TOMPSON, Hemel Hempstead, 1750-1850
Donald C Norris (donaldcnorris @t gmail.com) of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada updated the information linking George Norris and his wife Mary with the Tompson family of Hemel Hempstead. described in NORRIS, Watford, grocers circa 1790 and later. I summarise the initial information below and then look at earlier evidence for the Tompson family in Hemel Hempstead.
The key new evidence relates to the will of William Tompson (PRO The National Archves, Prob 11/1980, Image 98) who died in Chelsea in 1843 and buried in Hemel Hempstead (from South Chelsea) on 6th May, 1843, aged 73. William died on 1st May, 1843, at 8 Sydney Place, Kings Road, Chelsea, where he was living with George Norris and his daughter Mary. William's wife, Mary, died in Chelsea in 1839 and was buried at Hemel Hempstead. William Tompson claimed he has freehold property in Hemel Hempstead and the lease on 8 Sidney Place, Chelsea. The lease he turned over to George Norris, grocer. Using the Hemel Hempstead register and the will the children of William and Mary were:
|Born||Christened||Died/Buried||Will and Notes|
|William||21 Sep 1794||23 Oct 1794||6 Jun 1809 (14)||Not mentioned|
|Mary||18 Aug 1796||11 Sep 1796||living 1851||wife of George Norris|
|Sarah||13 Feb 1798||25 Mar 1798||living 1851||wife of William Wyatt|
|John||23 Apr 1800||18 May 1800||1883||[Spouse Elizabeth Catherine Hansom]|
|Elizabeth||23 Sep 1802||17 Oct 1802||Widow of Eardley|
|Thomas||4 Apr 1805||5 May 1805||1883||[Spouse Alice Buggs]|
|Emma||25 Feb 1807||23 Mar 1807||wife of Andrew Eardley|
|Charles||9 Nov 1811||28 Nov 1811||17 Dec 1812 (1)||Not mentioned|
|Ann||5 Dec 1817||1884||Yes [Married Benjamin Lister Meres in 1839]|
My reaction on getting this information was to remember that two earlier members of the Tompson family are already listed in the only pre-1820 trade directory covering Hemel Hempstead (see Hemel Hempstead Directory 1797). These were George Tompson, Gent., and John Tompson, Bailiff. The Hertfordshire burial Index (1800-1850) reports that a John Tompson was buried at Hemel Hempstead on 9th January, 1805, aged 59, while a George Tompson was buried there on 4th February 1810, aged 68.
I knew of another earlier reference to the surname. Hemel Hempstead was a "Bailiwick" by a charter of 1539, This effectively created the post of "Bailiff" (a bit like a mayor) who was elected each year to run a court but the charter did not specify how this Bailiff was to be appointed. This arrangement continued until 1898, Hemel Hempstead being the last town in the country to continue this form of local government. The book History of Hemel Hempstead describes a major row about the election organised by then Bailiff, William Tompson, landlord of the Red Lion Inn in 1755.
So is there a link between William Tompson, landlord of the Red Lion in 1755, George and John Tompson listed in the 1797 directory, William Tompson (1770-1843) and the John Tompson who is listed as staying with George and Mary Norris in the 1841 census (see NORRIS, Watford, grocers circa 1790 and later)?
As we have approximate birth dates for George Tompson (1741-1810) and John Tomson (1745-1805) I decided to check their details on familysearch and found that both would appear to be the sons of William and Mary Tompson. Further research suggests they had 5 children.
This looks like a normal family of the period (see the Inheritance of single Christian names) with the eldest son named after the father and the eldest (only) daughter named after the mother. In addition it is reasonable to assume that the first John died as a child, and a look at the burial register could confirm this.
Further exploration show that a John Tompson married Elizabeth Goodwin at St Mary's, Watford, 29 August 1766.
This was followed by a normal looking family baptised at Hemel Hempstead. Note that the first 4 children have been given the name of their father or a paternal uncle or aunt. The first Sally was baptised on the day she was born, which suggests a private baptism of a newborn who was not expected to live. There is almost certainly a note in the baptismal register, and probably an entry in the burial register a few days later. I have not investigated the other names but note that James was a common Christian name in the Goodwin family in the Hemel/Watford area.
The National Archives list three wills relating to the Tompson family of Hemel Hempstead which look as if they could be relevant and which can be purchased online:
There are likely to be further manuscript documents relating to the Tompson property and their involvement in the Bailiwick of Hemel Hempstead, which could provide background on the family's role in the town, but unfortunately these are not indexed at individual name level and are unlikely to be accessible online for some time to come (if ever). I can mention some examples.
HALS (in Hertford) documents are catalogued on Access to Archives which shows that they haves a copy of the terrier of the Hemel Hempstead Tithe Commutation Committee which shows the owners of all lands in the parish in 1840, so should include the location on the large scale tithe map of any freehold property owned by William Tompson of Chelsea. They also hold a bundle of documents " Chancery Lane, London HALS TompsonHALS
Donald has now helpfully provided information on the wills mentioned above, a couple of typo corrections (made above) and reported that he had talked to a Doug Greenhill in Texas this afternoon who is a descendant of Sally Tompson. Doug notes that a William Tompson, probably her brother William signed her banns at St. Mary's. The following is based on the information he provided plus additional commentary.
William Tompson, mealman, 1766, was the son of William Tompson who had been baptised in 1736. He was married to Martha, who appears to have married a John Ince a few years after his death. Two children William and Martha Tompson are mentioned in the will.
William Tompson, innkeeper of the Red Lyon made his will on the 14th May 1774, the witnesses being Wm. O. Brashier, James Foster and Wm. Ginger. It was proved on 6th May 1776, the executors being Mary Tompson, widow, and William Tiverton, of Piccotts End. He lived at the Red Lion Inn, as a copyhold tenant of the manor (customary messuage). This means that changes in the tenancy - and possibly other matters - would be recorded in the manor court rolls and court books. These are held at HALS (see Access to Archives for index), and appear to be complete from 1732 to 1939. If William inherited the Red Lion the earliest records could well include information on his father and grandfather. They would also record changes within the Tompson family and how it finally passed out of their hands.
The wording of the will is written in the usual legalese of the period and it would appear that William and his wife Mary were joint tenants (perhaps they came to own the Red Lion from her family?). The property was to go to his son George and his wife Hannah, and on their decease to their children. However if there was no issue the property was to go to the children of his deceased son William and his son John. All other money and personal possessions were to go to his wife Mary, and out of this she was to settle any outstanding money owing to Luke Maitland, ?leather maker?, of Chipping Barnet (did they have a mortgage on the property?).
It is perhaps useful to wonder why the will was made as most people didn't leave wills. One possibility is that the custom of the manor was that property normally passed from father to eldest son. But his eldest son, William, had died, any grandchildren would be too young to have the property, and it appears that his widow (not mentioned in the will) had remarried. By naming George as his heir he ensures that the property remains in the Tompson family.
Donald later added: There was an inn in Victoria, BC called the 'Red Lion' started by William George Norris, son of George Norris and his wife born Mary Tompson. This business venture lasted about one year.
Sally Tompson married William Greenhill at Hemel Hempstead in 1805 - See Elizabeth GREENHILL, Abbots Langley, 1615-1679
|January 2010||Page created and updated|
|February 2010||Link to Collett page|