Mar 2001
 
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An Australian Cousin!
 
As a result of the mag being on the Internet an Australian reader, Mrs Elly Hill, has been in touch with the Editor and suggested that we might be interested in an article about her convict ancestors who were deported from Flamstead some 200 years ago. The article from Elly's journal duly arrived by email and will be printed in three instalments entitled "Rattle of Chains".
 
Photo shows Elly Hill (l) and Pat Jetson (r), great, great, great granddaughters of Judith Millard and James Doherty.
 
RATTLE OF CHAINS
 
More than 20 years ago I felt the stirrings of curiosity about my roots - who were my ancestors; where did they live; how did they live; did I look like them; did they look like me; were they people of substance or common folk?
 
From my father the myths and magic of my Irish forebears created vivid pictures in my young and impressionable imagination of landed gentry; thoroughbred horse studs and educated, dispossessed and banished people.
 
From my mother the romance and intrigue of Spanish mantillas or dark French beauty or maybe even a hint of a more exotic race of people that somehow very quietly and secretly became my forefathers.
 
So began my journey of revelation and self-discovery back through history to a time when this great south land became the "fatal shore" for my ancestors. Those ill-fated and hapless souls who Stepped ashore from the convict ships into a permanent place in the history of this bountiful country, Australia.
 
Whilst I'm very proud of my Irish ancestry and grieve and mourn with Honora (Driscoll) O'Callaghan Hassett, my great-great grandmother from Ballyvorisheen in Cork who defied her dead husband's family and took a new husband to provide a sheltered roof and sustenance for her four fatherless children. How could she ever imagine the devastating price she would pay for her pride and defiance.... but the path to my history lay not with Honora but with her daughter Ellen when she married John Doherty, my great grandfather.
 
John's father (also John), my great-great-grandfather, was one of 5 children, born 1825 in Van Diemens Land to James and Judith (Millard) Doherty; and over the years as I gathered more information about his birth I discovered that both James and Judith were convicts. James, a house carpenter, was found guilty in 1813 of the crime of Larceny in Madras India whilst a soldier with the British 84th Regiment of Foot...Judith a flax (straw) worker, was found guilty in 1814 of Larceny too, at the parish of Redbourn in the English county of Hertfordshire. These clues to my ancestors would eventually become seeds of obsession!! What, where, how, could I connect with my roots? Should I follow James into history now or should I take Judith's young hand and listen to her story? What I could not know was that the path to my past had already been decided for me...
 
Judith, one of 14 children, was baptised on 26 June 1794 at St Leonard's Church in the small village of Flamstead in Hertfordshire, where her parents had settled 2 years before from the village of Great Gaddesden. She was the eighth child of Richard and Frances (Hall) Millard - born into a poor family of very limited means and scarce opportunities. Richard (her father) was born in Hemel Hempstead in 1755, the fourth of five children of John and Judith (Davis) Millard (married 22 February 1747 at North Church) and Frances (her mother) was born in Great Gaddesden in 1759, the third of six children of Thomas and Mary Hall (married 28 November 1748 at Bovingdon).
 
Judith's childhood was not unlike most children in her village - not for them the refinement of schooling or education - only her father eking out a living as a hired agricultural labourer trying to keep food on the table and fill the hungry mouths of his ever increasing brood. These were hard and burden- some times for the likes of Richard and Frances - their sons Richard, Thomas and William, not yet old enough to be indentured or put to labouring work and more unplanned additions to the household. (From 1700-1850 the population had begun to increase in the countryside - the post Napoleonic period in England was one of acute misery for the poorer rural class. It was not until the 1830s when the growth of industrial employment began to slowly draw off the rural labour surplus, that the situation improved).
 
The world outside her village was going through dramatic changes: the industrial revolution which was transforming the history of agriculture; the war with revolutionary France which had been fought since her year of birth and would last with only brief intermission until 1815; changes which would ultimately affect her future forever. How could she have known that 12,000 miles away a new British colony was being settled under the harshest and most deprived conditions and that one day the Millard name would be written into the annals of the history of that far off land.
 
Continued in the April edition of Church and Village News
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DO YOU HAVE A SMOKE ALARM?
 
If you do not here are a few figures that you should find interesting: During December 2000, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Services tackled 21 serious domestic fires. In 90% of cases, no smoke detectors were fitted. Three people died. A further 20 people were injured. Thirteen were rescued by the efforts of the public and 6 by Firefighters.
 
