Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dating the early photographs of William Coles of Watford

CDV back circa 1889
William Coles (1853-1938)

In 1881 William Coles was an assistant chemist working for Theophilus John Piggot, photographer, at Leighton Buzzard. By the late 1880s he was trading as a photographer in Queens Road, Watford, and was still trading there in 1926. For a short time around 1890 he also had a studio on the Broadway, Chesham, and by 1899 had a studio in Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, which continued for about 10 years. His carte de visite and cabinet cards usually have a negative number and the time line below suggests dates for various backs. Later backs say "by special appointment of Princess Eulalia of Spain - possibly after the Princess's visit to Watford in 1899. As a result if is possible to assign approximate dates on his Victorian photographs from the negative numbers and printing on the back.

Cabinet back circa 1900
Unknown Mother & Child
Unfortunately few of the wonderful portraits are identified - but perhaps, if your ancestors came from the Watford area you may be able to suggest a name.

He was also selling views of many local towns and villages by the early 1890s, and was producing a wide range of view post cards in the 1900s - some of which may have been from earlier negatives. He also produced a number of post cards of news events, which are normally dated.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Early 19th century tenants of Harpsfield Hall, near Hatfield

Further research show that Harpsfield Hall was occupied by William Dearman circa 1800.

He was followed by William Pittman, who died in 1813.- but his will was badly worded and there was a 12 year long case in Chancery.

John Sergius Fothergill's sister married into the Gape family of St Albans (who owned the Hall) and he died in 1836.

I have aldo added more information about how Harpsfield Hall Farm was run later in the 19th century.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Why Alice did not accompany Walter to Canada.

Just over a year ago Dennis asked about Walter Ginn and his wife Alice Barns, the parents of Olive Victoria Alice Ginn, born in 1891, and who ended up in the workhouse at Ware. He specifically asked "Would you have the date when Olive's mother and father immigrated to Canada." I pointed out that Walter seems to have gone on his own, and someone called Alice Ginn had died a few years previously.

Mike, who is researching the Ginn family in Hertfordshire (see his blog the blog has drawn my attention to a case history on the excellent Herts Past Policing web site.

A saying at the time was "A wife, a dog, and a walnut tree - the more you beat them the better they be." and clearly Walter hit Alice too hard ...The Policing web site quotes the contemporary newspaper accounts in detail and it would seem that both the all male coroner's jury, and the one trying Walter, took it for granted that a husband could normally hit his wife - and Walter was only convicted of unlawful wounding - despite the fact that the wound was fatal! As a result he had a comparatively minor sentence and went to Canada after being released from prison.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

St Albans - Life on the Home Front, 1914-18

Book Launch at Waterstones, St Albans, 15th September.
Having written The London Gunners come to Town in 1995, which describes what happened in Hemel Hempstead when it became a garrison town I am looking forward to readinging this book, which includes pictures I have provided.
Much has been written about the men who left to fight in the First World War but what was life really like for those left behind on the Home Front? A bustling market town profoundly touched by the war, St Albans is the perfect place of which to ask this question, thanks in part to the survival of exceptionally rich archives of records from the period. 
In 1914 St Albans had a population of over 24,000 people. Within days of the outbreak of war, with all the emotion and upheaval that entailed, the town also had to adjust to the arrival of more than 7,000 soldiers for whom billets needed to be found. This book considers the social changes that took place as St Albans became a garrison town for the first time in centuries.
In the early decades of the twentieth century St Albans had a diverse economy. Along with the established straw-hat-making factories and silk mills, other light industry had been introduced more recently, notably printing and clothing manufacture. There was contrasting prosperity and poverty, with slum housing conditions for many of the workers. As taxes increased and the Army ceaselessly looked to recruit more men, every enterprise fought to survive. The registers and minutes of the St Albans Military Service Tribunal, which, unusually, were not destroyed after the war, allowed the authors to explore the conflicting needs of the military and local businesses. From early 1916, the Tribunal heard applications from 1,050 men for exemption from conscription, including 23 conscientious objectors.
As the war went on, maintaining a regular and constant supply of food for the nation became ever more challenging. Shortages and complaints about unfair distribution led to the introduction of rationing in 1918 and queues became a daily fact of life. How was St Albans fed?
A team of 21 historians have contributed to this book, working under the auspices of the St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society. Established in 1845, the Society is dedicated to promoting interest in the rich and diverse history of the city and surrounding district.
Also available from University of Hertfordshire Press after publication.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Watford Choral Union won a shield in 1923.

