Nodes Family

Home Up Heathcotes Shephall Manor Shephalbury Web Details Sources Contents Shephall Village Three Houses Photogallery SMAC Coptic Church Polish Connection

Some notes on Families of Nodes and Noades

A talk given at the 'Nodes Day' held at Shephall, Herts.

on Saturday, 23rd September, 1989,

by Anthony J. Camp, BA, FSG (Hon).

Last year we celebrated the three hundredth anniversary of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.  One of the things that Revolution stopped, or at least which was never allowed again afterwards, was the periodic visitation of the country by the Heralds from the College of Arms in London.  For more than 150 years, from 1530 onwards, one or two of the heralds had come out from London every few years or so to check on those who called themselves gentlemen ‑ to make sure that they had a Coat of Arms ‑ because you couldn't be a gentleman unless you had a Coat of Arms ‑ and to record the pedigrees of those who had.

When the herald Sir Richard St George, Knight, Clarenceux King of Arms, visited Hertfordshire on his 'Visitation' in 1634, he came to Shephall and interviewed George Nodes, then in his early sixties, and his wife Ellin, the daughter of Edward Docwra of the Brotherhood House at Hitchin.

George Nodes told Sir Richard St George about his family.  He probably took him into the church, as we were taken this morning, to see the tombs of his ancestors, and to see his Coat of Arms as shown on the tombs there.  We do not know if George gave the herald a good dinner but we do know that he told him that his great‑grandfather William Nodes came from Barking in Essex, and that he had a cousin, also called George Nodes, who was then still living in Essex.

If he was right about that (and of course not many people know who their great‑grandfathers were and where they came from) then this first William Nodes, who was the father of George Nodes the Serjeant of the Buckhounds to King Henry the Eighth, must have lived at Barking in the first part of the sixteenth century.  If that is so then he may have been the son of a certain John Node of Barking whose will, proved in 1538, is in the record office at Chelmsford.

The strange thing is that families of Noades, Nodes and Noddes had been in the Stevenage and Shephall area for several generations before that.  It would be very surprising if George were not in some way related to them.

The Manor of Brooks in Stevenage had been held by an Edmund Nodes at the end of the fifteenth century. As early as 1493 his widow Joan was having disputes with her sons, both of whom were called William, about the property there.  Another William, who was most likely her grandson, sold that Manor in 1564.

We know nothing about their descendants but when the Heralds visited Stevenage in 1572 they recorded the family of another Edmund Nodes who apparently lived at Graveley just to the north of Stevenage, though his children were baptised at St. Nicholas in Stevenage from 1553 onwards.  As he too was called Edmund it seems probable that he was related to this earlier family at Brooks. Edmund was allowed to use the same Arms as the later family here at Shephall and so it is indeed very likely that all three were related in some way or other.

The Nodes Arms with the three trefoils slipped are a quite simple design, and because of that are probably quite old.  We do not know by whom they were first used.  It is also not known whether the Arms were just assumed or if this was done with the authority of the College of Arms. In 1915 the Harleian Society published a volume of Grantees of Arms ‑ a list of people to whom Arms had been granted in the past ‑ many taken from old manuscripts in the British Library and that says that the Arms were granted or confirmed in 1634.  That is misleading as we know that they were actually confirmed by the heralds as early as 1572.  It is possible that the crest of the two lions paws holding the sheaf of wheat was added or confirmed in 1634, as crests were often added in that way at a later date.

If you could "live idle, and without manuall labour" you were a gentleman; and if your lands were worth 100 a year or you had personal property worth 360 you could have a grant of arms though you paid 6 for the privilege.  That was in 1530.  Today the fees are a little more.

However, to return to Edmund Nodes of Graveley.  This Edmund Nodes from Graveley came to a rather untimely end. One day in July, 1596, in a field called Brunnings Close in Stevenage he was set upon by Robert Rawson of Hatfield, miller, and George North of Shephall, husbandman, and beaten over the head by Rawson with a cudgel.  The cudgel is quaintly valued at 1d in one document and at 2d in another. Edmund Nodes received such an injury that two days later he died and Rawson was found guilty of murder.  George North, who was accused of having abetted him, was discharged.  I think that I am very distantly related to this North family at Shephall, and if that is so, it may be a case of my ancestor helped to murder your ancestor"!

