Monday, November 20, 2017

Book: The Deacons of Cornerhall, Hemel Hempstead

I am delighted to say that this excellent family history study, first published in New Zealand in 2001, has been updated (2016) and is available online as a pdf file, which also gives a contact address for paper copies.

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