Cowbridge in 1851
By Jennifer Ayto & Geoffrey Cordingley
The 1901 census for Cowbridge exposed the fact that many of the residents were not born in Hertford – or even Hertfordshire. The 1851 census has some similar surprises.
The most affluent household in Cowbridge was that headed by James Walker a 51 year old “Landed Proprietor and Annuitant”, born in Scotland, enumerated with his three sons, James, born in Italy, Herbert born in Switzerland and Henry, born in London. Their tutor, James Keane, a teacher of modern and classical languages was born in Ireland. Mrs Walker does not appear on the census for Hertford and may have been visiting with a younger child as the youngest son (Henry) was 5 years old. The census recorded a nursery-maid, born in Hertingfordbury and a lady’s maid, born in Berkshire. A house servant (born in Somerset), a cook (born in Sussex) and a housemaid and kitchen maid (both born in Bengeo) completed the household.
Another household with servants was that of William Irving, the Assistant Reading and Writing Master at Christ’s Hospital who was born in Southampton enumerated with his wife, Elizabeth, born in Sussex. Their four children were born in Hertford as were the two servants but William’s mother, Henrietta, described as a “Fundholder” was born in Devon.
Many of the tradesmen and their families were born in Hertfordshire. Thomas Grimes, a butcher, and his wife and Frederick Raw, a greengrocer, with his wife and two children were all born in Hertford. It would seem that greengrocery was a family trade as Ann Raw, a widow, was enumerated as a green grocer in St Andrew’s Street and although her son was recorded as a fishmonger there was also Alfred Raw, a greengrocer in Parliament Row. However, there are others who were born out of the county such as Robert Lewis, a tallow chandler from Wales and Robert Roberts, a pork seller, born in Norfolk as was his wife. Also from Norfolk was Mary, the wife of John Vincent, a journeyman miller who was born in Suffolk.
By contrast with the apparent affluence of the Walker household, the Coachmaker’s Arms Lodging House in Cowbridge housed, on census night, sixteen tramps, names, ages and origin unknown.