Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


Rose & Crown, Hitchin

February, 2006




Elizabeth O'Donnell (elizabeth_o_d @t hotmail.com) of Petts Wood, Kent, writes: I am trying to find out further information about my maternal great grandfather James Males who appears to have been the publican at the Rose and Crown Hitchin.  I have located him on the 1881, 1891 census and I know from family history that they moved to live in Mottingham SE9 in the 1920's shortly before William (mat grandfather) married Doris Brailey (mat grandmother) in 1926.  In particular I would be very interested to know if there are any photos of the pub during what appears to be the 40 years that the family lived there.

Using Ancestry it only took a couple of minutes, with a search for "James Males, born "~1843", living "Hitchin", born "Hertfordshire" to find James in the 1851 census in Pirton (with parents and siblings) and in the 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses, living in the Market Square, Hitchin. A search for "James" born "Pirton" in "~1843" showed the family in Pirton as "Mules". It is clear that the family were originally carpenters.

You should have no difficulty in getting this information for yourself, and it should be straight-forward to fill in the details with birth certificates, etc (see the Tutorial). Instead I will concentrate on your question about the Rose & Crown.

A brief history of the Rose & Crown is given in Hertfordshire Inns & Public Houses. The earliest reference is in 1652 and the information relevant to your query reads:

In 1868 the licensee Stephen Papworth was reported to the magistrates by Police Inspector Young as unfit to run the house being habitually drunk, and in the following year he and his wife were replaced by Mr & Mrs James Males (perhaps of the Males family of Codicote, q.v.). In the 1880s when public houses were coming to terms with the new popular activity of cycling, the Rose and Crown was described in a national cycling paper as "the best house in the country."

I am sure that there will be more records about this, possibly at HALS. The book lists several pubs in Codicote with a "Males" connection, including carpenters - and a check of the census returns may be sufficient to suggest whether any of the people mentioned are James's siblings.

I do not know Hitchin well, but found a photograph of the Market Place, taken in 1952, which identified the building, in the corner near the Church Gate. (Simon Walker's Hitchin - see Frith) This allowed me to identify it in the above picture from Handbook to Hitchin & the Neighbourhood (1899 edition). The Rose  Crown is the building in the centre with the arched doorway and the jetted upper story, next to the shop (number 14) which belonged to George Spurr.

The Hitchin Museum may be able to help with other pictures - and I am sure there are many different views of the Market Square.

March, 2006

Market Place, Hitchin
Valentine Series  38936 JV

The word "ROSE" can just be read on the sign on the corner of the building next to George Spurr's Draper's shop  

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

Page created February 2006