Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


Kingston BEDFORD, Hemel Hempstead, Circa 1800

September, 2012



Hemel Hempstead

Jeni Molyneux. (lower.house @t  btinternet.com) of Worcester writes: I  have a Kingston Bedford born 1803 in Asheridge [Is there any evidence for his birth at Asheridge????] near Chesham Buckinghamshire. On this site there is a trade directory listing all the traders in Hemel Hempstead and I have seen a Kingston Bedford listed as a bone-setter/ farrier. I think that he may be the father of my Kingston Bedford as it is such an unusual name and it is close geographically. Please do you have any ideas on how I can find out more about  this bone setter /farrier...where to look? Record office etc.

Clearly the name is unusual so it is worth reviewing the relevant sources which mention his name, including some you have not seen:

A Linda Griffiths is also researching the same Kingston Bedford and has posted information about him on RootsWeb.

The Hertfordshire Militia Ballot Lists for Hemel Hempstead show there was a Kingston Bedford at Bury Mill End, Hertfordshire, between 1768 and 1786 and in most cases he was described as a farrier and in one case a doctor. The date of the first entry suggests he was about 18 in 1768 - or born about 1750. The 1786 date is the last date that the records survive so he could have been in Hemel Hempstead later than that. There were also several other families named Bedford living in the town. In Harpenden there were several farriers named Kingston - possibly suggesting a Bedford-Kingston marriage some time before 1750.

The Faculty Office Marriage Licence Allegations held at the Society of Genealogists and accessible on FindMyPast record that a licence was granted on 29 November 1786 between Kingston Bedford and Sarah London. The location of the marriage, and the residences of the couple are not given. online

In the 1797 Universal Directory Kingston Bedford of Hemel Hempstead is described as a bone-setter and farrier.

Linda Griffiths records information from the Chesham parish registers between 1828 and 1834 when Kingston was married to Sophia (marriage and maiden name not known).

At the time of the 1841 census a "20" year old Kingston Bedford (a shoe maker) was in prison in Aylesbury, a 25 year old Elizabeth Bedford (a foreigner) was in Amersham Workhouse, as were a number of Bedford children.

The 1851 shows a 48 year old Kingstone Bedford (cordwainer, born Chesham, his wife a 44 year old Elizabeth (born in Sicily, Italy), and the Bedford children  who had been in the workhouse in 1841. Despite the differences in recorded ages (and 1841 ages are only approximate) it is reasonable to assume that the 1841 census and 1851 census refer to the same people, and that Sarah had died and Elizabeth had taken her place. (If a wife died with young children it was not unknown for an unmarried female relative such as a sister moving in to child care - and sometimes staying and continuing the family without any marriage.)

The 1861 census records a 55 year old widowed King Bedford (shoe maker, born Chesham), and he later died in 1867, aged 64.


With the exception of the Marriage Licence given above sources such as familysearch, findmypast, ancestry and the name index at HALS are silent about the name Kingston Bedford in the period in question.  This is a common problem - see Where to look before 1837 when the Parish Registers don't help. In some cases there may be little or no surviving evidence, particularly with the less well off families, while sometimes you can be lucky.

In the above there is no mention of burial records, but the Herts Burial Index 1800-1851 has no reference to the death of Kingston Bedford, the farrier of Bury Mill End, Hemel Hempstead. If the Hemel Hempstead burial registers show that he died and was buried in Hemel Hempstead before 1800 he cannot be the father of a Kingston Bedford born in Chesham around 1803. So the starting place to look are the Chesham burial registers - and if a Kingston Bedford (born circa 1750) is buried in Chesham after 1800 it is very likely (but not proven) that he is the Kingston Bedford who was both the farrier in Hemel Hempstead and the father of the 1803 Kingston Bedford.

A question remains about occupation - as occupations often run in families - but there might be a link. The Kingston Bedford of Chesham turns out to have been a shoe maker and a cordwainer - which means he worked with leather - and perhaps the Hemel Hempstead farrier also sold leather saddles and harness. A weak but not impossible link.

While there might be something at HALS (apart from the original militia lists) relating to Kingston Bedford the Hemel Hempstead farrier it will not help confirm whether he was the father of the Kingston Bedford born at Chesham beyond showing that he wasn't buried in Hemel Hempstead before 1803. There should be land tax records which could give the date he was last in Hemel Hempstead, and there might be a  mention in one or more 18th century poll books if the Bury Mill property was sufficiently valuable.

You should concentrate on the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies to check deaths in Chesham for Kingston Bedford (possibly with a wife Sarah) and any records which show that there was a Kingston Bedford who appeared in Chesham about 1800 - there should be Land Tax records that show this. Assuming the Kingston Bedford who was in prison in 1841 is actually the one whose birth we want it would be worth checking on any surviving records - and if there is an date of the offence or the trial there might be a newspaper report in either the Bucks Herald or the Aylesbury News (later renamed the Bucks Advertiser). News reports at this date tend to be very short but might include something useful.

Anthony contacted me saying: When on Ancestry did you notice that Kingston Bedford age 26 was sentenced to 6 months at Bucks Assizes in 1841 for "cartilage breaking." Was this perhaps related to the profession of bone setting? Was he so compromised that he switched to cordwaining as a result? I notice he died in Union Workhouse Amersham of phthisis or TB (certificate posted on Ancestry).

I missed that - I agree with Anthony that in sounds an unlikely charge - but could be linked to work on bone setting - or perhaps damaging a expensive horse's leg when acting as a farrier. Seeing if there at more detaailed court records would be important, as would checking the local papers at the time of the court case. It could well indicate that he was carrying on the same occupation as his supposed father.

A later comment on the Newsletter: He was actually sentenced to 6 months hard labour for stealing 5 rabbits property of Mr Thomas Field this is the report

A certain building there situated, He feloniously did break and enter the same building being within the CARTILAGE of the DWELLING HOUSE of Thomas Field. In the same building feloniously did steal take and carry away 5 tame rabbits of the price of 5shillings of the goods and chattels of the said Thomas Field

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

September 2012   Page created
October 2012   Comments re Bucks Assise