NASH, Frogmore Mill, Hemel Hempstead, Early 19th century

September, 2010


Paper Making

Hemel Hempstead

Subject Index


Peter Kirkman (pkirkman @t wrote from South Africa, saying:  W. S. Shears' book "William Nash of St Paul's Cray" gives some Nash genealogy.  Henry Nash (born 5 Sep 1785) took over running of Frogmore Mill in Boxmoor after his father's death.  The above book gives Henry's death date as 27 Sep 1825 (at Boxmoor) [but see later update].  His spouse Millicent Hobson (married Hemel Hempstead 1 Nov 1820) ran the mill for a few more years, re-married to Edwin Albut (18 Aug 1830), then emigrated with her children to South Africa in 1838.  Her children, all by Henry Nash (?!) were William Henry, David, John (died young), James and Anne.  PROBLEM:  Anne Nash's date of birth in Boxmoor was 7 June 1828 (South African records & LDS).  Application of simple mathematics comparing this date to father's date of death (recorded by Shears) causes eyebrows to raise.  Could you please point my nose in the direction of whatever birth and death records may exist, to verify these dates.

This is potentially a very interesting question, see my answer below, and as I had not seen the book referred to. I wrote to Peter, and also asked for clarification of other sources used. He replied:  I am attaching the relevant pages from Shear's book, which is frankly all I have.  These were kindly sent to me by Jean Stirk of the "Papermakers" website. Richard Goulden's information in the British Book Trade Index also indicates Henry NASH's death year as 1825, but again I suspect that there is no reference to source material.  In contrast, Rear Admiral P. D. G. Pugh, who did extensive research on his own and several related families,  which included the the HOBSONS, recorded Millicent HOBSON's husband, Henry NASH, as having died on 21 August 1825 in Boxmoor, Hertfordshire.  The Rear Admiral published a book called "Pugh family".  I have not managed to get my hands on it, but I have photostats of the extensive handwritten family trees that he compiled while assembling his data.  I have found his work to be meticulous and accurate in the areas where it overlaps with my own sphere of interest.  That is why I am so interested in Shear's data.  Pugh's work "legitimises" Anne NASHShear's record raises a serious question!

On the subject of Anne's age Peter says: Her death notice (25 July 1858) is inexact but leads back to 1828.  Ditto for her marriage certificate (age 19 on 28 Oct 1847).  The memorial inscription on her headstone (58 on 25 July 1885 appears to be a year out).  Rear-Admiral Pugh recorded her year of birth only (1828).  For the rest, I have relied on LDS records and handed-down handwritten family notes.

Review of the Published Material

William Nash (1765-1824) and his family

Henry Nash (1785-1825) and his family

What Next?

A Corrected Date ...

Review of the Published Material

If you look at published accounts Henry Nash, and his father William are somewhat mysterious figures in an important story in the development of the paper industry. The first effective paper making machine was developed by Henry Fourdrinier, with the engineer Bryan Donkin, and installed in the Frogmore Mill. The design became standard world wide. The Frogmore Mill still contains a vast Victorian Fourdrindier machine and and is part of a Paper Museum called The Paper Trail which I visited last year. (See Report of the Visit, and other pages on the local Paper Making Industry on this web site.)

Chapter 1 of Shear's 1950 account William Nash of St Paul's Cray, Papermakers is headed "William Nash the First at Frogmore and Thomas Nash at St Paul's Cray, 1817-45". It is a verbose account - and the following seem to be the relevant statements about the Nash family from about 9 pages:

William Nash, the second of his line, owned [a paper mill] at St Paul's Cray ...

The founder of the Company entered upon his tenancy of Frogmore Mill, Hertfordshire, in August 1817. Very little is known about William Nash the First. He was born in 1765 and married  to Ann (her maiden name is unrecorded) when they were both about twenty years of age. Of their three sons, Henry, the eldest, born on 5 September, 1785, joined his father at the Mill ...

William Nash ... died at the Mill House on 5 May 1822, and is buried in the churchyard of St. Mary's, Hemel Hempstead. Henry survived his father for little more than a year, and died at the Mill, 27 September 1825, at the early age of 40. Henry had married Millicent Hobson, who carried on the Mill for a few years after her husband's death ... She and her children went away to found the South African branch ... where their descendants are still living.

The founder's second son, James, died at thirty-seven, on 30 July 1827, and is not known to have been connected with Frogmore. He married Elizabeth Holford and their descendants became the Belfast Branch, in which the male branch is now extinct.

The third son, Thomas, was also short lived, but well before his death, at forty four, the connection with St Paul's Cray, in Kent, had been made. The reason for the move is uncertain, as is the cause of Millicent Nash's surrender of Frogmore some time about 1830. ...

