Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


Herts Past and Present

Hertfordshire Association for Local History

Autumn 2012 - No 20



In the issue

Abbots Langley, Aldbury, Barkway, Bushey, Callowland, Chipping Barnet, Croxley, Garston, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford, Hitchin, Oxhey, Panshanger, Rickmansworth, Royston, St Albans, Snelishall, Watford, Wiggenhall


  Brief Guide to Sources: Enclosure Maps and Awards - by David Short

Begging letters from Hertfordshire paupers living away from home - by Carla Herrmann


This article examines 'begging' letters sent to their home parishes by fifty Hertfordshire paupers during the lat eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These pleas to the overseers provide vivid insights into the desperate lives of those living on the edge of destitution.

Contacting the Home parish

Where did Hertfordshire paupers migrate to?

A variety of health problems

Where did immigrant paupers come from?

Pauper occupations

Negotiating with the home parish

Pleading in person

The sick and disabled

The mentally ill and violent

Financial problems

Paupers taken sick while on the move

How were sick established paupers treated by their 'host' parishes?



The Manors of Watford: an introduction - by Gordon Cox


More than a hundred years have passed since the manor was abolished as a unit of local administration. However, the manor and the parish were once primary institutions of English society. For about seven hundred years the manor vied with, and sometimes eclipsed, the Church and the family in that role. The intervening period stretching back from the abolition of manorial authority in the early twentieth century to the high point in the fourteenth century was one of gradual decline; although the pace of that decline varied widely from one part of the country to another, and from one part of Hertfordshire to another. It is hoped that this article will stimulate further research on the subject of manors in South West Hertfordshire.

The importance of manorial records ...

The VCH account of the eleven manors of Watford

Problems researching manorial boundaries

The Manor of Wiggenhall

Tracing records for the manor of Moor(e)

Potential referencing pitfalls

A list of archives and libraries holding Watford manorial documents



'Tickets please!' Survivals from eighteenth-century Hertfordshire - by Sarah Lloyd


This concentrated study shows how ephemera can shed light on social history for the local historian who knows how to read it.




Methodist Tickets





Also editorial, news items, dates for the diary, and book reviews

The Autumn Issue of Herts Past and Present (published by the Hertfordshire Association for Local History) is out and the following description of the three main papers is based on the editorial.
The poor are always with us. In Begging Letters from Hertfordshire paupers living away from home the poor from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries speak to us in a particularly vivid way, through their letters written in desperation to Hertfordshire parish overseers. Carla Herrmann's study of fifty such begging letters reveals a range o' causes of their destitution: from disease, violent insanity, to injury caused by accidents at work. Widows with dependent children had a particularly hard time of it. Grace Pryor, whose husband had died after falling down a well in Royston leaving her with three children, got short shrift from the Royston overseer in 1783. He sent her back to Heydon in Essex, whence she had originated. Then as now it was economic interests that counted in the decision whether or not to offer support. If you couldn't prove your worth to the parish you had a struggle to claim benefit. "Supportive attitudes appear to have been comparatively rare" is the author's conclusion so fa.

Sarah Lloyd's intriguing article "Tickets Please!" Survivals from eighteenth-century Hertfordshire tells us what tickets can tell us about social history and is a summary of our Lionel Munby lecture at the AGM in May. It shows just what can be read into these most ephemeral of items. That old ticket found under a floorboard tells a story offering a window into many varied aspects of eighteenth-century life. 

Researchers into The Manors of Watford will find the list of sources suggested by Gordon Cox most helpful. The Victoria County History is recognised as no longer adequate to the task. Ranging further afield the quest could take you as far afield as Reading, Woking, Chester and California. Not to mention London, Oxford and Cambridge. Why can't records stay put?

[From the Hertfordshire Genealogy Newsletter]

Page created   October 2012