The record in the Assize Court unfortunately does not say why poor Edmund Nodes was attacked in this way.  He was a good man and by his will bequeathed Berry Mead in Stevenage to the Grammar School founded by Thomas Alleyne.  His grandson John Nodes added to that bequest by deed in 1629.

The descendants of this Edmund Nodes remained in Stevenage and married into the better class families, the shopkeepers and farmers and so on, and some continued to be styled "gentlemen". Some drifted into London to help swell its enormous growth in the seventeenth century.  In Stevenage those descendants were very numerous for two or three generations.  Some of them lived at Symonds Green and were named trustees of the Almshouses at Stevenage in 1649.  Mary Spicer has brought here today copies of the inventories of the goods found in the houses of Edmund Nodes, the younger, of Symonds Green, who died in 1631, and of George Nodes of Stevenage who died in 1694.  That of Edmund shows the furniture in various rooms including a hall, parlour, chamber over the hall, milkhouse, cheese loft, servants chamber and a stable, and the total value comes to 141. 15s.  However, George was one of the last of the Old Stevenage family and the name almost died out in the second half of the seventeenth century.  By 1700 there were only one or two left.  We do not know if there are any descendants of that group.

I worked out a pedigree of this family at Stevenage when I was at school and I was interested to see that one of Edmund`s great‑granddaughters was Sarah Nodes who in 1655 became the first wife of Richard Bowcock who kept the Swan Inn in Stevenage High Street ‑ now The Grange.  There is a rather odd inscription to her in Stevenage Church saying that "she had two daughters, one abortive the other named Sarah", but the most interesting thing about her is that her husband was well known to Samuel Pepys and is mentioned in the famous Diary.

Pepys came through Stevenage on at least three occasions.  He sheltered in the town during a storm in 1661, and stayed at an un‑named Inn in 1664. In October, 1667, when removing his family and money back to London after the Plague and Great Fire, Pepys recorded, "Mr Shepley saw me beyond St Neots, and there parted, and we straight to Stevenage, through bald lanes, which are already very bad; and at Stevenage we come well before night, and all sat, and there with great care I got the gold up to my chamber, my wife carrying one bag, and the girl another, and W. Hewer [old clerk and friend of Pepys] the rest in a basket, and set it under a bed ... Bowcocke still alive and the best host I know almost".

Richard Bowcock was far from dead.  His second wife Sarah Nodes had died in 1660, seven years before Pepys brought his gold to the Inn, and in 1672 he married for the third time, Alice Hitchin.  He survived her to die in 1688. Dinner in Stevenage, Pepys recorded, cost him 5s. 6d., and to the menders of the highway between Barnet and Stevenage he gave 6d.

The reason for the early frequency of the name Nodes in the area is due almost certainly to its derivation from the place name, The Node, in Codicote parish, just across the other side of Knebworth Park ‑ about two and a half miles as the crow flies from here.  From documents in the Muniment Room at Westminster Abbey it can be seen that Richard ate Node lived there in 1282, and Robert atte Node was there in 1314.  The place is called le Nodemede in 1426, le Node in 1552 and The Noads in 1654.

The learned editors of The Place‑Names of Hertfordshire (1938) say that the initial n of this name is probably a relic of the Middle English atten meaning 'at the'.  In Hertfordshire the final n in atten is frequently attached to the beginning of any word beginning with a vowel, so that atten ode becomes atte node [other examples are The Noke, Nascott, Nashe's, Nasthyde, Nasty, Ninnings, and Nup End].  So we have "at the 'ode' " and ode is probably from the Old English ad meaning "a pile, a heap, or a funeral pile".

And so it means that Richard and Robert lived near a heap or a pile of some sort, and if it was a funeral pile it would have particular significance for one family of the name!

The Node, which was a rather fancy circular thatched dairy and stud farm built in 1927, is now, I am told, a Conference Centre.  Looking at the Ordnance Survey Map I was reminded that there are burial mounds or tumuli in the wood just behind The Node and so it seems to me that there is very little doubt that that is where the name comes from.  These people lived near those mounds and when some of them eventually moved away, they took that surname with them.

