Friday, May 31, 2013

Herts Past and Present - Contents of Issue No 17

Herts Past & Present
Spring 2011
No 17
Brief Guide to Sources: Hearth Tax Returns
The grain crisis of the 1630s and malting in Hertfordshire
The Radcliffes in the Levant: An examination of the Delmé-Radcliffe Business Papers ( 1706-1767)
Admiral Henry Killigrew - Politics, Marriage and Family Life
Hertfordshire Rail Excursions in the Nineteenth Century

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Young Soldier's portrait by Henry Bray of Hemel Hempstead

A Young Soldier, by Henry Bray
Hemel Hempstead
Henry James William Bray is of particular interest to me because he was one of a the photographers who had a studio at 15 Alexandra Road, Hemel Hempstead, next door to the house where my mother lived during the First World War.

Unfortunately this young man is not identified and I cant make out the buttons to establish his unit, but Henry only came to Hemel Hempstead in late 1915 or 1916, so he was almost certainly not one of the soldiers covered by my book, The London Gunners Come to Town.

Monday, May 27, 2013

So you have found an interesting old family tree ...

St Albans
Recently Glen asked me about the origins of William Costain of St Stephens, St Albans, 1754-1827, as he had recently inherited a family history drafted by a great uncle, and this reminded me of my early days researching my ancestors. Finding old family histories can lead to important breakthroughs in your research - but there are also pitfalls - so you should always check against modern online records.
St Stephen's Church, St Albans from Illustrated Handbook to St Alban's 1866

Sunday, May 26, 2013

An Epitaph from Amwell

A typical 18th century gravestone

Tho' boistrous winds and Neptune's waves
Have toss/d me to and fro
In spite of all by God's decree
I harbour here below
Where I now at an anchor ride
With many of our fleet
Yet once again I must set sail
Our admiral Christ to meet.

An epitaph from Amwell recorded in Cream of Curiosity

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hertfordshire Gardens on Ermine Street - by the Hertfordshire Garden Trust & Richard Bisgrove

I have posted a "draft" review page for this book and will add a contents list and review on request. This will allow me to include more books - only reviewing those that are of proven interest to visitors to this site. If you have a copy why not help others by sending me a review.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Portraits by the Landon family of Watford

Unknown Sitter, c1903
Several members of the Landon family of Watford had an interest in photography, with shops in St Albans Road, Watford. This post card may be by Jessie Landon as it has been printed on an undivided back card - with a printed Christmas message - suggesting a date of around 1903.

I have also added a later portrait, of an unknown invalid young lady, taken by Percy Landon, probably in the 1920s.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So now we know why George moved down in the world

Help Desk
Divorces were uncommon in Victorian times - and when they did happen they could be very expensive. When Carole contacted me about George Thomas Saunders of St Agnells Farm, Redbourn, nearly two years ago it was clear that something had happened in about 1865 to explain why he was an apparently well-to-do farmer in the 1861 census - and a mere farm servant, with a different wife - in 1871. Thanks to Sarah we now know that there was a messy divorce case in 1866, followed by his going bankrupt. [Details]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Forthcoming Meetings in Hertfordshire

Herts Family History Society - May 25th, Woolmer Green
Demolishing "Brick Walls" (new ways to solve family history problems) by Roy Stockdill

St Albans & Herts Arch & Arch Society - May 31st, St Albans
Mr Lancelot Brown and his Hertfordshire Clients by Helen Leiper

Hertfordshire Records Society - June 8th, Letchworth
AGM followed by a guided walk around medieval Norton.

Thomas Savell, Builder of Barley, in 1863

abdu'Rashid Craig has kindly provided photographs of Thomas and Esther Savell, of Barley, taken by a London studio in 1863, together with a picture of their grave stone.

See Thomas Savell of Barley

Monday, May 20, 2013

Knotted Cousin Marriages & Errors in FindMyPast census returns

Sometime ago I had message from a distant cousin, Joy, our common ancestors being William Burchmore (1765-1841) of Flamstead, and his wife, Hannah Dolling (1770-1826). Filling in details of the links will take some time as it actually means adding yet more cousin marriages to the already very complex Who is Related to Who? family tree. The new key link is William Bates (1798-1865) of St Pauls Walden & Wheathampstead. William Bates' first wife was Mary Cox (1797-1830), daughter of my ancestor William Cox (1760-1802) of Hatfield,  and whose second wife Jane Burchmore (1802-1882) was the daughter of my ancestor William Burchmore (1765-1841).

