There were more Attfield families in the Farnham area during the 19th century than anywhere else in the world. The 1851 Census recorded six Attfield households in Aldershot. The Attfield families were also well-represented in the parish registers at St Michael’s Church, with christening recorded from 1782.
The Attfields of Aldershot were all connected through Nathaniel Attfield (1674-1758), a yeoman farmer at nearby Badshot. Nathaniel Attfield had several sons: the eldest became a draper in Woking, the next a maltster in Chiswick; two died young, at respective ages of around 16 and 20; the fifth moved to Chertsey. The sixth and seventh sons gave rise to the two Attfield branches in Aldershot.
Coincidentally, the parents of Reuben and Thomas had married within a week of one another. Nathaniel and Anne had married in Aldershot on 11 October 1800. George and Nimmy had married the next week at the same church on 18 October 1800. The difference in attendance and expense at the two would have been interesting to observe.
Both Reuben Attfield and Thomas Attfield appeared on the Electoral Roll. Reuben was on that by virtue of his inherited copyhold property; Thomas was there by virtue of the freehold possession of the Clerk’s Land. That came with his appointment as Parish Clerk and the provisions of the 1832 Reform Act.
Mr Reuben Attfield was a land proprietor of independent means having benefitted from early inheritance. His grandfather was George Attfield (b. 1713), the sixth son of Nathaniel Attfield who had become a successful as a yeoman farmer. George had considerable properties all about Aldershot.
At the death of George Attfield in 1793, his properties passed to his eldest son Richard (born c.1754) and at Richard’s death in 1819 they went to James, the next brother (born c.1755). James also died unmarried and childless ten years later aged 73 in 1829. He left his estate in his will to the only son of his brother Nathaniel, that is, to Reuben Attfield.
Reuben Attfield therefore become a landowner in his own right in 1829, adding Parkhouse Farm to his holdings on his father’s death in 1843. His father’s will had left an annuity to his widow Ann and a cash sum to his other two children, Jane and Mary, the latter by then the wife of William Herrett, a tenant farmer who had been managing Parkhouse Farm.
In 1853 Mr Reuben Attfield was over 50 years old and unmarried, living with his widowed mother Ann and his sister Jane. He was one of the most senior members of village society, having also served as one of the two Overseers, first when aged 32 in 1836 and again during 1852.
Thomas Attfield the Parish Clerk was the second of twelve children born to George and ‘Nimmy’ (bap. 1777 as Naomi Charlton). George Attfield was the third son of William the Bailiff (1749 – 1837), descended from a very junior branch of the Attfield family of yeoman farmer Nathaniel Attfield (1674-1758), that of the younger seventh son, Richard (b. 1718).
William Attfield had been bailiff on the Farnham estate of the Bishop of Winchester and had held cottages in his own right at Hog Hatch. He had bequeathed those cottages and their gardens to the widow of his fourth son. There was no other land to pass on. Even the eldest son James (1774 – 1851) did not benefit and had become a gardener in Aldershot, in 1841. James and George lived next door to one another in cottages on the village Street, both having played the part as a tenant farmer at one time or another.
Thomas Attfield was appointed Parish Clerk in 1839, not long after Dr Henry Carey had taken up his living as curate. The appointment of parish clerk was nominally that of the curate but it is unclear who made that decision, the curate or the Vestry . Thomas had married Rebekah Chitty in 1830, both able to sign their names in the register. Her father, John Chitty, was then the Parish Clerk. He died six years later in 1836, aged 75.
Despite his position as parish clerk, Thomas was recorded by the 1841 Census as a labourer. He and his wife Rebekah were living on Church Hill, with six children from their eleven years of marriage. By 1851 three daughters had left home. The eldest, Lucy, had married in 1852 to a stone mason from Pimlico, which was where their first child was born. Another daughter, Catherine had left home to be a dress makers assistant on the Isle of Wight. In 1851, the youngest, Sarah, then aged 16, was an under-nurse in Droxford in the large household for the curate of Soberton, the Reverend Thomas Brock. He was cousin to Reverend Carey, the younger brother of his wife Emily.
More about the Attfield families is found at http://farnham.attfield.de/