Friday, January 31, 2014

A WILDMAN at the Red, White & Blue

Old Post Cards
In about 1911 someone obviously spent their spare time, probably on a bicycle, touring the pubs in the eastern half of Hertfordshire.  At each pub they collected a post card of the pub, or may have taken a picture themselves, and pasted them in an album. About 90 years later the album fell into the hands of a post card dealer who removed them and sold them one by one on ebay. Post cards of small village pubs are rare and those which were clearly identified fetched high prices but I was able to get 14 whose name or location was unclear. In 2004 I posted them on this site (Post Cards of Hertfordshire Pubs) and by 2007, with the help of others, I had succeeded in identifying every one, and often worked out the name of the publican as well.
The Red White and Blue at Collier's End
Is the publican in the picture Joseph Constable, William Wildman or Robert Champlain?
In the case of the Red White and Blue at Collier's End, part of the historic parish of Standon, there was a problem - as the village had three full public houses and two beer sellers. On the limited information then available to me I surmised that the Smith family were the hosts at the Red White and Blue. Much more information has become available since then and Clive recently informed me that his ancestor, William Smith, died at The Plough. A quick check of the 1911 census showed that a William Henry Wildman was the publican at the Red, White and Blue, and a widow, Sarah Louisa Smith was publican at The Plough.

In updating the page I have also expanded the table of Collier's End publicans to cover the period 1882 to 1926. What is interesting is that there was a high turnover of licencees. In a period of 44 years there were at least 9 different people running the Lambs and Flag, and possibly 10 different people at the Fox and Hounds

A useful trip to St Albans

St Albans
Last Saturday I went to St Albans to visit some of the special events for residents which, I now learn are held every year on the final weekend in January, before going to the monthly meeting of the Herts Family History Society.

My first stop was to the North Transept of the Abbey where there was an exhibition of pictures of St Albans about 100 years ago put on by the SAHAAS. It included copies of many pictures by the local artist Holmes Winter, and I plan to do a page on his work later in the year. During the visit I had a talk with a number of members and Jon told me they have now located a map confirming the location of the Chalk Hill and Gorhambury Rifle Ranges.

I then went for a quick cup of hot chocolate in the Abbey Refectory (well worth a stop-over if you are visiting the Abbey).

As you enter the Refectory a doorway takes you upstairs to the Abbey Library where there was an exhibition celebrating the life of Matthew Paris. Matthew was a Benedictine monk who lived in St Albans Abbey - and was a very significant historian, although as he died in 1259 his works have little immediate relevance to most people researching their family history.

I then detoured to a bookshop in St Peters Street (with a small cafe!) where I spent a Christmas book token on a copy of Hertford - A landscape history. It looks like an important document for understanding the development of the county over the centuries - but is more for the local historian than than genealogist. It has been added to my "To review" list
Marlborough Street Methodist Church was next on my list. It was built in 1898 - almost certainly using Jacob Reynolds bricks from Bernards Heath. It has cast iron pillars supporting the gallery and a magnificent organ which was being played while  I was there. I took a number of pictures and have created a page for them and added a short historical text from their exhibition.

I then traveled to Woolmer Green to hear Jon Mein give a talk on the work being done by the First World War Team of the SAHAAS in recording the Military Tribunals during the First World War. Unfortunately the original Tribunal Record have not survived - but those of Middlesex have - showing how much information has been lost. He mentioned Arthur Tyler, who had been a milkman working for my great grandfather at the Heath  Farm Dairy, and who gave his life fighting.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Low Water at Startops Reservoir - Picture of the Day on Geograph

Low Water at Startops Reservoir, near Tring, in 2012
It seems somewhat ironic that on January 23rd Geograph selected one of my pictures of the effects of drought on the Tring Reservoirs to be  "Picture of the Day" when a visit I made a few days earlier had shown that all the reservoirs in the area were filled to capacity, much as I reported in a Rural Relaxation note in April last year. This picture shows (not very clearly) part of the medieval ridge and furrow area I reported here on December 3rd 2011 and March 11th 2012.

One of the frustrating things about Geograph's "Picture of the Day" is that the photographer is not told when one of his pictures has been selected and it sometimes appears years after the picture had been added to the web site. (I posted the above picture on January 24th 2012)  I know two other pictures of mine have been selected in the past - but there may have been others.
The first was this picture of tulips round a war grave in the churchyard at Halton, Bucks, near Tring, which I took in 2009, together with other pictures of the church and village.

The other was this view of  barges moored on the Grand Union Canal at Marsworth on a frosty winter morning in December 2012.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I have written a Limerick about how to write Limericks ....

A limerick's distinctive metre
Means you do have to know where the feet are
     And of course the fourth line
     With the third line must rhyme
While the last line can be a repeater.

For information on how it came to be written see I don't do Poetry - but now I've written a Limerick on my other blog Trapped by the Box.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Their Names live again - in St Albans Museum

With the help of this Newsletter these First World War memorial windows from Wheathampstead have found a new home. (St Albans & Harpenden Review, January 22nd, 2014)

Friday, January 24, 2014

From Rags to Riches - This story has everything!

Help Desk
Mikki recently sent me an update on the page about William Kay of Tring which mentioned that William Kay junior's wife had left about £100,000 to an adopted son in 1894. This sounded interesting so I decided to search for references to the family in the British Newspaper archive - and the more I looked the more interesting it got. The following is a reconstruction of what appeared to have happened.
At the time of the 1851 census Rose Eley was an 18 year old stay maker living in London. She apparently later moved to work in Marylebone for Letitia Reed who ran a fancy repository, and her husband Albert Howard Reed, who was a tailor. While there she met William Kay, who was an extremely foolish and extremely rich young man. Perhaps Albert was well known for the quality of his tailoring, and William went there to buy a suit, and spotted a fair young maid!

William Kay was the son of William Kay senior, who had owned Tring Park but had died in 1838, when his infant young son was made a ward of court. William did not live at Tring, and the mansion and estate was let to Joseph Grout in 1843 and then to the Rev. James Williams.
When William junior was in his late teens, but still a minor, the court gave William an allowance of £1300 a year. In 1852 William met up with a Mr Robert Johnson, and the pair went on a "grand excursion of pleasure" (presumably this means wine, women and song) to France, Italy and Germany. Despite his extremely generous allowance William ran out of money and it would appear that cash was borrowed on the promise that it would be repaid when William was 21 and had direct access to the family fortune.

As soon as William became 21 he married Rose Eley in a quiet wedding in St Marylebone Church, the witnesses being Rose's shopkeeper employers Albert and Letitia Reed. This was definitely not the big society wedding one might expect for someone with William's wealth and as far as I can judge it was not announced in the press. I am sure that his father, if he had still been alive, would have said that another gold digger had been at work attracted by the family fortune.

Of course, once William was 21 there were people who were expecting to be paid on the strength of the promises he had made. But he did not pay - on the basis that debts incurred as a minor were not valid, and this led to him being improperly arrested and held in a private house against his will. (This part of the story need more research.)

It is possible that William wanted a son and heir - but for 10 years nothing happened (gaps like this can be due to venereal disease which seems a real possibility in this case). However in 1864 a son was born - unfortunately stillborn. William died the following year in Paris, and after much legal wrangling Tring Park and the associated estate were sold by auction in 1872, to Baron Rothschild.

It would seem that the widow, Rose Kay, still wanted a son and heir, and (subject to confirmation of a birth certificate) she "adopted" George Louis Howard. He may have been the son of Albert Howard Reed and Letitia Reed, but a baptism in Kent suggests that Rose may have been the mother, and Reed family tradition suggests Albert was the father! George was born in Paddington in the summer of 1866, and was at a boarding school in Tooting, Surrey, in 1881 under the name George Louis Howard Kay.

However, now that Rose was the wealthy one it seems that she may, in turn have been the victim of another gold digger. In January 1868 she married a soldier, James Watkins, late of the 18th Hussars, in St George's, Hanover Square, the service being taken by the Chaplain-in-ordinary of Queen Victoria - definitely a top notch society affair. This did not last long. Rose went to the theatre and discovered that the leading actress was wearing some of her own (i.e Rose's) jewellery! It appeared that James had been having an affair with the actress, and had planned to elope with her to America. While adultery with the actress was not proved, the divorce was granted in March 1870 because of cruelty and another affair with a woman called Douglas. Four years later James remarried an Edith Galsworthy.

I have not so far been able to trace Rose in 1871 or 1881 but in 1891 she was a widow living in Park House, Wetherby Road, Kensington. She died in 1894, and the residue of her will was left in trust to her adopted son. Possibly George was already showing signs of madness at this stage (hence the trust fund would be appropriate), but in the 1901 and 1911 census he was living as a ward of court with the widow of his ?brother? Henry Howard Reed and their family. Eliza (Henry's widow) is describes as of independent means, and in each census there are a number of servants, one being described as a "Lunatic Attendant". It may well be that the household was getting significant income from the trust set up for George, because they were providing the care which might otherwise have to be provided, at even greater expense, by a private lunatic asylum.
The detailed evidence is on the William Kay page, including a report of the divorce and copies of the relevant marriage certificates - so you can see what was written when a divorced person remarries. There are still some gaps in the story - particularly relating to the court cases, and if you can help to fill them why not comment below.

An update of the East Barnet Pages

East Barnet Lane
Following a query about a post card of the church, I decided to split the page on East Barnet, adding a lengthy description of the church from 1880 (in addition to the 1863 description of the village) and two new post card views. In addition all pictures now have a higher definition picture if you click on them (and even higher resolution are available on request).

By the Grand Union Canal At Bulbourne (near Tring)

The Former Canal Workshops at Bulbourne
Grand Junction Canal

In recent years, particularly when I still had Franci, I have been walking along the many rural footpaths near Tring taking photographs. Many of these have been (and when I have time, still are) posted on Geograph including many taken from the towpath of the Grand Union Canal

Recently someone (I am withholding the name to avoid embarrassment) found the above picture on the internet and sent me the following message:

> Re: image for SP9313 (Grand Union Canal: The Bulbourne Workshops)
> Hi, Would like to know if you have any mooring available at present. My boat is 18 meters ?
> Thanks
> Look forward to hearing from you
> regards

When I had stopped laughing all I could do was to reply as follows:

I am glad you found my picture interesting - but all your can assume from the picture is that on 8th March 2009 I happened to be at Bulbourne with a camera.
I am afraid my camera is much too small for you to moor your boat inside.
All the best along the canal
Chris Reynolds

The Rickmansworth Historical Society

Many of the towns and villages in Hertfordshire now have local history societies which are run by, and for, people who live in the area and hold regular meetings with invited speakers. However many now have web sites, a newsletter, and other publications and even if you live too far away to attend meetings they can be an important source of information.

The Rickmansworth Historical Society is no exception and it is important to note that the Society's activities cover the history of the "old parish area" of Rickmansworth which includes Chorleywood, West Hyde, Mill End, Croxley Green, Loudwater, Batchworth and Eastbury as well as the town of Rickmansworth. They have monthly meetings which include talks of both general and specifically local topics and I note with interest that on the 13th March Bill Templeton is giving a talk on "13 corn and paper mills along the River Chess" which I am sure will include some Hertfordshire Mills such as the one at Loudwater. It has a quarterly newsletter, The Rickmansworth Historian, and there is a index of past issues, and a few selected articles on the web site. I found the article on the web site about Pest Houses very interesting - especially as it included details of a number of Hertfordshire pest houses I had not known about. 

There are a number of publications for sale, only one of which, Rickmansworth - A Pictorial History, I have reviewed on this web site. The latest of their publications is A Village Boyhood in Croxley Green, by Frank Paddick (1909-1965) which tells of a time when life in the village was dominated by Dickinson’s Croxley Mill.

Unlike many such local history sites their site does not include a collection of old photographs of the area  - but if you visit the Rickmansworth page of my site you will find many pictures (and additional historical information) ot the town and the surrounding villages.

If your local history society, museum  or similar group has a web site relevant to local and family history in Hertfordshire why note drop me a line so I can include a review in this Newsletter, which currently gets around 200 hits a day from all over the world. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rural Relaxation: The Hamlet of Ringshall, Ashridge

On Sunday the sun came out and I decide to drive to Ashridge to have a walk through the woods and take a few photographs of nature. This was a mistake - everyone had decided to take advantage of the weekend sun and the drive to the Bridgewater Monument had cars parked solidly on both sides, and virtuall all the roadside parking areas were full to overflowing. When I did find somewhere to stop the recent rain, and hundreds of feet, had turned many of the tracks to a sea of mud. However I was close to the hamlet of Ringshall, just on the Bucks side of the County Boundary and about a mile from Ashridge House. As a recent enquiry had involved an ancestor who had worked for Lord Brownlow at Ashridge House, and had lived in one of the estate cottages, I decided to take a picture of some of the former estate cottages.
Ashridge House about 100 years ago - The cottages shown above would have accomodated estate workers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Former Telescope at Abbots Hill. Abbots Langley

Abbots Langley
Help Desk
Most of the questions I get are about people, and nearly all the rest are about places - but some of the most interesting are about the provenance of objects such as  the Boxmoor watches and the mirror from Stocks. Now Bob has written from Australia to say he has a telescope that had been owned by the early Victorian astronomer, the Rev. William Rutter Dawes. John Dickinson - of paper-making fame - owned a similar telescope at his home, Abbots Hill, in Abbots Langley.

Was it the same one? The clue is that Dawes telescope was sold to "A gentleman, a friend of Admiral Smythe" in 1859.  So could John Dickinson have been a friend of the Admiral? I suggest one or two possible sources (Click here for more information) but if you can suggest somewhere else to look please let me or Bob know.

Every Picture tells a Story - The Bishops Stortford funeral.

The funeral in Hockerill, Bishops Stortford, 1913
Old Post Cards
Bishops Stortford
I enjoy finding old post cards which tell us something about the past. Over 5 years ago I published two pictures of a funeral, and by looking at the pictures in considerable detail I was able to work out that the photographs were take in Bishops Stortford, in the winter months between 1912 and 1916. However I could not identify the name of the deceased but speculated that it might be Sir Walter Gilbey (of Gilbey's gin fame). The problem is that I did not have easy access to the Bishop's Stortford papers of the time.

Jill has now contacted me with additional information, which I have added to the page, which clearly shows that the deceased was Admiral Frederick Samuel Vander-Meulen, a local magistrate. She also supplied a modern photograph which clearly identifies the location of the other 1913 photograph.

No 11 Platoon, The Inns of Court, Berkhamsted, in 1916

The Inns of Court - No 11 Platoon - in Berkhamsted in 1916
Inns of Court
As part of my contribution to remembering those who gave their lives in the First World War I have added another picture of the Inns of Court at Berkhamsted, taken by J. T. Newman. It was sent to a Mr & Mrs Bond, Bute Court, Torquay, Devon on 15th April, 1916 and reads:
This is the famous no. 11 Platoon with which I have drilled, grubbed, marched and slept for the last four months. Yesterday I heard that I had been put in a senior section and platoon - No 1 Sec. & No. 9 Plt. so on Monday I shall be with a fresh set of fellows providing I don't receive the blue form back by tomorrow.  If I don't receive it by Tuesday I shall be delayed at least a month from obtaining my commission so please return it as soon as poss. woud you?

Best Love    J.
I have not been able to identify the writer, but if your ancestor was stationed at Berkhamsted at about this date you might be able to recognise them if you look at the larger image.

The Sandridge Parish Council in 1894

At the end of 1894 the old parish vestry form of local government was abolished, and a parish council, with elected councillors, was established. To record the centenary Reg Auckland, a noted local historian, wrote an account of the first Parish Council meeting. The first councillors to be elected were: John Henry Smith (farmer of Evans Farm)(90 votes), Henry Alexander Taylor (farmer at Hill and farm and former way warden)(87), William Paul (83), Samuel Norman (grocer living in Culver Road, Bernards Heath)(82), Rev. James Alexander Cruikshank (66), James Slimmon (farmer at Marshalswick Farm)(74), Frederick William  Bush (Civil servant living at Dell Field, Sandridge)(83) and Harry Beasney Cox (farmer at Pound Farm and former overseer of the poor)(63).

Short Newsletter Items (Mid January 2014)


The next Herts Family History Society meeting is at Woolmer Green on 25th January. Jon Mein will be talking on Military Tribunals in Hertfordshire (appeals of men against conscription 1916–1918).

The National Archives are planning for the increased interest in the First World War with both online and "at Kew" activity. They have set up a special entry page to keep everyone informed.

Photo:George St, St Albans c.1910
St Albans
The SAHAAS is putting on an exhibition "St Albans c 1900: A Pictorial Showcase" in the North Trancept of St Albans abbey on 25th and 26th January.
 "Digital images of the photographs of E. Stanley Kent are to be shown alongside sketches drawn by Holmes Winter, an artist who knew the illustrator F.G. Kitton. Both were capturing scenes in St Albans around 1900, a time marked by significant increases both in population and commerce. Stanley Kent shows St Albans through the eyes of a photographer noting existing and newly-built buildings whilst Holmes Winter’s sketches are drawn of what he believed to be the “last of old St Albans”.

For those of you who like attending big exhibitions and collecting a bag full of leaflets you will "read sometime" don't forget Who do you think you are? is on 20th-22nd February.

Ian Pettigrew, of Tring,  has produced an interesting online research document "The Train now departing ... Notes and extracts on the history of the London to Birmingham Railway." Printed copies are available in the Tring Local History Museum.

I have just had a query about "Lays of the Hertfordshire Hunt and other Sporting Verses" by George Robins and I have discovered it is now available online. (Online copies of old books relevant to this site are appearing on the web at frequent intervals, and I do not have time to track them all down.  If you come across one please let me know as I can publicize it and help everyone who is interested.

I was very interested to see that one of the volumes of the 1840s Children's Employment Commission is available online. While it does not include any information on Hertfordshire it makes interesting reading - with interviews of children employed in the sweat shops of the early industrial revolution. The following is one of the interviews.

Friday, January 10, 2014

SOS Kirby & Milton Family Photographs Arkley & Ware Herts

I just spotted an item on ebay which shows why it can be useful to monitor this online auction site for evidence of your ancestors and related families. An advert has just appeared which reads:
92 Original c1900-1950 photographs Kirby Family ( 1,Clayton Cottages, Arkley, Nr. Barnet, Herts ) and Milton Family ( Cowards Cottages, Thundridge Hill, Ware, Herts). There is also a Sydenham and Hoare family surname connection. Some are identified but not many. There is one WW1 soldier photo ( ' Milton ' hand written on back) and some WW2 army and RAF photos. They are mostly postcard size and in very good condition. All of the photos are shown in my pictures. I also have listed separately some old photographs of the Arkley War Memorial. 
If you are interested you have until the 17th January to bid.

What often happens if that someone dies and there is a house clearance - and there are no interested close relatives to save key items for the family archives - such items may simply end up in a skip. SOme may end up in the local auction rooms and eventually the more interesting items will be sold off on ebay - singly or as a collection as in this case. I recently purchased some Hertfordshire post cards which had mirror writing on the back and on checking back discovered that the seller had about 100 mirror writing cards for sale - which all came from a single album documenting the courtship of a couple at the beginning of the 20th century.  

On one occasion I purchased a large box of personal letters (about 100) and other papers from the early 19th century relating to a branch of my wife's Phipson family. It included a notebook of the same date which recorded several generations of an ancestral branch I had previously been unable to crack.

Of course, searching this way is a long shot, and works best if you have unusual surnames or place names. However don't expect immediate miracles. In 1939 my father took over a shop in Watchet, Somerset, and had some postcards published with his name, Reynolds, as the publisher. I have been running an automated ebay search for an example of one of these cards for about five years without success - but I am hoping that eventually one will turn up.

Callowland Boys School, Watford and its first headmaster

Class 3, Callowland Boys School, Leavesden Road, Watford, 1920

There must be a number of people now living in Watford who will have known some of the boys in this picture - so can anyone help to put a few names to faces (Higher resolution picture available on main web site.) The card has the words "Percy Cupid, born October 1907" written on the back but no boy is marked on the picture - and I could find no obvious Percy Cupid in the 1911 census.

Click here for short biographies of  Edwin Ashby, headmaster of the Boys School, and Annie Mary Gardner, headmistress of the Girls School further down Leavesden Road.

Standon Church with its separate church tower

Standon Church
St Mary's, Standon, is an interesting church. Like many other Hertfordshire churches the tower is topped by a "Hertfordshire Spike" - a very narrow steeple. However the big difference in that the tower is not part of the main church but is a separate building standing alongside the chancel. I visited the church in 2006 and took some photographs - now I have added three old post cards showing the church as it was about 100 years ago.

Colonel Morgan and Aldenham Lodge in 1912

Aldenham Lodge, Radlett
The Military
At the time this post card was posted Aldenham Lodge was occupied by Colonel (later Brigadier General) Hill Godfrey Morgan, his wife, and a large team of domestic servants. Morgan had a distinguished career in India, at Khartoum, in South Africa, and after leaving retirement was Assistant Director of Supplies in the First World War. [More Information]

The Hertfordshire Kennels and a top Cruft's Winner

Hampton Guard (Cocker Spaniel) - posted in Ware 1909
I spotted this card on eBay and decided it was a good example of a business post card to display on this site. Once I started to research it I ended up looking at two different genealogy stories. Richard Lloyd (1847-1906) spent much of his life working for the Ellis Family at a pub in Ware called the Punch House (which still exists), and if you just look at the standard genealogical records you would not think to look further. But on the side Richard was a dog breeder who won an award at the first "open to all breeds" Cruft's Dog Show, in 1891. His son Herbert Summers Lloyd (the signature on the above card) later won "Best in Show" a record six times, and his granddaughter was still showing dogs at Crufts as late as 2011. 

And of course the dogs were pedigree - although I did not have time to research their family tree in any detail.