August 1853


This was a month for cottagers to enjoy what had been growing in their gardens. The seasonal rhythm of the year now providing the promise of delivering ripe fruit and vegetables all across the village.

Village communities fed themselves. Even the humblest of cottages had something of a garden attached. Whilst some would be cropping early apples, the reports from the markets were of cherries and damsons as well as apricots and plums. Gooseberries, blackberries and raspberries were to be found in gardens or growing in the wild.

It was not too soon to start a store of produce for the winter months. Thoughts when digging up the early potatoes would turn to the choice of other crops to plant for harvest later in the year.

The policy of the parish officers of the Vestry favoured outdoor relief, providing land which could be worked by those unable to bring in wages. Nevertheless, a further repeat of a poor harvest followed by an especially miserable winter could threaten months of hardship.

The weather during the previous twelve months had been disappointing in both respects. Who knew what the future would bring? While there was good light, the days still long, all members of the household, including children, would be working in their gardens, as later would many in the fields for their masters.

That said, at the close of each day, there were thirsts to be quenched. The Red Lion and the Bee Hive, the two public houses at either end of the village Street, would both be open for business.

Map showing Bee Hive and Red Lion, 1841

The Red Lion Inn was not far from the village green. It marked the end of the Street where the Ash Road began, leading down to the Blackwater River and the County boundary into Surrey. Red Lion Lane was to the right with its slow incline up to where Church Lane East became Church Road.

Map from 1855 showing Manor House, Elm Place, Aldershot Lodge and Red Lion

Little doubt but each hostelry had its own regulars, with separate rooms to cater for those of different social standing. The uppermost map, made in 1841/42, contrasts the immediate catchment of the Bee Hive, in what was the commercial centre of the village, with that of the less populated catchment of the Red Lion. The lower map, made in 1855, highlights the proximity of the Red Lion Inn to the residences of three of the four leading figures in Aldershot’s elite: Richard Allden of Elm Place; James Elstone of Aldershot Lodge and Captain Newcome at the Manor House. Charles Barron Esq. of Aldershot Place was the fourth, latterly Chairman of the Vestry.

The recent meetings at the Red Lion about the enclosure of Aldershot Common had generated an additional buzz of excitement. There would be plenty to discuss of an evening. That would continue with the experience of a surprise visit. August was to be an eventful month in the history of the village, although tinged with the sadness of infant death.

Red Lion Inn

Management of the Red Lion had previously been with local families, dating back to Joseph Hart in 1800, his widow and then his son until the 1830s. Frederick Freeman took over the Red Lion in 1838. The carpenter John Kimber was installed as landlord by 1841 until 1847.

Now owned by a Mr Barratt, George Falkner had been the landlord at the Red Lion for about five years. The 1851 Census listed him as both an inn keeper and a plumber. The latter was the trade of his father Thomas with whom he had been living along the Borough in Farnham in 1841 as the eldest of five children.

George had been born in Farnham in 1820, marrying there in April 1845. His wife Ann was the daughter of Edmund Elseley, a farmer from Elstead. Before moving to Aldershot, George and Ann lived along the Farnborough Road, their son Frank baptised in 1848 at St John the Evangelist in Hale.

=> More on the Red Lion Inn and former landlords

Thursday, 4th August 1853

The farmers had reasons to be in a positive mood, not just because of the improvement in the weather. The weekly market at Farnham was experiencing brisk trade for wheat. Prices varied from £10 – 10s. to £16 per load, even better than two days before when they fetched £9 – 10s to £15 on the Tuesday at Alton.

There had also been the positive outcome from the Inclosure Commissioners to the proposal that the 2,715 acres of Aldershot Common should be enclosed. This carried the prospect that farmers could bring additional land into productive use.

The Provisional Order, made two weeks ago on July 18th, also ensured that some common land would be kept for common purpose. Fifteen acres were to be put aside “as endowment for [a] national school”, in addition to the ten acres for the “labouring poor.” The four acres of the village green were to be preserved as common land, still referred to as Paine’s Green, after James Paine who had once held the smithy.

What was unclear when this would all come to pass. The neighbouring parish of Farnham had received Provisional Order for lands in Badshot and Runfold back in April, but nothing was known of progress on that either.

The inner-wheels of government were still in motion, however. The Secretary of the Inclosure Commission had written to Home Secretary Palmerston on that very day. He had forwarded the draft of a Bill for Parliamentary approval for as many 27 applications for the enclosure of common land; those for Aldershot and Farnham were both included in the accompanying Special Report.

The civil servants at the Home Office hastily sent the Report and Bill to be printed “with as little delay as possible.” The letter sent by the Inclosure Commission was annotated to the effect that the Bill was to be “introduced as soon as possible.” Those civil servants were conscious that the current session of Parliament was shortly to be dissolved. Authorisation to enclose Aldershot Common would form part of the Commons Enclosure (No. 3) Bill which would be put to Parliament alongside the Copyhold & Commission Continuance Bill.

Saturday, 6th August 1853

The Hampshire Chronicle echoed the importance of the upcoming harvest, also warning of high prices,

“Attention is now naturally directed to the harvest, and, under the inspiring influence of returning sunshine, we are enabled to take a calmer view of the prospects before us. .. 

“For several consecutive years previous to 1852 we had good crops; still Great Britain has been capable of consuming the whole of supplies other countries have been enabled to furnish.”

Stocks from overseas were low, with only America having capability to supply sufficient:

“the importance of our own harvest can therefore be scarcely over-rated;
and the next month is likely to prove a period of great excitement.”

Ann Bedford

Locally, the news that day was of the death of Ann Bedford. There were two of this name in the village, thoughts likely turning to the teenage Ann who was a domestic servant for the Elstone family at Aldershot Lodge.

The tragedy instead was for the loss of her young cousin, the infant daughter of George Bedford who lived up at Deadbrooks. Baptised in September 1852, she had died aged only 11 months. Her mother Eleanor had reported the cause to be ‘teething convulsions’.

So prevalent was this attributed cause of infant mortality, it was termed ‘dentition’. It was associated with any negative outcome following the eruption of the first teeth. That included the unwanted effects of the various attempts at remedy during a time of poor sanitation. This period in a child’s life was also when weaning onto cow’s milk would start.

Sunday, 7th August 1853

As though to highlight the significance of vital events in the village, there were to be three christenings at Matins this Sunday.

Jane Rebecca Bedford

At the first, what was intended as a happy event for Thomas and Mary Bedford would surely have been tinged with the sadness for the death of Jane’s baby cousin Ann. She had been the daughter of Thomas’ younger brother George.

Thomas Bedford was a farm labourer in a tied cottage on Church Hill belonging to the Aldershot Lodge estate. He was the father of the Ann Bedford who was now in domestic servant up at the Lodge in the household of James Elstone Junior and his wife Caroline (‘Mrs C’).

The infant Jane was their eleventh child, her ten older siblings all born in Aldershot, with baptisms dating from 1836. The four eldest were daughters, born about a year apart; their younger brother Thomas, born almost 18 months after the fourth, was the sole boy between two sets of daughters.

There had been more than enough daughters in the Bedford household when Ann had secured her position at Aldershot Lodge. Charlotte, the next oldest, also went into domestic service. By 1851, at the age of 13, she was in the household of Thomas Eyre, an established grocer in the Borough in Farnham. Such opportunities brought in extra income for the family and certainly meant one less mouth to feed. This was also a chance for the girls to do more than be minding children at home.

Thomas Bedford was from a local family, his father Charles baptised at St Michael’s Church in December 1790. His mother Sarah was from Pirbright, where Thomas had been born in 1813. His parents had been based on Church Hill in 1841, his father Charles presumably then working for James Elstone Senior. Thomas and Mary were based in a cottage there too. Thomas’ parents later moved to live along North Lane.

Thomas Bedford and Mary Hockley had married at St Michael’s Church in Aldershot in June 1835. Mary had been baptised in 1814, in Nutley, 20 miles distant from Aldershot in central Hampshire. Perhaps Mary had been in domestic service closer to Aldershot at the time of the marriage.

James Thomas Cooper

James was the next child listed in the parish baptismal register. He was the third child for George and Elizabeth Cooper, their two young daughters also born in Aldershot. The parents, however, were both born outside the village.

They lived in a tied cottage on the Aldershot Place estate on which George was a farm labourer. Baptised in Farnham, he had married Elizabeth Smith at the church in Hale in 1847. Before that, in 1841, he had been employed at Dockenfield where he stayed with his brother and sister. Elizabeth was the daughter of a gardener from Weyborne,

    • The elderly James Cooper lived with his son William at Dog Kennell, not far from Weyborne. This was not George’s father but maybe he was a relation.

Peter Robinson

The infant Peter was one of six children of William and Caroline Robinson. The previous five had also been baptised at St Michael’s Church, between July 1844 and October 1851. William was an agricultural labourer, he and his family living in a cottage at West End, close by Thomas Smith’s Rock Farm.

Reverend James Dennett would come to realise that there were many of the name Robinson in the village. The 1851 Census recorded as count of 27, second in number only to those of the Barnett family. Some owned land, many more were labourers on the land. Several had the same Christian name. These families had connections through marriage with many of the other well-established farming families, both throughout the parish and across in neighbouring Ash.

William was the son of the tenant farmer George Robinson; his mother had been Mary Avenell when she had married in in Farnham in January 1813. 

    • The marriage register had no space to record the name, nor the occupation, of the father of Mary Avenell. However, a man called John Avenell, aged 70, was in the household of George and Mary in 1841. His death was registered in Farnham in 1842, aged 71.
    • He was not the John Avenell who died in 1844, aged 84, who was recorded by the 1841 Census as the farmer at Hale Farm in the tithing of Badshot. In 1851, his son, James Avenell had taken on Hale Farm, a hop planter of 156 acres employing 17 men and 3 boys. His extensive landholdings included 38 acres in Aldershot, mostly up at Deadwoods.

William Robinson had been baptised at St Michael’s Church, in May 1821. Before his marriage in 1843, he was his parents’ household in a house and garden owned by the widow Ann Robinson in North Lane; his father George was working as a tenant farmer. Others in the house in 1841 included James Pester, aged 5, the son of William’s older sister Ann. She lived next door with two small children from her marriage to John Pester in Aldershot in 1834. He was an agricultural labourer from as far away as East Budleigh in Devon.  

William and Caroline had married in Bentley, which was where the 1841 Census recorded the child’s mother as Caroline Young. She was in the household of her uncle, Richard Young, an agricultural labourer in the village of the Eggar family.

    • The influence of the Eggars is clearly evident in the biographical history of the Young family. Caroline, born in Binsted, had been baptised at St Lawrence’s Church in Alton in 1822, the daughter of William and Hannah Young.  Her father died in 1840, buried in Aldershot that October. This likely prompted Caroline’s move to be with her Uncle Richard’s family in Bentley. Richard’s first child Elizabeth had also been baptised in Aldershot, in July 1817 shortly after his marriage to Catherine Barnard in Bentley in February 1817. (Catherine Barnard was listed in the Census as having been born in Aldershot around 1795 although no baptismal record is found.)
    • William was the older of the two brothers, sons of William and Elizabeth Young. William was baptised in 1790 at St Peter’s Church in Ash, his parents then resident in nearby Normandy; Richard was baptised later in Aldershot in 1796 at St Michael’s Church.

