TAYLOR, Hertford, 1861-1890

August, 2007

Marilyn Taylor (marilyn @t of Hertford writes: I am hoping you may be able to suggest where I can look to find the death/ burial of my great grandfather William Taylor. So far I know he was born in Hertford 1813, married in St Andrews Church in 1837, lived and worked as a whitesmith in St Andrews Street Hertford. His wife died in 1857 and he appears as a widower in the 1861 census in Dimsdale Buildings St Andrews St, Hertford. After that I have been unable to find him I have searched the GRO death index and got a number of certificates but none are him, cannot find him on the 1871 census anywhere, searched all the parish burial records for Hertford twice! Tracked the children that I can be sure of and he does not appear to have gone with them so now I am stuck. I have tried HALS and Hertford Museum, deportation records etc, any idea where else I can look for him?

Looking for the death of an average working man can, as you have found out, be very frustrating, and I am afraid I can wave no magic wand in this case, especially as you have good access to the HALS records and so far found nothing. If there are other people of interest who lived in the area it is often a good idea to put such a problem on one side and research the others - and quite often something turns up, or you discover a new way of looking for the missing information.

The problem is that there may be no record for the death of a William Taylor, born circa 1813, to find. Some people just vanish - varying from being murdered and the body never being found, to moving to a different part of the country and changing their name. A relative of mine, circa 1900, went to Southend on Sea for the day with her husband and large family. She returned without her husband and the family was told that he had gone missing, probably drowned when swimming. No death was registered (there was no body) and 20 years later a begging letter arrived from the husband - who was now living in Australia!

However, assuming that William Taylor continued to live in Hertford after 1861, where might one find evidence, either of his death, or his still being alive. I can only throw out a few ideas - which you may have already tried:

One possibility is that the death was registered but the certificate was mis-indexed in the CRO index. This is not that uncommon (see A Comedy of Errors). The Hertford Registry Office will have the original certificate if it was registered there, and may have their own index which is likely to be more reliable that the CRO index.

You say you have checked the parish burial records but have you checked the records for the Town Cemetery? I don't know exactly when it opened but it was definitely in Stevenage Road by 1886. The records, which should also indicate the plot, may still be with the Council

Perhaps William Taylor was still living in the Dimsdale Building in 1871 - but the entry is unclear and not indexed. It could be worth looking at the enumeration book images to check.

Did he end up in the Workhouse? (I don't know what records survive for the Hertford workhouse)

Did he end up in court? (and do HALS have suitable indexed records to allow you to find out?)

In the 1861 census he had the following children - Sarah 15; Thomas 13; Mary 11; Louisa 9 (indexed incorrectly as 4 on Ancestry) and  Ann 6. You may know of others. Have you accounted for them all? If any unmarried children died before their father he may have registered their death - and their place of death could indicate where he was living.

When any of the children married the marriage certificate will give the name and occupation of the father. If the certificate records "deceased" you know he was dead before the marriage took place. Unfortunately the absence of the word "deceased" may not indicate that he was still alive - unless his signature is one of the witnesses. In the later case the Taylor child being married may have lived at their father's address.

... and the best of luck ...

There is a web page for Hertford

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


Page created August 2007