My Paternal Family
My 3 and 2xgrt grandparents: William and Mary (nee Humphreys) Ward and William and Ann (nee Bradden) Ward
My 3xgreat grandfather, William Ward was baptised at Hitchin on 26 May 1753 - the last child to be born to the labourer, Joseph Ward and his second wife, Elizabeth.
William was also a labourer and grew up in the large detached house beside the Red Lion and Preston Green (for details, link: Joseph Ward). On 25 July 1772, when he was aged nineteen, he married Mary Humphreys, the daughter of the Kings Walden labourer, who was baptised on 22 March 1752. Their witnesses were not family members and both William and Mary marked the parish record.
The couple had eleven known children between 1774 and 1798 who were baptised at St Marys, Hitchin. The family were living at the house by Preston Green in 1793 (Link: Temple Dinsley Manorial Roll) and William was noted in the Hitchin Rates Book of 1799. The rates were now 1/10d but William was exempted from paying them because of his low income.
William was noted at Preston in the 1801 census in a household with four males and three females. He died in November 1802 (aged only forty-nine) and was buried on 28 November at Hitchin:
His widow, Mary, experienced yet more sadness when her youngest child, Maria, also died little more than two months later in February 1803.
Mary had a daughter, Ann Ward, who married Matthew Gudgin and she moved with them to Barton in the Clay, Bedfordshire. They were all recorded at Back Lane in the 1841 census and there Mary died, aged eighty-nine and was buried on 26 July 1841.
The children of William and Mary Ward
My line continues via William Ward, baptised 23 June 1776. Samuel married Sarah Halsey at Codicote, Herts. They had two known children who were baptised at Hitchin (1800) and Knebworth (1810). It’s likely that they both died at St Albans, Herts. Mary was a spinster and lived at Back Lane, Preston, featuring in the 1841 census. She probably died later that year when she was living at Godlettes (sic) KIngs Walden. Joseph married Amey Hill at Ippollitts in 1828:
Henry, a labourer, married Rebecca Croft at Hitchin in 1809:
They had a daughter who was baptised at Hitchin in 1810 and appear to have moved to Langley, near Preston, as Henry died there in 1822, aged thirty-eight. Sarah married William Hilsden at Ippollitts in 1808. The couple had two children baptised there in 1809 and 1811.
Daniel, a labourer, married Ann from Therfield, Herts. There is not an available record of the marriage probably because there seems to be a Non-conformist influence in the family - some of their children were baptised at Hitchin’s Back Street Meeting House. The family were living at St Pauls Walden, Herts when the 1841 and 1851 censuses were taken and seven children were recorded. When Daniel died in 1860, he was living at Bendish, near Preston. Ann married Matthew Gudgin at Hitchin in 1820 (Richard Fairey was a witness):
The family moved to Barton in the Clay, Beds (which is around seven mile north-west of Hitchin). Ann’s mother, Mary moved in with them and died in that parish. James, a labourer, married Ann Randall at Hitchin in 1827:
The couple had a daughter who was baptised in Hitchin when the family was living at Back Street, Hitchin.
So, apart from William jnr and Mary, all the other surviving children of William and Mary did not settle in Preston. The possible reasons for this include a shortage of accommodation and work in the hamlet.
My 2xgreat grandfather, William Ward, was baptised at Hitchin on 23 June 1776. He spent his youth in the family home beside Preston Green.
William married Ann Bradden at St Marys, Hitchin in 1797. Ann was from a farm-labouring family who were living in the nearby hamlet of Charlton:
William and Ann settled in Preston. It is unclear exactly where they were living at first. This is their entry in the 1801 census of Preston:
This is the walk from the Red Lion (at the bottom, owned by Stephen Swain), turning the corner into School Lane. William Ward senior is still ensconced in the house on the corner (with a household of four males and three females). William Ward junior is next-door-but-one (where one male and two females were residing). The question is, had the corner house been subdivided by 1801 and was William junior living there as well as his father? There were only a few cottages along School Lane, and a number of families living in them. I’m inclined to believe that William jnr was living in the same house as his father. William junior does not appear in any lists of Preston in Hitchin parish in 1807, 1821 and 1825 - possibly because of his poverty. Yet, when his children were baptised at St Marys, Hitchin between 1798 and 1817, there appears to be an assumption that they were living in the parish of Hitchin. Also, when William’s wife, Ann, was buried in 1838, her abode was simply given as ‘Preston’.