John Dickinson and William and Henry Nash, of Apsley and Frogmore, respectively, were therefore neighbours from 1817; perhaps competitors, but evidently friends. For Ann Nash's Will, dated 21 July 1831, after she had made her home with her son at St Paul's Cray, bears the signature of John Dickinson as a witness, together with those of James Deacon and James Pollard of Paul's Cray. She died in 1845, aged eighty-one.

Whatever the reason for, and the exact time of his choice of St Paul's Cray, Thomas Nash was probably settled there just before his father's death in 1824. His marriage to Mary Ann Dickson (or Dickinson) took place in 1830 or 1831. Doubtless he leased what was a handmade mill ...

That there was contact between the Dickinson family and William Nash seems to be confirmed by the statement in The Endless Web which records that On 4 January 1824 Ann Dickinson [John Dickinson's wife] records a visit from Mr Nash to 'put dearest in the way to dye the papers'. However the extensive Dickinson family tree shows no marriage into the Nash family.

Austin Pilkington's book, Frogmore & the First Fourdrinier has the following to say about the Nash connection with Frogmore Mill:

The lease of Frogmore Mill bearing the names Henry Fourdrinier and Thomas Nicholls dated March 25th, 1816 was not renewed by them, but passed to William Nash as did the working paper mill as a going concern in 1817. Ownership of the mill also changed hands in the same year, from Christopher Thomas Tower and others to the Grand Junction Canal Company. In this same year also the mill obtained a connection with the nearby canal, which had been constructed in the years following the passing of the Grand Junction Original Act of 1795.

Little is known of William Nash's origin, but as he was fifty two years old when he acquired the lease it seems likely that he had had previous experience in the paper trade, possibly at Frogmore Mill. He died in 1824 and his eldest son Henry took over, but he too died the following year. Henry's wife continued running the business for some years but in 1832 the lease was transferred to Montague Stevens. The Stevens family held the lease until 1855 when it was acquired by Henry Cox, who joined with George William Hayes for a brief spell. Between 1866 and 1877 G. W. Hayes and Robert Horsfall were in possession and then John Dickinson and Company for the next ten years.

This account is somewhat more precise about the property changes than Shear's 1950 account William Nash of St Paul's Cray, Papermakers and as Austin Pinkerton had been Mill Manager, and was writing a book celebrating 100 years of the British Paper Company, he almost certainly had access to the deeds for the mill, and this part of Shear's account probably originates (directly or indirectly) from the same source. We can therefore be pretty certain of the dates of the Nash involvement in Frogmore Mill.

William Nash (1765-1824) and his family

While there is nothing from the standard familysearch search facility the new "Research Search Pilot" provides the following information:

William Nash married Ann Todd on 10 June 1778 at St Albans Abbey

Children of William & Ann Nash, Hemel Hempstead

  Born Baptised Notes
Henry Nash 5 September 1785 18 September 1785 [no burial evidence for death in 1825 at Hemel Hempstead]
William Nash 20 April 1787 17 June 1787 [Almost certainly died an infant]
William Nash 29 September 1788 12 October 1788 [died before 1800??]
James Nash 25 September 1790 14 November 1790 [died in 1827 aged 37]
Sarah Nash 22 February 1795 24 May 1795 6 year old Sarah Nash buried 11 June 1801
George Nash 27 July 1797 27 August 1797 [died before 1800??]
Thomas Nash 5 March 1801 5 April 1801 Death of [44 year old] Thomas Nash registered March 1845 at Bromley, Kent


The information on the three sons is an excellent fit, so we can be sure we have the right family, who all were born in Hemel Hempstead. This immediately raises the question of what William's occupation was before he took the tenancy of Frogmore Mill.


I started by looking at the Hertfordshire Militia Ballot Lists (1758-1786) and while there were a lot of paper makers in Hemel Hempstead none were called Nash - and while there were some Nash entries none were called William. There was no entry for William Nash in the Hemel Hempstead 1797 entry in the Universal British Directory. Unfortunately the 1823 Pigot's Directory for Hertfordshire fails to list any paper makers for Hemel Hempstead! [There may well be manuscript documents at HALS which contains relevant information which I do not have access to.]


However the 1797 directory contains one possibly relevant entry. There was a James Nash, blacksmith, in Hemel Hempstead, and if William Nash was also trained as a blacksmith (such occupations tended to run in families, as do names such as James) his involvement with paper making is easy to explain.


See NASH (Blacksmiths), West Hertfordshire, from 1750 for other Nash Blacksmiths.

At the present stage the following is speculative - but by putting it on paper it may suggest places where confirmatory evidence might be found.

