Answers to Questions


HALE, Little Hadham, 19th century

March, 2005



Little Hadham

Sue (shawn.e.k.brian2 @t btopenworld.com) of Stevenage writes: Thomas Hail baptised 27 Dec 1836 Little Hadham, married Esther Edwards  baptised 18 Dec 1836 Albury. They married 28 June 1857 in Little Hadham, and lived there all their lives. Thomas and Esther had a lot of children: John 1860, Alice 1864, George 1867, William 1871, Alfred 1873, Ada 1877, Thomas 1878, Albert 1880, all from Little Hadham.

Thomas's father was John Hale of Little Hadham, his mother Sarah Swallow also of Little Hadham. John Hale was baptised 26 June 1803 Little Hadham, his father Thomas Hale, his mother Ann Clark, John's wife Sarah Swallow baptised 23 Jan 1803, her father James Swallow, her mother Jane Scholling or Schooline. John and Sarah's children were Emma 1840, John 1821, George 1824, Henry 1834, James 1823, Lennard 1827, Leonard 1843, all of these from Little Hadham.

Thomas Hale and Ann Clark(e) their children were John above, Mary Ann 1797, Kezia 1801, Hannah 1807, all from Little Hadham.

But I am unable to find any trace of them, I have been to Little Hadham, and Much Hadham, but to no joy.  I even contacted someone with the last name Hale in Much Hadham, but again no joy. I know Thomas and Esther, with their son William was still around in 1901 at Hoggetts Farm, Little Hadham.  But I cannot even find Hoggetts Farm. I cannot find no graves, of any Hale in Little Hadham, not even Thomas and Esther.  I contacted the vicar of St Ceilia's who also is the vicar for Albury which again is were Esther's generation came from.  But with no Joy.

How can there be no trace of a family that lived for many generations in a small village. Please can you help me, surely there should be a sign or trace of the families, or even a grave.

Trying to find visible evidence of one's ancestors can be surprisingly difficult. Apart from the possibility of finding a grave I would be both surprised and delighted if I could visit a village and find direct "on the ground" evidence that my ancestor had been there, unless I knew exactly where to look from earlier "paper" research. For instance one of my great grandparents was, in the 19th century, one of the biggest employers in the town of Aylesbury, Bucks. His son was the Mayor of the town when it got its charter. So you might expect to find some evidence of existence of someone of this importance. However the only places where I know his surname can be seen are on his tombstone, and on a brick with the word "LOCKE" on the frog in a showcase in the local museum. 

From paper research I happen to know the house where the family lived (still standing but now with a shop front - the name house name being long forgotten). I happen to know where the brickworks were as they later became the corporation refuse trip, and then a green meadow. I would not be surprised to pass one day and find a new housing estate. A modern shopping centre retains the tower of a Victorian Church said to have been built of his bricks - but I suspect that less than 1 in a thousand shoppers would now be able to tell you who made the bricks in the Victorian church tower by the entrance to the arcade!

So what could you expect to find?

Graves: Tombstones from the later Victorian era usually are still readable if they survive. I don't know Little Hadham churchyard, but quite a few Hertfordshire graveyards were tidied up in the mid 20th century and stones removed. For instance at Redbourn Church a pile of old tombstones have been used to build a wall round the compost heap. However tombstones were expensive, and many families could not afford them. Grave boards (usually made of oak) were used but these have virtually all gone, and any inscription on those remaining will have rotted away. The Hertfordshire Family History Society publishes booklets of memorial inscriptions, including Little Hadham, and these may include information on some which either no longer exist or have become difficult or impossible to read.

If members of the family were buried in the churchyard there should be a record of the burial in the parish registers at HALS.

Homes: The only address you mention is Hoggetts Farm, from the 1901 census, and I have found no other reference to it in the more obvious sources available to me. However the census returns make it clear that Hoggetts Farm was at Westland Green - a hamlet about 1 miles west of Little Hadham village. Your Thomas Hale was a "Foreman on Farm" so that that "Hoggetts Farm" may well have been a tied cottage which had previously been part of a smallholding owned or occupied by someone called Hoggett. (A Sarah Hogate got married in Little Hadham in 1801, so the surname did occur in the area.) It is important to realise that small farms being merged with bigger farms is not a modern phenomenon and many larger farm cottages had previously been the "farm house" in a small holding of perhaps 5 to 10 acres. If you want to know more about Hoggetts Farm it may be that the Little Munden Tithe map of 1840 (at HALS) could help identify the actual building - allowing you to go and see if it is still there.

It should be noted that Westland Green is one of the smaller hamlets in Little Munden and on a quick scan appears not to be mentioned in the book The Protected Valley: A History of Little Munden, by Anne Rowe. Neither Westland Green or Westland Green Farm are mentioned in the 1890 Kelly's directory - while the nearby Westfield and Lodge farms are - which could mean the Westland Green Farm had also been swallowed up. Neither the book (which has a name index), or the directory entry for Little Hadham mention the surname Hale.

The problem is that agricultural workers who lived in tied cottages, who did not get in trouble with the law, and who never become destitute, are perhaps the hardest to research as so little evidence of their existence (apart from birth, marriage and deaths) survives. 

May 2007

Neil Stockton (nstockton @t mail.com) writes: I have a very large database of info on Little Hadham including many memories of old villagers written down in the 1960`s to the 1980`s recording stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I have tried replying to Sue of Stevenage who was enquiring about the Hale family but the email address given does not work. Please feel free to pass my email to anyone re Lt Hadham.

Hi Sue,
I have seen you request for info on Esther and Tom Hale on the herts Geneology site. I have a lot of info on Little Hadham and have some details of your family. Tom was foreman at Lodge Farm for the Chapman`s and lived at Westfield Common House for some time and was living at Lodge Farm in 1871. His son Billy worked at Home Farm for many years and I have quite a few stories about him from old villagers which I wrote down in the 1970`s and 1980`s. He was quite a rough diamond, marrying a local Gypsy girl Eulayley Miles, and was often to be found bare knuckle fighting outside the Cock pub at Bury Green at closing time. Other members of the family were "Horry" Hale (Billys son), "Tit-e-buck" Hale, "Chalky" Hale, "Aunt Jinny" Hale and many more. If you want more details please contact me.

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

Page created May 2007