Welcome to my web site.
I understand that you are having
difficulties in researching your
Hertfordshire ancestors, or the town or
village where they lived, and want some assistance or advice about how
to proceed. Perhaps I can help?
I started researching my own
Hertfordshire ancestors in 1977, and have not only traced a lot of
also have done some in-depth local history research culminating in the
Gunners come to Town (about Hemel Hempstead in the First World
War) and some in depth studies, such as my talk on the
Brickmakers of St Albans. I started answering questions online
in about 1998 and this site started, in its present form in April 2001.
It has since expanded from about 200 pages to over 3400 pages of
information and advice about the county. In addition I have built up a
large reference library of books and other material on the History of Hertfordshire,
which allows me to include otherwise hard to find facts.
The aim of this web site, and
particularly the question answering service, is to teach people like you
how to get the most out of family and local history research by example.
Because there are millions of people on the web wanting help, and I have
a life to lead, as well as running this web site, I can't answer
everybody's questions, (although in practice I do answer most of them) so if you want a reply here is some advice as to
how to get your question selected.
You should ask a single
specific question about a named individual,
building, event, occupation, etc. linked to Hertfordshire. Vague questions urging me to "tell
me everything you know" will be ignored.
You should include the
relevant background. For instance, if you are looking for
information on an individual's birth, please include information you
already have from his marriage certificate, the names of his
children, his occupation or social status, his religious
affiliations, etc., as this can be relevant to knowing where to look
and how to recognise whether I have found the right person.
interesting or unusual connected with your question. For
instance did your ancestor own a mill and if so what kind of mill?
Or was he transported for horse stealing? If you include information
of this kind with your query there is more scope for me to write a
more generally stimulating response.
My site deals with the period
before the end of the First World War and normally
only covers people born before the 1901 census. Questions
dealing with matters after this period will not be answered. This
rules out all the New Towns except Letchworth Garden City, queries
about your parents if you were adopted, locate living relatives, requests to contact old
school friends, etc. This is not the appropriate site for such
Queries after the end of
the Civil War (1660) are more likely to be accepted - for
the simple reason that I have less experience of, or access to books
on, earlier periods.
Information on your
sources of information can be very relevant. There is
much erroneous speculation on the internet, particularly relating to
early settlers in America, and it helps to know whether the
foundations of your question are solid. (See
The Myth of Stanstead Abbey
if you want evidence.)
Pictures, copies of
certificates, photos of old buildings, etc., are welcome
additions to a question, but because of the vast amount of spam this
web site gets (often with malicious attachments) unsolicited email
attachments are likely to be binned for security reasons. Simply
mention that you wish to send a picture, etc., in your query and I
will be give you an email address for you to send the pictures.
I do not have easy access to
HALS so I cannot do look
ups, etc., on parish registers and other manuscript material held
there, although in many cases I can advise on the kinds of
information they hold or what may be available to you on microfilm,
etc., at your local LDS Family History Centre (worldwide).
It will help if you have looked
at some recent answers on the
Blog, or checked out
some of the answers in the box on the right. This will give you some
idea of the questions I answer, and the kinds of answer I give.
If still in doubt see the
Query FAQ page.
To maximise the chance of your question
being answered it may help if you prepare your question off-line. This will allow
you to check
it carefully to make sure you have left nothing out, before cutting and pasting into the form.
When you have read the above
and prepared your Question
to send your question
Please note that if your question is
selected for answer it may be edited to correct minor errors or to make
it clearer before it is added, with my
reply, to the web site.
Give a man a fish and he will eat
for a day.
Teach him how to fish and he will
eat for a lifetime.
examples of the kinds of questions I get.
When a married
woman has a child the husband's name will
automatically go on the birth certificate.
Ann KIFF's birth certificate says her father
was Thomas Kiff but there are very good reasons to
believe he was not the father.
PUTNAM, St Albans, early 19th century, the
circumstances surrounding the illegitimate birth of
Charles Ward are easier to understand if you look at
the burial records.
PARKER, Town Crier of Stevenage, 1891 I
discovered that most late 19th century Town Criers
also had the occupation of bill poster!
Had you thought
what might happen when the census enumerator calls
and there is a new-born baby in the house? So was
FITCH baby in Cheshunt in 1861 really
If you ask a
question relating to my book,
The London Gunners come to Town, you may
trigger some detailed research. An email told me
that one of my mother's old school friends had a
KIMICH, who was brought up away from the
rest of the family in a croft in Scotland. This
triggered some in-depth research in German
watchmakers who came to England in the 19th century
In real life your
name is what you call yourself - and not what it
says on a piece of paper. See
PARKINS or CHAMPKINS, St Albans, 1859-1901
for an example.
there are too many
TOMPKINS in Tring to be certain which is the
right one. The situation is complicated by some very
dubious entries in a much used online database. A
good example for remembering the dangers of
Right Name, Wrong Body?
My answer to
includes a useful checklist if you are looking for
late 19th/early 20th century graves.
Do some families -
Mills, Abbots Langley, early 19th century
- deliberately set out to confuse any descendants researching their
A query and
subsequent contributions from others, has
was a name given to Aldenham around 1700.
Dawn provided a
picture of injured WW1 soldiers at
The Bury, Kings Walden and I provided some background
information on the house which was a temporary
While proof is
needed it looks as if Ann
GRAY was born in Hertfordshire in 1846
because her father was a navvy helping to build a
railway, and she had no other connection with the
surrounding the case of
FARRINGTON, Buntingford, Early 19th century
becomes clear once one realises that even marriage
certificates can be wrong!
While I was unable
to provide much information on 197 High Street,
Watford, I was able to provide information on the
early history of
fried fish shops in Hertfordshire.
Was William Miller
Burton, Herefordshire or Hertfordshire, and
if the later, where was it? I come up with a
possible location with possible parents living
The answers on this web site go back
to 2001, when the only census data for Hertfordshire
was a CD containing the 1881 census. For this reason
older answers will not reflect current online
resources or the way questions are currently
answered on this web site.