Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Locating households mentioned in Census Returns

I have just had an inquiry about the location of a house described in the 1891 census as "8 Court No 10, Vicarage Cottages" in the parish of St Mary, Watford.

Care must be taken with such entries. For each household the census enumerator gave an enumeration number, in this case 197, which was only to help him check the paperwork was correct and can otherwise be ignored.

"Court 10" may also be a temporary name given for the enumerator's benefit to a court which was normally called "Vicarage Cottages." The courts were often little more than a collection of inhabited buildings in what had once been the back yard of a house or business facing onto the road. Most were what we would now called slums - and have long been demolished and the site reused in some way. Sometimes the court would be named after the owner - and I suspect this is the case with "Gregory's Yard." People using the census are often confused because a court may well be given a different name in different censuses.

The first thing to do when you are trying to locate a census property is to look at the front of the census book where you will find a description of the area covered by the particular enumeration book.  In this case the description show that the enumeration area  ends with "... to Mr Upson No4 Church Street, the Vicarage, Free School and Courts No 10 and 12." This would suggest that "Vicarage Cottages" might well be a court associated with the Vicarage,

It is often possible to get the same information by simply looking at the pages on either side of the property you are interested in. In this case the situation is complicated because all that is shown between Mr Upson's house and Court 10 are three unoccupied houses where no-one was living on the night of the census. These unoccupied house may well have included the Vicarage and a house for the headmaster of the Free School.

For more information on relating census locations to maps see

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Have you found a mummified cat under your floorboards?

The next Hertfordshire Association for Local History meeting is to be held in Tewin Memorial Hall on Saturday, May 19th


10.30 Doors open
11.00 Welcome
11.20 A series of talks by local history societies about their work and projects (Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon; Rickmansworth Historical Society; Tring Local History Society; Watford & District Industrial Society; Wheathampstead Pubs Research Project; Community Archives Project)
12.40 Readings from John Carrington's Diaries (vol. II)
13.00 Refreshments with the opportunity to visit St Peter's Church
13.45 HALH AGM with presentation of awards
14.15 The Lionel Munby Lecture: The Concealed-Revealed Project, Dr Ceri Houlbrook 
Admission is free for HALH members; £2 for visitors.

The lecture seems most interesting as when people renovate old houses they sometimes find items what were hidden - perhaps under the floor boards or up a chimney breast. These could be an odd shoe, a horse's skull or even a mummified cat. Dr Houlbrook will talk about some of the finds and is interested in folklore and the reasons why such items were hidden away. He is working on "The Concealed-Revealed Project" and if something unusual hidden object was found during renovation work on your old house he would be delighted to have details. 


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ask a silly Question ? - Some unusual First World War Comic Cards

As part of my investigations into the short-lived Crown Publishing Co. of St Albans, and in particular the unusual cards by Karaktus I have been checking up on other comic cards published at about the same time which used a crown logo and which might represent the same company (and perhaps artist) before or after the short period in St Albans.

My attention was drawn to an artist who signed cards "Spatz." His cards had a crown on the back, and first appeared about 4 months before the first "crown" cards appeared in St Albans. So it was clearly worth investigating.

In fact it proved a false lead, and "Spatz" turned out to be a bank clerk living in Yorkshire who was called Fred Gothard. Fred later produced many First World War comic cards for the publishers E. Mack and/or J. Salmon cards signed ""F G". He also did some  WW1 cards for Tuck & Sons.

While these cards turn out to have nothing to do with Hertfordshire I know many who follow this blog are interested in the war - and might like to see some of the war work of a rather unconventional and less well-known comic artist.

Friday, May 4, 2018

"Votes for Women" activity in Hertfordshire in 1911.

I was interested to see that the British Newspaper Archive has digitized the paper "Votes for Women" and decide to a have a quick peek at what was going on in Hertfordshire. The following comes from a report of the Christmas Fair reported in the paper of 22 December 1911.

Sec, Mrs Impey, 2, Whlnbush Road, Hitchin, Herts
Lady Constance Lytton, general organiser of the Hertfordshire Stall writes :-  I wish to thank the many valiant workers who, as contributors of money or goods, as organisers, as sellers, or as patronesses, helped to make this scheme of a  county stall so great a success. Our actual takings amounted to £72 10s.1d. Many goods are being returned to the various districts to be disposed of at local sales, and there are still some promised money contributions, to be paid in. The seven county branches, St. Albans, Barnet, Chorley Wood, Hitchin, Knebworth and Kimpton. Letchworth, and Radlett, vied with each other in zeal and unremitting labours. Our sign was an exceptionally beautiful one. We were all proud of it and of the admiration it received. We offer our united thanks to Miss Woolnoth who, with the help of the St. Albans School of Art, carried out with such artstic power the county crest of " Hart-in-ford" with the "Home-Makers" symbol on the other side. We owe a very special debt of gratitude to our non. sec., Mrs. Impey, and to Miss Pam of who organised the daily arrangement  of the stall. From 8 o'clock on Monday morning till past 1 o'clock on Saturday night, they were in constant attendance throughout the week.  Unsold goods will be returned to local branchesas soon as possible. A committee meeting will be held early in January, if not before, to wind up financial and other arrangements. The growth of the W.S.F.U. in the county has been little short of miraculous during the year. Now the our treasuries will be replenished and that we have gained in courage and solidarity from the intercourse afforded by our joint stall, we may hope to extend organisations and strengthen their powers of service with double energy in 1912. I feel it an honour, as well as a great pleasure, to have had a share in this county scheme. Finally, we offer our thanks to many kind friends outside the county who helped us in various ways. 

Do you know of any stories which like the suffragette movement to Hertfordshire which would interest other readers?

Update of Pictures on Westmill (near Buntingford)

Following a query about this small village I have now added two new post card images showing the village of Westmill n the early part of the 20th century. In addition all post card images expand to 1024 pixels wide (or high) if you click on the small image on the village page.