AMES/EAMES, St Albans, 19th century

September 2001

Sue Schreuder (sue.schreuder @t of Wellington, New Zealand, writes: Thanks for all the work you have put into your site.  Makes very interesting reading. After much searching I have traced my ancestor James AMES back to your area. He was born 17 July 1808 to Thomas AMES and Ann PERRY (married 25 Feb 1797 St Peters, St Albans) at Newgate, Sandridge, Herts.  There were 12 children it seems.  Is the name Ames a common one in this area as I see a newspaper story on your site which mentions a Colonel Ames. James ran away to sea as a lad and ended up in New Zealand where he started another branch of the family.  Is seafaring a common occupation for people of this area?  He was a whaler for some time, working out of Australia and then in NZ.  Any info you can give me would be very gratefully received.

In addition to the ASSAULT in Wood in 1868 I have a several other press references to Colonel Lionel Ames. The Herts Advertiser of 10th October 1868 reported a similar case. Thomas Young of Wheathampstead appeared before the court for trespassing on the land of Charles B D Garrard, the witnesses being John Smith (gamekeeper to Colonel Ames) and Police Constable Best. Later the same month Colonel Lionel Ames is described as a parliamentary candidate while in July 1870 a Mr Lionel Ames was one of a very large number of people making a donation to St Albans Hospital. The 1881 census shows Augusta P. Ames, widow of Coln. Ames, living at the Rectory, Ayott St Lawrence, with a daughter Edith Ames (24, born London) and son Oswald (18, Sub. Lieutenant in the Herts Militia, born London), two visitors and eight live-in servants including a coachman and two footmen.

It is clear that Colonel Ames was a rich gentleman, who probably brought his military commission, and who probably took the Rectory at Ayot St Lawrence in the mid 1860's (after son Oswald was born) as his country home. A check of the 1871 census microfilm should hopefully reveal his place of birth - and will probably reveal no earlier connection with the St Albans area. Because of his status (particularly if he was elected M.P.) there should be many records of his activities.

Unfortunately he is probably not related to your James Ames. While the name Ames is virtually unrecorded in the indexed censuses for St Albans the alternative spelling Eames is very common, with over 70 in the St Albans area (including villages) in the 1851 census and 63 in St Albans (not including villages) in 1881. It may well be that some of these are brothers or sisters (or nephews and nieces) of your James. A quick glance at a few suggests they were mainly labourers and in a very different social class to Colonel Ames - see All things bright and beautiful.

Newgate Farm is due East of St Albans (as it was) on Sandpit Lane, and technically it is the parish of St Peters - although it is right on the boundary with the parish of Sandridge. I haven't checked but it should be possible find it on Old maps but now it is lost in the greatly expanded city of St Albans.

I wonder if the reason James ran away was to avoid the law as I note in Transported beyond the Sea that 13 year old John Ames of St Peters, St Albans, was transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1838 for breaking and entering. As Hertfordshire is inland he probably went to London and joined a ship in the docks there.

Sue replied: Many thanks for posting your answer on your site and for all the information.  I have now had the film for births deaths and marriages for the Sandridge parish and have found the entries for the children.  They were all named Ames in the parish registers although there were also a couple of Eames marriages there as well for other people.  I wondered whether the vicar only spelled the name one way but it seems that this is not the case.  I am now ordering the films for the 1841 and 1851 census information for Sandridge and also for St Albans - St Stephen and St Michael St Peter.  Hopefully this will cover the correct area.  I have also written to a number of Ames in the local telephone directory in St Albans to see if they are descendants.

I had already checked the convict records for James Ames and although there is one there he came from Taunton near Bath and was a Brazier and tinker. He was also the right age.   He was transported to Tasmania in Australia but was still in prison when our James was getting married in Sydney. I also thought it might be a bit of leap to be Chief Mate aboard a ship.  

So if he did run away after doing something naughty, it seems that the law did not catch up with him. 

When he was in New Zealand he could read and write so I wonder if he went to school - from what I could see in the registers not many of the men from labouring families could sign their names although some of the women could.  An Ann Ames signed as a witness at the wedding of William Lovett and Martha Eames on 1 Feb 1794 and also signed at her own wedding to William Wright in Feb 1798.  I wonder if she was a sister of Thomas Ames.  An Elizabeth Eames married Peter Poulter on 17 April 1802 but in the register it looks as though the E was added to Ames as they are both capitals?  I wonder how interchangeable these names are?

If you have any other suggestions on things to look at please let me know.  I very much appreciate your time.

October 2003

Tony Grant (tonypgrant @t wrote: Whilst undertaking a project to try and trace the history of local borders, I was drawn into the history and people of Hyde (Beds) and thus found your response to Sue Schreuder, Sept 2001. This and other issues has lead me to create, which I think may be of interest to others on research. 

Hyde is the parish in Bedfordshire to the south of Luton, and is surrounded on three sides by Hertfordshire, so is of interest to this web site. The section on East Hyde contains interesting information on Colonel Lionel Ames, and his family, and hence is relevant to the above answer, although there is no evidence of a close link to the Ames family being researched. 

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