My Paternal Family
Grtx4 grandparents: Joseph and Elizabeth (nee Hill) Ward
Joseph Ward was my 4xgreat grandfather and the first of my ancestors to live in Preston - from at least 1753. The location of his home, beside the Red Lion, is known. By 1891, the Ward name had disappeared from the village, although Joseph’s descendants still lived there.
When researching the Ward family, it should be borne in mind that Ward is sometimes written or transcribed as Wade. There are several examples of this: the Temple Dinsley Manor Court Roll of 1808 refers to William Wade; a list of Preston inhabitants dated 1806 includes several Wades; the 1851 census records John Wade at Preston; the Kings Walden Militia List notes that ‘Ward is also spelt as Wade’. Knowing this alternative spelling is important when compiling a Ward family tree – as will be shown. My greatx4 grandfather was Joseph Ward, however the identity of his parents (and my ancestors) is not certain. Joseph was first married in 1729 which means that he was likely born before 1713. His was an uncommon name in Hertfordshire at this time. There were only two recorded baptisms of a Joseph Ward/Wade in Hertfordshire in the twenty years between 1694 and 1713; four recorded marriages between 1710 and 1750 and nine burials in Hertfordshire between 1697 and 1828. There are two possible candidates who are my ancestor (assuming he was baptised in Hertfordshire): the Joseph Ward baptised at Kings Walden in 1697 or a baby baptised at Cheshunt, Herts on 3 October 1708. The merits of each will now be considered. Joseph Ward born to Henry Ward junior at Cheshunt and baptised on 3 October 1708. Apart from the date of his baptism - which would indicate that he was aged twenty-one if he married in 1729 - the main reason for considering this Joseph is the record of Militia Lists at Preston later in the century. These lists were similar to a census of males and there were seven different male Wards at Preston between 1758 and 1785. Of these at least two, Henry (born in around 1745) and Jesse (born before 1740) Ward were the sons of Henry Ward and his wife Ann. The reason this is relevant is that the Henry Ward at Cheshunt was not only father of Joseph Ward, but also of a Henry Ward who was baptised in 1717. This opens the window of possibility that two brothers, Joseph and Henry Ward, moved from Cheshunt to Preston and that perhaps my ancestor, Joseph, was from Cheshunt. However, this is somewhat unlikely because there is no record of a Henry Ward marrying an Ann in Hertfordshire at this time. It is possible therefore that they married outside of the county and that Henry was not Joseph’s brother. Another reason for being uncertain that the Cheshunt Joseph Ward was my ancestor is that Cheshunt is twenty-six miles south of Preston - indeed it is nearer to London than Preston - so it is questionable whether he moved to Preston. Joseph Ward born to John and Ann Ward and baptised at Kings Walden on 14 February 1697. The main reasons for concluding that this Joseph is my ancestor is the proximity of Kings Walden to Preston and his baptism in the right time-frame -- ie in 1697. Also, his first wife, Mary, was born in 1706 at Hill End, near Preston. So both John and Mary lived in two of Preston’s neighbouring parishes. We will now examine Joseph’s life. His baptism at Kings Walden is shown below - the year 1696 is the regnal year and in today’s calendar would be 1697.
Joseph married Mary Arnold at Hitchin, Herts on 30 October 1729:
The record of the birth and baptism of Joseph’s children in Hitchin parish becomes convoluted. The first entry in the Parish Register is of the baptism of a daughter, Mary on 23 May 1731. She was born on 15 September 1730. Note that Joseph was a labourer:
The next relevant record is of Mary’s burial, as Mary Wade at St Marys, Hitchin on 25 May 1746:
Joseph then married Elizabeth Hill at St Marys. Hitchin on 31 December 1747:
There was then a flurry of Ward baptisms at Hitchin in 1751:
Thus, on 8 April 1751, James (born 1742), Samuel (born 6 January 1748 - Elizabeth being ‘heavy with child’ when she married) and Daniel (born 7 July 1750). But, despite this note, James could not have been Elizabeth’s son because Joseph’s first wife, Mary was still alive in 1742. More baptisms followed at Hitchin on 26 May 1751:
Again, these are the baptisms of Joseph and Mary’s children, not Elizabeth’s - Ruth (born in September 1732) and Ann (born on 4 December 1734). In the following year, William Ward was baptised on 8 June 1752 at Hitchin
There is also the possibility that Joseph and Mary had another son who wasn’t baptised. As mentioned earlier, the Militia Lists show seven male Wards at Preston. They include Daniel (Militia List - 1775 to 1785) James (1762), Samuel (1768 and 1773) and William (1773 to 1781). These are probably Joseph’s sons. Two other male Wards are listed at Preston who were Henry and Ann Ward’s sons. There is another Ward shown at Preston in the Militia List: John, from 1765 to 1782. The eligible age to be included in the Militia List was eighteen. This may indicate that John was born in around 1746, which was when Mary Ward died. Did she die during or just after giving birth to John? What can be said about the bizarre baptism dates of Joseph’s children from a distance of more than two centuries? Clearly, having their children christened in an Anglican church wasn’t high on the priority list of Joseph and Mary. Was Mary inclined towards Non-conformity? Perhaps Joseph’s second wife, Elizabeth, was more religious than Mary and wanted her first two children baptised - and when they found that it wasn’t such a bad experience, they quickly decided to have the two remaining children produced by Joseph and Mary christened also. It was in around 1753 that Joseph and his family re-located to a large house at Preston Green. Did this move influence their decisions?
