George Darby

#600, (circa 1779-4 March 1853)
FatherRichard Darby1 (c 1752-)
MotherAnne Brett1 (c 1750-)
ChartsAylott Family - descendants
Darby Family - descendants
Mike Hill - ancestors
Descendents of Richard Darby

Short Biography

     George Darby was probably born in Roydon, Essex in about 1779. It was likely his father was a farmer.

However, George followed a different course. At the age of about 14 he became indentured as an apprentice millwright, and likely stayed at this for 7 years.

In 1800 he married Elizabeth Aylott in 1800, and over the next 19 years they had as many as a dozen children.

George's business seems to have gone well, and he branched out into other endeavors; he became a brickmaker, a builder as well as a 'engineer and machine-maker', and was probably employed in this business for the rest of his working life. He took on two of his sons as apprentices, and probably at least one other worked for him. He purchased land in Hertford and amassed about 8 acres in the centre of town and built a number of brick houses on them. However, his property development efforts did not seem to go very well - he was apparently often unable to sell his property.

His personal life also seemed troubled. His wife died after 21 years of marriage when he was about 42, and two of his sons died at the age of 19. He remarried and had a further child, but indications are that it was not a happy marriage. Further, all of his surviving sons and three of his daughters emigrated to Australia and Canada, leaving no sons to run his business - surely a bitter blow to him.

The last three years of his life must have been particularly hard. Two of his sons that had emigrated died in Australia, he was sued for slander and he was injured when he fell out of his carriage.

He died in 1853 of 'old age' at the age of 74.
George's signature c.1821
Source: Probate for Richard Darby 13th March 1821
     (For a brief history and context on the Darby family see this page)

NOTE: The information on this page is my research to date and is subject to change as I become better informed. I very much welcome any corrections or additional info you might have - my email address is at the bottom of this page - Tim Hill.
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George was born circa 1779. He was the son of Richard Darby and Anne Brett.1 George Darby was baptized at St. Peter's on Sunday, 11 April 1779 at Roydon, Essex.1 The church has walls of flint and rubble, and probably dates back to at least 1260. Historically, Roydon was a parish of scattered farms and cottages, with open fields and common meadows. There were 105 ratepayers named in 1734, and the population was 667 in 1801. On the north and west, rivers form the parish and county boundaries.2

George Darby was indentured to William Fincher as an apprentice millwright at the age of about 14 on 14 December 1793 at Hertford. George was at least the fourth and possibly the last of his apprentices over a 15 year period.3 The city of Hertford dates back to at least 673, and was an important market town surrounded by agricultural land. From the late 16th century, it had access to the London corn markets via the River Lea.

For the next seven years he was probably fully engaged in learning his trade.

He married Elizabeth Aylott, a publican's daughter, daughter of Samuel Aylott and Jane Campkin, at All Saints and Saint John on Tuesday, 22 April 1800 at Hertford. Witnesses to the wedding were Thomas Darby and Elizabeth Darby.4 All Saints church was built in the 15th century with a cruciform plan and a west tower. However, it burnt down in 1891.

George and Elizabeth Aylott became the parents of their first child George Darby circa 1800. He was the first of about a dozen children born to George and Elizabeth over the next 19 years.5 James Catlin was indentured to George Darby as an apprentice millwright for 7 years on 26 August 1803. James' father was a labourer of the same name.6 James Darby was indentured to George Darby as an apprentice on 9 February 1805 at Hertford. James was George's nephew, and continued as a millwright for the rest of his working life.7 From the birth of Eliza, their third child, all their subsequent children were baptised at Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, Hertford.Lady Huntingdon's Chapel was one a series of chapels founded in the 18th century by the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion as part of a Calvinistic movement within the Methodist church. She insisted that they should all subscribe to the doctrines of the Church of England and use only the Book of Common Prayer. It was apparently founded in 1800, and started keeping registers from 1806.

