Late 19th, early 20th century
Francis Alfred Giffen, St Albans
As part of a longer message Denis King of St Albans wrote: I discovered at the weekend that the land on which 24 Alban Avenue was built was conveyed from Francis Alfred Giffen to the St Albans local authority on 23 November 1920. This was part of the Townsend estate, the post-war council estate, and my grandparents were (I am almost certain) the first occupants of No 24, which is where my father's brother was born in April 1923.
Also, I wonder if you know what Giffen's census-enumerated occupation of Assistant Overseer actually meant? I am assuming that this related to a Poor Law civic position of Overseer (of the Poor), and that he was therefore involved in this administration - and perhaps this was connected with the Union Workhouse that was sited near to Townsend Farm?
On realising I did not know what the assistant overseer job involved in 1900 I decided to start by investigating the matter in some detail.
Before the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act the "Overseers of the Poor" in each parish were elected to be responsible for the poor law provision, and the overseers (who sometimes might not have been able to read and write) would have an assistant to help with the paperwork - including the collection of poor rates. After the Act overseers were still elected but the administration of poor relief passed to the new Poor Law Unions, but the collection of the poor rate within each parish remained with the individual parish, who still needed someone to to do the work. The "Assistant Overseer" became the local poor law rate collector and carried out other administrative duties relating to poor relief, education and health. In some cases they would have other duties such as compiling lists of those eligible for jury service, ensuring the maintenance of graveyards and even providing a fire engine!
The civil functions of a parish were transferred to the newly created parish councils under the Local Government Act of 1894, but the assistant overseer continued as a rate collector and in some cases also acted as Clerk to the Council. This role continued until 1925 when a unified system of rating was introduced.
The 1894 Kelly's Directory for Hertfordshire has been digitised and I did a search for "Overseer" and came up with the following
Abbots Langley: William Halse, assistant overseer & rate collector
Albury: Samuel Woodland, farmer and assistant overseer
Aldbury: John Lines, assistant overseer & school master
Aston: William Pallett, grocer & assistant overseer, Post Office
Barkway: Edwin Baker, assistant overseer & assessor of taxes
Barley: Albert Edgar, grocer & draper, assistant overseer, Post Office
Barnet: John Felbig Deacon Main, insurance agent & assistant overseer, registrar of births & deaths
Bishops Stortford: Thomas Swatheridge, assistant overseer, school attendance officer, insurance agent, hon. sec. Volunteer Fire Brigade
Broxbourne: William Henry Woodward, vestry & parish clerk & assistant overseer
Buntingford: William Thorpe, assistant overseer for Layton & secretary to Gas Co.
Chipperfield: George Bunyan, tailor & grocer, assistant overseer & parish clerk & register of births and deaths
Colney Heath: John Thomas Patience, farmer & overseer
Essendon: William Nathaniel Bamford, wheelwright & smith & assistant overseer
Great Gaddesden: Frederick St. Thomas Chennells, register of births and deaths, attendance officer to school board, rate collector & assistant overseer & surveyor
Great Hadham: George Thomas Winterton, tailor, assistant overseer & tax collector
Great Munden: Henry F Cooper, assistant overseer
Harpenden: Frederic Eyles, assistant overseer
Hatfield: Manasseh Johnson. assistant overseer & collector of rates
Hemel Hempstead: William Saunders, assistant overseer & collector of poor rate
Hertford (St Andrew): Frederick Fountain, accountant, assessor & collector of taxes & assistant overseer
Hertford (St John): George Edwin Pollard, collector of rates & assistant overseer
Hertford (Bengeo): William Thomas Farrow, assistant overseer
Hertingfordbury: George Crawley, boot maker & assistant overseer & parish clerk
Hitchin: George Parker, assessor & collector of taxes & assistant overseer & collector of poor rates, incurance agent
Hoddesdon: William Whitley, tailor, assistant overseer & assessor of taxes & deputy register of births & deaths
Ickleford: John Edward Foster, brewer & assistant overseer
Kensworth: William Burton Stanbridge, farmer & assistant overseer
Kimpton: Charles George Chalkley, assistant overseer & rate collector