It is very easy to think of blacksmiths as farriers, making shoes for horses, but around 1800 there were no engineers and until the word "engineer" was coined the builders and repairers of the iron machines of the Industrial Revolution would have been blacksmiths. And where was the heart of the paper making machine industry in the early 19th century - Hemel Hempstead. If William was a blacksmith he could have been involved in the building, running and repair of the first paper making machines, and his sons could well have followed suit. The first machine was installed at Frogmore in 1804 and the second less than a mile away to Two Waters. Once it was realised that the machines were effective the market rapidly expanded and of the next 14 machines build by Bryan Donkin up to 1810, three went to Ireland, one to Scotland, and the rest to different places in England. Anyone with the skills to install, run and maintain these large and complex machines would be in enormous demand. So perhaps William takes on the Frogmore Mill (had he been in charge of the machine there?), Henry goes to a mill in a place unknown, James goes to Belfast, Ireland, and Thomas goes to St Paul's Cray, Kent.


When William died in 1824 the lease would have passed to his eldest son Henry - but apart from the unconfirmed statement that he died at Boxmoor, I am not certain there is any evidence that he returned to live in Hemel Hempstead. Possibly his wife Millicent came back to Hemel Hempstead to live for a time but when she remarried she remarried in London. It is extremely unlikely that Millicent was actually skilled in running and maintaining a large paper making machine herself - but would have required a skilled engineer as manager.


Henry Nash (1785-1825) and his family


The "given" information has Henry marrying Millicent Hobson in 1820 and dying in 1825 [but see later update], and states that he had children William Henry, David, John (died young), James and Anne.  Assuming no twins it would have been virtually impossible for 5 children to have been conceived and born between the marriage date and the death, and I can find no evidence for any of the baptisms (or infant deaths) of the children at Hemel Hempstead from "reliable" sources (see later).  What I did find was an earlier marriage between a Henry Nash and Ann Haskins at Hemel Hempstead in 1808 - about the age one might expect him to marry. I wonder whether an examination of the marriage register for the 1820 marriage will show Henry as a widower? If so some of the names given may be Millicent's step children. If Henry left Hemel Hempstead to run a paper making machine somewhere else there is no reason why this should have been in the United Kingdom and possibly some of the children were born overseas (but perhaps South African records suggest otherwise?). As for the "problem" of Anne being born in 1828 my response is "why not". One of my ancestors was the child of a widow and it is unrealistic to assume that all children, then as now, had legally married parents. However in such cases there could be problems in getting confirmation, as there is a question as to where the baby should be baptised, assuming they were baptised, and under what surname. For example Millicent (if living in Hemel Hempstead) might not want to turn up at St Mary's to baptise the baby as everyone there would know her husband had been dead some years and be able to say "tut tut". Ann, when she got to South Africa, may well not have wanted to provide accurate information of an illegitimate birth.


A word is appropriate about the familysearch results. The new "research search pilot" would appear to look at a different set of records and does not mention the birth of Anne in 1828. The "original" search shows a number of submitted records which are little better than "guesses" from family trees submitted by members of the LDS church. Many such records are based on the assumption that if someone died is a particular place, with a particular age, they must have been born in the same place so many years before. Any experienced Genealogist will treat such information as wild speculation until it has been confirmed by other, more reliable, sources. Many people who come across such entries for the first time assume they must be correct "because they are on the computer" (see ). The entries you found for Ann provide no evidence new evidence of her birth details. While it is not clear, the L.D.S. records tell you nothing you don't have from the South African records, and hence are no more reliable.


What Next?


I have probably exhausted the information available to me, but the light this throws on the history of the Frogmore Mill and the Nash family in the early days of paper making machines will be of interest to other people, and I will be alerting a number of interested parties, who may want to explore the matter further. There may well be archives relating to John Dickinson and his company, and the British Paper Company, and The Paper Trail and the Dacorum Heritage Trust may know of other paper related sources. Jill Stirk of the "Papermakers" website could also be interested. In particular it may be possible to find out more about where the three Nash brothers went, which falls outside the scope of this web site.


For the background of the Nash family in Hemel Hempstead there will be unpublished and unindexed material at HALS, and records for the old Hemel Hempstead Borough Council (possibly still held in the Dacorum Town Hall, where I consulted them on another matter over 15 years ago) which relate to the town at the relevant period and which may mention the Nash family - and might even include some clues to their occupation or abode.



