© Kiff One Name Study 1993-1999 all rights reserved
KIFF One Name Study
Secretary: Lori-Ann Foley
St Helier, Jersey
Channel Islands, UK
Kiff One Name Study Newsletter
Kings Langley Parish Church, Hertfordshire.
Issue 10, 1997
Annual Kiff Day
The Search for William Henry Kiff
The Chairman and other Somerset Kifts
In Memory of Charles Kift
Welcome to the latest issue of the newsletter, where we seem to have ended up focusing on Hertford and surrounds.
A query from Mrs Trim, trying to place herself firmly on the Hertfordshire tree, led to a closer look at the Hertford records. The results of that research are included, as well as the story of Mrs Trim's Kiff ancestors.
A new index of Hertfordshire newspapers turned up two Kiff references, including the latest Kiff to be involved in a tale of murder. The story is told as it appeared in the newspapers of the day.
As promised, an article on Estelle Bale's Somerset family is included, as well as the interesting information she provided on her grandfather's unusual occupation.
And finally, the Annual Kiff Day will soon be upon us. For details, read on.
Ann Turnor Surrey, England
John S Kiff Suffolk, England
Estelle Bale Bristol, England
A reminder to members that the second Saturday in June is the annual Kiff get-together. This year it will be held on 8th June at Dianas home at Northwood, Middlesex (see map below).
Coffee will be brewing at 10am and Diana would appreciate it if everyone attending could be there by noon, when a buffet lunch will be available. Please let Diana know in advance if you plan to attend so she knows how much food to prepare. A small contribution towards the cost of the food can be made on the day.
This is the ideal opportunity to meet up with everybody, catch up on what has been happening and plan what research should be undertaken next. Bring along photos, information and interesting discoveries. If you know of any Kiff memebrs who are not in the Study and would be interested in attending, be sure to pass the date on to them.
I look forward to seeing you there.
A new index service, under the above name, was recently advertised in Family Tree Magazine. It is indexed by surname, covering a wide cross-section of material, such as court reports, bankruptcys, etc. A letter to Matt Sears, the indexer, produced two references to Kiffs.
The first reference was found in the Hertfordshire Mercury, dated 8th December 1855, which carried the dramatic headline "Manslaughter at Hertford Heath". The story unfolded as the trial examined the evidence and the newspaper carried the following report.
"George Kiff, aged 25, labourer, Little Amwell, was charged with the Manslaughter of Thornas Godfrey, at Hertford Heath.
Mr Bushby conducted the case for the prosecution; Mr O'Brien defended the prisoner.
John Brown examined: I was at the Townshend Arms public house, at Hertford Heath, on 22nd September last.
Mr Justice CROMPTON: What night was it?
Witness: Saturday night.
Mr Justice CROMPTON: I thought so. Nearly all these cases of manslaughter occur at a public house on Saturday night, when men who have just received their money go and spend it in drink instead of taking it home.
Examination continued: There were several persons in the house at the time. The prisoner and Godfrey were there; they both worked for Mr Trustram. A man named Smith, who also worked for Mr Trustram was there, and in the course of the conversation, remarked that he and Godfrey were Mr Trustram's best men. Kiff did not say anything at the time, and soon left the house. He shortly afterwards returned, and had not been in the house long before he pulled off his coat and said, "I'll let you know who is the best man". He then hit Smith with his open hand, and turned to Godfrey and gave him a blow. I got hold of the prisoner, and he rushed out of my hands and flew at Godfrey again. Then got to fighting, and both fell down, Godfrey being underneath. I got hold of the prisoner and the landlord of the Townshend Arms took up Godfrey. The landlord said he would have no disturbance in his house, and I then let Kiff go. Godfrey had in the meantime left the house, and Kiff went out saying, "Where is he?". He then rushed at Godfrey and knocked him down. I went and got hold of Kiff and held him. Godfrey did not show any signs of life after this; I did not see him move afterwards, nor hear him speak. Both Kiff and Godfrey were somewhat tipsy, but Kiff was the worst.
