Answers to Questions


COLLETT, Hemel Hempstead, 1740-1870

January, 2010



Hemel Hempstead

Donald C Norris (donaldcnorris @t, following up TOMPSON, Hemel Hempstead, 1750-1850 wrote:  I have done a little research on the Collett family of Hemel Hempstead as a Thomas Collett appears as a witness at the wedding of John Tompson to Elizabeth Goodwin in 1766. As you recall William Collett is mentioned in the will of George Tompson, 1808. William Collett appears to be the farmer and/or grocer in the Hemel Hempstead Directory for 1797.

Donald also drew my attention to the research by Brian Collett on the Collett Family History web site, particularly "The Great Western Line 1560-2009" page, where much of the name, date. and place research is attributed to Margaret Chadd. This provides some very useful information, particularly about Ebenezer John Collett, an M.P. who was born and died at Hemel Hempstead. I have summarized the family of Joseph Collett (1718-1771), born in Oxfordshire of Baptist origins, who came to Hemel Hempstead and set up a business as a draper.

Anne 1743-1819   Married her cousin Richard Williams
Thomas 1745-1814   Married Susannah Cole. Left Will. Baptist
William 1749-1811   Married Mary Crawley. Left Will. Baptist
Samuel 1751-1803    
[Ebenezer] John 1755-1833   Married Margaret Alsagar. M.P. Lived at Lockers House from 1799. Had 8 children. Left Will - His daughter Mary married Samuel Sandars and they lived in Lockers.
Benjamin 1757-1815   Possibly lived at Lockers House with his brother John, Died Downing Street, Westminster, Buried Hemel.
Elizabeth 1761-1814   Married Joseph Hight. Baptist.

I had not come across Ebenezer John Collett, M.P., in my earlier researches and decided to see what I could find in Hemel Hempstead published sources to add to Brian Collett and Margaret Chadd's research. Because of the importance of the family in the town, and as trustees of the Boxmoor Trust, there could be considerable unpublished material.

Members of the family appear in the Militia Lists under the name of Collett, Collit, or Collitt for the following dates. (If a name appears it means they were in the town and eligible for Militia service in that year.)

Joseph   1758-1762 Hempstead Town Draper
Samuel   1772-1786 Hempstead Town ... Two Waters Farmer
Thomas   1768-1786 Hempstead Town Draper
William   1768-1786 Hempstead Town Grocer


The History of Hemel Hempstead discusses the history of the Butchers' shambles and reports:

...  a reconstruction scheme was launched in 1798. Then a piece of the glebe land, on which stood a number of what were described as "ruinated shambles", was rented from the Vicar for £3.3.0d. a year and it was proposed to demolish these shambles, and also those in the front belonging to the Bailiwick and out of voluntary subscriptions to erect more commodious structures on the whole site. A special committee of five members was appointed to carry out the scheme. The work was put in hand and the new shambles were described as "neatly built of brick". But the subscriptions were not forthcoming and so the Committee in 1800 had to borrow, on the credit of the Bailiwick fund, £30 from one of its members, Thomas Collett, in order to pay the bill of the contractor, William Harvey. The loan was for four years and this was duly repaid, with interest payments of 30s. for each of the four years.


The book Royalty to Commoners: Four Hundred Years of the Box Moor Trust describes what happened when the Grand Junction (now Union) Canal was built across Boxmoor. In September 1799 seven trustees were appointed - Thomas Squire, Samuel Collett, William Jennings, David Nicholls, Harry Grover, John Batchelor and Charles Howe. At a subsequent meeting five more were added. They were Thomas Collett, William Roberts, Francis Warren, Thomas Goodwin and Joseph Hight. In addition William Collett was appointed to replace David Nicholls. In 1809 an Act was passed to ensure the status of the Boxmoor Trust. and the first trustees were C. T. Tower, George Holloway, Harry Grover, Thomas Godwin, Frances Warren, William Collett, Thomas Collett, William Roberts, William Johnson, Joseph Hight, John Jennings and Ephriam Ware.


As the Collett family clearly included Baptists I checked Nonconformity in Hertfordshire and found the following entry:

We, whose names are hereunder written, do desire that a dwelling-house and barn adjoining at Two Waters, in the parish of Hemel Hempstead, now in the occupation of Mr. Samuel Collet, may be registered as a place of religious worship for Protestant Dissenters, pursuant, etc., April 29th, 1801. John Geard, Tho. Button, Wm. Button. Registered. 2nd May, 1801.


