Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Biography:
William Halsey (d.1850)
1756 –26/02/1850

William Halsey (d.1850)

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William Halsey was baptised at St Mary’s Northchurch on 19th December 1756, the son of William and Ann Halsey. He was their first child as they had married just 14 months earlier at St Peter’s Berkhamsted, as seen by the register extract below. With William senior coming from Northchurch, and Ann from Berkhamsted, it is not surprising that their children were baptised across both parishes. After William’s birth in 1756, the couple had three more children, all of whom were baptised at St Peter’s Berkhamsted:-
  • John (named after Ann’s father John Flint) on 2nd April 1759
  • James on 10th April 1764
  • Ann baptised 2nd February 1767
Longevity appears to have been something that young William inherited from his mother, Ann as she was buried at St Peter’s Berkhamsted on 14th February 1821 at the age of 91!! During the 1700s British military and naval power caused an expansion of the nation’s interests around the world. The British began to establish overseas colonies in the 16th century and by the late 1700’s Britain had a large empire with colonies in America and the West Indies. The Militia Act of 1757 for England and Wales aimed to create a professional national military reserve. The Act offered all 'able-bodied' men the chance to serve in the militia at home in order to counter any threat arising while the majority of the regular army was stationed abroad. Records were kept for the men who were selected by ballot to serve for longer periods. Uniforms and weapons were provided, and the militias were brought together from time to time for training. Each parish was obliged to create lists of males aged 18 to 45 known as 'militia ballot lists' and in Hertfordshire we are extremely lucky that the majority of them have survived. William Halsey senior appears in the first list of Berkhamsted’s militia lists in 1758 as a labourer of St Peter’s and his entry is consistently the same throughout the 1760’s. From 1769 to 1775 there is a gap in the surviving lists. Given that eligibility to be listed started at the age of 18, and ended at the age of 45, it is likely that the William Halsey, bricklayer of St Peter’s Parish, listed in 1775 is William junior, who would have been 21 years old. Our William remains listed as a Bricklayer of St Peters until the lists stop in 1786. The next life event that we know of was two years later in 1788, when at the age of 32 William married Charlotte Simmonds of Berkhamsted by licence at St Peters. An innocent enough event but the documents of the time are indicative of contradiction. We know that William’s father was a labourer, and he himself was a bricklayer. Yet marriage by licence was usually reserved for the more well-off members of society, and in fact Charlotte was able to sign her own name. An additional document survives that would indicate that as a young man William belonged to the humbler part of society. On 9th April 1790 a Settlement Certificate was issued to William and Charlotte Halsey that allowed them to live in Berkhamsted St Peter’s. This meant that the parish authorities were allowing the family to live in St Peter’s, but the parish of Northchurch would receive them, and pay for their care, should they fall upon hard times. The Act of Settlement of 1662 (modified in 1697) allowed the poor to live in a parish provided that they carried a Settlement Certificate with them. A woman automatically took her husband’s settlement on marriage, while a man obtained settlement at either his place of birth, being bound as an apprentice to a parishioner or working in the parish for a year and a day. Many employers employed casual labourers for under a year to avoid them gaining settlement. William and Charlotte settled and had seven children baptised in St Peter’s parish:-
  • John baptised 1st March 1789
  • Mary baptised on 25th July 1790
  • William baptised on 15th July 1792
  • Elizabeth Ann baptised on 17th July 1796
  • Sarah baptised on 1st July 1798 and buried on 7th June 1816
  • James baptised on 21st March 1803
  • Henry baptised on 31st December 1805 and buried on 31st July 1818.
It is not known what caused two of their children to die as teenagers, but this is something that happened later in the family with devastating consequences. Charlotte was buried at St Peter’s on 22nd July 1825, at the respectable age of 63. When William and Charlotte were raising their family in Berkhamsted, the area was booming. In 1801, the population of St Peter's parish was 1,690. By 1831, this had risen to 2,369 (484 houses). An 1835 description of the town found that "the houses are mostly of brick, and irregularly built, but are interspersed with a fair proportion of handsome residences". As such, this was a perfect time to be a bricklayer and William seems to have taken full advantage of this local prosperity, owning properties and doing business with local gentry. There exists a document dated 21st July 1818, which is a release by William Halsey, bricklayer of Berkhamsted and John Duncombe, gentleman of Northchurch to Francis Barlow, gentleman of North Audley Street, Grosvenor Square, London. The release was for a messuage (a messuage is a dwelling house with outbuildings and gardens assigned to its use) occupied by Mrs Sarah Barlow, in High Street, Berkhamsted. On 17th October 1833 a receipt was drawn up for payment of a mortgage on another property in Berkhamsted. In 1841 the elderly William was living at Ashridge Lodge, and listed as being Independent. This meant that he was living on an income that did not require him to work. With him was one Hannah Halsey aged 40, who had not been born in Hertfordshire. The information that can be taken from the 1841 census is minimal. All that was enumerated was a person’s name, age (to the nearest 5 years for adults), occupation and whether they were born in the county where the census was being taken. So who was Hannah? Maybe some younger relative staying to look after William in his old age? The 1851 census reveals an unexpected twist to William’s story. In 1851, a year after William’s death, Hannah was living in Berkhamsted High Street with her sister Sarah Hobbs, milliner and dressmaker. The census states that she was a widow and a “Proprietor of Houses”. Could she really be William’s widow? A search of the local parish registers reveals that at the age of 70 William Halsey did indeed marry one Hannah Hobbes [sic] at Great Gaddesden church on 7th December 1826, a mere 17 months after the death of his first wife Charlotte. At the time Hannah was only 27 years old. Those fourteen years of married life to a gentleman, 43 years her senior, appear to have set Hannah up for the rest of her life. In 1861 she was still a widow living in the High Street with her sister Sarah. By then they were also joined by a widowed niece and Hannah now called herself a “fundholder”. Hannah died on 28th September 1865 in Berkhamsted and her will was proved by her sister Sarah Hobbs. It is worth noting that William was buried with neither his first wife, Charlotte, nor his second wife Hannah, who cared for him in his old age, but instead he was buried with three adult grandchildren, so let’s look at the families of William’s children, and see who exactly those grandchildren were.  
map View full burial details

