HALSEY, Berkhamsted, late 18th century

July 2001



Gt Gaddesden


John Halsey (Berkojohn258 @t of Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, says I have just started doing my Family Tree and have been getting on very well until I got back to a George Halsey who was born in 1797 or 1799. Age given on the 1851 and 1861 census.  I know that he married a Jane Mead at Ivinghoe in 1819 and I have details of her parents.  I have a copy of the wedding record but it does not give his parents.  He is believed to come from Berkhamsted.  I can guess his parents and Grand parents but would like some advise as to how I can confirm the details.


The obvious place to look is the Berkhamsted parish register - which is not indexed on familysearch for the period you seek. In fact you are lucky in that Berkhamsted is indexed on the British Vital Records CD and one of the 590 Hertfordshire Halsey and variant spellings indexed on this CD is a George Halsey, born 6 Nov 1797, baptised on 3 Dec 1797 in Great Berkhampstead, - parents William and Sarah Halsey.

John Halsey (Berkojohn258 @t replied: Many thanks for the information and I had found this George who was the fourth child of William and Sarah.  I suspect that this is the right one but was looking for some way to confirm the connection in view of the two years of birth in the Census's.  I have found details of Williams parents also but I am loath to go any further back in case I am following the wrong line.

Even if the year matched exactly there is no guarantee - see the Ivory example in Right Name, Wrong Body. In fact census ages may not be accurate - particularly if the people were illiterate. If you count the number of people of specific ages you will find that, for example, there are far more people aged 50 than there are aged 49 or 51. This is undoubtedly because a significant number of ages were guesses by the census enumerator. There can also be transcription errors when the census enumerator copied the age into the book, or when someone transcribed a modern copy - especially if there is a check mark partly obscuring the age column. Errors in age of a couple of years are common.

If I were you I would assume the the George baptised in 1797 is the right one - as you will find even greater uncertainties earlier on. For instance, how do you know that "William's parents" are William's parents? I suspect the evidence is weaker than that for George - where you at least have a good (but not perfect) match on age.

August 2001

John Halsey (Berkojohn258 @t replied: Once again many thanks for your input and your advice.  Having now adopted this George Halsey I can start to work further back.  The evidence for William's parents I am fairly happy with for when William Halsey married Sarah COLLYER on the 1st May 1790 at Aldbury, by the Rev.P.Blythe, the witnesses were recorded as Mary Halsey, Fanny MORETON and Issac MORETON. A check of the local Halsey families for this time revealed that a Joseph Halsey married to an Elizabeth KNOWLES was living in Northchurch.  They had 9 children including a Mary born 1755 and a Fanny born 1768.  A Fanny Halsey married an Issac MORETON at Northchurch on 26 November 1789. They fit very nicely into the puzzle so to speak.

What you say about uncertainties is certainly true.  On the IGI is a listing for a Sarah Halsey, b.3 March 1798. It states that it is a relative of Maria, this could be the Grand Daughter of 1797 George.  The fiche however gives no further help regarding the source of the information, so is this a lost relative I wonder.

Also on the IGI is a David Halsey who married a Francis PEACOCK on 21 December 1831 at Northchurch.  The fiche shows the witnesses as a Susan Halsey and a Henry MEAD (Jane's father?).  Again I cannot find the link unless it should read Daniel son of William and Sarah.  The Susan is unknown to me.

Thanks for the helpful update on your progress. Just a passing comment at this stage to note that there are a large number of Halsey in the 1851 census for the Berkhamsted area - but this does not include David and Francis .

June 2009

Rodney Halsey (roddey @t of Ivinghoe writes: I have information that the George Halsey who wed on 11 Oct 1819 to a Jane Mead was born in St Margrets nr Hemel Hempstead, at that time in the parish of Ivinghoe.


Detail from a 1798 map (Stockdale)


You don't say why you believe George Halsey was born in St Margarets but it is worth looking at what the census returns say, as they were  were not available online when this page was first opened.

