Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Grand Union Canal in the Apsley area 100 years ago

The Grand Junction Canal at Doo Little, Apsley End
Roy kindly supplied the above picture of the Grand Junction Canal (now called the Grand Union Canal) at Doo Little, between Apsley and Kings Langley. I have taken this opportunity to add four more pictures of the Canal in the Apsley Area

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Who was catching fish in Hertfordshire 200 years ago?

My attention has been drawn to the above news item that appeared in the Courier (presumably the London Courier) in 1816 and was later recorded in Kirby's Wonderful and Scientific Museum (Volume 6, 1820 - available as Google ebook) and later the story was repeated in the Guinness Book of Records (19th edition) in 1972. The current world record is just over 40lbs.

This immediately raised two questions which some of you might be able to help answer.

  • The first is who actually caught this magnificent fish - and where one might find the evidence, as the above tantalizing news story, with no name mentioned, is typical of the snippets of news in the slim papers that were being published in the early 19th century.
  • The other is a more general question - are there any records of other interesting sized fish caught in Hertfordshire in the early 19th century, and who was involved. Clearly there was a significant interest in fishing as the following 1815 advert for Rickmansworth Park Manor points out it has an excellent Trout fishery and while the advert does not name the river it would have been the Colne, a few miles downstream from Watford.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hertfordshire Puddingstone

Following a request relating to an article published in 1953 in the Hertfordshire Countryside I have created a subject page relating to
If you have any information as to other places where it can be seen please let me know.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Hill End Hospital Cemetery

Google Satellite view 2017
It is some years since I visited it and posted details on the Genealogy Web Site and a recent query to this blog reminded me that I should bring the information up to date. The original web page related to the cemetery in 2009, at a time when work was being done to get it in order and make it respectable. I visited it again two or there year later and took photographs which are somewhere among some 25,000 waited to be sorted!  While I have added a future visit to my "to do" list I have decided to use the services of Google to see the current position.
It would seem that a small garden of rest area has been laid out adjoining the path but the area where most of the graves is much as it was in 2007 - in effect a hay meadow with many young trees (I suspect mainly oak). As such the Garden should be a pleasant place to sit and rest and contemplate nature - which was one of the things my daughter Lucy did when she was a patient there.
For more information on the Hertfordshire Asylums see ASYLUM

In updating the page I came across a problem that might affect other pages on the web site. I had included a direct link to Google showing a satellite view before any changes (circa 2007) and of course this had automatically updated to a different 2017 view.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I've been rather busy - but I haven't forgotten about genealogy

In Bunhill Fields
Joseph Phipson's grave

Over the last few weeks various matters have meant that I have not been able to spend much time on the newsletter or the web site - but when I have a moment I haven't forgotten about local history research.

On Sunday I attended the reunion of the Leo Computer Society in London and caught an early train so I could also have a look at Bunhill Fields - which is a very interesting cemetery in central London. It was used as a burial ground between 1665 and 1854 and it is estimated about 123,000 people were buried there - including many well known people such as John Bunyon, Daniel Defoe and William Blake.

One of the reason for my visit is that one of the few accessible and readable graves is one of my wife's ancestors and I wanted to make sure I had a good digital image of it.

Hopefully I will be able to continue working on the web site and this newsletter later in the month.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Thrashed for Profane Language in Hitchin Market Place in 1884 ???

James Francis Tooley, miller, of Whitwell, was charged with assaulting Samuel Izzard, o[ Luton, and the latter was summoned by Mr. Tooley, for using obscene and profane language.
This case, arose in Hitchin market. The version of the complainant and his witnesses was that he (complainant). was calling out "muffins and crumpets" in Hitchiu market, and on passing Mr. Tooley, complainant called out "I sell crumpets four a penny, and if Mr.Tooley will pay use the sixpence he owes me I will sell five a penny," upon which Mr. 'l'ooley, with an ash stick, gave him (Izzard) a most unmerciful thrashing, causing the market people to cry shame of him, and the complainant was obliged to go to Dr. Foster, at Hitchin, and to a doctor when he got to Luton.
The defendant's (Mr. Tooley's) version was, that he had found it necessary to put Izzard in the County Court for a sack of flour sometime ago, and to commit him to prison in default of paying the installments ordered by the Court, and ever since then Izzard had taken every opportunity of insulting him in public places, and on this afternoon he was haranguing the crowd and swearing about him in front of the Hitchin Corn Exchange. He put up with this until he repeated it before two hundred people when he could stand it no longer and did thrash Izzard.
Witnesses were called as to Izzard's profane language.
The Bench inflicted a fine of .£2 and costs upon the defendant for the assault uponIzzard, and ordered Izzard to pay 20s . including costs for profane language.
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow, 28 March, 1884

