Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


GODFREY, Furneux Pelham, 1924-1939

April, 2004



Furneaux Pelham

Violet Taylor (violet01 @t speed-mail.co.uk) writes: I am trying to find out about my mum (Brenda Godfrey)'s early days. I know she was born in East End Furneux in 1925 and her mum was Elizabeth Godfrey. There was no father's name on her birth certificate. I also know she was raised in a children's home and I always thought it was in Bishops Stortford. I have recently found out that there was no children's home there at that time (from archives). I am now lost. She spoke fondly of her early days and mentioned lots of names of places like Much Hadham, Ugley, Chipping, Hemel Hempstead etc. ... She also told me of a younger brother (Vernon) who she lost contact with. I think she left the home at age 14 and went to work as a maid for a G.P. I am sorry I don't have a lot of information to give but I feel being able to find the Childrens Home would be a start.

This question falls outside my normal brief - as many 20th century records are difficult because of privacy issues etc. However I can make some comments.

The first thing is that many unmarried mothers were sent away to have their baby, and the place of birth can be unhelpful. This may not be the case here as the 1881 census shows that people with the surname Godfrey were living in Furneux Pelham at that time. She may even have had the child at home.

The East End, Furneux Pelham, is right on the Essex border, and Ugley Green is in Essex, so you will need to consider both sides of the county border. All the places you mention are close together, apart from Hemel Hempstead - does this represent two different phases in her upbringing. Was she brougth up with family in the Furneux Pelham area, and later went to a home in the Hemel Hempstead area?

I have no knowledge of early 20th century children's homes and I think (but am not sure) that the workhouse was no longer used to house orphan children. There were undoubtedly large children's homes in Hertfordshire, but none are listed in the Bishop's Stortford area in the 1926 Kelly's Directory for Hertfordshire. I would guess that small foster homes might take a number of children - but be too small to be recognised as a "business" by the compliers of the directory, particularly if they were in a rural village situation.

A different approach would seem appropriate. If Brenda was in a home with other children they would typically be about 80 now - so several of them could still be alive, as could anyone who went to school with her - assuming the home was too small to educate its own children. a letter to a local paper could be worthwhile. There are three for Bishop's Stortford - the Herts and Essex Observer, the Bishop's Stortford Citizen and and Bishop's Stortford Herald.

Local organisations may also be in touch with older people who could help. The Local History Society runs a museum (http://www.hertsmuseums.org.uk/bishops-stortford/) - so you might be able to contact the society this way. Organisations such as Age Concern might help as several organisations looking after the elderly encourage them to talk about the past. In addition, if the birth had resulted in an adoption Social Services helps people to link up with the families. This suggests they , which would suggest they have records which could help in this case.

Hope this gives you some ideas as to where you might look.

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