BRYANT, Hinxworth & Newnham?, mid 19th Century

October 2002

Elsie Galbraith (egadflora @t  of Worcester writes: My great-grandmother Elizabeth Bryant was born in 1845 and the 1881 census gives her place of birth as New Town Hertford but I am unable to locate it. Hertfordshire registration district list (Genuki) doesn't include it. I am trying to trace her father, Edmund Bryant, occupation 'Smith' on her marriage certificate to James Greenbrook of 1870 at Bromley.

You probably already have enough information to buy a copy of Elizabeth's birth certificate from HALS without knowing where "New Town" is within Hertfordshire but a little more searching comes up with some additional clues.

In such cases it is always important that you look at the microfilm of the census rather than rely on the 1881 census CD which contains many errors. In the entry "New Town, Hertford" Hertford is undoubtedly the county and was probably written "Herts" or some similar abbreviation. "New Town" is a bit of a puzzle. It was used, particularly in census returns, for a collection of newly built houses away from the centre of a village or town. in many parts of Hertfordshire at various dates - but usually only for a few years until a more permanent name was adopted. One would expect the someone who was born 37 years earlier in a "New Town" to give the permanent name as their place of birth.

There is a possible answer if you look more carefully at the 1881 census CD, which reveals the following entry:

Dwelling: New Inn Blacksmith Shop     Census Place: Hinxworth, Hertfordshire













William SALE






Harriet SALE

Wife of Nephew




William SALE






Daisy (Dasey) SALE



10 m



Could this be the father? There is possible brother - Thomas Briant [sic], blacksmith, 27, born Hinxworth, lodging in nearby Ashwell. It may be that Isac [sic] Bryant, agricultural drainer, 37, born Hinwarlter [sic], Herts, who was living at Northaw, was another brother. There are plenty of other Bryants in the Ashwell area which might also be relatives.

If you check the online index at familysearch you will find that Betsy Bryant was christened at Hinxworth on 28th September, 1845, the daughter of Edmund and Elizabeth Bryant. This could well be your Elizabeth - and the index may well contain details of siblings, etc., and you should carry out a search for them. A look at the parish register microfilms should give more information.

But what about "New Town" ... If you look at a map of Hertfordshire you will find that a tiny village between Hinxworth (itself tiny) and the town of Baldock is called Newnham. Maybe there is an error in the 1881 census transcription or perhaps the census enumerator in Mitcham, Surrey (who would almost certainly not have known the names of the tiny villages on the Herts/Beds county boundary) may have misheard "Newnham" and wrote "New Town". It could be worth looking in the 1871 census for Bromley, Kent, or perhaps Mitcham, Surrey, to see what place of birth was given at that time - and if she was still alive then you should check the 1901 census online now.

November 2002

Elsie Galbraith (egadflora @t  replied: Thank you very much for your October posting on the Bryant family of Hinxworth, which is so exciting, and which I'm following up with huge interest.  The Elizabeth Bryant you found is almost certainly the correct one, although I haven't yet applied for her birth certificate.  Since the Census of 1881 has come on-line courtesy of the IGI I have made further additions to the Bryant family.  The variant spelling 'Briant' complicates matters very much.  I do know that Elizabeth Bryant was unable to write, as she made her mark instead of writing her name on my grandmother's birth certificate, so spelling wouldn't have been a priority.

       An interesting (to me) byway is the discovery of so many Bryants and Briants with the forename 'Green' .  This needs careful research - it is just confusing at the moment.  Many of the family were blacksmiths too - another point of interest.

Characteristic forenames and occupations can be useful indicators when you are chasing ancestors.

January & July 2003

Elsie Galbraith (egadflora @t has provided the following update: I now have a birth certificate for my great-grandmother Betsy (Elizabeth) Bryant,b.1844, who you kindly suggested might be the daughter of the blacksmith Edmund Bryant of Hinxworth who turned up in the census of 1881. The only birthplace I had been given (on her marriage certificate) was Newtown, Herts.  She is indeed the daughter of this Edmund Bryant and his wife Elizabeth nee Sale.  The address it New Inn Blacksmith's Shop, Hinxworth, so perhaps that's how the inaccuracy over Newtown came into being. Elsie later confirmed the New Inn Birth

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