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Old Newspapers and Private Schools - The Bourne Hall Academy Example

Over the last few years the digitization of old newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive has made it far easier to investigate at least some of the private schools whose records do not exist.

In 2012 I was asked about Bourne Hall Academy, at Bushey and came up with an outline history based mainly on trade directories and census returns. About a week ago Cynthia contacted me to say that her relative Henry Hunt Sirkett had been at the school and he was recorded as having passed exams in the Herts Advertiser.

I decided that it would be interesting to use this school as a case study to assess how much extra information was available - particularly in the Herts Mercury (for the early years), the Herts Advertiser from 1855 and later from the Watford Observer. In fact I found so many references that there was no way I could find time to view them all, much less record all the names and events.

I decided to concentrate on the ownership and naming of the school as told in adverts. I discovered that H L Biggs took over Grove House boarding school in January 1844 and moved to Bourne Hall Academy by 1850. From then on there were regular reports in the papers of events such as prize-giving days and cricket matches, and details of students who passed external examinations. (Because to their number I selected three or four such items to examine in detail.) Things seem to have gone well until 1882 when H L Biggs handed over the school to his son H B Biggs, and it would seem that the new headmaster was not a success and in 1884 it appears that some boys who had prepared for some external examinations were not entered.Definitely the number of boys listed as passing external exams in 1888 was lower than one would have expected some ten years earlier. In addition it seems thatsome of the school buildings may have been used teach girls foreign languages.

The exact date that the school closed is uncertain but the furniture was sold off early in 1889, and the landlord put the property on the market a few months later. The bankruptcy hearings were revealling and demonstrate than the young headmaster had failed to learn good bookkeeping while a pupil at the school ...

For full details see Bourne Hall Academy

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Formation of the Volunteer Rifle Corps in 1860

Poem on the Volunteer Rifle Corps Meeting at Berkhamsted

 In January 1860 there were  meetings at Ashridge, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring to form a combined Rifle Corps. For details (and the full poem) click on the poem.
For the historic background see Wikipedia

Friday, September 22, 2017

Early Post Card images of Old Hertfordshire

The Congregational Church. Barley, circa 1950
Now a private house
Quite a lot of my recent requests for information are for larger images of some of the early prints and post cards - the last being a view of Barley for a poster for a Harvest Supper to be help at Barley Parish Church on 30th September. As a result it might be appropriate to explain the current position relating to images on the site.

  1. There is no fee for using this web site but if you use material from the site please consider making a donation to support the mentally ill in Hertfordshire.
  2. You are free use any pictures of old post cards and prints shown on this web site where I own an original copy (This includes all post card images where there is no reference to a source book, etc.)
  3. If the picture has a blue border clicking on the image will produce a larger image - typically 1024 pixels wide. In preparation for archiving this web site the number of such images is being increased - so that it can continue to be used as a picture library with several thousand images of the county over 100 years ago..
  4. Larger images may be available - contact me if you are interested.

Wagon & Horse Pub  - possibly 1920
Now renamed the Fox & Hounds
Because of the size of the site it will take several years to upgrade all the post card images, and priority will be given to villages or selected aspects of the larger towns if people contact me. Because the last request was about Barley I have added three new post cards - and upgraded over a dozen existing views with 1024 pixel wide images.
St Margaret's House (former Rectory), Barley

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Railway comes to Tring on Wednesday 20th September

Ian Petticrew is a local historian and joint author, with Wendy Austin, of several books, including one on this subject. On Wednesday, 20th September, he will be giving a talk to the Tring Local History Society at the High Street Methodist Church, Tring.

