The first census transcript to become available was the 1881 Census and this page was originally prepared to show one way in which the CD could be processed.


1881 Census

But Where is Doo Little?

One of the problems with the census is that the place of birth given is often the place given by the respondent - which might be the name of a large town, a parish, or a tiny hamlet or farm. Even worse, if the census enumerator does not know where the place is, and the respondent cannot read or write, the spelling may be pretty erratic. Unfortunately, while the place name you seek may be part of an address, the CD-rom does not allow you to search on the address field. [NOTE: The latest version of the viewer does allow searching for any character string.]

When you have an unidentified place of birth name the following examples shows that a search for other people born in the same place can help you to identify the area from which the place name come from, and possibly even identify the place itself.

I was searching the 1881 census for something completely different when I noted that a Walter COLEMAN, a 19 year old wholesale provision clerk living at 12 Albert Street, St Pancras, London had given his place of birth as "Doo Little, Herts." I decided to see whether I could use the 1881 census to find out where "Doo Little", bearing in mind that the place is not even listed on my street map of Hertfordshire.

The first thing to note was that Walter COLEMAN was living with his brother, William H COLEMAN, a 24 year old retail provision merchant who was born at "Two Waters, Herts."

A search of the CD-ROM containing people living in Hertfordshire came up with 223 COLEMAN - which was considered too many to scan to see if any were living at "Doo Little."

A search of the 4 CD-rom covering Greater London and the Home Counties for people born at "Doo Little" or variant spellings such as "Doolittle" came up with the following people.

There was a 25 year old tanner, David MUTTON boarding at a house in Dartford, Kent, but in addition there were the following people in Hertfordshire born there. Sarah PALMER, a 54 year old straw plaiter, born "Doo Little" was living at Puller Road, Hemel Hempstead, with her husband, the 57 year old John PALMER, a mill sawyer born at "Crouchfield, Herts" [A road close to Puller Road]

Living at Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead was the widow Maryann BATCHELOR, a 63 year old factory hand envelope [maker], Mrs Eliza MULLEN, a 59 year old paper sorter, and a 40 year old labourer at the paper works called Frederick SMITH. Mrs Emma BATES, the 48 year old wife of an envelope maker, and Miss Elizabeth MULLER a 61 year old paper sorter lived in Weymouth Street. George CHEALES was a 60 year old stoker at the paper works living in White Lion Street while 52 year old Mrs Mary A WHITE lived in a butcher's shop nearby. [These are all in a part of Hemel Hempstead known as Apsley.] In addition two people live in the Langleys, to the south east of Hemel Hempstead and close to Apsley. There was Arthur PUTMAN, a 26 year old painter living in Breakspere Road, Abbots Langley, and Joseph W SAUNDER, a paper maker living at Waterside, Kings Langley.

An examination of the addresses shows that the majority of people born at Doolittle live in the Boxmoor or Apsley areas of Hemel Hempstead or the adjacent Langley parishes. Working on the assumption that it is somewhere in the Hemel Hempstead/Langley area, the search for COLEMAN was repeated with "Hemel Or Langley" in the City or Town field of the Census place.

The result is success. The third COLEMAN entry is for 51 year old Fanny COLEMAN, who lives at Doolittle, Kings Langley, with her family. By selecting the "Neighbours" tag on the display it is possible to scroll through the families who lived at Doolittle, the heads of households being:

James OSBORN (43, Hemel Hempstead) paper maker

James COLEMAN (37, Kings Langley) paper maker

Henry COLEMAN (50, Abbots Langley) paper maker

William WHITE (62, Hemel Hempstead) paper maker

George FORTNUM (67, Kings Langley) manager in paper factory

Ann SMITH (87, Nash Mills) widow

Henry MORRIS (49, Kings Langley) pulp paper engineer

George NORTH (64, Nash Mills) time keeper

John William BULCRAIG (38, London) millwright

Joseph CHILD (45, Two Waters) paper maker

Ann MUTTON (66, Kings Langley) widow

Edward COKER (59, Watford) stuff engineer

James TURNER (74, St Albans) gas fitter

Charles PUDDIFOOT (33, Kings Langley) plumber

The neighbouring places on the CD-rom include Shendish and the Red Lion Inn on one side, while on the other side it was near Apsley Mill. This identifies the neighbouring properties and a look at the description of the census route on the microfilm of the census book may give additional information.


Scott Hastie and David Spain's book "A Hertfordshire Valley" contains a picture of "Do Little Cottages" and says "John Dickinson's first investment in the community of Apsley was the construction of Do Little Cottages. These were built on ground close to the canal, between the Red Lion and the main Apsley Mil factories, and comprised two rows of six cottages built round a square. In the centre of the square stood a communal pump which survived until all the houses were demolished in 1934. It has been speculated that the name Do Little Meadows derives from the days when the Abbot of St Albans would send some of his monks to the corn mills at Apsley, to enjoy a break from monastic life."


While Doolittle is not mentioned in the Hertfordshire Street Altas, if you drive along the road between Kings Langley and Apsley you pass the Doolittle Meadows Business Park.


Many of the people listed above are mentioned in Appendix "C" of The Endless Web

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

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

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