Answers to Questions


SHERWOOD, Baldock area, 1750-1810

September 2001




Margaret Love (lovem02 @t of Dalkeith, Western Australia, records that James Sherwood and Anne Bailey were married at Baldock in Hertfordshire on 18 October 1763. They had sons:-

William born/baptised 1764 at Radwell
Richard born/baptised 1770 at Norton
Peter born/baptised 1775 at Norton

She asks: Do you know of anyone searching this line of  Sherwoods? For several reasons I think that our great-great grandfather Richard Sherwood just might be this Richard.

In an earlier message she wrote: We know that our great-great-grandfather Richard, a bricklayer/builder of 20 Cornwall Rd., in the parish of St Mary Lambeth, Surrey, died at Waterloo in 1831 at the age of 61 years which makes him a perfect fit in terms of date. According to Holden's Triennial Directories for 1808, a Richard and a Peter Sherwood had a bricklaying and plastering business at College St., Lambeth until about 1820, when they set up separate businesses (or perhaps Peter died). All this fits into what we know of Richard. The fact that this Peter named one of his sons Bailey is significant, and Richard's elder son Cashe named one of his sons William, so the naming tradition holds fast. Or is all of this just co-incidence? Our Richard's younger son Frederick came to Western Australia in 1843 and the family story is well documented thereafter. In fact I have written a book about them entitled "The Sherwood Papers: A Swan River Story". But we would love to know where Richard and his wife Elizabeth (surname unknown), came from. Is it Hertfordshire? Is that where Frederick learned to make beer (he established the Swan Brewery)? If Peter IS his brother, where did that family go? Richard's other son Cashe married Susannah Druce in 1820 in Lambeth and we have no further record of him either.

Your ancestors clearly had a eye for a good place to live when they chose the Swan River. I have several photographs I took of birds while walking along the north side of Matilda Bay and back to my hotel in Perth via Kings Park during a visit some 10 years ago. - But I digress.

In many such cases it is impossible to find indisputable documentation but it is often possible to significantly raise the odds of being correct. The first stage is to check the area to ensure that Richard Sherwood, and/or his brother Peter, did not die in Norton in infancy (checking the burial registers) or marry someone else and continue to live in the area.

On the positive side you know that a Richard and Peter Sherwood had a bricklaying and plastering business at College St., Lambeth in 1808 and if it can be shown that the Norton Sherwoods were in the building trade this would be a strong positive point. My own records are not extensive enough to show this directly but it may well be significant that the 1839 Pigot's Directory shows that Peter Bailey was a bricklayer in nearby Ashwell. [See the Ashwell page - as it may be possible to get more information about the Bailey's in Ashwell.]

Local records from the right time period are available on microfilm that could well include references to a builder- as a quick glance at the LDS library catalogue at familysearch shows. In Baldock these include the churchwardens' account book - and your ancestors may well have been employed to repair the church.  The overseer's accounts for Norton are also available and there could be a reference there. Occasionally militia records contain occupation information, and at least can give clues as to who lived in the village, and when.

It could well be worth checking to see when James Sherwood died and checking to see if there was a will. Most people who died around the end of the 18th century did not, so it is a long shot, but if he died in Norton (or nearby) HALS may have a copy. However there is also the possibility that James moved to Lambeth with his family and died there before 1808.

As a final point, have you tried the Sherwood mailing list on Rootsweb,

P.S. I note that you ignored the daughters in your account. their names can be helpful in matching families - see The Inheritance of Single Christian Names - and not just the sons.

May 2006

Margaret Love (lovem02 @t has done further wok on the family which is not directly linked to Hertfordshire and also asked As our Richard Sherwood's son Frederick was the founder of The Swan Brewery in Perth, Western Australia I now wonder if any of the Sherwood family in Hertfordshire in the years 1700- 1850 were in the brewing industry there. Is there any way that I can find out - lists of Hertfordshire brewers, brewery staff etc?

Reasonably comprehensive directories for Hertfordshire really only started in about 1851 - although some of the bigger towns, including Baldock, were listed earlier. The Pigot's Directory for 1823 records that:

The staple commodity of Baldock is malt, of which, and barley, considerable quantities are sold in the weekly market, which is kept on Friday. A brewery on a most extensive scale has been for a considerable period carried on here by Mr. Pryor, the beer made at it is of superior body and flavour resembling London porter in a great degree.

I have also had a look at the 1790s Universal British Directory and the 1851 Post Office Directory. In no case is a Sherwood listed for any occupation in Baldock. It is clear that many men would have been employed - and it may well be that the Sherwoods were involved as employees. Your best bet would be the Baldock Militia List - published by the Herts Family History Society which list names and occupations for the latter part of the 18th century.

There are also surviving documents relating to the breweries in Baldock, mainly at HALS - see the National Archives Index - but you (or an agent working for you) would need to look at the original documents in the records office where they are held. A quick look suggests many days work would be involved and there is no guarantee that anything relevant would be found. 

May 2008

Margaret Love (lovem02 @t wrote: Chris will be interested to know that I have located the descendants of Richard's brother Peter - in Queensland and now have no doubt that we are related. But we would still like to know anything that can be found about their father James Sherwood. He might have died in London but we cannot prove that so far.

Since my earlier reply a most helpful book Brewers in Hertfordshire has been published. There is a lot about Baldock in the book - but the name Sherwood does not appear in the index.

Link updated May 2008