Books on Hertfordshire

Pre-Reformation Books on Hertfordshire

Books specifically linked to Hertfordshire and dealing with Pre-Reformation history are virtually non-existant. During my own researches into Bernards Heath, St Albans, I have scoured the libraries in the area, and these are the references I found of books which have a strong Hertfordshire element..

Virtually the only readable (to the non-specialist) modern books I have found are archaeology books starting with Keith Branigan's "The Archaeology of the Chilterns" published in 1994 by the Chess Valley Archaeological and Historical Society. This is followed by Keith's book "The Catuvellauni" published by Alan Sutton in 1987 - which describes the Iron Age tribe that inhabited the area around Hertfordshire immediately before the Roman Conquest. Keith also wrote "Town and Country: Verulamium and the Roman Chilterns" published by Spurbooks in 1973. More recently Rosalind Niblett (who has been actively involved in recent excavations) has published "Roman Hertfordshire" published in 1995 by Dovecote Press. Clearly these books, however interesting, contain no practical genealogical information.

The Dark Ages are dark indeed - at least as far as Hertfordshire books are concerned, and the next I have noted is the volume 12 of the Domesday Book, Hertfordshire, as published by Phillimore in 1976. It reproduces a printed version of the original text together with a modern translation. While few can genuinely trace their families this far back it provides interesting information on many of the towns and villages in Hertfordshire.

During the Middle Ages the most authorative sources are chronicles from the St Albans Abbey Library and a number of volumes were transcribed and printed in the 19th century with titles such as "Gesta Abbutum S. Albani" and "Monachi Sancti Albani Chronica Majora." These will be of little use to you unless you can read Medieval Latin.

Ada Elizabeth Levett's "Studies in Manorial History" was first published by the Oxford University Press in 1938 is a very academic book examining the medieval manorial records of the St Albans area. While it has many extracts from original documents, they are quoted in Latin. To be perfectly honest I found it unreadable - and for my purposes simply selected information on the manors that interested me.

"The Peasants' Revolt in Hertfordshire 1381" is a collection of specialist papers published in the 500th anniversary year by Hertfordshire Publications - and a number of the papers have been separately issued.

I am not saying that you won't find more specifically Hertfordshire material in a specialist medieval history library - but this will be mainly on specialised topics - say a single event or person linked to Hertfordshire - usually as a paper in a journal or a degree thesis. In many cases, especially with the older texts, the author will have assumed that the reader will have a knowledge of Latin.

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Page updated April 2005