WELCH, Hertford & Northaw, Early 20th Century

September, 2003

Kay Clark (kaynkev @t of Yamba, NSW, Australia, writes: Today found an old address book of my mother's with the name

"Mr. A. WELCH, 24 Chelmsford Rd. Hertford, Herts. England"

My father's mother was Mary Elizabeth WELSH. (She never spoke of family).  Would this be one of her relatives?  Perhaps I still have relatives in Hertfordshire!

Kay also has provided some background information, the relevant parts of which I summarise:

My father - Arthur CLARK -was born on 19 May 1904. The Birth was registered in the Sub-district of South Mimms in the Counties of Middlesex and Hertford.  His mother's name is shown as Mary Elizabeth CLARK formerly WELCH.  His father was William CLARK.  Place of Birth shown as "Holly Cottages" Quakers Lane, Potters Bar, South Mimms RD [Rural District].  The address shown for "Mother" is "Sun Yard", Northaw, and it was registered on 24 June 1904, Entry No. 424.y.  He was in England during WW11 - apparently stationed near his parents' home (which I believe was then at Northaw).  He apparently served as a Rifleman in The Rifle Brigade for a period of 145 days in 1919, enlisting in Hertford on 02 June 1919. He came to Australia after WW1 - probably with his sister (Evelyn) and her Australian serviceman husband (Percy SHICKERLING). They lived in Ballarat, Vic.

My grandparents - William CLARK and Mary Elizabeth WELCH were married 06 August 1894 in the Hertfordshire Registry Office District of Barnet.  At that time they were both living in Barnet.  I have their Marriage Certificate.  I have also found them on the 1881 Census.

Having lived for a year in Australia I appreciate the problems of distance for people who live in the less populated areas. People in the big cities are well provided for, but for those who live in the less populated areas access to genealogy records is difficult. In this I include places such as Yamba, which is undoubtedly considered to be a attractive costal fishing village by the tourists, but is miles from any reasonable sized town. In these circumstances it is important to make the most of what information is available online, and the problems of the Walsh, Welch, Welsh surname does not help.

First of all let me look at "Mr. A. WELCH, 24 Chelmsford Rd. Hertford, Herts. England". Because of its source, it is likely to be correct - but of course there is uncertainty about the date, and whether it could be a relative. It is worth looking at other entries in the book, to see how they are written. For instance if other relatives are listed with the full first name and no Mr/Mrs one would have expected her to write his first name in full if he was a relative. She would also presumably be careful, particularly with relatives, to get the Welch/Welsh spelling correct.

Modern maps show the road to be of part of a housing estate, and I suspect from the layout of the roads on the map that it was built between the wars. It is simply listed in Hertford Street and Place Names as being named after nearby Chelmsford Wood, and the fact that it does not say more suggests the road os no great age. I am afraid I don't have access to a street directory for the town of Hertford of a relevant period (if there are any there will be copies at HALS) but I do have the archiveCDbooks compendium of Kelly's county directories, which goes up to 1937. These directories were selective about who they listed (most ordinary households were not included) but there was one possible relevant entry:

Welch, Arthur Daniel, 2 Parkhurst Road, Bengeo, [Hertford]

He is also listed in 1933 but not in 1929.

Of course I have no idea of whether he is the same person as the A. Welch of Chelmsford Road, but perhaps some other reader of the page can help.


A different approach is to see if the A. Welch could be a brother. From the information you give we can be virtually certain that he was alive in 1901 - so should be recorded in the 1901 census (possibly married with children), and may well be in the 1881 census as well. From the information you have (or hopefully can find) from your grandmother's marriage certificate, and her entries in the 1881 and 1901 census, you will know her father's (and possibly mother's name), her age, and place of birth. You should also have some occupation information which can give some indication of social class (and whether the family is likely to appear in a trades directory.) This could form a basis for an online search for possible siblings, etc., among the large number of candidates.

Just for fun I did a quick (and very far from complete) search to see if I could find Arthur Daniel Welch in the 1881 and 1901 census, with the proviso that as Arthur was listed in the 1937 directory his father probably had a "better" occupation. There was no definite hit on my narrow samples but the top candidate from 1901 was an 11 year old Arthur Welch, born and living at Hertford with his father George Welch, corn roller miller, and family. The best fit in the 1881 census was 7 year old Arthur Walsh, born and living at Cheshunt with his father Frederick Walsh, corn dealer. Working with the information you have on Mary Elizabeth Welch you may well be lucky identifying siblings and nephews who could might include an A. Welch.


Finally you may be interested to know that Hertfordshire Inns & Public Houses lists The Sun, at Northaw. It was first recorded in 1702, and in 1756 it had stabling for 15 horses. Like other inns of the period it would have had a yard = "Sun Yard" (for the stabling, housing staff, etc) and once the coaching, etc., trade collapsed after the coming of the train, the buildings would have been used for other purposes. In many towns such buildings became slums and have been cleared away, but I don't know what happened in Northaw.

There are web pages for Hertford and Northaw.

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