=> The Families Robinson [to be added later]

Monday 8th August 1853

Any in the village keen to see progress in the matter of the enclosure of Aldershot Common would have been pleased to learn that the Copyhold & Commission Continuance Bill and the Commons Enclosure (No. 3) Bill had now been laid before Parliament. Aldershot was amongst the 27 parishes with applications for enclosure listed in the schedules attached to the Bill.

Tuesday 9th August 1853

Progress was indeed swift. The Evening Mail and the evening edition of the Sun both reported that the Copyhold & Commission Continuance Bill and the Commons Enclosure (No. 3) Bill were read a second time in the House of Commons. This was, perhaps, only noticed then by Charles Barron Esq. when at his London address in Pall Mall. News might have been relayed to Captain George Newcome by his brother-in-law Ross Donnelly Mangles, the Member of Parliament for Guildford.

Wednesday, 10th August 1853

None in the village would have read the addendum included by the Limerick Chronicle to its report of the Queen’s review of her troop at Chobham Common. The Irish newspaper confided,

“The Government has secured, for next year’s Camp, ground very superior to that of Chobham, on Aldershot Heath.”

This rumour was repeated verbatim in editions across Ireland on the following Saturday, notably in the Cork Constitution, the Newry Examiner and the Louth Advertiser, Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette.

No sign of this ‘story’ is found in the searches of the newspapers on the British mainland, however. Seemingly, the article had not been noticed. However, this ‘news’ could be taken as suggestion that the prospect of success for Viscount Hardinge’s plans was being taken for granted in some circles. He had, of course, secured neither approval nor finance for a permanent camp of instruction, a wish he had express in June to Lt. General Colborne (Baron Seaton).

Friday, 12th August 1853

The funeral service this day, the seventh by Reverend James Dennett, who was still only in his fifth month, had an added sense of intimacy. He would be saying prayers for the death of the niece of his parish clerk. In his combined role as village sexton, Thomas Attfield had been called upon to dig the grave of the daughter of his sister Eleanor. The dead child was only eleven months old.

Ann Bedford

Baby Ann’s father was George Bedford, an agricultural worker. George and Eleanor had married in January 1838. They lived up at Deadbrooks, baby Ann the latest of eight children, the eldest, at 13 years old, listed as a seamstress.

George had been baptised in neighbouring Ash. His mother Sarah was born in Pirbright, as was George’s older brother Thomas. George’s father Charles had been locally born.

Eleanor was the tenth of George and Nimmy Attfield’s thirteen children. Then there was the large number in the Bedford family, twenty of that name recorded in the parish by the 1851 Census. There would be many at the funeral.

The child’s mother went to Farnham to register the death on the same day. Making her mark, she indicated that she had been present at the her daughter’s death and stated that the cause was attributed to teething convulsions.

Saturday, 13th August 1853

This week’s edition of the Hampshire Chronicle had several items of interest.

The Chronicle remarked that the prorogation of Parliament was expected soon, probably during the next week. Lack of parliamentary approval would mean delays to the enclosure of Aldershot Common.

Given the excitement generated by the prospect of enclosure of Aldershot Common, two more items had particular relevance.

The Valuer acting on the matter of the Ash Inclosure for road contractors had placed a call for tenders “for the forming and making of roads over the waste lands of the Manor of Ash.” The paths that crossed Aldershot Common to the Canal Wharf from the settlement around Drury Lane needed comparable improvement.

There was also a notice proposing the exchange of property between Dame Jane St John Mildmay of Dogmersfield Park and Charles Edward Lefroy of Crondall. These exchanges, if judged to be beneficial by the Inclosure Commissioners under “The Acts for the Inclosure, Exchange and Improvement of Land” would appeal to farmers seeking efficiencies.

Elsewhere in this Saturday’s edition of the Chronicle, the Mark Lane Express column noted that the weather had been fine during the greater part of the past week. However, even with a few more weeks of settled weather, it conjectured that the quality of the harvest might be improved, but not the yield.

“It is the opinion of some that that the produce of wheat will prove the smallest that has been harvested in these islands since 1816.”

The recent rise in prices was due to a mix of circumstances:

“deficient Wheat harvest in Great Britain and France; a failure of that crop in several of the southern countries of Europe; short stocks everywhere except in America; .. imminent danger of the quarrel between Russia and Turkey leading to a war in which England and France may become involved.”  

Few might have paid much to heed to news that the Succession Duty Act had received its royal assent. This was essentially a wealth tax which required a complex of tables to determine the level of tax to be paid on the inheritance of family property. However, some had argued during the preceding parliamentary debates that it would be damaging to the smallholder, more so than to those owning the great estates, and would undermine the viability of the yeoman farmer.

There were continued mixed opinions about the prospect of war. The reports earlier in the week were that the British Government had received telegraphic dispatch from Vienna that the Czar accepted the proposition of the four powers (of Britain, France, Austria and Prussia). However, there was no certain confirmation of this. A letter from Paris, dated Friday, stated that the Sultan had accepted the Vienna proposals but awaited news that the Russian troops would vacate the territory it had invaded.

Wednesday, 17th August 1853

Locally, news was of another death in the village. Once more, there might have been confusion about the identity of the deceased, Stephen Barnett also being the name of James Elstone’s father-in-law, Caroline’s father. The sad news was instead for the loss of an infant, aged 19 months.

The child’s cause of death, reported much later, was attributed to ‘Hooping Cough’; he was said to have had consumption since birth. 

The funeral was set to take place at the end of the week.

Thursday, 18th August 1853

The Commons Enclosure No. 3 Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords. It then later went through its final Committee Stage in the House of Commons, as reported by the London Evening Standard. This would be greeted with delight by those who had proposed the enclosure of Aldershot Common.

Elsewhere in the village, a sadness fell across the length of the village with the loss of a third infant, that of Jesse Stonard, not yet 18 months old. His death, was attributed to Hooping Cough, as well as to ‘Dentition’, the high temperature due to teething.

That funeral would be set for Wednesday. The child’s mother Agnes would later travel to register the death in Farnham. 

Saturday, 20th August 1853

Stephen Barnett

First, there was the funeral of young Stephen, 19 months old, born to George and Rebecca Barnett. The funeral held for his mother in June was still in recent memory for many of those gathered at the parish church.

Rebecca’s death was attributed to having suffered consumption over a period of four months until her death on June 4th. This diagnosis had not been medically certificated; it was instead stated by George’s sister Jane Bullen who had been in attendance. The cause of death, again not certificated medically, of the infant Stephen was reported by George’s sister Harriet Derbridge. She attributed it to ‘Hooping Cough’, but also stated that the child had suffered from consumption since birth. 

The family lived on Drury Lane in a cottage rented from Mr Hall. At the start of 1853, George, an agricultural labourer, had a wife and four children. Now he was a widower with three small children. His world had been turned upside down.

Locally born, George was baptised in 1822 to parents James and Elizabeth Barnett. Before his marriage in 1845 he had lived in the family home in the cottage and garden across the Street from the Drury Lane. Known as Culls, this was rented from Richard Allden.

George’s widowed father James still lived at Culls, George’s married sister Jane and husband James Bullen having moved in as lodgers. They now had a small baby of their own, baptised in December 1852. Bullen was a carpenter who had served his apprenticeship in the village of Shere, on the other side of Guildford. 

It seems probable that one of George’s sisters would have helped by taking care of his four young children after his wife died. Harriett seems the more likely to care for Stephen. She was in receipt of parish relief, staying in a cottage owned by Mrs Benham. This was in a locality known as Bakers, about three hundred past the Bee Hive Inn, at the northwestern end of the Street. 

Harriett had stated she was present at the child’s death. With children of her own, it seems plausible that Stephen was in her home when he died. Harriett’s own daughter Elizabeth, aged six, had developed what seemed like Hooping Cough. 

George and Rebecca Chandler had married at St Peter’s Church in Ash in 1845. Their eldest child Elizabeth, probably now also deceased, had been christened there in January 1846. Two of their children, Jane and William, had been born in Pimlico, baptised at St Peter’s Church in Eaton Square in 1847 and 1848, respectively. George and family had returned to Aldershot by 1850, their fourth child then baptised at the parish church. The 1851 Census does not include Elizabeth who, had she lived, would have been not much more than five; child mortality in London was high.

Commons Inclosure Bill

On this same day, the Government used the last of the Parliamentary session to push through had a long list of bills.

Viscount Palmerston was in the House of Commons having to speak on many matters as the most senior member of the Government. As Home Secretary, it fell to him formally to introduce the Commons Inclosure (No. 3) Bill.

Copy Act Inclosure 20 August 1853The Bill was duly passed on that same Saturday, the day of prorogation, later to be given royal assent.

Aldershot was 19th on in the list of parishes named on the Schedule to the Act, the related comment in the Special Report stating,

“This inclosure will lead to the reclamation of a large tract of land, now almost useless.”

Tuesday, 23rd August 1853

Three days later, the Morning Post carried a report of the very long list of public and private bills which had come into law. That included the Commons Inclosure (No. 3), as it was known. No details of its contents were given.

Just who in the parish had learnt that the proposal to enclose Aldershot Common had now secured government approval is not known. Once again, Charles Barron Esq. and Captain Newcome were the most likely to have been kept informed.

Wednesday, 24th August 1853

Jesse Stonard

Locally, Reverend James Dennett was called upon to bury yet another infant, the fifth in as many months and the third in less than a fortnight.

The funeral brought together the Stonard and Nichols families, the two largest families of brickworkers in the village. They had been assembled before for Jesse’s baptism as recently as January of this year. 

Jesse had been the fifth child of Henry and Agnes Stonard. The family were lodging in the household of Agnes’ parents, James and Eleanor Nichols, at West End in the cottage rented from Stephen Barnett.

The child’s father Henry was a tilemaker, the son of James Stonard, the Master Brickburner. Henry and Agnes had married in 1844. 

This would be the young curate’s first formal encounter with the families of workers in the village’s brick business.

=> Clay for Bricks: Aldershot’s Brickworking Families

Newspaper Reports

The nation’s press was full of the comings and goings of the members of the Government as well as the upper echelons of society.

First, the daily newspapers were reporting that Viscount Hardinge had been attending Queen Victoria at her holiday home at the Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight.  Doubtless, Prince Albert would have taken the opportunity to be briefed by Hardinge about his plans for the location of a camp on Aldershot Common.

Then the Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette reported that General Viscount Hardinge and his staff had arrived in Portsmouth that evening. He was to dine as the guest of Major General James Simpson, the Commander of the South-West District at Government House. Simpson was a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and a contemporary of Adjutant-General Sir George Brown, the latter a staunch opponent of Hardinge’s reforms. Notwithstanding, this was another suitable opportunity for Hardinge to share his thoughts about the location of a permanent camp.

Thursday, 25th August 1853

The next day, the Court Circular noted that Viscount Hardinge had returned to London that morning. He maintained a large household at his residence in Stanhope Street, north of the Euston Road. As many as ten staff were employed to his wife, daughter and himself.

He had a seat in the House of Lords and although a member of Cabinet, his duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Army involved a busy schedule that kept him away from obligation to engage much in Parliamentary business.

The Commander-in-Chief travelled down to Aldershot Common to inspect the site. He lodged that evening at the Red Lion Inn.

Friday, 26 August 1853

The story goes that later that day, Viscount Hardinge called for paper and ink and then penned a letter to Prince Albert. In this, Hardinge recommended that the camp should be established upon Aldershot Heath, writing “to say that he had ridden over the ground from the slopes of Caesar’s Camp to the Canal, and that the area was admirably suited for an encampment for a Division, reserving all the rest of the ground for the purpose of manoeuvres.” [Cole, 1951]

Hardinge indicates that he intends to set off to reach for South Park, his residence in Kent,  by the evening.

Just how quickly news of that visit had spread across the village is moot. Likely, Hardinge had arrived at the Red Lion at dusk, late into the summer evening. It is not known whether he was in uniform, nor whether he was accompanied by any other officer. However, is unlikely that his visit went unnoticed. One can imagine James Hone, the local veteran of Waterloo, enjoying a pint that night at the Red Lion, and noticing the missing left hand of the acknowledged war hero of that campaign.

This was an iconic moment, with memories both real and manufactured, enhanced with each retelling.

One thing is certain, even with this visit to the Red Lion where the inquiry meeting for the enclosure Aldershot Common had been held. Neither Commander-in-Chief Hardinge nor Prince Albert had slightest inking that Government approval and Royal Assent had already been granted.

Saturday, 27 August 1853

Indeed, no mention was made of Aldershot was made in the Hampshire Chronicle which included the enclosure legislation as amongst the acts passed at the close of Parliament on August 20th.

Viscount Hardinge would write in positive tone in letter headed Saturday (but otherwise undated) to his Adjutant-General, Lt General Brown, with the words,

“I rode over the ground at Aldershot & found I would get home for dinner but that I should be too late for any meetings in London .. 

“The ground around Aldershot is excellent for our purpose.”

Monday, 29th August 1853

The national press began its extensive coverage of the military career another renowned military commander. Lt. General Charles James Napier he had died at five o’clock that morning at the age of 71. He was well connected by birth, his mother a descendent of Charles II, his father from John Napier of Merchiston (of logarithm fame).

The Sun carried a front-page eulogy of Napier on the Tuesday. The article included favourable references to Viscount Hardinge, as did the account in the Manchester Times on the Wednesday.

    • The careers of Hardinge and Napier intertwined. Both were severely wounded during the Peninsular War. Both fought at Albuera; Napier crediting Colonel Hardinge, as he then was, for the tactics which saved the day. Napier had then risen in the Bombay Army to become Commander-in-Chief in India. Governor General Hardinge returned the compliment. He wrote to praise James Napier: “He is, besides his warlike qualities, a very fine fellow. .. practicable, good-tempered, & considerate.”

Civil Registration

Back in Aldershot, Agnes Stonard and Harriet Derbridge visited Farnham to register the deaths of two of the infants who had died during August. Perhaps the two women had travelled together; it was about an hours’ walk via Weybourne to the centre of Farnham from their neighbourhood. Agnes was the mother of the infant Jesse, Harriet the aunt who had sat by the bedside of Stephen.

Farnham Register of Deaths 1853

The details concerning the deaths of the two children were listed consecutively in the register, entered straight after those for Ann Bedford. Her death had been attributed to ‘Teething Convulsions’. The earlier death of Francis Barnett in late May had also been attributed to ‘Dentition’ following three days of convulsions.

None of the toddlers who had died were first children, born to young inexperienced mothers. All appear to have been teething, likely weaned from breastmilk to cows’ milk. Stephen’s death, and his mother’s death in June, had been attributed to months of having suffered from ‘Consumption’, another term for tuberculosis (TB). Milk in the 1850s was unpasteurised and therefore a potential source of Bovine TB.  Hooping Cough had also been listed as a cause of death.

No doctor has been present at any of those infant deaths. All the entries were signed off by John Mayor Randall, the surgeon and general practitioner, aged 66. Perhaps Registrar Randall, whose residence was along the street in Farnham known as the Borough, was confident of making a judgement on the basis of the symptoms reported by the two women. It is unknown whether or not he would have been prompted to investigate this cluster of infant deaths, there being no resident doctor in Aldershot.

=> September 1853

March 1853

March 1853

“The frost appears to be gradually departing, and we may hope for a little fine open weather [so as to] prepare the ground and get in the spring crops. Planting operations should also be carried out vigorously.” So reported the Bell’s Weekly Messenger at the close of February

Come March, so it was. Spring was showing signs of having arrived. The seasonal rhythm of the year was beginning to make its mark, agricultural activity now getting underway.

Good progress was being made with livestock; the young lambs were showing and calving was almost all done. The ploughs were now out in the early fields. The frost and then the rain during February had meant delay but now the smell of slurry was becoming prominent across the eighteen farms in the parish.

In the fields set aside for hops, the priority was weeding, followed by the set of the hop poles which had been bought during the start of the year. Some poles were as much as twelve feet high, the wires for the bines hung between. Only then could a start be made sowing of the famous Farnham White Bine. As ever, farmers held hope in the prospect of reward for investing in those premium hops. They would be picked at time of harvest both by local workers and by the Romany and other travellers who came into the area during late summer.

With birds in full song in the trees and hedgerows, it is not too fanciful to believe that the village had taken on a general mood of optimism.

Adding to the sense of change in the village, the Reverend Henry Carey was now in his last few weeks of his tenure, perhaps in reflective mood. His diary informed him of some important dates. The curate’s last meeting with the Vestry would be held at the parish church; it was fixed in his diary for the 23rd. More immediately, he had three christenings to perform at Matins on that first Sunday. He was also to read the banns for two weddings which were marked in for the 14th.

Happily, the curate’s diary would be free all month of notice of upcoming funerals. Had he opted to inspect the burial register and paused to do the sums, Reverend Carey could calculate a rate of just over one per month since October 1838, based on a total 177 burials during the 174 months of his tenure. However, on a less melancholy note, were he to include the three christenings noted in his diary, the curate could count 366 baptisms during that same period. With over twice as many baptisms as burials, simple calculation indicated that he had seen growth in the population of the village, although with the numbers leaving the parish being greater than had the arrival of newcomers.

Of course, there had been many newcomers; he and his wife had been that too, from Guernsey. Most others though had been from the nearby counties, or from London. The voices he had heard varied but all but a few were recognisably English. Indeed, perhaps only the Mackenzie and Finch family stood out.

Henry Mackenzie was, as his name implied, from Scotland. his two teenage daughters also born in Scotland.  His wife was English, and the birth of their son William had been registered in Farnham in 1846. Until recently he had been farming 30 acres at the Moors at the top of North Lane, on land owned by John Saunders. Saunders had died in 1851, aged 81, and left his estate to his sister-in-law Mary Searle, who was also elderly and died shortly after. By 1853, Henry Mackenzie and his family had left the parish, the land now farmed by George Turner, sale of ownership under negotiation with the George Trimmer, the auctioneer and farmer from Farnham who was not yet turned 30.

Ann Finch was from Ireland. She was the wife of George Finch, another of the Chelsea Pensioners living in the village. He of course was from the area, born and baptised in Farnborough. At the age of 20, he had enlisted in Farnham with the 41st Regiment of Foot in 1826, ten years after Waterloo. Rising to the rank of sergeant, he was a veteran of the first Anglo/Afghan War which had been waged in an attempt to protect the interests of the East India Company from Russian incursion.

Both his wife and their son Emmanuel were born in Ireland: Ann was born in the County of Kilkenny and was most likely Roman Catholic, Emmanuel in the County of Kerry, where Ann and George were when he was stationed there in 1837 with the 14st. Whether both spoke with an Irish accent is uncertain, sons of soldiers often acquiring a mixed brogue during childhood. Emmanuel was aged 16 by 1853, listed in the Census two years earlier as an agricultural labourer.

Reverend Carey would certainly have noted that the date of Easter would come early this year. Indeed, there was a complication: Good Friday would fall on the 25th, the same day as the Feast of the Annunciation, one of the ‘immovable feasts’ in the Church calendar. Marking nine months before Christmas Day and the birth of Jesus, the celebration would coincide with the ceremony devoted to his crucifixion.

Clearly marked in the diary was Easter Sunday on the 27th. The tradition, laid down in the Book of Common Prayer from 1552 onwards, was that,

“yearly at Easter, every parishioner shall reckon with his parson, vicar or curate … and pay to … him all ecclesiastical duties, accustomably due …”.

A good turnout by the parishioners at St Michael’s Church would make for a fine end to his tenure of fifteen years as curate, and perhaps a sizeable Easter Offering.

5th March 1853

According to the Hampshire Chronicle, Captain Higginson of the Grenadier Guards had been engaged for several days taking a survey of Ascot Heath. His purpose was to select a suitable location for the encampment of 7,000 troops during May and June. Surveys had also been made of Windsor Great Park, Hounslow and the Bagshot Heath. The plan was to encamp as many regiments there at the same time as could be spared. The reportage of that was on the second page might easily have been overlooked, buried towards the bottom of the last column.

The presence of soldiers on horseback on Aldershot Heath during those several days past might also have passed unremarked. Unreported by the press, however, was more specific information about planning within the military. Higginson’s senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, had been ordered to look at the country south of Farnborough and extending across the canal to a village called Aldershot.

Report of the death of Sir Edward Doughty at age 71 also featured in the Hampshire Chronicle and in the London Evening Standard. He was the 8th holder of the Tichborne baronetcy, the son of Sir Henry Tichborne, the 6th baronet. Before unexpectedly succeeding to the Tichborne title from his older brother, Sir Edward had changed his name to Doughty in order to qualify for a large bequest.

Tichborne and White

The marble monuments that adorned the wall of St Michael’s Church would have been eager to remind Reverend Carey of the significance of the Tichborne family.

The Tichborne family claimed to be able to trace their family tree and significance back to Anglo-Saxon nobility. They were staunch Catholics, remaining recusant at the Reformation. Tolerated during Elizabeth’s reign, Sir Benjamin Tichborne was the High Sheriff of Hampshire who had arranged the swift coronation of James I & VI at Winchester as heir to Elizabeth. The family thereby secured favour and protection from the Stuart kings.

The marriage of the two sons of Sir Benjamin, Richard and Walter, to the two surviving daughters of Sir Robert White, ensured that Tichborne family would feature in Aldershot’s history, as was very evident in the memorials to various personages in brass and marble with St Michael’s Church.

Taken together, those memorials reflected mixed fortunes during the three hundred years since the Protestant Reformation in England, having a strong Catholic undercurrent with which Reverend Carey was surely aware.

Chief amongst those memorials was that for Sir John White on a brass plate of his own design.

Brass memorial to Sir John White of Aldershot at the Church of St Michael in Aldershot
Brass memorial to Sir John White of Aldershot at the Church of St Michael in Aldershot

As curate, Reverend Carey would doubtless have known that this memorial was adorned with the insignia of the City of London, the Merchant Adventurers and the Grocers Company. Sir John had been a successful international merchant who rose to become Lord Mayor of London. At his request, he was buried in Aldershot in 1573.

What Reverend Carey would most probably have learnt during his fifteen years was that this man was called John the Younger, one of two brothers called John White. The other, John the Elder, had been the last Catholic Bishop of Winchester, predeceasing his brother in 1560. There are many twists and turns in the lives of the two brothers.

=> Two brothers called John

The brothers were born in Farnham between 1509 and 1511, descendants from a merchant family with influence all across the south of England, the significance of which begins locally with Robert White of Yateley. The brothers were the third and fourth sons of another Robert White, part of the junior branch of the family. An elder brother, another Robert, took over the family business in Farnham at their father’s death in 1518 until his own death in 1534. The second son Henry had a scholastic career, becoming Principal of the Canon Law School at Oxford.  It is through Henry’s will that it is possible to distinguish which was the elder and younger of the sons named John.

    • The will of John’s elder brother Henry states that “Brother John White [elsewhere “John White the yonger”] Grocer of London” is “to have peacible possession of testator’s Londes in Aldershot”. The statement by Father Etienne Robo (‘John White: Two Brothers’ written in 1939) that he was the elder of the two brothers called John is erroneous, a mistake which is sometimes repeated using Robbo as authority.

Sir John died aged about 63 years old. He put the place on the map, although with spelling of the place as ‘Aldershare’, as displayed in a map of Hampshire made by Christopher Saxton in 1575, part of the ‘Atlas of England and Wales’ published in 1579.

Extract from Hampshire map of 1575

From a digitized copy of a map in collection of Hampshire County Council Museums Service (item number: HMCMS:KD1996.1). 

There were also brass plates in St Michael’s Church for Sir John’s son Robert and his wife Mary. His son had added to the considerable freehold and copyhold estate his father had amassed in Aldershot, Tongham, Frimley and elsewhere.

When Sir Robert died in 1599, his estate passed to his two surviving children, both daughters, this inheritance along the female line enabled under the custom of the Crondall Hundred. Ellen and Mary later married to two sons of Sir Benjamin Tichborne. Their deaths were also the subject of marble memorials. One on the north wall was of a female figure knelt in prayer below which was written,

Erected by Sir Richaed Tichborne, Knight,
to ye memory of his dearest wiefe
eldest daughter of Robert White, of Aldershott, Esq.
who godly departed thys lyfe the 18 day of May,
in the year of our redemption 1696, and of her age 27.

The other was of a female kneeling with seven sons and six daughters,

Here lieth ye body of Lady MARY TICHBORNE,
ye wife of Sir Walter Tichborne, Knight,
who was married to him ye 7 of May 1597,
and deceased ye 31st January 1620,
leaving issue, now living.

When Richard’s wife Ellen died, the White estate then passed to Mary, the wife of his younger brother Walter. Her descendants then inherited, meaning that it was the junior life of Sir Walter which became established at the freehold property of Aldershot Park [* edited, see below], also having properties across Aldershot and in Cove and Frimley.

Sir Richard, the elder of the two sons, succeeded to the title in 1629 and moved to Tichborne Park. [** edited, see below]

The Tichborne descendants supported the Stuart King Charles in the Civil War. The family were to find themselves increasingly on the wrong side of  history, especially from 1689 onwards. With various twists and turns, the importance and then presence of the Tichborne family in Aldershot diminished, their properties all sold off, two of the three mansions demolished.

6th March 1853

The fine weather made Mothering Sunday seem like a Spring festival. It was also the only day that domestic servants could expect a holiday, based on the tradition of sons and daughters of the parish returning to visit their parents.

Three christenings took place at Matins.

Charles Young

The first entry in the baptismal register that day was the third child of Martha and her husband, also called Charles. They had married at the same church in March 1847, their first child together also baptised at the parish church in June 1848 and their second in 1851.

The infant child Charles was the fifth known to be born to Martha. Born in 1818, as Martha Matthews, she had left home by 1841; likely, she was then another from the village living in Islington, a servant, with the same name and aged 23, at St Paul Place. Martha was back in the area in the second quarter of 1844 to register the birth of her daughter ‘Miriam Crane’ in Farnham. Her son Richard was baptised in Aldershot in 1846, also recorded as illegitimate.

At the time of the 1851 Census, Martha had four children, two listed under her maiden name of Matthews. She was recorded as a Martha Young, as ‘wife’, but she was living on her own at the far end of North Lane, listed as a seamstress. Her husband Charles Young was listed as spending Census Night in the cells at the Police Station in Farnham. (No newspaper reports of a subsequent criminal trial are found: perhaps, he was wrongly arrested or just given a night in the cells after a Saturday night in the local market town.)

Esther Barnett

Also baptised that day was Esther, the daughter and third child of John and Ann Barnett. There were very many called Barnett in the village in 1851, five were named John. Esther’s father was the John Barnett who had married Ann Hudson from Yorkshire.  She had been born in Bishop Monkton, near Harrogate.

Their eldest child, also called John, had been baptised in January 1849 in a place called Haughton in Staffordshire. This was over 130 miles away from Aldershot. However, Haughton was only six miles from the market town of Penkridge from which John Shaw had arrived in the mid-1840s with his wife Mary, daughter of the late Mary Hughes.

John Barnett was the son of Stephen and Martha Barnett and therefore the brother of Caroline, now Mrs. James Elstone. Likely all would have been gathered around the font.

Reverend Carey would have recalled that he had baptised John and Ann’s second child Henry privately on 14th February 1851, a second public baptism also recorded at the Church of St Michael in March of that year. Such a double baptism occurred when there was fear of the death of an infant near to birth.

William Attfield

This child was the son of another agricultural labourer, also called William Attfield. He had moved into the parish in recent years, staying next to George Gosden, the grocer. The name of the child’s mother was Caroline, but, perhaps having been distracted, the Reverend Carey mistakenly recorded her name in the baptismal register that day as Mary.

The parents were both baptised in 1822, William in July and Caroline in January, at St Andrew’s Church in Farnham, which was where they later married in March 1841. In June, the Census recorded Caroline as a servant in Farnham’s Castle Street in the household of Elizabeth Penfold, aged 95, and her companion Barbara Chitty, both with independent means. The Census listed William at Hoghatch in Upper Hale, staying with his older brother John and his family .

The first of their children was born in 1846, baptised in Aldershot, an indicator of when he and his wife might have initially moved into the village. William’s brother James, who had also married another daughter of an agricultural labourer from Folly Farm in Hale, had been the first to move into the village, his child baptised at St Michael’s Church in 1842. (That was the year in which St John’s Church at Hale was first opened.)

William and James were nephews of George and ‘Nimmy’ Attfield. Thomas Attfield the Parish Clerk was therefore a cousin.

10th March 1853

Change was also happening up at what was locally referred to as ‘the Union School’. This followed a visit in the previous month made by a Committee of Directors and Guardians of the Workhouse at Brighton in Sussex. The visitors expressed favourable comments on what they called the ‘Industrial School’ at Aldershot and on the advantages and benefits of an improved system of separate provision for minors.

The school was under the control of the Board of Management of the Farnham and Hartley Wintney School District. The Board had now wished to make new appointments, namely a new Superintendent and a Matron. On offer was the combined salary of £70 per annum plus supply of rations and apartments.

The Board of Management may have had other reasons for upgrading the post from supervisor to superintendent. Indeed, the route that Francis Henning had taken to the post of supervisor gives no indication that he had any training as a schoolmaster. He had been recorded as ‘Master of the Aldershot Workhouse’ in the register for the baptisms of his first and second child, in December 1847 and February 1849, respectively. Before that, he had been the porter and baker at the Alresford Union Workhouse in 1841.

The Board’s decision might also have been associated with the recent trauma experienced by the previous supervisor. Francis Henning and his wife had suffered the death of their infant son at the beginning of February. The child, their fourth, had been only eight weeks old.

    • Correction: The family were in Aldershot in 1861, staying on Drury Lane, Francis was listed as a baker.  

The curate was familiar with the history of the building used for the District School. It had previously been the Aldershot Workhouse. The Census records its use in 1841. The Vestry had favoured providing poor relief to families in their home, so-called ‘outdoor relief’, and had subsequently opted to use the Farnham Workhouse only for the few that required indoor provision. The workhouse building was later sold to the Farnham Poor Law Union.

Plans for its use of the building for the children of the Union were drawn up by the Guardians of the Farnham Union in 1846; in May they had invited plans for alterations to the building for that use, stating that they would pay 10 guineas for ‘the most approved plan’. In October that year, the Farnham Union placed an advertisement for a school master and schoolmistress, also to act as Master and Matron, with salaries of £20 and £15 per annum plus rations . That policy subsequently altered and the building later opened as a District School for three Poor Law Unions in 1850..

What was probably also known by Reverend Carey was that the Aldershot Workhouse had itself been rebuilt using materials from a demolished mansion.

=> More about the Aldershot Workhouse will be said in the (later) chapter May.

14th March 1853

There were two weddings on that Monday. Esther Hughes would not have been alone in noting that the two brides were with child. Her niece Jane Fludder was to marry Moses Matthews; Eliza Hall was to marry Francis Newell. The couples acted as witnesses for one another. All except Eliza would sign their names in the register; she alone had to make her mark.

The first bride, Jane Fludder

This wedding was altogether a much happier gathering for the Fludder family,  young Frederick’s funeral still strong a memory. Jane’s Aunt Esther would perhaps have been concerned whether her  younger sister, Jane’s Aunt Mary, would attend the wedding at the Church so soon afterwards.

Jane and Frederick had been cousins, both children of single parents who spent their early years in their grandparents’ home at the outskirts of the village, both then subsequently to be under the charge of a stepfather.

Jane was now aged 25. Not only expecting but already a mother, her three year old child born in Farnborough and baptised at St Peter’s Church in Ash. Jane had then moved back to Aldershot with her infant daughter Lucy to join the household of her mother’s older brothers John and William Fludder. The two uncles were both widowed, her Uncle John having had to raise two young sons, now aged 14 and 16.

Jane’s mother Eleanor had also been a  22-year old single mother when Jane was born. The parish baptismal register recorded Jane as “Illegitimate of Ash”, James Robinson noted as the father.  There were many with the name of James Robinson in the general vicinity. One credible candidate was the son of James the cordwainer (b. 1768) from Shawfields, in Ash, just over the County border from Deadbrooks, quite close to the Fludder homestead.

When Jane was eight years old, her mother married the widower Henry Wareham [‘Warsham’], at Windlesham in December 1837. He was listed as a publican, his residence given as Bagshot. Jane’s mother Eleanor was listed as a housekeeper. Henry was able to sign his name; Eleanor had to made her mark instead. Eleanor’s father, George Fludder, Jane’s grandfather, was listed as having been a butcher; he would then have been in his late 70s at the time.

By the age of twelve Jane was part of a blended family at the Kings Head, Frimley, in 1841. She was with two others of similar age having the same name as her stepfather, presumably a son and daughter by a previous marriage, as well as two infants of the new marriage, Sarah and Henry. Another child was baptised in Frimley the next year in July 1842; Jane’s stepfather was again listed as a publican. By 1851 Jane’s mother Eleanor had moved with her new family to Fish Ponds in Farnborough. Jane was not then with them but, as stated, he was in Aldershot in her uncle’s household.

Moses Matthews, Groom’s side

Moses was a carpenter as had his father been. Born in 1823, he was older than Jane by almost five years. Moses was from a large family. He was the eighth of at least ten children born to Stephen and Ann Matthews.

Esther Hughes might have mused how she had herself married a sawyer from a large family. However, she knew Moses’ family history to be much more tragic and troubled than that of her George. In addition to the death of both parents, Moses had experienced the loss of a sister and four brothers during his childhood.

Moses had been raised on Place Hill, the lower road to Farnham which ran up from near the Ash Bridge towards Badshot Lea. He was there in 1841 with his parents, his older brother James, also a carpenter, and three other children with the name Matthews. By then the eldest of the Moses’ brothers and sisters had left home.

Moses’ parents, Stephen and Ann, had to endure the deaths of several of their children. Their daughter Maria, a year older than Moses, was buried aged 13 in February 1835. Moses’ little brother Mark also died that year, in August, aged only six.

Then came the deaths of Moses’ two older brothers. John died of ‘consumption’; his death was registered in Ash, the Reverend Carey conducting his funeral at St Michael’s Church in September 1839.  Within two years the other brother, James, died of ‘pulmonary consumption’ at age 25, buried in July 1842. With the death of James and John, the household lost the income of breadwinners as well as close kin.

Moses’ brother Stephen, the eldest in the family, had been baptised as long ago as 1808. He had left to marry Mary Lee in Seale in 1829. They had a son called Thomas, baptised there in July 1830, and later a daughter, baptised as Jane in Aldershot in January 1832. In 1841, they were both placed with relatives. Thomas was with his grandparents, Stephen and Ann, at Place Hill; Jane was with Mary’s sister and brother-in-law Henry Deadman at Normandy Green. The later fate of Moses’ brother Stephen and his family is unclear, but perhaps he was working elsewhere.

It seems probable that Fanny, the eldest sister in the family (bap. 1809), had entered domestic service somewhere during the 1820s. Another of Moses’ sisters called Emma had left: by 1841, she was one of two female domestic servants for Mr John Eggar at the Manor House. She later married when she was aged over 30, to Christopher Brown in 1845. Moses’ sister Martha had also left home, also for domestic service. She had two children prior to her marriage to Charles Young. Their son had been baptised earlier in the month, on March 6th.

The youngest in the household at Place Hill in 1841 had been Matthew Matthews, listed by the June Census as aged 4. The parish register lists his baptism in May 1838, another noted  as ‘baseborn’. His father is recorded as William Mason who was a local potter aged 24. His mother is recorded as Ann Matthews, but this is a puzzle. Moses’ mother Ann Matthews had been aged 23 years old when her firstborn was christened at St Michael’s in August 1808. Thirty years later she was aged 53, an unlikely age to give birth. What seems more likely is that the Matthew was the child of one of her daughters, although which one is unknown; none is recorded with the name of Ann; perhaps that might have been a name used within the family.

By 1851, none of the Matthews family were living at what had been the family home on Place Hill. Moses’ mother Ann had passed away in 1843 at the age of 62, His father Stephen buried in November 1849. Moses’ sisters Mary and Jane were in London in 1851 as visitors to the household of a family called Brown; they might have been related in some way to the husband of their older sister Emma who had married Christopher Brown six years before. Matthew Matthews, the youngest in the family, was enrolled at the ‘Union School’, the only pupil at the school born in Aldershot.

Moses himself had been lodging at the Beehive Inn as a carpenter in 1851. Despite an early life full of family tragedy, he now stood, aged 30, at the front of St Michael’s Church. He and Jane Fludder, very soon to start a new family of their own.

The second bride, Eliza Hall

Eliza was also soon to be a mother, the child later to be baptised at St Michael’s Church as she had been 17 years before. Eliza was the daughter of John Cawood and Mary Hall, each widowed, and living as man and wife with children from those previous marriages.

Mary had married a man called Henry Hall. Curiously, John Cawood had married another woman called Hall in 1823, Maria being aged 13 and wed with the consent of her parents, William and Mary. She was baptised in Farnham, in 1809, as was a Henry Hall earlier baptised in 1797, the son of John and Mary. Eliza’s parents, Mary Hall and John Cawood, might, therefore, have been widowed to half siblings.

In any event, it was complex.

Eliza’s parents household in 1841 included her mother Mary Hall, together with her older children, George (bap. 1822, Aldershot), Henry, William and Stephen. these all having the name Hall. Eliza and her younger brother Charles were then recorded then as Cawood, after her father John Cawood, together with his daughter Caroline from that earlier marriage, baptised in January 1826.

The household was much the same in 1851, except that her mother had died and her father’s older daughter had left. Eliza and her younger brother Charles were now recorded with the surname Hall, Eliza being listed as a lodger and house servant. Eliza’s half-brothers Stephen, George and his wife Ann all had the surname of Hall, all listed as agricultural labourers.

(Cawood was a long-established family name in Aldershot, several being baptised at St Michael’s Church, more than one called John.)

The Groom, Francis Newell

Francis’ family background was not as complex. He was a sawyer, baptised locally in 1828. He was the son of James Newell, another locally born sawyer . His mother Mary was the daughter of the farmer Robert Lloyd.

Francis was one of six children, his younger siblings born in Godalming which was where the family were in 1841. They had moved back to Aldershot by 1851, located by the Manor House. It is unclear where Francis was then living. However, Francis and Eliza would stay on in Aldershot after their marriage, Francis continuing to work as a sawyer.

His older brother James was in their father’s household in 1841.  He moved out the next year and also set up as a sawyer in Aldershot, his wife, from Egham. They were on North Lane in 1851 with five children aged under 10, all born in Aldershot.

    • (There was another in the village called Francis Newell of similar age who was recorded by the 1851 Census as an an agricultural labourer lodging at the Red Lion Inn. He had been baptised in 1826, the son of Thomas, an agricultural labourer. That Francis Newell married in Shoreditch to Jane Stonard in 1852. She was the daughter of the brick burner William Stonard, and was in her father’s household in 1851, listed as a lady’s corset maker. The couple later settled in St Luke’s, Finsbury in London, that Francis Newell becoming a leather cutter.)

15th March 1853

The funeral of Sir Edward Doughty, the 8th Tichborne baronet, was a grand affair, taking place ten days after his death. It was held at the family chapel at Tichborne Park at noon, officiated by the Catholic Bishop of Southwark and assisted by as many as 14 priests. There were reports in various regional newspapers, the fullest terms in the Tablet.

23rd March 1853

Much of parish administration was conducted by members of the Vestry. It met at the Church that Wednesday. Their remit included the relief of the poor in the parish as well as the state of road and highways.

In earlier years the Reverend Carey chaired Vestry but recently that had been carried out by the laity. Charles Barron Esq was in the chair that Wednesday. Others members attending Vestry included Richard Allden, James Elstone, Captain Newcome, Henry Twynam, William Herrett, Robert Hart, George Gosden and Richard Stovold.

These were the men of influence within the parish, mostly landowners but also admitting some significant others who were rate-paying residents. Conversely, the Vestry did not have all the landowning families represented, only those who were resident in the village. The holdings of the Eggar family had been leased to the tenant farmer Henry Twynam.

The main item of business for the Vestry that evening was to confirm who would serve as the parochial officers for the year following, although much of that might already have been informally decided. The changeover would take place two days later, on Lady Day, March 25th.

The Chairman of the Vestry for the next year would be George Newcome, a retired Army Captain who had bought the Manor House estate in 1847. He would also serve as one of the two churchwardens alongside Charles Barron, the land proprietor from London who had owned the Aldershot Place estate since 1828. Barron would serve for a second year, Reuben Attfield would be stepping down from that role, although he would continue in several others.

The main civic office was that of the two Overseers, voluntary positions with responsibility for levying the rates and for the administration of various charitable funds. The two nominated to serve as Overseers for the next year were the farmer James Elstone of Aldershot Lodge and John Thomas Deacon, the retired gent from London who lived at Ash Bridge House.

Looking back over the Vestry minutes, the curate could note the five families prominent in the role, generally with full turnover each year:

    • Attfield: Reuben 1834, 1841, 1847 & 1852 (first when aged 32)
    • Allden: James 1833; Richard 1838 & 1845 (first when 45)
    • Elstone: James Snr 1835 (aged 68); James Jnr 1842 & 1854 (first when 37)
    • Eggar: John [Senior] 1833 & 1840; Eggar, John [Junior] 1847
    • Robinson: George Snr 1834 & 1835; James 1837; Robert 1839; George Jnr 1842, 1843 & 1845

There had been a widening of the selection in recent years, the Vestry no longer just the preserve of the landowning yeoman farmers. Office holders now included tenant farmers and gentlemen who had retired to the village. Locally born William Faggetter was a tenant farmer who had moved back into the village to take over the operation of West End Farm. Francis Deakins Esq was from London, described in the 1851 Census as a retired gardener. Both were stepping down from the role of Overseer having served for a year. In a previous year, William Fricker, another from London, had shared the role with Reuben Attfield.

Neither of the occupiers of the role of Overseer was paid for the duties performed. Instead, the Vestry supported them in their duties with the paid position of Assistant Overseer. For many years that role had been undertaken by the farmer Thomas Smith. However, in 1852 the Vestry had agreed that the ever-willing Reuben Attfield should undertake that function, on an annual salary of £20. This followed the presentation to him in the previous year of a silver cup bearing the inscription,

“A tribute of respect from the parishioners of Aldershot
to Mr. Reuben Attfield
for his voluntary and very useful services in the affairs of the parish.
Presented in the year of the Great Exhibition, 1851.”

His salaried appointment as Assistant Overseer in 1853 coincided with the sale of Parkhouse Farm and his other properties in the parish.

Reuben Attfield undertook also the role of Collector of Taxes, responsible for the collection of the thrice-yearly Poor Rate and the annual Church Rate. He shared that task with the tenant farmer Henry Twynam. They replaced the farmer Thomas Smith and William Downs, a dealer resident in the village.

Other senior positions elected by the Vestry included the Surveyor of the Highways, filled by Richard Allden. The other was that of the Guardians on the Board of the Farnham Poor Law Union. They had a dual function, to represent the interests of the poor and needy and also to represent the ratepayers in the provision for those who were poor and needy. Two stalwarts, Richard Allden and James Elstone, were nominated to manage the ambiguity of the role. At this time formal responsibility was with the Board of Guardians of the Farnham Poor Union. However, the Vestry had retained an active policy of helping ‘out of doors’ including the provision of paid work.

