MASCALL, Sawbridgeworth, circa 1900

December 2002

Martyn Savage [msavco @t] of Southampton writes: I am endeavouring to find out more about my mothers side of our family, (Mascall, Wilcher, Newton) as it seems to be more interesting than my fathers ancestors. I recently found my grandfather's death certificate in an envelope whilst redecorating my mum's house (that's another story). In that envelope was a news paper article describing the 60th wedding anniversary of my great aunt Rosetta. She was married to a John Mascall at Great Amwell church in around 1913 as the article eludes to the weather being similar to that prevailing during the marriage of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, which took place in 1973.

The only individual you have identified with sufficient detail for me to give advice is John Mascall and I will use him to demonstrate how information can be extracted from the 1901 census.

However the starting point to your task should be the 60th wedding anniversary cutting. It is likely, from what you say, that the anniversary took place shortly after the Royal wedding as newspapers only make such comments if they are topical. As the Royal Wedding took place on 14th November 1973 it is likely that the Mascall wedding took place in the last 6 weeks of 1913 and even if it was not until 1914 you should have no difficulty in getting a copy of the marriage certificate from HALS, which hold the Great Amwell registers. This will give you significant addition information, including Rosetta's maiden name, and the name of both fathers.

You don't give the ages of the couple - and the news article may give a clue - but I decided to see if I could find John Mascall in the online 1901 census, starting with the assumption that he was about 25 years old when he married.

I therefore visited the 1901 web site and carried out a search for all people called John Mascall aged 13 years old in 1903 (plus or minus 13 years) and got the following response.

John Mascall


Lanc St Helens

Lancashire St Helens


John Mascall


Herts Sawbridgeworth

Hertford Sawbridgeworth


John Mascall


Norfolk Yarmouth

Borough Of Gt Yarmouth Gorleston

Apprientice Marine Engineer

John Mascall


Essex Stansted

Essex Stansted

Clerak & Cashier

John Mascall


West Bromwich Staffs

West Bromwich West Bromwich

Labourer Brickworks

There appears to be only one John Mascall of a suitable age in Hertfordshire, the 12 year old living in Sawbridgeworth. However the 22 year old living in Stansted, Essex is not that far away. In addition one only has to note the spelling of "Apprientice" and "Clerak" to realise that there could be other entries where the name Mascall had been mis-recorded or mis-transcribed. At this point the "correct" procedure is to purchase a copy of the relevant page online to see what the census return says.

However there is a way in which you can identify other people with the same surname, on the same page of the census return. Each entry has a "hidden" page number associated with it and in the case of 12 year old John Mascall this is 570581. You can get the number by right clicking on the person's name and selecting "properties".

If you then carry out a search for all the Mascall's in Sawbridgeworth and look at their hidden number you can identify the following individuals, all listed on the same page, and so possibly in the same house and same family, all born and living in Sawbridgeworth:

Joseph Mascall


Nursery Labourer

Annie Mascall



William Mascall


Nursery Labourer

Joseph Mascall


Corn Miller

George Mascall


Corn Miller

John Mascall



Thomas Mascall



Alfred Mascall



Annie Mascall



Nellie Mascall



Bertie Mascall



Of course this approach does not tell you whether there are other people in the house with different surnames (for instance a mother-in-law, servants, boarders, etc) and only gives a single name when more than one given name (or initial) is recorded in the book. There may well be other information, such as house name or number which the approach does not give you. For this reason it is still appropriate to buy a copy of the page - but at least you know what to expect.

Using the above information it is possible to go straight to the 1881 census online  at familysearch and find the following family living in Barkers Lane, Sawbridgeworth:

Joseph Mascall Head 25 General Labourer Sawbridgeworth
Annie Mascall Wife 19   Sawbridgeworth
Elizabeth Mascall Daughter 2   Sawbridgeworth
William Mascall Son 7m   Sawbridgeworth
William Austin Boarder 36 Nursery Labourer Cambridge

The above shows that, if you can identify someone in the 1901 census you may be able to start building a family tree, with enough information to purchase the appropriate birth and marriage certificates, to search online indexes such as familysearch, etc., and check the relevant parish registers.

June 2005

Kay Down nee Mascall (kaydown @t writes: I am Bertie Mascall's grand daughter and Joseph Mascall's great grand daughter. My father may be able to answer questions for you. He is 80 years old but has a good memory. Some relatives of ours still live in and around Sawbridgeworth. Joseph had a very large family of 14 children, Grandpa Bertie was the youngest.

There is a web page for Sawbridgeworth


January 2004

NEWTON, Brickendon, late 19th century

Pauline Brewer (pauline.brewer @t writes: I stumbled on the Wilcher/Newtons Hertfordshire while trying to trace my maternal family line - the Newtons.

Rosetta Wilcher and family are in the 1901 census as Wilcker - reference RG13/1279 page 13.  Listed there with husband George, kids Rosetta, Violet and Dailey (or Bailey). Rosetta was the second youngest child of James and Ann Newton.  You can find them in the 1881 census in Brickendon.

 Name  Relation Gender Age Birthplace Occupation
 James NEWTON   Head   Male   50   Hertford   Labourer Sewerage (Works) 
 Ann NEWTON   Wife   Female   46   Hertford     
 Rufus NEWTON   Son   Male   15   Hertford    Ag Lab 
 David NEWTON   Son   Male   12   Hertford    Scholar 
 Abel NEWTON   Son   Male   3   Hertford    Scholar 
 Rosetta NEWTON   Daur   Female   9   Hertford    Scholar 

I believe they are the family of my great grandfather James William Newton who was the oldest son of James and Ann (Draper) Newton. However, because there are so many James Newtons hailing from Hertfordshire, I haven't been able to confirm this.

My reason for contacting you is that the youngest son of this family Abel Newton died at aged 15 in 1892 and I wondered if you knew of any newspaper articles relating to an accident involving him. I understand that illness took many young lives at this time but the Newton family appear to be disgustingly healthy and long lived so I thought an accident might be a scenario to look into to get more information of this set of Newtons.

The fact that those who survived into adulthood lived long is no indication that there were no child deaths due to illness. In fact the 6 year gap between the birth of Rosetta and that of Abel may well indicate that there had been a child in between who died. There is little point in thinking about the press until you have purchased the death certificate, which will give the cause of death. 

If Abel died from illness the appropriate local newspaper may not even have had a one line death announcement - which is the most the majority of people who are mentioned got. If the death certificate is signed by a coroner this indicates that there was an inquest and there may be a mention in the local newspaper but don't hold your breath. I suspect that if he died from an illness such as pneumonia which was triggered by injuries this would have been treated as a normal death and no inquest would have been held. (In my own work with the St Albans paper, the Herts Advertiser, in the late 19th century I cannot remember seeing a single coroner's report where the person died more than a few days after the incident.)

May I suggest that you have a good look at the help files about family events, and in particular civil registration. For instance you should easily be able to sort which James Newton is which by the purchase of a small number of birth and/or marriage certificates.

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


Page updated June 2005