GOSBELL, Great Gaddesden, early 19th century

November 2002


Stage Coaches

Gt Gaddesden

Ann Gosbell (agosbell @t aol.com) of Norwich writes: I have been doing our family tree and noticed you mentioned coaches.   Well my husband's great great great grandfather lived in Great Gaddesden.  He was a coachman, James Gosbell, wife Mary. They had several children, one a Joseph Gosbell, born 1822 in Great Gaddesden, was my husband's great great grandfather. Joseph married an Eliza Napper, and he was severely wounded in the Crimean war, receiving the Crimean Medal with 4 bars on it, presented by Queen Victoria. He was shot in the hip by a 24lb shot.  We know that he moved to Shoreditch, but I would like it if you have info on James and his wife Mary, and about him being a coachman.

You don't quote any sources in your query so, for example, I do not know whether the information that James Gosbell was a coachman comes from family tradition, from Joseph Gosbell's marriage certificate (which would give his occupation at the time Joseph married), from the entries for the baptism of Joseph from the Great Gaddesden register (which would give James's occupation in 1822.)

As  you have discovered, there is information on the coaches that ran along through Harpenden on The Road through Harpenden, and that there were major changes with the coming of the railways - with many of those who worked with horses on the road, including coachmen, loosing their jobs in the 1840's and 50's. The coachmen most affected would be those who worked on the stage coaches as it seems possible that those who worked as part of the household of big house (i.e. coachmen who acted as chauffeurs) were less likely to be out of work. Because of these changes you should, if you have not already done so, look at Joseph's marriage certificate, and also the entries in the Great Gaddesden's baptism register  for Joseph and his sibling's between 1817 and 1827. If you are lucky the family may still have been in Great Gaddesden in 1841 and/or 1851 - in which case you should be able to find them in the census microfilms - giving more information on occupations, etc.

Quite a lot of books have been published about coaches (usually concentrating on stage coaches), You might be able to borrow one through your local public library. One nice little book, which may still be in print, is Discovering Horse-drawn Vehicles, by D. J. Smith, and published by Shire Books in 1994 (ISBN 0 7478 0208 4).

I suspect that you already know that the IGI at familysearch records that James and Mary Gosbill had five children baptised at Great Gaddesden: William (13th April 1817), Charlotte (4th April 1819), Joseph (14th April, 1822), Mary (17th October 1824), and Thomas (7th October 1827).

Familysearch also indexes a marriage between a James Gosbel and Mary Jarvis at nearby Caddington, in Bedfordshire on 19th April, 1806. This may be the couple you want but there are two "difficulties" which need investigation. If they are the right couple one would have expected about four children to have been born between 1806 and 1817 and any information relating to the existence of such children would be helpful - as would any age information for James and Mary in the census returns.

The other point that needs clarifying is exactly what the register says. Familysearch also records the same marriage as involving Joseph Gosbel - as part of a private submission (which are often wrong - see The Limitations of familysearch). It is almost certain that the register say either Jas. Gosbel or Jos. Gosbel and you have little option but to look at the microfilm of the register yourself. Maybe the signatures give a clue.

One point that is worth making is a look at the familysearch entries for the surname suggests that Gosbel/Gosbill, etc., appears to be a local surname, with most 18th century and earlier entries being within about 15 miles of the Beds/Bucks and Herts boundary.

December 2002

Ann Gosbell (agosbell @t aol.com) replied:  Thanks for your info ...  all info I have found, I got from birth and marriage certificates. Joseph Gosbell's marriage certificates stated that his father was a James Gosbell  occupation  coach man. He got married in 1854 just before he was wounded, in the Crimean war. His date of birth comes from the IGI at familysearch. James was born 1780ish if the was the James who married a Mary in 1806. Joseph and his brothers and sisters were christened in Great Gaddesden. Will there be any church records to view in Great Gaddesden?   I have only found around 28 Gosbell in England. plenty in Australia.

Virtually all 19th century and earlier parish registers are held in the appropriate records office - in Hertfordshire at HALS and there are details on the HALS web site. If you visit HALS you will only be able to see microfilms, and if there is a LDS Family History Centre in Norwich (try familysearch for the address) they should be able to arrange for you to see a copy.

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