There is another place called The Nodes near The Needles at Totland on the Isle of Wight, which was the home of Adam atten Ode in 1311.  That place, however, does not seem to have given rise to any later families of the name in the area. Outside Hertfordshire, as we shall see later, the main grouping of families called Nodes ‑ and there generally spelled Noades ‑ was based on Somerset and Wiltshire.

The fortunes of the family of Nodes here at Shephall are well described by Mary Spicer in her charming book about the parish Tyme out of Mind (1984).  Its male line seems to have come to an end in 1776 with the death of George Nodes in India though his sisters continued the name to about the end of the century. The family was never particularly grand.  In earlier times I have the impression that it had quite a lot of land but perhaps not much money; and when it did make some money it got into serious trouble with it.  It had, however, one or two interesting connections and I will say a little bit about it before going on to the other families of the name.

After our visit to the Church this morning we know that the first Nodes to be given the Lordship here was George, the master of the buckhounds to King Henry the Eighth, King Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, in 1542.  That sounds nice and romantic but one has to remember that Henry VIII had stolen the Manor from the Abbey at St. Albans to give to one of his servants and that this is a fairly good example of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  If it had been anybody else's family we would have disapproved entirely of such an action!

The Will of George's widow, Margaret, who died in 1582 is one of the documents displayed today. The couple did not have any children and the Manor passed to George's brother John, also a servant of Henry the Eighth's, and to his son Charles who died in 1593 and then to his son George, the one who was at Shephall when the herald came in 1634.  The succession was not altogether as straightforward as that because the first George had two daughters, said by most historians to have been illegitimate, who put in a claim to the Manor and lands, and their children had to be bought out by George and his father.

These daughters, Jane and Joan, married into local families, and Joan was the wife of Thomas Chapman, a yeoman, who lived in Tilehouse Street at Hitchin. Her second son was the famous Elizabethan poet and playwrite, George Chapman, who translated from the Greek all the works of Homer.  Some details of him, taken from the Hertfordshire Illustrated Review of June, 1894, are displayed.  He had a very hard time.  He inherited a hundred pounds and two silver spoons from his father, but as Reginald Hine, the historian of Hitchin, says "One cannot live on poetry alone, nor will a hundred pounds and two silver spoons avail a man for ever", and he was often near to starving.  He was a prolific writer and in 1598 he printed his play The Blind Beggar of Alexandria which had been drawing large audiences to the Rose in Southwark ever since its first production by Lord Howard of Effingham's Company, with Edward Alleyn at its head, in 1595.  That same year he published the first part of what was to be his life's work, his translation of Homer's Iliad and perhaps his best known comedy, All Fools.  His desperate search for patrons continued throughout his life. and it is clearly because he needed the money that he and his brother, Thomas Chapman, who was bailiff of the Manor at Hitchin, sold their half of the Manor of Shephall for 120 in 1599.  When he died in 1634 his friend the King's Architect, Inigo Jones, paid for his tomb which you can see to this day in the churchyard at St. Giles in the Fields.

This George Nodes (who bought out George Chapman in 1599 and gave hospitality to the herald in 1634) in 1616 gave evidence against poor John Reason, of Great Wymondley, labourer, for stealing 13 of his sheep at Bishops Stortford, valued at 130s.  He had already taken two other sheep from John Welch, and he was found guilty and hung [Assizes 869]. George died at Shephall in 1643.  Just a year before he died and at the commencement of the Civil War in England he wrote two letters to his relative Sir William Boteler, which Mary Spicer found at Hertford Record Office, and which are shown here today.

George was succeeded by his son Charles who died soon afterwards in 1651.  Although he was married twice and had seven children, the children all died at relatively early ages.  His heir, Edmund Nodes, who was only seven when his father died, went up to Cambridge to study, but died at the age of nineteen in 1663.  A long statement of his personal property, beautifully written and totalling 3,680, is another of the documents found by Mary Spicer and shown today.

Perhaps the family's grandest marriage was when this young man's sister Elizabeth Nodes married the third Earl of Westmorland at Crayford in Kent two years later in 1665.  Her father had left lands at Shillington, Holwell and Arlesey in Bedfordshire, and as the only surviving child who had also inherited her young brother's money she was a good catch.  Sadly for the Westmorlands she died almost immediately in childbirth, and, as a later holder of the title wrote, although she had "a very good fortune ... Her estate being in land went away to her heirs".  The fact that her land was entailed was fortunate for the Nodes family because her husband, who was a godson of Charles I and yet supported the Prince of Orange in 1688, "cared not for business ... and left all to the management of those about him".  "He came into the possession of an estate above the double of what he left it".