Tring Station is at the summit of the London to Birmingham Railway (the world's first mainline route) and his talk will cover the engineers, selection of the route, the Act of Parliament, construction contracts, illustrations of the line under construction, stations, locomotives and early timetables.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Harpenden News from 1891 - A fire and a funeral

Old News
 Following an email from Colin relating to the Anscombe family of Harpenden I decided to update the Anscombe page with a link to Mrs Pamela Anscombe's funeral, which lists relatives who were still living. The page also included details of a fire at the Anscombe's shop and other local news which I have copied below.

Messrs. Anscombe wish to thank all those who rendered each useful assistance at the recent fire on their premises.

St. George's School. — On Sunday evening at evensong a special sermon was preached in the chapel of this school by the Rev. B. W. Harris, in aid of the Home Missions in East London. The offertory was also devoted to the same object.

Young Women’s Guild. — The members of the above guild held their quarterly tea and meeting at the rectory Monday. Various games were indulged in ; the members afterwards attending a service in the parish church, when address was given by the Rector.

Accident to little Girl.— On Friday afternoon a little girl named Puter, of Luton, met with a somewhat serious accident whilst playing on the large roller near the cricket ground. She was running down the shaft, and falling on to some ironwork gashed her knee. Dr. Wilson dressed and stitched np the wound.

Wesleyan Chapel. — This chapel was well filled on Sunday evening, when a sermon was preached by Mr. M. White, a coloured student of Richmond College. Mr. White also gave an address to the scholars in the afternoon. He is now training to go back as missionary among his own people.

Congregational Chapel. — The anniversary services of this chapel were held Wednesday. A public tea was provided at which good company assembled. Two excellent sermons were preached afternoon and evening by the Rev. J. Brown, D.D., of Bedford (Chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales), at which there were large congregations.

Outbreak of Fire.—On Saturday night, about 12.30, an outbreak of fire in some sheds on the premises at Messrs. Anscombe and Son's was simultaneously discovered by several persons. Mr. W. H. Anscombe, who is captain of the Fire Brigade, was quickly on the spot, and was shortly afterwards followed by the other members of the Brigade. It was then found that a shed, utilised as a storehouse for empties, with some chairs and fixtures, was in full flames. It was impossible to save this building, and the efforts of the Brigade were then directed to preventing the fire spreading to adjoining stables and premises. The structure was composed of wooden walls, and was about 30 feet long by 12 feet wide and 16 feet high, with galvanised iron roof. Messrs. Anscombe are insured in the Union Office, and the damage is estimated at about £30.

Death of Mrs. Anscombe, Jun. — The death of Mrs. Allen Anscombe. jun., occurred on Thursday in last week. The deceased lady, who was the daughter of Mr. Rothwell, had been married about eight years, and leaves three sons. She had been suffering for about eleven months from a cancer of the tongue and throat, for which she was attended by Dr. Blake. At that time an operation was performed upon her at King's College by Mr. Heath. It was hoped that this would prove effectual, but although it afforded temporary relief, it was necessary that other minor operations should be undergone. Notwithstanding the treatment and the supreme efforts used the cancer gradually increased, and eventually terminated fatally. Mrs. Anscombe bore the trouble with great fortitude and courage. For some time prior to her marriage the deceased lady took an active interest in the Congregational Chapel at Harpenden. The funeral took place onTuesday afternoon at Harpenden Church, a large number of the inhabitants of the village, and personal friends, together with relatives, being present. The service was conducted by the Rev. E. T. Vaughan, rector. The mourners were — Mr. Allen Anscombe, jun., and Mr. W. B. Bothwell, Mr. and Mrs. Mr. W. H. Anscombe and Mrs. Mallett, Mr. and Mrs. Anscombe. Mr. B. Anscombe and Miss Anscombe. Mr. A. E. Ansoombe and Miss 8. F. Anscombe, Rev. W. R. Price and Miss Ashworth. The employes of Messrs. Anscombe also followed. The funeral arrangements were carried oat by Mr. Irons, the coffin being of oak with burnished brass plates. The inscription was: Pamela Ansoombe, died 25th June, 1831, aged 36 years.” A large number of beautiful wreaths sent by relatives and friends completely covered the coffin. Among them were the following : from W.H. Ansoombe: “From brothers and sisters,” A.E.A., E.A., E.M.A., and S.F.A.; from W. E. Rothwell; “With loving sympathy.” from E. M. Rothwell; With deepest sympathy. ’ Mr. and Mrs. Frear, sen., and the Misses Frear; "With respects,” from Lizzie and Emily: With deepest sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Winter: from Mrs. Claridge ; “With deepest sympathy.” from Mr. and Mrs. Willmott; "With sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Simons and all at Cell Park-farm: "In token of our esteem and sympathy” from the assistants; “With sincere respect and sympathy,” from the workroom; “In loving memory," from Eliza and Harriett Walsh.

