Thursday, August 14, 2014

What's in a Placename - Breakspear or Popyes Farm?

Help Desk
Linda discovered her Edmonds/Edmends ancestors lived at "Popyes Farm," Bedmond, Abbots Langley, at the time of the 1841 census and noted that the name had apparently changed to "Breakspear Farm" in the 1851 census - and wondered how she might check on the change of name. I replied:
Breakspear Farm

The fact that the farm is described in 1841 as "The Popyes Farm" doesn't mean that it wasn't also known at Breakspear Farm. Imagine a stranger visiting Bedmond at almost any time pointing to the farm and they might be told "The Pope's Farm" or "Breakspear Farm" almost at random. The stranger who knew nothing of the farm's history would find the first farm name more informative.

In 1851 it may have been described in the census as "Breakspear Farm" but it could just as well have been called "The Pope's Farm" (Pope is easier to spell than Breakspear), "Mead Farm" (because the Mead family lived there) or "Edmonds Farm" (because the Edmond family used to live there).

In legal documents it might simply be identified by the name of the owner and/occupier - perhaps with the names of the people who owner/occupied adjuact plots. For instance in Land Tax records (available at HALS) there may be no farm name given, but it might be possible to identify it by the acreage!
 Of course place names do change - but in documents such as the early census returns the address given may simple the way the census enumerator decided to record it. For instance in towns you may find a reference to "Jones Yard" in one census - if you look at the other nearby census returns you may find that at vthe entrance to the yard was a shop occupied by "Mr Jones".

No comments:

Post a Comment

This is the newsletter for the Genealogy in Hertfordshire Web site. Comments on this blog are moderated and may be transferred to the web site where appropriate. If you have a local or family history query you want answered you must use "Ask Chris" - See box in right hand column. Anonymous comments cannot be answered.