Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


GROOM, Sandridge, 1750-1790

May, 2009




David Hawkin (david_hawkin @t hotmail.com) of Leeds, West Yorkshire, writes: George GROOM(BE) is my 5x g grandfather who I have managed to trace to Sandridge. I am trying to trace his parents and an entry in the parish register of his baptism. However I have not been able to do this with any certainty. There are IGI entries for Kings Walden for  this time frame but nothing concrete. Here is what I know about the Sandridge family.

George GROOM(BE) b abt 1757 of Sandridge m Alice DAY b abt 1761 in Hatfield 23 Apr 1782 (IGI / Allen Index) - copy of marriage entry supplied.

They had three children:

  • Ann GROOM(E) bapt 18 Aug 1782 Sandridge
  • Phyllis (Fillis) GROOM(E) bapt 20 Jan 1788 Sandridge m James MINNIS 9 Mar 1812 St Peter's, St Albans. (IGI / Allen index)
  • William GROOM(E) - b abt 1790 Sandridge m Mary CHANCE 6 Aug 1827 St Alban's Abbey (IGI /  Allen index)

1. General Comments

It is important to realise that there are no surviving birth or baptism records for many Hertfordshire people in the 18th century for reasons given in Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837. Exact figures for the size of the problem are not available but around 1850  (see Religion in Hertfordshire 1847-1851) it was claimed that about 150 people attended the parish church in Sandridge while about 70 were associated with the Baptists and Independent United Church. At the time it was suggested that the non-conformist congregation would double if there was a chapel in the village. If the figures were similar in the mid 18th century a significant part of the Sandridge population would not have worshiped at the parish church, and their children would not be included in the parish registers.

While the IGI is very useful to family historians it must be remembered that it is primarily a record of the Church Ordinances of the Church of Latter Day Saints - see The Limitations of the ICI on Familysearch. The birth entries for George Groom and William Groom which you quote are both submitted entries which are guesses which are not confirmed by the surviving parish registers. The ages may well be based on the assumption that the average age at marriage was probably about 25, and both probably gave their abode as Sandridge when they married - which does not mean they were born there. It is clear that many of the 18th century Groom entries for Hertfordshire are submitted entries - and there is a family tree on the Ancestral file for the Kings Walden family.

My feeling is that this is an area where the advice in Right Name, Wrong Body must be taken seriously.

2. The Marriage

It is worth looking at the marriage information you supplied to try and extract the maximum information one can from a Lord Hardwicke's Act marriage register entry.

No 143  George Groombe a laboring man  of the Parish of Sandridge in this County and Alice Day of this Parish Spinster were Married in this Church by License this twenty third Day of  April in the Year One Thousand seven Hundred and  eighty two  By me Thomas Marsham Curate. This Marriage was solemnized between Us George Groombe X by his Mark, Alice Day X by her Mark In the Presence of Wm Hall, Tho. Wicker, John Oakley.

  1. "George Groombe"  This is an unusual spelling - which George could not check as he could not sign his own name - so would not know how it was spelt. It may be that the curate's spelling was erratic - something that could be determined by and examination of other entries in the register.
  2. "a laboring Man"  The normal entry was either "bachelor" or "widower"  - this non-standard entry provides us with some extra information - but does not make it clear whether George had previously been married or not. An examination of the register would make it clear what the curate usually did - one possibility is that he recorded the occupation for bachelors, and recorded the occupation and the word "widower" if the groom was a widower.
  3. "of Sandridge"  This was George's abode at the time of marriage. In the 18th century many farm labourers were hired annually at hiring fairs and lived in the farm house with the farmer. One must be very careful of assuming this was the parish of birth.
  4. "in this church"  At this time all marriages had to take place in a Church of England Church, much to the disgust of many non-conformists. If there are no "family" witnesses (see below) this could mean either that the family boycotted the service - or that the family did not live locally to the church.
  5. "by license"  Marrying by banns was usual for the poor - unless one (or both) of the parties were under 21, when parental consent was needed. In such cases the licence certificate often does not survive (but may be worth checking with HALS to see if they have it, as it could contain parental names), The rich also often married by license - but as George was "a labouring man" and could not write his own name the likelihood is that one of the parties was under 21.
  6. "by his mark"  Few of the labouring class could read and write. Another sign of comparative poverty.
  7. "In the Presence ofWitnesses can be relatives, employers, unrelated friends, or members of the church such as church wardens. It can often be useful to check the microfilm of the register to see what other marriages the witnesses witnessed. It can also be useful to see if the couple witnessed other weddings. It can be useful to know if any of the witnesses came from the groom's parish as if so they are more likely to be a relative or employer.
  8. It is worth noting that points a, b and f above relate to the "normal" practice in the parish and can often only be answered by looking at the register - rather than just an extract.

