GROOM, North Mymms, late 18th & early 19th century

November, 2005

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North Mimms

Allan Groom (allangroom78 @t aol.com) of London writes: I am tracing the Groom family from North Mymms. William Groom, born in 1823, is my g g g granddad. His father is William Groom who was a boot and shoe maker and lived at Water End with Sarah who was born in North Mymms in or around 1797. I know she is buried in North Mymms church but can't locate the grave or her maiden name I can't locate her husband William either. I cant find any information about William although from the census I think he was born in 1797 in London Colney.

Let us summarise what we know, and can easily find out:

William Groom senior is easy to find in North Mymms in the census returns for 1851 (54, boot & shoe maker), 1861 (65, master shoe maker) and 1871 (74, shoe maker), all saying he was born in London Colney. (Source - Ancestry census indexes).

He was probably dead by 1881 and a check of FreeBMD (see example on tutorial) show that the death of a 74 year old William Groom was registered at Hatfield in the December quarter of 1871 - so you should be able to get his death certificate from the General Register Office.

William & Sarah Groom had the following children baptised in St Mary's Church, North Mimms. If you have not already done so it is worth checking that the father's occupation was shoe maker.

Name Baptised Buried Age
William Groom 9 June 1822    
James Groom 4 January 1824    
Sarah Groom 30 October 1825    
Is this gap significant ???
Emily Groom 29 January 1832    
Samuel Groom 28 August 1836 20 April 1837 8 months
George Groom 4 August 1839 30 March 1840 8 months

 (source: familysearch & HFHS Burial Index)

The North Mimms entry of the 1866 Post Office Directory shows William Groom, shoe maker, at Water End, and also lists another William Groom as a bricklayer (possibly the son?). Interestingly the Parish Clerk was also a William Groom, but which one played that role is uncertain. However it shows that at least one of them was literate - and suggests that there could be surviving parish documents written by him (probably at HALS).

and what we can't find:

There is no entry for William Groom's baptism or marriage on familysearch or the British Isles Vital Record Index. We don't know his wife's maiden name.

Finding Sarah's maiden name:

If you look at the list of children baptised at North Mimms you will see that one, George, was born after civil registration was introduced - and so his birth should have been registered. He does not show up on FreeBMD but the indexes are not complete (they are looking for volunteer indexers) but findmypast includes the following entry in September 1839:

You should therefore be able to get his certificate, and Sarah's maiden name, from the General Register Office. [for example see tutorial].

Finding the Marriage:

No certainties here - but once you have Sarah's maiden name you have another entry to the indexes and this might turn up a misindexed or out-of-Hertfordshire entry. Some non-conformist couples refused to marry in the local parish church and from Hertfordshire travelled to London so it might be worth following up the familysearch entry:

You searched for:  William Groom, Marriage, 1815 - 1825, All Counties, England, British Isles
Spouse: Sarah 
Exact Spelling: Off
...
 4. WILLIAM GROOM - International Genealogical Index 
Gender: Male Marriage: 03 APR 1820 Saint Botolph Bishopsgate, London, London, England

Finding the Birth/Baptism:

The census information seems pretty unambiguous about William being born in London Colney about 1797. Unfortunately there are no surviving records for a significant number of children born in the late 18th and early 19th centuries - see Where is my ancestor's baptism.

In your original question you gave details, without identifying the documentary sources, of some possible links, and a very unlikely guess. I am dubious on the evidence you give that they are of immediate relevance at this stage. The Groom surname is not that uncommon, and one reference you gave was to a baptism in Hitchin, which is quite a way from London Colney, when there are many Groom references in Middlesex/London that are nearer. There are real dangers of plumping for names picked from an index without good reason - see Right Name, Wrong Body and remember The Inheritance of Single Christian Names.

Your best bet at this stage is to comb the surviving records of London Colney and the immediately surrounding parishes, for references to the Groom family between say 1770 and 1820. Land Tax and Militia lists are two places to look and HALS may have other documents that include personal names. Manor court records, and estate papers can be invaluable if they exist. Don't forget the registers (including witnesses at weddings) - and the burial registers. 

It is interesting that the HFHS Burial Index lists a William Groom, of Shenley Hill, who was buried on 4th May 1819 at Shenley, aged 24. He obviously is not your William - but this means we now know that there were at least two William Grooms in the area, born circa 1797, neither of which appear to have left birth/baptismal records. It shows how careful one must be not to jump to conclusions.

Some other information:

Have you seen Dorothy Colville's book, North Mymms? It is not indexed but it has a chapter "Churchwarden's Accounts and Other Matters" which suggests that you may be lucky if you follow up the "Parish Clerk" suggestion I gave above. In addition there is the following mention of a member of the Groom family on pages 46/7.

The following entry refers to a tragedy which befell a little family during February 1847. "1847. Ap. 2. Paid to persons engaged in the recovery of the bodies drowned at Water End and to John Massey for refreshments, 3 17s 9d." A mother and her two children who were crossing the frozen ford in a pony-trap were swept away and drowned, though the husband was saved. The men who were engaged in the rescue work were Gower, "Marlbrow" and Groom - all local men. John Massey, landlord of the Maypole, was paid 18/5 for the refreshments he served and the men shared the rest of the money allowed by the churchwardens.

To Conclude:

You have reached a point where the easy leads have gone cold, and hard work will not guarantee success. If you can follow up Sarah's family, and others in the area, you may find clues - for instance cousin marriages were not that uncommon - and you may have a lucky strike. Having struggled unsuccessfully trying to find any record of the birth of one of my ancestors in all the likely places I found a reference to the birth in an account book while researching another branch of the family living in the same town! Best of luck in your search.

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

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