Part of the problem is that only 4% of people have actually experienced fire in their own home, (you have a lot less chance of winning the lottery!), which makes the danger feel 'un-real' to those who haven't.
Believe me the danger is real; Imagine waking up with a house filled with smoke and fire. It is terrifying enough isn't it, especially if you have a young family! But the reality is that you may not even wake up before the smoke kills you.
For just a few pounds you can buy an effective smoke alarm (make sure it conforms to BS 5446) that will warn you in the early stages of the fire. It could not only save your life, but its early warning may effectively reduce the amount of damage done to your home.
Smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling, in the centre if possible, but at least thirty centimetres from any wall or lighting. They need to be close to where the fire is most likely to break out, but also in a position where the alarm can be heard throughout your home.
In a single story home the alarm should be fixed in a corridor between the living and sleeping areas. But in a conventional two story home the best place for a single alarm is on the landing ceiling above the bottom of the staircase.
 
Always follow the manufacturers instructions.
 
The ideal is to have smoke alarms in as many rooms and positions bearing in mind that there are various rooms and positions where they shouldn't be fitted. (e.g. Kitchens and bathrooms.)
It is worth considering fitting additional alarms in rooms where increasing use of video players, music systems and computers raise the risk of fire occurring, particularly children's bedrooms.)
If you are elderly, disabled or just not confident about purchasing or fitting a smoke alarm, please give Hemel Hempstead Fire Station a call on 01442 265028. We will be more than happy to give you advice or even supply and/or fit your smoke alarm for you.
 
John Print GifireE
Sub Officer, Green Watch
Hemel Hempstead Fire Station.
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Chenobyl children found neglected & starving
 
An appeal is being made for help from St Albans and Harpenden after a charity found 54 starving children in Belarus.
 
The children were discovered neglected and severely undernourished by the Chernobyl Children's Life Line (CCLL) charity in the village of Lapchy. Ms Ceris Ashcroft runs the charity's Harpenden branch of the CCLL that regularly brings children from Belarus over to St Albans and Harpenden for a month's holiday with host families.
Ms Ashcroft said of just one house relating to the discovery in Lapchy: "Fermenting pots of decaying food were strewn around. In one room was a calves head and in the corner was a pile of rotting meat. The smell was suffocating.
Amongst this squalor stood two four beautiful children. The eldest child was trying to care for all of them, including a six month-old baby."
 
The charity took emergency action and all 54 children are now coming to stay with host families in England. The children are all suffering radiation effects associated with the fall-out from the Chenobyl disaster.
Ms Ashcroft said: "What we need now are clothes for children aged between seven and 15, bearing in mind these children are smaller because they are badly malnourished.
"We are also keen to hear from any skilled workers who would be interested in helping out there, electricians are needed for work in the orphanages as well as plumbers, builders and handymen.
"We still need host families for the summer when we will be bringing over more children to benefit from a month of fresh air and uncontaminated food.
"This treatment that so many people can give so easily has been shown to increase their life expectancy by two years so it would be very rewarding for anyone that can help in this way."
Anyone interested in donating clothes or their labour or who would like to be a host family for a month in the summer should contact Ms Ashcroft on 01582 764120.
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A TASTE OF THE PAST
 
This month I would like to introduce you to my favourite fish recipe. It takes no more than 15 minutes from start to finish, and it's dead easy to boot. An early Victorian dish by Eliza Acton, who wrote one of the finest cookery books in the English language.
 
SOLES STEWED IN CREAM
 
You can use any white fish - Fillets are the easiest - and scallops are also good this way.
First blanch the fish. I put them in a sieve, pour some boiling water over and then dry them. This stops the fish juices leaching out into the cream during cooking and spoiling the delicious sauce.
Lay them in a single, close fitting layer in a oven proof dish. A close fit is important to avoid using too much cream! Now season them with salt, ground mace and a little cayenne pepper.
Pour over as much cream as will nearly cover them. Single cream will do fine. The tops of the fish should be still showing above the cream.
Bake in a fairly gentle oven, about 150-160C, without a lid, for 10 minutes (if you are using fillets), or until the cream is bubbling and turning a little brown at the edges.
Remove from the oven and squeeze a little lemon juice - about 1/2 lemon to 1/2 cream. Don't forget the lemon - it makes a great difference to the taste.!
I often serve this with rice mixed with chopped spring onions and diced cucumbers, which have been quickly stir fried.
 