This Earl of Westmorland obviously gambled and was not good at it.  There is a letter surviving which he wrote to the Duke of Albemarle in 1681 about one session, in which he admits, "Being so highly elevated with your wine which you gave me, may in some measure plead my excuse for presuming to contend with you at a game I never saw before, and then paying not long after 500, which was a sum far greater than I use to play for, I hope it may upon second thoughts be thought by you a sufficient acknowledgement of my folly ‑ which I ought to pay for.  These reasons, and my Lord Oxford's acquainting you how very prejudicial it stands with my fortune to pay more, I hope will satisfy your Grace".

The uncle of these young people, George Nodes, who, like many later members of the family, had gone into the City, had a personal fortune of 14,183 when he died in 1665.  He had been apprenticed as a Merchant Taylor in St. Paul's Church Yard in 1620 and rose to be Warden of the Company in 1662 and Alderman of the City in 1663, the year in which his young nephew died. He was made Alderman on 28th April, but gave it up on 7th May, paying a fine of 420. He returned to Shephall, no doubt to look after the estate, and died the following year.

His son, another George Nodes, maintained the close connection with London and, after schooling at Bishops Stortford and a period at Christ's College, Cambridge, he was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1656 and called to the Bar.  One of his sons, yet another George, was Sheriff of Hertfordshire under William III. Their inherited wealth seems to have gone to their heads and they got seriously into debt.  There are two letters shown here today from the elder George ‑ who had eleven children ‑ at Shephall, written in January, 1668‑9, to a Mr. Hothersall, in which George desperately tries to get back money loaned to him.  However, the situation got very bad and in 1705 a special Act of Parliament was passed ‑ the Nodes's Estate Act of 3 & 4 Anne c. 58, which vested several of their lands and buildings in trustees to be sold for the payment of the debts of the father, who by then had been dead seven years, and of the son, which were charged on those lands.  It got the Royal Assent on 14th March, 1704‑5.  Fortunately Shephall Manor was not sold off at this time.

Indeed, it is clear that not everything was lost, and the younger George's widow Elizabeth was able to leave 100 for the use of the poor of Shephall in 1730.  A copy of that Will is shown.  It is interesting that she appointed trustees to purchase land with the 100, and that they bought, according to her instructions, although they did not do so until 1779, about three and a half acres of woodland which was part of The Node in Codicote from Joseph Males the farmer there, though it was exchanged for other land in Shephall in 1810 [Clutterbuck pp.437]. One wonders if the family at this time wished in some way to perpetuate its name through this purchase.

The fifth of the eleven children of the elder George Nodes was Elizabeth Nodes and she brings another interesting connection into the family.  She was married off at the age of thirteen (though the marriage licence describes her as "aged about 18") to a London merchant called Samuel Sale and she was the mother of the oriental scholar George Sale who died in 1736.  Again they had no money and he had a very difficult time, practising as a solicitor in London. Somehow or other from arabs and scholars in London he learned Arabic and was involved in the translation of the New Testament into Arabic for the use of the Christians in Syria.  He was deeply involved in the affairs of the S.P.C.K. and through it met people like John Wesley and Sir Hans Sloane. His chief claim to fame, however, is his translation into English of the Koran which he published in 1734.  He died of fever two years later at the age of 39 in Surrey Street off the Strand and was buried at St. Clement Danes.  The S.P.C.K. gave twenty guineas to his widow and children who were left "in necessitous circumstances".

The line continued through the younger George's brother Thomas Nodes who remained in the City as a merchant and distiller.  Not much is known about this Thomas Nodes.  His date of death has not been found and the surname of his wife is unknown.  He had several sons, born in the early 1700's, two of whom were also distillers.  The later history of the elder ones is quite unknown and so descents may exist from the family.  The manor came to the youngest of the sons, John, having been bequeathed to him by his uncle of the same name in 1748 ‑ he was presumably his godson.

