Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


HAMP, Ware, early 19th century

May, 2004




Lois Cook (Outbackhippies2 @t aol.com) from Northumberland sent details a family tree and wanted to known more about Joseph Hamp and his wife. It appears that the information comes from a family tree drafted in about 1924 with some later additions. Many people start researching their family history with a family tree like this as a starting point, and  as there are some problems I thought it would be useful to others if I had a look at in detail, to illustrate the type of checks I would do when someone passes me a family tree,

The first point to make is that many older manuscript family trees go back about 100-150 years and are based on the memory of the older living relatives at the time. The earlier dates may well be approximate, and places may be where people lived, rather than where they were born or married. Children who died in infancy many years before will not be recorded and "black sheep" may be deliberately omitted.  Uncles and Aunts may be referred to by pet names, rather than the names recorded in baptismal or marriage registers. However they can be very useful for recording things one might otherwise miss (or take ages to find from other sources). They are also unlikely to be completely wrong. (See for example The Dangers of Internet Genealogy and Right Name, Wrong Body for areas where you can make mistackes using modern indexes.)


Joseph Hamp, born Ware 1806, died Ware 1872 aged 66

There is no obvious entry for Joseph on familysearch so we need to know more about him. What evidence do we have that Joseph Hamp was born in Ware? There is no evidence to support this - and many old family trees will record the place where someone was known to have lived rather than the place where they were born. As he lived in Ware for most of his adult life "Ware" probably comes from the old family tree and represented his place of abode, not necessarily birth. 

The year of birth could be a back calculation from the age given at death. This is not always accurate - as the person most likely to know the correct figure (assuming they were numerate which is not always the case at this period) was dead at the time the information was recorded! If a family member (such as the widow) recorded the death it is more likely to be accurate than if it was recorded by someone else. The death certificate will say who reported the death and other information.

As it appears that Joseph was living was living in Ware for over 40 years, the obvious place to look are the 1851, 1861 and 1871 census returns for Ware. Each should give a place of birth, and an age, which hopefully will agree reasonably well. Any of the children's birth certificates will include the address, and that of James Samuel Hamp is so close to the census date that this would be the certificate of choice. Joseph is not listed in the 1851 or 1866 Post Office Directories which might have been another source of an address within Ware

Mrs Harriet Hamp was a widow living in Penge, Surrey, in 1881, age given as 76, and birthplace give as Ware. She died in Croydon in 1881.

In view of the other information provided, the lack of a maiden name is significant as this is always recorded in the marriage register (see below) and on the birth certificate of all her children (after 1837). Probably the data comes from the 1924 family tree and that, to date none of the relevant source documents have been located and consulted. In view of the comments on the marriage it would be helpful to get a birth certificate to get her maiden name - and it might then be quite easy to get information about her baptism and parents if she was baptised in Ware.

Joseph Hamp married Harriot/Harriet ??? in September 1835 in St Martin in the Fields, Westminster,

Any legal marriage between 1754 and June 1837 will have been recorded in a Church of England Parish Register, and give the name/parish of both the bride and the groom. It also includes the couples signatures (or their marks if they could not write their own names). The absence of a maiden name suggests the information came from family remembrances in the 1924 family tree rather that from the register or any later indexes. 

A check of the IGI at familysearch for a marriage of a Joseph Hamp provides no index entries. In case there was a problem with the surname (misspelt in the index, etc) a modified search shows that there were over 100 Josephs married in St Martin in the Fields between 1832 and 1836, including 3 Josephs who married a Harriet. None had a surname which could, phonetically, or in writing (including likely transcription and indexing errors), refer to Joseph Hamp

There is also the question about why Harriet, who was apparently born in Ware, and lived most of her married life in Ware, should have got married in London. By no means impossible, but worth thinking about.

Clearly something is wrong - as details often are in  remembrance information. Were they married at a different church dedicated to St Martin? Is the date correct - bearing in mind the couple's ages and the dates of birth of the known children (but see below) one would expect a marriage date within about 5 years of 1830. Did they not get married but tell everyone (including their own family) that they were? Are there errors or gaps in the indexes? 