Cross-exarnined by Mr O'BRIEN: When Kiff went towards Godfrey the second time, Godfrey did not get up to meet him. Godfrey was standing by the side of the table with his fists clenched. Godfrey had been out of the house about five minutes before Kiff went out. I followed Kiff out. When Kiff got out of the door Godfrey was standing about two or three yards from the water-trough. Kiff went directly up to him and hit him with his fist on the left side of the neck. I did not see Kiff kick him; I don't think Kiff had anything in his hand when he struck Godfrey. It was a moonlight night.
George Smith, examined: I was at the Townshend Arms on Saturday night the 22nd of September. When I said that I and Godfrey were Mr Trustram's best men, Kiff came to me and hit me in the face; he then went to Godfrey and struck him. Godfrey and Kiff had a struggle in the room; the landlord said he would have no row in the house. Godfrey went out and Stalley with him. I went out afterwards and saw Kiff hit Godfrey once. Godfrey fell down and never got up again.
Cross-exarnined by Mr O'BRIEN: We were all the worse for liquor.
Thomas Stfflley examined: I was at the Townshend arms on Saturday night, the 22nd of September. When Kiff went out of the house the first time, he seemed the worse for liquor. When he came back to the house he appeared almost beside himself. He said he would soon let them know who was Mr Trustram's best man, and soon afterwards struck Godfrey. I accompanied Godfrey out of the house, and tried to persuade him to go home; he did not 'answer, but seemed to wish to go back into the house. I stood in the door-way to prevent him, as well as I could. I told him he had better fo home, but if he really meant to fight Kiff, he had better wait outside for him. While I was talking to him Kiff came out and said, "Where is he?'. I stepped to one side. Kiff rushed at Godfrey and they both fell together. Godfrey got up and Kiff again struck him, and they both fell together again. Godfrey did not move after that. It was then about half-past eleven. I don't think anybody was present but myself, when the first round outside the house took place.
Cross-examined by Mr O'BRIEN: I was with Godfrey outside the house about three or four minutes before Kiff came out. In the first round I don't think there were any blows struck; I think they ran against each other, for they fell directly, and prisoner fell over the deceased. I was quite sober. Godfrey did not say why he wanted to go into the house.
Mr Justice CROMPTON: It is pretty clear that he wanted to go in for the purpose of fighting Kiff, for the witness states that he told him if he really wanted to fight Kiff he had better wait outside for him.
Mr P Reilly, surgeon, of Hertford, examined: About one o'clock in the morning of Sunday the 23rd September, I was called in to see the deceased; he was quite dead and cold. I examined the head and found a slight abrasion of the skin of the cheek. I afterwards made a post mortetn examination. I was assisted by Dr Davies and my brother. On moving the scalp on the left side above the ear we found a fracture of the base of the skull, where there was a quantity of congealed blood. We removed the skull and examined the back portion of the brain. We found the medulla oblongata separated from the cerebellum, which was sufficient in itself to cause instant death. The brain was in a very congested state. The injury might have been occasioned by a fall or a blow.
Mr O'BRIEN addressed the jury for the prisoner, and called Mr Trustrain, farmer, who stated that the prisoner had worked for him for some years, and he had always considered him a peaceable, well-disposed man.
Mr Justice CROMPTON, in summing up, remarked that the only question for the jury was - whether Godfrey's fall, which appeared to have caused his death, was the result of any unlawful violence on the part of Kiff? It was no justification for Kiff that Godfrey had showed a disposition to fight, for the fight itself was an unlawful act. It must not be supposed that if two men get drunk and quarrel and fight, and the death of one of them is the result, the other is not guilty of manslaughter, merely because they were engaged in what is called a fair fight. It was not lawful for two men, even though they both agreed, to fight, or use any violence towards each other. Whether, therefore, the deceased fell in consequence of a blow or a push from Kiff, it did not affect the question of his guilt. According to the evidence, it would appear that the deceased did not fall the last time in consequence of a blow; but the simple question was - whether he fell from any act of violence of any kind in the part of the prisoner?