The Victoria County History for Hertfordshire records that in 1813 the straw plait market was held in Collett's Yard, and later in the King's Head Yard. It appears that Collett's Yard was on the East side of the High Street, and was later known as Orchard's Yard, and later still as Austin's Yard. It seems likely that when William Collett died the grocery business was taken over by the Orchard family, followed by the Austin family. The entrance to the yard would be the archway which now leads to Chapel Street. (The "Austin's Place" on modern street maps is in the wrong place!)



Margaret Collett memorial in 2010

Cussans' History of Hertfordshire records the following memorial in St Mary's Church

In memory of Margaret, wife of Ebenezer John Collett, Esqre of Lockers House, this tablet is erected by her children. died March 7th, 1826, aged 51 years

In the Churchyard there was (no longer there) a large alter tomb of white marble, enclosed with an iron railing:

On the West End

Sacred to the memory of Margaret, wife of E. J. Collett, Esq., M.P., of Lockers House, who departed this life March 7th, 1826, in the 51st year of her age.

Also Thomas Collett, son of E. J. Collett, Esq., and Margaret, his wife, who departed this life December 25th, 1841, in the 36th year of his age.

On the East End

In memory of Samuel Sandars, Esqre., of Lockers House, who died June 1st, 1862, aged 73.

In memory of Mary, wife of Samuel Sandars, Esqre., of Lockers House, who died Decer 26th, 1869, in her 73rd Year.

Also of Richard, son of the Above, who died July 7th, 1871

Mrs Mary Sandars was the daughter of Ebenezer John Collett.


Trade Directories have the following entries relating to Lockers:

Collet, John, Esq Locusts [sic] 1829 Pigot's
Sandars Samuel, esq Lockers 1838/9 Pigot's
Sandars Samuel, esq Lockers 1846 Post Office
Sandars Samuel, esq Lockers 1851 Post Office
Sandars Samuel, esq Lockers 1859 Post Office
Sandars Samuel, esq Lockers 1862 Post Office
Sandars Samuel, esq Lockers 1863 Danks
Sandars Mrs Mary Lockers 1866 Post Office
[no entry]   1870 Post Office
Howlett, Rev William Henry [curate] Lockers Park 1878 Post Office

Draper Henry Montague

Lockers Park [School]

1878 Post Office

Cooper Clement Astley

Lockers 1882 Kelly's

Draper Henry Montague

Lockers Park [School] 1882 Post Office

April 2010

Brian Collett provided a copy of the Collett Family History Website Update No 44 which contains the following item on Ebenezer John Collett of Lockers House, Hemel Hempstead.

For your additional reading this month, I have reproduced below some information contributed by Michael Collett in France from over two years ago. This was added as an appendix to Part 4 – The Great Western Line at that time, but I thought it worth including here since we are in the run-up to a general election here in the UK.


The information relates to Ebenezer John Collett 1755-1833 (Ref. 4K6)

of Lockers House in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

He was the Member of Parliament for Grampound in Cornwall from 13th July 1814 until its abolition in 1818 for reasons of corruption. Thereafter he was the MP for Cashel in Ireland from 4th March 1819 until 1830.

He claimed descent from Dean Colet* the humanist and founder of St Paul’s School for Boys, and his grandfather the Reverend Joseph Collett was in fact heir to the Colletts of Broadwell in Gloucestershire. His father Joseph Collett settled at Hemel Hempstead, where the family remained until 1871.

He contested the parliamentary seat at Grimsby unsuccessfully in 1812, but was returned on a vacancy for Grampound two years later on the interest of Sir Christopher Hawkins. He supported administration without speaking and apart from votes on 31st May in 1815 and 24th May in 1816, he did not appear as a regular ministerialist until 1818, though he was also in the majorities of 7th February and 23rd June in 1817.

He voted against Catholic relief on 21st May in 1816 and 9th May in 1817, and also against Lord Brougham's motion to promote the education of the poor on 3rd June 1818.

Defeated at Grampound in 1818, he was found a seat by the Right Honourable Sir Robert Peel for Cashel, as he had given ‘a never failing support’ and was ‘a Protestant’. He duly voted against Catholic relief again on 3rd May in 1819.

He was in the minority on the Marriage Act amendment bill on 26th April 1819, but voted with ministers that same year on 18th May, 10th June and 23rd December. Though he never went to Ireland in his life, he held his seat until 1830. He paid £500 at each election and refused a baronetcy, according to a family account.

*Dean John Colet (Ref. 18D12) and his family line are detailed in Part 18 – The Suffolk Line, to whom no connection has been made for Ebenezer John Collett and his Gloucestershire ancestors, particular since Dean Colet and his two known brothers did not produce any children

So the claim by Ebenezer above was false – and you thought it was just in this day and age that you can’t trust what politicians say!

February 2010   Page Created
April 2010   New material on Ebenezar John Collett