Author Topic: The "other" Walby Family  (Read 4389 times)

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Offline Ann Walby

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The "other" Walby Family
« on: January 02, 2012, 11:21:23 pm »
There is a well known family of Walby butchers who were living in Hatfield in the 19th century and mid-way into the 20th.    In fact I believe they went back to before 1760 as I found a mortgage deed for this date relating to property in Hatfield.   This family was well known and you see them and their shop featured in history books.  At the end of the 19th century 19% of the Hatfield population had the name of Walby.  So who were all these other Walbys?   

Well here is some news of another Walby family.  The 1841 census shows that William Walby b. 1785 and my GG great grandfather was living in Wild Hill working as an agriculture labourer.   This William b 1785 was born in Stevenage and here most likely is the tie up with butcher Walbys as they came from Aston.   Aston is very close to Stevenage and may well have in the Stevenage parish at the time.   Wlliam having moved from Stevenage was living next door to several workers for the Camfield Estate, so it's a possibility he was working at the Camfield Farm.     His son George Walby b. 1819 and so my GG Grandfather married Phoebe Ellis from Toddington and moved to Back Street Hatfield and later to Park Street where the Butcher family also lived.   George was an agricultural labourer and beer seller, meaning they sold beer, but it was not consumed on the premises.  His wife Phoebe later opened a bpnnet shop in Park Street and then later a sweet shop towards the end of 19th century.  I was always told as a child that there was no connection between the two families, but I never believed it until I found out that 19% of Hatfield had the name Walby by the end of the century.   However records show afterall a close connection.  Haven't quite put my finger on the exact tie-up.

William b. 1785 had another son William b. 1815.   His wife Dianna Walby, born Harrow in Hatfield opened the Cyclists Rest at Millwards Cottages in Essendon.   Cycling became a real craze at the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th century. In 1871 Dianna is living as a widow, occupation is needlewoman. She is living with her 81 year old Mother who was an almswoman, widow of an agricultural worker.   This I have taken to mean that she was living in an alms house, although none of the neighbours appear to be in receipt of alms.   The census for 1891 shows  Dianna Walby as the proprietor of the Cyclists Rest at Millwards Cottages.   This may well not have been the same premises as her previous residence.   I had noticed in 1871 that next door property was a General Store.  In 1891 at the Cyclists Rest she is being helped by her grandaughter, Catherine Saunders b. in Much Hadham  and working there as a waitress.  The Cyclists Rest was a Coffee Tavern.  It is listed in Kellys Directory of 1894.   

To jump back to William b. 1819 and later living in Park Street.  He had two very interesting sons.  One, Joseph born 1850 and the other William born 1844.    Joseph my Great Uncle became a gamekeeper.  He didn't stay in Hatfield.  He went to County Antrim in 1870 where he met and married Sarah Percy.   He returned to London, then travelled around Hampshire and Oxfordshire bettering his position as gamekeeper.  He eventually became a keeper for Trusmore House in Oxfordshire (now pulled down.)  At the time it was indeed a prestigious house to work for.  A relative has recently found a photograph of him in a book relating to his occupation.    It has even been said that Flora Thompson made a study of his family to include in Larkrise to Candleford.

His brother William b. 1844, my Great Grandfather was born in Essendon (before his parents moved to Hatfield.)  Here a reader this might be able to help:

His first child was born in Green Lanes, Hatfield in 1868.    Green Lanes leads to Brockett Park - so was he an underkeeper there?   Did he learn his "keeping" skills at that Park?    In 1871 he was living at 1 Kentish Lane, and is described on the census as gamekeeper.  I can't seem to identify this property for this date.  Any ideas?

He married Sarah Webb.   Her Father was William Webb b. 1819 and is cited in Peter Kingsford's book regarding the episode where William was one of the principal witnesses of a murder of a young boy of 14 by a poacher at North Mimms when Falke Greville was squire.     I can't find out where this family went after that date.    I have read posts that some of the North Mimms census returns went missing.   Sarah was born Webb in North Mimms and is the right age for the census of 1851.  I can't find any of them in 1861.

