HORN, Little Gaddesden, late 18th, early 19th century

April, 2003



Little Gaddesden

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Mary Harvey Wright (mary.harveywright @t  eurotunnel.com) of Folkestone writes: I have been trying to find out the parentage of my ancestor Catherine HORN of Little Gaddesden born around 1790. Catherine had 7 children out of wedlock, whose baptisms are recorded in the Little Gaddesden register:

Anne         9 April 1809
Hannah     28 April 1811
Maria         17 October 1813   (mine)
Eliza         5 January 1817
William Henry     16 June 1820
Caroline Elizabeth     29 June 1823
George Thomas     10 June 1827

The father's name is not recorded on the baptism registers or on the two marriage certificates I have.

Family lore has it that she had a long and loving relationship with someone above her social status.  HALS could find no bastardy records relating to this family so there was clearly no financial drain to the Parish.

Catherine does not appear in the 1841 or 1851 census for the area and, as there seems to be a large cluster of HORN names in the Berkhamsted area as well as just over the Buckinghamshire border in Ivinghoe, it is difficult to establish her parentage.  I have also been trying to track her down in various sets of microfiches I've bought for nearby villages, but so far no luck!

It's inspiration I need, I've run out of ideas!!

This type of problem is always difficult and I will throw out a few ideas - but don't have a sure-fire answer. Whether it can be solved can depend on luck as to what documents have survived. One of my ancestors was born in Aylesbury at about this time and the crucial clue to parentage turned up as a one line entry in a bulky account book, while a supporting clue came from a contemporary private diary which had been reprinted in a Victorian newspaper and the cutting stuck in a scrapbook which is now in the Buckinghamshire Records Office. (I found the latter while looking in the scrap book for a different branch of the family.)

A final thought - If you have other ancestors in the area, it may prove just as profitable to concentrate on them but keep and eye open for Horn links, as to make a full frontal approach to the task, and end up spending hundreds of hours banging your head on a brick wall getting nowhere.