Answers to Questions


Scout Farm, Redbourn or Harpenden, circa 1800

August 2002





Dora B. Wode (vwode @t hotmail.com) nee Harris, of Cloverdale, CA, USA, asks "Where can I find information of transactions of rental or ownership of Scout Farm, Redbourn, Hertfordshire, England?"  I notice it is still on the maps and the Farm House is occupied by a commercial enterprise at present.

The information I have:

I feel there is a connection between the Bothamleys and the fact that Robert moved out to Redbourn until after the death of Elizabeth Bothamley.  In a later film I found a note about LH Harris repairing the head stone of his grandparents Joseph and Elizabeth Bothamley and that was about 1864. That would have been Langley Hilton Harris, 2nd s o  Robert and Anne and named on Alfred's Will.

Any suggestions as where to write to for land records would be helpful. 

First of all I should say it would appear that while Scout Farm is effectively on Redbourn High Street the parish boundary is such that technically it was (and may still be) in Harpenden Parish. this means that its records can turn up in either place.

Secondly there were no coordinated land ownership records at that time, with the exception of copyhold property, which was recorded in the manorial court books. For other property each main property had its own bundle of very bulky parchment deeds most of which ended in solicitors' store rooms. They are now redundant - and many were dumped (I think some were used to make glue), or the parchment made into things such as "genuinely old" lamp shades to sell to tourists. More recently it was realised that the documents could be sold individually to collectors who just want something old to put in a frame on the wall. Fortunately some have been deposited in records offices such as HALS and others may still be in privately owned collections of estate papers. This means that the task of finding the surviving documents recording the sale or leasing of a particular property is a matter of chance.

The earliest record I can find is in The Place-names of Hertfordshire which record it under Harpenden as The Scout Farm from some 1750 rental records. - but unfortunately does not identify where these records were. It also records it as Schute Farm in the 1840 Tithe Assessment. The farm is clear marked (but not named) on the 1766 Hertfordshire map by Andrews and Dury. This shows it lying in a corner of Harpenden parish immediately adjacent to Redbourn.

It is listed in the 1851 census for Harpenden as Schute Farm, the farmer being a Thomas Farr, and it is described as being of 220 acres and employing 10 men. In the 1881 census it is again under Harpenden, as The Scout Farm, farmer Edward Farr, 230 acres, employing 5 men and 3 boys. However the 1882 Kelly's Directory lists Edward Farr, farmer, Scout Farm, under Redbourn.

So where do you look. The 1750 rental suggests it was part of an estate for which some papers may have survived, and it may well be that local histories identify the most likely landowners. The Tithe Award could well give details of both ownership and occupancy in 1840. In addition the Land Tax returns for around 1800 should give both ownership and occupancy year by year, although such records may not record the name of the farm - so some detective work is needed, comparing year by year, to find out which record goes with which property.

The Land Tax returns will be a bundle of loose papers, almost certainly not microfilmed, and definitely not name indexed, at HALS. The manuscript Tithe Award would have an associated very large manuscript map, and both will hopefully be at HALS, but it is not listed in an old catalogue I have. However if they don't have it they will probably know where it is. These documents, possibly plus other items in HALS card catalogue, may well identify the landlord around 1800, and hence suggest where there may be estate papers.

November 2002

Dora B. Wode (vwode @t hotmail.com) reported on some exciting new information: I did find more information on Scout Farm. It was part of the Rothamstead Manor of William Bennett according to film 579278 from the FHL of Salt Lake City.  It follows through to 1830 with a good list of owners and tenants for Harpenden.  I did find that a William Harris was tenant 1790-1800 and Robert Harris 1800-1830 at least.  Will search further.  An informative film.

I hadn't known of this film, but was aware that many records about Rothhamsted had survived. Sir John Bennet Lawes played an important part in research into artificial fertilizer and Rothamsted is now an agricultural research centre. John Bennet Lawes began his research in 1836. Some of the early trials would have been on the estate (so perhaps the Harris family was involved if they were still his tenants then). Other research was with his father-in-law, Andrew Fountaine, at Narford Hall, near Swaffham, Norfolk. Unfortunately Lawes' commercial (rather than scientific) papers have not survived, but there is strong evidence that my great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds, first came to Hertfordshire because his uncles (Jacob and Henry Young Finch, chemists of Swaffham, Norfolk) were one of Lawes' first marketing agents.

February 2003

Dora B. Wode (vwode @t hotmail.com) writes: Would you believe I found a will of Joseph Bothamley of Hertfordshire and one part left to his eldest son the "Water Corn Mill in Parish of Redbourn"  Is this the same mill that is now listed as Redbournbury Water Mill" and recently restored.  At the time of the will dated 1791 the mill belonged to Lord Viscount Grimston.  The rest of Josephs properties were in another county.

There have been  two mills at Redbourn since the time of the Domesday book. One is Redbournbury Mill and the other has been variously known as Bettespool Mill, Malt Mill, Redbourn Mill. Little Mill and (from the mid 19th century) Do Little Mill. The latter was a paper mill in the mid-18th century but was burnt down in 1783, and rebuilt as a corn mill. Joseph Bothamley probably had this mill. More information (and a mini-photograph) is given in the book "Redbourn's History" which I believe is still in print.

August 2003

A further related query from Dora is covered by The White Horse Inn, Redbourn.

Dora B. Wode (vwode @t hotmail.com) has now visited the area and reports: I recently made a trip to Redbourn and found the old "White Horse Inn."  It is now a solicitors office and the through way to the back is still there.  Next door is still the Bull and we were able to have lunch in the old Inn part. The White Horse Inn stayed in the family until 1826.

Though we did not get to the site of the old Mill (Do Little) as it was quite a walk and raining, I did find that that was the mill  leased by the Bothamleys and then the Harris/Bothamley family until 1809. I visited the Scout Farm, right at the edge of the Redbourn village.  The house was replaced in the 1890s but the old barn was still there. All in all a wonderful trip back in time.

March 2004

John Ramm (jar @t lutonsfc.ac.uk) of Luton Sixth Form College writes: I have recently purchased an oil painting - a self-portrait - of an artist called Irvine Holness. He exhibited some works at the Royal Academy. His address was given as Scout Farm, Redbourn, Hertfordshire, in 1980. Do you know anything about this artist. Apart from hearing that he was a navigator in Lancaster bombers in the Second World war, I know nothing about him; but should like to. Any information would be gratefully received.

While this lies outside the normal scope of this site I am including this as it adds to the history of the farm.

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