The jury returned the following verdict:- Guilty of manslaughter in its mildest form.
Mr Justice CROMPTON, in passing sentence, said this certainly was not an aggravated case of manslaughter, for it appeared to him that Godfrey wanted to fight as well as the prisoner, and in the fight the prisoner exhibited no brutality such as kicking his antagonist. He (Mr Justice CROMPTON) had no doubt that the prisoner was very sorry that he had been the cause of death of his companion; and he hoped that this would be a warning to the prisoner and others not to go to a public-house on a Saturday night to spend their money in drink - a practice which very frequently resulted in quarrelling and in manslaughter. As the prisoner "had already been in prison nearly three months, the sentence would be a comparatively light one. Sentence to be imprisoned for one month."
The George Kiff referred to was the son of John Kiff and Martha Goldsmith, christened on 11th April 1830 at All Saints, Hertford.
His trial behind him and his life carrying on, on 15th February 1857 George married Sarah Burgess at All Saints, Hertford. Sarah was a 38 year old widow, the daughter of George Hart. She had a daughter, Martha, from her first marriage. George was 27 and still a labourer living in Little Amwell.
The 1861 census for Little Amwell shows George, his wife Sarah, her daughter Martha, and George and Sarah's two children Emma, aged 3, and George, aged 1. George was still an agricultural labourer and Sarah brought in extra money as a charwoman.
But any happiness in his life was not to last long for George, as he died on 20th July 1862. The 1871 census for Hertford Heath village shows Sarah, a widow again, with her son George, aged 11, and her grandson David Burgess, aged 4. She was working as a laundress and also had a nursechild, Walter Brace.
|The second Kiff reference was much milder and referred to
the occupants of newly built brick cottages erected in Hertford Heath. One of the
occupants was james Kiff, the elder brother of George, above. The advert, from the Hertford
Mercury, dated 25th January 1851, gives a very good, although no doubt idylic,
description of a workers cottage of the day.
James Kiff, also the son of John Kiff and Martha Goldsmith, was christened on 17th October 1824 at All Saints, Hertford. He married Martha Smith on 9th December 1849. The 1861 census for Great Amwell, Hertford Heath, shows James and Martha with their children Louisa jane, aged 10, Elizabeth, aged 8, Susan, aged 6, John, aged 4, Charlotte, aged 2, and a lodger, William Worley.
How difficult can it be to find a Kiff, even one named Williarn, when one knows the date and place of birth? Very, turned out to be the answer in one case. A letter from Mrs Jean Trim starts the story. She wanted to know about her grandfather Williarn Henry Kiff.
Mrs Trim's mother Violet Louisa Kiff was born on Sept 28th 1892 at Little Berkhampsted, Herts, the youngest of five daughters of William and Eliza Kiff. Mrs Trim thought that Williarn was born at Little Berkharnpsted in 1852. He had a sister, who died very suddenly at an early age, and a brother, who left home and nothing more was heard from him.
Little Berkhampstead, Herts.
A 'folly' tower on B 153, known as 'Stratton's Observatory'. From it Admiral Stratton was able to view his ships anchored inthe River Thames
Illustration taken from
Mrs Trim knew that her grandfather, Williarn Henry had run away from home and joined the Royal Horse Artillery, joining up at Woolwich Arsenal. He was batman to a Colonel Stratton who came from Little Berkhampsted. When Colonel Stratton's time in the army finished he returned to his estate in Hertfordshire and William Henry went with him, becoming the Colonel's coachman.
The Stratton estate at Little Berkhampsted is well-known for its folly, known as Stratton's observatory, a tall brick tower built by Admiral Stratton in 1789.
While serving in the army, William Henry met and married a Wiltshire girl, Eliza Emily Reynolds. They married on July 7th 1878 at the Bethesda Chapel, The Courts, Trowbridge, Melksham Wiltshire. William Henry was a driver in the Royal Artillery and gave his residence as The Barracks, Colchester. His father William was an agricultural labourer.
