Doolittle, Kings Langley, late 18th/early 19th century

May 2002



Kings Langley

Doo Little, Apsley End

Picture kindly supplied by Roy Wood

Wendy Dwight (wendyhome @t of Hemel Hempstead says I read with great interest the article re 1881 census and Doolittle.  My ancestors are actually the "Smiths" mentioned in the listings.  However can you please try and help me clarify exactly what was on the area prior to the cottages John Dickinson built at around 1826. My SMITHS occupied one of these.   In tracing ancestors I have found several mentioned as living at Doolittle prior to 1823 and 1810. Any assistance would be much appreciated.

They are also mentioned as being Boatmen.  Maybe there was a canal settlement prior to John Dickinson.  They are also listed in 1841 Census as being born in Bucks and in 1851 they are shown as Bletchley Bucks

I have wondered if their arrival in Herts maybe anything to do with the riots in Bucks.

Dury and Andrews large scale Hertfordshire map of 1766 clearly shows two buildings close to the river on a continuation of Shendish Lane in the area designated as Doolittle on later maps. I have marked the buildings in red, Doolittle meadow in green, and the River Gade in blue.

Bryant's map of 1822 shows the situation after the Grand Junction Canal had been built, but before the railway. There are two buildings marked at Doolittle, on ether side of a road that leads down from Shendish to the canal. These buildings appear to be those shown on Dury and Andrews map of 1766.

Doolittle Cottages were built by John Dickinson in about 1826 (see The Endless Web) and the main London to Birmingham railway line (opened 1837) diagonally crossed the Sparrows Herne Turnpike  Road immediately adjacent to the Red Lion. The above 1836 map, reproduced from Kings Langley, A Hertfordshire Village, shows, from north to south on the canal /river side of the railway line: Apsley Mill; Doolittle Meadow; the new Doolittle Cottages opposite the line of Shendish Lane; Nash Mill Meadow; and Red Lion Meadow.

The modern Doolittle Meadows Business Park may be mainly on the area shown as Nash Mill Meadow on the above map, but may include the area of the former Doolittle Cottages.


Prior to the canal opening there may well have been a number of boatmen in north east Bucks working the River Ouse. Once the canal opened in about 1800 there would have been a great increase in the need for boatsmens all along the canal, and particularly around the paper mills in the Gade valley. Your Smith ancestors may well have moved to Doolittle because there was better paid work there. In the early years of the 19th century you may be able to track them down in the Land Tax returns at HALS, although if they were in tied cottages the names of individual occupiers may not have been recorded.

August 2006

Keith Chandler (keithc650 @t writes: Further to the dating of the erection of Doolittle Cottages. Mahala Hunt, who was baptised at Kings Langley on 6 August 1826, claimed (at the date of the 1851 and 1861 censuses) her place of birth as 'Doolittle, Herts'. Her father, Abraham, given at various dates as 'Paper Maker', was presumably employed by Dickinson and lived in one of the Cottages.

It may well be that she was the first child to be born in the new cottages which were said to be built in 1826.

Wendy Dwight (wendyhome @t commented: I have also wondered this.  On checking the Baptisms at Kings Langley there are several which give their abode as Doolittle prior to 1826.  My ancestors are "SMITH" and there are several examples.  I have wondered where they lived prior to the cottages being built.

This could suggest that the buildings at Doolittle shown on earlier maps were residential.

see also: But Where is Doo Little?

for another possible link between Doolittle and papermaking see
GINGER, Kings Langley, circa 1800

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

March 2007   Page updated
November 2017   Postcard image added