Person:Maria Hornet (1)

m. 7 Feb 1824
  1. John Hornet1823 - 1824
  2. Mary Ann HornetAbt 1825 - 1903
  3. John Hornet1827 - 1828
  4. William Hornet1829 -
  5. Maria Hornet1832 - 1906
  • WMaria Hornet1832 - 1906
  1. William Hornet1857 - 1860
  2. Sophia Hornet1862 - 1946
m. 24 Oct 1863
  1. Frederick Wright1864 - 1941
  2. Sarah Wright1867 - 1919
m. 24 Dec 1871
  1. Clara Nicholls1872 - 1935
  2. George Nicholls1874 - 1931
  3. James Nicholls1876 - 1878
Facts and Events
Name Maria Hornet
Gender Female
Birth[1] 28 Apr 1832 Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, EnglandBatford Mill
Christening[1] 10 Jun 1832 Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, England
Census[2] 6 Jun 1841 Harpenden, Hertfordshire, EnglandCold Harbour
Census[3] 30 Mar 1851 Harpenden, Hertfordshire, EnglandUpper Top Street
Census[4] 7 Apr 1861 Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, EnglandPiggots Hill
Marriage 24 Oct 1863 Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, Englandto Charles Wright
Census[5] 2 Apr 1871 Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, EnglandThe Folly
Marriage 24 Dec 1871 St Albans, Hertfordshire, EnglandRegister Office
to Daniel William Nicholls
Census[6] 3 Apr 1881 Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, EnglandBrewhouse Hill
Census[7] 5 Apr 1891 Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, EnglandHamwell Cottage, Nomansland
Census[8] 31 Mar 1901 Harpenden, Hertfordshire, EnglandWest Common
Death[9] 24 Nov 1906 St Albans, Hertfordshire, EnglandThe Infirmary, Union Workhouse
  Genealogy well done. Exemplary WeRelate page with excellent use of original sources.


Maria Hornet was born on 28th April 1832 and baptised a few weeks later at Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire. Her baptism record gives the family's abode as "In the Bottoms, Wheathampstead", but it is unclear where this refers to. Maria herself claimed to have been born at Batford Mill, which stands on the River Lea in the parish of Wheathampstead, although the river at that point was the boundary with the neighbouring parish of Harpenden[10]. She was the fifth child of a labourer called Joseph Hornet and his wife Mary Swallow, although two of the couple's children (both boys named John) had died as infants, such that Maria only had two surviving older siblings: Mary Ann and William.

A few days after Maria's first birthday, her father Joseph died, aged just 32. His burial Her mother Mary was left with the three children to look after. Less than a year after Joseph's death, Mary married again to a widower named Francis Warner. It appears that Mary and Francis Warner had three daughters, although no baptism has been found for their daughter Susan [11]. At the time of the 1841 census the family was living at Cold Harbour - part of Harpenden on the banks of the River Lea, very close to Batford Mill where Maria had been born.

When Maria was eleven her stepfather Francis died, followed shortly by her half-sister Sophia Warner. Her mother Mary was left with five of her own children to look after - and possibly some of Francis's children from his first marriage to look after too. By 1851, Mary and her children were living at Upper Top Street in Harpenden[12].

Maria's mother married for a third time in 1851 to a labourer named William Myers, who thus became Maria's second stepfather. Mary and William moved to The Folly in Wheathampstead parish, another hamlet on the River Lea between Batford and Wheathampstead village. In 1857, a few days after Maria's 25th birthday, her mother Mary died, aged 54.


Also in 1857, at about the same time that Maria's mother died, Maria had a son named William. However, he died aged two years old in 1860.

In 1861, Maria was working at Piggots Hill in Wheathampstead as a house servant for a farmer of 450 acres named William Bates and his wife Jane.

In 1862, Maria had another illegitimate child, Sophia, who was born in the nearby town of St Albans but baptised back at Wheathampstead in 1863. Later on in 1863, at the age of 31, Maria was married to a Charles Wright, who was four years older than her and from the Marshalls Heath area of Wheathampstead. They had two children together, but after only five years of marriage, Charles died, aged 40, in 1868. Maria was left with her daughter Sophia and her two Wright children, Frederick and Sarah. The 1871 census finds Maria, Sophia, Frederick and Sarah living at The Folly in Wheathampstead, with Maria working as a straw plaiter.

In 1871, Maria's half sister Susan Warner died, aged 36. Susan had been living at Nomansland to the south of Wheathampstead with a man named Daniel Nicholls, with whom she had had seven children, but (for reasons that are not clear) had not married. On Christmas Eve 1871, Maria and Daniel Nicholls were married, bringing together their children as step-siblings who were already half-cousins. Particularly confusing must have been the fact that they both had daughters called Sarah: Sarah Wright having been born in 1867 and Sarah Nicholls in 1868.

Maria had a further three children with Daniel Nicholls at Nomansland: Clara, George and James, although James died as a baby. In 1881 the family was living at Brewhouse Hill in Wheathampstead - the only sighting of the family actually living in Wheathampstead village rather than in the more remote hamlets.

In 1885, Maria's daughter Sophia married, and promptly afterwards emigrated to Massachusetts in America, where Maria's first grandchild was born. Maria's son Frederick also moved away from southern England, marrying in Lancashire in 1888 and having his children there.

By 1891 Maria and Daniel were living back at Nomansland with Clara and George. The cottage they lived in in 1891 was described as having four rooms. Maria's three other surviving children all started having families of their own in the 1890s, all staying more local to the Wheathampstead / Harpenden area. Altogether Maria appears to have had 27 grandchildren born in her lifetime: four in America to Sophia, eleven in Lancashire to Fred, and in Hertfordshire one to Sarah, seven to Clara and four to George. (Some of these grandchildren died in infancy.) A further six grandchildren would follow after Maria's death.

Come 1901, with all the children having left home, Daniel and Maria were living in a two roomed cottage on West Common in Harpenden, which appears to have been at a place called Soapsud Alley, just north of Pimlico Cottages[13].

Daniel died a few days after the 1901 census, aged 70. Maria outlived him by just over five years and died on 24th November 1906, aged 74, at the infirmary of the Union Workhouse in St Albans. Her death certificate gives her address as Wheathampstead Road, Harpenden, which suggests that before going to the infirmary she had been living with her youngest son, George and his family.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Church of England. Wheathampstead Parish Registers. (Hertford: Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies).

    BAPTISMS solemnized in the Parish of Wheathampstead in the County of Hertford in the Year 1832
    No.889 / Born April 28th Baptized Jun 10th / Maria Daughter of / Joseph & Mary / HORNET / In the Bottoms, Wheathampstead / Laborer

    This baptism has been linked to the Maria Hornet who married first Charles Wright and then Daniel Nicholls on the basis of the censuses in which Maria claimed to have been born around 1832 in Wheathampstead, and her second marriage certificate which named her father as Joseph Hornet.

  2. England. General Register Office. The National Archives (abbreviated TNA): 1841 Census Schedules for England and Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. (Kew, Richmond, Greater London TW9 4DU, United Kingdom)
    Class HO107; Piece 441; Book 4; Folio 32; Page 17, 6 Jun 1841.

    Address: Cold Harbour, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
    Francis Warner, male, 45 [1791-6], Ag[ricultural] Lab[ourer], b. Hertfordshire
    Mary Warner, female, 35 [1801-6], Pl[aiter], b. Hertfordshire
    Mary Warner jun., female, 15 [1821-6], Pl[aiter], b. Hertfordshire
    Elizabeth Warner, female, 15 [1821-6], Pl[aiter], b. Hertfordshire
    Susan Warner, female, 5 [1835/6], Pl[aiter], b. Hertfordshire
    Sarah Warner, female, 3 [1837/8], b. Hertfordshire
    William Hornet, male, 10 [1830/1], Pl[aiter], b. Hertfordshire
    Maria Hornet, female, 9 [1831/2], Pl[aiter], b. Hertfordshire

  3. General Register Office. The National Archives (abbreviated TNA). England and Wales. 1851 Census Schedules. (Kew, Richmond, Greater London TW9 4DU, United Kingdom)
    Class HO107; Piece 1713; Folio 73; Page 10, 30 Mar 1851.

    Address: Upper Top Street, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
    Mary Warner, head, widow, female, 46 [1804/5], Pl[aiter], b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Susan Warner, dau, unmarried, female, 16 [1834/5], Pl[aiter], b. Harpenden, Hertfordshire
    William Hornet, son, unmarried, male, 21 [1829/30], Ag[ricultural] Lab[ourer], b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Maria Hornet, daur, unmarried, female, 18 [1832/3], Pl[aiter], b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    William Innance?, lodger, married, male, 41 [1809/10], Carpenter, b. Harpenden, Hertfordshire

  4. General Register Office. The National Archives (abbreviated TNA). 1861 Census Schedules for England and Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. (Kew, Richmond, Greater London TW9 4DU, United Kingdom)
    Class RG9; Piece 827; Folio 47; Page 18, 7 Apr 1861.

    Address: Piggots Hill, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    William Bates, head, married, male, 63 [1797/8], Farmer 450 acres employing 12 men, b. Offley, Hertfordshire
    Jane Bates, wife, married, female, 56 [1804/5], Farmers wife, b. Flamstead, Hertfordshire
    Charlotte Bates, daughter, unmarried, female, 25 [1835/6], Farmers daughter, b. Luton, Bedfordshire
    Jane Bates, daughter, unmarried, female, 23 [1837/8], Farmers daughter, b. Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire
    Edmund Bates, son, unmarried, male, 21 [1839/40], Farmer's son, b. Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire
    George Bates, son, unmarried, male, 19 [1841/2], Farmer's son, b. Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire
    John Bates, son, male, 13 [1847/8], Scholar, b. Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire
    Maria Hornet, servant, unmarried, female, 28 [1832/3], House servant, b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    John Lodge, servant, widower, male, 60 [1800/1], Labourer, b. Willyan, Hertfordshire
    Thomas Smith, servant, unmarried, male, 19 [1841/2], Labourer, b. Luton, Bedfordshire
    Daniel Cain, servant, unmarried, male, 20 [1840/1], Labourer, b. Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire

  5. General Register Office. The National Archives (abbreviated TNA). England and Wales. 1871 Census Schedules. (Kew, Richmond, Greater London TW9 4DU, United Kingdom)
    Class RG10; Piece 1376; Folio 36; Page 34, 2 Apr 1871.

    Address: The Folly, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Maria Wright, head, widow, female, 39 [1831/2], Straw plaitter, b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Sophia Hornet, daughter, female, 9 [1861/2], Straw plaitter, b. St Albans, Hertfordshire
    Frederic Wright, son, male, 6 [1864/5], Scholar, b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Sarah Wright, daughter, female, 3 [1867/8], Scholar, b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire

  6. General Register Office. The National Archives (abbreviated TNA). 1881 Census Schedules for England and Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands: . (Kew, Richmond, Greater London TW9 4DU, United Kingdom)
    Class RG11; Piece 1429; Folio 48; Page 7, 3 Apr 1881.

    Address: Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Daniel Nichols, head, married, male, 47 [1833/4], Farm labourer, b. Gustard Wood, Hertfordshire
    Maria Nichols, wife, married, female, 48 [1832/3], Straw plaiter, b. Batford Mills, Hertfordshire
    Frederick Nichols, son, unmarried, male, 19 [1861/2], Farm labourer, b. Nomansland, Hertfordshire
    Mary Ann Nichols, daughter, unmarried, female, 17 [1863/4], Straw plaiter, b. Nomansland, Hertfordshire
    Sarah Nichols, daughter, unmarried, female, 12 [1868/9], Scholar, b. Nomansland, Hertfordshire
    Arthur Nichols, son, male, 9 [1871/2], Scholar, b. Nomansland, Hertfordshire
    Clara Nichols, daughter, female, 8 [1872/3], Scholar, b. Nomansland, Hertfordshire
    George Nichols, son, male, 6 [1874/5], Scholar, b. Nomansland, Hertfordshire
    Sarah Wright, daughter, female, 13 [1867/8], Scholar (2nd family), b. Folly, Hertfordshire

  7. General Register Office. The National Archives (abbreviated TNA). 1891 Census Schedules for England and Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. (Kew, Richmond, Greater London TW9 4DU, United Kingdom)
    Class RG12; Piece 1114; Folio 47; Page 15, 5 Apr 1891.

    Address: Hamwell Cottage, Nomansland, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    4 rooms occupied
    Daniel Nicholls, head, married, male, 57 [1833/4], Agric[ultura]l Labourer, employed, b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Maria Nicholls, wife, married, female, 58 [1832/3], b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Charlotte Nicholls, daughter, single, female, 18 [1872/3], b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    George Nicholls, son, single, male, 16 [1874/5], Agric[ultura]l Labourer, b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire

  8. General Register Office. The National Archives (abbreviated TNA). England and Wales. 1901 Census Schedules: also for the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. (Kew, Richmond, Greater London TW9 4DU, United Kingdom)
    Class RG13; Piece 1310; Folio 20; Page 32, 31 Mar 1901.

    Address: West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
    2 rooms occupied
    Daniel Nichols, head, married, male, 70 [1830/1], General farm labourer, b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
    Maria Nichols, wife, married, female, 69 [1831/2], b. Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire

  9. Death Certificate, in General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration. (London: General Register Office).

    1906 DEATH in the Sub-district of St Albans in the County Hertford
    When and where died: Twenty fourth November 1906, The Infirmary, Union Workhouse, St Albans UD
    Name: Maria Nicholls
    Sex: Female
    Age: 74 years [1831/2]
    Occupation: Widow of Daniel Nicholls, Farm Labourer, Wheathampstead Road Harpenden UD
    Cause of death: Senile Decay, Morbus Cordis, Certified by J.P. Grosant Wells LRCP
    Informant: George Nicholls, son, In attendance, Wheathampstead Road, Harpenden
    Registered: Twenty Sixth November 1906

  10. The boundary has subsequently changed, transferring the mill to Harpenden
  11. Susan appears living with Francis and Mary in the 1841 census and is described as Mary's daughter in the 1851 census, but no plausible baptism has been found for her at either Harpenden or Wheathampstead.
  12. Upper Top Street Farm was on what is now called Crabtree Lane, on the site now occupied by Gilpin Green.
  13. The Vale of the Nightingale, Molly Andrews, 1996 - this book includes a description of the home the author's family lived in at Soapsud Alley, including reference to neighbours on either side, from which it is clear that the author's family must have moved into the cottage that Daniel and Maria were living in at the time of the 1901 census. The name Soapsud Alley has fallen out of use, but the buildings still stand - now known as Nos. 15-20 West Common.