A Burchmore hair memorial broach
William Bates' daughter Mary Ann Bates (1825/6-) married her cousin Jonathan Cox (1821-1881) of Sandridge, who was a grandson of William Cox (1760-1802) of Hatfield. His son Edmund (1839-????) married Mary Kidman (1842-????) brother of Alfred James Kidman (1831-1875) of Kimpton who married Emma How (1834/5-1916) who was a granddaughter of William Burchmore (1765-1841). His son George Bates (1842-1928) married  first Jane Lines, daughter of Thomas Lines of St Pauls Walden, and later Laura Ann Dear (not part of the cousin network so far). William's daughter Jane Bates (Joy's ancestor) married Henry Alexander Taylor whose first wife was almost certainly the Elizabeth Smith of Sandridge, daughter of Elizabeth Burchmore (1784-1851), daughter of Thomas Burchmore (1760-1816) of Flamstead - who in turn was brother of William Burchmore (1765-1841) and son of my ancestor Thomas Burchmore (1729/30-1806).

Virtually all of the above was gleaned from original unindexed census returns and parish registers in the 1980s - twenty years before any significant computer indexes were available. I am currently checking against modern indexes, including online census returns, to fill in the gaps before drawing up a detailed report - which will undoubtedly reveal more cousin links.

I have only just started - and errors in FindMyPast census returns are coming in thick and fast. Many of the errors suggest no attempts were made to check accurasy but at least they do correct errors if you report them. In the last few days I have corrected a "Petty" to a "Patty", a "Hill" to a "Cox" (an incorrectly applied ditto), and pointed out that the words "Liggars Farmer" are not part of an address, and appear nowhere on the original document!

Hit a Brick Wall? Looking for a way round

Help Desk
Coreen has been researching her ancestor Walter Hewitt - who was born in about 1774 and had a number of children baptised at Shenley between 1804 and 1809. She can't find any record of his birth and has checked the obvious sources at HALS and he may have been the Walter mentioned in a removal in 1782. 

Unfortunately there are no surviving birth/baptism records for many people born before civil registration, especially when there are no census returns to suggest a place of birth. My analysis in HEWITT, Shenley Area, 1780-1851 does not come up with an immediate answer - but illustrates the kinds of questions one should be asking when you are trying to work your way round this kind of problem. 

Was the Lucy Hewitt who married in Hatfield in 1802 his sister and did she survive until the 1851 census?
Could the Mary Marston who witnessed his wedding at Abbots Langley in 1798 be his mother - now married?
And was the other witness, James Smith, a relative?
Was the 6 year old Sarah Yeoman at South Mimms in the 1841 census his granddaughter?
And if so did he have a daughter, Elizabeth, born in London Colney in about 1803?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Behind the Scenes Activity

Help Desk
While I have been posting less new posts there has still been some activity in my mail box, some of which may lead to full posts later.

St Albans
St Albans Own East End. This web site covers the Fleetville, Camp, Hill End, Marshalswick, Smallford, and Cell Barnes areas of St Albans and Mike Neighbour, who runs this informative web site has just published the second volume of his book on the area. The site also contains much other information 

Sergeant Herbert Alfred Penn: Denise has pointed out that I had two post cards on my web site addressed to her great grandfather when he was based at Jullundur, Punjab, India with the Northamptonshire Regiment. One of Watton was sent by Ada Jepps and the other was of the Fore Street, Hertford. Both Alfred and Ada were born in Watton or nearby Datchworth.

Hitchin Hospital: I had a query from Bonny looking for a photograph of Hitchin Hospital in 1946/7. I don't have a suitable picture of that date - but in any case this was the time when the NHS was formed and the old workhouse became a hospital. As a result I am not sure what building is being referred to. I referred Bonny to Hitchin Historical Society, as Hitchin Museum is currently closed prior to a move to the old Town Hall building.