3. The Sandridge Militia Records

If George Groom lived in Sandridge in 1782 it is worth checking the Sandridge Militia lists (see Hertfordshire Militia Ballot Lists) for members of the Groom family, including George. We find the following entries:


Name First Last Occupation   Suggested Birth
James Groom 1773   Servant   1738 ?
Thomas Groom 1778?   Servant   1759 ??
William Groom 1778? 1783     1760
George Groom 1779? 1786 Servant/Labourer   1761
Joseph Groom 1781 1783 Servant (Served 1782 & 3)   1763
James Groom 1782 1783 Labourer   1764
Charles Groom 1784 1785 Servant   1766 ?
Thomas Groom 1785   Servant   1767 ??

There is a problem in knowing whether the entries for James applied to one or two individuals, and the same applies for Thomas. However one possible interpretation could be:

James Groom moved to Sandridge before 1773 with a family of children (boys) born between about 1759 and 1767. Because of the size of his family he was not eligible to be called up until 1773, and the following year he became 40 and was no longer eligible. As each of his sons became 18 they became eligible for the militia. If this is correct (and it is only a possible speculation) George's father was James Groom, and he had brothers Thomas, William, Joseph, James and Charles.

A quick check of the IGI (familysearch) suggests that there are no obvious birth/baptism records for any of these "brothers" - so the family was probably non-conformist and no records appear to have survived. It is worth noting that a Mary Groom married in Sandridge in 1775 (familysearch) and she might have been George's sister (Query - who were the witnesses? Were they members of the Groom family who appear to have been living in Sandridge at the time.)

4. The Kings Walden Family

The birth/baptism entries for this family come from submitted entries, rather than from the Kings Walden Registers - and both birth and baptisms dates are given. The recording of birth dates was far commoner with the children of non-conformist parents - and the information may have come from a family bible. A number of non-conformist families from parishes within a few miles of Markyate (which could have included Kings Walden) became Morons (See FLITTON, Flamstead, to USA in 1868) and some of their family records ended up in Salt Lake City and were added to the IGI (familysearch). If you want to know more about this family it might be best to see what information can be made available on microfilm at your nearest Latter Day Saints Family History Centre (address on familysearch).

Having said this the Christian names of the Kings Walden family has little in common with the "family" in Sandridge around 1780 suggesting that the two families are not closely related. (See  The Inheritance of Single Christian Names.)

5. Kings Langley and Watford Grooms

There are a number of records on the IGI relating to families in the Watford and Kings Langley area - including guesses about birth details which may be based on marriage records and assumed ages.

For instance William Groom and Mary had at least three sons baptised in Watford Joseph (1750), George (1754) and Charles (1756) and all appear in the Watford Militia Lists about 20 years after their baptisms - making it clear that the Watford George was not your George. However the Watford family includes the names William, George and Joseph which are shared with the Sandridge family so they may be related and William might even be your George's uncle. If the are several cousin families with similar names and ages (see The Inheritance of Single Christian Names) one must remember the lessons of Right Name, Wrong Body when researching your Groom ancestors.

6. What Next

The above discussion suggests that the Groom family moved into Sandridge in the early 1770s and members were there for about 20 years (maybe more). They appear to have been non-conformists and may have been related to the Groom family in Watford. The information from the Hatfield marriage suggests they were illiterate labourers. Unfortunately illiterate non-conformist labourers are among the hardest to research because there are few surviving records. (See How can I be certain about ...)

You will need to decide how much time and effort you want to put into researching this branch of your family tree. The problem you face is rather like solving a jigsaw puzzle where many pieces are missing - possibly including the "key" piece you are looking for. Looking for as many pieces as possible, and seeing how they fit, may allow you to deduce what is on that vital missing piece. For instance, if you could show that the Sandridge Joseph was the son of James and the brother of George you can deduce, with reasonable certainty, that James was the father of George.

There are several lines of attack, to finding missing pieces of the puzzle:

  1. Collect all the information you can about George and his children, such as occupation, residence, where died, religious affiliations, etc.
  2. Research the Groom "brothers" of Sandridge - where did they marry, what were their occupations, etc.
  3. It is clear from the IGI and Ancestral file that members of the Church of Latter Day Saints have researched some of the Groom families in Hertfordshire in the 18th century. More information may be available through your nearest LDS Family History Centre.
  4. Look at the manorial and estate records for the manor of Sandridge. The relevant papers are part of the Althrop Archive (Lord Spencer is Lord of the Manor of Sandridge) and are held in the Northants Records Office.
  5. Look at the parish papers for Sandridge held at HALS, County Hall, Hertford.

Unfortunately there is no guarantee that there will be enough relevant pieces to solve the puzzle - but you might find Is the the Right Birth/Baptism helpful - although it describes research of a very different family.

Page created May 2009