My Paternal Ancestors
Grtx2 grandparents: Robert and Jane (nee North )Wray
Robert and Jane were baptised at Tewin, Herts on 18 January 1784 and 6 April 1783 respectively.
The parish register has a note between the entries for 18 August and 21 October 1783 that ‘ Stamp Act takes place’. This Act of Parliament was passed by the House of Commons to raise money to pay for the American War of Independence. Under the provisions of this Act, all baptism, marriage and burial entries in each parish register were subject to a tax of 3d. Church ministers were empowered to collect the duty, and were allowed to keep 10% of this fee as compensation for their trouble. Refusal to pay carried a fine of five pounds. Robert’s baptism cost his parents 3d. In 1803, when he was about nineteen years old, Robert had a liaison with Sarah Holden/Hallden. She was a spinster living at Little Berkhampstead which is about four miles from Tewin. A son, Robert Wray Hallden (sic), was born and as Robert and Sarah did not marry, Robert was ordered by the local Parish officials to pay maintenance for his child in the summer of 1804.
Baptism of Robert Wray Hallden at Littel Berhamsted, Herts on 10 June 1804. Note that no parents were named,
Now follows a diversion to follow what happened to Sarah and her son Robert Halden. Sarah was baptised at Standon, Herts on 26 January 1772. She was about twelve years older than Robert. Before having his child, she had given birth to a daughter, Charlotte Hallden (sic) baptised on 26 September 1802 also at Little Berkhamsted.
Charlotte was buried on 10 April 1803. Sarah then married Joseph Chapell, a farm worker, at Standon on 30 July 1807. The couple had three children before Joseph died in 1819 at Furneaux Pelham, Herts. In 1841, Sarah was living at Patient End, Furneaux Pelham with her daughter, Mary (30). A decade later, the two Chapells were living at Gravesend, Albury, Herts, Sarah being a pauper:
Sarah was buried at Furneaux Pelham in June 1855. Meanwhile, her son, Robert, married Sarah Cook on 3 November 1827 at Standon:
Robert and Sarah had twelve children between 1829 and 1846. They and their descendants are all my relations, of course. He is described as an agriculural labourer in two censuses but in two others as a brewer and also a higgler (A person who travels around selling small items; a pedlar) in one of these:
Robert died in 1872 and was buried at Standon on 24 March:.
Robert and Jane Wray
Marriage ceritificate: 23 September 1806 at Tewin, Herts.
Both Robert and Jane marked rather than signed the register and their witnesses were Elizabeth Wray (probably Robert’s sister) and Henry Cutts (Robert’s cousin). Robert (a hurdle-maker) and Jane had nine children between 1807 and 1827. The family were living in Upper Green, Tewin in the censuses of 1841 to 1861.
1851 census at Upper Green, Tewin
Jane (76) then died and was buried at Tewin on 19 June 1859:
Sometime between 1861 and 1871, Robert moved to the nearby Hertfordshire parish of Bengeo and was living at Mole Wood Road with two of his children and a grandson, John Wray who were lodging with him:
Later in 1871, Robert (89) died at Bengeo Common on 20 May and was buried in his home parish of Tewin on 25 May 1871:
I read this to indicate that a close relation to Robert (possibly either Elizabeth or Benjamin his children with whom he was living in 1871) thought it appropriate to place an announcement of his death to inform the folk of Tewin and maybe his descendants scattered around. His place of death was Bengeo Common. When Christ Church was built in 1868, it was said to be at the foot of Bengeo Common. This are might include Mole Wood Road, or it may indicate that Robert died away from his home - which is identified later.
This advertisement from 1862 may refer to Robert’s work or one of his sons. ‘Wray’s make’m was a USP.
Locating John and Jane’s house at Tewin
On a summer’s evening in 2006, I began a quest to find the home of the Wray family (recorded as 73b) in the nineteenth century at Upper Green, Tewin. As I had a copy of the detailed Tithe Map and Award dated 1838 which clearly showed the property (73b), roads, ponds and surrounding area, I was confident that I would at least find the land on which the house was built.
It seemed entirely appropriate and indeed a requirement to begin the search at the Plume and Feathers public house (84b and shown below). It was built in about 1600 and because it was situated less than one hundred meters from the Wray ancestral home, I had no doubt that my forefathers had slaked their thirst there.