Lilley: James Cain: assistant overseer
Pirton: Charles Carter, school attendance officer & assistant overseer
Redbourn: George Webb, assistant overseer & collector of poor rate
Rickmansworth: James Welling, assistant overseer & collector of taxes
Royston: James Smith, road surveyor & assistant overseer & collector of land, assessed & income taxes & deputy registrar of births & deaths
St Albans (St Albans): Frederick John Preece, assistant overseer & collector of poor rate
St Albans (St Peter): Francis Alfred Giffen, assistant overseer & collector of poor rate
St Albans (St Stephen): John Gadman, assistant overseer & collector of poor rate
St Albans (Sandridge): George Ivory, registrar of births & deaths, assistant overseer & collector of poor rate
St Albans (St Michael): Thomas Barker, assistant overseer
Sawbridgeworth: William Morris, assistant overseer
Shenley: Richard Hooper, organist & rate collector & assistant overseer & clerk of school board & attendance officer
Stanstead Abbots: Robert William Blacksby, shopkeeper & assistant overseer
Ware: Thomas Rookby, assistant overseer & collector of Queen's taxes
Welwyn: Charles Colville Pearse, assistant surveyor & overseer, collector of rates
Wheathampstead: Walter Batchelor, assistant overseer & tax collector & Bull Hotel
Widford: Walter Devoil, grocer, draper & assistant overseer
In some cases the entry showed that the assistant overseer was responsible for several parishes, while in other cases in was clearly a part time job. It is also likely that where the occupation is only stated as assistant overseer other activities were involved. However, overall the nlist give some idea of of the other duties of some of the assistant overseers in Hertfordshire.
In the 1912 Directory the "Public Officers" for St Albans were:
Assistant Overseer & Collector of Poor Rates for City of St Albans, Frederick John Preece; office, London Road
Assistant Overseer & Rate Collector for St Peter Rural, Francis Alfred Giffen, Beaconsfield Road
Certifying Factory Surgeon, Eustace Henry Lipscomb B.A., M.B. 5 Holywell Hill
Clerk to the Commissioners of Taxes for the City of St Alban, Edward Percy Debenham, St Peter's Street
... ... for the division of Cashio, F. R. John, 40 Whippendell Road, Watford
Clerk to the Commissioners of Land Tax for the division of Cashio, Frederick R. John, 40 WHippendell Road, Watford
Clerk to the St Albans Local Pension Sub-Committee of Herts, Ernest Frederick William Hicatt, Homeland, York Road
Coroner for the St Albans District, Lovell Drage M.A., M.D., M.R.C.S., Burleigh Mead, Hatfield
Deputy Coroner, Alfred George Bateman M.B., 7 Queen Anne Street, London W
County Council Main Road & County Bridges Surveyor for the St Albans district, Ernest William Pullen, Invermead, Brampton Road
Veterinary Inspector under the "Diseases of Animals Act" for the St Albans Division, H. F. Reynolds M.R.C.V.S. Harpenden Road
In 1925 the rating system was unified and role of the assistant overseer as a rate collector vanished - and there is no assistant overseer listed for St Albans in the 1929 directory.
So to return to the question ... The first reference I have found to F. A. Giffen is in the 1878 Post Office Directory for Hertfordshire where he is listed as assistant overseer for St Peter's parish under the "St Albans Union" heading and also as the collector for the St Albans Urban Sanitary Authority. In 1882 he is listed as an assistant overseer under the "Public Official" heading and he was still listed as assistant overseer for St Peter Rural in 1922, but in 1926 the assistant overseer and rate collector for St Peter Rural was T. W. Service, of Tyttenhanger Green.
I also checked my Newspaper index and found a number of entries for F. A. Giffen (although there must have been very many more references in the paper itself).
In 1883 the elected overseers for St Peter's Parish were H. Slade. J. T. Patience, C. Little and T. Hill, with assistant overseer F. A. Giffen.
He played cricket for St Albans and in 1885 he became joint hon. sec. with Mr F. Blanks
In 1893 Mr & Mrs Giffen attended a "Manor House School at Home" day in St Albans Town Hall
In 1894 he attended a meeting in connection with the proposed "House and Land Company"
In 1897 he was clerk to the St Peter Rural District Council
In 1913 he asked for two fields at Townsend Farm to be deleted from the area covered by the proposed City of St Albans extension (presumably because he didn't want houses built on his land to be subject of City rates!)
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
|Jamuary 2014||Page created|