In 1814 the Hertford Corporation contracted George to replace the towns elm water pipes with iron pipes they had purchased. He was paid by the number of joints and fireplugs he installed. He had to supply all tools, transport the pipes from the wharf, fill in the paths, take the old pipes away and make good any damage.8,9

George Darby bought a total of 3 acres from George Cock in Hertford comprising three seperate strips in 1815.10 George and Elizabeth Aylott became the parents of their last child John Darby circa 1819 at Hertford.11

On 19 December 1819 his son George died at the approximate age of 19.

His first house was perhaps 'The Grove', which was constructed 1820 on one of the original blocks that he bought.10

His wife Elizabeth died circa January 1821, leaving him a widower. He was about 42 when this happened, leaving him with 12 surviving children.5

In Richard Darby's will George Darby, Thomas Darby and Joseph Munns were named joint executors by Richard to handle his estate on 27 January 1821. His grandfather, now about 90, had perhaps guessed that he was in poor health. George had lost his own wife just 6 weeks before he was required to be executor for his grandfather..12,13,14

Richard Darby's will was probated on 20 March 1821 at the Consistorial and Episcopal Court, London. Further to his will, the beqests were all granted along with a further £800 in consolidated stock which was granted to the executors George Darby, Thomas Darby and Joseph Munns. This £800 was redeemed shortly afterwards but it isn't known what was done with it.13,12 George and Sarah Boden became the parents of Elizabeth Darby circa 1823. She was the last of George's 13 children to be born, and apparently the only one with his soon-to-be second wife Sarah.15 His was listed as many as three times in a trade's directory Cowbridge, Hertford 1823, firstly as a "bricklayer (& brickmaker)", secondly as a "millwright (& engineer & machine maker)", and as a blacksmith. They were perhaps also referring to him when in a listing as a "mealman and miller" of Molewood-mill.16

He married Sarah Boden, daughter of Thomas Boden, at All Saints and Saint John on Thursday, 27 May 1824 at Hertford.17,18 His son William was indentured to Thomas Dew Boden as an apprentice ironmonger for a period of 7 years on 2 August 1824. William's father George had recently married Thomas Boden's sister.6

On 11 June 1827 his son Richard died at the age of 19.

In 1828 and 1829 he conducted a number of land deals that through exchange and purchase left him with about 8 acres in the central part of Hertford. His house, 'The Grove' was situated in the centre of all this. He then developed the houses on Russell Street, George Street and the north side of Port Vale, most of which still exist. These houses were all constructed of brick and had gardens and were seen as better than much of the other housing available to the growing population.19 George Darby as father of the brides, attended (and was witness to) the weddings of two of his daughters; Lucretia who married John Warner and Eliza who married Jerimiah Playl on 7 April 1828 at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, London.20

Apparently a nurseryman and market gardener named George Hide who resided at Darby's Cottage, Port Hill Common was declared bankrupt on 25 February 1831.21

He is recorded in the Poll Book as eligible to vote, with his place of abode in Port Hill, and his qualification to vote being freehold house and land in Port Vale.22 On 6 June 1834 George Darby took on Samuel Darby as an apprentice to learn 'the art of a millwright' in consideration for work and labour for 7 years. However, Samuel's apprenticeship was cancelled just over 2 years later.23 On 6 June 1834 George Darby took on Thomas Darby as an apprentice as an apprentice carpenter and builder for 7 years.6

On 3 March 1835 he listed for sale three cottages in George Street, Bengeo, Hertford to be sold by private contract as well as ajoining land for sale or lease. Evidently, they did not sell as he relisted them with a more descriptive advertisement in November, and then again two years later.24,25
The Hertford Mercury and Reformer 3rd March 1835 p.3
Bengeo is a parish and village just north of Hertford; the village was gradually incorporated into the larger town. The part that ajoins Hertford is lower, rising to agricultural land to the north. The chief crops were wheat, barley and turnips.26

George Darby donated some bricks to construct a cottage for a caretaker of a public park on 9 February 1836.27 He had two brickyards, probably one after the other. The first was at Port Vale when he was living there; when he moved to a property near Russell Street, the brickyard moved too.28