William Halsey was baptised at St Mary’s Northchurch on 19th December 1756, the son of William and Ann Halsey. He was their first child as they had married just 14 months earlier at St Peter’s Berkhamsted, as seen by the register extract below.

With William senior coming from Northchurch, and Ann from Berkhamsted, it is not surprising that their children were baptised across both parishes. After William’s birth in 1756, the couple had three more children, all of whom were baptised at St Peter’s Berkhamsted:-

  • John (named after Ann’s father John Flint) on 2nd April 1759
  • James on 10th April 1764
  • Ann baptised 2nd February 1767

Longevity appears to have been something that young William inherited from his mother, Ann as she was buried at St Peter’s Berkhamsted on 14th February 1821 at the age of 91!!

During the 1700s British military and naval power caused an expansion of the nation’s interests around the world. The British began to establish overseas colonies in the 16th century and by the late 1700’s Britain had a large empire with colonies in America and the West Indies.

The Militia Act of 1757 for England and Wales aimed to create a professional national military reserve. The Act offered all ‘able-bodied’ men the chance to serve in the militia at home in order to counter any threat arising while the majority of the regular army was stationed abroad. Records were kept for the men who were selected by ballot to serve for longer periods. Uniforms and weapons were provided, and the militias were brought together from time to time for training. Each parish was obliged to create lists of males aged 18 to 45 known as ‘militia ballot lists’ and in Hertfordshire we are extremely lucky that the majority of them have survived.

William Halsey senior appears in the first list of Berkhamsted’s militia lists in 1758 as a labourer of St Peter’s and his entry is consistently the same throughout the 1760’s. From 1769 to 1775 there is a gap in the surviving lists. Given that eligibility to be listed started at the age of 18, and ended at the age of 45, it is likely that the William Halsey, bricklayer of St Peter’s Parish, listed in 1775 is William junior, who would have been 21 years old. Our William remains listed as a Bricklayer of St Peters until the lists stop in 1786.

