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

June 1853

Wednesday, 1st June 1853

The conflict between Russia and the Ottoman Government had reached a stand-off. The Morning Post was reporting that the money markets were “heavy, in anticipation of the next demonstration that may be made on the Russo-Turkish question”.

    • Protracted diplomatic activity was based at what was called ‘The Porte’, the central authority of the Turkish Government in Constantinople. The balance of view in news reportage to the general public was that outright war would be averted. The extended lines of communication between ambassadors and governments, meant huge delays, however. 

In other, seemingly unrelated news, newspapers were reporting the preparations being made for the large-scale military exercise at Chobham. Troops from around the country had begun to assemble at the Camp at Chobham, with various activities scheduled to last at least two months from the middle of June.

The Camp at Chobham in early June 1853From London Illustrated News

As many as 8,000 men, 1,500 horses and 24 guns were expected to be mustered on the heathland in Surrey for drill, field operations and parades. As though to provide a diversion for the public’s attention, the press set out the list of regiments which would be taking part and details of who would be commanding. 

The London Evening Standard that day had chosen to highlight its concern about the Alteration of Oaths Bill, then in its Second Reading in the House of Lords. The newspaper’s Leader Column argued that it was a backdoor attempt to allow Jews to sit in the House of Commons. The Bill was subsequently defeated.

Earlier, in April, there had been a majority within the House of Commons for a ‘Jewish Disabilities Bill’, of 288 to 230; not so in the House of Lords. The ‘Jew Bill’, so termed in the press, was opposed by the Earl of Shaftsbury and Bishop of Salisbury, for example, and it was subsequently defeated by a majority of 164 to 115.

    • There had been several types of Oath, those during the reign of William III directed against  “Catholic Pretender” and thus excluding Roman Catholics from public office. The provisions of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 resulted in a separate Oath to allow Roman Catholics elected as Members of Parliament to take their seat, and there was a separate one for Quakers, “yet if a person of the Jewish persuasion [elected as a Member of Parliament] were to go into the House of Commons and take an affirmation” he would be required to do so as “on the true faith of a Christian.” 

Saturday, 4th June 1853

Locally, the news around the village during the first weekend in June was mixed. Saturday’s edition of the Hampshire Chronicle confirmed what farmers already knew. After a prolonged cold Spring, the weather had eventually abated.

The milder temperatures were now leading to a good showing of young wheats and spring corn. Notwithstanding, the extent of land sown with wheat was down by 15 to 20 percent when compared with the previous year, which meant there was good prospect of favourable prices. That happy thought by the growers was offset, however, by concern about the ease with which supply would be procured from abroad, given the lack of duties levied on imported cereals since the repeal of the Corn Laws. Much would depend upon the prospects of imports from the Black Sea given present tensions in the area.

Francis Barnett

Up at the parish church, the Reverend Dennett was called upon to conduct the funeral of yet another infant in the village. Francis had been baptised at the church by his predecessor just over a year previously, in May 1852. Francis had been the third son of William and Esther Barnett. Their loss would have brought back memories of their two daughters who had also died as infants, aged one and four months, respectively, in 1847 and 1848.

William married Esther Newell in Aldershot in November 1844, aged 24 and 23. It had been Esther, not William, who was able to sign her name in the register. She was the daughter of the sawyer James Newell; it had been her mother Jane who had registered the death of Francis, attributing the cause as ‘Dentition’ after three days of convulsions.

One of several of that name, William Barnett, the child’s father, had been recorded in the 1851 Census as a gardener as West End. Otherwise listed as a labourer, he was the son of agricultural labourer James Barnett, a widower.

Charles Collins

The news that Charles Collins was dead had also begun to circulate that weekend. Not yet turned 60, he had been the master potter at the shop on the opposite side of the green to the smithy.

His funeral was to be held on Wednesday. The parish sexton, Thomas Attfield, would have been had time to brief the curate beforehand, alerting him to the prospect of many potters from the other side of Aldershot Heath attending the service. Thomas knew this well, having himself married into a family of Aldershot potters in 1830. His wife Rebecca was brother to Richard Chitty, their father John Chitty having been both a potter as well as the former parish clerk.