On 15 March 1836 a boy named William Stewart in the employ of George was killed near Sandy Lane when the horse of the cart he was driving started and the cart rolled over him. He was taken to the infirmary but he was already dead.29

George Darby attempted to sell nine plots of freehold land in Russell Street, as well as 2 cottages in the same area on 8 August 1837.30

On 3 September 1837 there was a large fire in the brickyard when a sizable quantity of straw caught fire. Although it was large enough to attract a large number of people and required a policeman to help with the incident, there was no further damage.31

By the late 1830's he had completed construction of a number of large houses on the land he owned including 'Whitacre', a large imposing structure. It seems likely that his financed this construction by mortgaging his land.19 George was listed as many as five times in a 1839 trade's directory in Port Vale, Bengeo, Hertford firstly as a bricklayer, secondly as a brickmaker, thirdly as a builder, fourthly as a carpenter and lastly as a "millwright (and engineer and machine maker)". Unlike the 1823 diectory he doesn't describe himself as a miller.32 He was associated with John Darby in that John had probably been working for his father up until in March 1839.33,34

In 1839, four of his children emmigrated to Australia. Thomas, John and his wife Mary, Martha and her husband John Speller Wright, and Ann and her husband Joseph Peck left London on April 1839, and within 3 years his two remaining sons Samuel and William were there as well.

The family was mentioned in a letter from another South Australian immigrant. Describing something of their circumstances on 21 March 1840:
"On the 27th of August, I had the pleasure of seeing Thomas Darby, his brothers, and sisters, but they did not know me at the first sight, I looked so thin and bad ; but I told them I was well and hearty. They received me very kindly indeed, and I helpt them make their bed the first night in the colony; but to them it seemed a miracle that we should all meet here, after talking about it up at their father's house that night their chimney caught fire [perhaps the brickyard straw fire of 2 years previously]. They desire me to send their kind love to you all, likewise to their fathers and mothers, to their sisters and brothers, and to all inquiring friends and relations."

No doubt this letter was very eagerly received back home.35,31

George offerred his property (then known as 'Porthill House' later known as 'Whitacre') for let. It was a substantial house with nine bedrooms, offices, a library, morning room, dining room and drawing room, stables and garden.36,37

He was recorded as head of household in the 1841 census at Port Hill, Bengeo, Hertford. His age was recorded as 62 years old. Also living in the house were two of his daughters Mary Ann and Elizabeth.38 He offerred up 3 lots of freehold land for sale by auction in George Street and Port Vale. on 11 June 1842.39,40

On 8 May 1844 George planned to sell seemingly all of his property; Port Hill House 'containing every requisite accomodation for a highly respectable family', a family house with 'attached and detached offices of every description', a dwelling house and eight cottages.41 In August 1845 he made another attempt to sell property by auction (with an unknown result.)42,43 He was alive to see his child Amelia emmigrate to Canada circa 1846.44,5 In February 1846 he was called onto a grand jury for the epiphany sessions (which were postponed.)45 Papers exist that relate to the transfer of lands to a John Smitheman; this would have included the sale of 'Porthill House' (which was still mortgaged).46,19

A George Darby contacted a carpenter to build a pair of gates from some timber he had, but apparently a dispute arose about payment and the carpenter knocked the gates down again. He was taken to court and the defendant lost; the carpenter was required to pay 4 shillings damages and the costs.47

George placed an advertisment in the paper on 17 March 1849:
"WANTED, A SOBER STEADY MAN, to manage A Brick Field, himself to be Moulder, and others whom he may appoint. No drunkenness allowed on the ground, married man would be preferred. Enquire of Geo. Darby, Russell-street, Hertford."

It might have been of some sadness that George wasn't able to offer one of his sons this role.48

On November 1849 her daughter Lucretia died. George Darby sufferred a set-back in that his water-windmill was damaged when the sails blew off due to the high winds on 5 February 1850 at Bengeo, Hertford.49

He made a will on 16 May 1850. Of his other children, three other surviving sons (John, Thomas and William) are not named in the will. Perhaps this was because they had emigrated to Australia, but Samuel had also emigrated and is named. In any event, both John and William died in the three years that followed, both before their father's death. Further, George did not name his second wife in the will either, and may have been estranged from her. His son-in-law George Finer was named as the sole executor.50

George sufferred and injury on 18 May 1850:
"Accident. —A serious accident happened to Mr. G. Darby, of this town, last week. He was returning home down Avidbury hill, when his gig came in contact with the trace-stick of a wagon, which was proceeding in a contrary direction, and was overturned. Mr. Darby was thrown out, and received several severe bruises, but we are happy to hear that the dangerous symptoms which at first appeared have subsided, and that he is recovering."51

Hertford Mercury and Reformer - 24th August 1850 p.3
He required to make a public apology to Edward Drury Rayment for alleging that he was insolvent. on 24 August 1850.52 He was also required by another action to assign over 'his Household Furniture, Stock-in-Trade, Fixtures, Utensils, Tools, and Implements of Trade, Book and Other Debts, and all his other personal Estate whatsoever' to satisfy a debt to Jerimiah Rayment (a plumber and glazier) and Thomas Taylor (an ironmonger) in settlement of debts. on 24 September 1850.53 He was in financial trouble. He lost a court case and was required to pay Edward Drury Rayment £45 pounds in settlement for a bill of exchange. However, before the bailiffs could take possession of his goods the goods had been sold at auction, netting £220. Apparently, George, knowing the court action would go against him and being concerned that his remaining assets would not cover his other creditors 'thought it his duty to the other creditors to call them together, state the circumstances to them and offer a composition'. This approach stood, at least until April 1851 when the solicitor to the assignees requested his creditors send in their accounts on 2 November 1850.5455

George Darby was listed as head of household in the 1851 census at 'Brick Field', Bengeo, Hertford.56
Ivy Cottage, Bengeo (slightly right of centre)
date and source unknown

On 26 January 1853 his son John died at the approximate age of 34.11

George died of old age on 4 March 1853 in 'Ivy Cottage', a house he had constructed. at Bengeo, Hertford. He was about 74 years old, and only 3 of his children were still alive and in England.57,58
His body was interred at St. Leonard's parish church on 11 March 1853 at Bengeo, Hertford. His body was interred n grave L, reference no. 096.59 The Church of England church of St Leonard is a 12th century Norman building and the oldest building in Hertford. It was the parish church of Bengeo until 1855. It stands in the eastern corner of Bengeo urban parish near the junction of the Beane with the Lea.60,61

George's will was probated on 20 April 1853.50 His property still had not sold at his time of death, but was to auctioned to satisfy the conditions of his will. In June 1853 four dwelling houses were to be sold, and in September his land was to be sold.62,63,64 His estate planned to sell several plots of 'valuable freehold building ground'. This turned out to be 'four respectable newly-erected substantially brick-built and slated dwelling HOUSES' in Russell Street, three of which were leased for 457 pounds per annum.65,66


1779BaptismSt. Peter's, Roydon, Essex1
1800MarriageAll Saints and Saint John, Hertford4
1840Quotation type 235,31
1841Census (Eng) 1841Port Hill, Bengeo, Hertford38
1849Quotation type 148
1850Quotation type 151
1851Census (Eng) 1851'Brick Field', Bengeo, Hertford56
1853DeathPort Vale, Bengeo, Hertford57,58
1853BurialSt. Leonard's parish church, Bengeo, Hertford59

Family 1

Elizabeth Aylott (c 1777-Jan 1821)

Family 2

Sarah Boden (c 1791-10 Apr 1854)


