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Setting up a Place of Worship in Watford, 1811


Liberty of St Albans Quarter Sessions Easter 1811

There are two documents in Hertfordshire Archives & Library Service which describe an application to start a new church. The first is the minute book recording an application to start a place of worship in the house of James Webb in Watford. The Rolls contains the original application with the details of those applying and are much more interesting:


“To his Majesty's Justices of the Peace at the General Quarter Sessions held in the Parish and Liberty of St Albans and County of Herts.

That is to say that we whose names are undersigned do hereby give notice that we intend opening a room belonging to Mr James Webb at his house in Farthing Lane, in the parish of Watford and County of Herts for the public worship of God.


Dated this 25th day of April one thousand eight hundred and eleven at Watford Herts.


Ambrose Hanshen (Hanshew?)

Thomas Phrimpton (Plumpton?)

Henry Simmonds

Thomas Stone

Samuel Gotts

William Gotts

William Clark

James Webb”


This has been transcribed as part of the Hertfordshire County Record series published by William le Hardy in 1923, however looking at the original I have a different view of two of the names as marked in brackets.


Samuel was born in 1785 in Aldermaston, and William, his brother was born there in 1791, both sons of an Exciseman, who was moved round the Home Counties.


William was an Exciseman also, and he married Alice Hawtree from St Albans, but the marriage took place in 1816 in Heybridge, Essex. Quite why they married over there is unclear, but we know there was a strong Quaker community there. Alice and her daughter also called Alice, died in the  Yarmouth Bridge disaster in 1845 where 82 people died, 60 of them children.


In 1851 Samuel is living in Bushey Village, a shoemaker, with his son William, an apprentice shoemaker. It seems that William took over the shoemaking business, and Samuel made his money as a watch & clockmaker. This extract from the Watford Leader of 30th January 1894 tells of William's death:


“Death of Mr William Gotts- Another native of Bushey, has passed away in the person of William Gotts boot & shoemaker of High Street, Bushey, who died on Sunday last after a long and painful illness. Mr Gotts was the son of Mr Samuel Gotts, well-known many years ago as the village clockmaker and noted also as an excellent shoemaker. The funeral takes place on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 at the parish church.”


I haven't been able to find out anything about the church they were trying to found: was it a Quaker church somewhere in Watford itself? Does anyone have any information on this?



071-7 Samuel & William & church in Watford

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