Genealogy in

Answers to Questions


SAUNDERS, Redbourn, early 19th century

also SAUNDERS, Hemel Hempstead, 18th century

August, 2007




Hemel Hempstead

Tony Harrison (a.harrison @t of Potters Bar, writes: Thomas Saunders according to census 1851 was born Redbourne abt 1791 he appears to have married a Maria as all his children are baptised at St Mary Redbourne parents Thomas and Maria. His first son James was born 1811 baptised 19.4.1811 I have checked parish registers from Redbourne, South Mimms and St Albans also the Allen Index without success. However on 27.9.1809 Thomas Saunders and Maria Humphreys were witnesses to the marriage of Thomas Allcock of South Mimms and Mary Ann Humphreys otp in Redbourne which could be Thomas and his future wife. Can you suggest any other avenue to search. Your comment on the completeness of the Allen Index would be appreciated as I have been unable to find any information regarding it including asking at HALS.

The inability to find a record for a marriage can have very many causes - including the possibility that the marriage never took place, via no record having survived, through to modern indexing errors.  The Hertfordshire Allen Index at HALS is a very valuable search tool because it covers a wide range of sources and not just marriage registers - and for this reason is more comprehensive than many other sources. It may be worth checking whether the Allen index includes banns, as if the couple come from different villages there may be a helpful banns entry somewhere. Of course no-one can guarantee completeness and accuracy of any human produced record, including the Allen index and while its coverage was very good it may not have been kept up to date to cover recent additions to the HALS collection.

You may find help page How can you be certain about ...  useful - and it links to some other pages relevant pages. While the situation is different, the example in Is this the right birth/baptism?  shows that sometimes you can be reasonably certain you have the right ancestor even if there appears to be no record of the "key link".

Clearly you have worked through the more obvious sources at HALS. From what you  say there may be one possibility you may have not thought of. You say that a Thomas Saunders and Maria Humphreys were witnesses at a wedding in 1809. As witnesses they will either have signed the register of made their mark. If they signed or made a distinctive mark (not just a cross) they may have witnessed other family weddings and with any luck there could be a "Maria Saunders" witnessing a Humphreys wedding after 1810 with a recognisably compatible signature..

Another area, where I have less experience, relates to manor rolls - as there could be a reference to a copyhold property transfer which links the Saunders and Humphreys families. Land tax may identify where they lived - but is less likely to help with the marriage.

January, 2008

Tony Harrison wrote: You answered a query from me in August 2007 re Thomas Saunders and Maria Humphrey. Just to let you know I have located the marriage in 1809 at St Andrew's Holborn (Pallots Marriage Index) so will now check register at the London Metropolitan Archives.

It is worth noting that some churches in London were used by Hertfordshire people who, for some reason or other, did not want to marry in their own parish. Some would be underage couples getting married without parental consent. Others would be men marrying their late wife's sister (prohibited under church law, but not civil law) so went somewhere where there was unlikely to be anyone who would point out that there was a "just impediment" to the marriage during the service. In addition quite a few non-conformists were married in London because they objected to being married in their local Church of England church.

February, 2008

Tony Harrison wrote: Further to my information on Thomas and Maria I found his father was John Saunders of Agnells Farm, Redbourn. On going back I have now found his G Grandfather who was John Sanders a brickmaker at High Street Green, Hemel Hempstead, who died about 1764. I  now suspect the John Saunders who died 1714 and also was a brickmaker at High Street Green is related. On your site under Brickmakers it talks of the Sanders [See  The Leverstock Green Brickfields and on Bernards Heath, St Albans]  and also in the 1797 Hemel Hempstead directory when a John Sanders who was a farmer and brickmaker is listed.

August, 2008

Tony Harrison wrote:  Just a further update on above I have visited London Metropolitan Archives and seen the 1809 Marriage information in the St Andrews Holborn register.