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  5. [S549] E-mails from Eve Mintern to Tim Hill, 2012- 22 Aug 2012.
  6. [S465] The National Archives, England Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, (
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  8. [S465] The National Archives, England Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, ( (held at Hertford Archives and Local Studies as HB/2/?/36/614).
  9. [S763] E-mails from Marilyn Taylor to Tim Hill (e-mail address), 2014- ("Mr Darby supplied all tools etc. required. He also had to arrange the transportation of the pipes from the wharf to where they were to be laid, fill in the paths and make good any damage. He also had to arrange taking the old wooden pipes to the place of sale and was paid and extra 1s 6d per yard. He also had to make good any problems with the pipes at his own expense within three months of them being laid. The corporation agreed to pay him with one month of completion. 600 Elm pipes were for sale on 5th November 1814 on The Folly in lots of 12 pipes per lot.").
  10. [S470] Geoffrey Thornton, "George Darby and the Development of Bengeo" p.3.
  11. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Deaths' 09 Jul 1853.
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  14. [S472] Website William Darby Strong Tim Hill's collection, (
  15. [S462] ( St Andrews, Hertfordshire (RG4 / Piece _1367 / Folio 3).
  16. [S467] Directory, Herfordshire, various dates "1823 p.355."
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  25. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 10 Nov 1835 p.1.
  26. [415:3;https://enwikipediaorg/wiki/Bengeo:CIT][415:3;https://enwikipediaorg/wiki/Bengeo:CIT]581:3;http://wwwbritish-historyacuk/reportaspx?compid=43637
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  29. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Fatal Accident' 15 Mar 1836 p.3.
  30. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 08 Aug 1837 p.1.
  31. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 05 Sep 1837 p.2.
  32. [S467] Directory, Herfordshire, various dates "1839 p.192."
  33. [S558] "Labourers applications for free passage to South Australia - certificates #3361-#9422," 1 Mar 1839 #4122.
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  39. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 11 Jun 1842 p.1 (They were characterised as suitable 'for Building TEN good Dwelling Houses'. Again, they seemed to meet with little success as he advertised similar land for sale 3 years later.).
  40. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 23 August 1845 p.1.
  41. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 28th April 1844 p.2.
  42. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 11 Jun 1842 p.1.
  43. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 23 August 1845 p.1 ("Consisting of several excellent and extensive Warehouses and Workshops, part of which have been recently and substantially rebuilt with brickwork, and well adapted for carrying on a large business in either of the [carpentry, building and wheelwrights] trades, or may be, at a trifling expense, converted into dwelling houses; also two capital cottages, with a Butcher's Shop, and small gardens behind the same, and a large Corn Shop, with granary over, ajoining, together with several plots of building ground and a quantity of building materials").
  44. [S723] The Islands (…)…
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  48. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Wanted' 17 Mar 1849 p.1.
  49. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'The Wind' 09 Feb 1850 p.2.
  50. [S468] The National Archives, England ( Will of George Darby, Brickmaker of Bengeo, Hertfordshire - Reference: PROB 11/2170/145 (
  51. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Accident' 18 May 1850 p.3.
  52. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Slander and Public Apology' 24 Aug 1850 p.3.
  53. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 28 Sep 1850 p.2.
  54. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'An Interpleader Case' 02 Nov 1850 p.3.
  55. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 9 Apr 1851 p.3.
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  57. [S400] General Register Office, England - Death Certificates, Certified copy of an entry in a Register of Deaths Vol. 3a p.176.
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  63. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 4th June 1853 p.1.
  64. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 17th Sep 1853 p.2.
  65. [S540] The Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal and General Advertiser, 'Port Vale, Hertford' 27 Aug 1853 p.1.
  66. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Russell Street, Hertford' 28 May 1853.
  67. [S462] ( St Andrews, Hertfordshire (RG4 / Piece _1367 / Folio 4).
  68. [S463] Family Search (A service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) ( Indexing Project (Batch) Number:      C07243-7,Source Film Number: 991381, Reference Number: v 5.
  69. [S244] The South Australian Register, 14 Oct. 1856 p.3 Col. G The obitauary of Samuel Darby says he is the fith son; it is possible #272 is the first son by a different wife.