Charles’ niece would later travel to the market town of Farnham to register his passing and attribute his death to dropsy. The term then was used to describe the build up of fluids, such as in the leg or on the brain. No doctor had been called, as was typical for deaths in the village.

The niece was daughter of Charles’ brother William. Now aged 38, Mary had remained in the Collins family keeping house for her father and her uncle, as well as for all of her brothers before they left to marry. She had done so for over twenty-five years; her mother Sarah having died in February 1827. Her young sister, two year old Jane, was buried soon afterwards, in May 1827. 

At first, Hannah, her younger sister by four years, had been a help but she had left to marry in 1838. The brothers, Henry and William, had both been in the family home in 1841, Henry, like his father and uncle, then recorded as a potter. In 1845, Henry married Elizabeth Hatt. She was the daughter of Daniel Hatt,  recorded in the 1841 Census as a farmer in Bramshot Lane, Yateley. Henry had married well,  resulting  in them  moving to Cove to operate his own pottery based at White Hall Farm.

Mary’s brother William had married the next year, in 1846, to Charlotte Hore when he was working as a potter in Farnborough; she was a servant there, the daughter of a farmer from Mapledurham by the Thames in Oxfordshire. William and his wife had moved back to Aldershot, taking on the other remaining pottery located by the Bee Hive Inn.

The 1851 Census had recognised Mary as a potter in her own right.

Sunday, 5th June 1853

Reverend Dennett had a baptism to perform at Matins. It would be the fifth he had to conduct in the first nine weeks of his tenure as curate, the fees he received being a welcome addition to his stipend. 

John Matthews

Just how much Reverend Dennett would have been told about the parents of the infant John Matthews is less certain, nor of the extent to which the child’s parents had troubled family backgrounds.

The parents of the child to be baptised were Moses and Jane Matthews. The curate had not been present earlier in the year when his predecessor, Reverend Carey, had conducted the wedding of Moses Matthews and Jane Fludder; he had not, therefore, observed the bride walk up the aisle in a very expectant condition.

The curate had met others called Matthews four weeks previously in May when conducting the funeral of the infant Charles Young. The mother of that child had been Moses’ sister, Martha. Moses and his sister had shared tragedy in their childhood, both the death of their parents, their mother in 1843 and their father in the Farnham Workhouse in 1849, but also, before that, of a sister aged 13 in 1835 and the death of three brothers, variously aged 6 in 1836, 24 in 1839, 25 in 1842. 

=> Matthews Family [to be added later]

Moses Matthews was a carpenter, as the curate made sure to note in the baptismal register. Before their marriage, Moses had been a lodger at the Bee Hive Inn. They were now renting a nearby cottage and garden from the owner, Mr Hall of Alton.

Jane, the mother of the child to be baptised, had been raised by her mother in her grandparents’ home. At age 9, she then became part of a blended family when her mother having married in December 1837.  By 1841, the family were at the Kings Head, Frimley. Jane then had five half siblings: three from her mother’s marriage and two older children from her stepfather’s previous marriage. Jane had moved out by the time that family relocated to Fish Ponds in Farnborough in 1851. By then, Jane had become a mother herself, she and her infant daughter Lucy moving back to live in Aldershot with John Fludder, her uncle. Perhaps he had escorted her up the aisle on her wedding day and it was after him that the infant son being baptised was named.

The curate might have recalled meeting some members of the Fludder family before, when he had conducted his first wedding in the parish. That was of Jane’s Uncle William, a widower, who married Miss Carpenter at the start of April.

=> Fludder Family [to be added later]

Wednesday, 8th June 1853

The funeral of Charles Collins was not the first funeral for Reverend James Dennett had to conduct in Aldershot but there would still be surprise at the sight of so many gathering.  Not only was the Collins pottery a long-standing part of village life, the Aldershot potters were part of a much larger network of potters who for centuries had been producing what was known as the Borderware on either side of the Blackwater which ran between Northeast Hampshire and West Surrey. 

