Monday, March 30, 2015

April at HALS (Herts Archives & Local Studies)

Lives of Servants
31st March - 24 April (Display)
Family History Club 
Tuesday 7th April: (18:00-19:30) £5
Herts & Minds: Quiz Night
Saturday 18th April (19:00-21:30) £5 per person
Threads of Time II: Open Studio
Meet artists from this years textile project
Wednesday 22nd April !2:00-14:00)
In the County Hall Canteen
19th Century Elections
28th April - 29 May (Display)

Check the HALS web site for latest  details 
and making bookings where appropriate

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Funeral of Admiral Vander-Meulen, Bishops Stortford, 1913

Some years ago I acquired the card and there was a major bit of detective work to find out who the deceased was. Accounts of the death of Admiral Vander-Muelen have now appeared on the British Newspaper Archive and I have added then to "The Funeral" page.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lord Kitchener inspects troops at Tring 100 years ago

 On Saturday afternoon Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War. paid a brief visit to Tring for the purpose of inspecting various contingents of the 2lst Division who are training in the neighbourhood. The greatest interest was manifested in in the War Secretary’s visit. In the regrettable absence of Lieut.-General Hutton, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., commanding the Division through indisposition, the command was assumed by Brigadier-General T. G. L. H. Armstrong, Commanding Officer of the 62nd Infantry Brigade.
The troops on parade were:
 96th Brigade Royal Field Artillery (Lieut.-Colonel R. C. Coates, D.S.O., commanding);
21st Divisional Royal Engineers (Major C. Coffin,  R.E.. commanding);
97th Field Company Royal Engineers (Major B. S. Phlllpotts, R.E.);
98th Field Company Royal Engineers (Major C. Coffin. R.E.);
126th Field Company Royal Engineers, (Major A. L. Cooper, R.E.).
62nd Infantry Brigade (Brigadier-General T. G. L. H. Armstrong commanding);
12th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers (Colonel W. B. Mullins);
13th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers (Colonel W. Prior);
 8th Batt. East Yorkshire Regiment Colonel L. C. Fryer)
10th. Batt. Yorkshire Regiment (Colonel A. de S. Hadow).
14th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers (Pioneers), (Lieut.-Colonel F. B. Morley)
Divisional Mounted Troops: 21st Divisional Cyclist Company (Major A. O. Vaughan commanding).
Lord Kitchener inspected as many Battalions as the time at his disposal permitted, and afterwards the troops who had been inspected marched past the saluting point where the War Secretary stood with the Staff Officers. On leaving the parade ground he was loudly cheered.
Lord Kitchener made it known that he was much pleased with the appearance of the troops he saw on parade, and was  especially struck with the progress made since he last inspected the troops of the Division.

from the Bucks Herald of 27th March, 1915

Investigating a HUDDLE gravestone from Watford, 1889

Sarah Huddle's gravestone
This cabinet card, by Frederick Downer of Watford, shows a newly laid out grave from 1889, also gives a negative number, helping me to date some of his other photographs.  I decided it would be interesting to discover more about Peter Huddle, who obviously could afford an expensive stone for his wife, and also about hi wife Sarah. I have therefore drafted a detailed Time Line for Peter Huddle and his wife Sarah.

It seems that Peter worked as a coachman before moving to Watford in 1865 to become licensee of the King Head Inn in Watford in 1865. This did not last long and he switched to becoming a fly proprietor, providing horses and carriages. He remained in Watford until he died.
Can anyone help me by explaining the meaning of "An Ordinary every Tuesday, at One o'clock precisely" in this advert?

If you know of other dated examples of Frederick Downer's work it would help me extend his biography. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tring News on 20th March, 1915

While there were a large number of troops billeted in and around Tring the main military news in the local section of the paper was that there had been two concerts for their entertainment. One was put on by Mrs Williams at Pendley Manor and the other was arranged by the Soldiers' Entertainment Fund and held in the  Medical Inspection Hall (now the Victoria Hall). However in the main part of the paper, covering Aylesbury, there are indications that billeting is to end in April, and the soldiers will be moving on.
Old News
One of the soldiers, based in nearby Aston Clinton was before the court for driving a car with no lights and one can only wonder if the police were tightening up after the accident in which two soldiers had been killed a week or so earlier. One may also wonder if some of the road repairs deemed necessary were due to the wear and tear due to the number of troop movements in the area, and the construction of the camp at Halton.
In normal years local gardeners would be able to compete for prizes in events such as the Tring Agricultural Show, but many had been cancelled, However the Daily Mail had announced a grand show of vegetables in London in September, and Arthur Dye, of Tring Park Gardens, was co-ordinating entries for the area.
On the religious front the Baptist Church at New Mill had meetings supporting the Baptist Missionary Society while the Baptist Chapel at  Wigginton celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Sunday school.  There was also the usual order of services for the Parish Church.
Easter was being celebrated in a different was by W. Brown & Co, auctioneers - who were inviting entries to the Tring Easter Fat Stock Show and Sale - and they were also to sell off a baker's tools and trade utensils - including a dough mixer, a cake making machine, and a waggonette and a useful tradesman's horse.

