Susan Needs (needs_uk
of Port Talbot, South Wales, writes: I have recently acquired a birth certificate from
Hertfordshire of my great grandfather (Albert
Beaven) who was born in Back Street, Ware
on 23rd November 1852. His parents were John Beaven (grocer) and
Sarah Anne Bannister. I have searched various sites for records of the
marriage between his parents who are the named above people and am having great
difficulty. I have also found Albert in the 1871 census onwards. I know he was
married in June, 1878 in Hertford [registration district]
to Harriet Amelia
Chapman Pratt who came from Avebury,
Wiltshire. Could you also give me some information on
Back Street, Ware
as I have no house number or any other information.
On the face of it it should be a simple task to find
something further about Albert Beavan's parents. But it isn't, despite looking at the
obvious name variants and in some cases searching for first name only. I
checked the following.
- No sign of a marriage on familysearch, the
vital records index, or FreeBMD (from 1837-1852 there is a very high level of coverage).
- In 1861 one might expect to find 8 year old Albert with his
parents - But there is no sign of him in the 1861 census for England or
Wales (Ancestry) - and no obvious sign of his parents.
- As they were in Ware in 1852 one might expect to find them
in Ware (or at least in Hertfordshire) in the 1851
census (Ancestry &
HFHS CD). Again negative -
This involved complex searches of two different indexes (including a look
for all "Sarah" in Ware to check for a corrupted surname) and a
look at Back Street in images of the enumerator's handbook.
- A search for siblings in the censuses from 1861-1901 (Ancestry) (i.e.
Beavan born in Ware) found nothing, and
FreeBMD shows Albert as the only
Beaven born in Ware between the 1851 and 1861 censuses.
- Nothing for Ware or "Grocer" in the 1851 and 1855
Post Office Directory for Hertfordshire.
- I also checked the Back Street entries for the 1841 census
(S&N CD) without success.
- Neither John or Sarah Beaven are recorded as dying in the
Ware area between 1850 and 1861 according to FreeBMD.
Apart from Albert's birth certificate I found no evidence of
the existence of John and Sarah
Beaven, at least in Hertfordshire. However the following may be relevant:
- Albert's father John Beaven said his occupation was a
grocer and the 1851 census showed there was a major grocer's shop in Back
Street: William Mail was a grocer who lived in
Back Street with his wife, 5
children, 4 "Grocers Shopmen", a porter and two house servants.
Could John Beavan have been working for him as a "Grocers Shopman"
when Albert was born? (Herts Family History Society 1851 census
- Familysearch shows that some variations - such as
occur in Hertfordshire and I noted that 11 year old
Ann Bevan was buried at
Hertford All Saints on 28 November 1802 (Herts Family History Society Burial
Index). This indicates that John could have been born in
the surname was not unknown in the S.E. corner of the county.
There is one thing which needs checking which might help. That
is the marriage certificate of Albert. There are a number of questions where it
might give clues:
- Does the information about Albert's father
with the information on the birth certificate? (Errors can occur, and in
some cases information supplied may be falsified.) And does it indicate
whether his father had died? (If it says nothing this does not mean he was
- What was Albert doing to get married in the
registration district? He had left the area to work (1871 census) and when
married lived in Wiltshire (1881 etc censuses). Could there still be
relatives in the area - and does his occupation or address give a clue to
who they were?
- Who were the witnesses - and could any be relatives?
- What was Harriett Pratt doing in
Hertfordshire? After all
she was born in Wiltshire, and returned to Wiltshire when she was married. Could there
be an earlier link between the Beaven or
Bannister families and the Pratt
family in Wiltshire?
These are somewhat long shots - but they might turn up
Unfortunately the search facilities in Ancestry do not (yet)
allow one to search for all John Beaven (and variants) in England married to a
Sarah and I am not hopeful that John Beaven left a will (but it might be worth
From The Streets of Ware (based on Dury
& Andrews map of 1766)
You also asked about "Back
Street" - which does not appear on modern maps. Originally
there would have been a wide market place in the centre of Ware,
and the houses backing onto the river were called Water
Row, and on the other side Land Row.
Almost certainly, in medieval times, if not earlier, some of the market stalls
became permanent - and formed a Middle Row.
The wider roadway between Land Row and Middle
Row became the High Street, and
the narrower space between Middle Row and Land
Row became Back Street - now
known as West Street and East
If you can add to the information given
above tell me.