NORRIS, Berkhamsted, 19th century

February 2001




PLEASE NOTE: When this question was asked the amount of information available online was very restricted and the only census available (on a CD) was the 1881 census. The answer given below should be carefully checked using the additional information now readily available online.

A posting from the earlier forum plus follow up replies

Diane Johns (johndian @t of Christchurch, New Zealand wants to find out more about Daniel & Sarah Norris whom I believe were the parents of Henry Norris who gave Berkhamstead, Herts, as his place of birth on Censuses 1851 & 1861 in Plumstead, Greenwich, Kent. From Parish Records I believe they were married in Bovingdon 1784 5 July. Henry was the sixth son of the couple and christening recorded Berkhamsted Parish Records. She asks what other information is know about them, including Daniel's occupation, where they lived, and where they might be buried??

To advise on what records will help you I really need to know which you have already seen. The relevant Berkhampstead/Berkhamsted (LDS index spelling/modern official spelling) registers have all been microfilmed and can be ordered and seen at your local LDS Family History Centre. In addition there are a wide range of other documents available on mircofilm through the LDS library catalogue (see familysearch) such as account books, etc., which could well contain references to the family - but which will not be indexed by name - so you have to look through them page by page.

To know which of the many documents would be best to look at first you really need to know something of your Henry's social status - and hence his father's social status. The fact that he moved from Berkhamsted to Plumstead. Kent, would suggest that he may have been an artisan (such as a stone mason engaged on church work, who would travel to the next building project) or a reasonably well-to-do tradesman/merchant. You possibly already have this information from the 1851 census - which will give his occupation, how many people he employed, if any, and any resident servants. The social status of his neighbours may also be a clue.

Considering the Berkhamsted situation I assume your Henry NORRIS is the one born to Daniel and Sarah NORRIS on 8 Dec 1804 and baptised on 6 January 1805. A quick check of the 1851 census shows that the name NORRIS was common in the area so one must be cautious, but the names of three brothers could be Joseph (baptised 1787), Daniel (baptised 1792) and Stephen (baptised 1796). You will need to check the Burial register of Berkhamsted (and Northchurch which is a parish which is closely associated with Berkhamsted) to make sure they didn't die in infancy.

I checked several sources of information on Berkhamsted.

  1. The 1851 census shows a 57 year old Daniel NORRIS (born Berkhamsted) with his wife Sarah H (47, born Madeley, Shropshire), and a son Daniel NORRIS (16, born Berkhamsted) and house servant, Elizabeth SIRETT (unmarried, 28, Hemel Hempstead). He was a miller employing 2 men and lived at Lower Mill, which was part of the parish of Berkhamsted but listed on the Northchurch return. This is almost certainly the Daniel NORRIS baptised in 1792.
  2. The 1850 Post Office Directory for Hertfordshire lists "LITTLEBOY & NORRIS, millers, Lower Mill"
  3. The 1839 Pigot's Directory for Hertfordshire lists two millers, George COOK at Water Lane, and Sarah LITTLEBOY at Lower Mill. In addition it lists a Mr Stephen NORRIS under "Nobility, Gentry and Clergy". This may be the Stephen baptised in 1796.
  4. The book "Berkhamsted, An Illustrated History" by Scott Hastie (Alpine Press, published 1999, ISBN 0952863111) reports "At Lower Mill William COOK was miller in 1832, subsequently the mill was leaded by the Ashridge Estate to the NORRIS familly. Lower Mill closed down earlier [than the Upper Mill] in 1900 ... because the River Bulbourne was drying up."
  5. The 1881 census shows that Richard R. NORRIS (53, born Berkhamsted) was living at Lower Mill with his family and live-in domestic servant. He was a miller (corn) employing 3 men.(LDS 1881 Census CD)

If your Henry NORRIS was a miller - or in a related trade - he is very likely to be from the same family. His father Daniel is likely to have had sufficient status in the town to pay rates, and possibly supply good or services to the overseers of the poor and be listed on land tax returns. This suggests the type of records you should be looking at.

Diane Johns (johndian @t replied: Great, thank you for prompt reply. Henry Norris gives his occupation as wheelwright in 1851 and 1861 Censuses. He married Ann Maria Clapham 1825 in Plumstead (copy of certificate held by my family) and have been able to get from Parish Records of St Mary Magdalene Church, Woolwich details of births of children, Ann Maria 1830 (my great grandmother) Sarah Jane 1827, William 1834 (yet to confirm Jane 1832), all giving his occpation as Victualller and gives age as 46 and 56 resp at time of each Census.
From Berkhamsted Parish records (LDS film) confirmed Daniel and Sarah Norris indeed had six sons Joseph b 1787 James b Aug 1789 Daniel b 1792 George b 1794 Stephen 1796 and Henry 1804 and three daughters Fanny 1785 Roda 1797, Esther 1802. It would appear three died as infants - no specific ages given - Roda, Joseph, and Fanny.
Realise there was another Henry Norris born to John and Sarah Norris 1805 but assumed his age at time of census 1851 1861 would not match??? Is this too much to hope for ?