Surnames: Ariston, Bagnall, Baker, Birch, Brooks, Brown, Clark, Curtis, Dell, DownesDye, Eggleton, Fulks, Gomme, Groome, Hazell, Heading, Hemmens, Hutton, Kirby, Kirk, Lang, Locke, Longman, Mather, Mullins, Page, Rothschild, Rowe, Sait-KnightSwann, Taylor, Thorne, Ward, West, White, Wilding, Williams, Winterton
Extracts from the Bucks Herald of 20th March, 1915

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hertfordshire Genealogy Web Site is now fully operational again

There have been problems following the relocation of the web site to another server - in part because at the same time my asthma started giving problems, and in part because I am in the process of moving much of my computer activities from Windows XP to Windows 8. Because of the move the "Ask Chris" and "Tell Me" facilities failed to work for a time - and as both needed a rewrite a temporary email link replaces the previous forms. Apart from this change everything should now be fully operational.

At the time all this was happening other factors also put me in "avoid stress" mode (related to the post traumatic stress I suffered following the deaths of my daughters Lucy and Belinda). In practice this means that the more I have to do the less that actually gets done ...  a typical stress relieving activity being to take a long country walk. While I will do my best to keep the site, and this news blog running, and to clear the backlog of interesting emails, things may be slower than usual over the next few months.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Today's Tring News, 100 Years ago

For temporary technical reasons it has not been possible to post the normal detailed report on the main web site. Until the problem is solved a few selected extracts from the Bucks Herald of 13th March 1915 are being posted here.

The Council Election.
Polling to fill the casual vacancy on the Urban District Council caused the death of Dr. Brown took place on Friday, 5th inst., at the Market House, Tring. Mr. Roland M. Vaisey was the deputy returning officer. There were two polling stations, at the first of which Mr. R. M. Vaisey presided, with Mr. A. H. Randall as poll clerk. At the other station the presiding officer was Mr. J. H. Casey, and Mr. H. N. Hedges was clerk. There was an utter absence of interest displayed in the proceedings, only about a fourth of the electors the register taking tho trouble record their votes. It is difficult to understand this apathy, seeing that there was such apparent eagerness to nominate candidates for the vacant seat. The votes were counted immediately after the close of the poll, and the result was declared as follows:- Mr. William Smith, 149 (elected); Mr. John Bagnall, 66; Mr. John Smith, 48; Mr. Edward Wright, 33. 

On Saturday, 6th inst.. Miss Lucy P. Steel was quietly married at the Parish Church to Mr. C. Victor Bunker, son of Mr. B. Bunker, ex-superintendent of police at Buckingham. The bride, who was for about 12 years telephonist at the Tring Post Office, was married in a travelling costume, and her only bridesmaid was her sister, Miss K. M. Brown. She was given away by her stepfather, Mr. A. H. Brown. Mr. Percy Bunker (brother) acted as best man. The marriage service was conducted by the Rev. H. Francis, vicar of Tring. Mr. and Mrs. Bunker left early for Bournemouth for short stay. 

The Price of Gas.
We are informed that the directors of the Gas Company have had the price of gas under consideration, and a rise of 5d. per 1,000 has been suggested, but they have not as yet decided what the almost inevitable increase shall be.

For Soldiers.
The Rev. Kenneth Kirk, C.F has been enabled, by the courtesy of the Alerta Film Company, to secure the loan of the great picture "The Messiah.” This will be shown at the Picture Hall on Sunday evening next, commencing at 6.45. Admission free. Soldiers only. 