=> Borderware

Competition from the likes of Wedgwood in Staffordshire and Doulton in London had diminished the national significance of Borderware pottery. Josiah Wedgwood and others had deployed better designs and more industrial forms of manufacture, long distance transport made easier by canals and then railways.

Sketch map of potteries

Ex: ‘A Preliminary Note on the Pottery Industry of the Hampshire-Surrey Borders’ by  F W Holling, Surrey Archaeological Society, Vol 68, 1971.

There were many connections forged over the years between the potters in Aldershot and those based in Ash, Cove, Farnborough, Frimley and as far away as Pirbright. It was also not unusual for young men from one family to work in another family’s pottery. There were also several intermarriages.

Potters would meet incidentally when collecting the white clay from Farnham Park, when foraging on the heath to collect turf for drying, but also for family occasions, those marriages having created additional bonds between them.

The heath all about the River Blackwater was important for turf which was cut according to a system that allowed the growth to come back within an eight-year period. They used wood to fire their kilns. Turbary rights to Aldershot Common were important.

Aldershot Potteries

Charles Collins had worked one of the only two active potteries in Aldershot with his brother William and William’s daughter Mary who had also been recorded as a potter by the 1851 Census.

Charles’ death signalled that end of an era was fast approaching for the craft of making pots from clay in Aldershot. Pottery and brick-making had provided employment  in the village for many centuries. Even by 1841, there had been ten or more active potters. However, by 1851, there were half as many active potters, three being members of the Collins family.  The others were the two journeyman potters, Richard Chitty and his son John.

William Collins and especially his daughter Mary would have wondered, once the word was around about the death of Charles,  just how many they should expect at the wake after the funeral.

Whilst agriculture was the dominant activity in Aldershot, William would not have been the only one at Charles’ funeral with memories of what it was like when at least four potteries were active in the village.

The Collins Pottery

The main Collins pottery is marked as Plot 26 in the map drawn for the Tithe Apportionment Survey, shown at the foot of the left-hand panel below. It also features in the right panel, marked as Plot 357 in an extract of a map made around 1854.  

Charles’ older brother William knew the story of how the pottery had come to be in their family. 

William’s mother had been baptised Jane Cols in Aldershot in 1750, her parents James and Ann (Couls/Coules). William’s parents had married in 1767, his mother then 17.

William’s maternal grandmother, Ann, the daughter of John Baigent, inherited three copyhold properties in 1775. These included a “parcel of land commonly called the Park”, one acre in size, as well as a messuage, cottage or tenement, with outhouses buildings garden and orchard.

On her death, Ann’s will left part of her properties to her husband James; the parcel of land called the Park was left to John Collins of Aldershot, potter for his natural life and then to his son Henry Collins, William’s eldest brother. 

John Collins Family Group

When John Collins died in September 1800, William had been 15, Charles then aged only six. Their sister Elizabeth was eight.

It was then that the “messuage or tenement and potkiln and potshops with the land and appurtenances known as Park” passed to Henry. At age 32, he became head of the business, sharing the role as head of the family with his widowed mother.

The eldest sister Jane had already married ten years before, in 1790 to Robert Lloyd, a local farmer with a smallholding. She already had four of the nine children she would bear before 1815; the youngest, also called Robert, would latter marry Ann, the only daughter of the farmer Thomas Harding.

The second eldest brother John, also a potter, had also left home by 1800, marrying Mary Matthews.  Her siblings were Mercy (who married William Wheeler, the cordwainer), Sarah (who married William Hone) and Stephen Matthews, the latter being the carpenter whose family suffered many tragedies. John and Mary moved away, settling in Wallington, in Fareham Hampshire, which is where they were in 1841. John died in July 1847, his widow surviving him, living on an annuity in 1851 and described in a later census as a potter’s widow.

Richard, another potter, was three years older than William. He did not marry, but was likely working elsewhere, later referred to in 1827 as ‘Richard, a potter from Frimley’.

