Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for HERTFORD

HERTFORD, a town, three parishes, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred, in Herts. The town stands on Ermine Street, on the river Lea, and at a meeting point of railways, 1¾ mile WSW of Ware, 7 ENE of Hatfield, and 21 by road, but 26 by railway, N of London. Its situation is at the extremity of a plain, extending 25 miles from N to S, with gentle hills, well wooded and picturesque, in the neighbourhood. The Lea is navigable from it to the Thames; a canal, connected with the Lea navigation, goes from it, by way of Ware, to the Stort, near that river's influx to the Lea; a branch railway goes from it, curvingly to the Eastern Counties line at Broxbourne; and a main line, the Hertford, Luton, and Dunstable, goes from it into connection with the Great Northern at Welwyn. Its name alludes to the ancient tribe of Hertings, and to a ford on the Lea; was originally written Heort Ford; and is commonly pronounced Hartford. It acquired importance very early in the Saxon times; was the meeting place of a synod in 673; is thought, by some antiquaries, to have been a principal residence of the East Saxon kings; seems, probably, to have been despoiled and desolated by the Danes; was fortified with walls and a castle, about 909, by Edward the Elder; figured, at Domesday, as having then had two churches and 146 burgesses; and was divided, by the Conqueror, between the Crown and eight magnates, one of whom, Peter de Valoines, or Valence, was made governor of the castle. That fortress is described as having been very beautiful, but not large; was committed, by King John, to the keeping of Walter de Godervil; was soon seized by Louis le Dauphin; was committed, by Edward III., to John of Gaunt; was, while in his possession, the occasional residence of John of France, captured at Poictiers, and the prison of David of Scotland, attended by his Queen Joan, who died here in 1362; was the place where Henry, Duke of Lancaster, afterwards Henry IV., hold his court at the time of Richard II. 's deposition; passed to his queen, Joan de Navarre, till the time of her forfeiture; went then to the Lady Catherine of France, whom Henry V. married; was the place where Henry VI. kept Easter, in the 7th year of his reign; was settled by him on his queen, Margaret of Anjou; passed to Henry VII., as heir of the house of Lancaster; was occasionally occupied by Queen Elizabeth, who is traditionally said to have been imprisoned in it, and in whose reign the London Michaelmas term was three times adjonrned to it on account of the plague; passed, in the time of James I., to the uses of Prince Charles; and was given, by that prince, six years after he ascended the throne, to William, Earl of Salisbury. It has passed, since that time, through various hands; was used, for a period, as a college by the East India Company; and is now, after much re-construction, the residence of Philip Longmore, Esq. The embattled wall and the mound are the chief parts of the original pile which still remain; the highest tower is comparatively ancient, and com mands, from the leads, an extensive view over the circumjacent country; and parts now inhabited are comparatively modern, and have sprung from a constant series of repairs and renovations. The town comprises several good streets; is built with tolerable regularity about the centre; and has pleasant suburbs and environs. The town hall and the countyhall, situated in the market place, are a massive brick edifice of 1780, after designs by Adam. The corn exchange, in Fore street, on the site of the old butchers' market, was built in 1859; has an ornamental front of Bath stone, surmounted by a colossal figure of Ceres; is spanned by a glass roof; and includes a gallery appropriated to a free public library. The county jail stands on the London road, and has capacity for 157 male and 20 female prisoners. The Hertford general infirmary stands on rising ground in the North road; was erected in 1832; and is a neat edifice, not very large, yet sufficiently so for its uses. The new workhouse was erected in 1869, and has an attractive appearance. All Saints church is ancient, large, and cruciform; consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with tower and spire; was repaired and beautified in 1850; and contains tombs of the Dunsters and others, and a handsome tablet to the officers and privates of the forty-ninth or Hertfordshire regiment, who fell in the Crimean war. St. Andrew's church was erected in the 11th or 12th century; was a small edifice of nave, aisles, and chancel, with low tower and spire; and was begun to be rebuilt in 1869, at a cost of £3, 265. Trinity church was erected in 1864, at a cost of £1, 400; is in the early Norman style; and consists of nave and apsidal chancel. The two old parochial churches of St. Mary and St. Nicholas have disappeared. The Roman Catholic chapel was erected in 1859; is an ornamental edifice; and occupies the site of a Benedictine priory, founded by Ralph de Limesay, soon after the Conquest. There are chapels