A very elegant dish.
Eliza Acton, 1845
 
Marian Pochin
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Making Woodlands Work
 
The first annual conference of the Herts Woodland Forum is to be held at the Prince Michael Conference Centre, Hertfordshire on the 12th May. The conference aims to explore opportunities for promoting the many benefits that woodlands provide, and for improving the funding of Woodland management work. It is designed for anyone with an interest in the management of Hertfordshire woodlands. The Herts Woodland Forum is a development of the Hertfordshire Woodland Working Group, which was set up at the beginning of 1998 to monitor "Hertfordshire's Woodland Strategy" and the views of the Forum. The aims of the Forum are:-
  • To provide for discussion and networking between people with an interest in Hertfordshire's woods
  • To provide information and advice on woods and management.
  • To promote and monitor the County's Woodland Strategy.
Further details and booking information will be published soon.
Contact:-Ian Gibson, County Woodland Officer.
Environment County Hall Pegs Lane,
Hertford SG13 8DN.
Tel: 01992 555254
Ian.gibbon@hertscc.gov.uk
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1st Flamstead Guides
 
The Guides Programme has been updated as from January 1st. – complete with new uniform and new style Badges including circus skills and traditions.
 
However, all Flamstead Guides completed the old programme in style. At a presentation ceremony Eleanore and Nina gained the Baden Powel Trefoil – the equivalent of the original Queen’s Guide Badge – the highest award in the guide section. All the guides achieved the trefoils they were working towards and most of them can start on the new programme with the advantage of having gained First Aid, Emergency Helper and having completed lots of challenges which will no longer be a compulsory part of the new programme.
 
The girls no longer have to make their promise to be enrolled but sign to keep their “Guide Lines” – rules they all decide upon – and are given a membership card. The promise can be made later on when the girl is ready, if she wishes! Most of the programme is carried out as either a patrol or the whole company, individual work is not encouraged so much.
 
In May the company celebrates 40 years of registration – If you have any photos or memories please let us know so you can join in the next celebrations.
 
Jeni Bowman, Guide Guider
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FLAMSTEAD & TROWLEY W.I
 
An Invitation to Dinner
 
After all the business the year began with 'An Invitation to Dinner - 300 years ago' Member Marian Pochin invited us to dinner around 1700. It was to be a society dinner in a gentleman's residence. Marian explained the elaborate table settings and gave examples of typical menus of the period. The elaborate dishes were explained especially reconstruction dishes of raised pies. The meat is removed from the bird and then the bird, usually swans or herons, were rebuilt to sit on top of the pie. Dessert dishes and glasses were made from sugar so were later eaten (no washing up). In conclusion Marian said "when thinking of a meal from that era, forget the chicken bones over the shoulder, think instead of elegance, artistry, grand sallets (salads) and delicious pies and puddings". The vote of thanks was given by Delia Ramage and refreshments were supplied by Linda Vincent and Mary Maton.
 
February's meeting brought Mr Peter Tomkins on "The History of Beekeeping". Mr Tomkins' interest began at the age of 14 when he joined the Beekeeping Department at Rothamstead. The interest soon developed into fascination. He eventually became Head Apiarist until his retirement. Fossil remains of bees indicate that they existed as far back as 18 million years ago. Man soon discovered the source of food inside the honeycomb and learnt to subdue the bees with smoke to enable him to reach the rich harvest safely. Some countries such as Nepal still use the age old methods of retrieving honey. Early hives such as logs or hollow trees were used to encourage bees.
 
Abbeys, we were told, kept bees not just fir honey but for the beeswax used in candles. Smaller homes also kept bees with the housewife as beekeeper. Honey was and is still used as a sweetener and for medical purposes. The bee is also a symbol adopted by hardworking people and of course the saying "busy as a bee" indicates our acknowledgement of the hardworking nature of the bee. There are two saints, St Ambrose patron saint of Beekeepers and the bees have their own saint - Bartholemew. There is also a popular pub name, There are said to be 130 pubs called the Beehive. Mr Tomkins concluded that Beekeeping had changed little over the years but our knowledge of bees was very extensive.
 
Vote of thanks was given by Denise Woods and refreshments were supplied by Mary King and Julie Scurfield.
 
The meeting next month is the Members Meeting with Mystery Speaker, special refreshments and the raffle. The Competition is "your favourite picture" - in any medium. There is a charge for refreshments of £1.75.
 
Venue - Village Hall.
Time - 7.30pm
Date. - March 8th.
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