There were then roles to be performed by individuals of lesser social standing. Henry Elkins the baker was to continue as the Parochial Constable for the year, appointed at a salary of £1 for the year. Joseph Miles, a man of many parts, would remain as hayward, charged with ensuring that there were no infringements of parish and common land and that hedges were maintained.

25th March 1853

Named generally as Lady Day, the date of the Feast of the Annunciation was immovable, fixed in the Christian Calendar at nine months before the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.

Historically, as the first of the Quarter Days – the others being Midsummer Day (24 June), Michaelmas (29 September) and Christmas Day – it defined the agricultural and business calendar as well as having spiritual significance. It marked both the end of the financial year and the start of the growing season.

Despite the changes brought about by the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1752, which had shifted the financial year to April 5th, Lady Day remained the traditional day on which year-long contracts took effect for master and servant and between landowners and tenant farmers. It was also the date of entry for newly acquired fields and farms.

Knowing that the date therefore was an occasion which had a combined sense of agricultural as well as spiritual renewal, Reverend Carey would want to find words suitable for his sermon for the service on Lady Day. Curates generally turned to the Book of Luke for both the reading and the basis for sermons at the Feast of the Annunciation.

Verses 26 to 38 in the first chapter of Luke describe how the Angel Gabriel made known to a virgin she would conceive a son to be called Jesus. Although recognised by the Anglican Church, these verses were the cause of doctrinal difference between the Protestant Faith and Catholic Church of Rome, the latter making specific reference to Our Lady Mary the Virgin and placing emphasis on the significance of ‘immaculate conception’.

There was an added complication: in 1853, Good Friday also fell on the March 25th, the same date as Lady Day. The reasons for this clash lay in the way in which Easter, a ‘moveable feast’, was determined. Rather oddly, the date of Easter, arguably the most important date in the Christian calendar, was still based on calculus important to the pagan, namely the phases of the moon in relation to the vernal equinox, that moment when the day and night are of equal length.

The challenge of selecting words and determining liturgy suitable for both the suffering on the Cross and the joy in the Annunciation was a dilemma, one which had occurred before during Reverend Carey’s ministry, in 1842.

Matthew Bridges

This might have prompted Reverend Carey to have disturbing memories of Matthew Bridges, the hymnist who lived in the village from 1842 to 1847. His stay in the village had coincided with the growing influence of John Henry Newman.

Lady Day in 1842 marked the entry date for Matthew Bridges to take up possession of the Manor House estate, bought from John Eggar in that year. Bridges was a well-known poet and writer of hymns. His ‘Romish beliefs’ towards the Blessed Mary the Virgin were very much at odds with the teaching of the Evangelical wing of the Church of England. That was led by Bishop Charles Sumner, his palace at nearby Farnham.

Matthew Bridges brought with him a conflicted background of belief, illustrative of the cross-currents then prevalent in religious matters. He had been baptised and raised within a family committed to the Church of England; his two older brothers had been ordained. One was the Reverend Charles Bridges, an Evangelical whose books were widely read; The Christian Ministry was published in as many as eight editions in twenty years. Matthew Bridges’ wife Sarah, ten years older than himself, had been baptised in 1789 in a non-conformist chapel in Bristol, which later became a centre for Primitive Methodism.

Sarah was the daughter of Dorothea and Samuel Tripp, a lawyer’s son from Somerset who moved to Bristol and had made a fortune there as a manufacturer of soap. Her older brother became a minister in the Unitarian Church.

Bridges had subsequently come under the sway of the Reverend John Henry Newman, an ordained priest within the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. Known as the ‘Oxford Movement’, this was a ‘high church’ group which argued for the adoption of Roman Catholic doctrines and liturgy associated with the Church before the English Reformation.

During his time in Aldershot, Matthew Bridges’ daughter converted to the Roman Catholic Church. That event in 1845 was announced in The Tablet, a newspaper launched five years before to promote Catholicism in Britain. Other newspapers and magazines carried the story, nationally and abroad. In the same year the Roman Catholic Church admitted John Henry Newman; he travelled to Rome the next year to be ordained by the Pope as a priest.

The Tablet was clearly interested in highlighting the probable stance of ‘Matthew Bridges Esq’ who himself became a Catholic in 1848, a year after he sold the Manor House estate to Captain Newcome. Bridges’ last recorded attendance was at the meeting of the Vestry Committee in January 1845. He was not recorded in the minutes thereafter.

Matthew Bridges would later publish ‘Hymns of the Heart for the Use of Catholics’ in 1848 and the more famous hymn, ‘Crown Him with Many Crowns’ in 1851. However, that latter hymn contained references to the Virgin Mary and was unacceptable to Protestant doctrine. The Anglican clergyman Godfrey Thring would later release a version which was suitable for singing in Protestant churches, removing those references to the Virgin.

The Tichborne Dole

Just when the Reverend Carey, a man from Guernsey, would first have heard about the tradition of the annual gift (or dole) to the poor of bread at Tichborne Park is not known. Perhaps it had been told him by his parish clerk Thomas Attfield, embellished with the story of Lady Mabella’s Curse which foretold that the name of Tichborne would die.

The story had its origins in the 12th Century when Lady Mabella was the good wife of Sir Roger Tichborne, a soldier in the service of Henry II. She extracted a promise from him on her deathbed that on each Lady Day he would give a gift (or dole of flour) to the poor of the manor. Lady Mabella warned that were this annual gifting ever to be abandoned by any of his descendants, then the name of Tichborne would come to an end. She said that this would occur when a generation of seven sons was followed by one of seven daughters.

The practice of the Dole did continue for many generations at Tichborne Park by the descendants of Sir Roger. That included Sir Benjamin who had been granted a baronetcy by James I & V and his eldest son, Sir Richard Tichborne.

It so happened that, in 1748, the baronetcy and Tichborne estates passed from the senior line of Sir Richard to that of the younger son, Sir Walter which had first settled in Aldershot. By the time of this transfer, the locus of that junior line had shift to Frimley, away from Aldershot where their copyhold lands had been sold.

On succeeding to the title, Henry Tichborne of Frimley became the 6th baronet, moving to the family seat at Tichborne Park, the freehold property at Aldershot Park being allowed to fall into ruin. His son, another Tichborne named Henry became the 7th baronet at the death of his father in 1785, later selling the family estate of Frimley Manor in 1789.

The 7th baronet, Sir Henry, who did indeed have seven sons (Henry, Benjamin, Edward, James, John, George and Roger), was the man who ended the Tichborne Dole in 1796. 

More than that, Henry Joseph Tichborne (b. 1779), on becoming the 8th baronet in 1821, did have seven daughters Elizabeth, Frances, Julia, Mary, Catherine, Emily and Lucy. Athis death, at age 80, he had no living sons from his marriage.

All was therefore had come to pass according to the Lady Marbella’s Curse, as set out within stanzas of the ‘Tichborne Dole’ published in the 1830 edition of Marshall’s Pocket Book. This told of her prophesy about the extinction of the male heirs, paying handsome compliment to the female descendants of the family.

When Sir Henry Joseph died in 1845, without a male heir, the title passed to the eldest of the surviving brothers. This was Edward, as  Benjamin, the second eldest, had already died, in China in 1810.

As though true to the very detail of the words in the curse uttered by Lady Mabella, Edward’s name was no longer that of Tichborne. Not expecting ever to inherit the Tichborne title, Edward had obtained royal licence to change his name to that of Doughty in order that he qualify for a considerable bequest from his cousin Elizabeth Doughty in 1826. He had promptly married, to a relative of the (Catholic) Duke of Norfolk, their only son, Henry Doughty, dying in childhood in 1835.

On inheriting the baronetcy, the 9th baronet, had promptly revived the Tichborne Dole, presumably with intention to be both charitable and to allay the Tichborne Curse.

The story told above is a much shortened version of that which might have been told in a cottage of an evening in front of the fire.

=> a more detailed version about the Tichborne Curse is available here.

Perhaps, the tradition of the Dole and the associated Curse, once well known across Hampshire, would have been forgotten amongst most of the villagers of Aldershot by 1853, but for the recent news of the death of Sir Edward, in March.

His obituary was published in The Illustrated News noting that the title and estates therefore would pass to Sir Edward’s only surviving brother James. He had been the chief mourner at the elaborate funeral and was the third and only surviving of the seven Tichborne brothers. (The fourth, fifth, and seventh brothers had died much earlier, the sixth doing so in November 1849; all were without a male heir.)

It seems likely that ‘The Illustrated’ was delivered regularly to the Pall Mall residence of Charles Barron Esq. but was not otherwise in general circulation in the village. The details of the marriage and heirs of Sir James Francis Tichborne, now the 10th baronet, might therefore not have been widely known.

He had married Harriette-Felicita, the French love child of Henry Seymour M.P. from his affair with the supposed love child of a direct descendant of Louis XIV of France. Seymour was himself a direct descendant of the eldest surviving brother of Jane Seymour, the mother of the only son of Henry VIII of England.

    • There is further spice to the tale, as Roger Charles Tichborne, now the heir apparent had boarded a ship for South America at the start of March, unaware of his status with respect to the Tichborne estate. The next year he would be reported as lost at sea, his existence much later becoming the subject of a famous legal case known in the press as the Tichborne Claimant.

=> Additional information about the Tichborne family (with family trees).

27th March 1853

Easter Sunday 1853 was a special day in so many ways, especially for Reverend Carey. He would have been particularly keen to congratulate Mr Richard Allden before he left on becoming a grandfather. Reverend Carey had conducted the wedding of his daughter Mary Ann at St Michael’s in April the previous year. However, the curate would not have been able to meet Richard at Matins on Easter Sunday as he would be elsewhere attending the christening of Elizabeth his first granddaughter. The Reverend Henry Albany Bowles, a fellow graduate of Carey from Oxford, conducted the service at St Mary’s Church at Send and Ripley.

The parents of the child were cousins twice removed. Mary Ann’s husband was John Allden, the third son of a farmer from Frensham. That was Richard’s eldest cousin Joseph Allden. Many across the extended family had benefited from bequests in 1810 by Richard’s great uncle, George May. However, Joseph’s father had inherited the residual of the estate, both freehold and copyhold. including the farmland at Ash. The marriage of their two children now linked Richard’s side of the family even more closely with the senior branch of the family.

Richard Allden and the curate had come to know each other very well. Richard been a churchwarden several times. More than that, Henry would doubtless recall Richard as the youngest of the four patrons at his appointment as curate back in 1838. Perhaps, Richard would be back in Aldershot for Evensong.

=> More on the Allden family

29th March 1853

Tensions between Russia and Turkey continued, the Czar confident that the latter was so much ‘the sick man of Europe’ as to be in terminal decline. There was optimism that a solution might be found, however, as indicated by Queen Victoria in her letter to her Uncle Leopold, King of Belgium:

Buckingham Palace, 29th March 1853


=> April 1853

Edited on 24 February:

* Close inspection of the Crondal court records by Sally Jenkinson has established that the Tichborne family never owned the so-called Manor House.

** No evidence has been found to support the notion that Richard Tichborne built a house which later become known as the Union Building.




