ASHBY, Ayot St Lawrence, circa 1800

also Gamekeepers

May, 2008


Poachers Apprehended


See Poaching and Petty Thieving in St Albans

Peter Kerr (direcleit @t of  Bedford writes: William Ashby was my 3rd Great Grandfather and several of his sons, including my 2nd Great Grandfather George Ashby, were Gamekeepers and Farm Bailiffs. I am therefore attempting to discover whether William Ashby was employed as a Gamekeeper in Ayot St Lawrence and, if so, when and by whom.

I have visited the village and, from the descriptions of the enumerators, ascertained that two cottages were inhabited by gamekeepers from 1841. The later one appears to be 'The Ruins' but the earlier one was two doors away from the 'Publick House', although I am undecided as to in which direction!

My information has been gathered from the data held by and from a brief perusal of the Parish Records held at HALS.

First the cottages. HALS has a manuscript tithe map for Ayot St Lawrence drawn at 20 inches to the mile made in 1847 which will show every building in the village. Normally these maps came with details of the owners and occupiers of each property, but I am not sure whether HALS has this book. Next time you visit HALS arrange to look at this map on the map table, and it may help you identify the cottages mentioned in the 1851 census returns.

Now for Gamekeepers. They had to be licensed and HALS has the licensing records. Lists of registrations have been published in the 10 Volume Hertfordshire Country Records Series - which contains information from the Court Session Books and Rolls. The relevant published information cover the period 1700-1850.

  • Volume VII (1700-1752) - Records that Thomas Ashby was gamekeeper to William Cecil, Lord of the Manor of Tewin in 1713

  • Volume VIII (1752-1799) - Records that Perigrine Ashby was gamekeeper to Thomas, Duke of Leeds, of North Mimms in 1752

  • Volume IX (1799-1833) - no Ashby gamekeeper listed.

  • Volume X (1834-1843) - ? [I do not have access to this book.]

I don't know what records HALS has on gamekeepers after 1843. In addition I assume that the registration only covers the "head" gamekeeper, and some may have had a number of under-gamekeepers who I guess would not be required to be registered. Definitely all tenant farmers at the time would have had duties relating to their landlord's right to hunt on their land, and to the preservation of game.

In addition certificates for killing game were introduced in 1784 and were renewable annually for two guineas (2.10) for qualified persons and half a guinea for gamekeepers. I noted the following "qualified persons" for Ayot St Lawrence in Volumes VIII and IX:

Sir George Bolton Knight 1799-1800
Thomas Earl Gentleman 1797-1803
James Earl Gentleman 1800-1802
The Rev Philip Godfrey   1801-1803
The Rev Samuel Hornbuckle   1796-1799
Jonathan Morgan Esquire 1805
Charles Pinfold, Esquire 1803-1805
Sir John Turner Knight 1800-1801
Captain Alexander Ward   1804-1805

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

Page created May 2008