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Berkshire Family Historian
March 2002

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Main Page, March 2002 Contents

What a Headache

Kevin Herridge

My father, Albert Herridge, was born in Canning Town, East London in 1920. After watching Gordon Honeycombe's television programme, 'Discovering Your Family History', in the early 1980s, I became hooked and asked about my Dad's family. He thought his father, John Herridge, was also born in Canning Town, in 1880, but apart from that knew very little about his family. Neither did his brothers or sister. A search for his birth at St. Catherine's House, as it then was, revealed nothing and it was not until a couple of years later that I found his baptism at St. Lukes Church, Canning Town, in 1885. The baptism stated he was born in 1881. As I came to a standstill on this line I devoted time to tracing other lines on my mother's side and listing all the Herridges in the IGI, making them all into little family trees. Through much research I finally got back to the marriage of Thomas Herridge and Eliza Josey in 1850, in Paddington.

A gargoyle with a real headache

From census returns I discovered they were both born in Purley, Berkshire. All those little family trees I had assembled from the IGI proved extremely helpful as the Purley family connection took me back to the marriage of Richard Herridge and Sarah Wells at Hampstead Norris in 1772. At this point, in the early to mid-seventeenth century all my little family trees came to an abrupt halt. There were no more Herridges, even in other counties. They all came to a dead end. By this time I had joined the Berkshire Family History Society and met, amongst others, fellow members Jean Debney and Michael Young. They both had checked more parish records than I had had hot dinners and Jean soon discovered that the family had changed its name between 1700 and 1750 to Herridge from Headache. If this was true, I thought, what a perfect surname for someone with the genealogy bug. Family history research had certainly given me plenty of headaches.

A little sceptical at first, I went back to the IGI and went through every county again, making family trees of Headaches and assorted misspellings and combinations of the two. Suddenly it was like lots of little jigsaw puzzles all falling into place at the same time. I had been told that the IGI was notoriously incorrect but after several visits to the Berkshire Record Office, and getting others to help me, double checking church records and purchasing all the Herridge and Headache wills, everything made sense. My surname was originally Headache although probably pronounced Hed-atch or Hed-ash. From here on I proved a definite line to the children of Richard Headache and Agnes in Bucklebury (first child baptized 1587). Richard was probably descended from another Richard Headache (died 1556) and Jane (died 1558). Richard's claim to fame was found in the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1524/25: 'Assessments of the Hundreds of Redyng and Theles, Co. Berks., to the second payment of the subsidy granted 16 Henry VIII Bukelbury: Richard Heddyche, wages - valour 20s subsidy 4d'. If anyone can explain what that means I would dearly like to know.

The 'History of Bucklebury' by A. L. Humphreys and the Bucklebury Manorial Court Rolls show Headaches and variations of the name dating back to 1337. The History of Bucklebury states: 'Headache - This is the name of one of the most ancient Bucklebury families. In 1337, John Headache (ate Hatche) (a brewer) is mentioned in the Court Rolls by the ale-tasters'.

He or another John (Hidhacche), was mentioned in the Views of Frankpledge in 1356. His beer was apparently not up to scratch as he was 'presented for breaches of the assize of ale by Richard Trussehare, the ale-conner'. I found that an ale-conner was responsible for testing the brews by pouring it on a bench and sitting in it in moleskin breeches. As a very early member of the Campaign For Real Ale I seem to have been descended from a long line of ale-testers. It is depressing when I go back to London to find young kids drinking Budweiser beer (I use the word beer tentatively - it says it on the bottle). But I digress. I am in the process now of starting a Herridge Society, putting all my information on the web, and when I mentioned the ale-conner story to Vernon Herridge he said his mother-in-law's mother used to work in a pub in Somerset. In her youth she remembered that men used to 'test' beer by pouring some onto a bench and sitting in it in leather breeches. If the bench stuck to the breeches it was good beer but if not, they reckoned it had been watered down.

So where did the name originate? Apparently from Old French. Hatch is an early form of gate, and they took their name from the position of their home, the family that lived near the gate. I have also written a longer version of my Herridge/Headache family history (about 20 pages) and will be willing to send it to anyone with family connections. Although this is a much shortened and fairly simplified story, my family history research really has been a headache from start to finish. For more information on the family contact me on.


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updated 28th May 2002