In 1793, the house was sold and the Temple Dinsley Manor record confirms Joseph’s occupancy and adds a description:
This entry states that the owner of the property was Stephen Swain and that it was ‘on Preston Green’. It included approximately an acre of pasture. In 1793, its tenants had previously been Jeremiah Gazeley, then Joseph Ward and now William Ward, Joseph’s son. The yearly manorial rent was one guinea. The holding included outhouses, edifices, buildings, barns, stables, gardens, orchards, hedges, ditches, trees, fences and water courses. The cottage (shown below, partly obscured by one of the trees on the Green) was standing on the corner of School Lane and Preston Green abutting the Red Lion. It was called Homehouse at one time. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had been converted into three homes.
The map shown right dated 1898, shows how the house was divided into three small homes which are coloured green, grey and pink (Nos. 3755, 3756 and 3757). The garden associated with each one is also shown. By 1898, the cottage was built of brick and tiles and in poor condition. 3755 (Mary Palmer) included a kitchen , pantry and a bedroom; 3756 (George Turner) , a kitchen, bedroom and barn and 3757 (Ernest Jenkins) , a kitchen, bedroom, garden and barn. Note the proximity of the house to the Red Lion and the pond that was between them which was partly linked to the house. Also of interest is the well which is denoted as ‘W’ on the property.
In quick succession, first Elizabeth died in August 1769 and then Joseph in May 1771, aged seventy- four.
Now we’ll examine the origins of Joseph’s second wife, and my greatx4 grandmother, Elizabeth Hill. She lived and died in the eighteenth century - a time when ages at death or burial were not recorded in the Hitchin parish registers. As a result, although we can be fairly certain that she died in 1769 and sure that she married Joseph in 1747, we should attempt to establish some parameters within which she was born. Her last child was born in 1752, so it is probable that she was born after 1700. Factoring in the year of her marriage to Joseph, she was born before 1731 at the latest - so, Elizabeth was born between 1700 and 1731. When deciding where she was born, I have looked at parishes which were fairly near to Hitchin. The app, Parish Locator, is useful for determining the proximity of parishes to a central location such as Hitchin - and includes parishes outside the borders of Hertfordshire. Another consideration is whether Elizabeth was a widow when she married the widower, William Ward, or a spinster - there is sufficient time for both scenarios. Finally, one must consider the possibility that Elizabeth was baptised in a Non-conformist religion. I conclude that Elizabeth did not marry twice. Having checked deaths of male Hills around Hitchin in the years leading up to 1747, I can can find only one who was married to an Elizabeth - John Hill who married Elizabeth Wiggs at Kimpton on 29 March 1730. However, this Elizabeth can be discounted because although the last of their children was baptised at Kimpton in 1746, her husband, John, was likely buried in 1780 aged eighty-two, and Elizabeth, herself, appears to have died in 1801. Examining all the available resources there are three baptisms of an Elizabeth Hill (A,B an C) around Hitchin between 1700 and 1741:
A born to William and Dorothy Hill and baptised at Letchworth, Herts on 11 January 1702 B born to John and Judith Hill and baptised at Pirton on 26 March 1716 C born to William and Elizabeth Hill and baptised at Stevenage, Herts on 22 August 1725
Of these three, William Ward’s likeliest partner was the Elizabeth born at Stevenage in around 1725. This is because of her parents possible connection to Preston. William and Elizabeth married at Ippollitts on 5 January 1716 and their first son, William, was baptised there in 1718. They then moved to Stevenage parish where four more children were baptised between 1719 and 1728 (William was noted as a labourer) before finally moving to Hitchin parish where their final child, Sarah, was baptised in 1732. William may have been buried at Hitchin in May 1735 when he was again described as a labourer. When William and Elizabeth Hill married in 1716, Elizabeth’s maiden name was written as Bouse:
This may be a corruption of the Preston family’s name Bowsted. They held property at Preston in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries including houses around Preston Green. Joseph and Elizabeth Ward’s large family home at Preston (described next) may have been in the possession of someone connected to the Bowstead family.
Now, we examine the documentation relating to the couple’s home at Preston. As Joseph and Mary were married at Hitchin and had their children baptised there, it is quite possible that they lived in the hamlet after their marriage in 1729. The rate book of November 1753 (shown right) is the first concrete evidence of their residence at Preston. The entire page relating to Preston in the parish of Hitchin is shown to provide a yardstick as to the relative size of Joseph and Elizabeth’s house. Many Preston residents were too poor to pay rates and it was mainly farmers and tradesmen who paid them, but Joseph’s rates were 1/4d - Chalkley Whitbread, who farmed Preston Farm (aka The Cottage), paid 1/8d.
The children of William Ward
Mary married Jeremiah Squire and the couple settled at St Pauls Walden, Herts. They had six children between 1755 and 1774. Jeremiah was buried at St Pauls Walden on 27 January 1795 and Mary (aged 85), on 13 October 1814. She was noted as living at Whitwell, near Preston.
Ruth died a spinster aged 23. Ann married Robert Potton, a labourer. They were living at Preston in 1768 to 1778. Ann was buried at Hitchin on 2 February 1779.
James was living at Preston in 1762. Daniel was lame, disabled and on crutches. He died in the Hitchin Workhouse in 1813.
My line continues through Joseph’s youngest son, William Ward.