BOWER, Cheshunt, circa 1850

July, 2007

Kate Spencer (kate.spencer9 @t of Sydney, Australia, writes: The Will of my ggggrandfather's Niece has  witnesses living somewhere that has taken me an hour to decipher/find....Cheshunt. It appears to be Cheshunt House and having come this far I wondered if this is the Manor house spoken of in the area. This is purely curiosity as George and Eliza Bower are no relation, to my knowledge but were possibly friends of the Testator Joanna Margaret Simpson.

Kate provided some useful background information the key aspects being:

Joanna Margaret Simpson, Spinster born 28 April 1800 St Dunstan in the West (Stepney), died probably 1853 Stamford Street, Blackfriars Road (no actual area given) She made her will in 1849.

She was the daughter of David Simpson/Elizabeth Ward (family lived Hackney)
Had four known siblings

Rev William West Simpson b 1794
Rev George Philip Simpson b c 1796
David James Simpson (Naval Officer, Purser,  sloop "Satellite" c 1841, "Britannia" c 1853) b c 1798
Sydney Ward Simpson b 1802  ?

George Bower and wife were the only Witnesses. His wife signed her name Eliza Wheatley Bower.

Following up witness identities can often throw light on family history and this query looked as if it could be a good example. The first step would be to look up George and Eliza in the 1851 census to find out who they were. In fact it turned into a good example of the difficulties of tracking people down on the census - particularly in South East Hertfordshire.

I started confidently using Ancestry

I was getting worried - they were not there.- or were they? Of course, as the will was made in 1849 they may have been elsewhere or dead by 1851. Before I abandoned the search I looked under Cheshunt in the 1851 Post Office Directory

So George was there all the time - so was the problem with the way the census had been indexed on Ancestry? There are other indexes/transcripts to the 1851 census for Hertfordshire - so I first looked at the one produced by the University of Hertfordshire which is clumsy to use because it has a separate text file for each town and village. I selected the "Cheshunt" file and searched for the text string "Bow". Up came the following entries:

108	Chance	Jane	28	Crossbrook Street	Head	Mar	42	*	f	*	Z	13	970	ZZ01	17	Middx	Westminster	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
109	Morgan	Edward	28	Crossbrook Street	Son	*	5	*	m	Scholar	Z	13	970	ZZ01	17	City	*	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
110	Wilson	Elizth	29	Crossbrook Street	Head	Widow	25	*	f	Dress Maker	C	4	350	MF23	2	London	Strand	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
111	Chiddel	Louisa	29	Crossbrook Street	Serv	*	14	*	f	Servant	D	8	810	DS01	10	Herts	Cheshunt	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
112	Bowes	George	30	Crossbrook Street	Head	Mar	40	*	m	Oil Merchant	B	6	693	DL13	15	Hants	*	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
113	Bowes	E L	30	Crossbrook Street	Wife	Mar	40	*	f	*	B	13	970	ZZ01	17	Surrey	*	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
114	Coxall	Mary	30	Crossbrook Street	Serv	Unm	20	*	f	House Servant	D	8	810	DS01	10	Herts	Cheshunt	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
115	Brand	Thos	31	Crossbrook Street	Head	Mar	58	*	m	House Proprietor	A	10	910	PO01	12	*	*	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				
116	Brand	Mary	31	Crossbrook Street	Wife	Mar	56	*	f	*	A	13	970	ZZ01	17	Middx	Shoreditch	1b	Cheshunt	1851	HO107 1704				

A search using the Hertfordshire Family History Society transcript is easier and produces the data in a tidier format - but the version I have does not cover the whole of Hertfordshire - so I tend not to use it so much:

Now we have found a "George Bowes" I returned to Ancestry to locate the original and identify the "problem." The following was found in "Cheshunt, Middlesex".

Problem 1: The spelling of the surname: The original is very difficult and I suspect that many people who visit this site would not have recognised the entry at all. The name may be George Bower rather than George Bowes but the miracle is that three different transcribers came up with such a good fit. This is the sort of error which frequently occurs when the handwriting is difficult to read.

Problem 2: Is this Eliza? The person we are looking for signed herself "Eliza Wheatley" and the transcribers agree that the entry only gives the initials "E L" (which happen to be the first two letters of Eliza). A further search shows that a George Bower, Oil Merchant, and his wife Eliza were living in nearby Broxbourne at the time of the 1861 census, the counties of birth being identical to 1851. The ages do not fit precisely - but the "40" of 1851 maybe an approximate one - as in 1851 some people followed the requirements of the 1841 census and rounded ages off. instead of giving an exact age.

Problem 3: Why Cheshunt, Middlesex?  Cheshunt was in the Enumeration District of Edmonton, Middlesex - because it was part of the Edmonton Union and the census areas corresponded to union boundaries and sometimes crossed county boundaries. All the Cheshunt entries on the 1851 census have been places in Middlesex, despite the fact that at least some of the enumeration forms clearly identify it as being in Hertfordshire. A serious error by Ancestry. A quick check showed the following wrongly listed in Middlesex:

1851 Census in Middlesex

Cheshunt, Chipping Barnet

1871 Census in Middlesex

 Chipping Barnet, Waltham Cross (in other years indexed with Cheshunt)

Problem 4: Why Crossbrook Street? The Post Office Directory said "Turner's Hill". There is no entry in the street column of the 1851 census for any houses on this page, but the two transcriptions say "Crossbrook Street." The district description is as follows:

As can be seen the enumerator covered "the East Side of Crossbrook Street and Turners Hill" and recorded the first entry on the first page in the book as being in Crossbrook Street - but subsequently failed to record a street address. The transcribers have assumed a blank address entry means "ditto" and duplicated "Crossbrook Street" for page after page. In fact Crossbrook Street and Turners Hill are the same road which simply changes its name - and that at least some of the later Crossbrook Street entries in the returns, possibly including the Bower entry, are really Turners Hill.

See also Problems with finding census returns

Because of the problems with the census the original question has almost been forgotten. However it has been established that a George and Eliza Bower were living in the Turners Hill area of Cheshunt  in 1851, and they had sufficient social status to be listed in the Court section of the Directory. Their house name address within Turners Hill is not known, but it cannot have been the Cheshunt Great House (sometimes called Cheshunt House) as this is in a completely different part of the town. The Bowers may well have been of a similar social class to the Simpsons but there are no obvious common links to suggest why they were witnesses to Joanna Margaret Simpson's will.

The advert on the left appeared in the 1905/6 guide, Harold's Town, which is mainly about Waltham Abbey but includes a short description of Cheshunt, together with a few adverts.

It records H. Beedell's shop as Cheshunt House, Cheshunt, so it is relevant to ask if it could be the Cheshunt House where George Bower lived some 50 years earlier.

An examination of Kelly's directories show that Beedell was not listed in 1899, but in 1902 there was an entry for "Herbert Beedell, draper and outfitter, 74 High Street, Cheshunt". He was not listed in 1908, but there was an entry for a Mrs Percy J Andrews, draper and outfitter at 74 High Street, Cheshunt.

In the 1901 census a Richard Henry Reynon(?) was a family draper at 74 High Street, and the side road in the picture would seem to be Cadmore Lane. It is at the other end ot the High Street from Turners Hill and Crossbrook Street - so it would seem not to be the "Cheshunt House" occupied by George Bower.

There is a web page for Cheshunt

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


Page created July 2007