Answers to Questions


MANSELL, Colney Heath & Derbyshire, Late 19th Century

March, 2007



Colney Heath

Carole Page (carole-page @t of Maidenhead writes: I have only recently discovered any of my family history.  My mother (Ruby Webb) was illegitimate and it embarrassed her to discuss anything related to her ancestors. Her mother was Ada Mansell. Her mother was Mary ? (aged 36 in 1891, born Hatfield) and sometime between the 1891 and 1901 census, she lost her husband William Mansell (aged 35. agricultural labourer in 1891, born Colney Heath in the parish of St Peter) and in 1901 is found as Mary Bird with most of her Mansell offspring and another one surnamed Bird I  am really trying to trace her original maiden name via her marriage certificates which I have so far been unable to do.

One very relevant thing which you failed to mention is the older Mansell children were born in Derbyshire, the oldest being Amy. who was 12 in the 1891 census. This suggests a marriage about 1877 - but why had the couple (individually or as a couple) moved to Derbyshire - and where would the marriage have taken place? My first quick search for the marriage, or  William and Mary and Amy in the 1881 census proved negative (but see below).

In the Herts Advertiser of 19th April, 1873


THERE are now locked-out at Sandridge, 85 Agricultural Labourers, for an advance of wages from 13s. to 15s. per week, and the pay of the lock-out men being only 9s, per week, they therefore solicit the aid of the friends and those who sympathise with the movement, for the extra benefit of the men with large families, while the lock-out lasts. Any small subscription will be thankfully received, and acknowledged on a subscription list, which may be seen by any person contributing. Any subscriptions may be given or sent to WM. PAUL, or to the Labourers’ Committee, Sandridge, Herts.


ANY PERSONS desirous to migrate to Yorkshire, Durham, Cumberland, Derbyshire, or any of the Northern Counties, can have a FREE PASS, as the Northern Association has entered into arrangements for carrying out the same with National Agricultural Labourersí Union, for the bettering the conditions of the Labourers in general in this and other Counties. The wages are from 20s. to 30s. per week. Any persons wishing to go to any of the Counties should make application to WILLIAM PAUL, Sandridge, Herts


In consequence of a general strike in the parish of Sandridge, near St. Albanís, a number of Agricultural Labourers are required to fill the places of those now on strike. Liberal wages will be given.


However the link with Derbyshire could be very relevant and adds considerable interest to the marriage. A number of agricultural labourers from the area to the north and east of St Albans moved to Derbyshire in 1873 as the result of an agricultural strike in the adjacent parish of  Sandridge. Most of the strikers were sacked and the National Agricultural Labourers' Union helped find the dismissed men new work. Some emigrated, but a number moved to Derbyshire (see advert) where wages were better because of the number of agricultural workers who had left the land to work in the mills. I researched the strike some years ago as at least one of my relatives was a farmer who dismissed his farm labourers, and for some years I have been trying to find out if my great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds, had workers who went on strike and were sacked. (One of the strike meetings took place on Bernards Heath common - which was virtually surrounded by his farm.)

 A check of the 1881 census for anyone called Mansell born in Hertfordshire and living in Derbyshire produced two relevant households in Ilkeston (which is in the registration district of Basford):

George Mansell, a 28 year old agricultural worker born at "Coneheath," Herts. His wife and 9 year old son William were also born at "Coneheath," Herts, but their other children, headed by 6 year old George was born at Ilkeston, Derbyshire

Joseph Mansell, a 29 year old platelayer was also born at "Coneheath," Herts. His wife was born in Derbyshire, but as their only child was 6 months old he had probably only been married a short time.

If we could only find him in the 1881 census William Mansell should have been 25, born Colney Heath, Herts, and presumably living somewhere in Derbyshire. Could three brothers, Joseph, George and William all have lost their jobs in the 1873 strike and moved together to Derbyshire? A search of the 1871 census for Hertfordshire shows a 20 year old Joseph, 15 year old brother William, both born Colney Heath, and other members of the family, including their parents. They were living in the rural part of the parish of St Peters, about halfway between Colney Heath and the southern edge of the parish of Sandridge. It is therefore likely that the young men, including your William Mansell, were involved in the strike and moved to Ilkeston as a result of the advert shown in the box.

There are several other families from in or near Sandridge who apparently moved to Ilkeston between the 1871 census and the 1881 census - probably because of the strike.

Revisiting FreeBMD I find that a William Mansell married in the Basford registration district of Derbyshire in 1873 - suggesting that when he left Hertfordshire his wife to be went with him or followed shortly afterwards - so you should have no difficulty in buying the marriage certificate and finding out Mary's maiden name and the name of her father. From that you should be able to find Mary and her family in the St Albans area in the 1871 census. You could also get Amy's birth certificate - which will also give Mary's maiden name - and the address where they were living when she was born - perhaps helping to find the family in the 1881 census. If you are lucky Amy's baptism may be indexed on familysearch - and this might help locate any older siblings born between the marriage in 1873 and Amy's birth. Details of how to carry out the relevant searches, etc. to get more details are given in the tutorial.

See The Agricultural Workers Strike, Sandridge 1873

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

Page created March 2007