Herts Advertiser, 4 July, 1891
From British Newspaper Archive

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Steabbens - Butcher of St Albans and Hatfield

Alfred Wren, with the butcher's van owned by Steabbens of St Albans and Hatfield
Hillary has kindly provided the above picture of Alfred Wren, who was born i 1899 and moved to London in 1923 - almost certainly taken after the war - where he had joined the army despite being under age. I have added it to the existing Steabben page

If you have any similar early photos which could be added to an existing page on my web site I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Current Hertfordshire (and adjacent) papers online at the BNA

Extracted from latest British Newspaper Archive list: 

Barnet Press 13400 pages 1861-1862, 1879-1910
Bedfordshire Mercury 22174 pages 1837-1877, 1879, 1890-1895, 1898-1910, 1912
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 48802 pages 1859-1873, 1887-1888, 1891-1897, 1899-1954
Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press 37450 pages 1854-1855, 1859-1897, 1899-1911, 1913-1955
Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 2294 pages 1860, 1872, 1874, 1890, 1912
Bucks Gazette 4312 pages 1829-1849
Bucks Herald 55362 pages 1833-1851, 1853-1953
Hemel Hempstead Gazette and West Herts Advertiser 3456 pages 1872, 1874-1876, 1879, 1881-1882, 1886, 1891
Hendon & Finchley Times 34728 pages 1878-1940
Hertford Mercury and Reformer 14628 pages 1834-1837, 1840-1889, 1913, 1916-1918, 1939
Hertfordshire Express and General Advertiser 2394 pages 1859-1871
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 12590 pages 1878-1882, 1884-1888, 1890-1898, 1900-1910
Herts Advertiser 16878 pages 1866-1895, 1897-1907
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser 9882 pages 1852-1867, 1883
Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette 14476 pages 1861, 1863-1904, 1939
Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle 5436 pages 1897, 1905-1906, 1917-1919, 1936, 1939, 1950, 1953-1954
Luton Times and Advertiser 15802 pages 1855-1862, 1866-1873, 1875-1880, 1885, 1894-1916
South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal 2672 pages 1859-1860, 1862, 1865, 1879, 1882
South Bucks Standard 9206 pages 1890-1897, 1899-1910, 1912-1914
Watford Observer 14406 pages 1863-1909

The most recent newspaper to be added is the Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News - and I will be watching to see when they add new pages. The paper was founded in 1836 by my great grandfather, John Gibbs and includes good coverage of the Tring area of Hertfordshire. The Births, Marriage and Deaths column often included information on Gibbs relatives  even if they had left Aylesbury many years before.  I am also waiting for some of the later years of the Herts Advertiser to appear - as it was founded by Richard Gibbs - who was John Gibbs' brother. As yet the BNA has not covered the Maidenhead Advertiser - which was founded by another of my ancestors

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Restoration Work on the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union CanalRelining the

Relining the disused canal near Tring
Laying the concrete blocks
The process involves the following stages
(1) The side is excavated smoothly down, using the JCB
(2) Large sheets of a waterproofing fabric containing a bentonite filling are added.
(3) A wall of concrete blocks is laid against the sheeting to protect it from damage from the barges once the canal is in use.
(4) The top of the wall is covered with a roll of coconut matting 
(5) The upper part of the sheeting will later be covered with soil.
(6) When the sides have been completed along a reasonable length the bottom will be covered with a large sheet of matting.
(7) The matting on the floor will then be covered with a thick layer of soil.
(8) When a suitable length has been prepared a temporary earth dam will be added and the area flooded.
(9) When eventually the restoration work connects with the canal at Tringford the earth dams will be removed and canal badges will again be able to go along the canal.
At the present rate this is unlikely to be before about 2025.

