Thursday, January 31, 2013

Christ's Hospital Records are being moved

Christ's Hospital, Hertford, in 1830
It has just been announced that the records of Christ’s Hospital (which includes the school at Hertford)  are being moved from storage at the  Guildhall Library to London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) in Clerkenwell  during the week beginning 25th February and can be consulted at the LMA from March 2013.

Another Buchanan Card helps in dating school photographs.

Old Post Cards
Percy A Buchanan was a photographer who went around schools and similar institutions, from about 1907 until the 1930s, typically providing the schools with a set of perhaps a dozen different post cards. I have been collecting information on the Hertfordshire Schools he photographed with a view to more precise dating based on changes in the company name and address and the negative numbers on some of the cards.
Games Pavilion, St Mary's Convent, Bishops Stortford
Jane has kindly provided me with a card showing the Games Pavilion, St Mary's Convent, Bishops Stortford which was posted in 1935. While it has no negative numbers the back suggests that it was printed after the move to printing in France (believed to be after Belgium was invaded in 1914) and the use of "Ltd" but before the use of a Thornton Heath address rather than a Croydon address. While a firm date cannot be given the photograph was probably taken around the time of the First World War.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who was involved in the Tring Agricultural Society Show

Old News
... ... Read complete article

In general the working classes in the rural parts of Hertfordshire rarely got mentioned in the press unless they were involved in crime (as criminals or witnesses) or some of drastic event. However there was one exception where a small number got some publicity. Shows such as the Tring Agricultural Show often has classes where farm workers might get prizes. For instance the full article mentions that Thomas Smith won a prize of £2 10s for having worked for 44 years on Pendley Farm. Click on the picture for full report plus a list of the people mentioned in the complete article.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Will my daughters’ photographs survive for their grandchildren?

Just a quick note today, as I have been too busy ti think about genealogy, etc. However I came across an interesting article by an archivist who works for the National Trust. Anita Bools has written an article "Will my daughters’ photographs survive for their grandchildren?" which should make us all think about how our current family photographs will be passed onto future generations. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

It Almost Happened to Me ...

Today's TV News tells of a baby being rescued from the water at Watchet, Somerset, when its push chair was blown into the harbour with him still in it.

Over 70 years ago another push chair fell into the same harbour at almost exactly the same point on West Pier. It was mine! Fortunately I was not in it - or otherwise I must not be here to write on this blog. I had reached the toddling stage and as my mother rushed to grab me as  I suddenly started to totter towards the harbour edge the pushchair vanished over the edge and into the water.

The above picture was taken by a local photographer called Bert Hole in about 1910 and the West Pier (where both the accidents happened)  is on the far side of the harbour. The picture is of interest to me because when Bert Hole died my father took over the shop from his widow in 1939. He did not continue the photographic side of the business and I gather a large storeroom full of photographic plates was carted away as rubbish. This rubbish possibly included the original negative slide from which this picture was taken.

Newspaper Wedding Reports can be useful

Aldenham Parish Church - Where the wedding took place
I spotted a report of the wedding of Miss Georgianne Royd and George Finch at Aldenham in 1867 because it was one of the earliest references to photographs taken by Frederick Downer of Watford.  However a note of the family and bridesmaids, followed by look up in the census returns, shows how Rev Charles Leopold Royds (vicar of Aldenham in 1851 - 1881 censuses), Rev. Richard Mountford Wood (curate then rector of Aldbury 1851 -1881 censuses) and Rev George Finch (vicar of Leverstock Green 1881 and 1891 censuses) were related.

In practice mentions of weddings and funerals are only very brief before the abolition of the newspaper stamp duty in 1855, and Mr Average and his wife are unlikely to be mentioned, beyound perhaps a simple name and date. After 1855 the number of different papers increased and the number of pages also increased  so there was more space - and this example for 1867 (see actual text) is longer than most from this period. Toward the end of the century papers were still bigger, and competition was significant and, for example, there were very long list of names in connect with the Cox double wedding at Harpenden in 1893 or John Marnham's funeral in 1903. However after the First World War more papers started to include photographs - and lists of attendees tailed off.

Basically, if your ancestor had some standing in the town were a paper was published it is always worth checking local press when you have a date for a marriage or funeral between about 1880 and the First World War. Outside these dated you might be lucky, as in this Aldenham case - but don't be surprised if there is nothing.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Misses M & A Austin, St Albans Photographers

"An Elf"
I regularly monitor ebay for interesting Hertfordshire pictures to use on this web site. I had naturally concentrated on views and as a result I have missed out on two St Albans Photographers, Miss Mary Elizabeth Austin, and her sister Miss Amy Caroline Austin, of 75 Holywell Hill. [More Information]

"A Night Harbinger"
It is clear that they concentrated on art photograph post cards, particularly of children and cats, and it is likely that the two faces shown here, of child models they used, are of children who lived in St Albans in the early years of the twentieth century. It would be lovely to identify some of their models!

In addition to the art photographs the St Albans Museums have two pictures of the St Albans Fire Brigade (one with an award they won in 1903) and post card of a lady dresses up for the 1907 pagent.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Dating problem with a Latchmore, Hitchin, picture

Herts Photographers
Latchmore Picture 6147
Have a good look at this picture, which Carol provided, and before reading the text below the fold try to estimate the decade when it was taken. (clicking on the picture caption will give you a larger image.) It would help if you could comment your thoughts.

Friday, January 25, 2013

They didn't have Page 3 girls 200 years ago but ...

Old News
In looking through old newspapers it is very easy to become distracted by a completely different story to the one you were researching.  "Glory1505" asked a question on Rootsweb about the possible existence of a press report relating to the trial of Joseph Saunders at Hertford in 1818.

I found a very brief mention in the Bury and Norwich Post squeezed between a long report (by the standard of early 19th century papers) on a breach of promise case in which the jilted lady was awarded £4000 and a seduction, where the mother of the seduced young girl was awarded £1000. The latter was followed by two brief reports of men being sentenced to death - at a time when public hangings were considered a great entertainment - with people flocking to watch the action.

So while modern newspapers are very much bigger that those of 200 years ago things haven't changed. The early editors undoubtedly selected stories about sex, money and violence because they were popular then - and helped to sell newspapers. 

POSTCRIPT: The case of Joseph Saunders, and two of the other criminals mentioned in the press report, are mentioned in Transported beyond the Sea (I have added detailed to the page on the press report) so there are almost certainly court record at HALS. If you live in or near Hertfordshire you may be interested to know that Ken Griffin, who wrote the book, will be talking on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Story of Transportation at the Herts Family History Society meeting on April 27.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Post Card from 1875

Post Cards
Some years ago I started work on a series of pages on the history of Post Cards to help date cards of Hertfordshire - and maybe some day I will extend it up to the end of the First World War. However I have just added an early Post Card from 1875 to the section about Post Cards with undivided backs.
Post card sent by W. H. Rowe of Hemel Hempstead in 1875.
The start was the introduction of cards in 1870 with a stamp printed on the address side and a completely plain back for the message. After a time some firms purchased these cards in large numbers and printed information on the back - perhaps just their name and address, in other cases advertising material. Later plain cards, where the sender could attach the stamp were used, and it was only around 1900 that picture post cards came into existence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hertfordshire Archaeology - Volumes 1-6

Hertfordshire Archaeology has been published at intervals since 1966, and contains articles and reports of research in Hertfordshire. The majority of papers are not directly relevant to the genealogy aspects of this web site because they deal with excavations and architectural research covering the prehistoric to medieval periods. However if you are interested in local history, or want to know more about the longer term history of the place where your ancestors lived, there could be something to interest to you.

In connection with my recent post Hertfordshire (and other) Books on ebay, I have just prepared content lists for Volumes 1-6 for the ebay adverts for some duplicate copies - and felt it would be useful to provide a list of articles and notes on this site.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Authorities release details of criminals seen at work in Tring

Old News
Have you seen these two criminals?
The Man is of a middle Age and Size, a little pitted with the Small Pox; has on a dark-coulour'd close-body'd Great Coat with a large Cape, and a small Velvet Collar, and looks like a Farmer. The Woman is disfigur'd in the Face, having a large black Patch over her Nose a bad Utterance, and gives Suck to a Child.
continued ...
In February I am giving a talk to a Tring U3A group on using old newspapers for family history research. As the talk is in Tring I have decided to use examples relating to Tring, many from the British Newspaper Archives. So please excuse me if many of the posts over the next couple of weeks relate to old news about Tring.

Today's cutting is from the Oxford Journal of 1754 - when three Hertfordshire were published together. The first relates to the shooting and killing of a footpad near Baldock. The second relates to a man who was robbed and killed near Rickmansworth. The final one relates to a fraud, involving the above couple, and a number of gullible people in Tring who generously donated to "charity."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rural Relaxation: Fieldfare in the snow in our garden

The snow has reached us and the birds are flocking to our garden to see what we have provided for them. Today the regular Blackbirds were joined by one Thrush and 4 or 5 Fieldfare - the first we have seen in the garden this winter. So I got out my Canon camera ...

In addition there were the usual flocks of Goldfinch and Greenfinch on the most popular hanging feeder, along with some House Sparrows. Wood Pigeon and Collard Dove picked up seed on the ground (before it was covered with snow) and also visited the tray feeder hanging from the largest tree. Starlings fought over a slice of bread on the lawn and the Magpie called to see if there was a tit-bit for it (there was). The Dunnock frequently slipped out of the hedge bottom to take fallen fragments and the Blue Tits visited the Peanuts. None of the other birds dared to visit the fat balls while the Greater Spotted Woodpecker was there. Finally I must not forget the Robin who "owns" our garden and likes the dried mealworms.

P/S/ I somehow forgor the mention the twenty or so Chaffinches that appeared at various times ...

Great Munden now has a church

Great Munden
Well - to be truthful Great Munden has had a church for centuries - and what has happened is that I now have a post card showing the church. It is one of the few places where I had been trying for over ten years to get a post card to illustrate the web page.
Great Munden Parish Church

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Advice for Students using this web site

Chris - the resident genealogist
I often get queries from students who are doing projects and my policy is that if a student shows the initiative to ask someone with relevant knowledge and experience a sensible question this is fine by me. I consider that students should learn to use the best sources - and this includes asking and then citing experts. However it is always important to cite your sources, including verbal ones, in your project report . If material is quoted from my site, or my correspondence, in a way that makes it clear that the source was me or my site, I will be happy to support the student in any inquiry by the examiners. (But of course - if you dishonestly  pass off other people's work as your own ...)

[For the record - prior to taking early retirement my duties included being the senior tutor responsible for overseeing the work of other staff who in turned were supervising some 50 undergraduate and 10 postgraduate projects a year - although admittedly these were not in History.]

Friday, January 18, 2013

Some people were always on the move ... but why?

Clocks & Watches
In the past most people lived in or near one place for all their lives - but it is important to realise that some were pretty mobile because of their work. Cindy had a simple question "Who was the Thomas Whitehouse this clock presented to?" and I was able to track down Thomas.

What is of interest here are the locations where Thomas turns up. He was born in Staffordshire in 1856/7 and by 1861 his parents had moved to Worcestershire but he was with his grandparents in Carmarthenshire.  In 1871 he was with his parents in Warwickshire and in 1881 he was in Gloucestershire. He married in the Dudley area in 1884 (Worcestershire/Staffordshire) but by 1885 he was living in BaldockHertfordshire, where the clock was presented in 1890. However before the 1891 census he had moved to Norfolk where he stayed for a few years before moving to Staffordshire in time for the 1901 census, and then on to Lincolnshire for the 1911 census.  He had moved on (location not yet determined) by 1919.  He eventually died in Dorset in 1942. In each case from 1885 he seems to have had a fixed address and lived and worked there, with his family, for several years before moving on.

Can you work out what his occupation might have been before looking at Whitehouse, Baldock, 1885-1890 to find out.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Dateable Family on CDV - Maynard of Cottered

John Maynard, died 1876
 While  it is possible to make some conclusions about the dating of single carte de visite of unknown individuals the ideal situation is to find a collection of named photographs, by known photographers, with negative numbers, and where dates can be at least approximately ascertained.

I recently acquired five cards of the Maynard family - who turned out to be farmers at Cottered. Two were taken by George Avery of Hitchin, one by T. B. Latchmore of Hitchin (who took over George Avery's business), one by Arthur Elsden of Hertford, and one by an unknown photographer. For details of the Maynard family, and the CDV dating, see Maynard, Cottered, 19th century and the photographer pages.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A very busy time - News & Updates for Mid January 2013

Not only have I been busy with normal posts, after the break for Christmas - but there have been a lot of other things going on . Some of the following brief notes relate to comments, etc., made last year which have only just surfaced as unreported in an attempt to clear part of my 2012 mailbox.

There have been a number of improvement to familysearch recently and if you search for your non-conformist ancestors you may be offered a link to the web site (associated with site), where you can see (for a fee) the original registers.

I have updated my Hertfordshire Wills page to include a direct link to the National Archives' very useful online guide to Wills and probate.