The later family were clearly not great aristocrats; they married middle‑class merchants, solicitors, customs officials, and so on.  The John Nodes I have just mentioned, who was a distiller, married in 1740 Katherine Vaslet the daughter of a refugee French schoolmaster called Louis Vaslet at Fulham. This is the lady whose portrait was painted by Hogarth.  For 45 years Louis Vaslet was a good schoolmaster, but his daughter Katherine was hardly the "Vicomtesse de la Valette", as her last descendant, Clementina von Warburg, later claimed.  As Arthur Fox Davies once said, "Never trust anyone's account of their own family"!.

Katherine Vaslet, who lived to be 90, married again after the death of John Nodes in 1761, and when she was nearly sixty, a rather old fashioned London solicitor called Oliver Edwards who had been at University with Samuel Johnson.  When by chance he met Samuel Johnson many years later in Butcher Row in London he told him that he lived "upon a little farm, about sixty acres, just by Stevenage in Hertfordshire".  He was worrying whether the frost had nipped his fruit trees. Oliver Edwards is famous in history as having said to the learned doctor, "You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson.  I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in".  The full details of the encounter are given on the two pages illustrated over there.

Also shown are some accounts of the Charity left by Elizabeth Nodes showing distributions of money to the poor in 1771, signed by Katherine Nodes both before and after her marriage to Oliver Edwards that year.

It was Katherine's son George who was the last male of the family.  He went to Calcutta and died there in 1776.  Another interesting document shown today is the record of the Court Baron held in his name at Shephall in 1774 which mentions the Red Lion on the green here [and which was occupied shortly afterwards by my umpteenth great‑uncle Joseph Parker who married a Camp].  On George's death the manor fell between his three sisters Sarah (Mrs Robert Jaques), Katharine (who never married) and Margaret Mary, who married Richard Price.  A very pretty Estate Book of 1779 (now at Hertford Record Office) was then drawn up ‑ the front page is illustrated here ‑ "Plans of Sheephall Bury Estate in Sheephall, Stevenage, Aston & Datchworth", which records their joint inheritance.

The family seem to have had more than a slight touch of religion at the end of the eighteenth century. Margaret Mary, said of her husband Richard Price ‑ on his tomb at Fulham ‑ that "From an early love of his Maker he led a life of Piety and Benevolence, and felt in his last hours what is expressed in his Essay, page 125, "0 innocence, what language can express they worth", which she follows with a dozen lines of his poor poetry.  It was her only daughter, Katherine Nodes Price, who sold the last part of the Shephall estate in 1838, though the Heathcote family seem to have been living here as early as 1818.

As has already been mentioned the family had at one time extensive property in Bedfordshire and a branch of the family remained in that county for several generations. I say "a branch" as it seems to stem from John Nodes, a younger son of George Nodes and Helen Docwra, who married Margaret Crouch in 1633 (she is called Margaret Crump by Clutterbuck).  The exact relationships have not yet been established, but this is the family which was at Southill in Bedfordshire.  It seems to be the same family as that which later used the christian name Sydenham.

If the connections can be proven then it would have the right to use the Arms of the Shephall family.

It had one very nice connection for it seems to have been quite closely related to Thomas Tompion "the father of English clockmakers". Tompion was born at Northill in Bedfordshire in 1639 the son of a blacksmith.  He is said to have begun his great knowledge of the measurement of time by regulating the wheels of a jack with which to roast meat.  He was apprenticed in London in 1664 and was so able that he was asked to make the clocks for the Royal Observatory when it was founded twelve years later.  He was Master of the Clockmaker's Company in 1704 and died in 1713 being buried in Westminster Abbey along with his nephew by marriage and pupil George Graham.  He left few legacies but still had some property at Ickwell in Northhill and bequeathed 500 to his great niece Rebecca Nodes, the daughter of his niece Eleanor Kent.

Also in Bedfordshire, Thomas Nodes of Luton, gentleman, left a Will in 1679, of which there is a copy at the Society of Genealogists, and George Nodes of Southill, also describing himself as a gentleman, left another in 1703.  An earlier Charles Nodes at Southill went from Eton to Cambridge and was a Fellow at King's College there in 1671, but died in the College.  One of George's sons also went from Eton to Cambridge, was ordained in 1692 and was Rector of Wilden in Bedfordshire for more than twenty years (1695‑1718).  His son John, who was a Fellow of Kings College (1720), was also ordained and became Curate at Bricet in Suffolk where he died.  He was the last of the name to be educated at Cambridge University; nobody of the name was ever at Oxford.