Stalls at Drayton Beauchamp Church
The photos were taken on the recent open day, held by the Wendover Arm Trust.

There was car parking, refreshments and an information stall at Drayton Beauchamp church, with escorted trips along the canal to the working site.

[As part of my archiving activities  I plan to update the pages on the Grand Union Canal and its branches - with many pictures of the canal and its buildings as they are now.]

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fighting on Blackbirds Moor, Hemel Hempstead

The Knight in action
Yesterday I visited Blackbirds Moor, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead to see the first day of "Living History on the Moor" with out Australian Visitor. This was put on by the Medieval Siege Society. who will be preforming again today (Sunday)

The Medieval Camp Site on Robin Moor

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Insanity in Hertfordshire - More information about the Asylums

I have just received publication details of a book "A Place in the Country: Three Counties Asylum 1860-1999" by Judith Pettigrew, Rory W Reynolds & Sandra Rouse (Hertfordshire Publications, 2017). and because of what happened to my daughters Lucy and Belinda I am very interested the the mental health provision in Hertfordshire, and its history. I hope to get a copy of this book (perhaps as a Xmas present) and when I do I will be adding a review to the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site - together with a brief history of this interesting asylum, later called Fairfield, which was constructed near the Herts and beds border.

The receipt of details of the book reminded me that the mental health information on my site needed a face-lift and some updating. There is now a new subject button ASYLUMS, and  an associated information page. I have also made some useful updates to the page on the Early Mad Houses in St Albans & Harpenden relating to the private asylum operated from Oster Hills and Harpenden Hall by James Rumball and his son..
from Herts Mercury, 1847

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I visit the excellent rural history museum at Pitstone Green

A display of old ploughs
On Monday I decided to revisit the rural history museum at Pitstone Green. This is run by the Pitstone and Ivinghoe Museum Trust about 10 times a year, and the last time I visited it was at Easter 2009.

The museum is located in the farm buildings of Pitstone Green Farm, which were largely built by the Countess of Bridgewater (who lived in nearby Ashridge House) between 1820 and 1850. The farm itself was occupied by members of the Hawkins family from 1808, and on the death of Jeff Hawkins in 2001 the farm was left to the National Trust and is now part of the Ashridge Estate.
Display of mechanized farm equipment and the Great Barn

The farm buildings are a good example of early-mid farm buildings of the period, but there is also a much older great barn (used for arts and crafts stalls, but also containing a large cart) which was probably moved to the site when the current buildings were erected. The old cowshed, now used to display farming tools, reminded me of farm visits I made as a child some 70 years ago. The pioneering 1946 automated grain silos are also of interest to the farming historian. 

The Wheelwright's Workshop
As you walk round the museum you pass the blacksmith's forge, and the workshops of a wheelwright, a carpenter, a plumber, a cobbler, a brush maker, a printer and a book binder. All have a display of the tools they use and the goods they produced - and several are manned by volunteers skilled in the relevant craft. There was also a demonstration of lace making and on my earlier visit there was someone basket making. There are also displays relating to straw platt (which was an important cottage industry in the surrounding parts of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and brick making.

There is also an extensive collection of farm implements from small hand tools to a massive threshing machine made in 1917, together with old farm carts, and in 2017 a cart horse was in attendance. I liked the display of early mechanized farm tools and the engines that powered them and there is a powerful Crossley Gas engine, from Grace's Mill in Akeman Street, Tring. together with the associated gas making plant.

Model of Canal Wharf
Domestic issues are not forgotten and in addition to displays of old photographs and family history information there is a reconstruction of an old farm kitchen and a living room from the 1940s adjoins an area with first world war memorabilia. 

As there is  a major railway line and canal in the area it is appropriate that there is a large model layout which shows how the railways looked in the days of steam, while Wag's Wharf models a canal wharf and pumping station. There is also a science room, a display of early home computers, and reconstruction of a Lancaster bomber.

There are also extra attractions on open days and in 2009 there was a display of veteran army transport and an outdoor model railway line which had Thomas the Tank Engine going round. In 2017 there was a display of veteran cars - the Austin 7 reminding me of the first car i remember - which was a larger Austin 10. There was also a steam car offering rides but while it might look old I gather the car was built from a modern kit. On both occasions there was the chance of taking a trip round the farm by tractor and trailer.