The open land (shown as 106b on the map) is now a cricket ground and this space together with the road helped to locate the plot which I was seeking. However, the land is now grandly occupied by a modern detached house. Was I at the right spot? I decided to call at the nearest house (right) which might have stood in the nineteenth century – shown as 73c on the map.Its occupants kindly confirmed that their home had been built in the 1750s and that they knew of an old house next door and a deep pond as depicted by the map. I was at the right place.
They told me that during World War Two, the garden next door had taken a direct bomb hit and that the cottage had been largely demolished and the new house had been built around some of the surviving walls. It is possible to trace the outline of the bomb crater from the different colour of the grass in-fill. I then called at the detached house. Its occupants made me most welcome and generously told me about their home. They even allowed me to take some photographs of the original walls of the Wray home.
Robert and Jane’s house at Upper Green, Tewin
The ancestral pile!
The beautiful house built around the remains
Some of the original features of the house
The next day I discovered that Hertfordshire Archives hold a ‘Bomb List’ of known instances of bomb damage. It seems likely that the Wray home was blitzed on 9 October 1940. A local resident later recalled that, as a fourteen-year-old, he had cycled from Stevenage to Tewin the day after the bomb exploded. When he explored the site he found some shrapnel from the casing which was imbedded in the trunk of an apple tree. He salvaged a piece and has used it as a door-stop ever since.
The children of Robert and Jane
Joseph Wray was baptised at Tewin on 11 December 1807 and was buried there on 25 January1829, aged 22. Hannah Wray was christened at Tewin on 23 April 1809. Aged 34, she married the baker, John Bowater, at Hatfield, Herts on 8 February 1843. Hannah was able to sign her namee and a witness was her brother William Wray.
Assessing the records, an Elizabeth Bowater was born at Hendon in early 1844 and was still with her father, John, aged seven in 1851. Her mother must have been Hannah. However, Hannah died in the spring of 1846 in the Hendon area of Middlesex and John remarried and again William Wray was a witness:
In 1851, John Bowater was a licensed victualler living at South Mimms, Barnet with two Elizabeths (his new wife and daughter). A news report in 1842 revealed he was the landlord of The Rising Sun, Barnet. He died there in 1858. Elizabeth jnr married Joseph Albert Goodey on 14 December 1865 at Barnet:
Benjamin Wray was baptised at Tewin on 22 December 1811. He was a hurdlemaker. Benjamin married the widow, Emma Harding (from Suffolk), at Tewin on 14 June 1836. The witnesses were Benjamin’s siblings, William and Hannah:
1861 census at St Andrews Street, Hertford the family moved there between 1844 and 1847
In 1871, the census provides something of a surprise. Benjamin and his son, John, were lodging with his father, Robert, at Bengeo:
Elizabeth was still at St Andrews Street, Hertford. She was described as a school mistress and was living with her married daugheter and her husband and her own daughter, Margaret:
Benjamin was probably at Bengoe because he was caring for his eighty-eight-year-old father who died soon after the census was taken, while Emma was tied to her job at Hertford. They were not far away from each other. Emma (70) died in the spring of 1879 and two years later, Benjamin with his sister, Elizabeth. In 1891, he was living with his hurdlemaking son, Robert and his family at 1 Fanshaw Street, Hertford and ten years later he was with another hurdle-maker son, William at Church Road, Bengeo. Benjamin (92) died in early 1904. Benjamin and Emma’s children and quarters in which they were born: Elizabeth (6/1840 Tewin), William 3.1844, Tewin, Margaret (12/1847, Hertford), Robert (9/1849, Hertford) and John (9/1853, Hertford).
Elizabeth Wray was baptised at Tewin on 5 April 1814. She never married and although her home was at Hertingfordbury, Herts, she died at 5 Fanshaw Street Herford on 21 December 1912, aged 96. She lived with her father until 1881 when she was a lodge-keeper at New Road, Cowbridge, Hertford with her brother, Benjamin, and nephew John Wray (27). She acquired some money along the way as she was living alone but ‘on her own means’ at Hertingfordbury in 1891 (her estate was valued at £366 11s 1d) and was joined by her sister, Rebecca Crawley in 1901 and 1911. The six-roomed house where she died was occupied by Jane Anne Wray (nee Crawley) who was the widow of her nephew and Benjamin’s son, John Wray in 1911:
John (yet another Wray hurdlemaker) died at Mole Wood, Bengeo on 20 January 1900 leaving an estate of £3,285 (hurdlemakers do seem to be better off than ag labs!). Jane presumably used part of her inheritance to buy 5 Fanshaw Street. Incidentally, John Wray and Jane Anne Crawley were cousins, their respective fathers being Rebecca and Benjamin.
