BIRD, Hemel Hempstead area, 19th century

July, 2004

Linda Carter (lcarter @t of Abbotsford, BC, Canada, writes: I'm looking for the parents of my great-great grandparents: James Bird (b. 1819) in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, and Rebecca Parryborn, possible Payborn, (b. 1819) in Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire.

I can find James and Rebecca on a LDS index of the 1881 Census living on High Street, Hemel Hempstead. James Bird is listed as married, male, 62, birthplace Abbots Langley, Tailor employs 3 men & 3 boys. His wife, Rebecca, is listed as married, female, 62, born Little Gaddesden.

According to the IGI James Bird and Rebecca Parryborn were marrried 21 Nov 1842 Hemel Hempstead. They had at least 9 children.  

I have found IGI for 9 children born to James Bird and wife Rebecca of Hemel Hempstead, between 1844 -1859. Annie (b.16 Jan 1844), Elizabeth my great grandmother (b. 16 Nov 1846), Frederick Augustus (b.07 Aug 1849), George Payborn (24 Jan 1851), Walter (09 May 1855), Julia (b.28 Dec 1857), and twins Emily and Clara (b. 01 Aug 1859). Another daughter Mildred Bird (age 18) appears on the 1881 Census in the same household as James and Rebecca.  But I can't find her in the IGI. A slight question as to Rebecca's surname comes from the IGI of their 5th Child   (b. 24 Jan 1851).

I'm convinced I have the right family because I have a IGI for their marriage and the birth records for their children and a family connection between the 1881 and 1891 Census.

On 1881 Census Charlotte Ann Carter (age 4, grand daughter) is listed in the same household as her grand parents James and Rebecca Bird, not the household of her parents William Carter and wife Elizabeth (nee Bird) of Barnstaple, Devon.  Then on the 1891 Census Charlotte Ann (daughter 14) shows up in the same household as her father William Carter at 21 Queens St. (Grocer's Shop), Barnstaple.

Any assistance in finding out information about the parents of James Bird (b. 1819) and Rebecca Parryborn (b. 1819) would be greatly appreciated.

My first comment is that virtually all the information you give appears to comes from online INDEXES and TRANSCRIPTS and there is no evidence that you have checked against microfilms of original sources, or purchased birth or marriage certificates. An examination of your findings suggest that such checking is essential..  

A check on the IGI at familysearch shows that something odd is going on. The older Bird children were not baptised at birth but baptised as a group at Hemel Hempstead on 5th April, 1859. This might suggest that the family were not  regular churchgoers, or had been "converted" to the Church of England from a non-conformist sect.

The entries for Emily and Clara are even more surprising. Both are shown as being born on 1st August 1859. Emily was baptised on 15th September 1859 and, unusually for a baptismal register, is shown as dying on 23rd September 1859. Clara is shown as being baptised on 27th December 1862 and died on 4th January 1863 - so if Emily had been baptised in church why wasn't Clara baptised at the same time. In fact both may have been "private" baptisms at the bed of the dying child. However, one thing is clear, the original register contains additional marginal notes which should be consulted. In addition the delay in baptising Clara suggests they were still irregular churchgoers - which could easily explain the failure for you to find a baptism for Mildred - and there may be other "missing children".

When we come to the marriage there is no doubt what the familysearch index says but it is almost certainly wrong. A search of the full indexes on familysearch records only one other example of the surname Parryborn - and that was in the USA. A similar search for Payborn is little more successful. Both are possible indexing errors. A search for the marriage of James Bird on FreeBMB comes up with the reference "December 1842 Hemel Hempstead 6 831" but a check on the other entries on the page shows no "Rebecca" and it would appear that something is wrong with the index (See A Comedy of Errors). However a search for anyone called Rebecca married in the Hemel Hempstead registration district during the same quarter shows that a Rebecca Pangborn (could easily be mis-read as Parryborn) is recorded on page "6 831" - again "881" and "831" could easily be confused - although I don't know which is the correct order reference.

It is clear that there are problems in totally relying on the indexes in your case. Hower James was definitely in Hemel Hempstead as the following entries from the Hemel Hempstead entries in Hertfordshire Post Office Directories are almost certainly relevant:

1851 James Bird, tailor, League Square (off Marlowes)

1862 James Bird, tailor, High Street

1882 James Bird, tailor, High Street

1886 James Bird, tailor, 65 High Street (The copy I have seen has the name James crossed out)

1890 Walter Bird, livery and breeches maker, 35 High Street

So what next? Before trying to locate James and Rebecca's parents you really must buy a copy of the couple's marriage certificate from HALS - and it would be a good idea to get your great grandmother's birth certificate at the same time to cross-check details. In view of the other uncertainties it would be a good idea to look at microfilms of the baptismal register, and also the 1851 census (Hemel Hempstead, Marlowes area) and 1861 census (probably the High Street area). 

Bearing in mind that Abbotsford is (by British Colombia standards) only a stone throw from Vancouver I guess that there must be a genealogical library holding the census microfilms accessible to you, but you might have to make arrangements through your nearest LDS Family History Centre (address on familysearch) to see microfilms of the parish registers.

Let me know how you get on, and if there are further problems, don't hesitate to ask.

There is a web page for Hemel Hempstead

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