The next life event that we know of was two years later in 1788, when at the age of 32 William married Charlotte Simmonds of Berkhamsted by licence at St Peters. An innocent enough event but the documents of the time are indicative of contradiction. We know that William’s father was a labourer, and he himself was a bricklayer. Yet marriage by licence was usually reserved for the more well-off members of society, and in fact Charlotte was able to sign her own name. An additional document survives that would indicate that as a young man William belonged to the humbler part of society.

On 9th April 1790 a Settlement Certificate was issued to William and Charlotte Halsey that allowed them to live in Berkhamsted St Peter’s. This meant that the parish authorities were allowing the family to live in St Peter’s, but the parish of Northchurch would receive them, and pay for their care, should they fall upon hard times.

The Act of Settlement of 1662 (modified in 1697) allowed the poor to live in a parish provided that they carried a Settlement Certificate with them. A woman automatically took her husband’s settlement on marriage, while a man obtained settlement at either his place of birth, being bound as an apprentice to a parishioner or working in the parish for a year and a day. Many employers employed casual labourers for under a year to avoid them gaining settlement.

William and Charlotte settled and had seven children baptised in St Peter’s parish:-

  • John baptised 1st March 1789
  • Mary baptised on 25th July 1790
  • William baptised on 15th July 1792
  • Elizabeth Ann baptised on 17th July 1796
  • Sarah baptised on 1st July 1798 and buried on 7th June 1816
  • James baptised on 21st March 1803
  • Henry baptised on 31st December 1805 and buried on 31st July 1818.

It is not known what caused two of their children to die as teenagers, but this is something that happened later in the family with devastating consequences. Charlotte was buried at St Peter’s on 22nd July 1825, at the respectable age of 63.

When William and Charlotte were raising their family in Berkhamsted, the area was booming. In 1801, the population of St Peter’s parish was 1,690. By 1831, this had risen to 2,369 (484 houses). An 1835 description of the town found that “the houses are mostly of brick, and irregularly built, but are interspersed with a fair proportion of handsome residences”. As such, this was a perfect time to be a bricklayer and William seems to have taken full advantage of this local prosperity, owning properties and doing business with local gentry.

There exists a document dated 21st July 1818, which is a release by William Halsey, bricklayer of Berkhamsted and John Duncombe, gentleman of Northchurch to Francis Barlow, gentleman of North Audley Street, Grosvenor Square, London. The release was for a messuage (a messuage is a dwelling house with outbuildings and gardens assigned to its use) occupied by Mrs Sarah Barlow, in High Street, Berkhamsted. On 17th October 1833 a receipt was drawn up for payment of a mortgage on another property in Berkhamsted.

In 1841 the elderly William was living at Ashridge Lodge, and listed as being Independent. This meant that he was living on an income that did not require him to work. With him was one Hannah Halsey aged 40, who had not been born in Hertfordshire. The information that can be taken from the 1841 census is minimal. All that was enumerated was a person’s name, age (to the nearest 5 years for adults), occupation and whether they were born in the county where the census was being taken.

So who was Hannah? Maybe some younger relative staying to look after William in his old age?

The 1851 census reveals an unexpected twist to William’s story. In 1851, a year after William’s death, Hannah was living in Berkhamsted High Street with her sister Sarah Hobbs, milliner and dressmaker. The census states that she was a widow and a “Proprietor of Houses”.

Could she really be William’s widow? A search of the local parish registers reveals that at the age of 70 William Halsey did indeed marry one Hannah Hobbes [sic] at Great Gaddesden church on 7th December 1826, a mere 17 months after the death of his first wife Charlotte. At the time Hannah was only 27 years old.

Those fourteen years of married life to a gentleman, 43 years her senior, appear to have set Hannah up for the rest of her life. In 1861 she was still a widow living in the High Street with her sister Sarah. By then they were also joined by a widowed niece and Hannah now called herself a “fundholder”. Hannah died on 28th September 1865 in Berkhamsted and her will was proved by her sister Sarah Hobbs.

It is worth noting that William was buried with neither his first wife, Charlotte, nor his second wife Hannah, who cared for him in his old age, but instead he was buried with three adult grandchildren, so let’s look at the families of William’s children, and see who exactly those grandchildren were.

 

Relatives