As with the previous two centuries, the number of documents held at the Hertfordshire Record Office concerning land and property transactions is considerable. Unless of particular interest I shall not itemise each individual transaction, but merely detail the names of families and individuals associated with specific properties and parcels of land within our study area for the benefit of family historians. Should the reader wish to discover more concerning these transactions they should consult the documents held at the Hertfordshire Record Office (HALS)
For a map showing the principle lanes and dwellings in the 17th century click here.
It is worth noting how little the pattern of our roads has changed for many hundreds of years. Other roads have been added, and some have been changed slightly, but the principle roads and lanes shown on this map can still be traced - even if as a footpath - on a modern O.S. map of the district. It is therefore hardly surprising that roads -albeit widened and straightened here and there - which developed with foot, ox and horse transport in mind, have difficulty in coping with the internal combustion engine of the late 20th century!
The principle changes which have been made largely relate to the building of the M1 which cut a swathe through the lanes which travelled from Westwick Row and Green lane, cutting Leverstock Green off completely from Gorhambury. Cores Lane (later known as St. Albans Road and Bennetts End Road) was effectively by-passed by the new dual-carriageway which runs parallel to it for much of the way and running into Breakspears Way which follows a similar line to the lane shown to the south of Breakspears. Hagdells Lane has completely disappeared for most of its length, and Pease Lane has been broken into two roads with a stretch of footpath forming the link. i.e Malmes Croft (first part) - the footpath running alongside Ulswater and down by the tennis club - Peascroft Road. Similarly the original length and route of Leverstock Green Road which followed the Roman Road from High Street Green through to Bedmond can still be walked, and can be driven along for most of its length - though not continuously.
It is worth remembering that spellings varied enormously, and that not all of the properties existed simultaneously, although the majority were all in existence by the mid to late 17th century. For example, Stonards was known to have disappeared by the end of the 16th century; Westwick Hall and King Charles II Cottage were not built until the mid to end of the 17th century; and The Leather Bottle; The Red Lion, & The Rose & Crown probably didn't come into existence until the very end of the 17th century or the beginning of the 18th.
The 17th century was the beginning of a real bonanza of documentation concerning the people and property in our area, and the above mentioned map should help when trying to understand the various entries included in The Chronicle. As with the later twentieth century, the number of legal documents of one kind or another which appear to have proliferated ensured that any "Council learned in the law" would have found himself with plenty of work and financial security. The documents themselves reflect the prosperous lifestyle of both the owners and occupiers of the various properties in the region. Particularly after the Restoration, it was a time of both financial and social stability for nearly everyone. Poverty did exist, but in this prosperous agricultural area in an age before industrialisation, it was relatively rare.
Those who had any social standing, not just the members of the peerage, but the local squires and gentlefolk, led comfortable and well ordered lives. Until the time of the agricultural and industrial revolutions which began at the end of the 18th century, it was also a time generally of relative prosperity for the common folk of Hertfordshire, in what was rapidly becoming the "bread basket for London". Most of these folk worked on the land. In fact work was generally easily come by either on the land or "in service". Although agricultural labourers were not paid a great deal, their basic needs, by the standards of the time, were supplied. This was in contrast to many areas of the country where forced enclosures had taken place, and arable land as well as common land, had given way to enclosed fields for sheep and cattle farming, which required less labour, and gave less opportunity for supplementing income from grazing their own stock on common land. As early as 1549 Bishop Latimer had protested against the new landowners and the enclosures, ending his speech with these words:
"....Today the tenant has to pay 16 pounds a year, or more; he is unable to do anything for his children or the poor. All the raising of rents and rearing of sheep and cattle bring profit only to the landowner." [S274]
Fortunately for the common folk of the Leverstock Green area the land had been heavily tilled since Saxon times and before, and was more productive arable land. Although by the end of the 17th century, much of the land belonged to the big estates of Gorhambury and Langleybury, this change in the manner of landownership had been more gradual than in other parts of the country.
The land in the area of Leverstock Green was considered then, as it is now, as an easy springboard for London's attractions. Being a very prosperous and rural location, yet within easy travelling time of the metropolis. It attracted many people to buy land and property in the area. The names which appear on many of the conveyance documents of the time refer to wealthy merchants (e.g.. Goldsmiths and Leather sellers),lawyers, doctors and others who wished to invest their wealth, and in some instances find themselves a comfortable rural retreat, close enough to London to enable them to carry on their business or take part in it's social life. A comparison of the names of those purchasing land in our area of study, with those similarly employed in the Hemel, St. Albans, Abbots Langley, Kings Langley and Watford areas frequently throws up the same people, or close members of their families.
