Answers to Questions


DEARDS, Whitwell area, circa 1840 & SMITH, Ware, 1881

December, 2003



St Pauls Walden


Brian Collin (bricollin @t of Aylesford, Kent, writes: Eliza Jane Deards was living as a 38 year old in 1881 with her husband, Robert Smith, in Ware, though she said she was born in Whitwell.  In 1901 she gave the same birth place and was now 58.  This gives birth year of 1842/3 - assuming her stated age is correct.  However, I cannot find any record of her baptism on the IGI or her official birth registration or her marriage registration. Hertford County Hall kindly checked their indexed 1851 Census but could not find her as an (approximately) 8 year old child.

Before researching this I clearly need more information, but the following is available from the 1881 census on familysearch. This shows the family living at Hope House, Priory Street, Ware.

 Name  Relation Gender Age Birthplace Occupation
 Robert SMITH   Head   Male   39   Whitchurch, Oxford, England   Corn And Seed Merchant 
 Eliza J.D. SMITH   Wife   Female   38   Whitewell, Hertford, England    
 Robert E. SMITH   Son   Male   10   Hertford, England   Scholar 
 William D. SMITH   Son   Male   8   Hertford, England   Scholar 
 Laura S.J. SMITH   Daur   Female   7   Hertford, England   Scholar 
 Kate E.H. SMITH   Daur   Female   5   Hertford, England   Scholar 
 Henry A. SMITH   Son   Male   3   Hertford, England    
 Beatrice J. SMITH   Daur   Female   1   Ware    
 Sarah BROWN   Servant   Female   15   W[h]empstead, Hertford, England   General Servant 

This provides essential additional information, and raises a number of questions.

You may have already checked up on some of the above points, but if not, exploring them further could clarify the search for Eliza Jane Deards.

So what about the Whitwell connection? If you have a date and place for a birth, but no birth or baptism certificate there is a useful technique if the dates are suitable, which they are in this case. As long as the surname is not too common a search can be made of the 1881 census for people who could be the father or brother of the "missing birth".

A search of the 1881 census for Deards born in Hertfordshire came up with 65 names, and by eliminating married women, wrong ages, wrong social class I came up with several possible cases including: 

At Rubens Gall's Farm, Potters Heath, Codicote

 Name  Relation Gender Age Birthplace Occupation
 Henry DEARDS   Head   Male   61   Welwyn, Herts  Farmer of 200 Acres Employing 5 Men & 1 Boy 
 Mary DEARDS   Wife   Female   35   Silsoe, Beds   
 Charles DEARDS   Son   Male   5   Codicote, Herts   

At Rably Heath Cottage, Welwyn, Herts

 Name  Relation Gender Age Birthplace Occupation
 George H. DEARDS   Head   Male   31   Welwyn ((Rably Heath)), Herts   Farm Bailiff 
 Elizabeth DEARDS   Wife   Female   27   Gotham, Nottinghamshire   Wife 
 Sarah C. DEARDS   Daur   Female   5   Amington, Warwickshire   Scholar 
 George W. DEARDS   Son   Male   4   Welwyn ((Rably Heath)), Herts   Scholar 
 William E. DEARDS   Son   Male   2   Welwyn ((Rably Heath)), Herts   ((Scholar)) 
 Francis Cd. DEARDS   Son   Male   7 m   Welwyn ((Rably Heath)), Herts   Infant 

There may be other candidate possible close relatives (I only checked to see if there were any) but these are geographically, socially and date-wise worth further investigation. Rably Heath and Potters Heath are close together adjacent to the Codicote/Welwyn parish boundary to the east of Codicote village, while Whitwell was in the part of St Pauls Walden parish to the west of Codicote village. Other Deards occur at Aston, a few miles to the North East.  The 1866 Post Office Directory shows the following tradesmen in Welwyn:

Deards William & Charles, fellmongers & woolstaplers
Deards William & Richard, saddlers & harness makers
Deards Henry, farmer, Rabley Heath
Deards James, cooper
Deards John, plumber, painter & glazier
Deards Richard, Chequers

And the following in the 1851 Post Office Directory

Deards Henry & James, coopers
Deards William & Richard, saddlers & harness mks
Deards Richard, Chequers
Deards Samuel, painter

It would therefore seem that there was a concentration of Deards tradesmen in and around Welwyn in the mid 19th century, and that links with nearby Whitwell are likely.

August 2005

David Nolan (nognolan @t writes: I saw your web page about the Deard family and the connection with Rabley Heath and Welwyn.  I have lived in Rabley Heath now for just 18 months but I have been researching the history of my cottage.  In doing so I have come across the Deard family name on several occasions, although not directly related to my cottage.  But you do not need to do historical research to know of the Deard family name in this area.

It seems that the Deard family were farming in the area and have left their name for prosperity - near Rabley Heath we have "Deards Farm" in "Sally Deards Lane"; and near Knebworth we have "Deards End Farm" at "Deards End", "Deards End Lane", "Lower Deards End", "Deards Wood" and "Deards End Bridge" (scheduled monument).  A search on Google for "Deards" together with Welwyn or Knebworth or Codicote will reveal a lot.

From these place names I guess the Deard family at some time were farming at Deards Farm and Deards End Farm.  I am also aware that they were also farming at "Rabley Heath Farm" for a time.

Interestingly the 1766 map of Hertfordshire by Drury and Andrews  shows the farm at "Deards End" as being named "Dades End".  Whether this is an earlier form of the family name, or a mistake by the map makers, I'm not sure.

The Hertford Mercury of July 29th 1867 (could be July 20th - I can't read my own handwriting) describes an exchange of lands between Edward George Lord Lytton and William John Blake.  Within the schedule Henry Deards is listed as being the occupier of Chalk Dell and Allcroft Fields.

The Place-names of Hertfordshire links Deards Wood, Codicote, to an Edmonde Dardes (1524) and Deards End, Knebworth, to a John Dardes (1433).

There are also web pages on Codicote, Hertford, Ware, Welwyn, & Whempstead

April 2012

Michael Deards ( writes from Santa Pola, Spain: I am writing with information found while researching my DEARDS family - unrelated to the above. The ANSWER is I believe as follows:-

Starting with ELIZA DEARDS chris 12/03/1809 @ Bennington, Herts. [IGI],& Marr 08/08/1840 @ St. Pancras, London [Ancestry] to ABEL FIELD [chris 26/11/1813 @ Willian, Herts [IGI]]. Their children were chris/born as follows:-

Abel Deards Field 07/11/1841 @ St Pauls Walden [Anc]
Charles Deards Field 13/06/1844 @ St Pauls Walden [Anc]
Elizabeth Deards Field born Sep 1/4 1846 @ Hitchin [BMD]
William Deards Field 09/09/1849 @ Thundridge [Anc]
George Field born 1850 @ Hitchin, and died Dec 1/4 1851 @ Hitchin [BMD]
Emily A Field born Jun 1/4 1854 @ Hitchin [BMD]

* ELIZA JANE DEARDS FIELD married Mar 1/4 1870 @ St Pancras, London [BMD] to ROBERT SMITH [born Mar 1/4 1842 @ Whitchurch, Oxfordshire [Anc]

Amongst their children [8 approx] was a WILLIAM DEARDS SMITH born Mar 1/4 1872 [BMD] @ Hertford.  The FIELD and SMITH families are to be found on the Censuses for 1851-1881 and 1871/1901 respectively.

I have researched this family going back to 1741 when William Deards, a farmer from Bennington married an Elizabeth Edwards @ Bennington, and they had 4 daughters, for which I can provide additional info if required.

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