In the 1841 and 1851 censuses, William was shown as living with his daughter, Hannah Sturges(s), and her husband at Back Lane, Preston. When they moved to Charlton, Herts. between 1851 and 1861, he accompanied them, as shown in the 1861 census. William died there 1866 and was buried at Hitchin on 23 April.
Burial at Hitchin in 1866
1861 census
1851 census
One fact stands out from these entries, if they are taken at face value: although William was baptised on 23 June 1776, he was born in 1770 - 1771 (ie before his parents had married.)
Grtx2 grandparents: William and Ann (nee Bradden) Ward
Various documents in the paper trail that relates to the hovels beside Back Lane reveal that William was certainly living there until at least 1830 - specifically in “the ‘formerly one cottage’ which sometime past was divided into two dwellings (A&B)”. They had a paltry manorial rent of 1d. Two more cottages (C&D) adjoined to the south-east side which were built on the garden of the original cottage. William Gentle and James Lines and then Ann Croft and William Sturges (sic) lived in these cottages. William likely lived in either cottage A or B until his wife died and in the next few years, moved to either cottage C or D, which is where his daughter, Hannah Sturgess, was residing with her husband, William.
The children of William and Ann Ward
Hannah married William Sturgin/Sturges(s), a labourer, at Hitchin on 24 December 1825:
They had three known children: Elizabeth/Betsy (born 1828), William (baptised at Hitchin in May 1833) and Ann (born 1840c). They had settled at Back Lane, Preston by 1833 and were still living there in 1851. They cared for Hannah’s father, William Ward, from the time his wife died until his death. In the 1850’s they moved to the nearby hamlet of Charlton. The 1871 census finds them in Skynners Almhouses, Bancroft Street Hitchin (shown right in 1910) - William was an almsman, receiving parish relief.
Hannah died in the early winter of 1875 at Hitchin, aged seventy-two. Hannah endured a life of poverty. Her story is told in the Removal Orders of Hitchin parish and the 1871 census. After marrying William Sturgess, the couple had three children. On 22 March 1838, when Hannah was living in Preston, there was an attempt to remove William from Hitchin parish to Houghton Conquest which was 12 miles to the north-west in Bedfordshire. It was recorded that Hannah was living in and chargeable to the parish of Hitchin. However, William was living at Houghton Conquest (having gained settlement in the parish because of living there and working for a local farmer,Thomas Armerage) and was in bed and too ill to come to Hitchin. He had become ill two years after their marriage and received parish relief for two weeks at Houghton Conquest. He had since lived at Hitchin. In 1831, William was again ill and received relief of three or four shillings (less than half a farm labourer’s weekly wage) for eleven or twelve weeks from the Houghton overseers, which was collected by Hannah who travelled to the parish every two or three weeks. During the year of the disturbances at Ampthill, William was out of work for fourteen weeks and received more parish relief from Houghton. The Hitchin overseers attempted to send William back to Houghton but this failed due to his continuing ill health. William Ward married Emma Wiltshire at Hitchin on 14 January 1832.
They had three known children: Eliza (baptised at Hitchin in 1834), Emma (bapt at Kings Walden in 1842; died 1843) and Mary Ann (born at Preston in around 1845). The baptism records and censuses show William and Emma living at Preston after their marriage until the 1850’s in the first house along School Lane from Preston Green (see right). In 1861 and 1871, they were living at Poynders End before moving to Hitchwood, where William was a woodman. He died in the summer of 1887, aged seventy-eight.
