Answers to Questions


YERBY, Wilstone, Tring, circa 1800

September, 2010



Wilstone, Tring

George Yerby (george.yerby @t of Bexhill-on-Sea writes: I have done quite well tracing the name (Yerby) in the Hertfordshire censuses and parish registers for 1750 to 1850. But I have a particular problem trying to track down a map which is thought to show a "Yerby's Field". The areas of special interest are Chipperfield, King's Langley, Sarratt and especially Tring in the 18th century. It seems that the family may have lost some of their holdings when the common lands around Tring were enclosed in 1799.

I have added a new information page - Field Names - which looks at the problem of sources, including maps. Unfortunately I do not have access to any map that could quickly answer your question .

From what you say it is not clear whether the name "Yerby's Field" came from a single map or document recording the name of the contemporary owner/tenant or whether it refers to a former tenant - perhaps from centuries before - and is hence the "genuine" name for the field. I know that in many manuscript maps of individual properties (for instance particulars of a property for sale) the adjacent properties are often identified by the name of the current owner or tenant, rather than by the possibly long established name of the field. The same thing happens in other contexts - for instance many yards behind shops in a town are often referred in census returns by the name of the shopkeeper who owns the yard. At the next census the shopkeeper has changed so the name of the yard has changed.

But even if I can't find a specific "Yerby's Field" it might be possible to track down something. My first attempt was Sheila Richards' book A History of Tring which contains a list Valuation of property in the Parish of Tring made by the Commissioners `under the Inclosure Act (1797). This lists owners and tenants but only describes property in general terms such as "cottages," "land" or "woods." The name Yerby (or any reasonable spelling variation) does not occur on the list, so if the family were there this might suggest that they would at best have been under-tenants - perhaps living in a cottage. But beware - it may be that the author of the book only copied part of the list, or the inclosure only covered the Manor of Tring, excluding the hamlets of Long Marston and Wilstone. The Inclosure Map of 1799 (DP111/26/2) and the Inclosure Award document of 1804 (DP111/26/1) are available at HALS and you will need to check these to be certain.

I decided to look for other evidence of the name Yerby (Yarbey, Yerbey, Yorbey) in the area to see if there were any who may have owned property. I started by looking at the Hertfordshire Militia Ballot Listss for Tring, Long Marston and Wilstone. (Just because the same name occurs in different years does not mean that it is the same person - see Right Name, Wrong Body, the example for George Seabrook is actually drawn from this area.)

 In Tring the name John Yerby occurs on the Militia Lists between 1765 and 1775 as a labourer, gardener, weaver and finally as drawn (i.e selected by ballot for the militia). Joseph Yerby was listed as a servant at Tring Ford (a hamlet between Tring and Long Marston) between 1763 and 1772, William Yerby's name occurs as a labourer in Tring between 1758 and 1764. There were no Yerby listed for Long Marston but for Wilstone the name John Yerby occurs many times between 1757 and 1786, first as labourer, then as servant but also as constable between 1775 and 1786. This is particularly interesting as the constable was responsible for drawing up the militia list, and presumably had some local status - but John only made his mark on the returns, meaning that he could not even sign his own name and someone else must have acted as scribe.

A few additional quick checks showed that  a widow, Mary Yerby of Tring, died in 1792 leaving a will while a spinster, Sarah Yerby of Tring, died in 1817, again leaving a will (Wills at Hertford, 1415-1858). This is significant as not many people made wills at this time. The Herts Burial Index (mainly 1800-1850) provides a clue. On 28 December 1800 a Thomas Yerby of  Wilstone was buried at Tring, while on 7th March 1817 a 51 year old Sarah Yerby of Wilstone was buried at Tring. In addition the John Yerby whose unnamed baby daughter was buried in Tring may well be the 90 year old John Yerby in Tring during the 1841 census.

Wills could mean property and Access to Archives records that there is a letter from William Smith of Hemel Hempstead to Mr Philbey of Tring, dated 23 September 1819, concerning land (location not given in index) bought by Mr. Kipping of Elizabeth and Sarah Yerby etc. This is in the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies reference  D-X793/68. Further examination of related documents in this index (involving Smith, Philbey or Kipping) may be relevant - for instance the letter from J Philbey to Mr. Smith. 'This is all the Information I can give you about the allotment at Wilstone'. Marked Kippings to Butcher  (D-X793/69  No date) which may refer to the same property. (The original source of these documents is not known but it appears that they came from a solicitor's office, the parchment documents were sold off to collectors, and the paper documents originally filed with the parchment documents sold as a job lot at an antiques fair. This could mean that the most informative documents could now be in private hands anywhere in the world! See What happened to that vital record?)

It would therefore seem that there was some land (but perhaps only an allotment) at Wilstone which had been owned by Sarah and Elizabeth Yerby and sold to Mr (William?) Kipping  and some time later (in 1819) involved in some other property deal, perhaps involving Mr Butcher.  In 1823 (Pigot's Directory) there was an auctioneer firm recorded as Filbey and Jones which probably relates to the Mr Philbey of Tring mentioned above.

If you want to take this further you will need to consult the Inclosure documents and the wills at HALS, and possibly the correspondence at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies

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

September 2010   Page created