Answers to Questions


ROSE, Watton-at-Stone, early 19th century

July, 2004




Kay McCullough (kay.mccullough @t Hampton, Victoria, Australia, writes: I am writing seeking some advice about what records to refer to for William ROSE. (c 1821 -?)from Hertfordshire. Basically I have two names, from same county - one a free man and innkeeper, one a pardoned convict exiled in 1844, arriving in Melbourne (actually Geelong) on the 22 March 1845. I would like to be able to prove or disprove if they are the same person. I think the best link would be through place of birth in Hertfordshire, possibly parents.

William ROSE, innkeeper, was born c. 1821, Watton at Stone, Hertfordshire and married Hannah MALE in Melbourne in 1849. He worked in a Livery Stables off Little Collins St and then became the innkeeper at the Devonshire Hotel, Brighton from about 1853 to 1862. Hannah died in 1859 and one daughter, Priscilla Sarah Ester Rose survived her.  I have not found any more at this stage.

However there were at least 2 William ROSEs in early Melbourne before 1849, according to electoral rolls. ... I find it hard to believe that a convict arriving in Melbourne in 1845 would have been able to amass enough money and credibility to buy a hotel and become a licensee in the early 1850's, ...

There is an index of prisoners sentenced to transportation from Hertfordshire called Transported beyond the Sea and in my opinion the information you give could all refer to one William Rose. HALS should have the court records.

At an adjourned session of the Hertfordshire Quarter Sessions in Midsummer 1832, John Rose (26) and William Rose (22), of Watton were both sentenced to seven years transportation for larceny. The charge involved a theft from Frederick Rose of a set of horse harness (3 pounds), a saddle (5 shillings), 2 bridles (10 shillings), 2 horse girths (2 shillings) and a horse breast plate (10 shillings). John Rose did not go to Australia, but William Rose was transported on the Sir George Seymour which sailed on 9th November 1844 and arrived at Fort Phillip on 20th March 1845.

As to his financial position in owning a hotel by about 1853 I can only speculate, but he was living in Melbourne and many people benefited from what was happening at Ballarat in 1851. Some may have found enough gold to make a fortune but many more benefited by providing services to the gold-hungry immigrants. You say William Rose was working in a livery stables in about 1849 and I am sure priority number one for many arrivals in Melbourne heading to Ballarat would have been to buy a horse and harness! There would be plenty of profit to be made by someone who was good at working with horses - and a more detailed look at the Hertfordshire court records may show that he stole harness from his employer and that he had experience working with horses before he left England.

Kay replies: Thank you so much for your detailed response to my question about William Rose from Watton. It has really helped me put together a story about this branch of the family. It seemed like such an unlikely match at first, but with your detail about the court case, identifying William Rose as coming from Watton and being involved with horses, it seems quite certain that it is one person. Quite an amazing transformation from a convict to respectable innkeeper! The Brighton Council held its first election and first meeting in William Rose's hotel, the Devonshire, and local legend had it that William Rose spent quite a lot of energy trying to keep the drinkers in the bar sufficiently quite for the new Council! Now I have to find out what happened to him after this period.

December, 2010

Siobhan Hayes (siobhan.hayes @t of  Cardiff asked about Mary Rose, of Watton, and I have interleaved his observations with my suggestions.

I am researching my ancestor, Mary Rose, born Watton, Herts abt 1846. She moved to London and married James Thomas Wood (at least - I assume they married, but haven't yet found evidence of this). Their first son, William, was born about 1866, and they went on to have five more - James, Ellen Jane, Mary Amelia (my ancestor), Rose and Frederick.

Visit FreeBMD and look for the marriage of James Wood and Mary Rose in 1866 - then buy the marriage certificate direct and this should tell you Mary's Father's name.

Visit FreeBMD and look for a Mary Rose born in Hertfordshire between 1840 and 1848 and you will find four. Birth are normally registered in the Workhouse Union, and if you visit the Watton page it tells you which Union the birth would have been registered in (Hertford). This reduces the number of possible Mary Rose to one and you can purchase her birth certificate to get details of her birth.

It is likely that some of the names Mary gave to her children are the same as her parents - see The Inheritance of Single Christian  Names.

