Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our 50th Wedding Anniversary

I have just had six days away when I was separated from the computer. As a result this site has been somewhat neglected. But do I care? The answer is "Not at all."

My full-time live-in personal social secretary reminded me that we need a holiday - and for some reason she suggested that the 26th of September was a good day for a family get together. 
Helen and Chris at Dartmeet
After an excellent meal at Badgers Holt 
As both of us spent our early years in Devon she busied herself on the web laying plans for a short holiday in the South West of England and a  week ago we set out to visit out old haunts.

Ilsington Country House Hotel
We needed a base and the Ilsington Country House Hotel proved ideal for the purpose. It was close to Haytor, a rocky hilltop in the Dartmoor National Park from which we could look over the countryside around Newton Abbot, where I had been brought up, and Teignmouth and Shaldon (where Helen lived) in the distance. Food and service at the hotel were excellent - and I greatly enjoyed using the swimming pool.
Dartmoor Ponies below Haytor
We both had a great time touring round the district, revisiting old haunts with other members of the immediate family, and the final celebration was an excellent meal at the Owl and the Pussy Cat, in Teign Street, Teignmouth, where we finished by blowing out the candle of a tasty cake.
Lime Kilns at Higher Kiln Quarry, Buckfastleigh
During our tour round we drove up a narrow lane at Buckfastleigh to look at the buildings at the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust and I made a note that I must make a proper visit next year as the Trust will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary - and I was a member of the original committee, as secretary of the Devon Speleological Society.

[Normal postings to this blog will resume early in October]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Local Newsletters --- and the Sandridge Strike of 1873

Many villages, small communities, churches and local societies throughout Hertfordshire publish newsletters. They are produced by volunteers, sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly. Typically they contain local news and adverts, and sometimes they contain useful articles of a historical interest. They may distributed free to local households, or available through a local shop - perhaps the post office assuming that has not been closed. In many cases copies are not deposited in the local library or at HALS. This is a pity as such documents can provide a valuable record of contemporary life in the locality - and also a source of historical information not easily available elsewhere. If your ancestors come from an area  which is covered by such newsletters it can be very difficult to locate any articles which might be relevant to your research.

I was reminded of this when a copy of Neighbourhood News arrived through the post. It is sponsored by the Sandridge Parish Council for everyone in Sandridge, Marshalswick and Jersey Farm and published four times a year. This issue contains the first part of an article on the 1873 Sandridge Agricultural Strike. There is no need to rush out and obtain a copy as the article is based on material from this web site. 

However if you get one of these local newsletters it is worth checking whether there ar reference copies in the local library and HALS and if you send me details I will be happy to post details of interesting historical articles on this blog so that other people are aware of what might be available.

Let me know if you know of any local newsletters  which could frequently include articles of historical or genealogical interest.

Holy Cross Church at Sarratt

Two New Post Card images of Holy Cross, Sarratt 

Higher Resolution images also available for the following views of the church 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Post Card Views of Shenley

Two Post Card images added to the Shenley Page
Shenley Village, South, posted 1912
Old Thatched Cottages, Shenley, circa 1910
In addition high definition images of the following post card images of Shenley are now available.
The Folly

London Road

The Old Cage

Greeting Card (1924)

Post Office

Multiview (1907)

The Cage
Shenley Church

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Poaching & Petty Thieving in St Albans

When I wrote in detail about Poaching and Petty Thieving in St Albans I decided to give extensive details of the Stratton family, whose name kept on turning up in the records. Of course the Stratton family were not the only criminals to be caught, and poaching and related crimes were common throughout Hertfordshire.

Ian has drawn my attention to John Brewster, who spent census night 1901 in the cells of the Police Station, Victoria Street, St Albans, where his occupation was unflatteringly described as "Habitual Thief." I had a quick check through my press cuttings from the Herts Advertiser, and found four references to the Brewster family in the 1870s. In 1871 a copper pump was stolen from the Bernards Heath brickfield and John Brewster gave evidence [Charge of Stealing a Copper Pump]. In 1872 Samuel HopeGeorge Brewster  and Joseph Balls  were charged with trespassing in search of rabbits on land in the occupation of Earl Spencer, of Sandridge [A Raid on the Rabbits] and John's older brother spent 10 days in prison. In 1874 John Brewster was given 14 days for trespassing on Bernards Heath in search of game [Game Trespass]. I also have a brief reference to the fact that in 1875  John Brewster and John Edwards were convicted of searching for conies on the land of S. J. Rumball, of Townsend Farm.
Have any of your ancestors ever been before the courts? Or were they a victim? If so you may be able to find out some additional personal facts about them in the press or court records.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Meeting my Great Great Great Great Grandfather

