Hughes, a Family of Sawyers
John and Mary Hughes had wed in Aldershot in July 1783. John Hughes was a sawyer, born elsewhere in 1762. Mary was locally born, baptised as Mary Charlton at St Michael’s Church in January 1764, one of three sisters.
John had died in 1850, Mary then a widow for three years. They had raised at least 12 children during the first twenty of their 57 years of marriage.
The place of baptisms for the children in the early years suggests that the family moved back and forth from Aldershot to Ash. There is also the possible beginning of connection the family had to London, to Payne Street in Islington in particular.
The eldest two, James and Ann, were baptised in Aldershot in 1783 and 1785, then Mary and Sophia were baptised at St Peter’s Church in Ash in 1788 and 1792. John and Sarah were baptised at St Michael’s Church in Aldershot in 1794 and 1796. The next six children were all were baptised in Aldershot, including Daniel who was born in Islington, although baptised in Aldershot in February 1802. The twins, Jane and Charlotte were born in 1810 when their mother was aged 46. William is listed as the youngest; he was born and baptised in Islington in 1811 with parents John and Mary Hughes.
John Hughes’ sons had followed in his footsteps, becoming sawyers and carpenters. These were trades that enabled geographic mobility and led to career trajectories which included repeated connection with Islington in London. Indeed, the majority of their children had left for London at one time or another, likely having then to take the mail coach via the old road to Southwark. As the older offspring left home, so the younger siblings became able to assist at home in an ever-increasing family.
The eldest son James
Locally born James, born in 1783, moved to Bermondsey, a place on the river for building and breaking ships; the famous Fighting Temeraire had ended its days there in 1838.
Widowed and having retired from working as a sawyer, James was noted in the 1851 Census as having property funds yielding 3 ½ per cent per annum. He then had two adult daughters in his household, one married with a child. James had also moved around during his career as a sawyer, as indicated by the dates and places of baptism of his children. Those two daughters had been born in Farnham in 1818 and 1824, baptised at the non-conformist chapel in Dogflood Street [East Street] by Joseph Johnson, ‘a Protestant Dissenting Minister’. His son George had been baptised in 1828 in Rotherhithe; George had married there, also working as a sawyer.
The daughter Mary
Mary’s mother had been staying with her in 1853, at the time of her passing. She was by then Mrs Shaw, married to John Shaw from Staffordshire.
As with her elder brother, the daughter Mary, born in 1788, had also made her way to London, marrying at age 22 to John Shaw at St Mary’s Church, Lambeth in August 1810. John Shaw was from Penkridge in Staffordshire. It is not known whether John and Mary had any children of their own, nor how long they stayed in London. However, by 1841, some 30 years later, the couple had moved to Staffordshire where John Shaw worked as a farmer. Mary’s younger brother John had joined them, working in Penkridge as an agricultural labourer. There also was a teenage girl in the household, her place of birth given as Islington, Middlesex.
Mary Shaw had returned to the village to care for her parents when her father was ailing. She was accompanied by her husband John, her brother John and that teenage girl called Naomi York, who by then was aged 17. Why young Naomi had been with Mary is not obvious. The supposition is that she was Mary Shaw’s niece, although by which sister is something of a mystery to be explored.
The date of their arrival would have been before March 1845, indicated by John Shaw’s role then as one of the two local tax collectors alongside the long-time Aldershot resident, William Gosden. By 1851 John Shaw owned and was working the 5 ½ acres of land known as Legge’s.
Three daughters Ann, Sophia and Sarah
Less is known of the career projection of three daughters, Ann, Sophia and Sarah, and so of their whereabouts at the time of their parents’ deaths. They would have been in their sixties in 1853 and might well have attended their mother’s funeral had they themselves lived.
For reasons associated with the mystery surrounding Naomi York, one or other of these might, just might, have married in Islington under the name of Naomi Hughes.
The Second Son, Thomas
Thomas the sawyer of North Lane, aged 53 in 1853, had stayed on in Aldershot and married locally. Like his parents, he and his wife ‘Betsy’ had also raised as many as 13 children, most of whom were baptised in Aldershot, although his son William is recorded in census returns as having been born in Islington around 1835.
The connection with London is also repeated with the later careers of his two eldest sons. George, the older of the two, was married and listed in 1851 in Rotherhithe, near a cousin called George who was also working as a sawyer. Thomas’ son Frederic was further south in Peckham, Surrey according to the place of birth of his eldest child in 1852. (By 1861 Frederic(k) was back in Aldershot in North Lane living with four children. He was a Licensed Victualler at the White Horse (‘House’) which was owned by Thomas Hughes. His other sons stayed in the general locality.
Thomas’ eldest daughter Harriett (b. 1824) had entered domestic service by 1841 nearby at Ash Bridge House for the Deacon household. In 1851, she was a visitor in the household of the carpenter Richard Harding at Egham.
- The connection to Aldershot was that Harding’s wife Mary had been born in Aldershot: she had been the widow Mary Worrod, born as Mary Smith in 1784, the daughter of James Smith.
The Third Son, Daniel
Daniel was born in Islington, baptised in Aldershot in February 1802. He also became a sawyer and worked in London, all of his three teenage children by his second wife, since 1836, born in Islington. The family was living in Payne Street, Islington in 1851, together with a daughter from his previous marriage, aged 35 and born in Kent.
The Fourth Son, George
George, born and baptised in Aldershot in 1804,was yet another sawyer. He married locally to Esther Fludder, were living on North Lane in 1851. For Esther, this was attendance at her second funeral of the year, the first being that of her young nephew Frederick Fludder.
The Younger Daughters
Two other sisters, Jane and Charlotte, who were baptised together in 1810, had married in Aldershot at St Michael’s Church, each then moving to Farnham. Jane had married to a baker called Richard Baker in 1831 and was living in West Street, Farnham; Charlotte had married in 1834 to William Stovold, a carpenter also from Farnham. Although the daughter of a sawyer, Charlotte had to make a mark when witness to her sister’s marriage, as she also had to do for her own marriage.
Although baptised in Aldershot, William appears as born in Islington in various Census returns, including 1841 when he is listed as living in Payn(e) Street, Islington having married and established a family. In the returns of later Censuses he is listed as a spring maker, not a sawyer.