|REUNIONS||BIRTHDAY BOOK||RELATED SITES|
STEPHEN AND SARAH SHERWOOD
earliest mention of our family is found in the baptism registers
of the Holy Trinity church in Weston, Hertfordshire. Stephen and Sarah's first child Sarah was
baptised there in 1744.
appears in militia lists for Weston for the years 1758 through to
1762. His occupation on these lists was labourer. He more than likely worked for the parish farmers
as a farm labourer.
SEE BELOW FOR FULL STORY
To view a map of Weston click here
1720: Date of birth- estimated
1720: Date of birth- estimated .
The Holy Trinity Church
STEPHEN AND SARAH SHERWOOD
Weston is a small rural community in the north of Hertfordshire not far from the border with Cambridgeshire. One important link with the past is the parish church the Holy Trinity. Following William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066 the Normans set about building churches and monasteries throughout Britain. The Holy Trinity dates from the Norman period 1066-1200. Inside the church there are thirty ancient stone heads on which the nave and isle roofs rest. These 500-year-old carvings show medieval people with distorted faces and arms. They can be seen through the windows from outside as you approach the church. An entry in the vestry book for 1762 lists items given to the church by one of the parishioners, Mrs. Rhoda Hide. Rhoda Hide, nee Honour married William Hide in Weston in 1755. William was one of several tailors in the village. He also held the positions of parish constable and parish clerk.
A communion plate and silver cup and cover, a silver
plate for bread and pewter flagon. A linen tablecloth and napkin for communion
and a green, cloth carpet for the communion table.
members of our own family took communion from these items.
1744 there is no mention of Stephen and Sarah in Weston. It seems unlikely that they were married there as there is no
record of their marriage in the church
registers. It would appear that
the marriage took place in another Hertfordshire parish or perhaps in a nearby
county. Stephen and Sarah may have settled in Weston not long after they
married and just prior to their
daughter Sarah's birth. There is no record of Stephen's birth or baptism
in Weston around 1720. There is
the possibility that a record of his birth or baptism may still be found in a
nearby parish or neighbouring county. The
The Hertfordshire Militia
The militia or local defence force has a long history in England. It was established in the event of internal unrest or attack by invading forces. With the outbreak of the Seven Years War in 1756 (a war fought between France and England) the militia was re-established. For recruitment purposes lists were drawn up of all men in each parish between the ages of 18 and 50. These lists were known as militia ballot lists. The earliest ballot list to survive for Weston is for the year 1758. Stephen appears as number 50 on the list. He was one of 96 men in Weston who were liable for service that year. On the list his name is spelt 'Stev'n Sherrood.' It was the job of William Munt the parish constable to draw up the list of names for that year. Once the list was completed it was displayed in the parish. Any man who wished to appeal against the inclusion of his name on the list could do so. Appeals were heard at the White Hart Inn, Welwyn, 15 kilometres to the south of Weston. Because a man's name appeared on one of these lists it didn't mean he went on to serve. A ballot was held to choose those to be conscripted. The names of men who were drawn from the ballot were entered onto lists known as principals or drawn men. The Muster Rolls or Enrolment Books show the names of men who were actually chosen in the ballot. Muster rolls for Weston do not appear to have survived, so it is uncertain if Stephen actually served.
Stephen's name appears in the Weston militia lists from 1758 through to 1762. From 1762 the upper age limit of men who were liable to serve was lowered to 45. This may explain why there are no further references to Stephen in militia lists after 1762. He may have passed the age of 45 by this date. Poor men with three legitimate children were exempted from serving.
From the militia ballot lists we can get some idea of the occupations of many of the men in Weston. The majority of males in the parish worked as either labourers or servants. For the years 1758 through to 1762 Stephen appears as a labourer in these lists. His two sons John and Stephen junior appear in subsequent years as servants. The term servant in those times referred to young men who did labouring work on farms. Farmers were well represented in Weston. They provided work for many of the labourers, including no doubt members of our own family. Farmers were quite often required to serve as parish officers. Some were required to act as surveyors of the highway, overseers of the poor and churchwardens.
The office of churchwarden dates back to the 12th century. Churchwardens acted as the principal lay officers of the parish. They together with the surveyors of the highways and overseers of the poor were appointed by the vestry, the governing body of the parish. Normally two churchwardens were appointed. Their chief responsibility was levying church and other rates and maintaining accounts books.
Farmers living in the parish at this time were; Thomas Fanson (he was appointed a churchwarden in 1759 and 1760) John and William Aburn, John Brown, Robert Bonfield and Nicholas Honour. The parish supported a wide range of occupations. Joseph Adams was a cabinetmaker, William and Parish Austin, and James Everard were carpenters. So too were three members of the Turner family. They were John Turner senior and his son John and William Turner. William was in later years described as a poor man with three children. This would have excluded him from service in the militia. John Benn, John and James Cawdell, and John Waldock were cordwainers or shoemakers. Two other shoemakers in the parish were George Peck and John Smith. William Cannon and Robert and William Hide were tailors. Joseph Cawdell, Underwood Dearman, John Honour and Samuel and William Swaine were blacksmiths. John Fray was a brickmaker and so too were members of the Munt family. They were; John and William Munt junior and Samuel Munt and his son Samuel. Samuel Munt had 'But one eye.' The village butchers were William Fray and John Hall. John Hall was nominated as one of the overseers of the poor in 1765. Thomas Grant, William Lagdon, and John Wille were millers. The watchmaker for that period was Joseph Green. In 1775 he was recorded as a 'broken man.' He also appears as a storekeeper. The parish wheelwrights were Thomas Green, Thomas Kiddall and Richard Richardson.
The role of parish constable was an honorary position and as such the incumbent received no financial reward for his considerable efforts. He was not only responsible for law and order in the parish but many other things as well. His responsibilities included compiling militia lists and jurors' lists, dealing with intruders, drunks and vagabonds, and those who failed to attend church.
bricklayer William Munt held the position of parish constable from at least
1758 until 1761. He was followed in 1762 by the tailor William Hide.
Thomas Green was the parish constable in 1763. He is also recorded in
other years as a farmer and wheelwright. The following year 1764, George Munt
took over. Prior to his
appointment as constable Munt
worked as a woolcomber. In 1765
William Hide was once again appointed as parish constable. The previous year
he worked as the parish clerk.
Nicholas Honour who appears as a farmer is also listed as a grocer and storekeeper. The parish tile maker was Israel Robinson. James Izard worked as a thatcher and in later years was described as a 'poor man with three children.' The majority of males who appear as 'poor men' in the militia lists came from either the labouring or servant classes. Several men in the parish were listed as lame or infirm.
Stephen and Sarah died in Weston in 1774, they were most likely in their mid
fifties. They were buried eight days apart.
It would have been a difficult time for their children the youngest of
which was Stephen who was
perhaps not quite 20 years old. Sarah
the eldest child was
barely thirty. The couple had
lived in Weston for at least thirty years.
Apart from Stephen junior not much is known of
Stephen and Sarah's other children. Sarah the oldest in the family had
an illegitimate son. He was
baptised John in 1769. Their other
daughter Elizabeth may have married George Saby. An
entry in the church register has an Elizabeth Sherook, spinster of Weston
marrying George Saby, bachelor of Hitchin by banns 17 March 1777. They were
married by the vicar Joseph Reed. Witnesses to the marriage were Rob. Hide and
William Fray. Aside from Stephen junior, Stephen and Sarah had two other sons William
and John. William baptised in 1746. Apart from his
baptism entry no further information has been found for William. It might be William who appears in the neighbouring parish of
Bygrave's militia lists
in 1775 as a servant.
Stephen and Sarah's second son John was baptised in 1752. He appears in
the Weston militia list for the year 1769 as 'John Shearwood, servant.'
Stephen and Sarah's second son John was baptised in 1752. He appears in the Weston militia list for the year 1769 as 'John Shearwood, servant.'
For many years I was puzzled by the following entries which appear in the Fowlmere (Cambridgeshire) Independent Chapel's records. Fowlmere is about 20 kilometres north east of Weston. In the church minutes for the years 1815 and 1816, a John Sherwood is mentioned. I believe these entries refer to John.
The entries read...
1815, Sep.14. A
Church Meeting held- after solemn prayer to the Lord, the members proceeded to
consider the case of Elizth Harvey-and after a careful investigation she was
voted in as a member of the Church... After this John Sherwood was then
proposed as a proper person to be joined to the church- and the Brethren
Morley and Buy, were requested to converse with him and report the next church
The Morley referred to here is John Morley, father of Thomas. Thomas
married Jane Sherwood in Fowlmere in 1835.
The Morley referred to here is John Morley, father of Thomas. Thomas married Jane Sherwood in Fowlmere in 1835.
Oct 14. A church meeting held
after solemn prayer and praise to the Lord, inquiry was made of the two
brethren who were appointed to visit J. Sherwood.
Their opinions respecting his state was most satisfactory - the Word
seems to have been blessed ? to his soul; but fearing lest he sh'd (should) bring a disgrace on the Lord's
cause- he requested to have some time allowed, previous to his joining as a
9) A church meeting held- after
solemn prayer to the Lord, the Brethren were enquired of, respecting W'm
Jeeves, and their report being satisfactory he was admitted a member. Also J.
Sherwood of whose expression and satisfaction had been given at a previous
The John Sherwood referred to here is very likely related. I suspect that he is Stephen and Sarah's son who was baptised John Sherrug 6 March 1752 at Weston. He then appears in militia lists for Weston in 1769 as 'John Shearwood, servant.'
The next reference to John in the
Fowlmere Independent church records is in 1816.
list of persons who are considered as belonging to the Church of Christ at
Foulmire. 1816 Feb'y. John
Sherwood and William Geeves.
There are further references to him in the church records. It appears that John and another church member William Geeves were not turning up to church as often as they should.
March 21st. A church
meeting held after solemn prayer and exaltation the Deacons addressed the
Church respecting the conversation held with five of the Brethren respecting
their neglecting meetings for prayer.
reasons were considered as frivolous and their conduct improper and as they
had shown symptoms of a better spirit the subject was referred to the next
church meeting when it is hoped that they will manifest a more scriptural
1 ...the Church considered the conduct of W'm Geeves and John Sherwood and
they having expressed contrition for their past
conduct, permission was given for their joining the Brethren at the
next church meeting.
Assuming that John Sherwood was born in 1751/2, he would have been about sixty-five years old when he first joined the Fowlmere Independent Church in 1816. John may have joined the church because of his nephew William Sherwood (c.1782-1843). William was a member of the church and his children were baptised there from 1813 to 1819.
When he was last mentioned in
the church minutes (1823) John Sherwood would have been about 71 years old.
No further trace can be found of John Sherwood in Cambridgeshire after
1823. The appearance of John Sherwood in Fowlmere at the time William was
living there is I believe a further link between the Sherwoods of Fowlmere and
R J Sherwood. 2001
Return to Top of Page