Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


Chris Reynolds

The Resident Genealogist


My full name is Christopher Finch Reynolds and I was born in St Albans, Herts, in 1938. My father was Gerald Finch Reynolds, who was born in St Albans in 1907 (he died in Devon in 1977) and at the time of my birth he was a poultry farmer in nearby Sandridge, living on a farm with family connections going back to 1828. He married Frances Bertha Locke (born in Hemel Hempstead, Herts, in 1908, died in Somerset in 1999) at St Michael's church, St Albans, in 1937. Because farming did not pay we all moved to Somerset in 1939 - where my father ran a shop. After the war we moved to a larger shop in Devon, and in 1952 I went to Dartington Hall School, Totnes, Devon. This was followed by three years studying chemistry at University College London, followed by a Ph.D. in chemistry at Exeter University.

In 1961 I married Helen Phipson Rendell in Teignmouth, Devon, and we had three children, Andrew, Lucy and Belinda. In 1962 I started work with the Cooper Technical Bureau at Berkhamsted, Herts. (If you have sheep farming ancestors they may well have used Cooper's Sheep Dip.) Initially we lived in Hemel Hempstead but in 1964 we moved to Tring, Herts, where we still live. In 1965 I started working with computers and soon got involved in research, developing a language called CODIL over the following years. I becoming Reader in Computer Science at Brunel University, Uxbridge, in 1971. In 1977 I started using family history information as test data for experimental data base software and as a result got hooked on genealogy and local history. By 1988 I had a computer date base of containing information on nearly 6000 people - and had published a number of papers on the use of computers to process historical information.

In 1979 I became involved in an interactive project, funded by the British Library, into interactive publication, which in a very elementary way anticipated the World Wide Web, and in the following year I set up an online help service for students learning the computer language COBOL. This lead in 1987 to my becoming the editor of an online professional book review service on the subject of Human-Computer Interaction.

In part as the result of the stress caused by the death of my elder daughter, Lucy, in 1985, I took early retirement, followed by a sabbatical in Australia. On returning to England in 1991 I became heavily involved with voluntary work for the mental health charity, Mind. I am a trustee of Mind in Dacorum (now the Herts Mind Network) and for some years and for six years represented South East England on the management committee of National Mind. I have also served on the North West Herts Community Health Council, was the lay member of the board of the Dacorum Primary Care Group, and in 2007 I was vice chair of the Patient and Public Involvement Forum working with the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust (mental health and learning difficulties) I later became a governor of the mental health trust, but after three years decided to retire from all mental health committee work. My younger daughter, Belinda, died in April 2001.

In addition I became very much involved in local history, publishing The London Gunners come to Town in 1995. This book describes life in Hemel Hempstead during World War I. In addition to running this web site, my current research is into the history of Bernards Heath, St Albans. I started giving online help and advice on Hertfordshire genealogical topics in 1998. In addition to running this site, I have written books, given talks, etc. on local history topics.

March 2008   Page updated
March 2011   Signature Logo added