The first thing to make clear is that there are real problems about the recording of place of birth in and around Nettleden. Until 1895 the main hamlet was in Buckinghamshire as part of the parish of Pitstone, while the area around St Margarets was in the parish of Ivinghoe, Bucks. Most people living in Nettleden area used Great Gaddesen Church (in Hertfordshire), while the adjacent hamlet of Frithsden was part in Buckinghamshire (Pitstone Parish) and part in Hertfordshire (Berkhamsted Parish). At the beginning of the 19th century most people living in the area would be illiterate and errors and misunderstandings over the place and/or county of birth are common.

The 1851 census shows George Halsey aged 52, born Berkhamsted, Herts, and his wife Jane, 48, born Ivinghoe, Bucks, living in St Margarets, Ivinghoe, Bucks. His son Daniel was 12.

The 1861 census shows George Halsey aged 61, born Berkhamsted, Herts, and his wife Jane, 58, born St Margarets, Bucks, living in St Margarets, Ivinghoe, Bucks. His son Daniel, 21, was also listed.

The 1871 census shows George Halsey aged 75, born Berkhamsted, Herts, as a widower, with son Daniel, 33 born at St Margarets, living in St Margarets, Ivinghoe, Bucks.

Also in 1871 a George Halsey aged 75 , born Hemel Hempstead, Herts, is shown living in Frithsden with his neice Susan Wells, a 65 year old widow born in Great Gaddesden, Herts. (There is no sign of this George Halsey in the 1851 or 1861 census.)

The 1851 census shows Susan Wells (already a widow) living with her mother Elizabeth Halsey (also a widow) born at Bourne End, Herts.

More investigation is needed but it is possible that George Halsey (born Berkhamsted) normally lived at St Margarets, but on the night of the 1871 census he was staying with his niece - and got recorded twice. If so Elizabeth Halsey of the  1851 census, was the widow of George's brother. It is quite possible that Susan did not know where he was born, and "Hemel Hempstead" was a guess - as if the identification is correct she seemed uncertain about her own age!

However one must always remember Right Name, Wrong Body - especially as Halsey was quite a common name in the area. 

January 2011

Denise Borrell (deniseborrell @t of Brisbane Australia, has only been researching her family tree for a few months but has already discovered she is linked to the George Halsey discussed above. I document the connection below:

1841 Census: Living at St Margarets, Buckingahmshire (from Ancestry)

HALSEY, George 40 Ag Lab Bucks
HALSEY, Jane 35   Bucks
HALSEY, James 15 Ag Lab Bucks
HALSEY, William 13 Ag Lab Bucks
HALSEY, Charlotte 10   Bucks
HALSEY, Emma 8   Bucks
HALSEY, John 6   Bucks
HALSEY, George 6   Bucks
HALSEY, Frederick 4   Bucks
HALSEY, Daniel 2   Bucks

1861 Census: Living in Great Gaddesden village close to the National School & Parish Church (from FindMyPast)

HALSEY, George Head 27 Hay Carter St Margarets, Bucks
HALSEY, Sarah Wife 25 Straw Plaiter [Hemel] Hempstead
HALSEY, Edward Son 3   Great Gaddesden
HALSEY, Emma Daughter 0 (3M)   Great Gaddesden

Edward Halsey, son of George Halsey, married Fanny Lovett, daughter of George Lovett, at Great Gaddesden on 9 August 1879 (from FamilySearch)

Fanny Lovett is Denise's Great Great Aunt

1881 Census: Baydens Camp [Bridens Camp], Great Gaddesden (from FindMyPast)

HALSEY, Edward Head 22 Labourer Agric Great Gaddesden
HALSEY, Fanny Wife 23 Straw Plaiter Great Gaddesden
HALSEY, Ann Marie Daughter 1   Great Gaddesden

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

Page updated January 2011