also for Independents, Baptists, Quakers, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists. The literary and scientific institution, in Bull plain, has a library of about 6, 000 volumes. The blue coat school, in Fore street, is a branch of Christ's hospital in London; has accommodation for 400 boys and 100 girls; and includes an infirmary for 100 sick children. Hale's gram. mar school, also in Fore street, has £40 from endowment, and formerly had 7 scholarships at Cambridge. Newton's green coat school has £125 from endowment. There are also two national schools, a school of industry for girls, a reformatory school, and endowed almshouses. A pretty new cemetery, with a chapel in the centre, is about ½ a mile distant, on the road to Stevenage. The town has a head post office, two railway stations with telegraph, two banking offices, and three chief inns; is a seat of assizes, quarter sessions, and county courts, and the place of election for the county; and publishes one bi-weekly and two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Saturday; fairs are held on the 3d Saturday before Easter, 12 May, 5 July, and 8 Nov.; and much business is done in corn, malt, oil cake, brewing, iron founding, coach making, and a general country trade. There are also, in the vicinity, brick fields, a lime kiln, rose gardens, and nursery grounds. The town is a borough by prescription; sent members to parliament in the reigns of Edward I. and Edward II.; sent two from the time of James I. till 1867, was then reduced to sending only one; and is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. The borough boundaries, under the new act, comprise parts of the parishes of All Saints, St. Andrew, St. John, and Bengeo; and are the same parliamentarily as municipally. Borough income in 1865, £1, 940. Real property in 1860, £30, 541. Electors in 1868, 602. Pop. in 1851, 6, 605; in 1861, 6, 769. Houses, 1, 227. G. Guyse and T. Vincent, the divines, Maurice, the author of a "History of Hindostan, " and Gunter, the inventor of Gunter's scale, were natives; and the family of Seymour Conway take from the town the title of Marquis. The three parishes taking designation from Hertford are All Saints, St. Andrew, and St. John; and the first includes the liberties of Little Amwell and Brickendon. Acres of A. S., 2, 018; of St. A., 1, 143; of St. J., 2, 007. Real property of A. S., £13, 330; of St. A., £11, 543; of St. J., £8, 296, -of which £530 are in gas works. Pop. of A. S., 2, 516; of St. A., 2, 184; of St. J., 2, 388. Houses, 475, 433, and 348. Pop. of the part of A. S. within the borough, 1,815; of the part of St. A., 2, 080; of the part of St. J., 2, 184. The two extinct parishes of St. Mary and St. Nicholas are still retained in ecclesiastical nomenclature; and a new chapelry of Trinity, or Little Amwell, was recently constituted. St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St. John are rectories, All Saints and St. Nicholas are vicarages, and Little Amwell also is a vicarage in the dio. of Rochester; and St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St. Nicholas are united into one living, -All Saints and St. John into another. Value of St. A., St. M., and St. N., £271;* of A. S. and St. J., £600;* of Little Amwell, £90. Patron of St. A., St. M., and St. N., the Duchy of Lancaster; of A. S. and St. J., alternately the Lord Chancellor and Marquis Townshend; of Little Amwell, Trustees.—The sub-district contains the parishes of Hertford, Bengeo, Hertingfordbury, Tewin, Braintfield, Bayford, and Little Berkhampstead. Acres, 18, 277. Pop., 11, 163. Houses, 2, 083.—The district comprehends also the sub-district of Watton, containing the parishes of Watton, Sacomb, Stapleford, Datchworth, Aston, Walkern, and Bennington. Acres of the district, 34, 410. Poor rates in 1863, £8, 685. Pop. in 1851, 15, 090; in 1861, 15, 301. Houses, 2, 914. Marriages in 1862, 90; births, 454, -of which 25 were illegitimate; deaths, 267, -of which 118 were at ages under 5 years, and 5 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 868; births, 4, 202; deaths, 2, 652. The places of worship, in 1851, were 19 of the Church of England, with 5, 612 sittings; 3 of Independents, with 849 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 410 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 240 s.; 4 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 360 s.; 3 of Primitive Methodists, with 176 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 80 s. The schools were 30 public day schools, with 2, 349 scholars; 21 private day schools, with 452 s.; and 19 Sunday schools, with 1, 639 s.-The hundred excludes the borough, and contains thirteen parishes and part of another. Acres, 33, 824. Pop. in 1851, 15, 447; in 1861, 16, 681. Houses, 3, 358.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, three parishes, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Hertford CP       Hertford Hundred       Hertford SubD       Hertford PLU/RegD       Hertfordshire AncC
Place: Hertford

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