Hempstead (General)

by grahamdavison @, Monday, December 03, 2018, 14:53 (658 days ago)

I have just completed transcribing the pre-1837 Hempstead registers which will be added to the database in the near future. My reason for choosing to do this was that when doing my own research I found a number of family marriages at Hempstead, and so thought others might benefit from the transcriptions.

One very surprising fact that has emerged is that between 1813 and 1837 there were 171 baptisms, 194 burials and an amazing 1,852 marriages. Almost all the marriages gave the residence of bride and groom as the extraparochial hamlet of Littleworth. Can anyone explain this?


by MPGriffiths @, Monday, December 03, 2018, 16:35 (658 days ago) @ grahamdavison


Looking at a number of Marriage Licences etc on the Forest of Dean records - it does often say

'that part of the Hamlet of Littleworth which is in the Parish of Hempstead'


by admin ⌂, Forest of Dean, Monday, December 03, 2018, 18:09 (658 days ago) @ grahamdavison

We are sure the Marriages will be of especial interest to our users and our thanks to Graham for producing such good transcriptions. The entries have now been added to the database.


Hempstead, Littleworth

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, December 03, 2018, 21:38 (658 days ago) @ grahamdavison

As you say Graham that does seem a very high bias indeed towards marriages !

To be honest I'd never heard of Littleworth until today, it appears to be the small area south of the city centre, between the Docks and the Park, on what is now Spa Road ?. After reading about the area's history I'm still struggling to find where the actual church was where all these marriages took place ??? The nearest is St Marks but think that's in the neighbouring parish of Gloucester City, and it wasn't built until 1847...

This description from 1848 states
"LITTLEWORTH, an extra-parochial liberty, in the union of Gloucester, Middle division of the hundred of Dudstone and King's-Barton, E. division of the county of Gloucester, and adjacent to the city of Gloucester; containing 427 inhabitants, and 30 acres of land. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans."

Does this imply there wasn't a C of E church ?.

Even by 1871 the population was still very small.
"LITTLEWORTH, an extra-parochial tract in the district and county of Gloucester; adjacent to Gloucester city, and within Gloucester borough. Real property, 2,098. Pop., 501. Houses, 78."

No real help with the query but I've just found this interesting map of Gloucester from 1841.

So why so did so many marriages take place there ??.
Nowadays one might think it's because it's a particularly picturesque church, but what did it look like then, if there was one ???

Must have been another more daytoday practical reason.
Again, in modern times it's almost as if it's the site of the city's Registry Office, or somesuch place where marriages took place almost daily, but then ??

Was it the the preferred place of marriage for itinerate workers eg sailors from the docks ?

Maybe worth asking at Gloster Archives ?


by Mike Pinchin @, Bedford, England, Sunday, December 23, 2018, 11:36 (639 days ago) @ grahamdavison

Out of interest I had a look at the Register of Banns for Hempsted from 1837 onwards (Ancestry). As a place of residence Littleworth (and sometimes the South Hamlet) features regularly until the 1860s. There are plenty of marginal notes giving the actual locations; the Squirrel Inn and the Nelson Inn are mentioned and other places which are clearly lodgings.

This makes me suspect that Hempsted was a church favoured by people who, for one reason or another, did not want banns published in their home parish and Littleworth provided the residential qualification for that to be done at Hempsted. There might have been family opposition to the match. There may have been a large age-gap between the parties leading to social opposition within their community. One or both of the parties may have been under 21 in which case parental consent would have been required; if they could get the banns published and the ceremony performed before the parents found out the marriage would remain valid. One or both of the parties may have already been married and the spouse(s) were still living – divorce was all but impossible for ordinary folk until 1857 and even after that it was not easy.

Some effort was evidently made to verify the residence. Apart from the marginal notes mentioned above there were cases where the banns were published on only one or two occasions (or even not at all) instead of the required three. These are often accompanied by a note saying “Not living in the Hamlet” or “Not found in the Hamlet”. There is even one which says “At Mrs Ayers near the Lime Kiln. Not satisfactory”, and another which says “Cancelled. Terms of residence not confirmed.”

Occasionally there are notes which show that someone did find out what was going on and took steps to put a stop to it:-

Forbidden by her mother in Service time.
Forbid by the Clerk of St. John’s Gloucester.
Forbidden by the Clerk of Crypt Church.
Forbidden by James Cox, her husband being then living.
Forbidden by her sister.

As far as I can see the practice dwindled after the death of the incumbent, Thomas Jones, in 1867.


by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Wednesday, December 26, 2018, 00:21 (636 days ago) @ Mike Pinchin

Thanks Mike, very interesting findings indeed !


by jessjephcott, Tuesday, December 31, 2019, 13:24 (265 days ago) @ Mike Pinchin

I have a marriage there in 1822 beteween George Jeffcott and Elizabeth Williams and George was not a Gloucester man. He came from Leicester. So, there seems to be a loophole in this hamlet that enabled a sort of clandestine marriage to be held.


by JaneyH @, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Thursday, January 02, 2020, 13:55 (263 days ago) @ grahamdavison

"Extra parochial" means "outside the parish". So not only was the land not included within any parish boundaries, but ecclesiastical (church) law didn't apply. This would have given the incumbent a considerable degree of flexibility in choosing who he was prepared to baptise/marry.

It sounds like it was a popular location for those passing through, itinerants, and anyone else who didn't want too many questions being asked to tie the knot. No doubt it would have been quite a lucrative business, given that a fee is charged each time.


by karinf, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, 09:27 (63 days ago) @ JaneyH

Thanks everyone for your comments on this - I have just found a marriage on the Hempstead register for 1834 where the couple were given as from the hamlet of Littleworth, but on later censuses their birthplaces and those of their children are from South Cerney. I haven't traced the wife's baptism yet, but in the light of this I know to perhaps check the parishes around South Cerney (unlike her husband she doesn't seem to have a baptism in SC itself) rather than concentrating my search around Hempstead, which might have been suggested from their marriage there.

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