Saturday, November 30, 2013

Children's Names can be important clues. Goodman of Rickmansworth

Help Desk
Gilliam had a problem - which is in many ways a common one. Her research had got back to the later 18th century and only available evidence, the 1851 census, suggested that Thomas was born in Wiltshire. A thorough search of Wiltshire registers proved negative and Gillian wondered if perhaps he might actually have been born in Hertfordshire. I drafted a detailed reply based on this idea, and gave suggestions and leads which anyone with a similar problem might find useful. 

However one of the many children baptised in Rickmansworth was named in a different way to the others and I wondered why. This took me back to the tiny village of Rushall, in Wilts. But this was where the census said (after adjusting spelling) Thomas had been born.  Two leads from Hertfordshire back to the same tiny Wiltshire village, coupled with an unusual local Wiltshire surname, cannot be a coincidence ... and in the village there was, at the time Thomas was born, an active General Baptist Meeting House. While I may not have identified Thomas's parents by name it seems very likely that they were Baptists - and probably no direct record of his birth/baptism survives.

[Click Here for full details].

Friday, November 29, 2013

Genealogists' Magazine - December 2013 - Burial Records

I have just received the latest copy of the Genealogists' Magazine, The Journal of the Society of Genealogists.

It contains a useful article on UK Burial Records on the Deceased Online Web Site which lists many municipal cemeteries including the following from Hertfordshire.

  • Kingshill Cemetery, Berkhamsted (1947)
  • Heath Lane Cemetery, Hemel Hempstead (1878)
  • Woodwells Cemetery, Hemel Hempstead (1960)
  • Tring Cemetery, Tring (1894)
  • Bury Green Cemetery, Cheshunt (1855)
  • Ware Road Cemetery, Hoddesdon (1883)
The Hoddesdon Cemetery includes burials re-interred from St Monica's Priory.

There is an article on the Society of Genealogists Apprentice index, produced in 1920 and now being put online, which includes some apprentices from Hertfordshire.

Other articles don't relate to the county but I really enjoyed reading about Dr Thomas Smethurst, The Richmond Prisoner, which has some interesting twists at the end, and I was interested to discover the army pensioners were sent to Western Australia from 1850 to act as guards to some of the last prisoners to be transported.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

More about Willian (now part of Letchworth Garden City)

Graham has kindly pointed out an error on the Willian page relating to the different ways the name has been spelt in the past - and I have used the opportunity to improve the quality of the above early picture of the church, and to add another description of the village from the 1930s.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hodgkinson of Shantock Hall, Bovingdon

Help Desk
In September I has a query from Saul about Shantock Hall, Bovingdon, the home of Benjamin Outram Hodgkinson at the time of the 1851 census, and in reply I provided maps and other information. I have now has a contact from Wilf, who has been researching the Hodgkinson family for about 50 years, which I have passed to Saul. I was very busy in September and I now find I had forgotten to post details of the update on this Newsletter - so here goes  [More Information

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Potters Bar Trade Fete, 1910

I have just acquired this somewhat damaged photograph of the Potter Bar Trade Fete of 1910. One name is given but the figure is not identified. If you had ancestors living in Potters Bar, particularly if they were in trade, you may be able to identify the,

I have not investigated it, but I would guess the fete was an annual affair.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Booklet about the Tring Home Guards (2nd World War)

It is always worth checking the local newspapers of the towns you are researching, as many of them print heritage articles.
The Military

For instance the Hemel Hempsted Gazette has a weekly Heritage page and details often appear on its web site.

This weeks offering describes the activities of the Tring Home Guard during the Second World War. It is based on an informative booklet produced by the Tring and District Local History and Museum  Society.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hertfordshire Newspapers online

While the British Newspaper Archive is a wonderful resource - and comes up with gems of information it can be very frustrating. I use FindMyPast to access it and if you get a "Nil" response it does not tell you that you are, for example, searching in a county for a year for which there are no newspapers available yet! It also does not remember which articles you have already viewed

The Archive is continually being updated and if you access it using FindMyPast you are regularly reminded that further newspaper pages have been added. There is a list of newspapers online and the current list has the URL 
which suggests that it is the list on 6th September 2013. The problem is that the list does not mark which papers have been updated since the previous list - so you don't know if there is any new material for Hertfordshire (including papers in adjoining counties which cover parts of the county). So here is a list of the current coverage - and I will post news of any updates I spot in this Newsletter.
Bucks Herald Buckinghamshire 1833-1909
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal Cambridgeshire 1813-1871
Cambridge Independent Press Cambridgeshire 1839-1913
Chelmsford Chronicle Essex 1783-1950
Essex Newsman Essex 1870-1950
Essex Standard Essex 1831-1900
Hertford Mercury and Reformer Hertfordshire 1834-1868
Herts Advertiser Hertfordshire 1925
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal & Advertiser Hertfordshire 1852-1867
Luton Times and Advertiser Bedfordshire 1856-1914
Morning Chronicle London 1801-1865
Morning Post London 1801-1900

I list two London Newspapers which start early - but there are many others which I am not keeping tracks of. In addition I have not included gaps in the sequence - for instance I recently discovered that the Buck Herald for 1854 is missing.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Does a 17c mirror link Aldbury with Royalty?

Help Desk
In the first half or the 20th century the Victoria & Albert Museum was given a magnificent late 17th century mirror that carried the (later) arms of the Duncombe family, and which had been in Stocks, Aldbury, for many years. Stephanie is trying to establish its provenance and asked if I could identify any member of the Duncombe family who was rich enough to afford such a piece. This is just the kind of mystery I enjoy - and I have found a possible route which could link the mirror with King James II or Queen Anne. [Read about it]

Friday, November 22, 2013

Charles Forscutt, an early Hertford Photographer

Charles Forscutt was one of the earlier Hertford Photographers who was professionally taking photographs by 1859 and continued at the Old Cross, Hertford, until his death in 1879. I have at last obtained an example of his portraits - an elderly gentleman with a beard and glasses.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Farming Family Marriages - The Horn Family example

Help Desk
About 30 years ago I spent a lot of time researching the complex network of marriages between well to do farming families, because so many of the marriages turned out to be between cousins. When I started this site I summarized a small part of it  as Who is related to Who? which demonstrates how complex such networks can be - and also what a wide area they can cover.

In 2001 Pat contacted me about one of the families on the edge of my research - the Horn Family of Handside Farm, Hatfield and some years later James provided more information. Now Barry has written with a summary of the Horn family background.

I decided that the original list of William James Horn's children needed updating an in doing so found the following marriage relationships between his children I had not spotted before:
Thomas Cox Horn farmed Chambers Farm, Shottesbrook, Berkshire. His first wife was Elizabeth Gertrude Low, daughter of William Low and Sarah Wells (Beadlow, Clophill, Bedfordshire), and granddaughter of Robert and Elizabeth Low (Beadlow, Clophill, Bedfordshire). His sister, Susan Horn, married Frank William Low (of Brides Hall FarmSandridge / Wheathampstead) who was the son of James Low andEllen Chapman (Farm House, Willian, Herts & The Hall, Great Chishall, Essex), and grandson of the same Robert and Elizabeth Low.
Thomas Cox Horn's second wife was Constance Harvey, sister of Mary Harvey, who married Thomas's brother, William Cooper Horn of Brickwall Farm House, Lemsford, Hatfield. Their parents were John and Frances Jane Harvey of Great Appleford Farm, Godshill, Isle of Wight.
These examples, plus the information supplied by Barry, suggest that the Horn family was part of a similar network to the one I was studying (which was based of Sandridge) but centred on Bedfordshire and North Hertfordshire. There may well be other connections.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Reynolds Family Association

Jo has contacted me about the Reynolds Family Association - which does not really interest me as I am no misogynist and believe all ancestors - of either sex - are equally worthy of study. In any case I already have more cousins than I can keep in touch with, and I need to cut back on the number of newsletters and other circulars that fill my mailbox.  

However, as a fellow Reynolds I am happy to mention his web site - and if you have any other surname it is worth checking if there is a surname group - and possibly a One Name Study.

Old Hertfordshire Recipes - Mock Turtle

Take a Calfs Head, scall [sic] off the hair; When cleaned, cut the horny part into thin slices with as little of the lean as possible; put a few chopped Oysters to the Brains; Then have ready between a quart and three pints of strong Veal gravy or Mutton with a quart of Madeira Wine, a large teaspoonful of Chian Pepper. Batter a large Onion, and the peel of half a Lemon chopped very fine, a little Sauce and the juice of two large Lemons and some sweet herbs sliced very fine. Stew all these together until the Meat is tender, which will be in about one hour and a half. Then have ready a Turtles Back Shell lined with a paste of flour and Water, which must be set in the Oven to harden. Then put the ingredients into the shell, and put it into the Oven to brown. Garnish with Yolks of Eggs, boiled hard and some forced Meat Balls.
      Two Cows heels and a Calfs foot dressed the same way, make a good Dish.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Genealogy is like doing a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces

Help Desk
The following is a piece of advice aimed at people who think they have got stuck, and is based on my reply to a recent query.

Tracing your family tree is like doing a jigsaw puzzle where key pieces may be missing and some pieces may be wrong, incomplete or misleading. Others pieces may have come from a completely different puzzle. The fun is in trying to fit the surviving pieces together and filling in the gaps.

What you have done is found a "place of birth" piece which doesn't fit on a modern map of Hertfordshire and assumed that you have hit a brick wall.

But there is no reason to come to a halt. Use your imagination! You have other pieces of the jigsaw you can place. You know your ancestor's names (you have several pieces which can be used separately or together), when she was born, and the county in which she was born. So are you really stuck?

In fact the answer to your question is available to you online in minutes if you ignore the "place of birth" piece and use the others. What you will find in the first five minutes online will depend on which genealogy package you are using.

If you are using FindMyPast you should look at the 1871 census for anyone with her first and last name born in Hertfordshire in about 1867? This will provide you with the name of her father and also allows you to identify the mysterious "place of birth".

Ancestry is not always better than FindMyPast but in this case it is very much more informative. A search for her, born Hertfordshire in 1867 will quickly provide you with a ready made family tree (I didn't bother to check how far it goes back) and if you add the place and date of her marriage it will provided you with a copy of the marriage register - which includes the name of her father. The family tree may also make it possible to contact distant cousins you didn't know existed.

But remember, when trying to solve your ancestral jigsaw puzzle, most of the fun comes from trying to work your way round the "missing" and "mysterious" pieces.  If you think you are stuck collect all the pieces you can find and try various combinations. You will find yourself shouting "Eureka!" every time you find a place for that awkward piece you put on one side some time ago when it wouldn't fit.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chalk Hill Rifle Range, WW1, at Sandridge or St Albans?

The Military
As part of the research into the First World War in St Albans Jon has discovered a possible "Chalk Hill" in the parish of St Michael [more information]. If this is correct the question then arises as to whether the firing range in Sandridge was used during the war - as it was an obvious and available training resource.

While on the subject I am still trying to find the location of Briton's Camp, which was clearly in the countryside somewhere near St Albans.

Late News: Jon has contacted me with definite evidence of where the Chalk Hill and Gorhambury Firing Ranges were from the Herts Advertiser of 10 October 1914 and the web page has been updated accordingly.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Portraits of "forgotten" First World War casualties

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

The Military
As I am sure many of you are aware, a lot of people are working on projects related to the First World War. Many of the projects will concentrate on remembering those who died and one of the sad things about this research is that all too often there are no known photographs. Of course, as can be seen on the military pages of this site, there are plenty of photographs - but the names of the faces are lost.

Alfred Lord (1897-1917)
I was therefore delight that my picture of a 1914 house group at Haileybury has made it possible to provide James with a picture of Arthur Lord, who died in February 1917.

If you have any similar groups in Hertfordshire from the pre-war years where possible casualties are identified (schools, sports teams, territorials training, wedding groups, etc.) I am happy to publicise them - so that anyone googling for a portrait has a chance of finding them.

"Lost" WW1 War Memorial find a new home

The Folly Methodist Chapel at Wheathampstead was demolished in 2006 and I can now report that the memorial windows have found a new home in St Albans Museum, thanks to the generosity of the person who found them,

[More information]

Roe Hyde Farm, Hatfield

John has just asked me where he might find any reasonable resolution pictures of Roe Hyde Farm, near Hatfield, in the early years of the 20th century. At one time it was farmed as part of Harpsfield Hall Farm. Please leave a comment if you can help him. 

High definition images of Old Maps of Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire Maps
Conder's Map of 1784
As part of my reorganisation plans I have decided that I will make high definition images of a number of old Hertfordshire Maps on Wikipedia Common, with links from the Genealogy in Hertfordshire pages.

Initially three map pagess have been provided with high definition images - these are:

For anyone visiting my web site the only significant change is that when you click on the blue-framed map a new page will open with the Wikimedia image. However all high definition images will be widely available via the Hertfordshire: Early Maps page on Wikimedia Commons, and the source will lead you to a page containing more information.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

More Information on old answers

Help Desk
I am always delighted when I get emails from people who can add information to existing answers - and I have just had two such messages.

In 2004 Brenda asked about the BUSBY and HORWOOD families of Wigginton in the mid 19th century, and Steve has now provided some additional information from his BATCHELOR family tree.

Earlier this year Marina (from British Colombia) wrote about links between the RANDALL family of Watford and Canada. A post card included a reference to someone called Offa Aleric HAWES and Jim (also of British Colombia) has just written in to say that Offa was his grandfather!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Statue to Alfred Russel Wallace (a Hertford schoolboy) unveiled

Alfred Russel Wallace
To celebrate the centenary of Alfred Russel Wallace's death a statute has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum and in the run up to this event there has been a lot of interest in the man - as shown by the number of visits to the page on Wallace on my web site and the item on him on this Newsletter.

There has been many pages of information appearing about him in the last few days such as:
Sir David Attenborough unveiling statue
Virtually all the coverage overlooks the fact that if it had not been for his education at Hertford Grammar School he might never have become a scientist. But there was on notable exception. The Hertford Mercury web site has a well illustrated news item Hertford-born Alfred Russel Wallace: His life and times about the special exhibition at the Hertford Museum (Tuesdays to Saturdays until 22nd February 2014)
At the Wallace Exhibition, Hertford Museum

Warning about dubious emails

I have just had a batch of "returned" emails which I did not send, addressed to people who I have never corresponded with, and whose email addresses are no longer valid.  It would seem that they were sent out, late last night, possibly carrying a virus or some other nasty and others may have gone to valid email addresses. They have forged sender email addresses, which incorrectly suggests that they came from an account associated with my web site. Most of you will be well aware of the danger - but if any of you are running a computer with out-of-date security software this should serve as a reminder that you should consider updating it PDQ.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hill End Asylum, St Albans & Wikimedia Commons

Hill End Asylum, St Albans, circa 1904
I have just added the above post card image of Hill End Hospital, which shows the entrance block and the chapel, to the Hill End page of the main site.

And what has Wikimedia Commons to do with it? I hear you ask.

At the present time I am looking to upgrade my computer, tidy up my office and get my files in order. I am also looking into ways of ensuring long term access to some of the more valuable areas of the site. One area where this is possible is to "outsource" higher resolution images of old (out of copyright) post cards to Wikimedia Common. There will be no change to appearance of my web site until you click on a blue-framed image where there is a higher resolution image. The proposed new arrangement will show the larger image in a Wikimedia Common page - fully documented and with various sized images for download. In addition the images handled in this way will be permanently available to anyone. 

I have used the Hill End example to assess how well the approach works and you can see two Wikimedia images via the Hill End page or by clicking the following links.

Let me know, by a comment below, what you think of the change - and if the reaction is favourable I will start loading more higher resolution pictures onto the site where appropriate and copyright laws allow.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Laz Roberts - a St Albans pioneer in Chromophotography in 1870?


To ensure interesting material on this site I scan ebay looking for low cost items which might have a significant historical interest. Recently this carte de visite caught my eye. While the picture of the little girl was uninteresting compared with many others, the back caught my eye. It named a St Albans photographer I had never heard of with a distinctive name and a penciled date. So I brought it!

St Albans
One can never be certain what one is going to find in such cases. Laz was a photographer in High Wycombe, Bucks in in 1868 and 1871, and he was in St Albans circa 1870 so he was only in St Albans for a short time and I could have stopped the investigation at this point.

However I decided to investigate further. Via the usual genealogy tools I quickly traced him back to his birth in 1833, and discovered his father painted portrait miniatures. In 1861 Laz was colouring photographs. But what happened to him after 1871? Children continued to appear until 1879 (thirteen in total) and I tracked most of them down to see if this gave any clues to what happened to their father. I discovered his widow remarried in 1890 and the children usually described him as an artist rather than a photographer when they married. I was unable to find when he died. 

