Quotation from the Hertfordshire Genealogy website
“ To the north of Watford, lies the Hamlets of Cashio and Leavesden, which contain a united population of 5,153. Leavesden was formed into a separate Ecclesiastical District in 1853. The Church, dedicated to All Saints, was erected at a cost of about £3,300, the site of which was given by Thomas Clutterbuck, Esq. It is a handsome building of flint, with Bath stone dressings; and consists of a nave, chancel, south aisle, and tower, which has a shingled spire, containing one bell. There are two memorial windows, a beautiful reredos, and some stained-glass windows, which illustrate the Te Deum. The living is a Vicarage, of the yearly value of £120, in the gift of the Vicar of Watford. The Metropolitan Asylum for pauper imbeciles stands here on elevated ground; the institution owns 75 acres here, of which the buildings cover 18 acres; the cost of the whole was £150,000. At Leavesden Woodside, are the St. Pancras Industrial Schools for the reception of pauper children. The population of Leavesden Hamlet alone, is 3,300. ”
Quotation from - Watford in 1880 in Young Crawley's Guide to Hertfordshire
“ Watford was created as an urban district under the Local Government Act 1894, and became a municipal borough by grant of a charter in 1922. The borough had 79,726 inhabitants at the time of the 2001 Census. The most recent official estimates put the population of Watford at 79,600 at mid-2006 ”
Watford stands on a low hill near the point at which the River Colne was forded by travellers between London and the Midlands. This route, originally a pre-Roman trackway, departed from the ancient Roman Watling Street at Stanmore, heading for the Gade valley and thence up the Bulbourne valley to a low and easily traversed section of the Chiltern Hills near Tring. The modern High Street follows the route of this road.
The ford was close to the later site of a gas works site. The town probably originated in Saxon times as a string of houses on the northern side of this ford. It was located on the first dry ground above the marshy edges of the River Colne. It is generally agreed that the town is named after the ford, but the origin of the first part of the name is uncertain. Theories include the Old English words wæt (wet), wadan (wade), watul (wattle, a fence) or wath (hunter), Watling Street, and a hypothetical Saxon landowner called "Wata".
Watford is first mentioned in the 10th and 11th century Anglo-Saxon Charters. It does not get a mention by name in the Domesday Book, but was included in the entry for the then more important settlement of Cashio which stood half a mile away at the crossroads of the St Albans road and Hempstead Road near the modern Town Hall.
The settlement's location helped it to grow, since as well as trade along this north-south through route it possessed good communications into the vale of St Albans to the east and into the Chiltern Hills along the valley of the River Chess to the west. In 1100 Henry I granted a charter to Watford to hold a weekly market.
The parish church of St Mary the Virgin was built in 1230 on the same site as an earlier Saxon church. It was extensively restored in 1871. The great houses of Cassiobury and The Grove were built in the seventeenth centuries and expanded and developed throughout the following centuries. Cassiobury became the family seat of the Earls of Essex, and The Grove the seat of the Earls of Clarendon “
Possible routes for further enquiry
Mary Forsyth’s new book (Watford - A History : ISBN 978 0 7509 6159 2 ), is a good, and easy to read. Its 16 0 pages give are very good overview of Watford from prehistory to 1945.
s It begins with a listing of previous historical works on the town, and the context they were written in.
The 19th century census enumerators records (formerly the local library) will give the most easily accessed snapshots of the people who lived at Little Cassiobury, Cassiobury House and the rest of the town.
Also the Essex family, household, and estate records (in the Herts County records andin the National Archives) could be very useful for anyone interested in piecing together a (so far) only sketchily understood part of our heritage.
The simple listing of Essex family members from 1661 to the present - in Cracroft's Peerage is a preferable starting point for identifying the widowed and unmarried family members who might have occupied Little Cassiobury