BENNET, Redbourn, SOMERS, Buckland, circa 1900

December 2002

Alan Burroughs of Elam, Kent writes: Thomas Luke Bennet was my grandfather and given as the licensed victualer of the The Crown, RedbournCatherine Louisa Somers was my grandmother whose parents (I think) were John Barnes and Marion Maud Somers, publicans at the White Horse, Buckland, Buntingford. I only have my father's birth certificate giving his father's name and profession dated 1897 and issued at St. Albans.  Do you know of any records relating to either family?  It is possible that  T. Luke emigrated (or even came from) to Vancouver.

A quick check on the 1901 census online failed to come up with obvious matches with the names you give (you can only search on first Christian names) but dozens of secondary matches which I did not have time to investigate. [Note that there are possible problems with Ben(n)et(t) and Somers, Summers, etc.] You did not give your father's name - but as you know his date of birth you may have far more luck searching for him - and hence find his parents. If you find them you will be in a far better position to find their marriage and birth certificates - and possibly entries in the online 1881 census.

Instead I had a look on the Kelly's Hertfordshire Directories issued by ArchiveCDBooks and found the following entries.

Crown, Redbourn - John Walker, 1882, 1886, 1890. Not listed 1912

White Horse, Buckland - Not listed 1882, 1886, John Somers 1890. Not listed 1912

A quick check in the book Redbourn's History reveals that the Crown was one of 19 on the main road through the town, presumably catering for passing traffic in the days before the railways took much of the traffic away. It gave its name to Crown Street and the first reference to it is 1771. The last reference they have recorded is 1889 (which may be the 1890 Kelly's directory entry) while the birth certificate you have suggests that it was still open in 1897. It may be that some of the St Albans street directories in the St Albans Central Library may cover Redbourn from about 1900 - but I am not certain.

The 1881 census shows John Walker as a Plumber & Licensed Victualler living with his family in the High Street, Redbourn. The 1851 census shows  a John Pedder, harness maker and victuller was in The Crown. These suggest that, at least since the end of the passing coaching trade, running the Crown was not a full-time commitment. Perhaps when Thomas Luke Bennet was there he also had a second business - and this may be listed in the 1898 or 1902 Kelly's Hertfordshire Directories - to which I do not have ready access (but I think there are copies at HALS).

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