Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


WALKER/TAYLOR, Hitchin area, circa 1900

March 2003




Barbara Dawson (rdawson1 @t bigpond.net.au) of Harbord, NSW, Australia, says she has started trying to trace my mother's family and will be coming to England shortly. George Walker and his wife Mary Anne Taylor were my mother's grandparents, they had a daughter Florence who m. Icefford and kept the Rose and Crown Public House in Hitchin, a son Joseph who kept the Eagle and Child Public House in Whitely (this is shown in the directory as St. Albans) and William Charles Taylor who retained the name Taylor and later ran the Five Bells in Meppershall. Any help at all please.  I don't seem to be able to find any of them on the 1901 census on line.

The Eagle & Child public house referred to is clearly the one at Whitwell, near St Pauls Walden, a few miles to the south of Hitchin, as the following extracts from the Kelly's Directories easily available to me (on CDs) show:

Eagle & Child, Whitwell, Welwyn

1850 J Eldred
1866 J Eldred
1882 Thomas Jeffrey
1886 Thomas Jeffrey
1890 Thomas Jeffrey
1912 Joseph Walker
1922 Mrs Louisa Hancock
1926 Andrew Nicholson
1929 Fergus Stewart
1937 Fergus Stewart
[no longer open]

The reference to Florence who married "Icefford" linked to the Rose and Crown, Hitchin, is not supported by the same evidence - but of course they may have been employees rather than the licensee:

Rose & Crown, 13 Market Place, Hitchin

1850 S Papworth
1866 S Papworth
1882 James Males
1886 James Males
1890 James Males
1912 James Males
1922 James Males
1926 George Stapleton
1929 George Stapleton
1937 John Clark

My own guess is that "Icefford" is an error (there was no-one of that name in the whole of mainland Britain in the 1881 census) and I wonder if there is a confusion in someone's memory with the village of Ickleford - a few miles north of Hitchin.

Meppershall is in Bedfordshire, and I don't have ready access to the appropriate records. It is a few miles north west of Hitchin, and just south of Shefford.

As far as the 1901 census is concerned the names George and Mary Walker are too common to make it easy to identify anyone, particularly as you give no indication of even their decade of birth. The name Florence is more unusual. With both Whitwell and Meppershall being close to Hitchin it is appropriate to look in Bedfordshire as well as Hertfordshire. A search for Florence Walker born between 1880 and 1890 (a sensible initial guess) reveals the following entry:

Florence Walker    Age: 13    Born: Beds Shefford    Living: Bedfordshire Southill    Occupation: Scholar

Southill is a couple of miles north of Shefford (and therefore not far from Meppershall and Hitchin) and a further search of the 1901 census shows that also living in Southill (possibly in the same house) was a George Walker (aged 36) and a Mary Walker (aged 37). If you think these could be your ancestors you will need to purchase a copy to find out more about the household.

If you haven't yet done so I suggest you read Visiting Hertfordshire to look for Ancestors as soon as possible, and purchase as many birth and marriage certificates before you come because of the delays in delivery.

(Enjoy your visit to England. When I worked in Australia I never went to Harbord - but Manly was my favourite Sydney beach - and I also visited Dee Why beach.)

Barbara Dawson responded: Calling from sunny Sydney.  I did write and thank you for the information but I had a good look at the dates and have now found a marriage which I think is correct for George Walker to Mary Anne Taylor in 1870 in Bedfordshire.  This would mean that the George & Mary Taylor living with Florence would mean that the George and Mary were too young to have been married 1870.  This George could, of course, have been their son but it would appear that he is too old for that. 

On the back of an old photograph I have just found a reference to the fact that
George Walker was also a publican (am not sure about this) but I do have a family wedding photograph which states that it was taken at a wedding at "The Bucks Head", Little Wymondley, Hertfordshire.  This would, I think, have been taken in the early 1900's as there is a child in the photograph whom I think must be a grandchild, aged 9 or 10.  I wonder could you tell me who ran The Bucks Head Public House.

You will be delighted to know that Kelly's directories show that a George Walker was the publican at the Bucks Head, Little Wymondley in 1912 and 1929 (and presumably in between) but not 1933. This old public house is presumably still in existence as it is mentioned in Hertfordshire Inns & Public Houses.

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