This is an attempt to trace the movements of the Currell family in the parishes around
Hitchin from 1700 until 1900. The parishes include Hitchin, Ippollitts, St Pauls
Walden, Kings Walden, Willian, Graveley, Norton, Kimpton, and Baldock.
My tentative contention is that William and Frances Currell (who both died at Willian,
Herts in the 1760s) had several children. From three of these – William, John and
Robert – most of the Currells around Hitchin descended.
Map of parishes around Hitchin with a Currell presence
According to the International Genealogical Index (IGI) the Currells around Hitchin
before 1700 were mainly
based in Stevenage, Hitchin and the Wymondleys, Great and Little. There were other
parishes in Hertfordshire which also had a Currell presence – notably Hatfield –
but I have yet to find a definite connection between these families and the Currells
who lived near Hitchin.
Any search for Currells is hampered by the attempts of parish incumbents and census
enumerators to spell the Currell surname – Coral, Corale, Correll, Currall, Cural,
Carolle and Curle etc. (the last version perhaps
indicates how the name was pronounced). The quest has also not been helped by transcribers
who have further mangled the surname into sometimes incredible forms.
My starting point is William and Frances Currell who were born around 1700 and produced
at least 18 children
at Willian near Hitchin. This couple is literally the end of the line for I cannot
find a record of William’s birth or their marriage, but at least we have three centuries
of history of a family, many of whom were farm workers.
The missing link in my theory is the demonstrably imperfect parish registers of Willian.
Why may one conclude that the Willian data is flawed? From 1700 Willian parish records
were clearly written
up in April from notes made during the year. Thus, the births were recorded firstly,
then marriages and finally deaths for each year – these events were not listed separately,
nor were they entered chronologically, thus a baptism at the end of the year would
be followed by, say, the first marriage in June. This method of recording details
may result in inaccuracies – some events may not be noted at the time and there could
be errors in transcription from the notes.
The register is noticeably deficient from 1715 -1723. During this time, not one burial
is recorded whereas during other years there were regularly between three and six
deaths in the parish. From 1717 to 1721, marriage
details (in what appears to be different handwriting) are squeezed into the record
and in 1715 two baptisms are crammed into the register without mentioning the names
of the parents.
The incomplete Willian parish registers
The reason for this lack of diligence emerges in 1725 because the incumbent clergyman,
Thomas Ward, died
in June of that year. The register has a note that the clerk recorded births, deaths
and marriages in a little book during the illness of the late clergyman. These notes
were entered for 1724 -25 after Thomas Ward’s death.
One wonders how many events were not recorded in the earlier years.
All of this has a possible bearing on the parish record involving the Currell family.
There is no record of the marriage of William and Frances in Willian or of the birth
of a son christened William. The first record of a
Currell in Willian is that of the baptism of Thomas Currell in 1720 (son of William
A likely scenario is that William and Frances were married in Willian between 1715
and 1721 and had a son, William, but that for the reasons explained above, no records
of these events has survived. The alternative is
that the marriage and birth took place in another parish – but cannot be found.
The significance of William Currell’s connection with the family in Willian is that
the Currells of Norton
descended from William Currell who was married in 1747 and was therefore likely born
around 1722. I believe
he was the son of William and Frances. It is inconceivable that William and Frances
did not christen one of their many sons after William – especially as a daughter
was named after Frances. Yet there is no record
of the birth of a William Currell in Willian (or any other parish at this time).
I also believe that of William and Frances Currell’s sons, John was the first Currell
in Aston, Herts and Robert Currell (who married in Graveley, near Hitchin) was the
ancestor of the Currells who lived at Hill End, Preston
The reason for this exodus from Willian is obvious. The parish had a population of
only 293 in 1841. Thus, the essential prerequisites of jobs, potential marriage mates
and homes were of limited availability in the village. As
a result, some of William and Frances children moved a short distance to nearby
Explanatory information re: the links at the top of the page
There is a tree showing William and Frances’ children. Four more family trees feature
(1) the Currells in Preston/Hitchin, (2) Aston, (3) Norton and (4) Willian. Certain
members in the trees have been assigned a number and there is a separate file of
my rough working notes which relate to the numbered individuals. Finally there are
pages dealing with the news stories involving the Currells in Hitchin and Norton
which help the family to ‘come alive’. The links to this information are at the top
of this page.
If you have any comments or corrections about these details please let me know. Link:
I would also like to build a file of Currell photographs on this site. If you have
any photos you would care to
share, I would be pleased to hear from you. Link: Contact Page.