Ann had been next to wed, in 1805, to a potter called John Smith, a potter in one of the four local potteries: three of their first children were baptised in Aldershot between 1809 and 1814. John and Ann Smith were in Mytchett in 1841, John active as a potter.

    • Their eldest son Stephen was in Aldershot in 1841 as a potter, the 32-year old father of three young children, having married Henrietta Hennessy in August 1833 in the parish of Frimley. He was described there as ‘of this parish’ before returning to Aldershot. By 1851 Stephen was up by the wharf at Frimley as a potter, his two sons listed as potter and potter’s labourer.
    • Their son Charles had also married in Frimley at age 22 in 1836. He was also a potter, in his own household in ‘Mytchett’ in 1841, likely working with his father. By 1851, John Smith having died, Ann and son Charles continued the business at Mytchett, sharing a household which included Charles’ son John, baptised in Frimley in December 1837.

William himself wed in July 1813, to Sarah Hamarton. The marriage took place in Worplesdon, a village to the east of Aldershot, between Pirbright and Guildford. Eliza, the first of their children was baptised in October 1813 at St Peter’s Church in Ash, William listed as a potter living at Westwood in the Parish Worplesdon. Sadly, the infant Eliza Collins died at 15 months old, buried at St Michael’s Church in Aldershot in December 1814. William and his family moved back to Aldershot, their daughter Mary was baptised there in May 1815; the next four of their children were also baptised at St Michael’s Church. 

William’s wedding was preceded by what would appear to be a major family tragedy, the death of Elizabeth Collins, buried at St Michael’s Church on June 6th, 1813. Whilst no age was recorded, this was likely the sister Elizabeth who had been baptised in Aldershot as the daughter of John Collins in April 1792, therefore aged 21. She died of birthing complications, the baptism of Harriett, the daughter of Elizabeth Collins, listed as a servant, recorded at the same church on the same day, June 6th.  

The widowed Jane Collins died four years later, in March 1817.

Not long after, it was Henry’s turn to marry, at age 49, to Elizabeth Marshall at St Peter’s Church, Ash in July 1817.

William could never forget the three deaths in 1927 which came in such quick succession. The first, in January 1827, was that of his brother Henry, then in February that of William’s wife Sarah, followed soon afterwards in May by the death of his daughter Jane, aged only four. The cause of deaths is not known but the suspicion must be that of a contagious disease, such as smallpox, typhus of cholera.

At the death of Henry, the property called Park passed to his widow Elizabeth, with debts owing to his brother “Richard Collins of Frimley, potter”, to whom Elizabeth mortgaged the property for £150.

William’s brother Richard therefore took charge of the business. Richard was aged 50, Charles then aged 32.

When Richard died unmarried in February 1836, it was not William but his younger brother Charles who took over the pottery . Just prior to that, in 1835, the widow Elizabeth Collins had sold the holding called Park, including the pottery, for £220 to Charles, by then aged 42, who promptly mortgaged it to John Allen Ward of Farnham.

William, however, was also a beneficiary of his brother Richard’s will, bequeathed other copyhold properties which Richard had bought from Samuel Andrews, a farmer and butcher from Farnham. One condition was that William had to pay £100 to his sister Ann, who had married the potter John Smith, and a further £20 to her daughter Mary. William promptly mortgaged the properties for £110 to John Allen Ward of Farnham, auctioneer.

The 1841 Census records that William and his brother Charles shared a household in the house by the pottery, together with William’s daughter Mary and sons Henry and William. HIs daughter Hannah had left to marry in 1838.

By 1851, the household comprised William, Charles and Mary. Now, with his daughter Mary, there were just the two working the Collins pottery.

The Smith Pottery

William’s son, also called William, was operating the other pottery in the village. It was owned by Mr Hall, the brewer from Alton.

The location of the pottery is labelled as such near the top and centre of the right hand panel, just above the Bee Hive Inn, also owned by Mr Hall. The pottery is at Plot 11 in the earlier map shown in left hand panel, the Bee Hive Inn in Plot 8. The pottery is also marked in Plot 254 in the right-hand panel.