I found the following info from the 1851 and 1861 census records, but am unsure as to whether they are "my" Mary, or indeed, whether the two Marys are in fact the same person.

1851 Census - Mary Rose, aged 6, b Watton Herts, living in Watton Herts with grandfather George (an innkeeper) and grandmother Mary, Also present, their daughter Harriet, aged 26  and son Charles, aged 23  - both unmarried, Mary junior's parentage unclear. Is there any information to suggest which inn George might have "kept" ? Census address is given as Watton St, but I couldn't find this on the map.

Watton was on the Old North Road out of London - and many of the old Roman roads that ran through Hertfordshire and were still in use in the 18th and 19th century were referred to as Streets. Places like Watton were the Motorway service stations of the stagecoach age. Watton Street was just the part of the parish of Watton that adjoined the Old North Road. Many Hertfordshire towns and villages on these old Roman roads were little more than centuries old ribbon development along the old "Street" (or "High Street" as it might be called) and the Street was the only significant road in the parish.

The name of George's Inn (which was a major coaching inn which apparently closed down in later due to competition from the railways) can be found by looking him (and his family) up in the 1861 census. You will find that it was the White Horse Inn. George is also listed at the White Horse, Watton, in the 1851 Post Office Directory for Hertfordshire.

1861 Census - Mary Rose, b Watton Herts, 18 years old, living in North Mimms with Henry and Emma Hedger (30, b Barnet), shown as daughter, occ Housekeeper. Other children listed as sons/daughters  of Henry and Emma - Ellen Rose (9, b Bexley) Frederick Rose (3, b MiddxArthur Rose (1, b Watton)  and Harry Hedger (6, b Sydenham)

A vey odd household - but it should be remembered that the census enumerators often did not distinguish between children and step children.  My interpretations is that Henry Hedger (widower with son Harry) had married Emma Rose. Emma could have been a widow with children  and as the youngest Rose child was only 1 year old it would seem that she had only recently been widowed and remarried. If she was a widow her married surname was Rose - and her marriage with Henry may have been recorded under her maiden name.

FreeBMD gives a marriage of Henry Hedger and Emma Sharp in the Hatfield area in April-June 1860. The certificate should tell you more information on Emma - including whether she was a widow.

FreeBMD gives a birth of Arthur Rose in the Hertford Area in Oct-Dec 1859. The certificate should tell you Arthur's father (and presumably Emma's first husband - assuming she was a widow.) Once you have this certificate you may be able to find Emma's marriage to someone called Rose using FreeBMD.

One conclusion would be that Mary is the illegitimate daughter of Emma Rose, who was away from her parents' home at the time of the 1851 census, and later became known as Emma Hedger. Obviously, this would make it impossible to trace the father.

Extremely unlikely if the ages given in the census are correct. Emma would have been 11 or 12 when she became pregnant and it is more likely that Rose was the daughter of Emma's first husband, This could also explain the age gap between Mary and Ellen. If neither Henry Hagger or Emma were Mary's parents she may well have been employed by them as a housekeeper.

One possibility is that Mary, born Watton circa 1842, had lost her mother before the 1851 census (which could explain why she was staying with her Grandparents). Her father remarried Emma (who was quite a bit younger than his first wife, but then he died and Emma remarried Henry Hedger. You will have a better idea as to whether this is the case once you have purchased the relevant certificates. Using the evidence on the certificates you should have enough evidence to find Mary's parents' marriage on FreeBMD, and get the certificate.

I note that another Rose referred to in your answers became an innkeeper - is there any connection ?

Once you have determine Mary's father's name (presumably Rose) you should look for his baptism using familysearch - and also for any of his siblings. I suggest that you use the Beta version of familysearch and look for the children of George and Mary Rose born in Hertfordshire within 20 years of 1820. You will find the William was one of George and Mary's children - and it could be that you find Mary's father was another.


As a result of the above query I have emailed Kay pointing out that her William was the son of George Rose, the inn keeper of the White Horse, Watton - which could well explain why her William became an inn keeper in Australia. In addition it seems very possible that she is a cousin of Siobhan and if she has done any further research on the Watton family I would be delighted to have details to update this page.

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

July 2004   Page created
December 2010   New query added