Answers to Questions


WALL, Fishery Inn, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, circa 1881

October, 2010



Hemel Hempstead

Nick PATTINSON (nicolaspattinson @t from France writes: I am researching the WALL family who were tenants of the Fishery Inn at Boxmoor. They were present at the 1881 census on 3rd April.

Laura WALL (born 1846 in France) and her husband, Walter WALL (born 1828 Margate, Kent) arrived in Boxmoor from Northamptonshire probably in the second half of 1879 or early 1880. They had both been in service at Courteen Hall, Northants, as Lady's Maid and Butler.

Their first daughter, Laure ZoŽ WALL, was born on 14th January 1879 in Roade, Northants (source: Birth Certificate).  Their second daughter, Rachel WALL, was born 8th July 1880 in Boxmoor (source: Birth Certificate).

This was a second marriage for Walter. In the 1881 census the household contains two of his sons - William WALL (16) and Sidney WALL (13) - from his first marriage.

On 27th April 1881 Walter WALL committed suicide. (source: Death Certificate and newspaper article dated 30th April from the Hemel Hempstead Gazette).

His widow, Laura WALL is still named as proprietor of the Fishery Inn in 1882 (source: Kelly's Directory and the Post Office Directory), but Walter WALL's estate was modest (source: National Probate Calendar & London Gazette online), and with two baby daughters it seems unlikely that she continued to manage the Fishery Inn for long on her own.

I am basically trying to ascertain when the WALLs actually became tenants of the Fishery Inn, and when Laura WALL left, probably to return to her family in France. From the above I reason that they became tenants sometime in late 1879 or early 1880, before the birth of Rachel in July, and that Laura WALL must have left late 1881 or probably early 1882 after she had been awarded a letter of administration for Walter WALL's succession in late December 1881 (source: London Gazette online)

I have asked the Herts Record Office (HALS) if they have any archives for the Petty Sessions Victualler's Records for the period, but apparently not. I have been given to understand that records of this sort could establish more clearly when the tenancy began and when it ended.


 The Fishery Inn, by a lock at Boxmoor

on the Grand Junction Canal

[now called the Grand Union Canal]

Walter was the licensee of a well-known local inn, that was probably built to capture the passing canal trade after the Grand Junction Canal had opened circa 1800. The earliest known record is 1839 and  at one time it had stabling. The Fishery Inn is listed by name in the 1851 and 1866 P.O. Directory but surprisingly is not explicitly listed in 1878, although it may be one of the beer retailers whose sign is not recorded. Alternatively it could have been it the process of changing licensee. As you say Mrs Laura Wall is listed in 1882 - and this may have been out of date by the time the Directory appeared in print The next reference I have is that William Frederick Allison is listed in 1886.

The following may help to identify who owned the Fishery Inn, and held the licence, in the 19th century:

  1. Because the Petty Sessions Victualler's Records for the period have not survived a possible source would be the local paper, the Hemel Hempstead Gazette. However searching such a source can be very time consuming if you haven't got clear dates - and there is no guarantee that the paper reported the relevant sessions.

  2. A check in the books Hertfordshire Inns & Public Houses and Brewers in Hertfordshire reveals that the Fishery Inn was associated with the King's Langley Brewery, which at the time in question was owned by John Edward Groome. The Brewery and its tied estate of 32 licensed properties, including the Fishery Inn, were sold to Benskins Brewery in 1897. At the time of the sale the Fishery Inn had a "five stall stable at short remove from the house" - possibly for passing barge horses. Papers relating to the sale are held at HALS - but I can find no reference to what happened to the earlier brewery records, and there is no evidence that such records were available to the authors of the books mentioned.

  3. The Tithe map for Hemel Hempstead of 1843 (at HALS photocopy in Hemel Hempstead library) should identify the owner/occupier of the Fishery Inn at the time. If it was owned by the Kings Langley Brewery, or someone called Groome it is likely that they owned the Inn at the time Walter Wall was there.

  4. The Fishery Inn is on the north side of the canal and I think the canal now forms the boundary of The Box Moor Trust (web site). There is no special mention of the Fishery Inn in the book Royalty to Commoners: Four Hundred Years of the Box Moor Trust, which suggests it was not part of the Trust property, but if the Tithe map shows the Inn belonged to the Trust they may well have some useful information.

  5. It is possible that the publican at the Fishery Inn had grazing rights on Box Moor and if Walter Wall had such rights the Box Moor Trust may have a list of those entitled to make use of the Moor.

  6. One should look into why Walter gave up being a butler and took to running a pub. You may have already looked into this but in 1861 and 1871 he was working as a butler for Lieut-Col. William Bartholomew Higgins (born c1800), of Picts' Hill, Stevengton, Bedfordshire. His first wife Helen Wall (born c1825) was working as housekeeper. His employer was listed as still being at Picts' Hill in the 1876 Harrod & Co's Directory for Bedfordshire and must be the William Bartholomew Higgins, aged 79, whose death was registered at Docking, Norfolk, in the December 1878 quarter (FreeBMD). (Further information on William Bartholomew Higgins on the Turvey web site, with many other google references.) It might be that Lieut-Col. Higgins left Walter enough money for him to give up being a butler and instead run his own pub. It might be worth checking the Higgins will and if there was a suitably sized bequest. If so the date of the probate will indicate the earliest date on which Walter had enough money to go independent. He may well have found that his experience of being a butler in a grand house was not very relevant to running a canal-side inn, most of whose customers were bargees.

I  am not sure that any of the above will come up with any more precise dates for the time Walter and Laura were at the Fishery Inn but they could clarify who owned the inn, and the responses you get may suggest other avenues.


See The Grand Junction Canal - Winkwell to Boxmoor

See CATLING, Hemel Hempstead area, c. 1815 for a map of Box Moor circa 1899 - The Fishery Inn was built by the proposed bridge over the canal (above the "M" of "..XMOOR"

See A Military Christmas in Hertfordshire for another picture of the Inn, and a description of what Second Lieutenant Pilditch found in his stocking on Xmas day, 1914

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

November 2010   Page created