Both enterprises had previously been owned by ‘Thomas Smith of Frimley’. He was referred to as such in 1841 so as to distinguish him from the locally born Thomas Smith who was the local farmer of 30 acres at Rock Place Farm at the West End of Aldershot. 

    • The pottery and other nearby properties were recorded in 1841 as occupied by ‘Charles Knight and others’, presumably under a lease from Smith who was otherwise absent. One of the buildings might have been for Knight’s own purpose as a shoemaker as there is no indication that he was a potter. The ‘others’ referred to were likely potters. (By 1851 Charles Knight had moved to Gravel Hill, Lower Bourne, Farnham.)

Thomas Smith, although a baker from Newtown, Frimley, had married Hester Robinson, the granddaughter of the Aldershot potter James May. At his death, May’s properties had been distributed in 1835 to his eighteen grandchildren which was when the pottery and the Bee Hive Inn became available to Thomas Smith. In addition to that left to his wife Hester, Thomas acquired additional properties by purchase from other beneficiaries of the will, both directly and by purchase of a mortgage. They would be put up for sale and bought by Henry Hall in 1850. 

    • It is unclear what relation, if any, that John Smith, the potter who had married Ann Collins in 1805, was to Thomas Smith of Frimley.
The Fedgeant Pottery

The third pottery in operation in 1841 had been located at the top of Drury Lane (Plot 6 in the left hand panel). This had once been owned and operated by the Chitty family, acquired by the potter George Faigent in 1789 from Ann Chitty, the widow of the potter John Chitty. It’s owner at the start of 1841 was George’s son, locally-born William Fedgeant, had died at the age of 59, buried in February. Jane, his widow, inherited the pottery as well as a cottage; she was recorded as living in Morland Cottages, in the household of her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Fedjent, aged 75.

    • The surname had various spelling, including that of ‘Faggeant’ entered for a christening in the registers of St Michael’s Church as far back as January 1782.

With the death of her husband, and then deaths and departures of the young journeyman potters, the widow Jane ‘Faigent’ had become a laundress, listed as such by the 1851 Census. This suggests she had converted the pottery into a laundry: it certainly was not marked as a pottery on the map extract on the right hand panel.

When her mother-in-law passed away, Jane then shared a household with her daughter Elizabeth and her son-in-law and three small children. Elizabeth had married the baker Henry Elkins in 1845.  He had been living close by in 1841, lodging in the house (Plot 21) of the ‘meal man’ George Baker. 

The Gosden Pottery

That Henry Elkins was a baker by profession suggests another potential use for one of the other former potteries. This was likely the pottery which had belonged to Mr Gosden, the ‘house and premises’ on the corner of Drury Lane and the Street (Plot 15). 

When William Gosden first arrived into the village, he was a former potter, born in Cove in 1783 to parents Lucy and George. He was baptised at St Peter’s Church in Farnborough where his uncle, also called William Gosden, had married to Ann, the daughter of  the potter, Thomas Smith of Cove. (William Smith of Farnborough, Thomas’ son, who would later feature as a potter and farmer in the writings of George Sturt, was therefore Gosden’s younger cousin.) 

Gosden was also described as a potter in a will in 1806, the same year he married in Farnborough to Mary Wheeler. Their first two daughters, Caroline and Lucy, had been baptised at St Peter’s Church in 1808 and 1810, although the family were in Aldershot by 1817 for the baptism of their daughter Harriet. William’s daughter Harriett would survive him, but her older sisters Caroline and Lucy died in their early twenties. 

William’s wife Mary was only child and heir of John Wheeler from whom she inherited property in Aldershot when he died in 1815. Then, in 1818, William paid John Eggar £350 for a messuage (or tenement), a potshop and pot-kiln and a turfhouse and outhouses.

It is unclear when Gosden had ceased operating a pottery. His son George, who was born around 1820, and therefore a child when his father was acquiring farmland, never became a potter. By 1841, in addition to the former house and pottery (Plot 15), Gosden also owned two cottages and garden (Plot 13) and farm buildings and a yard (Plot 14) and about 20 acres of arable land, 11 acres of meadow and over an acre of land for hops. The 1841 Census recorded him as a shopkeeper and a farmer.