 The Hospital.
The Matron reported that one case of "Spotted fever" had been admitted to the hospital from Chesham. The patient has since died. Two cases of enteric fever were now in the hospital.
The Sanitary Committee met on March 4. The Surveyor reported that he had applied to Mr. W. Kingham for the payment of 10s. 2d. for unstopping drains at his premises, but had not been able to get the money.
The Clerk was instructed to write demanding payment. 
The question of the disposal of house refuse was discussed, the present system being considered unsatisfactory, but no action was taken. 
The question of urinal accommodation was also considered, but no action was taken in the matter.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 1939 Register will be coming online

Census returns
Because of the 100 year rule the 1921 census will not be available until 2021. The 1931 census returns were destroyed in the war. There was no census in 1941 because of the war and I do not expect to ever see the 1951 census which will not be available until 2051. However in 1939 there was a register of all people living in this country which was used as the basis or war time identity cards - and the later National Health Service registration numbers.

The following announcement has appeared on the FindMyPast web site:
In 1939, on the eve of World War II, the British government introduced an act that would allow them to gather vital information about the country’s population. This information would inform their decisions on identity cards, rationing, conscription and more, including – eventually – the formation of the NHS. In 2015, for the first time, Findmypast in partnership with The National Archives are publishing the 1939 Register online, providing an unprecedented insight into a country on the verge of war.  We’re currently in the process of digitising all 7,000 volumes that contain the 40,000,000 entries that make up the 1939 Register. We'll be updating regularly on our blog and social media on how that process is going, so stay tuned
Looks interesting for those researching the last 100 years - but for the time being at least this site will be concentrating on local and family history before the end of the First World War. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Genealogy in Hertfordshire" moved to new server

At about midday today the main site was moved to a new server. For most people this will make no difference, unless you try to send me a message - when you may get a system error report. There may also be delays in updating the site - although this Newsletter blog will be unaffected. In the long term the changes should lead to a better and more secure service.

These problems should be corrected in a day or two. As I have had a minor asthma attack followed by a head cold the temporary lack of your messages will be welcome at this end!

UPDATE  Friday 13th: The problems with the site are continuing (Ask Chris & Tell Me are not working - and I cannot update the site) and in addition I am still under the weather due toi a cold that has gone to my chest. Emails to me at and comments to this newsletter are still reaching me normally.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Today's Tring News in 1915 - Inquest on two soldiers - Boys steal Cinema tickets - etc. etc.

Extracts from the Bucks Herald of 6th March, 1915
Edited from British Newspaper Archive
Previous week ~~~~ Tring News Index 
The big military news of the week  was the inquest on Lance-Corporal John White and Private William Hilton Thomas, members the 21st Divisional Cyclists Corps. They had been motor cycling to Aylesbury when they crashed, involving a motor ambulance returning to Tring with no side lights on, and both died of injuries. At the time of the accident the men were billeted  in Aston Clinton, where the accident happened, and the inquest was held in Aylesbury but because the men were part of the 21st Division (H.Q. Tring), the ambulance driver was in the Army Service Corp billeted in Tring, and the men had been in the 12 Northumberland Fusiliers who were billeted in and around Tring I have included extensive quotations from the report of the inquest. There are some interesting insights, such as the fact that Lance-Corporal White has hired the motor bike to help him carry out military duties as part of his training. Only a few weeks before another soldier had been killed while riding on the outside of a taxi cab - and now Private Thomas had died riding pillion on a motor cycle unsuitable for two.

Old News
Other war news was limited. Gas supplies were at risk because of transport problems for the coal. Lord Rothschild acknowledged the donation made by the Tring Agricultural Association to the British Red Cross (see earlier report), while Emma Rothschild called for donations to the Soldiers and Sailors" Families Association. The Church of England Men's Society discussed "Heroism" - carried over from an earlier meeting and several of the Situations Vacant advertisements may reflect labour shortages.

Local news is dominated by the Council by-election, although the court case involving two boy who stole admission tickets from the Gem Picture House may have raised some eyebrows about the "modern generation." Others will have been pleased the the licence of the Rose and Crown was being renewed after the earlier scare. The sudden death of Thomas Messenger, a carpenter on the Tring Park Estate was noted along with the illness of J. W. Grange of Grove Farm. The Rev. Charles Pearce celebrated 41 years at the United Free Church and Miss Sybil Boyson, who parents lived at Grove Lodge, Tring, got married at St. Marys Church, Vizianagram, Andhra Pradesh.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February Report - Stats and additional updates

There has been a lot of email correspondence and other activities related to the site during February, complicated by the fact that I have moved all correspondence onto my newest computer - while the master web site has had to remain (due to software incompatibility) on my old system. The following is a summary of the more important activities that have not already been covered in this Newsletter.


Activity on the main site and the newsletter have been comparable with recent years, but the number of emails I have received appears to have gone up. The only disappointing thing is that while there have been over 230 visits to the "Donations" page there has not been a single donation into the online collecting box for the mentally ill in Hertfordshire.