However via a newspaper article of 1890 - I see that Sarah Webb's mother was living in Potters Bar on the 8th February 1890.  This article is an orbituary of Sarah's husband my G Grandfather who died at age 46 after a tragic gun accident The newspaper report is of the Inquest held on 9th February 1890 at The Swan Inn, Bell Bar.  It is a narrative account of events leading up to the accident and also events around the accident.  One was that Sarah was on her way Saturday 8th February 1890 to see her Mother in Potters Bar.  So we know where Mother was in 1890.  The article gives a detailed picture of life at that time.

The story of what happened had been told to me 60 years after the event.   It was a story so tragic that I burried it completely, until another researcher sent me the title Shocking death of gamekeeper William Walby at Bell Bar.  Having sent for the article but before I received it, the story came back to me little by little of what I was told when I was 12 years old.  I felt as distressed about it as I had at the time.

Most of William's children were born at Hoppetts Wood and it has taken a long time to establish who Hoppetts Wood belonged to at the time.  I now know it belonged to Camfield Place and the family lived at the Keepers Cottage where William was a gamekeeper.   At the time of the accident however he was working for Warren Wood, just below Camfield Place, and it may have been a combined job between the two estates as both by that time reasonably small.

Warren Wood was owned by Charles Butler an Insurance millionaire, who also lived at Connought Place in London, close to  Hyde Park.   He was an Historian, scholar, manuscript and Art collector.  He owned a painting of Elizabeth 1 and Florentine icons.  Some of his collection he lent to the Royal Academy and there are published letters between himself and the R.A.   

Fourteen months after William's death, in 1891, Sarah is living in Woodfield Lane, surrounded by workers.  She has no occupation and a widow with her four youngest children between 12 and 5 years.  Would she then have been living in a tied cottage belonging to Woodhall House opposite and why would she be there if William had been working for Warren Wood further up the road. 

Another 10 years go by and I find Sarah in Potters Bar in 1901 and 1911 with a euphamistic laundry business.   This is another term for taking in washing.  The four younger children are still with her, all helping with the washing.   In 1911 there are two offspring still there in 4 rooms.  I can't begin to think of what life must have been like.  Constant wash tubs, constant drying and steam in the house and all that ironing.   Sarah died in 1913 at 63.

There's not room here, but will save for a future episode the story of George Walby b. 1871 who was the most remarkable of all and how very proud Sarah his Mother must have been of him.

Saved for another time also is the tie up between the Walby family and the Lawrences who for over a hundred years ran the Woodman Beer House at Wild Hill and where I first went in 1948.   I'm sure many of you know it.

Ann Walby b. 1939


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Re: The "other" Walby Family
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2012, 08:55:30 am »
Hi Ann,

This is an excellent piece of local history. Well done carrying out so much detailed research. I have copied it over to our history section, formatted it and added links.  You can check the piece by clicking on the link below.

Please let me know if that is okay (I have mailed you to check, too).   If you find any pictures that are copyright-free or released under Creative Commons, we can add those, too. Looking forward to the next episode.


Note: Sorry for earlier broken links due to a typo on my part. Now fixed and working.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 09:31:00 am by David Brewer »
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Offline nigel fisher

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Re: The "other" Walby Family
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2015, 10:32:41 pm »
Hello Ann, Joseph born 1850 and  Sarah Percy  born 1849 were my Great, Great Grandparents. My Mother Noreen born 1935 was a Walby.  I have a pretty complete direct  familly tree from then to present day. However I am looking for further information on George Walbys  Mother who was married to William born approx 1785 and the Walby History before them including his wifes ?  Also on Sarah Percy's  familly in Ireland. I think her parents were William S Percy born 1826 in Co Antrim who was a Park Keeper and Mary Ann Crawford born 23rd June 1820. Best Regards. Nigel Fisher