The couple had seven children. The eldest, Eliza Emily, was born in Wiltshire, the next two, William Thomas and Rosina, were born in Kent, the first in Dover the second in Shorncliffe. The family moved on to Hertfordshire where Bessie May was born at Hilsea and Florence Maud was born at Barford. The last two children, Violet Louisa and Arthur Edward, were born at Little Berkhampstead.
|A fly leaf from the family bible gives the dates of birth with
William (Henry) Kiff, born March 28th 1853;
Eliza (his wife) born March 10th 1854;
Eliza Emily, born Sept 12th 1878;
Williarn Thomas, born March 9th 1881;
Rosina, born Sept 20th 1882;
Bessie May, born Oct 23rd 1884;
Florence M, born Jan 6th 1888;
Violet Louisa, born Sep 28th 1892;
Arthur Edward, born Jan 22nd 1895.
Violet Louisa went on to marry Bertram Joseph Baker on 29th September 1923 and the union was blessed with the birth of a little girl jean.
With all this information it shouldn't have been difficult to take the family tree further. A look at the GRO indexes and at the Kiff family tree (page 4 1) show a William Henry, son of William, being born in 1852 at Hertford Heath. The Hertford Heath baptisms back this up, with William Henry being baptised on 18th July 1852, the son of William Henry and Mary Ann. But two years later, under the GRO deaths, a William Henry is shown. Is this the same little William Henry?
A look at the 1861 census shows the family of William and Mary Ann Kiff and their three children, William, George and Mary Ann. William (no middle name shown) is aged 9 years, putting his date of birth circa 1852. This family certainly seems to fit Mrs Trim's information. A fourth child, Thomas, seems to have died young - perhaps the information of a sibling dying was changed from a boy to a girl over the years. William's brother George seems to disappear from the scene, as per Mrs Trim's family information.
So was it an unfortunate coincidence that another William Henry died at around the time we were looking for a child of that name? I think we have enough information to firmly place Mrs Trim's family as descendents of William and Mary Ann Kiff's son William. But any ideas or comments will be welcome.
Celia Jepps has been looking at some of the Hertford records and has found the following references,
All Saints and St Johns 1844-1876-1891
7th August 1831, Hardet Lavinia, daughter of William and Mary Kiff, Hertford Heath
l st May 1836, Caroline, daughter of William and Mary Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
20th October 1839, John, son of Williarn and Mary Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
11 th April 1 830, George, son of John and Martha Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
4th May 1834, William, son of John and Martha Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
5th November 1837, Elizabeth, daughter of John and Martha Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
17th June 1849, Abraham, son of Aran and Sarah Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
15th March 1857, Job, son of Aran and Sarah Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
*note the marriage of Sarah Kiff and Aran Hammock below - did they prefer Kiff to Hammock'?
18th May 1851, Louisa Jane, daughter of James and Martha Kiff, Hertford Heath
22nd May 1853, Elizabeth, daughter of James and Martha Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
20th February 1853, Mary Ann, daughter of James and Ann Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
born 4th November 1852
1 8th July 1852, William Henry, son of William and Mary Ann Kiff, Hertford Heath
14th December 1856, Emily, daughter of Andrew and Harriet Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
9th January 1859, William, son of Andrew and Harriet Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
10th February 1861, Charlotte, daughter of Andrew and Harriet Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
8th May 1864, Harriet, daughter of Andrew and Harriet Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
20th September 1857, Emma Elizabeth, daughter of George and Sarah Kiff, Hertford Heath (labourer)
