Cowbridge in 1851

By Jennifer Ayto & Geoff Cordingley

Looking down Cowbridge before the Congregational Church was built
Mr Elsden, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Hertford Congregational Chapel (now United Reformed Church) built in 1852/3
Geoff Cordingley
Cowbridge House in the late 19th century
Mr Elsden, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Old cottages by the bridge over River Beane
Mr Elsden, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

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.

This page was added on 20/02/2014.

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  • Re your reference to the Irving family.

    Henrietta (mother in law on census, but likely mother) Irving 69, was the widow of John Irving and formerly wife of the Rev William Gwynne of Denton, Sussex. She was the daughter of William Augustus Gordon of Exeter, the grandfather of General Gordon. She was General Gordon’s aunt.

    By florence beetlestone (04/06/2022)