The land itself was farmed for the most part by local families, who often also had small holdings of their own. Life was generally comfortable for everyone by the standards of the time. It was for the most part not until the mid to late 17th century that the smaller farmers and landowners sold out to the larger landlords such as the Grimstons. With many different landowners (be they freehold or copyhold), and a great many tenant farmers, mountains of legal documentation was created, a fair proportion of which has survived to enlighten us in the twentieth century.
Anyone who has read the "History of Hemel Hempstead", edited by Susan Yaxley, will have come across various entries for a 17th century Quaker Meeting House at Cross Lane, which was given as being in Wood Lane End, and therefore within our area of study.[S1 p253] In actual fact this meeting house was not in Wood Lane End but at Wood End, which was nearer to Woodhall Farm, on the road to Redbourne from Hemel. The Quaker's site being very clearly marked on the Gorhambury Estate map of 1766, which also clearly showed Wood End (a small hamlet) and Cross Lane.[HALS D/EV/P2]
In order to assist anyone trying to trace their family history, I have listed below the families and individuals known to have been associated with various properties during the 17th century. The exclusion of a particular property from the list does not necessarily mean it did not exist, merely that as yet I have come across no specific reference to it as yet. This is particularly true of some of the properties which were freehold for most of their existence (such as Westwick Cottage and the property which was on the site of todays Westwick Farm until the 1850's), and therefore title deeds etc.. were held by individuals rather than owners of large estates. It is the deposit with solicitors and later the Record Office of large quantities of legal documents relating to the various large estates such as those belonging to the Grimstons, the Earls of Bridegewater and the Gingers ( a family of Hemel Solicitors in the 17th century) to whom we are indebted for much of our present knowledge.
Hillend and Stones Hall:
The Marston family, Richard Adams (or Adhames), Homfrey Lowe, George Lowe, Henry Smythe (Smyth or Smith), John Michell junior, Elias Hickes (or Hicks), Jonathan Parker, The Coningsby family, William Wethered, the Edmonds family, George Tooke, Dame Jane Bacon, Sir Thomas Meautys, William Norris, Joshua Lomax, the Michell family, Sir Harbottle Grimston, Joane Sone and her son Joseph, John Dorvell, Nicholas Hawkins, William Russell.[ GORHAM 1E9 - 1E 49] and William Smith. [ HALS 1A 68 ]
Megdells, and its associated lands:
Thomas and Martha Peacock, Walter Hawgood, John Hawgod, Roger Hawgood and Elizabeth his wife, their son Roger Hawgood, Richard Byrchmore senior, Richard Byrchmore Junior, Gowin Dyer and his wife Margaret, Thomas Tyler, Joseph Tyler and his wife Ann, and Henry Wheat. [HALS IG4 - IG18a]
Wards or Kettlewells:
Nicholas Kettlewell, Daniel Kelsey and Sarah his wife, Richard Younge, Jeremy Gould and Mary his wife, Richard Halsey and Mary his wife, Henry Smyth (or Smith) and Ann his wife, Thomas Kentish, William Kentish and Elizabeth his wife, Henry Smith junior and Richard Smith, George Lowe, and John Field.[HALS IK1 - 1K14]
Westwick Hall, (not built until after 1658):
John Waller and his son Samuel.[HALS 1L3-1L7]
Westwick Row Farm (not necessarily just the homestead, but some of the lands later associated with the farm) : The Lasebye family, the Finch family (The lands were divided in 1611 between the two families), Peter Bennett, Thomas Trott, William Howe or Howes ( also referred to inaccurately in one document as William Lowe) [HALS 1M14 - 1M51a]
Various parcels of land in the Westwick Row area not previously mentioned:
Richard Smithe or Smyth, Edward Young, Thomas Knighte, John Marston, Robert Lazeby, William Prior, John Crosbye, Walter, Thomas and Daniel Finch (or Finche).[ HALS 1L 19 - 1L31 ] (The entries previously mentioned were thought to be in connection with lands at some time connected with Westwick Hall)*** Richard Lasebye, Robert Lasebye Senior, Robert Lasebye Junior, Richard Milwarde, Walter Lasebye, Richard Haynes, Thomas Fynch, William Longe, John Longe, Richard Hannell (or Hanill),Joseph Hannell(or Hanill), Hannah Hannell, Matthew Hannell, James Hannell, (For information on the Hannell family click here.) William Kentish, John Buckmaster, John Dell, Thomas Fletcher, Thomas Bray and Jone,(Joan) his wife, Henry Smith, Richard Cheslyn, William Howe.[HALS 1M14 - 1M51a] (The entries from *** were thought to be in connection with lands at some time connected with Westwick Row Farm.)****
Ralph and Elizabeth Marston, Hannah and Joseph Morris (Hannah was sister to Elizabeth Marston) [HALS 1M68]
Lawrence Farm (Bottom House, off Green Lane.) :
Messrs King, Fenton & Hitcham; Francis Bacon, Thomas Kentish [HALS ICIa -10] For a map of Lawrence Farm click here.