In 1828, William Gosden referred to as a potter, had paid Samuel Andrews, the butcher from Farnham, £850 for three parcels of land totalling 8 acres.  

    • Five years earlier, in 1823, Gosden had bought property from from John Chitty Stevens for £120, selling it on to William Tice for£145. Tice later bought two land parcels direct from John Chitty Stevens for £520.  

The 1851 Census, conducted shortly before he died in May, recorded him as a farmer of 30 acres, his role as grocer by then performed by his son George. He had served as an Overseer for the parish on three occasions, 1836, 1841 and 1850.

William Gosden had also worked four acres of arable land in two fields called (H)Owlings and Bush Field (Plots 315 and 317) which were said to be owned by Daniel Bateman. He was the miller at Bourne Mill in Farnham.

By 1853, Daniel, his wife Harriett and their five young children had moved to Aldershot, occupying occupying the premises in Drury Lane as Bateman’s Corn & Forage Merchants. The Rate Book recording Daniel as the owner and occupier of 4 acres of land on which stood a house called Owlands.

In 1836, Daniel had married Harriett Collins, the daughter of the Elizabeth Collins who had died of birthing complications, the sister of the potters, Charles and William Collins. Harriett was heavily pregnant at the time of Charles’ funeral.

Journeyman Potters

The village had several other journeyman potters. They included some  younger potters  living in Morland Cottages in 1841. One was locally-born William Mullard, 25, living with his mother and his brother. William died in January 1848, his older brother Daniel was dead not long after, by October 1849. Their father Daniel had owned property in 1795 before selling to William Newnham, a gentleman; Daniel continued to operate the smithy by the village green.

Another potter in Morland Cottages was younger still, Robert Mason, newly married at age 20 to Ellen Fludder. His younger brother William, another potter, had fathered Matthew Matthews. They had all left Aldershot by 1851, Robert moving to the household of another potter, his uncle James Mason who had like his father been born in Farnborough. His father, also called Robert ‘of Cove’, had been a potter, recorded as having property in Aldershot, although not that of a pottery, as far back as 1782 when it formed part of a sale to Thomas Buddle, the future owner of the Halimote Manor estate.

By 1851, John and Richard Chitty were the only family of journeyman potters remaining in the village. Likely they had been working at Smith’s pottery when the Mullard brothers had been working at Fadjent’s pottery.

Thursday, 9th June 1853

The funeral took place for Rebecca Barnett, aged 33 and a mother of three. She had been baptised as Rebecca Chandler at St Peter’s Church, Ash in 1820. Both she and George Barnett were recorded in that parish register as resident in Ash when they married in May 1845. Rebecca was able to sign her name but not George. Elizabeth, their first child, was baptised at St Peter’s in January 1846 but the baptism of their second child in 1850 was in Aldershot.

Jane Bullen had been in attendance at her death was which attributed to ‘Consumption’, endured by Rebecca over a four month period.

Tuesday, 14th June 1853

The Camp at Chobham opened, the preparations for which, via the press, had proved successful in attracting the public’s attention. Special trains had being advertised for the expected crowds of visitors.

Some of those expected to take advantage of the crowds were less welcome. Instructions had been issued from the Home Office “to send a number of efficient constables immediately” without delay twenty men and two sergeants from the reserve force of each division”.

The day itself began with “no less than three thunder storms swept over the common, each accompanied with .. dense and heavy rain”, as reported the next day in the London Evening Standard and extensively elsewhere.

Most of the military activity was concerned with arrival, by train and by foot, and with each regiment pitching their tents. First the Household Brigade of Guards, then the 50th Regiment, followed by the Rifles and the 42nd Highlanders.

There was praise for the preparatory work of the Royal Engineers and Sappers, but also reports of the heavy and broken ground elsewhere causing cavalry horses to have severe falls, causing several to be put down.

