Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions

 

SNOOK, GRAVELEY & HITCHIN, 1880-1902?

July, 2006

 

Places

Hitchin

Graveley

"Thomas James SNOOK" was born 16th October 1826 (IGI) and grew up in Aldermanbury London as a warehouse boy. He worked his way up the ladder and eventually became warehouse manager. He married "Sarah Jones" 1849 in London. Then they had two children, one of them married and moved to Oxford, The younger daughter "Emily Mary Snook" stayed a spinster (to my knowledge) and continued to live with her parents. The three of them moved to Gravely /Hitchin about 1881(maybe earlier?) where he was manager of "Coloural Raw Wool Warehouse Company".
He appears in the local census:

1881,RG11/1416,folio??,page 10,Gravely Village Manor House,
1891,RG12/1105,folio??, Page 8,Gravely Manor House,
1901, RG13/1302,Folio 90, page 39, Wilton Lodge, The Avenue, Hitchin.

He appears to be of quite high status because in 1881/1891 he is living at the village manor house. In 1901 he has a new house called "Wilton Lodge" which was newly built in 1896( the current postcode is SG4 9RQ) and "Wilton" was his mother's maiden name). His wife died in 1897 at Hitchin, and he died in 1907.

I last have "Thomas James SNOOK" in the 1902 Kelly's directory but not after that. After that I have no idea what happened to his daughter Emily Mary SNOOK, Wilton Lodge, Graveley Manor House or indeed the Coloural Raw wool warehouse company." I hope you are able to find time to help me in this researching this apparently affluent family who seemed to of achieved a rags-to-riches lifestyle.

The fact that your Thomas lived in the manor house is not automatically a sign of wealth - as many medieval manor and farm houses had, by Victorian times become very "substandard" and were often converted to workmen's cottages. Far more significant is that he had, at the time of the 1881 census, three resident servants and maybe William Pratt, listed next door in the census, was his gardener!. In addition he was one of only six local people in Graveley listed in the Court Directory (the others including the Vicar and an local J.P.) (Kelly, 1882).

Hertfordshire has for centuries provided country homes for the well-to do who wanted to have good contacts with London, but live in pleasanter surroundings. By 1880 the railways provided good commuter services - Stevenage railway station was only 1 miles from Graveley and Thomas may well have seen the Manor house as an attractive place to live as he got older, while maintaining easy contact with the warehouse, which I assume was in London. At the age of about 70 he moved to Hitchin, which would have provided far better facilities for an elderly couple than a tiny village such as Graveley. You should be able to get a copy of Thomas Snook's will (assuming he made one which seems quite likely) and this may be able to throw light on what happened to his daughter. Depending on how much time and effort you want to put in you could look for his daughter in the marriage, death and will indexes, year by year. (As you will realise from the instructions, I do not currently extend searches for individuals into the 20th century.)

I should point out that the 1901 census gives his occupation as "Manager Colonial Raw Wool Warehouse Company" - which suggests it was involved in the import of wool from the colonies (probably Australia?) and is likely to have been situated close to the London docks (and definitely NOT rural Hertfordshire). Have you tried looking into London directories of the time? You may be able to get information about the company from Companies House (I am not sure of the procedure) but as he is only described as a manager (and not a director) the company records may not mention him.

November, 2006

Thomas James Snook, manager of the Colonial Raw Wool Warehose Company, worked for "GOOCH & COUSENS" later "THOMAS GOOCH & SONS" (Wharfingers and wool warehouse keepers, with warehouses at London Wall, Leadenhall street, Pennington Street & St George Street, London). They were a massive company which ran from as early as 1830 (according to Sun Fire insurance records) and was finally wound up in 1948 (according to The Times Index).

My THOMAS SNOOK is mentioned in the Times Index, it says that he signed by procurement and held the procurement of the company, meaning that he held the power of attorney for them (after THOMAS GOOCH SNR, illness/death).   He must have been well thought of by the GOOCH's to be given this role, because the company had made a lot of money and it was entrusted to my THOMAS SNOOK to look after it, he held a very responsible position.

When THOMAS GOOCH died in 1898 his will left personality gross of 78,557 and net of 29,585 a massive amount in 1898!!(Times Index) I wonder how much of a share my SNOOK got from it, if any!! When the company was eventually wound up in 14th June 1948 (Times Index, and national archives) the high court of justice chancery division had with Drake & Sons Solicitors paid out all of the company shares, (or maybe there are still some stacked away somewhere for us to get hold off, as a secret legacy!!)

I think this emphasises the need to realise that the number of people who lived in Hertfordshire but worked in London increased rapidly when the railways were built.

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

Page updated September 2009