Click for names & bigger picture
The Male Voice of the Watford Choral Union won the Huntley Challenge Shield at the Annual London Musical Competition Festival, in the Westminster Central Hall in March 1923.

All the people in the picture are named and it would be interesting to know if any of the men in the choir are the (great) grandfathers of people still living in the Watford area. From their ages I would expect many would have fought in the First World War. 

I will not be researching the picture further so feel free to comment below.

Wanted: A picture of the Chapel at Cromer when it was still a chapel.

Cromer is a hamlet in Ardeley and in 1890 the Rev. F. Fox-Talbot, of the adjacent parish of Clothall erected a chapel to seat 50 people at a cost of £200. In 1957 it was converted to a rather conventional looking house.

Elizabeth has asked if I knew of any pictures of the chapel beforn the rather dramatic conversion. I have nothing - can you help?

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Hudson Family of Frogmore Hall, Hertfordshire

When this 1851 receipt, for £10,000 came up for sale on ebay, and no-one else bid, I thought it would be worth investigating who it was that was so well off - and what property in Hertfordshire did they have.

It turns out that William Hudson moved to Frogmore Lodge, Aston, circa 1810 and it remained in the  family until 1914, although it is clear that they also had a London home.. Around 1886 it was replaced by Frogmore Hall.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Six Post Card Views of Baldock in 1903

Baldock Church
Valentine Cards can usually be dated by their numbers and in 1903 a photographer took a number of photographs of Baldock. So far I have definitely identified 6 different views (some in different formats).but gaps in the numbering suggest there may be more.
All available in High Resolution by clicking on the image

Monday, August 8, 2016

Post Cards published by S Giles of Bushey

This newsagent's shop in Sparrows Herne, Bushey Heath, was almost certainly run by Sarah Giles, wife of a Metropolitan policeman, but could have been run by their son Stanley, who was only in his late teens when this picture was taken in about 1903. 

They published a number of post card views of Bushey between about 1903 and 1906.

If you know of other examples of their work let me know as I would like to be able to record details

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Information on the railways of Hertfordshire

1895 Map showing the railways of Hertfordshire
Railways played and important role in the expansion of many Hertfordshire towns form the late 19th into the 20tth century, and some years ago it was decided to have at least a page on this site for every main and branch line - and in some case for individual stations. As a result there is a RAILWAYS page with a menu which includes links to the above map and a long list of books but the original plan has not been completed.

In the current review of "unfinished work" it is noted that because of the large number of books on the subject, and the amount of online information about railways available, the Railway pages would  be used to link to information on the railways held on this site under other headings, and the original comprehensive plan would be put on hold - unless there was a volunteer interested in preparing the material.

However links to new sites - such as the Rail Map Online - will be added when I discover them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Update (with new pictures) of the Anstey page

As part of my new policy of catching up with the backlog of material waiting to go onto the main web site I have added new post card images to the Anstey page and there is a new page for information on St George, Anstey. In each case a larger image is available by clicking on the post card image.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hertfordshire born John Chessum dies in the Anglo-Afghan War, 1880

Sometimes an item posted on the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site triggers some interesting follow up many years later. In 2002 Helen contacted me about her ancestors with the unusual surname of Chessum (see here) and today John sent me details of a old letter cover from 1880 which has been sent to the same household: