Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Can you help me identify this Post Card?

This post card was taken by a photographer who lived next door to my grandparents' house in Hemel Hempstead about 90 years ago. It shows people at an exhibition - but can you help me to identify the venue, the date, and what connection there is (apart from the photographer) with Hemel Hempstead.

There are clues - the striking architecture of the doorway on the right should be sufficient to identify the venue, and text readable on the stall at maximum resolution suggest a Christian Missionary connection. The mock hospital entrance which appears to be the subject of the photograph is labelled "Ping Yin Hospital" so was a group (perhaps associated with Hemel Hempstead) raising funds for a new hospital in China? 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Cream of Curiosity by Reginald Hine

Reginald Leslie Hine (1883-1949) wrote many important books on the history of Hitchin and for this reason I was interested to discover one of his earliest books The Cream of Curiosity, which was published in 1920. It includes two illustrations by the famous  William Heath Robinson. It is an account of various historical and literary manuscripts in Hine's personal collection, none of which appear to relate to Hertfordshire. 

However the book includes a chapter on memorial epitaphs and includes a goodly number of Hertfordshire epitaphs, such as this one from Cottered:

What to vain mortals can a pleasure be
When no one part is from consumption free;
The head, the hand, the knee a palsy shakes,
The blood runs chill and every member quakes.
Death will the end of all my sorrows be,
And then I launch into eternity

WW1 - The 2nd London Territorial Division in Hertfordshire

When I wrote the book The London Gunners come to Town, about Hemel Hempstead during the First World War, one important source on the 2nd London Division, later the 47th Division was the book by Alan Maude The 47th (London) Division, 1914-19. It provided useful information on the early days of the war, spent in the St Albans area, and helped me to work out the movement of Major Gordon up to the time of his death - which was noted in the book. It was such an important reference work that I photocopied it, despite its size. Should you want to research this Territorial Division I am delighted to report the complete book is now available in digitised form online.
Thanks to Jeffery for drawing this to my attention.
Copies of The London Gunner are usually available on ebay, helping to raise money for wounded soldiers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Football - Apsley Charity Cup Badges

Earlier this month I posted information about Frank Foskett on the Berkhamsted Football Club Team page, and now Clive has provided photographs of the Apsley Charity Cup Winners Medal of 1900, and the Finalists medal (pictured here) of 1902. 
      It is perhaps worth reminding readers that the original club records appear to have been lost, and any football related information you can provide on any of the players shown in the pictures would be helpful.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Post Card with surprising Football and Princely Connections

Les is the webmaster of the Hadley Common web site and he sent me this post card of a house called Ludgrove in the Parish of Monken Hadley. He asked me if I could date it and I could have easily dismissed the request on the grounds that it was only in Hertfordshire for a period of 60 years during the early 20th century. However the immediate task was simple - The card was a KROMO card by the famous post card pioneers Blum & Degan. They published many views of Hertfordshire and the KROMO card series was started in 1905. Unfortunately for them, but helpfully for answering the question, they went bankrupt in 1908 - so the card can easily be dated to about 1906.
       My first reaction was that the house looked like many others that were springing into existence in Middlesex and South Hertfordshire a century or more ago and I really needed to say something more about it before posting details in this Newsletter, or writing a special page on the main web site. So I decided to dig for some background and the more I dug the more interesting the house became.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Update to a Royal connection at St Paul's Walden

In 2001 Gordon asked about the marriage of Mary Gilbert, daughter of Edward Gilbert of St.Pauls Waldenbury, Herts, and George Bowes c.1740- See  GILBERT, St Pauls Walden, 1700-1750.  At the time  I was unable to provide details.

St Paul's Waldenbury
Childhood home of the Queen Mother
Over ten years later Sue has emailed to say the couple were married in 1743 at St Botolph, Aldersgate, London. - from Ancestry.

This raises a general problem. Since I started giving online advice well over ten years ago there has been a revolution in the amount of family history information available online. For instance there was very little census information available online, and the 1881 census was only available on CD (without any images). This means that many of the early answers could be significantly extended - but in practice I don't have time to do it. However I am happy to update the pages if someone else want to continue the particular line of research.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do the Dead outnumber the Living?

It is often said that there are more people living now that all the people who have died in the past. But is it true? Such statistical predictions are always difficult and the results are often counter-intuitive. I know because many years ago I wrote a piece for the Genealogists' Magazine about how many English ancestors you had in 1066. The answer was surprising. It turned out that if you go back that far, and allow for population minimums such as the Black Death, the number of distant cousin marriages (say 10th cousins and more) are so numerous that you (and me) turn out to be descended from EVERYONE who was alive in 1066 who has living descendants! 

So back to the the title question. If you want to know the answer have a look at the BBC Magazine article Do the Dead outnumber the Living? and be prepared to be surprised.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The village of Hunsdon gets a makeover

The village of Hunsdon have had a virtually complete makeover as part of the continuing programme of improving the web site.  The single Hunsdon web page has been replaced by:

Hunsdon - a new "master" page with menu and pictorial links to other pages relating to the village. It included a list of the gentry and tradesmen from a 1902 directory.
St Dunstan's Church - Three new post card inmages, one showing damage to the spire from lightning strike. There is an account of memorials from 1807, and a number of links to other related web sites.
Hunsdon House - A post card image from c1905, an early 19th century engraving for Lord Hudson, and several accounts. the domestic staff list from the 1891 census, and several external links.
The pages for Hunsdon in 1746, and the book Hunsdon & Widford have had been reformated.
In carrying out these changes I discovered that Hunsdon House employed a resident "engine driver" as a domestic servant in 1891. What was he doing? Had the house installed electricity and required an engineer to run it? Any ideas?

Early Hitchin Photographers. Avery & Latchmore

Earlier this month I posted information on Thomas Latchmore, and while no-one has yet identified the school photographs I have now discovered a lot more about the earlier photographer,  George Avery - and also some more about Thomas.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spamming Online Genealogy at the Review Centre

Online polls and suchlike are very open to abuse - and I recently got a request from a well known family history web site to write a review on the service they provide. They provided a direct link so I wouldn't be tempted to write a favourable review on the wrong product. All I had to do was to type in the review and a star rating and the results would appear against their product. I don't need to tell you which company it was - simply visit the Review Centre and you will see that it features "Honest and Impartial Reviews". Type in "Online Genealogy" and (when I looked this evening) there were 7 reviewed products with 331, 15, 5, 3, 3, 2 and 1 reviews respectively.  Guess which one organised the "Write a favourable review campaign."

Hertfordshire Countryside - Old and New

Hertfordshire Countryside was first published in 1946 and early copies of  were packed with local history articles. While I have a complete set of the early years I don't have an index. However posting the contents list on this site makes it easier for everyone to find relevant articles, and I have just posted details of the four issues published in 1949. There are often copies of early editions on sale on ebay, and many Hertfordshire Public Libraries have bound copies.

The magazine is still being published monthly and the picture is of the latest (February 2012) issue. The current magazine contains less historical material than the early issues but you may find the following articles of interest:

  • Bet Your Life - Ivan Broadhead looks at old wagers.
  • The Bricket Wood Tragedy - Nicholas Connell looks at the murder of the girl from Cawdells, Watford.
  • The Ghosts of Hertfordshire - Fanhams Hall - by Damien O'Dell
  • Forging Ahead - Wendy Turner explores Much Hadham
  • Essendon - Peter Etteridge visits 'The Hill with the ash trees'

Friday, February 17, 2012

More about Hertfordshire Post Cards

Post Cards, and early photographs, are widely used as illustrations, and years ago I started to set up a section of the web site to document the relevant history, together with biographies of the main photographers and publishers. While the pages were on the site they were not well publicized and while many of the pages are "Under Construction" they are still usable and I have decided to open up access.

A new link "Post Cards" has been added to the main menu and there are separate alphabetical indexes for Artists. Hertfordshire Photographers and Publishers, and National Post Card Publishers who have published cards relating to the County. 

As post cards or early pictures are added to the site information will be added to the pages )(including new pages as required) and when sufficient information on a particular person has been collected a biography will be added.

Extended Search Facilities

This blog is the Newsletter for the "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" web site and the normal search only searches the Newsletter - while there is significant information on the main web site.

I have therefore added the main web site search facility in the right hand column. It searches nearly 4000 pages of information on Hertfordshire, its people and its history. (Please note that the index is updated weekly so may not show the most recent updates.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Key Family History Web Sites

I have updated the key links page, following the discovery of a broken link - because the target page had been moved. Minor changes have been made to a few of the descriptive pages. In addition I have added references to some blogs which (like this Newsletter) which you can follow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Frank Foskett & the Berkhamsted Football Club

Frank Foskett
Clive's grandfather played for the Berkhamsted Football Club at the time they won the Apsley Charity Cup in 1900, and I have been able to supply an enlarged picture of his Frank Foskett - and some background on the Foskett families of Berkhamsted.

There are already details of a number of football clubs on the site, with players waiting to be identified. I am also interested in any other early football photographs which can be linked with Hertfordshire teams.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Advertisting Standards Agency stamps down on bogus "official" web sites

The Society of Genealogists have just posted the following message:

GRO Certificates News – clampdown on unofficial certificates sites and new telephone order number

And about time too. Of course if you are a regular here you will know that you can order certificates online at the GRO web site at the minimum price - See Would you pay £74.99 for a Birth Certificate?

A 1851 account of Gilston Park

Gilston is one of those small villages about which I have little information online - and a shortage of pictures. I am therefore delighted to report that I have now been able to post an old print and a detailed history of Gilston Park. In fact the account records the plans to sell of the furniture, and later the same year the house was demolished and a new one built in its place.
At the same time I have taken the opportunity to upgrade the Gilston page - so it will be easier to add further information in future.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eye Eye

In recent months I have found I need to make more use of my reading lamp and hand lens for the smaller writing on old documents. Today I attended my local hospital for a regular check up (my left eye has been damaged by glaucoma) and I was put on a waiting list for cataract removal in my "good" right eye. I was  not really surprised when I was told that in the meantime I should not drive. 

As I already had two other day operations planned,  my day to day activities between now and Easter will need rescheduling. In particular I will need to make more use of public transport, or arrange lifts with friends. The important thing is that I keep smiling and if things sometimes mean I can't manage a daily post, or to answer every query, I am not going to worry. That just being realistic in old age.

Household Furniture for Sale at Ware, 1841

Old adverts of household furnishings can give some ideas about the possessions of the well-to-do. One of these is selling furniture on the instructions of a Mr. Kimpton, to be sold at the Saracen's Head Inn Ware, the auctioneer being Mr Henry Ree. Meanwhile Mr Jackson is selling the contents of New Hall, Ware at the house, the goods including oil paintings, 200 books including 44 volumes of Young's Agriculture, and a large number of goldfish - presumably from an ornamental pond.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

New Information on High Wych, Sawbridgeworth

Theo sent me a query about the date at which the parish of High Wych was created - and I corrected the unfortunate error on my site. To make up for my sins I have added a 1929 description of the village, together with information on the building of the church and church school in 1861, and a sampler made by a pupil shortly after the school was opened.

Much of the added information comes from The Story of Sawbridgeworth - which was produced by a Workers' Educational Association tutorial class under the excellent guidance of Lionel M. Munby in the 1960s.

[I have also corrected the same error on Wikipedia, which may well have been copied from my web site.  Unfortunately there are bound to be a few errors an a site as large as mine - so I am always grateful when such matters are drawn to my attention.]

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another pupil for Blaxland's Quaker School at Hitchin?

Sarah has drawn to my attention that John Middleton died of scarlet fever while he was at a Quaker school in Hitchin - and this was most likely the school run by George Blaxland between 1788 and 1801. I am wondering is many other children died of scarlet fever in Hitchin in 1793.
    The information comes from the Memoirs of Maria Fox (available online) which I note contains a few references to Maria's visits to Hertfordshire.  It is worth noting thatthe texts many old books are now becoming available online and references to boarding schools from this period can be very useful, as often they are not well recorded in the more usual genealogy sources.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The first 10,000 views

I have just noticed that this blog has passed 10,000 page views in just over 5 months - and February is set to have more views than January.

Louis Wain's visit to Tring in 1895

The Gallery at Walter Rothschild's Museum

Louis Wain, the artist renown for his drawing of cats, visited Tring in 1895 and wrote a long article in The Windsor Magazine entitled The Hon. Walter Rothschild's Pets: A Visit to Tring Museum, It starts with a short description to the town, ending up at the museum, a detailed description of the exhibits, and information on the "zoo" of wild animals kept by Walter Rothschild at Tring Park.

The article includes over 20 illustrations, most of which are drawings by Louis Wain,
Sumatran Rhinocerous
The Museum is now part of the Natural History Museum and the two galleries described in the article are still there - together with many of the exhibits.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I groan when I get a query from the USA

Well - not always - but those relating to 17th century emigrants to America can be difficult. I recently had a query about someone from Hertfordshire who was born around 1600. The following is an edited verion (with no names) to my email reply.

[I started with a brief mention of name mentioned in the question.]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I've found Thomas Pearson, Brickmaker

Well I think I have. A few day ago I discovered that St Stephen's brickworks (Newsletter reference) had an absentee owner called T. Pearson - but there where literally hundreds of T Pearsons listed in the old census returns. On a hunch I decided to follow up a census entry to a "Brick Manager and Agent" called Buxton Wilberforce Pearson and this lead me to Thomas Pearson (1821-1876) who in 1861 was a "Builder and Contractor employing 100 men", and in 1871 described himself as a "Brick Manufacturer."  While I still have no information explicitly linking this T. Pearson to the brickworks it seems very likely that he is the person I have been looking for.
    Looking for Thomas proved difficult - particularly due to an appallingly bad census transcription (8 people in household, 28 incorrect words in transcription) - and I have decided to record the steps I took to find him, and winkle out the details.

The Danger of Cherry Picking Information from the Web

One of the dangers of internet genealogy is that there is so much information available, and if you don't know the dangers you can build a family tree which is full of errors. Things get difficult with non-conformists before 1837, while parish registers often have large gaps at the time of the Civil War. The problem may be that there are no relevant birth records for your ancestor - and a common mistake is to select the record of someone with the "right name" who is actually the "wrong body". 
    In answering questions on this site I don't want to waste time answering questions where it appears that the basis of the question is unreliable. In ADAM or MADAM, Harpenden, 17th century I explain why I feel that a baptism that took place in 1652 is very likely the wrong one - and also supply pages which everyone should read if they are to avoid similar difficulties in future.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bricks & Beer at St Albans

Jon (who is researching 19th century St Albans pubs, has sent some information which links the brickmaker James Vass to a number of St Albans pubs.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Animal Pounds at Preston and elsewhere

The Pound at Flamstead End
Philip has added an excellent page on the former pound at Preston - and as a result I have updated the relevant page on this site.
Further to CULLING, Hertingfordbury, 17/18 century  Shirley has been transcribing the will of Elizabeth Culling of Hertingfordbury and mistress to Earl William Cowper, who was Lord Chancellor.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

St Stephens Brickworks, Bricket Wood

T. Pearson
St Stephens Brickworks
nr St Albans
Some years ago I spent a lot of time researching the Brickmakers of St Albans so I was very surprised when Peter drew my attention to a picture of a railway wagon he had found on the web. The picture accompanied an advert by the St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust which was selling '00' gauge models of wagons related to St Albans.
    I contacted the Trust and Keith supplied me with a better picture, which had come from a book, which said nothing about the location of the brickworks or the identity of T. Pearson. I checked the trade directories for the Victorian period for the whole of Hertfordshire and there was no sign of the brickworks in the listings. There was also no sign of a brickworks owner called Pearson in the Hertfordshire census returns. The hunt was on ... I had to find it ...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bridge 166 on the Grand Union Canal

Steve asked me if I knew the age of Bridge 166 over the Grand Union Canal. (It is the bridge south of Grove Mill, Watford. I need to do more work on the Canal pages and as yet don't have a picture (old or modern) of this bridge.
   However a look at a map from the 1880s, and a comparison with a modern satellite view, shows  the the bridge was built to switch the tow path from one side to the other. A cross over bridge has probably been at the spot since the canal was built over 200 years ago.

Friday, February 3, 2012

T. B. Latchmore, photographer of Hitchin

Thomas Benwell Latchmore was a prominent Victorian photographer  of Hitchin. I have added four carte de visite portraits by him. In addition there are many of his pictures of the town in the book Old Hitchin.
    He also took a number of photographs of girls dressed up for a school play. They were fist posted on this site some 5 years ago - and I am still hopeful someone can identify the school.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An Update of the Digswell pages

I have carried out a major update of the information on the small parish of Digswell, near Welwyn Garden City. The main page now has a menu and there is a transcript of the 1851 Post Office Directory of the village. There is also an 1807 account of the history which includes a chance to brush up your Latin:
There are also pages on St John's Church, Digswell House (including a couple of 19th century advertisements) and the Great Railway Viaduct.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January was a record month

January has been a record month in almost every department. There were 25,565 visits, (19,669 previous January) from 17485 (15,264) different users, viewing 81,918 (57, 909) pages, with 435,956  (381,174) hits. The biggest increase was in the number of repeat visits with the month which was 8085 compared with 4405. January 9th had 1007 visitors and was the first day since the current statistics measure was first used  in September 2009 to exceed 900 visits in one day.

The blog Hertfordshire Genealogy News had 2907 page views in January - with visitor numbers increasing significantly each month as the graph shows. There were 43 new posts, bringing the total to 190.

In addition I processed 120 emails (in and out) excluding circulars,  automatic notifications, and monitoring ebay and purchasing some new material for use on the site.

I must also thank the users of the site for their generosity in already raising £250 for mental health in Hertfordshire so far this year. It will be wonderful if donations continue to come in at this rate.