Local History in
A Hertfordshire Local History Directory
by W. Branch Johnson
Hertfordshire Local History Council, 1964
Paperback, 40 pages
This little booklet provides n essential guide to the writing of local history in Hertfordshire, with details of the major historical texts. It discusses the major early histories, written by Chauncy, Salmon, Clutterbuck and Cussans. The first town local history was Turnor's History of Hertford and many later ones are mentioned. Details are given of important societies, such as the St Albans Architectural and Archaeological Society, and many other publications.
The following extract relates to his discussion of Clutterbuck's History of Hertfordshire:
It was in the year of Waterloo that Robert Clutterbuck (1772 1831) published his first volume of the History of Hertfordshire that was to occupy him until 1827. Clutterbuck belonged to a West Hertfordshire brewing and landowning family and was thus familiar with county backgrounds. Yet in turning over his pages it is difficult to imagine that any social change at all had taken place since the days of Chauncy and Salmon. Obviously the story of Hertfordshire manors, churches and landed gentry is brought a century nearer our own time; but the short and simple annals of the poor will be looked for in vain-one is tempted to the impression that he cared not a row of pins for the vast majority of those who drank his family's beer. At first intending, as he wrote in his Preface, to undertake a corrected and up-to-date edition of Salmon, he was deterred by "the frequent digressions of the author into matters foreign from the subject of a provincial history." In the upshot, of all county historians Clutterbuck is the most austere. He provides much reliable information (though some at least appears to have been derived from questionnaires addressed to land owners and parsons), records of monumental inscriptions, many of which have now disappeared, useful lists of Members of Parliament, Sheriffs, Mayors and so on, numerous pedigrees, and the authority of a notable antiquary of that day, the Rev. Thomas Leman, in his chapter on Early Inhabitants. Yet it is probable that few people consult him with pleasure as they consult Chauncy or Salmon with pleasure. Other things being equal, it is no recommendation of an historian that he is formidable.
Page created March 2007