There were 15 Henry Norris born in Hertfordshire at the time of the 1881 census. Your Henry Norris is almost certainly the 76 year old widower born "Berkhampton, Herts" and a pensioner Royal Arsenal, who was living in the house of his daughter, Sarah Giles, 51 year old widow born at "Worburd, Kent". The address is 19 Marlborough Road, Camberwell, Surrey. I suspect that if you look at the microfilm of the census you will find (a) it is very difficult to read, (b) "Worburd" is actually "Woolwich" and (c) "Beckhampston" is probably some spelling variation of "Berkhampsted". (Never rely on the census or its indexes to be 100% accurate.) What is quite clear is that a Pensioner of the Royal Arsenal would have worked at Woolwich - which is where the Arsenal was. Because the Arsenal made horse-drawn guns, etc., they would have clearly needed the services of a wheelwright.

If you return to the Berkhamsted registers (and recorded on the VRI) you find that John and Sarah Norris had four children Cassandra (born 1801), William (born 1802), Henry (born 1805) and John (born 1808). Names run in families and your Henry had a child called William. None of the names match the father/siblings of the other Henry Norris born in Berkhamsted at about the same time. It would therefore seem more likely that your ancestors were John and Sarah rather than Daniel and Sarah. Unfortunately it is unlikely that an examination of the microfilm of the baptismal registers will help, as occupation was only automatically recorded from 1813.

I note (from the VRI) that Cassandra married William Henry Pedley on 1st June 1820 at Bovingdon church, and from the 1881 census that there was a contemporary John Pedley living in nearby Hemel Hempstead who was a plumber. Neither the name Pedley or Norris appear on the 1841 census for Bovingdon.

When your great grandmother married - and also when Sarah married ?? Giles - the occupation of their father should be recorded on the marriage certificate.

Diane Johns (johndian @t  responded: Ahah! Value your experience in sorting such matters. Was conscious the names don't follow through from Daniel & Sarah's family - but noted in LDS film of Parish register for Berkhamsted James (wife Esther) and Stephen (wife Susannah) Norris give wheelwright as occupation when births of children recorded 1815 and 1820 respectively. Had thought it possible these were Henry's older brothers who took taught him trade before he left for London?? (Unsubstantiated I know!!)
Had also noted births to John & Sarah Norris (Henry 2nd son) and guessed at Sophia or some derivative instead of Cassandra for daughter's birth in 1801 - that name hasn't recurred in subsequent generations!
On the marriage certificate of Henry & Anne Maria his occupation is given as wheelwright, but he is recorded on birth records of children as Victualler, must have decided to try his hand at something different for a while?
Had also found the 1881 record (CD only) for Henry and daughter Sarah - but thrown off trail by Worbund, Kent!!!! Have not yet sought Sarah's marriage record but intend to now. And does this mean there would be a military record for Henry???
Thanking you for your help, Diane Johns..

As Henry was a Pensioner of the Royal Arsenal  I would guess there may be some record of him at the Public Records Office - but the information would be in manuscript documents so you would need to search in person, or get someone to do the research for you.


June 2001

Diane Johns (johndian @t  emailed saying  I have ordered 1851 Census films for Plumstead and Hertfordshire from local FHC and will continue search for siblings/parents of Henry. Won't pursue possible Military Records at this stage. Have had cursory look at Pigot's directory for Hertfordshire which I didn't realise was so readily available and found 'Mary Pedley and Sons High St Hemel Hemstead Painters and Glaziers' one of the sons probably husband of Cassandra

In addition to the entry you mention in the 1839 directory, there is a reference to Henry Pedley, High Street, Hemel Hempstead, in the 1823 Pigot's Directory under the heading "Plumbers, Painters and Glaziers". In the 1850 Post Office directory under Hemel Hempstead I note James Pedley, Queen Street, and John Pedley, High Street, both described as plumbers, painters and glaziers.









Berkhamsted, St Peter

The above burial reference comes from the National Burial Index and could well be the Daniel, husband of Sarah, who children were born in the late 18th century. There may well be other relevant entries.

Diane Johns (johndian @t  responded: My, but you have been busy?? Really impressed with National Burial Index - just when I was considering its purchase I found the list you produced for the Norris family!!! An invaluable tool though.

Daniel born 1762 died 1814, Parish St Peter Berkhamstead (LDS Film No 1040650) shows he was son of Joseph & Mary Noriss. Another son James born 1771 died 1845.