22nd February 1846, All Saints, Hertford, Parish Church
Aran Hammock, aged 20, bachelor, labourer, Fote Street, son of Abraham Hammock, labourer
Sarah Kiff, aged 21, spinster, servant, Dunkirk's farm, Brickendon, daughter of William Kiff, labourer
Witnesses- Andrew Kiff and Emma Hammock
25th November 1848, All Saints Hertford
James Todd, aged 21, bachelor, labourer, Little Amwell, son of James Todd, labourer
Ann Kiff, aged 21, spinster, ---, Little Amwell, daughter of William Kiff, labourer
Witnesses: Andrew Kiff and James Latter (?registrar)
9th December 1849, All Saints, Hertford
James Kiff, aged 25, bachelor, labourer, Hertford Heath, son of John Kiff, labourer
Martha Smith, aged 20, spinster, ---, Hertford Heath, daughter of John Smith, labourer
Witnesses: Andrew Kiff and James Letter
22nd February 1852, All Saints, Hertford
William Kiff, aged 32, bachelor, labourer, Hertford Heath, son of William Kiff, labourer
Mary Ann VVilbourn, aged 30, widow, ---, Hertford Heath, daughter of Samuel Jackson, labourer
Witnesses. Andrew Kiff and James Latter
25th December 1854, All Saints, Hertford
John Camp, aged 27, bachelor, labourer, Hertford Heath, son of John Camp, labourer
Harriet Kiff, aged 24, spinster, ---, Hertford heath, daughter of William Kiff, labourer
Witnesses: not noted
15th February 1857, All Saints, Hertford
George Kiff, aged 27, bachelor, labourer, Hertford Heath, son of John Kiff, labourer
Sarah Burgess, aged 38, widow, ---, Hertford Heath, daughter of George Hart, labourer
17th July 1864, All Saints, Hertford
John Kiff, aged 24, bachelor, labourer, Hertford Heath, son of John Kiff
Sarah Wren, aged 18, spinster, ---, Hertford Heath, daughter of George Wren
No more to 1881 at All Saints, Hertford.
None at St Andrews 1837-1878
20th March 181 1, Joseph Kiff
2nd January 1820, Elizabeth Kiff, aged 22 years
5th March 1820, Ann Kiff, age 17 years
20th November 1823, Elizabeth Kiff, age 1¼ years
12th May 1826, Andrew Jiff(?), age 60 years
18th October 1829, Susanna Kiff, age 2 years
l9th June 1834, John Kiff, age 2 weeks
5th August 1836, Caroline Kiff, age 4 months
27th December 1840, William Kiff, age 44 years
22nd January 1850, Mary Ann Kiff, age 10 days (twins?)
22nd January 1850, Martha Kiff, age 10 days (twins?)
4th March 1854, Mary Ann Kiff, age 69 years
20th July 1862, George Kiff of Hertford Heath, aged 30 - 23rd row, 14th grave
27th April 1864, Sarah Kiff of Hertford Heath, aged 18 - 23rd row, 16th grave
18th December 1877, Sarah Kiff of Butcherley ?Green, aged 73
|RG9/803 Hertford Heath, Great Amwell|
|William Kiff||Head||Mar||44||Ag Labourer||St Johns, Hertford|
|Mary Ann||Wife||Mar||46||Bishops Stortford, Herts|
|William||Son||9||Scholar||Little Amwell, Herts|
|George||Son||7||Scholar||St Andrews, Hertford|
|Mary Ann||Dau||5||Scholar||All Saints, Hertford|
(more census details to follow, maybe!)
Estelle Bale has been busy researching the Somerset Kifts, trying to find out more about her family tree. Her father was born on 7th February 1878 at 1 John's Place, Bath. He had an older sister, Elizabeth, who had been born on 12th December 1870. Their mother was Annie Kift, who married Williarn Joseph Taylor on 16th December 1878 in Bath.
Annie Kift was the daughter of Joseph Kift and Charlotte. Joseph was born in Middlezoy in Somerset but Estelle thinks it is probable that Joseph and Charlotte married in Bath. Annie and her parents lived in 1 John's Place, Lampard Buildings in Bath.
Joseph's occupation was a chairman, i.e. he transported clients to and from the baths, to take the waters, in a bath chair. The first chair was made in 1780 and by Victorian times there were 162 'wheel chairs" available. These were often handed down from father to son.
The invalid, after treatment in the baths, had to be kept at the same hot temperature and this could only be done using a bath chair, virtually an airtight compartment. Bath chairs could go anywhere in the town - in the Pump Room, houses, shops, stations, even in the Abbey for service.
Officially the last chairman retired in 1949, but in reality there was little chairing done after 1939.
