Answers to Questions


Hertford County Reformatory, Bengeo, circa 1900

May, 2007




Mahala Mehmet (mahalaosman @t of London writes: I am searching for a reform school in Bengeo, [maybe agricultural school] told a relative was there in 1901, run by a Mr Fish. Could you point me in the direction for background info. on this establishment, can't find any records on a2a but something about the establishment itself would be good.

The 1912 Kelly's Directory provides the following information under Bengeo Rural:

The Hertford County Reformatory. near Chapmore End, built by the late Abel Smith esq. and certified November 10, 1857, was enlarged in 1900, and is now (1912) capable of holding 100 boys, who are educated and employed in cultivating 75 acres of ground; it was registered as a limited company under the name of the "Hertford Reformatory Limited," 29 Jan. 1904, and is supported by a grant, payments from the local authorities sending the boys, and the labour of the inmates.

Reformatory Institution, Chapmore End, Ishmael A Fish, superintendent; Mrs Fish, matron.

The inmates of the Reformatory are listed in the 1901 census (and presumably other earlier censuses)

As the Reformatory was run by the Hertfordshire County Council (at least until 1904 when it became a limited company) there will be regular mention in the County Council minute books - at least relating to financially relevant matters. These massive books are not indexed at the paragraph level in the HALS index so will not appear in the A2A index for searches for the Reformatory. There will also be court records relating to cases where boys have been sent to the Reformatory - and again these are not indexed in at the individual case level on A2A.

 In fact if you search A2A for the HALS holdings simply looking for "Reformatory" you will find a number of references. There are a number relating to the building of the institution in the estate papers of Abel Smith. There is also a minute book for 1857-1859, and some other indexed records.

Your best bet would be to visit HALS in person and discuss with the archivist to find out which classes of document will include details of the "Hertfordshire Training School"

October, 2009

The Autumn 2009 issue of Herts Past and Present contains an article Crouchfield: A history of the Herts Training School, 1857-1982 and there is a book Crouchfield: A history of the Herts Training School available from HALS.

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

Page updated October 2009