Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


CATO, Kimpton (& Tring), 19th Century

February, 2005




Juliet Evans (juliet22 @t btopenworld.com) of Dorset noticed a reference to William Cato in the answer to BARBER, Tring, 19th century and wondered if there was any connection with her ancestor, William Cato of Kimpton. She writes: I think he died in 1866 aged 89 which would make him born abt 1777. I do know that he had children baptised at Kimpton between 1816 and 1828 and that he was a Harness Maker (ref:  his daughter Caroline's marriage certificate) .  His wife was Ann and she was born at Markyate abt 1780 (ref:  Ann aged 90 and her son Noah Cato aged 52 were on the 1871 census at Kimpton). I was hoping that may narrow it down enough to find the right man in the 1851/41 census.

First of all I checked the Kimpton entries in the 1839 Pigots Directory and the 1851 and 1855 Post Office Directories for Hertfordshire. William Cato is not listed there - suggesting he was not a master trader in his own right at Kimpton. Perhaps he worked for William Wren, who is described as a wheelwright - but as most tradesmen's occupations are only described in a single word William Wren may have had more extensive activities.

A quick glance at the 1841 census showed the following household in the village street, Kimpton, all born in Hertfordshire:

William Cato 55 Harness Maker
Ann Cato 50  
Sophia Cato 30  
Noah Cato 20 Coach Smith
Shadrack Cato 9  
William Wabey 30 Ag Lab
Maris Webb 15  

Note that the ages for adults on the 1841 census are in 5 year bands - so that William's "age" w as 55-59. However if there was some uncertainty at a time when most people were illiterate the census enumerator would guess!

My first reaction was that the names Noah and Shadrack are one's I would expect in strongly non-conformist families and as you mentioned that at least some of the children had been baptised in Kimpton I was curious to see whether this was in church or chapel and looked up the details on the IGI at familysearch. The following were baptised in the parish church:

  • Caroline - 11 JUL 1816
  • George - 20 DEC 1818
  • Noah - 23 DEC 1821
  • Amelia - 19 JUN 1825
  • Shadrack - 13 APR 1828

Clearly the children were baptised in the Church of England, but if, for instance, William came from a non-conformist background there may well be no surviving record of his birth or baptism. The fact that Shadrack was baptised in 1828 but is recorded as being 9 in the 1841 census suggests that ages recorded in the family may be unreliable.

I had a look for Sophia - and she was baptised in nearby Harpenden on 25th December 1807. I did not check for other siblings who might have been born in Harpenden.

Clearly there is plenty for you to do to fill in and confirm what is happening:

I must not forget that your question started out by asking if there was any connection with the William Cato of Tring mentioned in BARBER, Tring, 19th century. At first sight there is no obvious connection as in the 1851 census William Cato of Tring was a Canvas Weaver employing 11 men, aged 55, and born in Tring. However living nearby was a George Cato (master shoemaker, aged 35, born Amersham, Bucks) and his family. Familysearch shows that in 1859 his daughter Amelia Cato was baptised in Tring. Bearing in mind that Amelia is not a very common name, and names and occupations sometimes run in families, we have

(1) Your Kimpton William Cato was a leather worker with children George and Amelia

(2) The Tring George Cato was a leather worker with a child called Amelia

At this stage this is probably a coincidence but it is worth keeping in the back of your mind when carrying out further research.

Juliet Evans (juliet22 @t btopenworld.com) immediately responded:  Thanks very much for your answer.  The information from the 1841 census is especially helpful and I will follow up all your suggestions.  Shadrack is interesting.  I had a look at the the NBI and there is a Shadrack Cato buried aged 1+ on 18th July 1828.  So they must have had another Shadrack. I checked the census and there is a Shadrack Cato in 1881, 1891 and 1901 which fits his place of birth etc.  I cannot find him, however, in 1871.

December, 2005

Diana Speller (dspeller @t plashet.newham.sch.uk) wrote commenting on the above but unfortunately my original message was not clear and the comment that William Cato was not a master canvas maker applied to Kimpton, and not Tring - and I have now corrected it.  She said she would be pleased to receive any comments as there isn't much information on the canvas weaving business in Tring at all. 

See The Canvas Weavers of Tring

Page updated November 2007