John Long and his family.[HALS 1M33] The Longe family [ S294]
Associated with various parcels of land thought to be within the parish of Hemel Hempstead, but not otherwise listed here, were:
Robert Laseby, William Long and his widow Mary [HALS 1M33]
The Puddephatt family, members of the Longe family [S294]
Elkanah Settle [HALS 14397] and Elland Settle [HALS 80745] Possably this was the same person as `The History of Hemel Hempstead' notes that Elkanah was the son of John Settle and his wife, a barber in Market Street Hemel. Elkanah "practised as a barber surgeon in Hemel Hempstead, and for a time in London. He prospered and acquired considerable property, including Tile Kiln House with some 28 acres of land, the Ship Inn in Market Street and other land at Piccotts End; in 1654 he was elected Bailiff. He took an active part in the fight for the market rights and was a trustee of Boxmoor. In his youth he was not averse to a little sport, and was presented to Quarter Sessions on a charge of poaching. He died intestate about 1683 at the ripe old age of 87". [S1, p.74] Roger Partridge and his daughter Sarah [S294]
Carpenters Farm (Leverstock Green Farm):
James Marston and Dorothy Marston his mother, Richard Long a mealman from Abbotts Langley, his son Jeremiah and Jeremiah's wife Mary, Thomas Carpenter, Elizabeth Pope, William Morris, John Hawkins. [HALS 80740-80748]
William Long and Henry Long ( same family as John Long of Cockespond, William was John's father) [HALS 1M25 & 1M27] Sara Long (the widow of Henry Long) [HALS 80745; S1 p74] and possibly Daniel Lea [HALS 80745, 80755 & 80756 and others]
The Childe family; Edward, Lord Bruce of Kinloss, his son The Rt. Hon. Thomas Lord Bruce, Sir James Fullerton & his wife Magdalen ( former widow of Edward Lord Bruce), William Knolton; John Grubo; John Kinge & John King the younger; Timothy Windsor; and various other numerous persons connected with the property by reason of mortgages or trusts. (See section on Chambersbury.) [HALS docs.71528 -71558] For a history of Chambersbury click here. The Manor of Market Oake, alias Market Dole, alias Leverleystock ( or Leverstock Green: For a map of hte Manor of Market Oak click here. For a history of the Manor click here.
William Hatche, John Feild, Daniel Finch and his wife Susan Doggett, Stephen Pope, John Feild and Mary his wife, Sir Harbottle Grimston, Robert Spriggins, Richard Peacock, Edward Griffith, his daughter Ann and his Grandson Francis Dorrington, John Husser, James Greene. See section below concerning Market Oak. [HALS 78474-8; HALS IN1-33b]
Blackwater Pond House:
Thomas Wells; Thomas Feilde; Various members of the Feilde or Field family; Abraham Turner. [HALS IN13, IN22-23; IN31-IN33b]
Along with the many legal documents drawn up particularly in connection with land and property transactions, another helpful source of information on the inhabitants of the area are the various parish registers, which from the 17th century onwards have largely survived. Indeed some of the registers are still available from the 16th century, Abbots Langley's register dating back to 1538. These documents can be extremely tantalising as occasionally they give considerable detail about the place of residence or occupation of the persons mentioned. At other times they give just the bare fact of a person's name which can be inconclusive unless one is able to trace each individual family tree. St. Mary's register in Hemel Hempstead is generally more informative than St. Lawrence's Abbots Langley. The latter almost never gives any details as to the residence of the people recorded as having been baptised, married or buried within its domain. St. Michael's registers regretfully no longer exist prior to 1643. However, although it would be both misleading and probably inaccurate to cite all the entries of familiar names cropping up within the registers, some of them are worth noting.
Unfortunately, because the Leverstock Green area was split between three parishes (or four if you count Redbourne), and the parish was the usual form of address allocated to any individual, the information to be gleaned from these registers is incomplete. There are many instances when an entry without doubt refers to a resident of the Leverstock Green area, referring to Jo Bloggs of Leverstock Green or William Puddephat of Bennetts End. There are also many entries which refer to residents of the Leverstock Green area, but only the Clerk who made the entry at the time would know this, not giving any additional information in the entry. Where the registers give a positive identification I have included that entry in the text, however there are many entries in the registers which I felt were highly likely to have referred to local residents, but as the register was not conclusive I have omitted them from The Chronicle unless other evidence was available to support their inclusion.
