Answers to Questions


HILLS, Sandon, 19th century

July, 2006




Iris Hills (irishills3 @t of Waltham Abbey is researching her husbands family history. She has traced Hertfordshire connections (mainly using the census) back through Thomas Charles Hills (b. 1890 living at Chipping Street, Buntingford in 1891 census and 1901 census), John Hills (c. 15/11/1849 at Sandon married Mary Ann ? from Chipping) and George Hills b.1820 who married Mary Skipp (b. 1812) in  1842 in Sandon. The IGI record for the marriage shows George Hills' father as Shem Hills - I have searched world wide and can only find Shem Hills in US and very early ones in Sussex but the dates do not tally. I would like to get more proof that Shem is George's father and where they originated.

It is important to remember that the IGI on familysearch is only an index and you need to look at a copy of the original document wherever possible. Once you have seen the 1842 marriage register entry (best from HALS - but you can order a copy online) you will know more about George and his father Shem - and you may also have the names of the witnesses - which could prove to be relatives. (For more information see the Tutorial).

The most important clue is that the "original" Shem was the son of Noah - and the name's use is almost completely confined to non-conformists - whose baptisms would not normally be recorded in the Church of England parish registers. This is a common difficulty described in Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837?. Other records such as burial registers, tithe maps, land  tax, militia lists, and manor records can help, but proving a line can be virtually impossible. A general guide to the type of material available is given in the book Tracing Your Family History in Hertfordshire but you will need to check with HALS what is available for Sandon and adjacent villages.

Shem is not a very common name and names often  run in families (see The Inheritance of Single Christian Names).  Sometimes researching other possible branches of the family will get past what seems an intractable block. 

August, 2006

Iris Hills writes: Hi Chris....Thanks for reminding me to look before I leap!  I forgot that I was this side of 1837 and have sent for the marriage certificate of George Hills and Mary Skipp. I telephoned HALS and they kindly looked it up and low and behold George's father was JOHN not SHEM!

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

Link updated January 2008