This is turning out to be a busy month - with an Australian visitor staying with us for much of the time, an old school reunion, our 50th wedding anniversary celebrations still to come, and, more sadly, a family funeral. A few days ago we took our Australian friend to see Norwich Cathedral and on the way we broke our journey at a small Cambridgeshire village, Chippenham, just outside Newmarket.

When I started seriously researching my ancestors in 1977 one of the my first discoveries was an impressive row of Reynolds graves. and, after a quick check to confirm they were still there using google's satellite view I decided I would photograph them in detail for this blog and also resume a much delayed activity of posting information of my own ancestors on this web site.

 The group consists of seven graves, the biggest, a solid alter tomb, holding the remains of my great great great great grandfather, William Reynolds, who died in  1807. Five of his children are buried on either side and between them they illustrate the different styles of grave stones used by the well-to-do in the early 19th century. The slab in the foreground, which was originally surrounded by iron railings, is that of my great great great grandfather, Philip Reynolds. At the far end of the row there is a rather ostentatious Victorian column marking the grave of two of William's grandchildren. 

While the graves are not in Hertfordshire they are of interest to this site because the family forms part of a complex network, already described on page 3 of Who is related to Who? Elsewhere in the churchyard is the Kent alter tomb, and the inscription tells us that Augusta Kent died in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.  Augusta was Philip Reynolds' niece while one of her husband's relatives married a daughter of my great great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds in St Albans in 1904. 

William Reynolds, Philip Reynolds and Lewis Kent were all tenants of La Hogue Hall Farm in the 19th century. By the time we had discovered that the farm is being run by a young couple with a farm shop and a pleasant restaurant, we only had time to make a quick stop - but hope to see more of the place later. I wonder what my 4x great grandfather would think of it if he could see it now.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Book on Gustard Wood, Wheathampstead

Anthony write to say that there a new book out St. Peter's Church Gustard Wood (1910 - 2010) A Living History by Rodney D Locks. It is available from Rodney for £5.00 plus 88p postage.

Anthony has been assisting on the Wheathampstead War Memorial project which is preparing for the anniversary of the start of the First World War, and he tells me that there is a memorial tablet in St Peters, Gustard Wood.

Is your town or village collecting information on these who died in the war, to celebrate the their memories when the centenary of the outbreak arrives in less than three years time?

Married Men Transported to Australia

Further to the posting Hill, Transported to Australia, 1837, David has checked the Tasmanian records, but they only say that he was ineligible to have his wife brought out from England, and there is not information as to whether the unexplained baptism of Faith Ells at Hemel Hempstead in 1840 (original documents not yet checked) is relevant. In fact a further investigation revealed yet another case where variations in spelling in the indexes (and possibly the original records) can lead to confusion and FELLS, Harpenden, circa 1840 provides evidence that Faith/Ruth Ells/Fell/Fells/Fitts is irrelevant to the main line of enquiry.

Interestingly David reports that there was a low level of requests for wives to come out to Australia and it would be interesting to know what percentage of men transported were married - and what percentage of married men made such applications? It may be that most of the convicts were unmarried and the Hertfordshire lower courts tended to be more lenient in sentencing married men with families because they were aware that the wife and children might end up as a charge on poor relief. In addition a wife with children might be a beneficial influence. Does anyone know if any such statistics (possibly for England as a whole) exists?

Croquet at Aston Rectory in 1868

Playing croquet at Aston Rectory in 1868
Michael is a descendant of the Rev George Augustus Oddie, and this picture shows a game of tennis being played to the lawn of the Rectory in 1868.

Croquet was very much a Victorian game, played on the lawns of the larger houses. The rules were only published in 1856 and the first croquet club was set up in 1868, the year this picture was taken.

