Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Moss of Hitchin

In 2010 I answered a question about the shop run by Moss in Hitchin, and ther have been several updates since. One of the outstanding questions related to the number of branches and Diane, who worked for the company some 55 years ago has kindly provided a list of the shops circa 1960.

Herts Genealogy survived 2016. Will 2017 be better?

A year ago I reviewed the challenges to my time and how they might affect this web site.  I set the top priority as keeping fit and despite one dramatic incident,  involving a ride in an ambulance, which proved not too serious, my physical heath has continued at a reasonable level for my age. In particular the use of a fitbit with reasonable targets (8000 steps most days a week - and an average of 20 minutes brisk walking or a swim) kept me on the move.

As expected activity on the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site decreased in 2016. I have definitely abandoned all attempts to move the maintenance of the site to Windows 10 because of software "old age" problems - which means that keeping the site running means keeping the desktop computer with the master copy operational as long as possible. One side effect of my decreased activity is that very little money has been raised in the year for the mentally ill of Hertfordshire compared with previous years.

As for the coming year I hope to keep things rolling along - but there may well be periods of several weeks where the site will have to take a back seat - and I may well concentrate on posting up some of the more important historical research stuck in the pipeline and try to avoid spending too much time on completely new research.

And a P.S. Various matters have kept me very busy over Christmas and the New Year - to the point that this message was prepared to go out on January 1st - and somehow got forgotten ....

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Seasons Greetings

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to All
A Christmas post card by "F S" from 1908
Increasing pressures this year on a number of fronts meant that taking time off to relax became a priority - with "keeping fit" walks a priority. Doing research helps me relax, and this year I found I needed a project that that had a significant "fun" element in it. Last October I told you that I was working on:

Who was "F S" and did he work in St Albans with "Karaktus"?

Since then, whenever I feel I need a break I can go online to ebay and search through the many tens of thousands of early 20th century comic postcards on ebay to try and unravel what looks like a complex story involving a postcard printer in Saxony , a wholesale stationer in Brighton, and several very short-lived postcard publishing companies!  Unfortunately there has been no progress in the original problem of identifying Karaktus. It is clear that the pages I put online in October will need a significant rewrite to accommodate the new. information - so expect a few mor ecomic post card blogs in 2017.

My wife and I are planning to enjoy ourselves over Christmas and needless to say Aylesbury duck is again on the menu.
The above picture shows our 2012 Xmas duck
This year we will be separating the crown and having two separate meals

The Parson's Turkey

Half a century ago, when the income of a dissenting preacher in England was not very large, his salary was often supplemented by a bountiful of provisions from the well-to-do members of his congregation. A Baptist minister in Hertfordshire used at Christmas time to be positively inundated with hampers filled with good things. On one occasion an enormous turkey was sent to him by the thoughtful kindness a neighbouring farmer; but, as the minister's family had already provided for the Christmas dinner, the bird was sent into the market and sold. A passer-by, seeing this fine specimen of poultry, said, "What a splendid turkey! Just the thing for the parson's Christmas dinner." And to the "parson it was sent. The prudent wife sent it second time to the market, and sold it again for a handsome sum. Another friend, similarly struck with the magnificent proportions of the turkey, purchased it, and also sent it to the " parson." Not wishing to fly in the face Providence, the good man said, last, " It very clear that the Lord means us to have this turkey" and, with the entire approbation of the family, it formed part of the Christmas dinner. 
From the Aldershot Military Gazette 18th October 1875

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Could this 1915 photo help locate Briton's Camp, St Albans?

During the Summer of 1915 a large tented military camp was established in fields in the St Albans area but its location is uncertain. A great many pictures exist but apart from showing the soldiers, the tents and open fields there had been an absence of identifiable landmarks. ... until now ...

Chris Bailey is researching the Lincolnshire Regiment and has also been puzzling where the 2nd/5th Lincs spent the summer of 1915. He has provided seven pictures taken when they were based in the St Albans area, which I have added to the end of the Briton's Camp page. Two of the pictures of the camp include distant images of a number of buildings (possibly set along a road) including one which could be a factory with a large chimney. This suggests that the camp was close to a built up area.

Other pictures, all believed to be of the St Albans area, contain identifiable features. One shows a line of railway carriages and a different factory. Another shows the troops in procession in a built up area.

I assume the "Baths in the Roman Trenches" is at Beech Bottom.

If anyone can identify the location of any of the pictures Chris would be love to know and I will also label the pictures accordingly.

Either comment below or use "Ask Chris" on the main web site.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Email Problems

Yesterday my software diverted an email into my spam box - nothing unusual about that as it happens several times a day. However it seemed at a quick glance to be a genuine request for help on a family history problem (surname may have been CHILD). So I clicked on the "not spam" button and it vanished - and I can't find it anywhere on my computer or on the server. So apologies, whoever you, were but I am not able to reply.

This may also be a good time to remind you that if you send me an emailed request and want a reply make sure that your system will accept my reply. So systems seem to be set up to treat as spam anything they don't recognize and I know at least one recent message I sent didn't get to the questioner for this reason. 

The Census Enumerator strike back

19th November

The Enumerator Strikes Back
(A look at the census enumerator's work)
by David Annal

Talk starts 3 pm at the Woolmer Green Village Hall

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Improved Facilities for Birth and Death Certificates

The General Registry Office ( has now launched a new search (and order) facility for historic birth and death certificates based on what is actually on the certificate rather than the old indexes. In addition the birth index from 1837 now gives the mother's maiden name while the death index gives the age at death.

I decided to test it out using information from the Phipson One Name Study I carried out in the 1980s = which involved manhandling hundreds of heavy Victorian indexes when they were in St Catherine's House, in London. There indexes were later used to produce the online FreeBMD. For details of my tests see below: