A Late Harvest
The village was busy, the demands of harvest still underway as the days became shorter. At the smithy, the demand was for running repairs to equipment as well as horses needing shod.
As though to recall the start of the history of this year in the village, the figure of a former soldier can once again be imagined standing in the doorway of the smithy. This is as good a vantage point as any from which to regard events as they unfold for this place in rural England, local happenings beginning to be intertwined with both national and international developments.
With Henry, his son, working away inside at the furnace, James Hone looks out onto what is still referred to as Paine’s Green, the name kept from that of a former blacksmith.
Widowed and aged 64, James was a veteran of Waterloo. That famous victory had been brought to mind a year past September by the death of the Duke of Wellington. His passing was marked by a national day of mourning that November. The elaborate state funeral for the Iron Duke was spectacular, coordinated by Prince Albert and the new Commander-in-Chief, Viscount Hardinge.
The self-proclamation of Napoleon’s nephew as Emperor that swiftly followed had triggered nationwide concern about a supposed threat direct from France. For many years before, when Viscount Palmerston was Foreign Secretary for almost the whole of the period from 1830 to 1852, Britain’s interests in Europe and in the Middle East were to maintain the status quo.
Palmerston’s policy, then having little interference from the Palace, was directed towards propping up the Ottoman Empire in order to confine both Russian and French expansion. Since their marriage in 1840, Prince Albert had sought to increase the role of Sovereign and that of his own role. By 1852, Viscount Palmerston was no longer Foreign Secretary.
Following a dispute between France and Russia over rights in the Holy Land, Britain now found itself allied with France in support of Turkey against Russia. The popular mood had been running strongly against Russia. Palmerston was now Home Secretary, he was in Cabinet and had charge of the reform of the Militia. He rode that national mood as though its champion, to the chagrin of both the Prime Minister Aberdeen and the Palace.
Four frigates, two French and two of the Royal Navy, had recently entered the Bosphorus, the straits beyond Constantinople that connected with the Black Sea. The national and regional press were divided on how Russia might react, reflecting the differing opinions within Cabinet.
Saturday, 1st October 1853
Much of the London press was in contention with The Times about the relative merits of Turkey and Russia in their conflict. The Morning Post explicitly argued support for “such statesmen as Lords Palmerston, John Russell and Clarendon” in upholding the sovereignty and independence of Turkey against Russian aggression. The Times, which The Evening Standard described as “the organ of the Prime Minister [Lord Aberdeen]”, played down the integrity of the failing Ottoman Empire and the threat from Russia.
The Morning Chronicle, described by The Standard as a “ministerial journal” but not an “Aberdeen Journal“, argued that “It is for the sake of England and France, and still more directly for the interest of Germany [seemingly referring to Austria, Prussia and the German States], but, above all, from a regard to the maintenance of that international law which is the sole security for peace, that the Western Powers are prepared to resist the unproved aggression of Russia.” Both The Evening Standard and the Morning Herald were uncompromising in exposing the differences that existed within the Cabinet.
Such newspapers might have taken time to reach the village but it was generally the case that once purchased newspapers were passed from hand to hand.
The blacksmith’s family were literate. Henry was not only the blacksmith but had sufficient education to have been an enumerator for the 1851 Census. He had also acted as a parish constable. His father James kept the books for the business and Henry’s wife Caroline was the former village schoolmistress.
The newspapers had also been reporting favourably of the new, reforming ‘Coalition Ministry’, not that any in the blacksmith’s family had a vote.
Britain was a parliamentary democracy based on property. In England, the 1832 Reform Act had extended that property-owning democracy to those who had copyhold worth £10; those having leasehold valued at £50 or paying £50 or more annually as tenant farmers also now had the vote. Nationally, the electorate was still only between 5 and 10 percent of the adult population. In the village, the vast majority of adults, even the cottagers whose property was valued at less than £10, were as much bystanders as was James Hone from the doorway of the smithy.
Not owning property also meant that the blacksmith’s family had not been party to the decision to apply to enclose Aldershot Common. Nor were they entitled to have a say at the meeting that had been called later in the month.
The notice for that, issued and signed by Edgar Christmas on behalf of the Board of Inclosure Commissioners, had been pinned to the church door on, or shortly after, September 19th. It declared,
“a Meeting of Persons interested in Aldershot Common … will be held on the 26th Day of October next, at the hour of eleven in the forenoon, at the Red Lion Inn … for the purpose of appointing a Valuer in the matter of the Inclosure of the said lands”
This was intended for the property owners who had legal rights as ‘Commoners’. It was not for the others who depended upon access to Aldershot Common for their livelihood.
The meeting was to be held at The Red Lion, barely more than a minute’s walk from the smithy. Barely more than a month previously, the Commander-in-Chief Hardinge had lodged there. Having ridden across Aldershot Heath, at the Red Lion, at the close of the Camp at Chobham, he had sat down to write to Prince Albert recommending the location for another, more permanent Camp.
The former soldier, James Hone, as other members of the village, might have caught sight of the Commander-in-Chief and his retinue, but they would certainly have been unaware of such a plan.
Conversely, Viscount Hardinge had not then known that Parliamentary approval had been given to enclose Aldershot Common. He did now know and was active in his correspondence within Government to secure success for the implementation of his plan.
Captain Newcome’s sister
From his vantage point at the smithy, James Hone could observe the carriages and men on horseback arriving, via the Lodge at the foot of Church Hill. The mood at the house of another former soldier was sombre.
This was the day of the funeral for Captain George Newcome’s sister who had died this Sunday past. Memories of George’s younger brother Henry would have been evoked that day within the family. He had died in the Tyrol four years earlier in May 1849.
- Henry had married Cecelia Wake in 1835 and had settled in Northamptonshire: their first child was baptised at Courteenhall in 1836 and in July 1841 Henry sitting on the Northampton Assizes alongside his father-in-law, Sir William Wake, the 9th Baronet of Cleveland. Cecelia was the ninth child of Sir William whose family were said to be descended from Hereward the Wake. Sir William had died in January 1846, aged 76. It seems probable that Henry’s widow Cecelia and their children would have remained at Courteenhall, although his widow was visiting Brighton with her children at the time of the 1851 Census.
The service was not to be at the St Michael’s parish church; it was instead conducted at the Church of St John The Evangelist at nearby Hale where Miss Georgina Newcome had taken up residence.
It is unclear where Elizabeth, Miss Georgina’s twin sister, had been living at the time; perhaps, she too had stayed at Hale Place. The 1851 Census records the sisters staying in Northamptonshire as visitors in the household of Emily Wake, all listed as unmarried fund-holders. Miss Emily Wake was older sister of Cecelia, the wife of the sisters’ late brother Henry Newcome.
The two younger sisters, Rose and Harriet, would have travelled in the dress of mourning with their husbands by carriage, one from Tongham, the other from Woodbridge, near Guildford. The sisters had married two brothers called Mangles.
- Harriet, the elder of the two, had wed in February 1830 to Ross Donnelly Mangles. He was the Member of Parliament for Guildford, based at Woodbridge Park with an address in London.
- The youngest sister Rose had married the next year, in 1831, to Ross Donnelly’s older brother, Captain Charles Edward Mangles. Charles maintained an address in Broad Street as well as Poyle Park in Tongham where the twin sisters and the brother Henry Newcome and his wife Cecelia had been present on the night of the 1841 Census. In 1851 the household at Poyle House comprised Rose and Charles’ six children and seven staff, including a governess from Switzerland.
George was the eldest son. At age 31, with the rank of Captain, he had been the last to marry. His bride in 1844 was Harriot Sophia Girardot, aged 28. The ceremony had been conducted by her brother, the Reverend John Girardot at Little Bookham in Surrey; their father, who had once held the office of High Sheriff of Derbyshire, had retired to Little Bookham. Harriot’s elder brother was Charles Andrew Girardot, a Captain in the Coldstream Guards. He had purchased the Manor House in Aldershot for the couple, presumably using part of the estate of their late father who had died, aged 74, a year after the marriage.
George Newcome’s own father had died in his 71st year in February 1833, his mother Elizabeth six years later in March 1839, George named as her executor. Hosting the family gathering at the Manor House would have been convenient. However, the seat of the Newcome family had once been at Upper Wimpole Street in Marylebone.
- George’s parents, George William and Elizabeth, had married in Hackney on 8th December 1800, under special licence. George’s father was recorded in the Oxford Journal as Esq. of Devonshire Street, Portland Place; his mother was from Hackney.
- The twins Georgiana & Elizabeth and all of George’s younger siblings had all been baptised at St Marylebone where family are recorded at Wimpole Street in the Census returns in 1821 and 1831. George, the eldest, was the exception, baptised in Hackney in January 1803.
The link between the Newcome and Mangles families went back to that time when the seat of the Newcome family was in London and Mangles was a family firm of shipwrights, later becoming established as an ocean-going shipping business.
=> More on the Mangles family
The energy of the great majority in the village, as with the blacksmith, was focussed on what was needed to bring in the harvest. Michaelmas Day, signifying when the growing season had come to an end, had fallen on September 29th, but everything this year was late.
The harvest was also opportunity for the wives and children of labourers and cottagers to glean what they could from the fields once the farmer and his hands had taken in the main crop. The benefit was mutual, the farmer thereby having the ground cleared by this scavenging before ploughing was begun.
Even as the days became shorter, there was greater work to be done across the parish, both to complete the harvest and to carry out many post-harvest activities.
‘Harvest, Home Sunset: The Last Load’, John Linnell, 1853
Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)
On October 1st, The Field, a weekly newspaper, commented that the harvest was almost finished in the south of the County, but that,
“the wheat crop is deficient and those of barley and oats about average.
Some of the grain has been injured, either by rain in the fields or by being housed in a damp or unripe state. ..
“The price of wheat has much advanced and if an European war
[were to] break out further advances may be expected. If so we hope that agricultural wages will advance correspondingly.”
The Review of the Corn Trade From the Mark Lane Express in the Hampshire Chronicle was written in the same vein.
The Field also noted,
“crop of potatoes is very deficient, and a large portion of them are diseased. Turnips in general are abundant. Apples are plentiful in some orchards, in others scanty: probably altogether about half a bearing.”
Also that day, the Hampshire Telegraph published the names of those in the County who had been issued with General Game Certificates. The list included Richard Allden, Reuben Attfield, Charles Barron, James Elstone and Dunstan Leech. The latter was the tenant farmer who had been working the 63 acres at Prowting’s Farm prior to Michaelmas Day.
Michaelmas Day, was the day when contracts for farm property and agricultural labour were concluded, meaning both dates of entry to property and changes in employment. The date of Old Michaelmas Day, reckoned by the older Julian Calendar to be October 11th, was still being taken in some parts of the country as the end of contracts for agricultural workers. As is plain from later entries in the diary of local farmer James Elstone, that hiring of new hands for the year continued into October.
By keeping the books, James Hone knew most of the farmers in the village. As landowners, they constituted the majority, in value if not in number, of those who held votes as Commoners.
James Elstone was listed in the 1851 Census as having the largest acreage of land. However, he held only a fraction of those 290 acres within the parish: 24 acres were within the Aldershot Lodge estate and 22 acres were part of what was once known as Robinson’s Farm. His larger acreage was on the farms he managed in neighbouring Ash and Tongham. He did, however, own some other properties in the village, such as the smithy which his father, James Elstone Senior, had bought from Paine’s widow in 1840.
Elstone’s friend Richard Allden would also have been very active at harvest, working from dawn until dusk. Holding 147 acres, based at Elm Place, he was one of the two that did have the largest arable extent within the parish. The other was the absentee owner Samuel Eggar with his 142 acres at Manor Farm, also known as Riley’s. He had let the farm to the tenant farmer Henry Twynham.
Undoubtedly, Charles Barron’s 209 acres at Aldershot Park, managed by his bailiff, was the largest single estate in the parish, but much of that was meadow and orchard. Similarly, the 58 acres of the Manor House estate owned by Captain Newcome was mostly meadow.
The widowed Mrs Tice let her 79 acres at Holly Farm along North Lane to Robert Hart. Hart held farmland in Ash in his own right and was also the tenant farmer at the Grange Farm in Tongham, across in the Surrey side of the Blackwater abutting Aldershot Park; both were owned by Charles Barron.
Mrs Tice’s son Henry Tice, let his 64 acres at Prowting’s Farm to Hugh Sears. Henry Tice had his main 320 acre farm at Puttenham, Surrey, just south of the Hogs Back. He had recently bought the farm from Reuben Attfield.
Reuben Attfield had not been active as a farmer for many years. He had sold most if not all of the land that he had inherited from his uncle and father. Now, with independent income, he was engaged as the Assistant Overseer to the Vestry.
George Robinson held the 46 acres at North Farm, further up North Lane. The 25 acres at Mons (Red Knolls) was now owned by George Trimmer, an auctioneer based in Farnham, and let to John Turner. It had previously owned by James Sanders and let to the Scotsman Henry MacKenzie.
Local resident James Avenell farmed 32 acres not far away at Deadbrooks. That was way above North Lane, backing on to Aldershot Common.
Closer in to the village, William Herrett was now farming the 23 acres of Vilewoods as owner occupier, having acquired that from his brother-in-law, Reuben Attfield. George Gosden, whose main occupation was as the village grocer, had charge of the 32 acres at Fish Ponds which he had inherited from his father William.
At the other side of the parish, Ben Nicholls, a solicitor in Farnham had recently bought the 74 acres at West End Farm. That was close by the 30 acres at Rock Farm, owned and farmed by long-term resident Thomas Smith. Locally-born Richard John Stovold held 34 acres not far away at Ayling Farm.
John Andrews, although living outside the parish, took direct responsibility for the 55 acres (known as Fludder’s) set on the hill north of Boxall’s Lane.
Beyond the parish boundary, John Trussler paid the Vestry £15 rent annually to manage the 20 acres at Brixbury. Many others were busy with bringing in the harvest grown on holdings of less than 20 acres, some fields owned as part of small holdings and other rented from the Parish Vestry.
Many of the famers owning land in Aldershot grew hops, notably local residents James Elstone and Richard Allden and Richard John Stovold as well the Andrews family from Farnham. There were several hop kilns all around the village.
Hop growing was one of the most expensive branch of farming. The yield not known until at least August, in which the Old St. James’ Day now fell,
“Till St. James’s-day be come and gone,
There may be hops, or there may be none.”
The hop yield varied greatly from year to year. The estimated 42,000 acres nationally dedicated to hop fields had produced the following yield during the four previous years :
All the indications were that by the end of this 1853 growing season the yield would be down again. Quoting a report syndicated from The Press on the Hop Harvest, the Hampshire Chronicle declared,
“The produce of hops this year will not, it is supposed, be above half an average crop … We may expect, therefore, that prices will rule high ..”