However a google search provided other examples of his work when based at High Wycombe, and a reference that in 1870 he was "working on entirely new process of his own, Chromophotography, and taking life-like carte de visite in Natural Colours" Perhaps he was following the work of a leading photographer and inventor in Bohemia - or perhaps he was developing a novel technique to produce "colour photographs" of his own. However he may just have been using a posh word to describe tinting photographs. It is not clear whether he ever produced commercially acceptable coloured portraits and if so whether any survive. If you know of any examples please let me know, as an examination would reveal whether he was using Eastern Europe process or not.

For more information see the detailed report on what I have found so far about Laz Roberts and Chromophotography.

I have been unable to identify the sitter or explain the date, which is much later than the photograph.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The "Missing" Lunatics of Harpenden Hall


Two years ago I launched an Xmas "Competition" to identify the mentally ill patients who were resident in Harpenden Hall in the 1851-1901 censuses. The results were very satisfactory but there were five patients, listed only by initials, who could not identified.

At the HALH meeting last Saturday I discovered that Gary Moyle, of HALS, has contributed a chapter  Madhouses of Hertfordshire 1735-1903 in the newly published book A Caring County? Social Welfare in Hertfordshire from 1600 [review planned]. Gary's chapter includes a list of the known patients at Harpenden Hall and this has allowed me to put names to the initials of these five "missing" patients. They were: 

From the 1851 census
H P = Henry Pigott [1850-1853 - died of epilepsy] Unmarried, 35, Formerly Stock Brokers Clerk, St Albans, Herts
From the 1891 Census
S, E  =  Eliza Slack [1890-1891] Widow, 56, Widow Of Solicitor
C, E  =  Ellen Mary Crump [1888-1893] Widow, 31, Daughter Of Solicitor, London, Primrose Hill Rd
B, E E A  =  Ellen Annette Eliza Bertlin [1889-1891] Widow, 27, Daughter Of Merchants Widow, Hampstead, London
A, R C  =  Rosa Clemence Ashwell  [1890-1896] Widow, 50, Daughter Of Clergyman C Of E, Wales

The dates are the dates the patient was in the asylum, and it turns out that some of the initials were mis-transcribed. If you can expand on any of the above, linking them to their families, etc, I can include the additional information when I update the existing list of "census" patients next month.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Roll of Honour Launch Event - Letchworth, 9th November

Herts at War
In October I posted details of the Herts at War project, and suggested ways that you might get involved. 
Since then things have progressed and they will be holding a grand

"Roll of Honour Launch Event" 
at The Arcade, Leys Avenue, Letchworth Garden City between 12 and 6pm on Saturday 9th November. The list of events is impressive - and if you can get there you will be very welcome. No need to book - and free refreshments will be available.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Traditional Building Materials in Hertfordshire - Symposium

I have just returned from the Herts Association for Local History Symposium which was held today at Abbots Hill School, Nash Mills, Hemel Hempstead. As always there were interesting talks, the opportunity to speak to people you haven't seen since the last symposium, and some interesting books on display - which will be covered later.

Before hearing Robin Harcourt Williams' talk on the building of Hatfield House - as I had not been aware of the extent of the surviving documentation relating to the manufacture of brick in the 17th to 19th centuries. Alan Thomson's talk on the unusual brick made by Caleb Hitch of Ware provided a very different insight into the brick industry in the county in the 19th century. From Peter Greener I learnt about clay bats - very large unbaked clay bricks used for walls and working buildings - while some houses were really little more the mud hutswhose walls needed to be protected from the rain. (Compare with the use of cobb in other parts of England.)

Other talks, such as Professor Martin Biddle's talk on floor tiles from St Albans Abbey, and Helen Gibson's on timber framed building, were enjoyable but of less relevance to this web site because they related to the medieval buildings.  As my parents lived in three different thatched cottages Colin Webb's talk on thatch was instructional and I was amused that many of his pictures were of "Pig's Nose", a cottage illustrated on my Buntingford page.

Early Post Cards - The Germans come to Berkhamstedt

Church und High Street, Berkhamstedt
Many of the early postcards were printed on the continent, and salesmen would visit the county and produce cards carrying the name of the shopkeeper who was going to sell them. In about 1903 Arthur Henry Hill, who ran a fancy goods shop in Berkhamsted High Street, was apparently approached by a Frankfurt printer and the title of the result has a decidedly Germanic appearance.