Always there is the drift to London. George, another son of the Rector of Wilden, was apprenticed to a vintner in London for 15 in 1715.

I hope that his brother John Nodes from Southill, who was the Curate at Bricet, is not the clergyman Mr. Nodes who was a Chaplain in the disreputable Fleet Prison in 1753 who is mentioned very briefly and without further detail in Burn's Fleet Marriages (1834, p. 60).  These chaplains were usually clergymen imprisoned for debt, who married anyone and everyone for fees prior to 1754 when the marriage laws were tightened up.

At Streatley in Bedfordshire is the tomb of old "John Nodes esq late of Luton in the County of Bedford and many years a very useful and active Magistrate for the said County who died June 30th 1766 in the 90th year of his age".  It has the Nodes shield and crest as used by the Shephall family. I will come back to this family later.

Slowly the name moved out from Hertfordshire to other counties.  As we have seen it was found in London from an early date.  In The London Gazette for 15‑19 September, 1698, is a marvellous advertisement put in by Mr. William Nodes, Upholsterer, "at the Crown by the Ditch side, London" (presumably the Fleet Ditch at the bottom of Fleet Street), "Missing from their Friends since the 7th Instant, William Nodes, round Visag'd, fresh Colour'd, very light Hair, with a white Cloth Suit, the Wastcoat and Breeches trimm'd with Gold Buttons, black Stockings, a yellow Ribbon Hatband; and Joseph Parry with lank black Hair, brisk black Eyes, a blue Camblet Coat, and sad colour'd stockings, a blue Ribbon on his Hat, both with Swords, and about 14 years old each.  Whoever gives notice of them to Mr. William Nodes, Upholsterer, at the Crown by the Ditch side, London, or to Mr. Tho. Parry, Surgeon, in Durham, shall have a Guinea Reward, and Charges; or if they return to their Friends, shall be kindly received".  The advertisement had also appeared on 10th September in the Post Boy, where my old tutor Cregoe Nicholson found it more than sixty years ago and included it as an example in his The Genealogical Value of the Early English Newspapers (1928).

In Oxfordshire there was a family of farmers called Nodes at Blackthorn in Ambrosden for which four wills survive between 1556 and 1579.  There the name was spelled Noddes and Noddys as well as Nodes, and it is possible that this has a different derivation.

In Essex there was a brickmaker called John Nodes at Great Bardfield in 1765, and sixty years later another John Nodes at Great Bardfield was a maltster.

The name did not, however, spread far.  It is not often found outside the Home Counties.  An exception is the John Nodes a silversmith, who died aged 81 at Nottingham in 1789, whose Will with that of Judith Nodes of Nottingham in 1792, was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury that year.  Trevor Jones, who has done quite a lot of research on various branches of the Nodes family, but unfortunately cannot be here today, has found that this John was described in his obituary notice as "formerly an eminent silversmith of Nottingham and London and he thinks that he was related to the Bedfordshire branch of the family.  He had a son John baptised at St. Peter Nottingham in 1739 when he was described as a goldsmith. His second son, William Nodes, seems to be the goldsmith and jeweller who had premises in New Bond Street from 1769 to 1802, and also in Brighton.  He died in 1814 and his son, another William, married the daughter of his father's business partner, H. Sydenham, in 1813.  Their descendants in London often used the name Sydenham Nodes.  Indeed they do to this day, as we have with us Andrew Sydenham Nodes, aged seven, and a pedigree brought by his father Graham Sydenham Nodes.

One member of the family who did go a bit further was John Node, a bachelor, who died overseas in 1635.  He is the only early Nodes I have found outside England, but he died in debt and a grant of administration of his goods in the Prerogative Court was to the principal creditor, Richard Smart.

A few others who moved a little away can be seen in the indexes of apprenticeships in the eighteenth century.  Joseph Nodes, for instance, was apprenticed to William Lowe of Stamford in Lincolnshire, cabinetmaker, in 1753, for 20, and Thomas Nodes was apprenticed to a grocer, Jonathan Gorham, in St Neots, Huntingdonshire, for 30 in 1721.   On ‑20th November, 1810, the Gentleman's Magazine (ii. 592) records the death, "At Grimsby, aged 75, [of] Susanna Nodes, a nurse, who had saved upwards of 300 in her occupation".