The Press was a newly-launched weekly to which Benjamin Disraeli, the up-and-coming Tory politician, regularly contributed. The paper sided with the brewing industry in complaint about the high level of duty. The Press noted, however, that the growers were both small in number and divided amongst themselves.
Commenting that “successful growth of the hop requires great care and intelligence, and affords far more employment than any other kind of cultivation”, The Press noted,
“Continuous labour is afforded by the hop plantation through three-fourth of the year; and, when picking commences, every family in the district experiences the benefit of ample work and liberal wages.
The labourers in hop districts are better paid and more constantly employed than in localities where the culture is unknown.”
Romani travellers and ‘hop tourists’, seasonal labour from cities such as Southampton, Portsmouth, and London, would arrive to supplement the local workforce.
The scene, not three years later, in Farnham was described as,
“alive with hop pickers; old women with babies on their backs, men bearing children of larger growth upon their shoulders; energetic females, not only burthened with their offspring, but hugging brown stone drinking mugs for the whole family …
“Mr. Andrews [“the farmer-butcher of the place”], I was told, employed several hundred gipsies on his grounds ..”
Marianne Young, ‘Aldershot, And All About It‘, February 1857, pages 109 – 121.
With the bines stripped and hopping complete, the poles had to be carted away to be stacked, some to be used as a base on which to stack hay. Then the hop fields had their turn with the plough, the thoughts of the farmers turning to the preparation for the Weyhill Fair later in the month.
Tuesday, 4th October 1853
News of war in the East was now breaking,
“Advices from Vienna, received by submarine telegraph, dated on Monday, contained most important news … Against the advice of the Four Powers, the Sultan has signed the declaration of war,”
(as reported in the Hampshire Telegraph on the next day)
This might have spurred on Prime Minister Aberdeen when writing to Home Secretary Palmerston, despite their differences, to argue Commander-in-Chief Viscount Hardinge’s case for acquiring Aldershot Common:
Lord Aberdeen went on,
“The course to be even better calculated for me in time of war, than during peace, from its central position and the great facility of communication with various parts of the coast.”
He clearly appreciated that this meant expense but wished to support the plan to establish a permanent Camp.
“The only real objection is the cost, which may redoubtably be very considerable.
At the same time the command of such a space is so influential for the improvement of the troops, that it well worth the sacrifice, provided the expense can be measured in [terms of] inconvenience.”
Friday, 7th October 1853
With more pressing matters on his mind, Prime Minister Aberdeen later wrote to the Queen about those differences of opinion in Cabinet about the outbreak of conflict between Russia and Turkey. He makes reference to the position of the fleet, implicitly recognising the delay in communication with the Porte at Constantinople and expressing some hope that peace might prevail.
Vestry Sets Poor Rate
On that same day, at a much lower level of governance, Aldershot’s Vestry met within St Michael’s Church to set the ‘Rate for the Relief of the Poor at 15d in the pound’. The minute was signed by the Assistant Overseer, Reuben Attfield. With previous levies of 15 pence and 7 1/2 pence, that brought the total annual rate to 3 shillings and 3 half pence in the pound.
Reuben Attfield, in his role as Assistant Overseer, would collect the contributions due for the 198 rateable properties in the parish. The rate was largely payable by the occupants, each recorded in the Poor Rate Book. The total collected in October was £131 – 1s. 16 pence & a ha’penny, signed off by the George Newcome for the Churchwardens and the two Overseers, Thomas Deacon and James Elstone.
That meant that the total collected in April, July and October for the year, 1853/54, was £273 – 13s. – 8 pence & 3 farthings.
Entries in the Overseers’ Book indicated that, to date, £163 had been paid over to the Treasurer of the Farnham Poor Law Union in the current year between May 19th and September 29th. Further contributions to the Union were expected.
- The Overseers’ Book had been returned by the District Auditor who had examined the entries and completed accounts for the previous year, ending March 1852. On a turnover of £230 5s. 8 pence, including £188-10s. paid to the Union, there was a declared balance of £5-19s. 6 pence farthing.
The District Auditor had disallowed three items of expenditure that had been recorded in the Overseers’ Book for the previous year. The largest of these was the three guineas,(£3-3s.) paid for Mr Keen to carry out survey work. Although not stated, the latter payment to Mr Keen could well have been for preparatory work to support the application made to enclose Aldershot Common.
- The other two disallowed items were the 17s. paid to Henry Elkins for services as parish constable and the sum of one guinea (£1-1s.) part-payment for a bond drawn up on behalf of the Assistant Overseer. The Auditor had concluded that the Overseers owed the Union £11 & 6 pence farthing, that being the combined total of the disallowed items and the positive balance remaining.
There is no record of this in the October minutes about this nor in July’s Vestry.
Neither was there indication in the minutes of who else was at those Vestry meetings. Every ratepayer was entitled to attend, although very few did. James Hone nor his son Henry were ever recorded in the minutes.
- Henry Hone was mentioned, however, when in February 1849 he was nominated as one of those “qualified .. to serve the office of Parish Constable.” He also features in the Overseers Book as receiving payment of at least £1 – 3s.
By law, the curate was a member of the Vestry ex-officio. The October meeting would have been the third in which Reverend James Dennett could sit amongst the senior members of the parish, all very much more experienced than him as well as senior in years.
Pity The Poor Curate
The Reverend James Dennett was still aged only 23. He had been ordained by Bishop Sumner. He had then been entrusted to minister to this rural parish by both the Bishop and those who had ownership of the advowson.
Dennett was the son of a shepherd on the Beaulieu estate, at Baileys Hard. His sponsor, the Vicar of Holy Rhood across the water in the City of Southampton, was the Rt. Rev. William Wilson, now also a Canon and a senior Rural Dean at Winchester Cathedral.
Likely, James Dennett had evident self-confidence and an acknowledged ability.There were, however, many strange things for the curate to discover and come to terms with during the first six months of his tenure.
Aldershot was not a lucrative living, far from it. Appointment as perpetual curate meant only a small stipend which meant that the incumbent then needed to find ways to supplement his income.
There was the annual Church Rate but that was used for the maintenance and repair of the Church. In lieu of the Tithes, this amounted to £10 – 18s 7 1/2 pence per year.
The collected Tithes, moreover, were not the property of the Church, but of four families of yeoman farmers, Allden, Andrews, Eggar and Tice. They had leased the advowson for the parish from the Master of St Cross Hospital, near Winchester.
=> More on the Master of St Cross Hospital and the advowson to follow.
The curate was provided with accommodation at the parsonage opposite the Church. Perhaps, he might have been gifted the use of a housekeeper. His predecessor had from the gentry, married and had servants, although he too had been obliged to take in pupils from Guernsey to help make ends meet. The young curate James Dennett was, as they say, in want of a wife.
- James Dennett had become acquainted in Southampton with Mary Ann Compton. Their marriage would come later, the couple finding lodging in Winchester.
Appointment as perpetual curate at St Michael’s Church in Aldershot did not come with control and effective ownership of property.
In contrast, the Rectors of the two Churches of St Peter in the neighbouring parishes of Ash and Farnborough had claim to glebe land which made them property holders in their respective parishes.
The incumbent at St Peter’s Church in Ash was Reverend Gilbert Wall Heathcote, installed at the Rectory with his wife, a cook and a housemaid. Aged about 46, he was the eldest son of a former Archdeacon of Winchester Cathedral, also another called Gilbert. He was himself a Fellow of Winchester College which held the advowson.
The present incumbent as Rector of St Peter’s Church in Farnborough was Reverend John Henry Clayton. He was able to maintain a large household which included seven servants and held over 187 acres of land.
- The advowson for St Peter’s Church in Farnborough was also in the hands of the laity, the patron for the living was acknowledged to be with the manor as far back as AD 1230. Even before that, the Conquest, Farnborough had effectively been separated as a manor from that of the Church, awarded to a Norman knight as it stood on a main highway. The advowson had been owned down the years by those having substantial wealth, not held as lease by yeoman farmers as was the case now for St Michael’s Church in Aldershot.
In 1841, Reverend Clayton had been a curate at St Peter’s Church. The advowson was then acquired by a Mr Henry Clayton in 1844.
- The position of Rector in 1841 was held by Reverend Charles Archdale Palmer, the 27 year old son of the widowed Harriet Palmer, a direct descendent of an owner of slave plantations in Antigua. His father was a baronet, Sir Charles Thomas Hudson Palmer, also descended from an owner of slave plantations in Surinam. By 1851, Reverend Charles Archdale Palmer had become Rector of Wanlip, the family seat, with a very large household of staff. The 1851 Census records that his son was born in Wanlip in 1843, suggesting that he had vacated St Peter’s Church, Farnborough by then.
- The manor of Farnborough at this time was held by George Morant whose family had owned slave plantations in Jamaica and had subsequently received financial compensation from the Government ‘for loss of property’ following the abolition of slavery.
To add to the anomalous situation for the position of ‘perpetual curate’ at Aldershot’s parish church, the post of parish clerk, nominally in the gift of the curate, was accorded by long-standing tradition not only with accommodation in a cottage opposite the Church, close by the schoolhouse, but also with the 9 acres called the Clerk’s Land. The present post-holder, Thomas Attfield, was thereby regarded as the freeholder for that lands at Clabsdon; he was entitled to attend and to vote at the meeting on Enclosure later in the month.
Reverend James Dennett also had to come to terms with the terrible extent of child mortality in the village during his first five months of tenure. He had now heard the news of the death on Wednesday of John Greenwood.
Saturday, 8th October 1853
In his dual capacity as sexton as well as parish clerk, Thomas Attfield had prepared the grave for the curate to conduct the funeral for yet another victim of ‘Hooping Cough’. The coffin was so very small, the dead boy barely three weeks old.
The child’s father was George Greenwood, born in Medstead, in Hampshire; it was about 9 miles away, on the other side of Alton. Alton had been where his marriage to Ann Knight was registered in 1844. Before that, George was a male servant in the household of Rebecca Younge at Towngate Cottage, Medsted. Likely, Ann Knight was the female servant at Towngate Farm, aged 17.
- There is a Bridger Greenwood listed at Towngate Farm, as a male servant in 1841. Baptised in Medstead, in 1826, he later married a Caroline Knight there in 1845.
In 1851, George and Ann were living across the Blackwater in Ash. Their household on Ash Street including three small children, each born in three different places. There was also a visitor aged 19 called Jane Knight, born in Foyle, as was Ann, the dead child’s mother. George was listed as a coachman, his status that of a servant.
Although the death of baby John Greenwood was registered at Farnham, his mother’s maiden name of Knight, there is no record of the child’s baptism; he was only three weeks old. The register at Farnham records the death as having occurred in Aldershot, and also states his father George to be a servant. Perhaps, he had moved accommodation but remained employed by Charles Barron as a coachman, or else now worked in that capacity for Captain Newcome.
Greenwood was a family name in the village but it is unclear exactly what connection the child’s parents had to Aldershot and to the two existing Greenwood households. One of the two households recorded by the 1851 Census was of another John Greenwood was an agricultural labour, aged 55. He and his family lived in a cottage by the Bee Hive, listed in the Rate Book as owned by Mr Hall. He had married Sophia Wolf in 1822; she was listed as an agricultural labour’s wife, aged 53, suggesting that she also worked in the fields alongside him. Their daughter was a seamstress. The other household in the 1851 Census was that of William Greenwood, in a cottage at Vilewoods, then owned by Reuben Attfield and now owned by William Herrett. William, the younger man, had married Harriett Pharo in 1834.
Monday, 10th October 1853
The market near Andover had been held since medieval times. The gatherings in April and July were for cattle and sheep, respectively. However, the Weyhill Fair on October 10th, the eve of Old Michaelmas, was principally for the show and sale of hops, especially the famous Farnham Whitebine which commanded a premium price.
- The Farnham White Bine, earlier known as the White Bine Grape hop, was introduced in 1750 by Mr Peckham Williams of Badshot Place in Badshot Lea, close by Aldershot.
According to report in the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, hop-picking in the Farnham district had been completed by the close of Saturday past. The crop had been secured in excellent condition, the weather on the whole having been favourable. The quality and colour of the hops were good but individually they were not of any great size. Moreover, “the aggregate growth of the district, that is of Farnham and the neighbouring parishes of Hampshire and Surrey, was very small when compared with that of any recent year.”
At the time of its reporting, on October 10th, about one-half of all the Farnham hops were already sold as pockets on the London market.
- Pockets were circular bags packed full of of dried hops, about 6 feet 6 inches long and 2 feet 6 inches in diameter. The weight was approximately 1.5 cwt. James Elstone would later record in his diary for 1863, that he had travelled to London to sell “7 pockets of Seale and 2 of Farnham” at £7 – 7s.
Prices were high, but the total value of sales was way down. The duty paid in 1852 had been over £16,000, but it was not expected to exceed £5,000 by the close of 1853. That was less than a third than paid for last year’s crop.
According to The Field, a only total of 2,177 pockets of hops were available for sale. The scarcity of good hops in 1853 had meant that the best Farnhams were reaching new highs as premium prices. Even Country Farnhams were selling £12 as high as 18 guineas.
|Pockets||Lowest Prices||Highest Prices|
|Kent & Sussex||27||£12-12s.||£18-18s|
Tuesday, 11th October 1853
Since her marriage, Queen Victoria had been taking increasing interest in foreign affairs, valuing the direct communication between monarchs. This had been a cause of friction between the Palace and Viscount Palmerston when he had been Foreign Secretary.
The Queen was clearly concerned that decisions were being taken without the sanction of the Crown. Specifically, the Cabinet had resolved to authorise [Ambassador] Lord Stratford to deploy the British Fleet in defence of Turkish territory. That had included instruction that the Fleet should progress through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea were the Russian Fleet to set sail from Sebastopol in the Crimea.
In a letter from Balmoral to [Foreign Secretary] Lord Clarendon, she wrote,
“The Queen has received [Foreign Secretary] Lord Clarendon’s letter. She had written to Lord Aberdeen that she felt it her duty to pause before giving her consent to the measures decided on in the Cabinet, until she should have received an explanation on the views which dictated that decision, and of the ulterior steps involved in it; and Sir James Graham is gone up to Town, verbally to explain more fully the Queen’s feelings. She has now received and read the Despatches, which have in the meantime been sent off to their points of destination without having received her sanction!
This action was foreseen by Prince Albert in his memorandum, perhaps having offered her advice on its contents.
Saturday, 15 October 1853
The Hampshire Chronicle carried an extract from the Treasury which gave the details of Public Revenue for the year ending October 10th, the Old Michaelmas. The total had risen by 4.6% in the past year from £49,765, 417 in 1852 to £52,077, 169 in 1853.
Amongst the biggest source of increase were those from Customs & Excise and from Stamp Duties, additional duties for the latter having now come into force for receipts valued £2 or more. There had been an increase of less than 1% in the revenue obtained from direct taxation, such as income tax.
Despite the apparent health in public finances, there had been reports circulating in the newspapers, including the Hampshire Chronicle, that the Commander-in-Chief Hardinge and Secretary at War were encountering difficulties with the Treasury. These were based upon articles published in the Naval and Military Gazette.
Viscount Hardinge wished to implement a set of promotions by brevet, by which officers from the rank of captain to that of lieutenant-colonel could be advanced by merit. Increasing the pool of younger but seasoned officers with talent and experience was regarded as urgent.
In contrast to the regimental system of advance by purchase of commissions, this would in some instances require additional public funds. The promotion to the rank of major general of all colonels whose commissions as lieutenant-colonel dated from 1830 had been denied on financial grounds. A compromise was being negotiated which would limit promotion by brevet only to captains whose commissions dated from 1842.
Sunday, 16th October 1853
Prince Albert took the opportunity to write another personal memorandum, this time from Windsor Castle, the royal party having made the journey from Balmoral. He wrote,
“We saw Lord Aberdeen yesterday. He went with us through the whole of the proceedings of the last six weeks with respect to the Eastern Question.”
Prime Minister Aberdeen had explained the weakness of his position in Cabinet in the face of pressure from Lord John [the Leader of the Whig Party, in the Cabinet as Leader of the House] and Lord Palmerston [the Home Secretary]. However, he still believed that war could be averted. His preferred action was to present the Turkish Government with an edited version of the Vienna Note, leaving out all that had been objected.
Lord Aberdeen went further to report that he did not have a successor in the Leader of the Whig Party, Lord John, who would prefer to stay as Leader of the House as the Peelites would not serve under him. Aberdeen disclosed that should the [‘Coalition Ministry’] Cabinet break up, Palmerston would try for the leadership himself.
Tuesday, 18th October 1853
The Russian Czar Nicholas despatched a letter to Queen Victoria, written in French, stating,
On the eve of events, perhaps very serious, .. I address myself directly .. to try to prevent calamities, which our two countries have an equal interest in avoiding.
[A la veille d’événements, peut-être fort graves, qu’Elle daigne donc excuser si je m’adresse droit à Elle, pour essayer de prévenir des calamités, que nos deux pays ont un égal intérêt à éviter.]
… I wanted to clear up, above all, with the English Cabinet, to rule out as much as I could possible, any difference of opinion between us.
… Should we remain, as I ardently wish, in a good understanding equally beneficial to our two States, or does she judge, that the English flag should float near the Crescent, to fight the Cross of Saint Andrew!!!
[… de vote Majesté, le tout dévoué frère et ami, Nicolas
Je prie votre Majesté de vouloir bien faire mes amitiés à Monseigneur le Prince Albert.]
It is unclear with whom this letter was shared.
Thursday, 20th October 1853
Meanwhile, Viscount Hardinge’s effort to secure Aldershot Common as the location for a military camp continued to be the subject of correspondence at other high levels within Government.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Gladstone, wrote to Home Secretary Palmerston, to state that he had read the papers and examined the maps which had accompanied the letter of October 13th from Lord Palmerston.
Gladstone offered support for Hardinge’s proposals,
“I entirely concur in the general views which you and Lord Hardinge with Lord Aberdeen have taken of the wisdom of endeavouring at once to acquire a sufficient space of ground for the purposes of encampment and exercise at a point so well situated & recommended by so many important considerations as Aldershot.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer, he advised financial caution,
“I conclude that I shall hear further of this matter before anything in the nature of a definite engagement is entered upon. In the meantime I have only to express the hope that the quantity to be treated for will be in just proportion to the actual necessities of the intended [purposes]: for I perceive that Aldershot amounts to 9,500 acres whereas Chobham was but 2,500. And of course, every execution will be used to direct the preliminary inquiries in the most succinct manner to that the Government may not incur the hazard of having to pat a monopoly price, or even (if we can help it) have the fair market value of the land. If Chobham was not large enough for its purposes of course we ought to aim at getting greater space; but the papers do not enter upon this question and it is one on which the Treasury ought to be prepared with adequate reasons and information before the House of Commons.”
Saturday, 22nd October 1853
The rumble of distant war drums was conveyed by the weekly Hampshire Chronicle to its readership, but with some delay in the report:
“The tedious state of suspense on the Eastern question still continues. A manifesto has been put forth by the Turkish Government, pointing out the course intended to be pursued towards Russia, and explaining the reason for its adoption.
“.. it is contended that Russia has been the aggressor, by the military occupation of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, which the Porte considers to be a violation of treaties. .. the Turkish government is compelled to declare war, [with] demand [for] the evacuation of the Principalities within 15 days [or else] hostilities are ordered to be commenced. … the Russian Commander .. is reported to have replied that Russia was not at war with Turkey; that he would remove his troops from the Principalities as soon as the Emperors demands had been complied with; and that he would defend himself in the event of being attacked.
“It is stated in a telegraphic despatch from Constantinople of the 10th that, in consequence of an application from the Sultan, the British and French Ambassadors had ordered the Fleets to enter the Dardenelles.”
