Alford Arms, Frithsden, Mid 19th Century

April, 2013




Frithsden was formerly part of Berkhamsted

Lewis Eckett (lewiseckett  @t write to say I am researching the history of the Alford Arms pub in Frithsden near Berkhamsted for the current owners. ... My findings includes the belief that an older pub on the site called the Tyrants Inn burnt down in 1866 and was replaced by new premises, presumably named the Alford Arms in memory of Lady Marian Alford who died at Ashridge House in 1888. I'm particularly interested in the story of the Tyrants Inn - IE: did it exist, who owned it and who was it named after?

In 1841 a 65 year old Jane Meager ran a beer shop in Frithsden, and is almost certainly the 71 year old Jane Meager who died at Tring, and was buried at Nettleden on March 6, 1844.

Beer shops were quite common and while they often had names, like full public houses, they were often no more than the parlour in a house where the host worked during the day, and served beer in the evening. The problem when doing research is that the name is not fully recorded.

Mr Newman was landlord in 1850 when:

Sly and Murderous Assault with the Knife, and Inadequate Punishment. Henry Ing was charged by W. Blacknell, with assaulting him on the 16th [October 1850]. The evidence of the complainant was to the following effect: In the evening of the 16th, I was with George Rance at a beer-house at Frithsden, when our conversation turned to the subject of old Mr. Ing 'going a courting.' I said “his intended was a fool for going with such an old man!” Ing said his father might have been married before if he had liked.” I replied “I thought the girl would not have him.” No more was said respecting the matter then; but in about ten minutes, young Ing wanted to drink out of my pot of beer, I refused to let him, and he then pushed against me. I said I would not suffer him to set against me, and moved to the other side of the table; he followed me and pushed against me there also: he pushed me in the ribs, one of which was hurt, and I thought broken by their violence. I immediately threw him on the settle, and Mr. Newman came in and parted us. I then discovered that blood was flowing from my head and neck. Rance, who was present, said he thought Ing dit it with a nail. Ing then went to get a rag to stop the blood. The next morning when I went to wash myself, I found a wound in my side just in the place where Ing pushed against me, and on examining it, discovered a cut which appeared to have been made with a knife, and which passed through all my clothes in the very place where I felt the hurt on the ribs. My shirt was covered with blood (producing it), I also produce my hat which has two cuts through it. Mr. Whatley has examined the wounds, and I have been under medical treatment ever sence. Two young men named Bedford and Rance, corroborated the evidence of prosecutor. Ing in defence, said he was struck first. The Bench said they considered the assault a most brutal one, and had no doubt the weapon used by the prisoner was a knife, although no one saw it. They fined the prisoner £2 with 29s. 6d. Costs. In default he was committed for six weeks. [ Why not committed for trial?]

Hertford Mercury, October 26, 1850

The 1851 census shows that Henry Ing to be a 29 year old agricultural laboures, born Frithsden, who was living in Nettledon with with wife and young family. The victim/prosecutor was probably William Blackwell, a 46 year old Gardner living (not very far away) at Crouchfield, Hemel Hempstead. George Rance was almost certainly the 23 year old agricultural labourer who was living at Frithsden with his family.

The Tyrant's Arms is listed by name in the 1851 census when it was occupied by William Newman a 39 year old farmer who farmed 29 acres and employed 2 labourers. He is listed as being born in Cuddington, Bucks, and his 47 year old wife, Margaret, had been born in Ivinghoe. There was also an 11 year old servant, Ellen Holloway. William is also listed as a Beer House Keeper.

The change in name may have followed the death of John Egerton, Viscount Alford (1812-1851), eldest son John Cust, 1st Earl Brownlow. Clearly it is derived from the courtesy name for the eldest son of Earl Brownlow.

The 1861 census records the Alford Arms but the publican was absent at the time of the census, although his daughter, 28 year old Charlotte Catherall was present, together with a servant Phebe Redding and three Lodgers, James Nash (a blacksmith), his wife and infant daughter.

An inquest was held by H. Day, Esq., coroner, at the Alford Arms, Frithsden, on Saturday last the 6th [September, 1862] on the body of Henry Wells, aged 62 tears. George Smith said the deceased had been engaged the day previously taking fern [bracken] in a cart from Berkhamstead Common to Frithsden gardens, for Lord Brownlow. Between three and four o'clock he saw the deceased walking by the side of the cart when the horse suddenly jumped forward and ran away. The deceased who appeared to have hold of the horses head, ran a few yards, fell, and the wheel of the cart passed over his body. The deceased was assisted home and attended by Mr Whatley, surgeon, who found several of his ribs and breast bone broken, besides other internal injuries which were the cause of death. Verdict Accidental Death. [Hertford Mercury, September 13, 1862]

The 1861 census shows that Henry Wells had been born in Frithsden, worked as a gardener, and lived with his wife and (step?)son at Frithsden. There were a number of people called George Smith living in the Berkhamsted area so his identity is uncertain.

It is appropriate to note that the arrangement for inquests at the time was to hold them as soon as possible after the death (no refrigerated morgues in those days). This often meant a nearby public house - which would have had a room big enough for the coroner, the jury, the witnesses - and of coursed the deceased laid out on a table for all to see!

It should be possible to follow the occupants of the Alford Arms in the 1871-1911 censuses and HALS will have licensing records from 1873 - and they may also have something before 1830 - but there is a gap in the records between 1830 and 1873. It should be possible to find some records in trade directories. HALS may also be able to help with other sources, such as old manuscript maps from the early 19th century (which may show the building in enough detail to compare with the currant ground plan). A query to The Gazette can sometimes provide some useful information.

While there could be something in the local newspapers at the time of the fire those giving the best coverage of the Hemel/Berkhamsted area are not yet indexed online. However some papers in the British Newspaper Archive (which is being continually extended) have occasional references - and in addition to the two quotations above  I found the following

DRUNK - George Goodage, of Market Street [Markyate], was charged by Thomas Cox, of Frithsden, with being drunk and refusing to quit the Alford Arms, on Sept 12. P/C. Gotobed confirmed the charge. - Goodage was fined 19s 5d, which he paid.

Bucks Herald, 10 October, 1874




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

April 2013   Page created