Answers to Questions


REYNOLDS / JOHNSON, Aldbury, 19th century

August, 2003




Adam Shire (adam @t of Sunbury-on-Thames,  Middlesex, writes: I have a Martha A. Reynolds born in 1814 in Northchurch.  She married James Johnson on 4th August 1841, Aldbury, Herts.  I was wondering if you have any more info on Reynolds in this area (esp. Berkhamsted etc.)  I've had no luck finding Martha's birth on the IGI.  In the 1881 census they were living in a Railway Cottage, Aldbury with their son, my great-great grandfather Amos Johnson, born 1851 there.

In a case such as this, where you don't say much about Martha Reynolds (for instance what was her father's name and occupation on her marriage certificate), my first reaction is to see what I can find out about her from other sources, as the family's social class and the names they give their children, etc., can suggest where to look. (see for example The Inheritance of Single Christian Names.)

I almost immediately ran into a problem. Was there one or two Amos Johnsons born in Aldbury in 1851? If there was only one we may be on a wild goose chase, and my comments therefore take the form of a question.

As you say Martha was living with James Johnson at Railway Cottages, (Tring Station), Aldbury (see Aldbury Railway Workers in 1851 for a photograph) in the 1881 census:

James JOHNSON   Head   M   Male   61   Aldbury, Herts  Ag Lab 
 Martha A. JOHNSON   Wife   M   Female   67   Northchurch, Herts    

However the only Amos Johnson, born in or near Aldbury around 1851, was living at Feltham, Middlesex, and not, as you suggest, living with his parents:

 Amos JOHNSON   Head   M   Male   30   Aldbury, Herts   Gardener 
 Agnes JOHNSON   Wife   M   Female   30   Staines, Middlesex  Gardeners Wife 
 Agnes F. JOHNSON   Daur      Female   3   Tring, Herts   
 Amos D. JOHNSON   Son      Male   2   Feltham, Middlesex    
 Mary BROWING   Lodger   M   Female   54   Paddington, Middlesex   Annuity 

The IGI at familysearch shows that this Amos Johnson married Agnes Barnes on 7th January 1876 at Tring

A check of the 1851 census left me even more puzzled. As you say Amos was born in 1851 he might have missed the census. James and Martha Johnson were living in Aldbury village:

James JOHNSON   Head   M   Male  32   Aldbury, Herts  Agric Lab 
Martha A. JOHNSON  Wife   M   Female   33   Northchurch, Herts    
Sarah A JOHNSON Dau   Female 4 Pitstone, Bucks  
Mary GARMENT Lodger M Female 33 Wendover, Bucks Lace Maker
George GARMENT Lodger's Son   Male 2 Aldbury, Herts  

However elsewhere in the village there was the following family:

Elizabeth JOHNSON   Head   M   Female  38   Stone, Bucks  Seamstress 
Hannah JOHNSON Dau   Female 13 Aldbury, Herts  
George JOHNSON Son   Male 10 Aldbury, Herts  
John JOHNSON Son   Male 6 Aldbury, Herts  
Mark JOHHNSON Son   Male 2 Aldbury, Herts  
Amos JOHNSON Son   Male 1 month Aldbury, Herts  

So is the Amos living in Feltham in 1881 your ancestor, and/or is he the son of ?? and Elizabeth Johnson rather than James and Martha Johnson? The key question is whether there were one or two Amos Johnson's born in Aldbury in about 1851. (See Right Name, Wrong Body.) If there was only one Amos, the limited evidence so far available to me suggests that Martha Reynolds is not your ancestor.

I suggest that you purchase Amos Johnson's birth and marriage certificates and let me know what they say - and then I may be able to help you further.

P.S.  My own Reynolds ancestors did not arrive in Hertfordshire until about 1860 (see Jacob Reynolds)

October, 2003

Robert Bull (rjbull @t wrote:  Just a small addition to the information you provided. The Amos Johnson aged 1 month is the son of Daniel Johnson (Christened Aldbury 23.3.1806) and Elizabeth Small (married Aldbury 25.10.1834). His older brother, George, is my Great Great Grandfather.

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