Thomas Saunders of the Parish of St Andrew Holborn in the County of Middlesex, Bachelor, and Maria Humphreys of the Parish of Redbourn in the County of Hertford, Spinster, were married in this Church by Licence this Twenty Seventh day of December in the Year One thousand eight hundred and nine by me Charles Pryce Curate, The Marriage was solemnized between us Thomas Saunders and Maria(n) Humphreys in the presence of us Eliza Poulton, Thomas Moore

Both parties signed and the signatures are the same as for the witnesses to the marriage of John Allcock in Redbourn. An unusual feature is that the register is all hand written with the approved correct forms being used for the Bishops Transcripts

If at the date of Maria's death 14.12.1832 she was as shown aged 38 this would give her a birth date of 1794 meaning she was only 15 at the time of her marriage. Perhaps the reason for the marriage being in London. I am now looking for the Marriage Allegation

As you know I have connected Thomas back to the family of John Saunders who died between 20.2.1762 (date of Will) and 9.3.1764 (date of probate) he mentions 4 children in his will John, Daniel, Esther and Mary. To date I have been unable to find a burial for John or baptisms for any of his children I have checked HH and Abbots Langley any other idea where someone from High Street Green might worship.

It is not immediately clear what records you have used to establish the links back to the John Saunders who died in about 1763 but I decided to look in the National Archives index to get some ideas and noticed the following entries:

Joseph Sanders and Hannah Reading of Redbourn 1737 - Intention of Marriage - indexed as part of a collection of Quaker records. [Hertfordshire Archives] NQ2/5C/229

Online Document PROB 11/735  Will of Joseph Saunders Brickmaker Hemel Hempstead , Hertfordshire Date: 1744. Source: DocumentsOnline (images of documents from The National Archives)

Copy of Court Roll DE/Z120/44288  Admission of Daniel Saunders to a close called Lower Field at Highstreet Green under the will of John Saunders, late of Highstreet Green, brickmaker, his father. [Hertfordshire Archives] Date: 1764. Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives

Copy of Court Roll DE/Z120/44298  Admission of Thomas Kellam of Hemel Hempstead, innholder, to a close called Lower Field near High Street Green, on the surrender of John Saunders of Redbourn, farmer (eldest nephew of Daniel Saunders) and Elizabeth his wife. [Hertfordshire Archives] Date: 1793. Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives

If you look at the entry for Hemel Hempstead in the Victoria County History (available online) you will see that there was a significant level on non-conformist activity in the 18th century, and the first two of the above items suggest that a Joseph Saunders, brickmaker of Hemel Hempstead was a Quaker. As Quakers kept excellent records (see My Ancestors were Quakers) it could be worth checking to see if your John Saunders was a Quaker. If, on the other hand, he was a member of the Baptists or another non-conformist group family birth/baptism records probably have not survived, if they ever existed. It should be noted that some non-conformist groups could have had their own burial grounds.

The other two entries show that John Saunders, brickmaker of High Street Green had a copyhold close called Lower Field. A year ago I mentioned the possibility that manor rolls might help - and the two indexed items are extracts from the manor rolls. A further check shows that HALS hold the original court rolls for Hemel Hempstead and these almost certainly contains much more information of property held by the Saunders family, and how it was passed from generation to generation.

In reply to the above Tony provided more information: Thank you for your prompt reply. I am afraid this might be a bit long winded but to avoid confusion I have numbered the John's working backwards.

John5 Saunders married Elizabeth Johnson in 1777 at HH They had five children Susannah, Ann, John6, William and Thomas (who married Maria Humphreys) In John5 Will he states he has given 800 to John6, leaves 400 to each of his daughters and leaves Agnells Farm, Redbourn, to William and Thomas (William also married a Humphreys) I discovered the link back to John3 who died about 1763 as in his will he leaves the main part to his son John4 and Lower field to his son Daniel. I discovered under the Court Roll that Daniel left the field to his eldest nephew John5 and Elizabeth of Redbourn since John3 only had the two sons John4 and Daniel

I presume it is John4 (who appears on the muster rolls of HH and is shown as a farmer and brickmaker in the 1797 Directory of HH) who is the father of John5 the eldest nephew of Daniel. Daniel also appears on several Militia list as being of High Street Side and is shown in 1764 as deaf.

