Sparrows Herne Turnpike

The turnpike road ran from 1762 between Sparrows Hearne, near Bushey, on the Hertfordshire/Middlesex border, and Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire. I came across an interesting letter to The Sparrows Herne Turnpike Trust in a school history book. In it, Thomas Saunders of Berkhamsted is applying for the job of gatekeeper. It is difficult not to wonder about a connection with William Saunders – especially as William’s father’s name was Thomas and his brother’s name is Thomas. They are not uncommon names, however. The signatories are a snapshot of Berkhamsted’s ‘great and good’ at the end of the eighteenth century.

To the worthy Gentlemen, the Commissioners of the Turnpike Road leading from Sparrows Herne to Aylesbury

Thomas Saunders, a poor parishioner of Berkhamsted, having a sickly wife and five children for whom he is scarce able to procure Bread by his utmost Endeavours, humbly prays to be appointed a Gate Keeper to the Turnpike. If he is so happy to succeed, he will discharge the trust reposed in him with the utmost Diligence and Integrity.

We, whose names are here unto subscribe, do believe Thomas Saunders of Berkhamsted to be a poor, industrious, honest Man with a large family. He has always tried to look after them. We do also believe him to be a proper person to keep the Turnpike Gate for which he now applys to the Commissioners.

Thos Herbert Noyes
John Jeffreys
Thos Bland
Thos Egerton
Thos Smart
William Timbrell
John Deene
Robert Potter

Wm Franklin
James Springall
John Stevens
W Johnson
Thomas Cook
Guy Abraham
Thos Wilkinson

Heinemann History Scheme Book 2: The Early Modern World, 2000, Judith Kidd, Rosemary Rees, Ruth Tudor, p37.The original document is at HALS https://archives.hertfordshire.gov.uk/.

Tring Local History has a chapter about the turnpike at https://tringlocalhistory.org.uk/Tring/c_chapter%2004.htm