BENNETT, Walkern, circa 1895
Michael Bennett (bennett123 @t xtra.co.nz) of Waipawa, New Zealand, writes: My problem relates to my great grandfather Walter Bennett. I understand that he was a dray driver for Wrights Brewery at Walkern who was killed, in the line of duty, so to speak, by running himself over with his dray in 1895. My grandfather Percy, must have been born posthumously as that was in 1896. A Mr Beadle has been of assistance to me a couple of years ago but I would like to confirm that this event did happen. I have attempted to look for newspaper reports of the event but despite some help from Stevenage Archives I have not been successful.
I answered a previous question from you about 4 years ago - see BENNETT, Walkern, late 19th century and this can only be a provisional answer, as I assume from what you say that you have not yet acquired Walter's death certificate (which must be the starting point for any such investigation). Until you know at least the exact date of his death, any search for further information about the death in the local newspapers is likely to be unsuccessful. (In fact some such accidents were not reported at all - especially if the person died of injuries some time later - so don't hold your breath.)
This is particularly important as a quick check suggests some uncertainty about the dates you give in your question.
The 1901 census (available to you online) shows the following family living in Walkern Street (i.e. the main street in Walkern village).
|Wilfrid Bennett||Son||19||Barrel Washer||Walkern|
|Beatrice Bennett||Daughter||16||House Maid||Walkern|
This suggests that Percy was older than you suggest, and almost certainly was born some years before his father died. So a quick look in the 1891 census was appropriate, This shows the following household in Walkern Street.
|Percy Bennett||Son||? m||Walkern|
|Charlie Rand||Son||12?||Grocers Assistant||Therfield|
Some of the ages are unreadable - but Percy was a few months old in 1891, at a time when his father was quite clearly still alive. Walter's occupation as carman is the appropriate description of his occupation if he was a dray driver. Charlie Rand was probably Rebecca's son from before her marriage to Walter. My earlier answer (BENNETT, Walkern, late 19th century) suggests that a member of the Rand family was staying with the Bennett family at the time of the 1881 census and, if you haven't done so, buy Walter's marriage certificate.
The 1895 Kelly's Directory for Hertfordshire (available to you online) has the following entry under Walkern:
Wright Samuel & Co. ale, stout & porter brewers & maltsters & aerated water manufacturers. Victoria brewery & mineral water works. See advertisement,
Unfortunately the online version of the directory does not appear to include the advertisements, but if you are interested HALS may be able to help if you are interested.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.