The Parents of


born Royston circa 1811


James Beale (lynjim4 @t of Perth, Western Australia, has been stuck trying to identify John Beale, the father of Henry Beale given on Henry's marriage certificate. The following summarises James' relationship to Henry.:

Henry Beale (1811-1881 at Royston ) and married Elizabeth Stamford (1820-1858)
Edward Beale (b1850) married Elizabeth Pratt

Thurley George Beale (b 1886) married Kate Lillian Reynolds b1888

He was My Grand Father.

If you did not look at the help files Right Name, Wrong Body?, The Inheritance of Single Christian Names, and Where to look before 1837 when the Parish Registers don't help before you posted your query you might find them use now.  To try and catch any indexing problems I used Ancestry, Findmypast (not the easiest to use but includes copies of the original Hertfordshire registers), familysearch (free and very good for earlier records) and FreeBMB.


Clearly Beal(e) is a name which is comparatively common and there were about 340 John Beal(e) in 1851 - including 11 in Hertfordshire. The figures would not have been that much different around 1800 so one needs to be very cautious, especially as the original records contained errors - and more errors have been introduced when they were indexed.


If you look at Henry Beale's occupation from the censuses it seems very likely that he was illiterate and thus unable to fill in the household census form (which has not survived) for himself. (His marriage certificate will show if he could sign his own name - but quite a few people who could write their name would not have been able to fill in a census form themselves.) The earlier censuses would have been filled in by the census enumerator but some of hic children may have gone to school and learnt enough to fill the form in for him. For this reason we always need to look carefully at what the census and other sources say. In fact all the information available seems to point to a birth in about 1811. His place of birth is given as Royston in the 1861, 1871 and 1881 censuses - but only as "Herts" in the 1851 census - which is surprisingly vague when his children are recorded as "Royston, Herts". It is not uncommon for people to give as their place of birth the place they can first remember as a child so one need to be aware that "Royston" may included related villages and because of the location this could include some border villages (now in Herts) which used to be in Cambridgeshire.


It is important to look at Henry's family because names were copied down from generation to generation, and it helps to know whether they were baptised - and if so whether it was in the Parish Church or a non-conformist chapel.  The eldest son was Henry Beal Stamford, son of Elizabeth Stamford, who was baptised on 22 August 1841. The banns for Henry and Elizabeth's marriage were called on 28th June 1844, and they were recorded as husband and wife for the baptism of George Beale on 30th June although they were not married until July. James came next (but mis-recorded as Thomas in the 1851 census) followed by Louisa, Mary, Edward, William and Eliza - with at least some baptisms in Royston parish Church. All the information suggests occupations linked to horses.


You say the 1844 marriage records John as Henry's father and there are at least three possible candidates

  1. The most likely couple would seem to be the John Beale who married Mary Kofford or Kefford at Royston on 24th September 1807. Their children with christening dates in Royston parish church are Edward (3rd June 1810, in London in 1851 census), William (9th August 1812, a baker and publican at the "Jolly Butchers", Royston in 1851), John (12th Feb 1815), Thomas (8th June 1817), Bransum (22th August 1819), George (31st March 1822), Mary (15th August 1824) and Samuel (12th November 1826). All the information I checked indicates that John was a baker. John (52) and Mary (63) were still alive in 1851, when John was described as a master baker employing 2 men and 1 boy. A son Henry born circa 1811 does not fit into this family. REJECT

  2. There was another couple - John Beale married Mary Jeeves at Newnham on 22nd September 1808. The 1851 census shows John  (born Wallington - not far from Newnham) as a 65 year old widower - and farmer of Foulwells Farm living at Broxbourne with son Thomas (43) born at Broxboure and married daughter Jane (35, born Broxbourne). Next door was a James Beale (32, born Broxbourne) who could well be another son. John was presumably the John Beale whose death was registered at Ware (which includes Broxbourne) in 1856. If Henry was a member of this family his place of birth would be Wallington. REJECT

  3. A John and Elizabeth Beale had the following children baptised at Therfield - John (1 January 1795), Thomas (27 July 1799), Mary Ann (31 July 1801), William Cockett (28 June 1802), Thomas (26 August 1803), Edward (26 March 1805) while Matilda (16 November 1806) was baptised at Royston. While there is no Henry I checked the Royston baptismal register and at the end of the 1810 there were two late entries suggesting that the vicar did not keep the register properly but had a notebook and copied them up at the end of the year - making two omission which he corrected. Could there have been another omission relating to Henry Beale? Unfortunately we can never know for certain. The christian names are not a good match but they are certainly the most likely parents. ACCEPT (but keep an eye open for any other interpretation)

So what about John and Elizabeth Beale's marriage. I had real problems about this one but eventually tracked it down in the Royston marriage register.


Note that the name in the register is given as James Beale of the parish of Therfield (which is how it is indexed online) - but the bridegroom signed himself John Beale. Such errors are not that uncommon and you need to keep on your toes to track them down.


Interestingly there is a Thomas Cockett as a witness. A check back on show that there are several family trees which record this wedding giving the bride's name as Elizabeth Cockett with parents James Graves and Mary Graves!!! While this all seems unlikely Elizabeth may have been adopted or be James Graves stepdaughter. Children taking the surname of a stepfather was quite common - so one needs to be aware of what was happening. What is interesting is that a William Cockett was buried at Royston in 1808, and might turn out to be William Cockett Beale's grandfather! However I leave the possible relationships between the Beale, Cockett and Graves families for you - which could involve you contacting some of the owners of the family trees to find out where they got the information - and whether they have any references to your Henry Beale.


When you are taking this further you may well come across the family of John Beal and Elizabeth Manning who married at Clothall in 1771 and had a number of children in Wallington between 1771 and 1791. Elizabeth was buried at Wallington in 1809 and John (aged 76) was buried there in 1829.


October 2015

Hilary Mostyn (nee Beale).(hil.mostyn @t writes: Like James Beale (Perth) I am stuck trying to research Henry Beale's father. I am the great grand-daughter of GEORGE BEALE (born 1845) brother to EDWARD BEALE (born 1850) hence:


Henry BEALE (1811-1881) married 1844 Elizabeth Stamford  (1820-1858)
George Beale (1845-1894) married ?1866 Rose Wright (born ?1841)
Henry Beale (1872-1946) married 1902 Mary Matilda Hunt (born ?1886)
Colin Henry Beale (1909-1980) married 1933 Kathleen Tricker (1905-1998)
Hilary Margaret Beale (1940-  ) married 1964 Rodney Charles Mostyn (1938 - )


Any leads from anyone would be most welcome.

October 2014   Page Created
October 2015   Hilary message