St Albans & Hertford Prisons: Further to the posting Was William Willson your ancestor's Goaler I have just discovered a very detailed online government report with the impossible title  Reports from Commissioners: Prisons: Fourth Report: 1 Home District: Session 5 February-27 August 1839: Volume XXI. If I ever have time I would like to use this as the basis of a report on the two prisons in Hertfordshire in the early 19th century - but because I already have a very long "to do" list I suggest you read the report (which also covers other prisons in other parts of the country) rather than wait!

The GBS Special: Roy contacted me to say he had a picture of the George Bernard Shaw Special at an unknown station  (perhaps Harpenden) and I have asked him to send a digitised copy for identification.

The Queen's Head, Pinner. Further to the post Reuben Randall Links between Watford and British Collombia, Canada someone has suggested that the public house is the Queens Head, Pinner - and an online check shows that in the past it carried the date 1705 - so the identity seems pretty certain - so not Watford but not far over the border into Middlesex.

Latest Post card Images: Several new post card images have been posted during the last few weeks.

Help for Beginners: This really is a specialist site which aims to help people who have already done some serious research - but who have hit a brick wall. Every month I get several queries which could be answered in minutes by the questioner themselves if they had spent a bit of time reading a suitable "How To" book or an online equivalent. I occasionally get a question which catches my fancy (such as A few thousand miles off topic) but in most cases they get an acknowledgement, a link to a site which will answer their question (I check first to see that it does) and a suggestion they spend some time reading up how to do it or join their local family history society.

Rural Relaxation: On April 29th I posted Rural Relaxation - The Water levels are up which included a picture of all that was left of Big Paddy island on College Lake. I checked again early in May and it was definitely getting smaller and had vanished by May 15th - apart from the top of the wooden post. The heavy rains over the last year had another effect. In May last year I posted Candles for Lucy about how the horse chestnut tree my daughter had planted was smothered with flowers. It is going to have a lot (but not quite so many) this year - and I wonder how many conkers there will be. Last year, despite the large number of flower heads, there were only two - the continual rain last year had basically stopped insects fertilizing the flowers!

Herts Mind Network AGM - Watford 4th June

Herts Mind Network
This web site raises money for the Herts Mind Network, which provides community based support for people with mental health problems in Hertfordshire. Last year their annual report (to September 2011) said:
Although funding was cut, HMN maintained its services by looking at alternative ways of providing those services and as a result were able meet those funding cuts.
The HMN Board closely monitors the finances of HMN and is a standing item on the monthly Board meetings. 2011/12 will be a difficult year although we believe there will be plenty of opportunities for HMN to tender either on its own or in partnership with other organisations to maintain and enhance its current level of service delivery.
The AGM will consider the report for 2012/13 - which has been a difficult time for everyone, and there will undoubtedly be questions about the impact of benefit claim changes on people who are too ill to work out what is happening for themselves. In addition many more people are having difficulties because of the economic situation - and some are becoming mentally ill because of the extra stress coping with life on an uncertain income.Clearly the charity is planning to meet the extra demand and their web site is currently recruiting staff to support the mentally ill who are having difficulties managing their budgets. 
Donate Here

If you have found this site useful, and have not yet made a donation, please do so now, as at the AGM I don't want to have to report that so far this year we are over £300 behind target. 

I will report on what happens at the AGM.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A few thousand miles off topic ....

Help Desk
Pagoda on the Irrawaddy
 near Mandalay,  by Edith Pinhay

Because I have a lot of post cards on my web site - together with pages on the publishers - I occasionally get questions about post cards which have nothing to do with Hertfordshire. I recently got a request to identify Edith Pinhay, who painted views of Tigyaing, Myanmar (Burma) in 1908, which appear on Tuck's "Wide Wide World" series of post cards. Normally I ignore such way out requests but this one caught my imagination.