John Ward married Elizabeth Day at Kimpton, Herts on 6 April 1840:
The couple settled at Kimpton, but Elizabeth died in November 1842 and John, now a widower, was working for George Lake at Home Farm, Preston (on the Hitchin Road, opposite ‘The Cottage’) in 1851. John had several skirmishes with the law including the assault (mentioned later) – mainly because he was a poacher. In 1841, he and his brother, Thomas Ward, were charged with trespassing in search of rabbits on Harriet Saunderson’s land in Kings Walden. They couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the 20s fine (about two weeks wages) so both were committed to the House of Correction at Hertford for a month’s hard labour. In 1856, John was convicted in his absence of setting snares on land at Preston owned by Thomas Harwood Darton and as a result spent another month at Hertford. John Ward was also involved in the case of the arson attack on Parsonage Farm, Kings Walden in 1844. The accused was Charles Stevens (19) a labourer from Hitchin whose family had lived in Preston. John was a witness and was described as a labourer from Preston. This was his testimony: ‘I knew the prisoner from a child. I remember the fire at Mr Roberts’. On a Sunday about five weeks ago I saw the prisoner at Styles’ public house. There were several in the house. We drank together and left about half-past two o’clock in the day. Stevens left first and I followed him to his father’s house and had a bit of dinner with him. The prisoner’s father was there. The prisoner asked me whether I could keep a secret. I told him I thought I could. He said, “Then I’ll tell you what I’ve done” I set George Robert’s farm on fire on coming home from Frogmore. I struck a whole box of Lucifer matches and stuck them in the corner of the barn and ever since I did it I have not had a night’s rest and that’s the reason I listed for a soldier”. The prisoner had enlisted that morning. He said he could not sleep at night because the fire was always before his eyes. The prisoner’s father was in the house at the time but he is rather hard of hearing. The prisoner spoke low. I told it to Winch on the same night. I am on good terms with the prisoner’. During his cross-examination, John said: ‘That is the way I keep a secret (laughter). I don’t recollect who were in the beer shop. There were several there – perhaps ten persons. I don’t recollect exactly how long it is since he told me. I have been in trouble three or four times, but for nothing besides poaching; don’t recollect being charged with stealing two ducks and a drake; may have been, but if so it is a long time ago and I don’t recollect it. I don’t know if I ever stole a dung fork. I know Richard Roberts. I don’t recollect saying anything to him about a reward. May have said, “If I had told a lie, I would swear to it”. I don’t know what I expect to get for this case.’ On his re-examination John said that he had never heard any reward was offered. The judge during his summing-up said, ‘It would be necessary to see how far they could rely on the evidence of a man like Ward’. He also queried John’s powers of recollection and pointed out a discrepancy between Ward’s statement and the testimony of others. My line continues through Elizabeth who was the first sister to marry a Fairey (Samuel) at St Marys, Hitchin. Their family lived all their lives at Back Lane, Preston. Link: Samuel and Elizabeth Fairey. Catherine (aka Kitty) Ward also married a Fairey - Samuel’s brother, Thomas, at Hitchin on 5 December 1845. Two of her siblings were witnesses:
There is more information about William and Emma. They were removed from Hitchin parish in 1844. They had been living at Preston in 1841. William testified that when he was about fourteen or fifteen years of age he started working for Robert Harwood who owned Poynders End Farm at Ippollitts. He was paid a shilling a week and given board and lodgings - sleeping in ‘his master’s house’. Although William and Emma were removed to Ippollitts parish, by 1851 they were living again in the parish of Hitchin at Preston Green.
The couple settled at Ley Green, Kings Walden where Thomas was a labourer. They had four children who were all born at Kings Walden: Thomas (born 1846c), Rachel (1850), Emma 1852c) and Charles (1855c). Catherine died at Kings Walden in early 1879, aged sixty-three. After Catherine’s death, Thomas lived with his daughter, Rachel at Holly Cottages, Kings Walden but in 1891 he was in the Hitchin Workhouse. Thomas Ward married Charlotte Watson at Ippollitts on 7 February 1837:
Thomas and Charlotte initially settled at Back Lane, Preston and were still there in 1851 when Thomas was noted as ‘ill or relieved by parish’. They then moved to St Pauls Walden but by 1881 they had joined the exodus from the countryside to the town of Luton where he worked as a hawker and a grocer. They had eight known children: William (born 1838c), Sarah (1839c), Thomas (1840c), Margaret (1842c), Ann (1846c), James (1848c) Mary Ann (1852c) and Eliza (1856c). Thomas died in the summer of 1894, aged seventy-nine. In 1841, he and his brother, John Ward, were charged with trespassing in search of rabbits on Harriet Saunderson’s land in Kings Walden. They couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the 20s fine (about two weeks wages) so both were committed to the House of Correction at Hertford for a month’s hard labour. Then, in May 1845, Thomas was charged with assaulting his eighteen-year-old niece, Elizabeth Sturgess. It transpired that she was also guilty of assaulting Thomas and the case was dismissed – although Elizabeth had to pay the Court costs. Thomas Ward, was the victim of an assault in 1856. He alleged that at about eleven o’clock he discovered that his donkeys had strayed onto Mr Wright’s land and went into the field to ‘fetch them out’. Wright approached him and after an argument struck Thomas in the face and said he would thrash him if he didn’t ‘take himself off’. Wright was fined 5s and costs despite claiming that Thomas had kicked his leg. The Wards were not an entirely harmonious family. In July 1834, John Ward (and two of his brothers- in-law George and Thomas Watson) were fined for assaulting his uncle Daniel Ward and his wife Ann. John and George were each fined £4 10/- and Thomas was fined 6d.