The WayBack Machine has been undergoing changes and now covers 240,000,000,000 URL and you can search the Web as it was from 1996 to about a month ago.This can be useful in chasing old genealogy and local history pages which have "vanished", sometimes because the person who maintained them has died, and their account closed. See latest blog report.

Anonymous comments that "Henry Cowper married his cousin Maria Judith Cowper daughter of John Cowper DD Rector of Berkhamsted. Thus the poet and hymnist William Cowper (God works in mysterious ways, etc.) was his brother in law." Henry Cowper of Tewin (main site: Tewin Water).

When Kathy recently asked about James Thomson (born Scotland, from Watford in the First World War) I concentrated on the Hertfordshire end of the story. Anthony has now located a James Thomson who fits the bill, and who had an earlier Army career - See  James THOMSON, Watford, World War 1. Do you know any other soldiers with Hertfordshire connections who was on the HMT Prince Edward when she was torpedoed on the way to Gallopoli?

The spider which indexes my web site every Friday night to support the Search facility reported that at the beginning of 2013 it was indexing 4095 text pages  (This excluded my many index pages and menus).

Kevin Pangbourn added a comment to  A Rothschild funded trip to Canada (main site: PANGBORN, Tring, 1868-1906) about Frederick Pangbourn.

Dave Bower has written to add some reminiscences to the story of the Briden family of bakers of Bengeo.

John Martin is researching long-lost Hertfordshire Youth Hostels at Thundridge, Bishops Stortford, Buntingford and Puckeridge and I have provide him with high resolution digitized image of Mill House, Back Street, Thundridge (a Youth Hostel between 1931 and 1935) for the YHA archives which are now held at Birmingham University (online provisional catalogue

Anthony suggests the possibly mis-recorded name "Zigner" in census returns, reported on Israel Loveridge, Romany & Knife Grinder, should probably be "Elijah".

I had a surprising number of visitors a few days ago. Within a few hours of posting Census Humour the post was visited by 180 people! I was very surprised until I realised that the post mention a suspected dog called "Diddy Daddylum" and there is an American Rapper known by the name of Diddy!

I also got several other messages, which will not be reported here unless the sended provides more information. However it is perhaps worth commenting one was an example of a common problem among the people who ask questions - the inability to distinguish between HerTfordshire and HerEfordshire.

Subjects "C"
Clocks &

I have progressed with the task of adding the new format picture buttons to selected pages and, for example I have created new picture buttons for clocks and watches and cycling. See Subjects "C" for how this will be shown in the indexes.

I have also extended the Men at work page and made more links to it (but many more need making!)

Donations for the Mentally Ill of Hertfordshire
So far this year £80 has been donated electronically including a payment made directly to the charity rather than through the special collecting box. Thanks to those responsible.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

St Albans Photograph Exhibition - 26/27 Jan

St Albans
The SAHAAS is putting on Exhibitions "St Albans: Seen & Unseen" of contemporary photographs including the interiors of historic buildings never open to the public - and "St Albans through Victorian Eyes" with photographic images dating back to the 1860s. DETAILS.

A Great Site for Ayot St Peter

When I started this web site in its present form in 2001 you could search for local history information on the smaller Hertfordshire villages and come up with nothing. Things have changed and there is no way I can monitor every place in Hertfordshire for new information. I am always happy to learn of a good local history site which mean I can sit back and simply say - go and look at this site - because it has far more information than I could possible provide.

Ayot St Peter
I was therefore delighted when Valerie sent me a link toWeb the Ayot St Peter site with a treasure trove of information - and I have added the link to my Ayot St Peter page

If you know of similar web sites relating to a place in Hertfordshire which I have overlooked please let me know - so I can add a helpful link.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rural Relaxation: Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker
While I have been on some most enjoyable country walks recently, and taken many pictures with my Canon Powershot SX40  HS, I have been too busy to sort them out and post the better ones online.

This one is a cheat. I was working in the kitchen - and the only walking I did was to go into the hall to grab the camera. I kept well back from the window to avoid frightening it off and the feeder was hanging from a tree some 10 metres away. The camera worked well - with hand-held shots on high zoom.  O.K. not every shot was perfect - for instance in a few the camera focused on the background. It also turned out that if the woodpecker was in the act of pecking its head was moving so fast it was slightly blurred. However I got a number of excellent pictures and am delighted with the results.