I discovered that Edith Ogilvie Lovell was born in Calcutta (Kolkata, West Bengal) in about 1874 and was staying with her sisters  Mrs Dora Turner and Miss Effie Lovell in Colchester, England, at the time of the 1891 census. She married Arthur Francis Pinhay, 2nd son of Sir Robert Hill Pinhay in India, and, in addition to painting pictures of Burma returned to England where she died in 1957. In addition I was able to pass on the email address of someone researching the family.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

William Wilson, Chief Constable, St Albans, 1797-99

Help Desk
St Albans
An anonymous comment on Was William Willson your Ancestor's Goaler referred to an Elizabeth Willson who had been born at St Machael's, St Albans, in 1791. A different William Wilson had been chief constable for the Liberty of St Albans between 1797 and 1799 I decided to look further. Elizabeth was one of six unmarried sisters who were living together in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses and I was able to trace their baptisms in St Albans, and that of a brother David, who was a coach builder. Their father moved to Newington, Surrey, some time between 1794 and 1804 and, if he is the same William, this could explain why the chief constable post became vacant in 1799.  For more information see WILSON or WILLSON, St  Albans, circa 1790

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Hertfordshire Regiment - and other Volunteer Forces

I have added two new picture of the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment - and also added an important index page - which contains over 30 links to other pages on this web site relating to the Regiment and other Hertfordshire volunteer forces.

Some Hertfordshire Regiment soldiers at a tented camp
Only clue to date is phone number written on the Back
36 Royston
Can you help identify the soldiers or the phone number.

Was William Willson your ancestor's Goaler

Help Desk
Last year Mike asked about WILLSON, Gamels Hall, Rush Green, Little Amwell, circa 1850, where in 1841 the farmer was William Willson. William went on to be the governor of Bishops Stortford workhouse. 

Now Ian has asked about John Byde Willson, whose father was the same William Willson. It turns out that the Willson family were governors of Hertford Goal and Bridewell for about 80 years, starting with a Cornelius Willson who was appointed in 1756. For more information on the Willson family and the Hertfotd prison see WILLSON, Governors of Hertford Goal, 1756-1838

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rural Relaxation at Kew

The Lake in Kew Gardens
Last week I planned to go on a coach trip to the National Archives at Kew to dig around in some old dusty records - and I promised you a report on my visit. Well this is not quite what I was planning.

The Temperate Green House
But it was a lovely day and I decided to go to Kew Gardens instead, in part to see the huge Victorian Temperate Green House which is closing this summer for a five year restoration programme.

The Queen's Beasts and the Palm House
Needless to say I enjoyed every minute of it  - spending four hours wandering round the grounds and into the greenhouses - and taking lots of photographs. An there was still a lot I hadn't seen.

One of the many different brilliant Water Lilies
Just walking round the gardens was great, with cherry trees is blossom, and enormous giant redwoods towering overhead. There was also a high level tree walk (with a lift for the less mobile) which allows you to view the woodland canopy in comfort. In addition the contents of the green houses with plants from dry deserts through to tropical rain forests was amazing. 

King and Queen - A David Nash Sculpture
All I can say is that if you are planning a visit to the National Archives to dig out more about your ancestors take an extra day and visit Kew Gardens - they are too good to miss.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Reuben Randall Links between Watford and British Collombia, Canada

In 2005 Marina wrote from British Colombia to ask about the Potten family of Watford. She has now discover that a postcard of Abbots Langley was sent to Canada and relates to her Randall ancestors. We have exchanged emails and she records that when Reuben joined the army in 1916, and went to France, his wife and young son came to Watford and stayed with relatives. Full details and family portraits online.

Marina's collection of family memorabilia included four view snapshots. One is Lock No 78 on the Grand Junction Canal, in Cassiobury Park, Watford. Another is a well-known view of the Thames with Windsor Castle in the distance. But can you identify the other two, shown here? One is clearly the canal, but where? The other is an interesting looking old public house.

Can You Help?

In addition the post card refers to someone with the unlikely name of Offa. So far we haven't found the link between the Potten or Ransall families and Offa Hawes - Perhaps they were just good friends.

Did Jerome Ltd (photographers) produce any Hertfordshire photographs?

The Japanese Garden at Cottered
A recent query drew my attention to the Cottered page and this photograph of the Japanese Garden which was started in 1906 with further developments in 1923.

Post Cards, Etc
I wanted to check the date and the back of the card had the name Jerome Ltd. The company had a wide number of shops throughout Great Britain between the wars, and up to the 1950s - but most of their output seems to have been portrait photographs. A check of trade directories between the wars failed to show any shops in Hertfordshire and it may be that this picture, and another, currently on sale on ebay, showing a hut at High Leigh, Hoddesden, may have been taken by someone else and Jerome Ltd simply produced the prints. So have you ever come across any post cards, or other pictures linked to Hertfordshire by Jerome Ltd?