Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


Edward MEAD, Link with Watford?, mid 19th century

August, 2012




Pamela Abernethy ne Mead (pamelaabernethy @t hotmail.com) writes from New Zealand:  I have been researching a great grandfather for 17 years and no luck as yet.

Birth certificate states EDWARD MEAD born 15 Montpelier Row, Knightsbridge London 10th August 1850. Mothers name MARY ANNE MEAD. No father. On EDWARD's marrige certificate in NZ he has his mother down as ANNIE WHIELDON father EDWARD MEAD stockbroker. I feel this maybe fabrication but not sure.

On the 1851 census he is a visitor at the home of WILLIAM and MARTHA LUCY WHIELDON (nee GLANVILLE) 1871 census EDWARD MEAD is down as the unmarried cousin of MARTHA LUCY WHIELDON widow.

I have traced MARTHA LUCY back to Watford Hertfordshire. Parents JOHN and SARAH GLANVILLE.
WILLIAM WHIELDON born about 1807 parents are GEORGE and HARRIET and appears they originally came from Watford.

Have been trying to establish a connection with the MEAD name to the GLANVILLE OR WHIELDON family.

Found a MARY ANNE MEAD born Tring in 1851 census aged 30.  Could this be my Mary Anne, as have not been able to find a connection as yet?

Wondered if you could advise where to next.

I am not going to be able to magically come up with a complete answer but I have spotted something you may have missed and perhaps if I post details on my web site someone else will be able to make some suggestions. The first stage is to review the key facts, especially on details relating to Hertfordshire, and to social issues, but the next step will almost certainly mean more work in the Chelsea/Westminster area of London.:

As there is no father's name the birth certificate says Edward Mead (born 1850) was the illegitimate son of Mary Anne Mead - which (unless the father was a brother, uncle or cousin) means it is unlikely that his father's surname was Mead.

He was born at 15 Montpelier Row, Knightsbridge - which at the 1851 census included the following households:
38 HOPKINS, Mary Wife Married F 50 1801 Laundress Windsor, Berkshire
38 HOPKINS, Albert Son   M 11 1840 Scholar London, Middlesex
38 HOPKINS, Edwin Son   M 7 1844 Scholar London, Middlesex
39 LLOYD, George Brother Married M 31 1820 Smith Lamphey, Pembrokeshire
39 LLOYD, Abraham Brother Unmarried M 24 1827 Sniter Lamphey, Pembrokeshire
40 DOUGH, Mary Ann Head Unmarried F 45 1806 Needlewomen London, Middlesex
41 WEBSTER, Michael Head Married M 23 1828 Painter Knaresborough, Yorkshire
41 WEBSTER, Mary A Wife Married F 22 1829 Dress Maker Hemingfield, Essex
41 WEBSTER, Marianne Daughter Unmarried F 1 1850 Dress Maker St Margaret Westminster, Middlesex
42 RAYNER, Hannah Head Widow F 44 1807 Needlewomen St Kensington, Middlesex
42 RAYNER, Hanh Daughter Unmarried F 6 1845 Needlewomen Chelsea, Middlesex

This house, and its neighbours, is a multi-occupation building of poor families, and is not the kind of place that any unmarried expectant mother would prefer to give birth. Victorian London was not a nice place for poor young girls living away from home and the fact that Edward was born in such a place suggests that the father probably had no real interest in the mother and even less in the child.

We know very little directly about his mother apart from the name she gave (she may have been a widow so Mead may not have been her maiden name), that she was of child-bearing age, and (you will already know from the birth certificate) whether she registered the birth herself and if so whether she was well enough educated to be able to sign her own name. In addition we know she was not looking after the infant Edward Mead at the time of the 1851 census:

41, First Street, Saint Luke, Chelsea, Middlesex

WHIELDON, William Head Married M 42 1809 Coach Trimmer London
WHIELDON, Martha Wife Married F 40 1811 Dress Maker Watford, Hertfordshire
WHIELDON, Amelia Daughter Unmarried F 15 1836 At Home Surrey
WHIELDON, William Son Unmarried M 13 1838 Butcher Boy London
COLWELL, Ann G Wifes Sister Unmarried F 43 1808 Annuitant Watford
MEAD, Edward Visitor Unmarried M 0 (7 MOS) 1851   London

Clearly without more evidence the search for which of the very many Mary / Mary Ann / Mary Anne / Annie / Marianne (etc) Mead is the right one in the 1851 census is a mammoth task - and even drawing up a short list of vaguely possible candidates is difficult - and of course she may not have been recorded, or recorded or indexed in such a way as to be unfindable.

One thing I can say is that the Mary Anne Mead at Tring is clearly the wrong one, as she occurs in the 1841, 1851, 1861 , 1871 and possibly more, in each case living in Tring as part of a prosperous family - totally incompatible with a birth at a place such as 15 Montpelier Row.