The London Scottish go into Battle ... but the response is poor

The London Scottish in Action
In December Valerie kindly sent me a digital scan of a picture of some soldiers of the London Scottish Regiment, taken by Harry Cull of Watford.  I was delighted as it all help to document the period when the Territorial Force was based in Hertfordshire for training during the First World War, as many of the official records have not been preserved. In addition the local newspapers (from 1915 onwards) were heavily censored to ensure they did not publish news of identifiable troops posted in the area. For instance we have many pictures of troops in Britton's Camp but all we know is that it was in the St Albans Area. Officially approved cards of the action often take the form of propaganda  - celebrating the undoubted heroism  and failing to mention the pain.

Much of the detailed surviving information about which units were billeted in Hertfordshire (when and where) undoubtedly rests in the post cards taken of the troops at the time, and other cards and letters, almost all of which are in the hands of the families, who kept them, often as a memory of someone who never came home. But when the family owners die such small paper items often end up being destroyed or orphaned in house clearance sales, because they relate to people the executors never knew.

So when I  updated the London Scottish page I suggested that over Christmas readers might look to see if they had any old post cards which could help build a better picture of what was going on in Hertfordshire during the First World War. The response was. to put it mildly, disappointing. While there is still eighteen months to the remembering the outbreak of the First World War I would like to have identified a lot more units / locations / dates before then.

O.K. I know that most of you are researching further back in time - but you also have a duty to ensure that information in your family's possession is not lost, but put on record so that it can available to future generations researching their long dead ancestors.  So why not share it - by ensuring it is available now to others researching their First World War ancestors ...

London Scottish Regiment

Watercress Growing at Lemsford

Old News
Yesterday a BBC TV programme, Countryfile, had a section about the former watercress beds at Lemsford, which are now an important nature reserve, where you can see the green sandpiper. I was interested in the history of the beds, as mentions of watercress growing have often turned up ion this site. 

I soon found a useful online history - but I suspected the beds were older than the explicit references to the 1860s and later. A search of the British Newspaper Archives found two references - one from 1847 and 1854 - which made it clear that George Tims had growing a significant amount of watercress in this part of the Lea valley well before these dates. See Farming Watercress at Lemsford.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Top UK Genealogy web sites

A list of the 100 top genealogy web sites has been published by GenealogyInTime and I reproduce the sites most relevant to British genealogists:

4 FamilySearch records Worldwide free
6 records UK pay
14 FindMyPast UK records UK pay
24 Genes Reunited records UK pay
36 Free BMD records UK free
42 Roots Chat forum UK free
53 ScotlandsPeople records Scotland pay
58 Genuki records UK free
59 British History Online records UK free
60 thePeerage records UK free
66 British Newspaper Archive newspapers UK pay
72 Forces War Records records UK pay
82 Lost Cousins family tree UK pay
91 British-Genealogy forum UK free
92 The Genealogist records UK pay
93 Commonwealth War Graves records UK free

It should be realised that FamilySearch has one worldwide site while, for instance, Ancestry has several, the top being Compared with last year the number of free sites in the top 100 has dropped, while the British Newspaper Archive is a very respectable new entry.

Census Humour - Who was Diddy DADDILUMS?

Census returns
I found an old page discussing Census Humour while reformating pages for the new picture buttons and it set me thinking. ...

The first full census to come out in digitized form was the 1881 census (on CD), although some local censuses (for instance the 1851 census for Berkhamsted and St Albans) had appeared in print. At that time several people reported returns which included fictitious people or inappropriate occupation descriptions which suggest that the house occupant was taking the mickey out of the census enumerator. 

One of these was Sampson J RUMBALL, who was living at Townsend Farm, St Peters, St Albans, and his live-in staff included a governess teacher, cook, domestic servant, nurse and attendant.

The "attendant" was 7 year old female  "Diddy Daddilums", who had been born in St Peters, Hertfordshire, and  the census enumerator had added "(DS)" - so that "Diddy" would be recorded in the census totals as a domestic servant.
I first posted details of this entry online in 1999 and I strongly suspect that "Diddy Daddilums" was the affectionate name of the family dog!

Now the opportunity for such records was reduced because the surviving 1841-1901 census returns were extracts made by the census enumerator who would have had to copy the original returns from the household forms (which have not survived) into the census books (which have) and who may will have censored obviously silly entries.The 1911 census is different. We have the actual household forms - so we know exactly what the householder recorded. Has anyone come across 1911 entries (preferably with a Hertfordshire connection) where, for example, it seems likely that a family pet has been included in the returns? Or perhaps you have found some other entry where the form was deliberately incorrectly filled in - and perhaps "silly" entries crossed out?