An additional complication arises with the St. Mary's registers, as up until March 1614, the entries were made from January to January, and not as you would expect from March 25th - March 24th. In 1614, however, they revert to the Julian order as I would expect. (See Chambersbury News, - A Note About Dates - June 1995.) As no one seems to have an explanation for this, I have assumed that the various Clerks who made the entries were conforming to local practice. I have accordingly, assuming the order of the entries to be correct, put the date they were registered in as the 2nd year and not the first. e.g. if the register stated January 1605, I have listed it under January 1604/5 rather than 1605/6.
The seventeenth century saw the first mention of brickmaking and tile making in High Street Green and Tile Kiln Lane Areas since the 13th century. (A Chapman family [ no relation ] were the principal family involved, but appear to have lived in Queensway ( then Saffron Lane ) and Boxmoor. The clay around here was very good, making hard bricks. Eventually bricks known as Leverstock Reds, (they were multicoloured,) were produced, (date not given, possibly next century ) by the Acorn Red Brick Co. ( This is where St. Albert the Great School now is at the end of Acorn Road, and now technically in Bennetts End.) [ S1 - p. 87 ]
John Speed published his map on Hartfordshire (correct spelling for the early 17th century!) The detail on the map was very limited and showed very little. It did show the boundary between Dacorum Hundred and Caisho (later Cashio) Hundred. The only places to be shown within our study boundaries, were Westwike (Westwick) and Hill End. I don't feel the surveying done by Speed was particularly accurate, as the position of Gorhambury in relation to Redbourne and St. Michael's seems a little odd. Also the scale seems somewhat inaccurate. Therefore, apart from telling us that Westwick and Hill End existed, I don't think this map can tell us anything positive.
According to the currant Listed building schedule, during the Mid/Late 17th c. - Hill End Farm Cottages were built. (They were known as Stones Hall - see entry for 1696) Breakspears in Green Lane was also built at this time. (This should not be confused with Breakspears Farm in Abbots Langley which was the birthplace of Nicholas Breakspear. That house in Abbots Langley was demolished earlier this century, but there is a great deal of documentary evidence concerning it which can be confusing.) [ S33 ] However, documentary evidence already cited suggests earlier dates for both houses, unless, they were completely rebuilt. [HALS 1E8- 1E35]
Throughout the country many homes were rebuilt, (not necessarily in their entirety, but effectively reconstructing the earlier medieval building so it becomes almost impossible to tell that the building predated this phase). The concept of the "Great Rebuilding" was first put forward by W.G. Hoskins (author of The Making of the English Landscape"). Essentially the open halls of medieval buildings were divided up, and floors and ceilings inserted to turn one great hall into a number of smaller rooms in order to give greater privacy. We know this happened with both Westwick Cottage and Westwick Row Farm, and it may well have happened with many other local buildings as well. In fact recent dendrochronology tests undertaken on Westwick Cottage have firmly dated the earliest parts of the cottage to the twelfth century, and work undertaken at the same time on Westwick Row Farm suggests a 14th century date1 - also much earlier than had previously been thought. [S298]
Modern technology and increasingly more accurate data bases of information are enabling architectural historians and archaeologists a much clearer picture of our buildings than ever before. For anyone who watched the recent BBC series "The House Detectives" they will be familiar with the idea of how it is possible to trace the history of a building, often far further back in time than was originally thought, as small traces of earlier features are left in situe. What appears on the outside, or even on balance on the inside, to be an 18th or 17th century structure can turn out to be very much older indeed. Many of us, my family included, have altered and extended our homes to suit our convenience, rather than that of the previous occupiers. Our Stuart predecessors were the ones who started the ball rolling.
This change in architecture - which applied to new buildings as well as to alterations made to existing ones, both reflected and led to social changes which were occurring during the Tudor and Stuart period. The extended family which was a feature of medieval life (where several generations and sometimes more than one family, lived together communally under one room; sleeping on pallets laid on the floor at night), was superseded by the modern nuclear family in which each member (or couple) wants their own room, and their own "space" (and often their own bed!).
Recent work undertaken by Professor Colin Platt of Southampton University suggest that there were two rebuildings; one from 1570-1640, and a second (after the turmoil of civil war and the Commonwealth), which began in 1660. Anyone who is particularly interested in the history of buildings (social as well as architectural), should read Professor Platt's book: "The Great Rebuildings of Tudor and Stuart England" published by UCL Press in paperback at £13.95 - the library should have a copy.
The rear wing of Beechtree Cottages on the Hemel Hempstead Road, was built at this time. The Cottages now are listed buildings.[ S32 ]