As you say Edward is also recorded in the 1871 census living in Smith's St, St Luke, Chelsea:

WHEILDAN, Martha L Head widow F 66 1805 Dressmaker Watford, Hertfordshire
WHEILDAN, Amelia Daughter   F 31 1840 Milliner Lambeth, Surrey
WHEILDAN, William Son   M 30 1841 "Tarvaller" Brompton, Middlesex
GLANVILL, Anna Sister   F 68 1803 Life Annuitant Watford, Hertfordshire
MEAD, Edward Cousin   M 20 1851 Clerk Brompton, Middlesex

This is obviously the same household as in 1851 but the uncertainty over the ages suggest a low education level. The term "cousin" is always dubious in census returns and cannot be automatically be assumed to be a blood relative, especially if the level of literacy at the head of household level was low.


As this web site is concerned with people connected with Hertfordshire a review of where we are is appropriate, to see if there really is a Hertfordshire link.

Edward Mead (born 1850) has no direct connection with Hertfordshire. He was illegitimate and with no father's name on the birth certificate it would be a complete coincidence if his father's surname was the same as his mother's. However it was no uncommon for an unmarried mother to name a male child after the father - so there is a chance he was an Edward. The father's name given in New Zealand of Edward Mead is almost certainly an invention as it would be almost impossible for anyone to check it for accuracy. So there is no reason to connect the father with Hertfordshire.

At this stage all we seem to know about Mary Anne Mead is what was put on Edward's birth certificate. We have no direct evidence of her age, her parents, or her place of birth., except that she is not the Mary Anne Mead of Tring. So again there is no proved Hertfordshire connection.

The only link with Hertfordshire is that an Edward Mead who appears to be the right one, turns up in a household where to members of the Glanville family from Watford are living, and a possibly unreliable census reference to him being a "cousin". (In theory if his father was known at the time he could be a cousin on his unknown father's side!)


At this point I stopped searching for a Hertfordshire connection but there is one significant further piece of information I spotted in my searches - which you may have already found and rejected - from the 1861 census:

15, Marlboro Square, Chelsea

DIMOND, William Head Married M 38 1823 Coach Builder St Giles, Middlesex
DIMOND, Anne Wife Married F 34 1827   Chelsea, Middlesex
DIMOND, Mary Daughter   F 14 1847   Chelsea, Middlesex
DIMOND, Henry Son   M 10 1851 Scholar Chelsea, Middlesex
DIMOND, Anne Daughter   F 7 1854   Chelsea, Middlesex
MEAD, Edward Stepson   M 11 1850 Scholar Chelsea, Middlesex
MEAD, Eliza Stepdaughter   F 9 1852 Scholar Chelsea, Middlesex

We have an Edward Mead of the right age and born in the right general area of London, with a mother called Anne. In 1851 William Dimond lived at 10 Exeter Street, St Luke, Chelsea, and was married to Susannah who presumably died in 1854 or shortly after. William would have needed a female companion to look after his young children, and Anne (who was either unmarried, a widow, or deserted by her husband) and who already had two small children stepped into the breach. In such cases there was not always a marriage. Also relevant is the fact that ten years later, in 1871, we have Edward Mead returning to the Wheildan household - while elsewhere in the parish we have his mother Ann Dimond, and sister Eliza J [Dimond]:

Upper Manor Street, St Luke, Chelsea
DIAMOND, Ann Head Widow F 42 1829 Laundress Chelsea, Middlesex
DIAMOND, Eliza J Daughter   F 19 1852   Chelsea, Middlesex
DIAMOND, William A Son   M 9 1862 Scholar Chelsea, Middlesex
DIAMOND, Elizabeth Daughter   F 6 1865 Scholar Chelsea, Middlesex
DIAMOND, Charles Son   M 2 1869 Scholar Chelsea, Middlesex

While Eliza should officially be "Eliza Mead" she has by now taken her mother's surname (a very common practice).

So could Mrs Anne Dimond be Mary Anne Mead? There is an interesting coincidence that makes it possible. William Diamond was a "coach builder" - and would have employed (or worked with) men who might describe themselves as a "coach trimmer" - and in 1851 William Whieldon was a "coach trimmer" !!! And both lived in St Luke, Chelsea, within a couple of miles of each other. So it is quite possible that William Whieldon knew both William Dimond (who urgently needed a "housekeeper" when Susannah died) and Mary Ann Mead (who probably would like a husband - but being an unmarried mother would be a problem). The fact that Edward appears to have moved between the Whieldon and Dimond households strongly supports the idea.

If you have not already considered this possibility it could provide new leads, which as they suggest Mary Anne Mead was not born in Hertfordshire I will not personally be following up. You might want to start by finding out the name of  the mother of Eliza Jane Mead, whose birth was registered in Chelsea in Oct-Dec 1851, and if it was Mary Anne you now can be pretty certain that your Mary Ann Mead was born in Chelsea in about 1827.

Let me know if Eliza Jane Mead's birth certificate shows her mother was Mary Anne Mead - and also if you find London records which show how Mary Anne Mead was linked to the Watford families you have identified.

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

September 2012   Page created