The plan to enhance search on people is twofold.

1. To provide both an index of the surnames that appear in the monthly chapters, as an aid for family historians when researching genealogy.

    • Click on the names at the foot of this page to link to the monthly chapter in which the family is mentioned.
    • Use <ctl> F (or similar) to search for the surname within the chapter.

This is very much a work in progress

2. To have some additional chapters with biographical detail on particular individuals and families who feature prominently amongst the 160 households in the village. Here are some links:

Richard Allden

Reuben and Thomas Attfield 

Charles Barron Esq.

Reverend Dr Henry Carey

The Cawson Family

John Cawood and Mary Hall

Reverend James Dennett (& Very Reverend William Wilson)

The Dutton Family

James and Caroline Elstone

The Hone Family

The Hughes Family

The Knowles Family

Captain George Newcome

Naomi York / Snowden

Next there are significant others, not members of the village in 1853. Some are living elsewhere in 1853; others have historical importance.

These include:

William Cobbett

John Eggar of Aldershot and Bentley

Viscount Hardinge

The Mangles Family

The Tichborne Family

The Brothers White, John the Younger and the the last Catholic Bishop of Winchester

Charles and Raleigh Viner

Duke of Wellington

February 1853

February 1853

February was generally an unhappy month for a rural community; winter this year was continuing to be miserable. The provisions put aside in their winter store were threatening to run low. For the cottagers, that store included cured meat, vegetables grown in their gardens and wood and dry turves collected as fuel for the hearth. Any who had taken to Aldershot Heath, intent on foraging for more, might not have given the military man on horseback a second thought except the grudge of empathy for anyone out in such weather.

The fields had been too wet for the farmers to start anything useful during the previous month. Come February, the weather turned first to snow and then to frost. The Hampshire Telegraph wrote that the progress of domestic agriculture was ‘in arrears’. By mid-month, Bell’s Weekly Messenger was repeating its advice that there was no opportunity for sowing spring wheat with any certainty of success.

Despite all of that, farmers always had business to conduct, buying and selling hay as winter feed as well as engaging trade in barley, oats and wheat. This was also the time of year for local hop farmers to be buying in poles and other equipment. Continued care for livestock was always required and calving would begin before the month was out.

This was traditionally a period in the agricultural calendar during which to attend to maintenance. Work was required on the farm, but the high winds in December and January had added to the seasonal need for repairs, those having to be carried out to houses all across the village as well as to farm buildings.

Elsewhere, news of strikes by agricultural workers in South Wiltshire was being reported. Despite the weather, between 150 to 200 farm labourers had journeyed from farm to farm at Barford, Codford and Fovant “quietly stating their determination to get the advance they asked”. They were demanding a raise in the weekly rate from 7 to 9 shillings. The Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette gave them support but stated that the farmers could not afford to meet the claim.

The Bank of England had raised the minimum rate of interest to 3 per cent. Money was tight. The mood of farmers was made worse as shipments of grain arrived from abroad and led to “some giving way in prices” for wheat, barley and oats. The over-supply of wheat at this time from the Baltic and the Black Sea was contributing to the fall in prices for farmers.

Saturday, 5th February 1853

Locally, the Reverend Dr Henry Carey had his focus on the sombre task of officiating at the burial of Frank Henning, the infant child of the supervisor at the District School. This was the infant who had been baptised eight weeks earlier by Reverend James Dennett, the incumbent’s prospective successor. The death was a tragedy for his parents, of course, but Reverend Carey might also have hoped that the younger curate would not take it too badly when he heard the news, nor that there would be any tittle-tattle in the village about this misfortune. The parents of the dead child were Francis and Mary Henning, aged 40 and 29, respectively. They had three older infants, all born in Aldershot, baptised at St Michael’s Church in December 1847, February 1849 and in February 1851.

Nationally, vaccination against Smallpox featured prominently in the news. The weekend edition of the Morning Post carried a report of the prevailing epidemic in London and there were calls for compulsory vaccination to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic.

Smallpox was identified in public policy as something which could and should be eradicated; it killed adults as well as infants, both rich and poor.

800 patients had been admitted during the past year to the Small Pox Hospital in Highgate. This was over ten percent more (88) than had ever been admitted. The record before that was in 1838, the start of a national epidemic during which almost 42,000 died. Legislation had followed in 1840 to set up a national system of voluntary vaccination; death rates then declined. Vaccination had been far from universal, however, varying considerably between Poor Law Unions and across the country. The rates of infant vaccination were much higher in London, for example. That was also true in the cities and crowded urban areas of the industrial North which had also suffered most in the earlier epidemic.

The incidence of smallpox in 1851 and 1852 was regarded as the possible start of another epidemic and there was growing pressure for further legislative action. Part of this pressure was coming from the London Epidemiological Society, a grouping of physicians and others interested in the causes of epidemic diseases and their prevention. Founded in 1850, the Society’s members were pioneers in the use of statistical evidence upon which to base actions to improve public health. A committee was put together to report on the state of small-pox and vaccination in England and Wales when compared to other countries, and thence upon the merits of compulsory vaccination.

Monday, 14th February 1853

The reminder of a wedding on St Valentine’s Day had been a happier note in the curate’s diary. 

Jane Young and William Chuter, both aged 22, were wed this day at the Church of St Michael the Archangel. Baptised there in 1830, William in March and Jane in July, they had known each other since childhood.

Likely both had been taught by ‘Miss Williams’, then the village school mistress. Caroline Hone, now the village blacksmith’s wife, would surely have been happy to see both able to sign their names in the marriage register.

‘Billy’, to give him a nickname, was the son of one of the most senior of the farm labourers in Aldershot. William Chuter Senior was also entrusted to be the official receiver for the Post Office in the village, arranging delivery and pick up from the railways station at the nearby market town of Farnham.

Seeing their son walk down the aisle on St Valentine’s Day, William and his wife Elizabeth might have recalled their own marriage at the same church nearly 33 years earlier, in March 1820.

William had also been baptised at St Michael’s Church, in 1797. The family home on Place Hill [later known as (Lower) Farnham Road] was rented from Mrs Tice.

The bride was from Aldershot’s West End. Jane had not yet reached ten years old when her father died, noted as ‘William of Farnham’ in Aldershot’s burial register in 1840. She had left her widowed mother’s household by 1851 to secure position as housemaid for a wealthy ship owner in Clapham Common.

The Chuters had long association with Aldershot. Billy was connected to many other local families through the marriage of his uncles and aunts.

Billy’s Uncle John, his father’s younger brother, was an agricultural labourer in Aldershot up on North Lane with his wife and family. He had married Catherine, the daughter of Joseph Miles the small holder and village hayward. Although both locally born, had wed by banns at Guildford in 1825, their son Stephen baptised at St Michael’s Church in 1829, but the baptismal register noting that he was “born of Pirbright.”  Billy’s cousin Stephen, of similar age, had  secured a position as a farm servant in the household of William Gosden.

Billy’s father had two sisters. Billy’s Aunt Ann, the eldest, had passed away three years previously, aged 63. She had married in Aldershot in 1816 to Richard Pharo who, widowed, lived with the family of his son James, Billy’s eldest cousin, who was now aged 30.

Billy’s Aunt Jane had married much later in 1846 to Henry Stovold when aged 42. They lived on Boxalls Lane. Stovold was a labourer from Hungry Hill who had been widowed the year before, in May 1845. He had been left with four young children, including an infant who was baptised on the same day as her mother’s burial in Aldershot.

 Billy’s Uncle Stephen, the older of his father’s brothers had married Jane Cawood, in Farnham in 1813. He had been a journeyman potter in Aldershot. Their first born, yet another called Stephen, was baptised in Aldershot in 1817. Their daughter Caroline, although baptised at St Michael’s, was born in Pirbright in 1826. That was probably when Billy’s Uncle Stephen first established himself as a potter in Pirbright, occupying a house owned by William Collins, another potter. The younger son James, closer in age to Billy, was also born at Pirbright, baptised there in August 1829.

The day of the wedding had coincided with the fifth day of Lent. The curate might have mentioned that during the marriage service. However, that coincidence might not have been sufficient to deter many in the wedding party continuing to toast the happy couple at one or other of the village’s two public houses.

The likely choice of venue would have been the Beehive Inn where, thirty years previously, three of the four active potteries in Aldershot had been located close by. Uncle Stephen would have been remembered by the older members of the village, especially those who were now or had also once been local potters in the four potteries were then owned by the Fadgent, Gosden, Smith and Collins families, the latter situated further down the Street opposite the Green.

Many potters had left the village, often moving to other more active potteries in the area. However, the families of potters had a strong web of social connection, sometimes underpinned by intermarriage. During the ten-year period 1814 to 1823 there had been as many as fifteen children born to potters, with surnames including those Collins, Chuter, Fadgent, Gosden, Mason, Mullard and Smith.

By 1851 only the Collins and the Smith potteries were still operating, the latter by another called Collins.

Monday, 21st February 1853

The sombre news of the deaths of two older adults in the village became known towards the end of the month. One death was of 60-year-old George Simpkin, whose funeral in Guildford had been held on the Monday. The other was for 89-year-old Mary Hughes, the service to be conducted locally on the Saturday following. Both individuals had commanded a degree of seniority in the village, although in quite different ways. The former, newly retired into the parish, was regarded as one of the gentry; the latter was the mother or grandmother to about thirty in the village.

Of independent means, George Simpkin Esq. and his wife Ann had been renting Woodbine Cottage which was close by Manor Farm, both properties owned by the Eggar family. The couple were incomers to the village; they had two servants, both also from outside the parish, a female house servant and a one recorded in the Census as a ‘gent servant’.

The motivation for their arrival was doubtless that Ann Simpkin was the sister of the wife of Mr Deacon, a member of the Aldershot Vestry. He lived on the eastern side of the parish close to the Ash Bridge, in what seems to have been the most genteel area in the village.

John Thomas Deacon had been born in London in 1805, his marriage in 1840 to Mary, ten years older than himself, apparently not resulting in any surviving children. He was the son of a lawyer, his father rising to be Marshall of the Admiralty Court of England before his death in 1850.

Simpkin and Deacon had married two sisters called Turville, both marriages taking place in West Clandon, close to Guildford. George Simpkin married Ann Turville in December 1836. John Thomas Deacon had married Mary in 1840, the couple setting up home in Aldershot by 1841 by renting a property then known as the Clock House from Elizabeth Osborne. They also maintained an address in London, at 2 Halkin Street, on the northern side of Belgrave Square.

Miss Elizabeth Osborne had bought the property in 1837 for £400. She was recorded as the owner-occupier in the 1839 Rate Book. By 1841, Miss Osborne was living in Weyborne in the household of the elderly Mary Knight. John and Mary Deacon continued to rent the Clock House, it later becoming referred to as Ash Bridge House.