John Norris, born 1766 died 1838 was son of William & Elizabeth from same film source.

Children of Daniel & Sarah who died as infants not on that list - Roda (born 1797 died 1798),  Fanny (born 1785 died 1791). Joseph (born 1787 died 1806) was another son of Daniel & Sarah. Still working on identifying others.

Thanks for information on Pedleys - on entering names William and Cassandra Pedley into Family Search (LDS data base) I find 5 children born to a couple of those names in Selston, Nottingham!!! Ralph born 1808, Martha born 1812, Thomas born 1816, William born 1821, Mary born 1824. Coincidence??? Now to check them in the Census!!!

Curiously, the daughter of Henry (the cause of original enquiry!!!), Anne Maria first married a Robert Bell (tailor) whose family seem to have come from Marton Notts also in Royal Artillery and on pension living near Arsenal at Woolwich - in fact as many of them as there are Norris's in Hertfordshire!!!
Thank you again.

October 2001

Daren Norris (daren.norris @t says: I have carried out many years research into my ancestry. My ancestors were the Norris family in Berkhamsted from at least 1565 to around 1756.

If you give us more detail it might be possible to see if your Berkhamsted Norris family is linked to the above or the in the adjoining Northchurch family.

January 2004

Diane Johns (johndian @t provides another update: I have been able, thanks largely to FreeBDM site, accessed a marriage certificate for William, son of Henry Norris, married in Plumstead on Aug 26th 1854 to Sarah Adams, daughter of Benjamin Adams, also of Plumstead. Unfortunatey no Norris witnesses to marriage - but father Henry's occupation wheelwright. William's occupation, plumber. So far no information on marriage of Sarah Giles, the daughter Henry was living with in 1881 at time of Census. Perhaps, with persistence 2004 will be the year??

March 2004

Matt Wheeler of the Dacorum Heritage Trust writes: I have have two refs to Daniel Norris - grave inscriptions at the Friends Meeting House churchyard in Berkhamsted - one died in 1865 and the other on 26 June 1879

August 2007

Diane Johns (johndian @t writes: Progress on the dossier on Henry Norris born 1805 Berkhampstead, part of establishing his identity.

Addresses and occupation given at time of each child's birth:-

1827 New Rd Plumstead, Kent, Victualler.
1830 New Road Plumstead, Kent, Victualler.
1834 Green's End Plumstead, Kent, Victualler
1851 Mt Pleasant Plumstead, Kent, Wheelwright.
1852 Mt Pleasant Plumstead, Kent, wheelwright.
1854 wheelwright (son's marriage certificate)
1855 licensed victualler (daughter's marriage certificate)
1858 wheelwright (son's marriage certificate)

1830 - 1839 Henry Norris at "Fortune Of War", Green's End, Woolwich (License details yet to be found)

Census of England & Wales:-

1851 wheelwright Arsenal, born Berkhamsted Hertfordshire
1861 wheelwright born Herts, Berkhampstead
1871 wheelwright or wheeler born Herts, Northcup B'stead? (difficult to read)
[Northchurch, Berkhamsted]
(1874 wife Ann Maria died, his occupation, labourer to a wheelwright).
1881 pensioner of Royal Arsenal, living with Sarah Giles widow of Frederick.
No sign of Henry in 1891 Census and not been able to establish his date of death yet.

Unable to find Norris family in 1841 Census, as Kent not indexed, but have found possible references in Herts Census that could be Henry's brothers, William and John.
However, found his sister, Cassandra Pedley and husband William, coal merchant, were living in Hemel Hempstead.
Death Certicate for Cassandra Pedley, shows she died 1862 in Luton aged 60 years, wife of William Pedley master plumber, her son the witness.

I have a question. I have been sent the following from a fellow Norris researcher who lives in Herts.

From Hemel Hempstead monumental inscriptions -

"James TAYLOR and Sarah his wife of Crouchfield / also of Sarah daughter of the above and wife of John NORRIS Coal merchant of the same place who died July 12th 1815 aged 36 / also John son of the above who died in infancy / John NORRIS Coal merchant died April 24th 1832 aged 56 / also Henry NORRIS who died June 28th 1865 aged 57."

Would you agree then that I can now claim Daniel & Sarah (Fisher) as parents of Henry my ancestor, as this Henry lived and died in the county? My ancestor was still alive in 1881, living in Woolwich with of his daughters.

Am sending for the 1865 death certificate, hoping to confirm his being the son of John & Sarah and not some other relative

You can clearly eliminate the Henry Norris, son of John and Sarah as an ancestor - and the only other option we know about points to Daniel and Sarah being the parents of your Henry Norris.

Page updated August 2007