in small rural communities.

March 2003

Glenda (baruna @t writes:  I have ascertained that John Barnes Esq lived at Chorleywood House and was the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire.  Given his high office I have been unable to find records of him or his family relating to when he took up the position, from whence he came or how long he held the position for. There are no records on the IGI regarding this family.  I know another son was Col. Osmond Barnes CB who was born in 1834 at 7 Bryanston Sq London. Do your records show any reference to him or his family or details about the property which sounds like it is a significant house in the region.

Chorleywood House was not one of the big houses listed in the 1866 Kelly's directory, which only lists John Barnes at being at Chorleywood (under Rickmansworth). The 1882 directory lists a George J Robinson at Chorley Wood House, and a Mrs John Henry Barnes living in the area - but does not consider the house worthy of mention. However the 1882 directory records that the church was rebuilt in 1870, with money contributed (in part) by the late John Henry Barnes. The house is not listed in Pevsner's Buildings of Hertfordshire.

While it should be possible to to find more information about someone who was prominent enough to be a High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, I suggest that you concentrate first on getting some basic information from the census returns for 1851, 1861 and 1871 - which should not only tell you about the members of the Barnes family in the house at the time - but also the live-in domestic servants, and possibly any gardeners, stable boys, etc, living in associated buildings. You may also be able use the census to identify the house on the large scale OS map at old-maps - see Locating Census Addresses on Maps. The census returns may suggest some birth, marriage and death certificates you might get to fill in other details.

Bearing in mind how big Western Australia is, you are lucky to be relatively close to places where you can look up the key information for yourself. Having spent several hours watching sea birds on the coast near Mandurah, I know first hand that Rockingham (where there is an LDS Family History Centre where you could arrange to view the census returns) is less than an hour's drive away. In addition you are not far from Perth where copies of the birth, marriage and death indexes are available in the Perth Cultural Centre - and possibly in other specialist collections. It might well be worth looking at the will indexes - as I am sure there will be a copy somewhere in Perth.

 Once you have got the basic family age, relationships, occupation and place of birth information from the census returns let me know and I will then be in a position to suggest where further information might be found,

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


Page updated April 2005