The only thing that can immediately be done is to look at a microfilm of St Martin in the Fields' marriage register for 1835 (and perhaps 1833 in case someone misread the date) to make sure that a genuine entry has not been accidentally overlooked during the indexing. (Unlikely but not impossible).

If this fails further investigation will need to wait until you have Harriet's maiden name. (you can then use familysearch to see if you can find when she married). Knowing Joseph's place of birth could also help to narrow down the search.


If this fails further investigation will need to wait until you have Harriet's maiden name (you can then use familysearch to see if you can find when she married). Knowing Joseph's place of birth could also help to narrow down the search. I list all children below, but only comment where necessary.

Jane - Christened January 1834 (from IGI) presumed to have died in 1835

There are problems with this child. The IGI index shows an entry in the form you would expect if the parents were already married, but the date is more than 18 months before the one given for the wedding. As there must be doubt about the date/place of the wedding this could be evidence that the wedding was earlier than stated. The "Presumed to have died in 1835" may mean no more than that she was not listed on the 1924 family tree which probably started with the wedding. If the wedding date is correct this may mean that there was another couple with the same names - and if so caution must be taken about any name not on the original 1924 tree.. (It can happen - see Right Name, Wrong Body.)

An examination of the microfilm of the baptismal register should be considered essential in this case, as there may be some margin notes which clarify the situation. Unlike some of the later children, her burial is not recorded in the Ware register. A check on the 1841 census seems essential.

Charles - christened March 1836 - Ware Hertfordshire (from IGI) to 1849 - Ware, Hertfordshire.

Buried at St Mary's Ware on 10th December 1849

Francis - 01.10.1837 - Ware Hertfordshire (From IGI). Married in Wiltshire 1860, Currier in Surrey in 1871. to 1878 - Axbridge

Francis is the earliest child who birth should have been registered, and the certificate should include the family address and his mother's maiden name.

Edward - 1839 - Ware, Hertfordshire. Gardener in London in 1881, 1891, 1901.

Joseph - christened February 1841 - Ware, Hertfordshire (From IGI) to 1849 - Ware, Hertfordshire.

A look at the 1841 census at this point should show Joseph and Harriet with Jane?, Charles, Francis, Edward and baby Joseph.

Buried at St Mary's Ware on 28th November 1849

Alfred - christened September 1842 - Ware, Hertfordshire (From IGI) to 1932 - Birkenhead.

Emily Harriot - 1844 to 1844 - Ware, Hertfordshire.

Buried at St Mary's Ware on 2nd December 1844

[Note that a Louisa Amelia Hamp, 16 months, was buried at Ware on 17th January 1846 - is there any link with this family?? or was another Hamp family having children in the area at the time.]

Henry - 1845. Private aged 38 in the Fourth (Q.D) Hussars at Aldershot in 1881.

There may well be military records related to his military service.

Benjamin - 1846 - Ware, Hertfordshire. A grocer in Penge, Surrey in 1881 & 1891

Rosa Ellen - 1848 - Ware. In Penge, Surrey in 1881 & 1891 & 1901

George Frederick - 1849 - Ware, Hertfordshire. Grocer in Croydon in 1881, 1891 & 1901 census. To 1926 - Croydon, London.

James Samuel -christened April 1851 - Ware, Hertfordshire (from IGI) A grocer in Penge, Surrey in 1881 & 1891 &1901. to 1906 - Croydon, London.

James may well have been born before the 1851 census date and his birth certificate should give an accurate home address for the family, making it easier to find in the 1851 census. This census should provide age and place of birth information for Joseph

Thomas Charles - christened September 1852 - Ware, Hertfordshire. A servant at Tunsall Kent, in 1881 (From IGI) to 1925 - Newton Abbot.

Emily Agnes - 1854 - Ware, Hertfordshire. Working as a cook in Wiltshire in 1891. To 1932 - Croydon.

Harriet would appear to have been 49 when Emily was born - pushing it a bit but possible.


Buried at St Mary's Ware on 10th December 1849

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