Two doors away from 5 Fanshaw Street (at no 1) in 1911 were Benjamin’s son, Robert Wray and his wife and daughter:
Left to right: 1, 3 and 5 Fanshaw Street, Hertford with five four and six rooms respectively
William Wray (a hurdlemaker) was christened in the font of St Peter’s, Tewin on 14 July 1816. He married Eliza Antony in the Hertford RD in late 1837. The couple do not apprear to have had any children. According to the 1841 census, William and Eliza were at Waterford, Bengeo. William was described as a hurdlemaker. There were two court cases during the 1840s which indicated that he was also an a beer shop keeper (who didn’t have a licence to sell liquor). It was common for a man to have a licence and carry-on another trade while his wife managed the beer/public house.
In 1851 and 1861, thecouple were still living at Waterford, Bengeo. 1871 saw them living next door to Willam’s father at Mole Wood Road, Bengeo and he and Eliza were still living there at No 3 in 1881. He was noted as being a sawyer and house proprietor - although William described himself as a ‘gentleman’
A news item about boundaries which uses William’s house (‘houses’ actually) as a reference point provides information which enables us to pin-point its location:
Porthill Terrace
The houses still stand - 1 & 3 Mole Wood Road. One of them is probably where Robert, William’s father died
In July/August 1885, William committed a depraved crime so appaliing that it couldn’t be reported in detail yet I’ve found forty-three newspapers in England, Scotland and Wales which carried this precis:
William lasted less than three years in Dartmoor Prison:
Eliza had understandably moved from Mole Wood Road by 1891 - in fact she was surrounded by her family as she too was living at Fanshaw Road, Hertford:
She died in 1894 and was buried at Bengeo on 27 June.
Rebecca Wray was baptised at Tewin on 18 August 1822 She married George Crawley at Hertingfordbury, Herts on 15 April 1852
George and Rebecca lived in the centre of the village of Hertingford Village (near the White Horse public house) all their lives. George was the local shoe and bootmaker and also, as the certificate above shows, the parish clerk. He was to hold this position almost to his death. The censuses tell a story of Rebecca taking in washing as a laundress (1871) and their two children, Jane Ann (bn 1854c) and Jasper George Crawley (1860).
1881 census for Hertfordbury
Cottage Garden Exhibition August 1862
George and Rebecca’s home - two doors away from the White Horse
August 1889
December 1894
7 September 1895
George died in September 1895. Rebecca was living in the six-roomed house with her sister, Elizabeth in 1911. She died towards the end of that year. Lydia Wray was christened at Tewin on 24 April 1825 at Tewin. She married Ambrose Slade at Bengeo on 13 May 1858
Immediately after their marriage, Ambose and Lydia were living at Gravenhurst, Beds where their first son, Henry, was born. It wasn’t long though before they moved to Ambrose’s birthplace of the sprawling village of North Curry, Somerset.
The censuses at Sedgemore, North Curry, S-set for 1861 and 1871
By 1891, the family had moved a little west and were living at Knapp, North Curry. In 1901, Ambrose was a mole-catcher. He died in early 1905 and Lydia (who had moved towards Bridgwater) in the spring of 1909. Their children were Henry (bn 9/1860 Beds.), Alfred Robert (6/1861 S-set), Mark Wray (9/1865 S-set) Elizabeth (12/1866 S-set) and John William (6/1871 S-set) Esther Wray was baptised at Tewin on 14 October 1827. In 1851, aged 26, she was a servant at Stanstead, Herts in the household of landed proprietor, John Soames. She married the self-employed carpenter, Amos Turner, at Bengeo on 16 September 1858
By 1861, they were living at North Nimms, Herts and had alrady started a family there. By 1862, they had moved to Hatfield and had five more children there between 1862 and 1874. From 1871 until the 1890s, theye were living at Woodside, Green Street, Hatfield. Amos (63) died in early 1898 and three years later, Esther was managing a lodging house at 3 Wellinton Road, Watford accompanied by her spinster daughters,Elizabeth and Alice. Her lodgers included an Irish CofE clergyman. Esther (81) died at Waford in the spring of 1909.
1871 census at Woodside, Green Street, Hatfield
Their six children were William (bn 9/1859 N Mimms), Elizabeth Jane (12/1862 Hatfield), Emily Sarah Hatfield), Julia Ellen Hatfield, Charles Henry (12/1869 Hatfield) and Alice Louise (3/1874 Hatfield).