The Steam Car
All in all a most attractive day out - particularly if you interested in local and farming history relating to the Chilterns and the Herts/Bucks border country.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: Hertfordshire's Historic Inland Waterway

Full Review
I am currently sorting through my library and have come across a pile of recent books which were waiting for review and somehow got overlooked. I feel that it would be useful to review these books and include them in the main book index. in preparation for the site becoming an online archive

As they are mainly still in print I feel it will ne more useful to try and get the reviews online in the next two or three months - as some of them could make useful Christmas presents.

I have decided to start with John Cooper's book:
It is a picture book with modern and early 20th century pictures, and a brief historic introduction to each.

In addition my web site contains many other reviews relating to the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. You will find them on the

Friday, August 25, 2017

A History of the old Town Hall in St Albans

I have just heard that Chris Green has written a book about the old Town Hall in St Albans and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Chris is a former director of St Albans Museum and will be signing copies of the book from 12.00 to 1.00 pm on Saturday 2 September, at Waterstones, St Peter’s Street, St Albans. The full colour, fully illustrated book costs £6.99, ISBN 978-0-901194-10-7. It is being published by St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society, email

During his time as director of St Albans Museums Chris Green worked in the old town hall and over the years has studied almost every inch of the building. He has drawn on his extensive knowledge and experience to write this definitive, fully illustrated guide to its history and use over almost 200 years. Original plans for the neo-classical building by architect George Smith are included in the book. The front cover of the book shows George Smith’s original drawing for the building.

The old town hall originally served as a place of local justice, with the local seat of government occupying just one large room. In 1851 the Bribery Commission held court in the building to investigate the ‘cash for votes’ scandal that resulted in St Albans losing its parliamentary representation for a period of time.

* * * * * *
In case you didn't know the original City Museum in Hatfield road closed in 2015 and is due to reopen in the Old Town Hall in Spring 2018

Click Here for some old post card images of the Old Town Hall

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Homewood, Knebworth - A house designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens

Homewood, Knebworth
It is always nice to get messages when the answer to one question provides an answer to someone else's question and they contact me to give details. Four years ago Chris sent me a post card of a house in Knebworth and asked if I could identify it. 

Now Stephen, whose family has lived in the house since 1973, has written to say that when the house was built one of Lutyens' plans showed an orchard. While there are still two ancient apple trees Stephen was delighted to note that if you look carefully at the above picture you can see a number of what are almost certainly young fruit trees.

I have taken the opportunity to update the Homewood page by adding a brief reference to the flowers in the garden in 1931 and the description of this architecturally important house by Pevsner.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Do you ever use Wikipedia for your Hertfordshire Research?

If you visit Genealogy in Hertfordshire regularly you will know that I frequently include links to the Wikipedia web site - and if you use Wikipedia you may have found some of the 200+ links from Wikipedia to my site.. 

I started the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site at about the same time that Jimmy Wales founded Wikipedia and originally Wikipedia contained very little about Hertfordshire - but with teams of enthusiastic helpers it now contains an enormous amount of information about Hertfordshire towns and villages as they are in the 21st century - and also much valuable historical information. However there is a problem, as the following message from Jimmy Wales indicated.

To all our readers in the UK,
We will get straight to the point: Today we ask you to help Wikipedia. To maintain our independence, we will never run ads. We depend on donations averaging about £10. Only a tiny portion of our readers give. If everyone reading this gave £2, we could keep Wikipedia thriving for years to come. The price of a coffee is all we need. When I made Wikipedia a non-profit, people warned me I’d regret it. Over a decade later, it’s the only top ten site run by a non-profit and a community of volunteers. Has it crossed my mind how much we could have made if it had ads? Sure. But it wouldn’t be the same. We wouldn’t be able to trust it. Most people ignore my messages. But I hope you’ll think about how useful it is to have unlimited access to reliable, neutral information. Please help keep Wikipedia online and growing. Thank you. — Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder

I know exactly how Jimmy is feeling - as Genealogy in Hertfordshire has always been a non-profit site, with no adverts, and it also asks people who find the site useful to make donations.

