James Jone was born in 1789, baptised in Peper Harow, close by Godalming, Surrey which the 1851 notes as his place of birth. There is an element of mystery about what James had been doing in the years between 1804 and 1813, before record of the marriage of James Hone to Fanny Prince in August 1814, by licence at St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, London. She was from Badshot, the small hamlet on the border of the two parishes of Farnham and Aldershot. With residence stated as Badshot, their first born, also called James, was baptised three months later, in Aldershot in October 1814.
Several months before his marriage, James Hone had enlisted with the 51st, in August 1814. The 51st was dispatched in February 1815 to the Continent following Napoleon’s escape from Elba. The regiment was present in June that year at Waterloo, the entry in his service record clearly indicating James’ status as a veteran of that decisive battle.
Along with others who were at the triumph accorded to the Duke of Wellington, James was awarded the Waterloo Medal, the first British service medal issued to all present in a conflict. Those veterans enjoyed a favoured status in later years. That was especially so in the patronage extended to the officer class as the Iron Duke became a dominant force in British politics and all things military.
The death of the Wellington in September 1852 had brought that famous victory to mind, still remembered in the village as all across the country. It might not be too fanciful to image James Hone in his old uniform with his Waterloo Medal proudly on display on the national day of mourning declared for the Duke’s funeral that November.
James had stayed on with the 51st after the peace, promoted to corporal in August 1815. His wife was ‘on the strength’ of the regiment, their second child William baptised in Plymouth in July 1818. James was later promoted to sergeant in April 1819, his third son Henry born in 1822 when the family were billeted in Corfu.
- What might not have been widely known across the village was that having served at that rank for seven years James was then reduced to the rank of private in January 1826. The reason is unclear.
James’ son William had also enlisted with the 51st. In 1832, at the age of 14, he had joined the regimental band. William later served in Australia and the East Indies. He was also promoted to sergeant, in February 1852, later being assigned on a permanent basis to the West Kent Militia.
The youngest son Henry had not enlisted with the regiment. Instead he had returned to England with his parents after his father’s discharge from the 51st with the award of a disability pension for his 22 years of service. Young Henry had learnt enough during his time growing up amongst the military to be capable of starting at the smithy in Badshot, just across the county boundary.
Caroline was the blacksmith’s wife. She came from Farnham, her father a shoemaker. Many in the village would recall that ten years before she had been Miss Caroline Williams, the village schoolmistress, lodging with a family close by the pottery on the northern side of Aldershot Green.
The schoolhouse was up the hill opposite the parish church. Caroline’s journey to visit her parents on a Friday after school would have taken her from the schoolhouse down a long path across the fields of Grange Farm. The path led to Boxalls Lane by the foot of Place Hill, also known as the lower road to Farnham. Then she would cross the Blackwater by the Pea Bridge to Badshot. Her route to East Street in Farnham took her past the smithy at which young Henry then worked.
Henry was about three years younger than Caroline . But there must have been something that prompted the schoolmistress to be attracted to the twenty year-old blacksmith. Obviously a strong young man, if his brother William’s service record was any guide, he also had blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. Perhaps there was fascination with the way in which he told stories about far off islands in the Mediterranean, as though opening up a new world beyond the confines of the market town of Farnham and its surrounding parishes.
In 1841, when Caroline was still Miss Williams, she had also often passed this smithy in Aldershot at the foot of Church Hill. William Higlett had then been the village blacksmith, the smithy known as Paine’s Shop, even though James Paine had been dead for over five years before. Paine’s widow had remarried and then moved to Ash, selling the house and smithy in 1845 to Mr James Elstone of Aldershot Lodge. The purchase by Elstone would have seemed an obvious one as the properties had belonged to the estate before the blacksmith James Paine had acquired them in 1822.
We cannot know whether Miss Caroline Williams had ever imagined that she would later move back to the village in 1845 to be the blacksmith’s wife. Nor that part of the plan was that William Higlett and his family would move in the other direction to take over the smithy at Badshot.
Now she was Mrs Henry Hone, with tenth anniversary of their wedding come September and a family of five children. The youngest, baby Albert, had been baptised last June at St Michael’s Church.
Few would have known more about who-was-who across the whole of the parish than Caroline, despite not being ‘Aldershot, ‘born and bred’. Not only was she its former schoolmistress, her husband Henry was one of the two men who had acted as the local enumerators for the Census taken in March 1851. The other was William Wheeler who was both a neighbour and the father-in-law of the woman in the household with whom Caroline had lodged in 1841.
The choice of Henry Hone as a census enumerator, also serving as a constable in some years, said something about his social standing as blacksmith. It reflected well upon the quality of education he had received in a garrison school when his father served with the Army. Such schooling would have been much better than most children had in England, and certainly better than most of the men in the village. The choice of the older man, William Wheeler, as the other enumerator also says something about the extent of his literacy and the numeracy associated with the demands of his trade. According to William Wheeler’s own hand, the Census recorded him as a cordwainer, a shoe maker like Caroline’s father. Both William and his wife had also used a full signature in the marriage registration book in 1832.
Caroline Hone would have had access to the household forms which her husband collected and, with the organisational skills of a teacher. We can only guess of the extent to which she and her father-in-law had played a significant part in collating the work of both census enumerators. The notion of strict confidentiality of the Census had not yet been made a legal requirement.