The Bath Guide for 1817 mentions: "Respecting Glass Chairs or Bath Chairs; the number not to be less than 70 (at present it is upward of 200). If operated without an annual license the chairman shall forfeit 13/4d. If a passenger defaults his payment he may be committed to prison for one month. Any gentleman may use his own chair and appoint his own chairman, but must not carry any other fare than such person and his family.
Fares: to 500 yards 6d; to 1173 yards 1/-; to 1 mile 1/6d; to 2 miles 3/-.
Any person may detain his chairman without paying anything -for it:- from 6d fare 10 mins, to 3/- fare 35 minutes."
"Exploring Bath No 1 Centre & West" by Keith Dallimore;
"A Bath Camera 1850-1950" by Simon Hunt;
"Bath Profile of a City" by Paul Handy & William Lownde)
Estelle is uncertain about Joseph's background and wonders if he could be the Joseph Kiffe who was christened on 14th September 1807 in Middlezoy, born to Nicholas Kiffe and Mary.
Estelle has two other Kift references from Middlezoy:
Mary J Kift, born 13 Feb 1842 to John Kift and Mary Browning
Charles Kift, born 03 Sep 1845 to John Kift and Mary Browning
Another Charles Kift from Middlezoy, who made his name far from home, is remembered in the memorial (on the page opposite) (originally appeared in the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society Magazine, Autumn 1984). Estelle wonders where he fits in with the Middlezoy Kifts.
A final bit of information about Somerset Kifts was sent by Mr Keith Noble. One of his relatives, Mary Ada Harvey married a William Kift on 10th June 1889. William Kift appeared to have been born in Bridgewater, Somerset in 1862. On the marriage certificate he is described as a blacksmith resident at 8 Victoria Buildings, Redfield, Bristol. His father is given as Richard Kift, a furniture dealer.
Mr Noble has noted that in July 1903 the firm R & W Kift were house furnishers at 211 Redfield Road, St George, Bristol and he thinks this could be the father and son.
In Memory of
WHO DIED IN AUSTRALIA,.SUNDAY, APRIL 18th., 1868,
Aged 32 Years.
The deceased was a native of Middlezoy, in the county of Somerset, and left the port of Liverpool, in this country, by the clipper ship Red Jacket, December 23, 1854. After a quick passage he arrived quite safe in Australia, on the 26th of March, 1855.
He followed his trade for upwards of twelve months, when considering mining (or digging) a more profitable speculation, he adopted that calling, and it was while pursuing that avocation he met his untimely fate. He was working at a place called the Durham Lead, about ten miles from Ballarat, the Principal part of his time being occupied in blasting rock, which is a very dangerous
work if the greatest care be not taken. On the night of the 30th. 5 March he and three others were at work- in the shaft; after they had charged several holes, and ignited the fusees, they were drawn to the top while the explosion took place -, but from some cause or other one of the charges failed to explode, of which much notice was not taken ; the deceased and one of his mates descended the shaft and commenced to drill out the charge which had not exploded, and to load it afresh, when the men at the top were horrified at hearing an explosion, and the companion of the deceased calling for help. They were got out of the shaft as quickly as possible, and the deceased was found to be frightfully mutilated, his right hand and arm being dreadfully shattered, and his legs severely cut and lacerated. He was conveyed to his lodging, where every attention was paid him, and a skilful surgeon immediately sent for, who pronounced amputation of the right arm necessary ; the operation was performed, but the deceased survived it only three weeks, bearing his sufferings, which were severe, with the greatest fortitude. At 12 o'clock on the day of his death the doctor gave up all hopes of him, and at 4 in the afternoon he breathed his last. The deceased was accompanied in his enterprises by a friend and intimate acquaintance, who paid every attention to him, and exerted his utmost to soothe his last moments in this life. On Tuesday, the 20th of April, he was decently interred in Buninyony Cemetery, and a procession of 72 of his mates and acquaintances followed his remains to their last resting-place.
Ah me! there is a mournful sigh in every passing breeze-
Re-print originally appeared in the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society Magazine, Autumn 1984
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