The big difference is that the donations to Wikipedia are to pay the expenses of running what is a very large web site used millions of times a day, and it needs money to keep the site going. Donations to Genealogy in Hertfordshire all go to a Hertfordshire Mental Heath project in memory of my daughjters Lucy and Belinda. The basic computer costs of running the site are independently covered because it is one of a number of community projects run by HertsWeb while the costs of building the reference library of books, post cards, CDs, subscriptions, etc. used for answering questions, etc., all come out of my personal pension.

Donate to Wikipedia
Support the Mentally Ill in Hertfordshire
The big similarity is both sites have large numbers of visitors who greatly value the information they contain and expect the sites to continue for free for ever. May I suggest that if you have never made a donation to support Wikipedia, or to support Genealogy in Hertfordshire's nominated charity, now is the time to do it.    

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A humorous look at supplying milk to St Albans 100 years ago.

The Milkman who supplied families daily - probably by "F S" circa 1907
My Great Grandfather, Jacob Reynolds, ran Heath Farm Dairy which supplied milk to St Albans. He had a great sense of humour and his scrapbook contains many jokes about milkmen.

Some time ago I came across a comic post card by Karaktus showing a milkman which had been published in St Albans and I decided to investigate. I have still not traced who the artist was but the other artist was one who normally signed himself "F S". Recently I have spent far too much time tracking down "F S" and will be reporting on his probably identity later.

Unfortunately "F S" did not sign all his post cards but I am sure Jacob would have liked the above - where the grin on the face of the milkman makes one wonder whether he "supplied" the families who are following him down the road!
Milkman post card currently on sale on ebay

One issue that often came up was the quality of the milk, and the second card (no connection with St Albans) shows why people were worried.

The issue of whether the milk had been tampered with came up in 1881 when the St Albans Town Clerk, Issac Newton Edwards, (Featured in Hertfordshire Men of Mark) arranged to milk to be sampled and the test- as published suggested that some of the milk from Heath Farm Dairy had been tampered with. However it turned out that the town clerk had recently acquired a herd of cattle and was supplying milk to the town himself - and it was the tests that were suspect ond not the sample! MORE

Monday, August 21, 2017

Hertfordshire Genealogy Web Site - Policy Update

Now that the site is moving into "archive mode" it seemed appropriate to modify the policy statement to reflect the change of service. The new wording includes the following:

This means that in future the web site policy will concentrate on safeguarding the historical content for the future.  The aim is to ensure
  1. That the current web site continues to be available - even if no longer updated.
  2. That when down-sizing becomes unavoidable no unique documents will be lost
  3. If possible the Newsletter will continue even if the main site is no longer being updated.
  4. Donations to help the mentally ill will still be accepted and those who have found the web site useful in the past, but have not yet made a contribution will be encouraged to do so.
In making the changes it has been decided to make improvements to the menus - and in future the bottom of each menu will have a link to the Policy/Copright statement. The Home menu has already been updated. In making so a minor systematic mis-link was found which affected about 300 menus. This has been corrected automatically and seems to have worked as intended - but I have not been able to test every links - so apologies if there is any trouble.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Baron Dimsdale & Essendon Place from 1834 to 2017

Essendon Place was built by the 5th Baron Charles John Dimsdale (1801-1872) in 1834. 

He was succeeded by the 6th Baron Robert Dimsdale (1828-1898) who was M.P. for Hertford between 1866 and 1874, and later for Hitchin between 1885 and 1892. The portrait is from the book Hertfordshire Men of Mark published in 1887.

The 7th Baron Charles Robert Southwell Dimsdale (1856-1928) is one of the people described in Hertfordshire Leaders (1907?). He continued in the house but sold it in 1912.

The next occupant was David Citroen who paid £13,500 for the house and 100 acres of parkland. He was only there for a short time as the house was sold again in 1917.  

The next occupant was Sir Frederick Lewis (1870-1944), a shipping magnate who became Lord Essendon in 1932.

The house still stands, but has been subdivided into a number of separate houses.

For much more information see 
This post was initiated by Peter who requested information on the 7th Baron Dimsdale as a result of the post Vanity publishing by Truman Press