Towns & Villages in Herts

Hertfordshire Genealogy: Topics: Who is related to Who?

Right Name

Wrong Place?

Karen Prytula (karenprytula @t wrote from Canada saying:  I learned from your site that there are two West Mills in Hertfordshire.  My Wyman(t) / Richardson ancestors lived in West Mill, Hertfordshire - but now I'm not sure which West Mill.  How can I know which Westmill my ancestors lived in?   To be specific, my great grandfather x10 was Francis Wyman(t)(c1593-1658).  He was baptized and married, at St. Mary's in West Mill and died in West Mill.  The only clue I have is that it was the West Mill that was close to Brook Green and Brook End.

I have seen Westmill and West Mill used interchangeably in my sources, so I cannot rely on them. Maybe only one of the Westmills has a St. Mary's Church?? I found a pic of a Church called St. Mary the Virgin, West Mill.  And I had thought this church was the church my ancestor's attended.  Now I'm thinking it could be in the other Westmill.

When I created this site I provided a page Right Name, Wrong Body to highlight the problem of duplicate personal names, and The Problem with Place Names which highlighted the the problems of associating a place name with an area on the map. Somehow I forgot to provide a page on the difficulty of duplicate place names - So here goes.

Since prehistoric times until very recently the vast majority of people who lived in Hertfordshire would have worked on the land and rarely, if ever, travelled more than a few hours walk from where they lived. Every house, field and landscape feature would have had a name which described it in a memorable manner. Over the centuries waves of people moved in  - the Romans were followed by the Saxon, then (particularly in the east of the county) the Danes, and later the Normans, and the language changed to become modern English. Sometimes the names changed with the times and sometimes they remained while the changes in the language meant that their origins and original meanings were forgotten.

For instance Bernard's Heath, St Albans, was Barnetheth in the 14th century, and would appear to be Barnetwode in the 13th century. The name's origins may have been to a piece of woodland that was destroyed by fire 800 or more years ago.

Because names were local the same name would appear in different places and now there are large numbers of Hill Farms and Church Ends, and other names became duplicated. One is also not surprised to find many towns in Hertfordshire have a High Street or a London Road.

To Be Completed

If you have not already done so look at the information on Hertfordshire Maps


Page created July 2007