Ash Bridge House stood at one of the corners of the two-acre meadow which ran alongside the road, later known as Ash Road, from the Red Lion Inn to the bridge that went over the Blackwater to Ash in Surrey.

two maps 1841 1856 Cross House

As shown in two map extracts, the top one from the 1841 Tithe Survey and the one below from the 1855 Enclosure Awards, Cross House stood opposite. In 1853 this was owned and now occupied by the widowed Mrs Tice who lived with her unmarried daughter Esther. In 1841 it had been included as part of the properties owned by her late husband William Tice, the farmer of Holy Farm located further up North Lane. Cross House was then occupied by two distinct households.

One household in Cross House in 1841 was that of Henry and Elizabeth Cobden and their servant. The other was the widowed Ann Robinson, aged 84, her brother and her twin daughters, Esther and Mary, both unmarried. By 1851, Henry Cobden, a proprietor of houses, and his wife had moved across the Blackwater to live on Tongham Street, Seal, and Mrs Robinson had died. 

Following the death of her mother, Esther Robinson moved to Yew Tree Cottage, which was set back from Cross House, on the other side of what was known as Malthouse Lane. This was owned and occupied by her widowed sister Ann Medding.  Both were recorded by the 1851 Census as working as a needle seamstress.

Ann Medding’s husband David, a blacksmith aged 70, had died in 1848, the same year as the farmer William Tice, aged 79.

At the final corner of the four-sided meadow, at the foot of North Lane, were some cottages owned by Ann Harding, the widow of Thomas Harding who had died in 1850. He had run Shearing Farm, situated further up North Lane, past George Robinson’s farm. Harding’s pig-sty and cart-house shown within the triangular plot leading in from North Lane.

The idyllic setting for John Deacon’s house, with its south facing aspect across a mix of arable and hop fields, would not have been without some traffic of one kind or another down. Indeed, it acted as a throughfare for the farm workers from North Lane as it crossed over the main road to and from Ash onto the lower road to Farnham. John Deacon was also renting the two acre meadow at the centre of this small settlement, although whether he chose to let this for the purpose of grazing sheep is now unknown. 

Deacon’s household in Aldershot in 1841 had included a locally born servant called Harriett Hughes. Harriett was one of the many grandchildren of Mary Hughes, news of whose death was also just becoming known.

Saturday, 26th February 1853

The funeral of Mrs Hughes took place on this Saturday.  At age 89, her death was not unexpected, as neither had that of Mary Barnett  in January have been, at similar age. Both were matriarchs of large families. Mrs Hughes had become a widow three years previously, in 1850. She and John Hughes the sawyer had raised at least 13 children during the first twenty of their fifty-seven years of marriage.

Many of her sons had become sawyers or carpenters and some of her daughters had married men in those trades. That resulted in their having a diverse career trajectory in terms of geographic mobility, including repeated connection with Islington. Given that some would have had to travel down by train from London, the number attending the funeral service would likely have been even larger had the weather not taken a turn for the worse.

Saturday’s Hampshire Telegraph reported of loss of lambs and ewes on account of the “long prevalence of wet weather” on the other side of the county, in Wiltshire. The newspaper noted that “Winter had at length set in with a considerable degree of severity, with sharp frosts and repeated falls of snow. It would later report that the thermometer at … Hyde Park fell in the course of Saturday night to 24 [degrees Fahrenheit], being three degrees warmer than on the previous night. … On Sunday … on the Serpentine there were no less than 10,000 skaters and sliders.” 

Mary herself had been locally born, baptised as Mary Charlton at St Michael’s Church in January 1764, one of three sisters. She had married John Hughes at the age of 19 in July 1783. The place of baptisms for the children in the early years suggest that the family moved back and forth from Aldershot to Ash; alternatively, it might just have been a change of preference on where the christenings took place. At least one child was born in Islington.

The places of birth and baptism for the Hughes family provide an insight into the different life a sawyer might have had, when compared to the more static life of the agricultural labourers in the village. The length of the telling next, although foreshortened, needs to be long enough to illustrate what we can glean about migration from the village, including that of return.

The majority of the children of Mary and John Hughes had left for London at one time or another, likely having taken the mail coach to Southwark. As the older offspring left home, so the younger siblings were called upon to assist at home in their ever-increasing family.

The eldest son James had moved to Bermondsey. He was now himself widowed, retired and living in London on property funds yielding 3 ½ per cent per annum.

Thomas, now aged 53, had stayed on in Aldershot to become the sawyer of North Lane. He had married locally. Like his parents, he and his wife ‘Betsy’ also raised 13 children. Most were baptised in Aldershot, although his son William is recorded in census returns as having been born in Islington around 1835. That connection with London is also repeated with the later careers of Thomas’ two eldest sons.

The third son, Daniel, was born in Islington, although he was 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 were born in Islington.

The fourth son, George, was also living locally on North Lane. He had married locally born Esther Fludder. For Esther, this was her second funeral of the year, the first being that of her young nephew Frederick Fludder.

At the time of her death, Mary Hughes had been staying with one of her eldest daughters who by then was married as Mrs Mary Shaw. Much of the organisation for the day would have fallen to her. As with her elder brother, the daughter Mary had also made her way to London, marrying at age 22 to John Shaw at St Mary’s Church, Lambeth in August 1810. He was from Penkridge in Staffordshire. By 1841, her younger brother John had joined them, working in Penkridge as an agricultural labourer. There also was a teenage girl in the household called Naomi York.

Mary Shaw had returned to the village to care for her parents some time before March 1845, as indicated by her husband’s role then as one of the two local tax collectors. John Shaw owned and was working the 5 ½ acres of land known as Legge’s. Their arrival into the village was about the same time in 1845 that Caroline Hone had herself moved back to the village, her husband Henry taking up the position at smithy. Caroline would have remembered having taught a number of children named Hughes from her time as the schoolmistress. However, Mary Shaw and family would have been strangers to Caroline, especially the girl called Naomi York, then aged 17.

Why young Naomi had been with Mary is not obvious. The supposition is that she was Mary Shaw’s niece.

=> By which sister is something of a mystery to be explored.

By 1851, Naomi York had become the village schoolmistress, moving into her own accommodation near the parsonage. It is not clear by what criteria Naomi would have secured that appointment, nor the preparation she would have had to undergo from 1845 onwards. Perhaps Caroline might have assisted Naomi in securing some form of training as a teacher in Farnham, building upon whatever schooling Naomi had received in Penkridge, Staffordshire.

By 1853, Naomi was no longer the village schoolmistress. She was now Mrs Snowdon having married at St Michael’s Church on May Day, 1852. She was age 24, the same age that Caroline had married when the village’s schoolmistress.

=> More detail about the Hughes family is given here.

Military Matters

Nationally, the press were reporting on proceedings in Parliament, now reconvened after a long recess. Sidney Herbert, in the Cabinet as Secretary of War and one of the leading proponents of army reform, was arguing in favour of bringing regular troops together. The Home Secretary, Viscount Palmerston, favoured strengthening the militia rather than reliance upon the voluntary regiments, the latter regarded as better suited for reserve policing capacity, if required.

The Naval and Military Gazette also contained hints of early planning to establish a camp for large-scale military exercises. It reported that the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hardinge, “seems resolved to put the force at home into the best state of discipline, and that by assembling the corps to give them the habit of moving altogether”. Camps of instruction were to be formed in the summer.

The idea had earlier been mooted in an article entitled ‘The Army in 1852’ which was included in the Royal Military Magazine of that year, edited by Lt Col Hort, a fervent advocate for reform.

“With a young and untried Army, under Officers almost wholly inexperienced in war, is it fair or right to neglect such opportunities as might be found every year, to assemble large Camps of Instruction, where a Military spirit and feeling, which we so much want, would be created … The knowledge and power of controlling large bodies of men, is only to be acquired by practice .. the Artillery, Cavalry, and Infantry … constantly exercised together.”

Sunday, 27 February 1853

Reverend Henry Carey had only four more Sundays remaining in his role as the parish curate.  Having lived in the parish for nearly fifteen years, Henry and his wife needed ample opportunity to say their goodbyes to all that they should. Matins and Evensong would each be occasions at which to address his congregation and deliver his valedictum, with time afterwards for farewell to individual members of his congregation.

There was also the need to assist his young successor, the Reverend James Dennett, with information about the parish. Some of that would have been collected by the Cathedral’s Rural Dean and on the occasion of the Bishop’s visitation every two years.

Doubtless, the Reverend Carey would also have recalled that two years previously, as part of the 1851 Census arrangements, additional schedules had been distributed to ministers for a Census of Religious Worship. The cause of some controversy at the time, this was for the Government to obtain information about church attendance in places of worship of the various denominations being practiced. The office of the Registrar General had opted not to ask this of individuals. Instead, it requested that the clergy in each parish report on the provision of seating and on the numbers present at Sunday services on 30th March, the date selected for Census Day.

The results had not yet been presented to Parliament; that would not happen until the end of 1853. Even then, specific information about Aldershot is not stated. Likely, St Michael’s Church was included amongst the 18 places of worship in the Registration District of Farnham, all Protestant but of which only 8 were of the Established Church of England.

(The return for Aldershot was one of “a handful of Hampshire parishes [which] were located in Registration Districts in other counties”, as later reported in an Appendix published very much later in 1993.)

Reverend Carey had recorded that there was seating in his parish church for a total of 270 persons, of which 150 was ‘free’ sittings, with 120 set aside for specific individuals and purposes. As for that Sunday, which happened to be Mothering Sunday, the attendance in the morning was 165 plus 79 attending Sunday School. Attendance was higher in the afternoon, at 230 and again with 79 at Sunday School. The curate had been directed to return the completed schedule the Monday following to one or other of William Wheeler and Henry Hone, the two enumerators for the parish.

Easter Sunday would come early this year, falling next month on the 27th day of March. That might have seemed to be a suitable occasion to mark the end of his tenure, with a new minister for the parish and promise of new beginning for him elsewhere. The news of his departure was now common knowledge.

The two churchwardens, Charles Barron Esq. of Aldershot Park and Mr Reuben Attfield, would have known about all of this at an early stage. Reverend Carey had now also had a long conversation with Thomas Attfield, his parish clerk. It was important that the curate’s successor did not confuse the two men called Attfield who were, distant cousins.

=> More about the Attfield family.

James Dennett would have learnt the distinction between a churchwarden and the parish clerk during his training to be a curate. The role of the parish clerk dated back to medieval times: it was an occupation, complete with renumeration. His purpose was to assist the priest, in this instance the curate. The qualification for the job, according to Canon 91(1603) was that “They should be at least 20 years old. Known to the parson as a man of honest conversation and sufficient for his reading, writing and competent skill in singing.”

The duties of parish clerk in Aldershot also included those of the sexton and, therefore, grave-digging and other preparation for burials. In combination this meant Thomas Attfield’s remit included most everything to do with the care of the church and the conduct of services, short of those duties which only an ordained and licensed member of the clergy was qualified to conduct. His duties also included leading the responses, singing in the choir and indicating to the congregation which hymns were to be sung.

The Parish Vestry would also meet next month. That would be an appropriate moment for Reverend Carey to say his farewells to the village elite. Most, of course, would have been regulars at the Church services, several having family sitting amongst the pews he had reported to the Census as set aside.

=> March 1853