In Hertfordshire itself by the time the Oath of Allegiance was taken to King George I in 1723 there were few of the name in the county. Elizabeth Nodes, the widow of George of Shephall, took the oath at the White Swan at Stevenage, John Nodes (George's brother) took it at Welwyn, Mary Nodes took it at Buntingford and Roger Nodes took it at Barkway.

There had been a Nodes family which used the christian‑name Roger at North Mimms as long ago as the mid‑sixteenth century.  Now this is particularly interesting because one of the groups of families represented here today have a very long pedigree brought by Laurence Noades of Watford and his sons Mark and David of their ancestors at Therfield in Hertfordshire.  They have got back through a succession of Roger Nodeses (including this Roger who took the oath to King George I) to a Roger who was a farmer at Therfield and who died there in 1687.  They have brought a copy of his Will. His first child, also called Roger, was baptised at Therfield in 1657.  I can well understand that there are difficulties in taking this line further back as this first Roger was, in July, 1670, presented at Hertford Quarter Sessions for not attending church [on the same day that Edward Camp of Sawbridgeworth was presented], and so he must have been something of a nonconformist.  However, I would not be at all surprised if he were descended from these earlier Rogers at North Mymms which go back, as I said, to the middle of the sixteenth century.  The details are in Herts. Genealogist & Antiquary.

This family stayed at Therfield, and in the neighbouring parishes, for a very long time.  The last Roger Nodes died there in 1839 (though the name Roger continues in some branches of the family), by which time most of the family were farm workers, but his youngest son James was the publican at The Hoops at Therfield by 1862 and that public house descended in the family to the present day, though it is no longer a pub.  However towards the end of the last century several of the eleven children of Philip Nodes at The Hoops (who died in 1892) moved into London in search of work, and settled in Islington. one of them had the charming name Lavender Noades; he was a bus driver in Camden Town.  It is nice that some of the descendants of this family have come back to Hertfordshire to live at Watford.  They spell their names Noades and seem to have done so from the mid‑1860's onwards, though that spelling is often found in the Therfield family in earlier generations.

In the past some of them fell upon hard times and thus get into the records.  In 1724, for instance, Samuel Nodes, a labourer at Standon, who seems likely to belong to this family, could not support himself at Standon and was removed from Standon to Braughin ‑ which was probably where he was born ‑ though Braughin appealed against having him to the Court of Quarter Sessions. Its appeal was dismissed the following January.

A hundred years later, in 1821, Rebecca Nodes of Therfield, who I see from the pedigree was baptised in 1806 and thus was only 15, came before the Court of Quarter Sessions and was fined a shilling for stealing, with two others, a peck of barley from Thomas Phillips.

By this century according to Kelly's Directory of Hertfordshire in 1937 the only Node actually farming in the county seems to have been John Noad of Woodhall farm, Mill Green, Hatfield, but I do not know where he fits into the picture.

Several of the family, you will have noted, died at rather advanced ages and one even got into that curious old book, Thomas Bailey's Records of Longevity, published in 1857 (page 284).  She was Mary Ann Noad, of Boxten, Kent [wherever that is!], who died at the age of 102 in 1811.

Now she apparently spelled her name Noad and that brings me on to what appears to be a quite distinct group of families stemming from Somerset and Wiltshire and generally spelling their name in that way.  In 1818 a John Noad of Woolwich ‑ who may have been related to the centenarian at Boxten ‑ voted in the election in Wiltshire in respect of a "freehold house at Swindon".  Many of this family came from Road in Somerset.  They were the Noads of Road.

We have at the Society of Genealogists a "Register of the Noad Family", nicely bound in red cloth with gold edges, which used to belong to Horace Glanville Noad, who was born in 1877. This sets out many relationships in that family. It starts with John Noad who was born at Road in 1738.

Also at the Society are a lot of copies of letters written by Fred Gale of Chaldon, Bucks, in the 1930's.  He was writing a biography of the mother of George Canning the great orator who was Prime Minister for four months in 1827.  Fred Gale's wife was distantly connected and he had found that George Canning had a half sister who married in 1811, Humphrey Minchin Noad, of Shawford in the parish of Road.

