HILL, Hitchin, 1841-1851

January, 2013




Roger Reed (roger.reed2 @t virginmedia.com) of Stanstead Abbotts, Ware, Herts, writes: I know that Sarah Hill married my Great Great Grandfather William Hill on 11th Feb 1832 at St Mary's Church, Hitchin. The Parish record shows she had the same surname before her marriage so perhaps they were cousins. They had three children that I can trace - Samuel (1835-1912), Amelia (1837 - ?) and Caroline (1840 - 1845).

William remarried on 19th September 1846 and is described on the certificate as a widower. I can find absolutely no trace of the death or burial of either Sarah or her daughter Amelia. Both were alive at the 1841 census. Any ideas where I might look next?

Hill is a very common surname (read Right Name, Wrong Body to see why you have to be so careful) It is essential to bring together information from as many sources as possible - and it is a good idea to put down everything you know on a time line of events with dates/places, sources, and comments as to what needs following up. It is important to distinguish between the facts, the sources and the ideas as is done below -  the blue being links relating to the sources. If you don't do this a bit of speculation can be mistaken for an established fact in complex cases.

A William Hill was christened at St Mary's, Hitchin, on 14 July, 1811, the son of William Hill and Rebecca. [familysearch] (Because of the way names are passed down from on generation to another [See The Inheritance of Single Christian Names] one should expect a daughter called Rebecca in the next generation.)

William Hill married Sarah Hill at St Mary's, Hitchin, on 11 February, 1832 [HALS] (The copy of the marriage register may provide some additional information about Sarah, and the names of the witnesses can sometime give a clue. It will also show whether the bride and/or groom were literate enough to sign their own name.)

A 1 year old Rebecca Hill, daughter of William and Sarah, of Silver Street, Hitchin, was buried at St Mary's on 4 December 1833 [Burial Index] (First born daughter names after paternal grandmother?)

Amelia Hill, daughter of William & Sarah was baptised at St Mary's, Hitchin, on 3 January, 1838, [familysearch] her birth being registered in Oct-Dec 1837 (Hitchin 6 420) [FreeBMD] (The birth certificate should confirm Sarah's maiden name)

Caroline Hill's birth registered Hitchin Oct/Dec 1840 ref 6 503. [FreeBMD] (The birth certificate should confirm Sarah's maiden name)

In 1841 William Hill (30, shoemaker) Sarah (30), Samuel (5), Amelia (4) and Caroline (1) were living in Silver Street, Hitchin [Census].

Amelia Hill, the daughter of William and Sarah Hill, of Silver Street, Hitchin, was buried at St Mary's, Hitchin on 9th October 1843, aged 5.  [familysearch] I could not find the death registration under Amelia but there was an Ambrose Hill registered in Hitchin in the Oct-Dec quarter of 1843 [FreeBMD]. Such clerical errors are comparatively common - see A Comedy of Errors.

The birth of a Mary Ann Hill was registered in Hitchin in October-December quarter of 1843 [FreeBMD]. Could this be the Mary in the 1851 census? You would need the birth certificate to find out.

William Hill of Silver Street remarried on 19th September 1846 to Sophy Welsh of Silver Street, at St Mary's, Hitchin [HALS]. If Sarah died when Mary was just two, William would have looked for a wife to look after the young children. In some cases an unmarried female relative moved in as a temporary housekeeper to look after the young children and ... ... I have two examples in my own ancestral tree of a widower with young children marrying his late wife's sister - So Sophy/Sophia might have been a relative of some kind.

Caroline Hill's death is registered in Hitchin in the Oct-Dec quarter of 1845 [FreeBMD]. A Sarah Hill's death is registered on the same page 7/332 [FreeBMD]. So both were registered at the same time or within days. If they were mother and daughter there was probably a serious infectious disease in the area. One would need to purchase the certificates to find out. Neither appear to have been buried in St Mary's [Burial Index].

In 1851 we find, living in Quakers Alley, Hitchin, William (38, Shoemaker), Sophy (29, straw plaiter), Samuel (16, straw plaiter), Mary (6, straw plaiter) William (3), Charles (2) and Sarah (5 months), all born in Hitchin [Census].

Deaths of a Mary Ann Hill (Dec 1855) and Mary Hill (June 1857) are reported [HALS]. The page references seem to be in error, which could make it hard to get copies of the certificates. The Death certificates would say which, if either was the right one. As the national indexes could be faulty you might ask HALS about the Hertfordshire registrar's copies.

 In 1861, living in St Andrews Street are William (49, shoemaker), Sophia (30), William (13), Charles  (11), Sarah (9), Amelia (7), Allama (5), Edward (3) and James (1) [Census]. Mary is missing from the family and I couldn't find her elsewhere. However failing to find her doesn't mean she was dead - for instance she could have gone into services (as many young girls did once they were in their teens) and the relevant census return is inadequate or not accurately indexed.

Roger replied: I already had a copy of William Hill's christening record and the wedding record of his marriages to Sarah and Sophy. I had not thought to look for a birth record of a Rebecca Hill so that info was very useful.

I am going to pop into the County Archive next week to copy the Christening and Burial records for Amelia and have sent to the GRO for the Death Certs for Ambrose Caroline and Sarah Hill, so Ill know a lot more when they arrive.

I am quite proud of William. I think he was barely literate and led a life teetering on destitution as he died in the Workhouse, poor man. However, all of his children, or those that lived long enough, went to school. I know that his son my Great Gandfather Charles, became a Master Baker and had a business in New Kent Road, Elephant & Castle for many years and that another son, Samuel, was a career soldier in the Royal Artillery before retiring and living in Woolwich. I like to think it was William's wise fatherhood that set them off on the right path.

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

Jamuary 2013   Page created