Tuesday, 25th October 1853
William Blamire, on behalf of the Inclosure Commission, had begun to investigate how the Government might now purchase Aldershot Common. Soundings had been taken. Some early indication of the likelihood of that purchase was given in a letter from Charles Edward Lefroy, a former barrister who had served as Secretary to Viscount Eversley, the Speaker of the House of Commons.
- Lefroy’s grandfather and then father had been Rector of Ashe, near Basingstoke, his grandparents having a close friendship with that of Jane Austen. Lefroy’s family descended from French Protestant refugees. His own claim to fame was due to his discovery of the Crondall Hoard in 1828, not far from Ceasar’s Camp.
Aged 43, Charles Lefroy held lands in Crondall, although he had written from an address in Dover,
“Sir, I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter and of the tracing and particulars of the lands in Aldershot and adjoining parishes, which the Government have formed an idea of purchasing, and with respect to which you invite from me any information which I can give as to “the willingness of otherwise of the several landowners to meet the wishes of the Government” by selling them.
C. E. Lefroy Esq. went on to comment,
“Of course it makes a considerable difference in the question to what purposes the Government propose to apply the lands.
“Whether they mean to keep them all in a state of waste only occasionally using them as Drilling Ground, and not bringing ant nuisance near to us, or whether they contemplate erecting Barracks, and so using them to attract on to them, or the outskirts of them, any of that class of camp followers, who will be a nuisance in any neighbourhood.”
He indicated that in principle he would be willing “to part with some of this waste land which it has been a great pleasure to me to roam over”.
As to the other lands about Aldershot, Lefroy recommended that some of the most influential proprietors were called to a private meeting. He said that,
“[I] should imagine that Mr Barron of Aldershot would meet the wishes of Government [and that] Captain Newcome would dislike the plan at first but would yield to it”.
Wednesday, 26 October 1853
The purpose of the meeting at the Red Lion Inn was to appoint an independent Valuer. This was the next formal step following the passing of the enabling Act in August to enclose the 2,700 acres Aldershot Common.
Assistant Commissioner Wetherell was despatched to oversee the meeting. He then wrote to the Inclosure Commissioners for England & Wales to report that about 30 had attended and that Mr Hewett of Winchfield had been appointed as the Valuer.
“The proposed purchase by the Government was brought before the meeting by Mr Barron who limited the application to that portion of the Common which lies to the Northwest of the Road leading from Farnboro’ to Farnham. Mr Brooks (of the firm of Lamb and Brooks, Basingstoke) stated that 10,000 acres marked on your sketch, a copy of which he produced would be purchased if possible.
“All the inclosed land of the parish, the rateable value of which is £1,886, is entitled to rights of common over the wastes in Aldershot. The meeting was attended by about 30 of the persons interested representing £1,361 of such saleable value.
“I had conversation with all of the principal parties present and was glad to find an entire agreement of opinion that it would be for their benefit to sell the common and that they all expressed their willingness to do so on fair and reasonable terms. The majority of them stipulated that the whole should be sold, fearing that if a partial sale were to take place, some of the Commoners might possible be placed in a better position than others.
Assistant Commissioner Wetherell also indicated that the man who had taken the lead on behalf of ‘the Commoners’ was Charles Barron. He had suggested £13 per acre as a fair price. Wetherell ventured the view that a lower sum might be secure land which was regarded as “comparatively useless”.
“I am afraid that the price may be a subject of some difficulty. It was stated that sales have taken place in an adjoining common of the same description of soil as Aldershot & that £15 per acre was obtained. A few of the Commoners set the price of the Common at £18 per acre throughout others at £15 and one or two at £10. Mr Barron suggested £13 per acres but I am rather inclined to think that the purchase may be effected at a lower sum for all the Commoners are fully sensible of having so large a tract of comparatively useless land taken off their hands at a price far exceeding its farming value, and of the increase in value which will accrue to their adjoining property from the proposed sale.
“… I stated that any unreasonable demand would be at once rejected, as a convenient tract could be purchased elsewhere.”
Wetherell ascertained that “Mr Avenell, the only proprietor of the inclosed lands in Aldershot which are required by Government, also expressed his willingness to sell on fair terms.”
He concluded that, “The Commoners are anxious to consult on a few matters to be [included] in their instructions to the Valuer, which they have not hitherto had an opportunity of considering and also to further discuss the proposal of Government and the meeting is therefore adjourned to Tuesday 15 Nov. which I will attend or not as you may think expedient.”
This was positive news for Viscount Hardinge, despite the delay. Those 30 persons who attended the meeting held 72% of the total saleable value; agreement of two-thirds (67%) was required to effect the purchase by the Government.
Saturday, 29th October 1853
Viscount Hardinge arrived at Windsor Castle that afternoon . He and Lord John Russell were among the many guests who would stay for the dinner-party hosted by the Queen and the Prince in honour of the King of the Belgians, the Queen’s uncle.
Both Hardinge and Russell attended at the service at the private chapel in the Castle the following day. This suggests that they had stayed overnight with plenty of opportunity for discussion.