The 17th century Research Group

The group was formed in the early 1990s to research the urban history of St Albans between 1650 and 1700. Society member, the late J.T. Smith, an acknowledged authority on vernacular architecture, led the group as we tackled various aspects of the town’s social, religious and political history.

Research database

One of the benefits arising from this project is our research database which is a directory of names of people living in St Albans in the 17th century. It was developed to help address a key objective, namely to estimate the size of the town’s population at that time.

The methodology for this involved reconstructing the town’s population by drawing up an extensive set of family trees. Each individual has a text file in which information relating to that person is collated as and when it comes to hand.

A link to papers on the research resources can be found below. This bank of information has enabled us to write on a number of topics relating to the social structure of the town at that time. Some of these have been published (see below for details), others used to give talks to local groups.

We also produced a glossary of 17th century terms which may be of help to researchers.

Current work

We are currently focused on transcribing 17th century probate documents relating to St Albans. The results from the period 1600-1615 were published by the Hertfordshire Records Society in November 2019.

In the meantime, the group has been working on the next period covering 1616-1629. The transcriptions include the wills of Francis Bacon and Roger Pemberton (of the almshouses). The plague hit St Albans significantly in 1625/26 and so far we have ascertained that at least 27 tradesmen were likely victims.

This is an extensive project for us. If you are interested in joining our group or have related research questions, do contact Pat Howe via