There are a number of outstanding questions raised by this posting.  For instance, is there any firm evidence of William working as a blacksmith, or as an engineer in a paper mill? Did Henry go to a mill to manage a paper making machine, and if so where was it? Does Ann's will give any clues? If you can add to the information about the Nash family's association with Frogmoor Mill why not Tell me about it


October 2010

Peter came back with the following information, supporting the idea that Henry Nash had a number of sons in quick succession. It also reveals that they went to South Africa:

William Henry NASH, born abt November 1821, Boxmoor, Hertfordshire, England, died de Rust, Jansenville district [South Africa] 5 June 1873. Source: Estate file MOOC vol 6/9/144 ref 9530/1873, Cape Archive Repository.

David NASH, born 1822, died Henley, Steytlerville district [South Africa], 22 June 1881. There is not much detail for David; his death notice unkindly described him as "an imbecile". That was probably an exaggeration; however he did suffer periodic mental lapses.

John NASH, born 1824, died 1829, both events in Boxmoor, according to Rear Admiral Pugh.

James NASH, born August 1825, died Henley, Steytlerville district [South Africa], 28 June 1889, at the age of 63 years and 10 months (memorial inscription on his headstone).

And then of course, there was Anne (detail already provided).

William Henry and James NASH both became sheep farmers in the Karoo.  While he was conducting research for his book "Pugh family", Rear Admiral Pugh did a lot of hands-on work in the field. He needed to confirm the correct spelling of the maiden name of James NASH's spouse Jane, who had variously been referred to as "Yeatman" and "Yateman" in sundry records. Knowing that she died on the farm "Henley" in the Uniondale/Steytlerville distrct, he zeroed in on a possible farm grave, enlisting the help of my cousin James Kirkman who farms on an adjacent property. They were fortunate to encounter a very old farm hand, who pointed out the location of a graveyard from childhood memory, but due to the fact that it was situated close to a seasonal watercourse, the graves had over the decades been covered by a thick layer of silt. (The Karoo is semi-desert, and mostly very flat. During infrequent flooding, water lies everywhere, and tends to alter course willy-nilly). James could only locate the graves by driving an iron stanchion through the overburden at regular intervals until striking something solid. I have very good photos of the exposed graves of James NASH and Jane YEATMAN (spelling thus confirmed) and of the memorial inscriptions, in splendid condition. There was a third grave, very simply defined and much less "ostentatious". While the graves of James and Jane faced east, the third grave faced west. The old farm-hand provided the reason : "Hy was deur die maan gepla". (Translation:- "He was bothered by the moon"). This was the grave of the unfortunate David, mentioned above. That was the first and only time I have ever encountered burying mentally afflicted people "wrong way round", although I have subsequently been informed that the practise was widespread.

The reported burial custom for the mentally affected is unknown to me. Did it ever apply in England?

He also provided the following relating to Henry's wife:

You were speculating about the continued presence of Henry NASH and his wife Millicent nee HOBSON at Frogmore.  It is interesting to note that Millicent's mother, Ann HOBSON, was recorded as living in Boxmoor as early as 1822.  I believe she moved there after the death of her husband, William HOBSON, in 1816, to live with the family of her daughter Millicent.  The HOBSON family was originally established at Cottesbrooke.  The interesting aspect is that Millicent's mother was a CAREY, and was in fact a sister of the celebrated Baptist missionary, William CAREY, heralded as "The Father of Modern Missionary Work" Information on the Hemel Baptist Churches can be found at


   Boxmoor Baptist Church

This would all suggest that if Henry was living in the Boxmoor area the family were likely to be using the Baptist Church at Boxmoor which was founded by Ann Hobson and her sister Mary Carey in 1822. Some Baptist records are held at HALS (but possibly not for this church). In any case the Baptists do not believe in infant baptism - and the family may have left the area when the sons were too young to be baptised. This could well explain the paucity of relevant records relating to the births..

February 2015 update

Peter writes again: I am sure you will remember the lively dialogue we had in 2010 about the date of death of Henry Nash in relation to the date of birth of his daughter Anne.  It is all still there on the 'Nash - Frogmore Mill" page of your excellent website, and worth another read.  A lady named Christine Thurwell of 41 Crouch Field in Hemel Hempstead has compiled a booklet, a short history of the Boxmoor Baptist Church (before it evolved into the Carey Baptist Church).  Published by JVG Graphics in H-H. She uses minutes and registers of the original Church, which records clearly that Henry Nash died on 21/8/1828 (thankfully not in 1825!)and was buried in the grounds of the original Church.  That make's things a bit more comfortable, with reference to Anne's DOB (7/6/1828), and makes us all legitimate after all! I needed to keep you in the picture about the happy ending.

September 2010   Page created
October 2010   Link to Other Nash Blacksmiths; South African information
February 2015   Henry Nash's death date correction