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Mormons in Humbershoe

The site of the Mormon Meeting in Humbershoe January 2010
The site of the Mormon Meeting in Humbershoe January 2010

On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The local results were published by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by David W. Bushby. The return for the Latter Day Saints Preaching House was made by William Webb "priest" who noted that the house could hold 50 and, oddly enough, that was the exact number at morning, afternoon and evening worship.

The preaching house had been registered by William Webb, as well as John Austin and John Pratt in October 1850, according to Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 75 Chapels and Meeting Houses edited by Edwin Welch and published in 1996. The property was the "house and premises belonging to Thomas Birdsey". The only Birdsey family in Studham at the time of the 1851 census was headed by Sarah Birdsey, widow, aged 56, who had been born in the Hertfordshire portion of Caddington and was a grocer. Thomas was her son, aged 29 and served as her assistant along with his 34 year old sister Elizabeth, both had been born in the Bedfordshire portion of Studham. Another sister, 28 year old Emma, a dressmaker, also lived with them as did a 32 year old servant, Charlotte Rudd, who had been born in Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] and Richard Gross, a 22 year old journeyman from Tempsford.

The family are listed on the census after the entry for an inn, though the name of the inn is not given. Research, however, undertaken by Markyate Local History Society in 1999 using the Tithe Apportionment Award and Map [AT43/1 and MAT43/1] and published as Humbershoe in the 1850's, Volume 9 of Markyate's Past, shows that it was the Swan Public House on the west side of what was then Watling Street, but is today High Street, Markyate, which was then part of the Bedfordshire parish of Studham. The Birdseys lived in the house immediately south of the inn occupied by the terrace shown in the picture at the head of the page.