Your discovery of the will of Joseph Saunders at the national archives (I have now purchased a copy) show he was a Brickmaker at High Street Green and he left his goods etc. to his wife Judith.

John1 who died in 1714 left his goods to his wife Mary and to his eldest son John2 (although no other sons are mentioned) His will tells us he was a brickmaker of High Street Green. In Herts. Genealogy and Antiquities by Brigg at HALS there is reference to a Marriage Bond for John Sanders to Mary Rolf in 1675 in which one of the bondsmen was Joseph Sanders a Brickmaker of Hempstead.

Joseph's will 1744 is signed as witness by Joseph Camfield and a Mr Cox clerk to Mr Ginger. John3's will 1762 has as witnesses Joseph Camfield of Coxpond and W Gingers, It looks as though both wills were drawn up by a lawyer.

As an aside there is a will for Thomas Rolf 1664 of Belswains Abbots Langley. Two of William's sons married Martin girls the daughters of James Martin who farmed Belswain Thomas's son George married Ann Martin, James's eldest daughter, and on the death of James became the tenant of Belswains.

I have several other bits of information about the family but will try the Quaker Records and see if my missing Sanders/ Saunders are there.

It would be very interesting if it was possible to show a relationship between the Joseph Saunders, brickmakers, of Hemel Hempstead (references 1675 and 1744) and the Joseph Sanders who had a brick kiln on Bernards Heath between 1696 and 1710.

July, 2010

Katherine Southall (katherine.southall @t of Crawley, West Sussex, sent this useful update:  I think I have found John4 in your explanation of the Saunders family of Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead. I believe he is the John Saunders of Westwick Row who's will was granted probate in 1782. This John Saunders mentions his children as follows:

My two younger sons, Thomas and Daniel.
John Saunders, my eldest son.
My daughter, Susannah, wife of Thomas Baily.
My daughter, Elizabeth, wife of John Herridge (variant of Headech).
My daughter, Esther (or Hester) the wife of William Fellows.
My daughter, Ann Saunders.

He mentions property in High Street Green which links to previous generations of the Saunders family. My next step is to confirm the link although I am reasonably  confident that it fits. My link to the family is through Ann Saunders, daughter of John5. In John5's Admon papers it mentions his daughter, Hannah Hawkins. Hannah (Ann) had married Edward Hawkins who later became the miller at Redbournbury Watermill.

Tony commented:  I have made contact with Katherine and I am pretty sure that she has found John4. I had looked at this family who are still there in 1851 as George H and Daniel Saunders of Westwick Farm were witnesses to the will of my Thomas Saunders of Hill End Farm in 1857 but could not make the connection. Also one of the witnesses to John4's will is a Wm Ginger Jnr. so it looks as though the Saunders used the lawyers surnamed Ginger as they appear in John3's and Joseph's wills. Another connection between the Saunders, Thomas who lived at High Street Green and who died 1748 had a daughter who married Richard Reading who occupied Westwick Row farm in 1768.

Additional information on Joseph who died 1744. I found reference to a marriage licence in William Briggs "The Herts Genealogist and Antiquary" Vol III page 375 Joseph Saunders of Hemel Hempsted Brickmaker to Judith Long of St Albans Feb 7 1713/14 her father was a Wheel maker.

The saga continues it looks as though they are all one big extended family.

August 2011

Tony Harrison (a.harrison @t of Potters Bar, points out the link between this page and the recent one George Thomas SAUNDERS, Redbourn, 19th Century. He says: George Thomas Saunders was the son of William Saunders and Charlotte Humphreys. This was the William who together with Thomas (who married Maria Humphreys) inherited Agnells farm from their father John who died 1808.

Three Saunders married into the Martin family Daniel eldest son of William who married Jane George Thomas his brother who married Fanny and George their cousin the son of Thomas who married Ann (Anna) who took over Belswains Farm where the Martin sister's father James Martin was until his death in 1834

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

July 1010   New information added