George's sons went to Haileybury School and there is already a picture of Henry James Oddie on this web site.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some More St Albans Football Clubs wanting Dates

Mike's researches into St Albans' East End has produced two more pictures of St Albans clubs which are somewhat later than the normal cut-off point for Hertfordshire Genealogy site, so if you have any information respond to the East End web site. He writes: .

SeaCadet Football Team:  This photograph was taken in the front playground of Beaumont School, Oakwood Drive, St Albans.  At the beginning of WW2 the Sea Cadets trained at the school before moving to new headquarters at Verulamium.  One recognsable face, in the centre of the middle row, is teacher Mr A Coxall, who was also a Special Constable.  He also arranged experience visits to Portsmouth  naval and marine bases.  Although St Albans Sea Cadets, it is likely that many of the team members lived in the Fleetville, Camp and Colney Heath areas.

Unknown StAbans Football Team: The team  came to me from the same source as two previous teams I submitted to you, and may contain players who knew Horace Tuck of Fleetville.  It may even be the same team, though in a different period – this photo appears to be more recent relative to the other team pictured in a wide open space.  The shirts  superficially are similar to other teams photographed, but in monochrome it is difficult to tell.  Users who are good at comparing faces may find a player on more than one photo!

Have you had a problem making a Donation?

Online donations via everyclick for the Hertfordshire Mental Health Charity Herts Mind Network are going moderately well - as while they are about £100 behind target they are better than in 2010. I use this method of collection because it greatly reduces paperwork all round, collects gift aid tax refunds for UK donors, and automatically converts overseas currencies at a very reasonable rate. Bank charges for small overseas donations can sometimes mean that more of the money actually end up supporting those poor near-destitute millionaire bankers, who can no longer afford to run two Ferraris, than it does helping the impoverished mentally ill in Hertfordshire.

Recently several overseas doners have reported difficulties, but I am unsure what the difficulty is. For instance perhaps in some countries it only accepts debit and not credit, card payments. If you have had any problems please let me know why - so I can inform others wanting to donate. If payment proves impossible I would prefer that your donation goes to an equivalent charity where you live, although of course such donations cannot be added to the everyclick total.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nica's Dream and Tring Park

I have just learnt that the book Nica's Dream, The life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness, By David Kastin has just been published. So what, you may ask, is the connection between a book which will appeal to Jazz enthusiasts and this web site?
In fact Kathleen Annie Pannonica (Nica) Rothschild (1913–1988), was the daughter of Nathaniel Charles and Rozsika Rothschild, and after her father's death, Nica and her siblings moved into Tring Park Mansion, where she spent a good portion of her childhood.
Emus in Tring Park
The book contains a picture of the emus in Tring Park, from this web site, and it is perhaps worth reminding readers of this blog that I can supply digital copies of many of the older engravings and post card images, and any of the modern photographs I have taken myself.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Independent Chapel, Spicer Street, St Albans

On Saturday, as part of the Heritage Open Days programme I visited St Albans and as a result I have updated the information on the Spicer Street Independent Chapel, including photographs and a summary of the history from a handout. I also list the names on the War Memorial tablet.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Waterfield, Heronsgate, Chorleywood, identified

Waterfield House, circa 1902
 Last month I was able to locate this house to somewhere near the Land of Liberty public house. Judy has now provided a photograph (circa 1902) and sales particulars from 1953. The additional information strongly suggests that Waterfield was immediately to the east of the public house, where The Hollies (a small development of modern houses) now stands.

Judy also tells us the story of how Jane Camp went to Canada to marry Charles King, who she had never met!

DON'T FORGET ANY DOCUMENT CAN CONTAIN ERRORS. Two maps over 100 years apart that were used in answering the query  incorrectly identify the location of the Land of Liberty public house. The 1898 OS map has a pointer which goes right past the pub and points at Waterfield, while Google Maps has the name in the wrong place, while the real location is easily determined from Google Street View.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hertfordshire Countryside - September Issue

Hertfordshire Countryside
September 2011
The Hertfordshire Countryside magazine has been going for over 60 years, and the early issues are packed with history. The modern version is better seen as a life style magazine, but each issue contains several articles (typically 2 or 3 pages) of particular interest to people interested in Hertfordshire local history. The following articles in the September 2011 issue caught my eye:

Is the Age of Eccentrics Over? Former Hertfordshire eccentrics include Edward Sturgess of Walkern, Henry Trigg of Stevenage and Piers Shonk of Brent Pelham.
Reminiscing the Ruins. The history and pictures of Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans.
A Reluctant Hero. Percy Childerley (1894-1970) wins the DCM in the First World War.
Datchworth. A village with an interesting history.
Hoddesdon's 1253 Charter Fair Returns.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Heritage Open Days in Herts - 8-11 September

Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission. Every year on four days in September, buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors, ranging from castles to factories, town halls to tithe barns, parish churches to Buddhist temples. It is a once-a-year chance to discover hidden architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities which bring to life local history and culture.
I nearly forgot to include this - so apologies for the lack of notice. The Heritage Open Days web site lists events in: 
Berkhamsted, Caldecote, Hatfield, Hertford, Hitchin, Ickleford, Letchworth Garden City, St Albans, Stanmore, Stevenage, Tring, Ware, Watford & Welwyn.
I am particularly impressed by the wide range of buildings that will be open in Hitchin, organised by The Hitchin Society

Buying Hertfordshire Wills Online

I have just received the following email from
Hertfordshire Wills Index: 1415-1857 now free to search on the National Wills index, plus copies available for ordering online!
Hertfordshire Wills Index: 1415-1857 now searchable on the National Wills index
Details of over 27,630 individuals can now be searched for FREE on the National Wills Index on

This index seeks to embrace in one alphabetical sequence all the wills (both original and registered copies), inventories, administration bonds, accounts and other related documents which survive among the records of the Archdeaconries of Huntingdon (Hitchin Division) and St Albans now held at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.
Coverage may be summarised as follows:
  • Archdeaconry of Huntingdon (Hitchin Division):
    Original wills (together with some inventories), 1557-1857 (Ref, HW); will registers, 1557-1843 (Ref, HR); inventories, 1568-1789 (Ref, AHH22 includes some administration bonds); administration bonds and accounts, 1609-1857 (Ref, AHH23).
  • Archdeaconry of St Albans:
    Original wills, including administration bonds and inventories filed with them, 1518-1857 (Ref, AW); will registers, also including grants of administration, 1415-1857 (Ref, AR); inventories, 1518-1764 (Ref, A25); no original probate accounts are known to have survived for this archdeaconry.
Copies of the originals can be ordered online for £10GBP. These are supplied digitally by Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies and delivered via a PDF to your email address.
These wills can also be ordered directly from HALS at £6GBP a time

Genealogists' Magazine - Walsh of Redbourn

Genealogists Magazine
September 2011
The September Issue of the Genealogists' Magazine (published by the Society of Genealogists) includes a detailed article on the descent, by two different routes, of the Queen from John Walsh, who was buried at Leatherhead at the age of 84 and described in his will as "heretofore of Redbourn in the County of Herts." John Walsh's birth details are still unknown, but if you are descended from him you are a cousin of the Queen.

Additions to the Society's Library include Percy Ilott's Hertfordshire Stories, Plays and Poems, published in 1938.

The Society's list of events, lectures and courses includes a half day lecture, My Ancestor was a Bastard, on 26th November. This is given by Ruth Paley, the author of a book with the same title, available from the Society's web site.

After the Fire, Hazelwood House, Abbots Langley

Hazelwood House, Abbots Langley, burned down in 1908
Photograph by Downer of Watford

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hertfordshire Churches open on September 10th

Many Hertfordshire churches and chapels are normally locked - so this is the day to visit all the churches and chapels in the area where your ancestors lived.

New Discovery Service at the National Archives

The National Archives are introducing a new "Discovery" service for searching their records and are asking for people to try out the Beta version and let them know what you think of them, I don't have time to do a complete test but a search for "Hemel Hempstead revealed 1458 records including the following:

  • Reference: HO 47/6/20
  • Description:
  • Report of Alexander Thomson on 1 collective petition (10 people, including John Wheeldon, rector, the churchwardens and overseers of the poor, from Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire) on behalf of Thomas Smith alias Cockle, a "little" farmer, of Wheathampstead, convicted at the Hertfordshire Assizes, for stealing 5 ewe sheep, value £4, and 3 lambs, value 20/-, property of Thomas Fellows the elder, a farmer at Hemel Hempstead. Evidences supplied by Thomas Fellows the elder, Thomas Fellows junior, the prosecutor's son; Richard Gaddesden, Henry Randall, Thomas House and the prisoner. It was claimed that the stolen property had turned up at Tuddington Fair in December 1786. Mention is made of Tuddington, Dunstable and Kingsworth. Grounds for clemency: has a wife and 5 young children, first offence and was a hard worker. Initial sentence: death. Recommendation: no mercy. Folios 85-89. See also HO 47/6/14 folios 55-56.
  • Date: 1787 Mar 31
  • Related Material: See also HO 47/6/14 folios 55-56. 
  • Let me know, with a comment to this message, if you find anything interesting using the new service.

    Haileybury Pupils, 1867-1871

        Charles Gathorne Hill
    Patrick emailed to say that there is a web page for the Clifton Rugby Football Club, Bristol which contains information on former members,  One of their former players(1879-80) was Charles Gathorne Hill, who also went to Haileybury College and is featured on my page giving details, including photographs, of some of the pupils who were there between about 1867 and 1871. (See Pupils and Masters at Haileybury, 1867-1871). The biography on the RFC site reads:
    Born 7th June 1857. Clifton College 1867. Hailbury College. ()1867-Trinity College, Cambridge. In business at Bristol. J.P. for Gloucester and Somerset. Of Hazel Manor, Compton-Martin, Bristol. Major, N. Somerset Yeomanry. Died 11th December 1934 East Harptree Court, East Harptree, Somerset. Buried at Ubley, Somerset. 

    The Orphanage at Essendon

    In May 2004 Joan asked about the Orphanage at Essendon where William Beckley was the superintendent (See Beckley, Orphanage at Essendon, 1873) In answering the query I pointed out that Letitia Georgii  was the matron in the 1881 census.

    Jennifer has now provided the following additional information:
     I have been researching the Georgii family for a relative.Letitia Georgii nee Hill was married in London in 1866 to Thomas Georgii a book binder. They had 4 children but by 1881 the marriage seems to have broken down. As you know Letitia was Matron of the Boys Home and her son Thomas was living with her. Her 3 other children were in orphanages; 13-year-old daughter Alice in Marylebone, and sons Frank (6) & Frederick (4) in Torquay. After some difficulty I found Letitia's husband boarding with a family in Ealing.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    I attend an Old School Reunion

    Eastern Eye, 120 Queen Street, Newton Abbot

    Last Friday I set off to Devon for a short break - including an old school reunion. On the way there I visited the Eastern Eye Restaurant in Newton Abbot to have a quick meal for old times sake. The reason - many years ago this was a newsagent and tobacconist shop - which was my home as a child between 1945 and 1951.  I wonder what my parents would have thought about my sitting at a point that would have been behind the counter immediately below my old bedroom - eating some excellent butterfly prawns.
    Dartington Hall Entrance
        The reunion was in a grand old manor house, Dartington Hall, which in 1925 was purchased by Leonard and Dorothy Elmhurst to encourage rural industry, arts and crafts. It is a wonderful venue deep within the Devon Countryside not far from Totnes. One of the activities they started was a very progressive school which unfortunately closed in 1987.
    The Great Hall and Kitchen Block, Dartington Hall
        I went to the senior school (Foxhole), between 1952 and 1956, and despite the small size of the school it was delighted to see (by my estimate) over 400 people there, of which at least 20 where contemporaries of mine. It was wonderful to meet many old friends and talk about old times - and find out what people had been doing over the last half century or so,
        There was only one disappointing aspect of the reunion. The senior school has closed and while the main building is listed there are plans to redevelop the site, although work appears not to have started. It would have been so nice if the builder's fence across the drive could have been open for a short time so that people who have spent years of their childhood in the build could at least walk round the outside, and perhaps across the central courtyard.
    Foxhole School, Dartington Hall
        While this is not directly linked to Hertfordshire I am sure you have memories of your old school days that really ought to be recorded for posterity. The relevant Hertfordshire web site is Hertfordshire Memories if you went to school in the county. If you have old Hertfordshire school photographs from before the First World War in your family archive why not add them to the collection of such photographs already on this web site.