Humphrey Minchin Noad was the father of the celebrated Henry Michin Noad (1815‑1877) who has a place in the Dictionary of National Biography as an electrician.  He didn't fix light switches, but he did write one of the first textbooks on the subject in 1839, "A Course of Eight Lectures on Electricity, Galvanism, Magnetism, and Electro‑Magnetism", and later in 1857 "A Manual of Electricity" which was long the major text‑book on the subject.  For thirty years he taught chemistry at the Medical School at St. George's Hospital.

Another member of this family was Joseph Noad who was appointed Surveyor General in Newfoundland by King William IV and died there in 1873 leaving many descendants.  One of his grandsons, Commander John E.M. Noad, RNVR, who was awarded the O.B.E. went to Nairobi and his brother George was a District Commissioner in Zanzibar.

One of the people who has written to Mary Spicer as a result of the publicity about today is an American lady who descends from a Noade family in Ireland, apparently starting with a James Noade who was born at Ballynahinch in Northern Ireland in 1831 and married Mary Ann Green there in 1856, but we have not found any other details of this family.

I have left to the end perhaps the best known family of the name, the Nodes family long connected with undertaking businesses in the London area, of which we have several representatives here today, with some very nice pedigrees.  I am also indebted to Trevor Jones for allowing me to see the material he has assembled on this family in attempts to connect it with the Shephall family.

The funeral business started with a certain Oliver Nodes who was born in 1783 and died in 1833.  There is a fine portrait of him shown here today. The nicely written pedigree sent by the two children of Gerald Percy Nodes of East Grinstead, Lewis Alexander Nodes and Mrs Sarah Pearson, shows that Edward Nodes who died in 1922 was the last member of their branch of the family to be engaged in the undertaking business.  The pedigree also shows that the first Oliver was the son of John Nodes, a cork‑cutter in Windmill Street, off Tottenham Court Road, London, who was born about 1759.

A carefully researched pedigree brought by Catherine Poole of Christchurch in Dorset, whose great‑grandmother was Rosa Nodes, also ends with this same Oliver.

Another pedigree, brought by Dr. James Thomas Nodes, and his two sons Michael and Andrew, who descend from a younger branch of this family, goes a little further and shows that John the corkcutter was a younger brother of another Oliver Nodes, who was born about 1757 and died in 1811.

The problem has been to discover where these two brothers (and a sister Mary and another brother George) were born.  The cork cutter lived in the parish of St. Luke Old Street. Some notes written in the 1880's and now owned by Mr. Gerald Nodes give some clues. John and Oliver Nodes were buried in the graveyard of the old Whitfield's Tabernacle, a nonconformist chapel often called the Tottenham Court Chapel, with which they were closely connected.  It is the burial registers of that chapel which give the ages from which the dates of birth are calculated, but it may well be that if the family were nonconformists when they were born that no record of their births or baptisms has survived.

John had set up his cork‑cutting business about 1790 and was appointed sexton of the chapel in 1798.  His brother Oliver Nodes was a tailor in Dean Street, Holborn.  It was his nephew who founded the undertaking business in Chapel Street, off Tottenham Court Road, in about 1815.  He also was clerk at the Chapel and he founded another chapel at Willesden and was the co‑author of a book of psalms and hymns published in 1803.  Many members of the family were later involved in the business, which seems to have had several quite independent branches, but now only Michael Nodes of Stanmore has any connection with it.

The origins of this family are, in my view, almost certainly in London where there were several Nodes families in the eighteenth century.  Those who have looked for its earlier origins have naturally looked for earlier occurrences of the name Oliver, but apparently without success.  As that is the case I would not be at all surprised if the christian name came from an earlier marriage to someone of that surname (as with the name Sydenham) and I would suggest that the family may descend from the marriage of George Noades to Mary Oliver which took place at St. Mary le Bow in London in 1695, but further searches are clearly needed.  There is apparently a story in some parts of this family that they were connected with the Nottingham goldsmith but I must say that I doubt that that is the case.

Two thousand years ago Cicero said that not to know what happened before one was born was to remain for ever a child. There does not seem to be much chance of that happening here.

[Home] [Up] [Heathcotes] [Shephall Manor] [Shephalbury] [Web Details] [Sources] [Contents] [Shephall Village] [Three Houses] [Photogallery] [SMAC] [Coptic Church] [Polish Connection]