Research Tips

Getting Started

To make sense of family history, it helps to understand the way that Baldock has developed. On this web site are a brief history of Baldock and a list of the main road name changes which can help in interpreting the census and older documents.

On the History Websites page, we have listed useful web sites for local and national family history and local history sources. Also, it is worth trying a global web search (such as Bloggs +Baldock) using a site like Google, especially if you have a more unusual surname, to see if anyone else has posted their family history and you can link up.

In the following sections are some more pointers which may help:

Road Plan of Baldock

For those researching the history of their house, it can be important to understand how Baldock’s road system has developed.

Firstly, there is what remains of the Roman roads; one running north to south from Huntingdon and Godmanchester through Baldock to St Albans and another from Baldock to Braughing and Colchester (now known as North Road, London Road and Clothall Road). They cross the prehistoric Icknield Way running east-west.

These are overlaid with the medieval roads (Whitehorse Street, High Street, Hitchin Street and Church Street) which were deliberately planned by the Knights Templar to give the “new town” of Baldock.

Running in parallel to the main streets were the Back Lanes that gave access to the rear of the properties (now known as The Twitchell, The Tene, Park Street, Pond Lane, Meeting House Lane and Football Close).

Then, fanning out from the centre, are a network of tracks and roads to the nearby villages. These often took a more direct route than today and some have been relegated to the status of footpaths or disappeared completely.

Most recent is the building of the railway (in 1850), the A1 and A505 bypasses and the myriad of smaller roads on what were often gardens or pastures within the town.

The tithe map for Baldock, produced in 1850, is the first detailed map. It is available at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) in Hertford.

Subsequently, the Ordnance Survey maps are most useful.

Parish Boundaries

When doing family or local history research, it helps to remember that Baldock was a very small parish and that the parish boundaries have changed.

Until 1882, the Parish of Baldock was the area enclosed by South Road, Clothall Road, Station Road, Icknield Way West, Norton Road, Weston Way and Crabtree Lane. Only one side of the each road was in Baldock parish.

This means that, for example, those living on the south side of South Road lived in the Parish of Weston but those on the north side lived in Baldock.

This gives rise to situations in family history research where someone is recorded as living in Weston but then moving to Baldock when in fact they only moved across the road!

Another common puzzle is when ancestors lived in Norton End but they may be found listed in Baldock, Willian, Norton or Bygrave records. This is because Norton End was at the north end of Church Street and, although a small area, extended into all four parishes.

For example, if someone was born in the Orange Tree pub they were recorded as being born in Willian, meaning Willian parish not Willian village.

Someone born across the road from the Orange Tree was born in Baldock. A few yards east of this pub, a birth would be recorded as in Norton parish and a few yards further east again, it would have been Bygrave parish.

Other Administrative Areas

Many records are listed in their ancient administrative group of parishes known as a Hundred.

Baldock, Weston and Willian were in the Hundred of Broadwater. Bygrave and Clothall were in Odsey Hundred and Norton was in Cashio Hundred.

Other records will be listed under the county of Hertfordshire. Sometimes they are misfiled under Herefordshire!

A few, particularly for the Quakers of which Baldock had many prominent families, are listed under Bedfordshire.