The Four Swans, Waltham Cross, 1830s

April, 2015



Waltham Cross

Chris Judd (nee Childs) writes:  In my search for the family of my ancestor William CHILDS (b.1769/70 ~ d 20 Jan 1825 Teddington) said to be of Cheshunt on his marriage to Mary SMITH 1795, I have downloaded two copy probates. The First is for Thomas CHILDS of Waltham Cross who in his Will proved 19 Jan 1835 left the whole of my Goods Furniture Book Debts and Stock in Trade in the Four Swans Tap .. to his wife Sarah CHILDS. One of the named executors is John MONK, and the other is George Wildbore. Sarah's record is more difficult to read but was proved 4 Mar 1837 (her Will appears to be dated 30 Jan 1837) There is no mention of the Four Swans but one of Executors is Henry Heward, Inn Keeper, Waltham Cross.


The large coaching inns provided a range of services for those who could afford to travel by stage coach and it was not unusual for them to have a separate taproom for local customers who merely wanted to call in for a beer. In some cases this might be run as a separate establishment - probably selling beer only - when wines and spirits would be available for the travelling customers in the Inn. Definitely the "White Horse" in Holywell Hill, St Albans, had at the back of the property a separate beer house, the "White Horse Tap", with a separate license. This would appear to be the case at Waltham Cross. When  Thomas Childs died the Herts Mercury of 1st December 1835 carried the following notice:


At Waltham Cross, on the 25th ult, Thomas Childs, many years waiter at the Four Swans Inn, and proprietor of the tap, aged 41 years

I found a separate reference to the "Four Swans Tap" in a court case involving a Mr. Wildbore when William Brown, a labourer of Waltham Cross said in evidence "I afterwards noticed upwards of twenty persons in the house drinking; had a pint of beer myself. The beer came from the Four Swans tap. " In the context this supports the idea that the "Tap" was seen as a beer house distinct from the "Four Swans." It is interesting to note that in 1828 the "Four Swans" at Bishopsgate, London, also had a separate "Four Swans Tap."

In fact at the time there were changes affecting the "Four Swans", Waltham Cross and it would seem that prior to about 1834 the publican was a Mr John Monk, and the owner was Henry Heward, who also had the "Falcon" Inn. The Herts Mercury of 16th December, 1834, records.


On the 5th inst., Mrs Sarah Monk, aged 78 years, the wife of Mr. John Monk, late of the Four Swans Inn, Waltham Cross.

The Herts Mercury of 31st January, 1837, records:

On the 22nd instant, at Waltham Cross, after an illness, Mr. John Monk, in the 72nd year of his age.

The sale of John Monk's effects, from the Herts Mercury of 14th March, 1837, (see right), suggests he was very well-to-do.

When the Monk family left the "Four Swans" a new tenant was needed and it would seem that a Mr George Wildbore was running the Inn for a time after John Monk retired. He wanted to continue and was interested in taking a twenty one year tenancy. However there was a problem in agreeing the rent and the lease was given to Mr. William Laxton.

It seems that Mr Wildbore was very unhappy at not getting the lease and made accusations against Mr Heward. There is a long letter, with supporting statements, published in the Herts Mercury of 15th September, 1835, refuting the claims, together with the following advertisement:



(Of Burton Latimer)

Begs most respectfully to inform the Nobility, Clergy, and the Public, that he has taken the FOUR SWANS INN, at WALTHAM CROSS, for 21 years (on Mr. Wildbore's declining the same), and earnestly trusts that the difference between Mr. Wildbore and Mr. Heward will not be suffered to influence them in the patronage they have so long and so liberally bestowed on the above Inn.

The old lease ran out ay the end of 1835 and the advert on the left appeared in the Herts Mercury of 12th January, 1836. It is clear that Mr. Wildbore took all the furniture, most of the fittings, including the Ostler's Bell and the Sign, and opened another house for posting on the other side of the road. The following week there was an advert from Mr. Wildbore advertising the New Inn and putting his view on the matter.

The same issue of the paper also included two court cases relating to the house Mr Wildbore had taken, and a third case was adjourned and is reported in the press layer in the year.

It would appear from the references to the "New Inn" in the paper during 1836 that Mr. Wildbore had taken much of the business with him.

On the 22nd November 1836 the Herts Mercury carried an advert (right) for the auction of the Four Swans and other property at Waltham Cross, although it seems that the Inn may not have been sold.  A year later poor William Laxton, who appears to have been an innocent party in the matter, was declared bankrupt (Perry's Bankruptcy Gazette, 16th December, 1837).

In 1839 the following Inns are listed at Waltham Cross in Pigot's Directory:

Falcon, Henry Heward

Four Swans, Elizabeth Norton

New Inn, George Wildbore

In 1842 the following advert appeared:





Returns his sincere thanks to his Friends and the Public for their liberal support during the period of his superintending the management of the above named Inn, and begs to inform them that he has now taken the FOUR SWANS INN upon his own account, where he hopes by diligent attention to the comfort and convenience of his Friends, and by economical charges, to merit a continuance of their patronage.

    Dinners provided on the shortest notice, for large or small Parties.

Good Lock-up Stables and Coach Houses

* The OLD FOUR SWANS is within 5 minutes walk of the Railway Station.


The events may explain why it became known as the "Old Four Swans".

In the above account I have not tried to analyse the press accounts of the 1836 civil court cases which refer to George Wildbore taking the property opposite the Four Swans. In addition HALS has a bundle of papers - reference "Clifton C. C." D/ECr/34/3  which includes "Falcon and Four Swans Inns, Waltham Cross Valuation of Falcon; correspondence with and concerning J. Heward, licensee of Falcon; the latter's household and business accounts and vouchers; sale particulars of Four Swans 1836-1842."

See TYDEMAN, The Four Swans, Waltham Cross for the later history of the Four Swans.

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

April  2015   Page created