Thursday, 16th June 1853

The Morning Chronicle carried a small snippet from its ‘own correspondent’ that news had been received “by submarine telegraph” from Vienna that the Russians had entered the Danubian Principalities and that “a panic had ensued”. The same article declared that another source had contradicted the report.

The same newspaper had a digest of a long article in the French newspaper,  Le Pays, which contended that the “European Powers could not permit Russia to occupy the Moldovan and Wallachian provinces, because any such occupation, without a similar and simultaneous occupation by the Turks would be a direct violation of existing treaties”.

There was similar report in the London Evening Standard, noting the 1847 treaty of Delta-Liman, which also quoted the Berlin Temps, “a Government paper” in Prussia, as having stated that “the English Ambassador at Constantinople had been invested with extensive powers by the British Cabinet, with the restriction only that his lordship was not to consider the entrance of the Russian troops into the principalities as a declaration of war.”

The territories described above were one and the same. They had been a protectorate shared between the two parties at the end of the war in 1829 between Russia and Turkey. There had been various uprisings since against each associated with Greek Independence from Turkey and the move against Russian rule in 1848.

    • Much of those territories now come within Romania. 


What went unreported, and might have been only a source of rumour for most in the village, was that an application had been made on this day to enclose Aldershot Common.

The procedure under the Acts of ‘Inclosure’ was that application was made by persons interested in the land to be enclosed, representing at least one-third in value of the interests. The identity of the person or persons who had made the application is unclear.

An Assistant Commissioner was assigned to each application received, as part of the formalities of the enclosure process. A meeting was then called with fourteen days’ notice placed on the church door of the parish, and by advertisement. The latter likely meant a notice posted on the door of the Red Lion Inn.

Following his report, the Commissioners might then deposit a provisional order in the parish with notice of intent that the proposed enclosure would be put to the Secretary of State.

Application for enclosure had already been made for lands in the nearby tithings of Badshot and Runfold. By 1849, Binsted and Headley had already been subject to enclosure , of 990 and 1532 acres, respectively, followed by 108 acres at Bentley by 1851. The latter parish was the home of the Eggar family who would therefore have gained experience of both the process required and the benefits that could be derived.

Friday, 17th June 1853

The funeral done, Reverend Dennett wrote the name of Charles Chandler in the parish register. He recorded his age as 25 and that he was resident in Aldershot.

The cause of death is not known as none of that name and age was registered with the civil authorities, locally or anywhere else in England.

Nor was Charles Chandler resident  in Aldershot in 1851. It is possible that this was the Charles Chandler who was baptised at St Peter’s Church in Ash in August 1831, as was his cousin Rebecca in March 1820; she had been buried at St Michael’s Church eight days previously, on Thursday, August 9th, recorded under her married name, Rebecca Barnett.

Saturday, 18th June 1853

The weekend newspapers carried reports of the Camp at Chobham which had opened on 14 June. The forces assembled for the first ‘field day’ were estimated at between 8,000 to 10,000 strong. The Duke of Cambridge was at the head of the Cavalry Brigade; Lord Seaton, the commandment for the Camp, led the Infantry Brigades. The newspapers reported details of the four hours given over to various manoeuvres and skirmishes.

The day, however, was mired, in both senses, first by an initial thunder storm and then, at intervals, by what were reported as “showers of pelting rain”. With Chobham Common described as a wild, extensive and heath-clad tract of land, poor drainage meant that parts soon turned to mud.

Even as the Camp at Chobham had begun, plans were being made for a better location for training camp in the following year. In a letter written on this day to Lord Seaton, Viscount Hardinge, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, disclosed an even more ambitious plan. Hardinge wanted a permanent camp of instruction capable of operating all year round, without the need to repeatedly hire land and request annual grants from Parliament.

Monday, 20th June 1853

The week in the village began with the wedding of Mary Ann Barnett, the daughter of William and Ann Barnett, to William Kircher, a labourer from Farnham on Monday the 20th.  Reverend Dennett would have observed that the couple and the witnesses, the bride’s father and sister Caroline, had to make a mark when signing the marriage register.

William Kircher, now aged 22, was the younger of the two. He had been baptised in Farnham, at St Andrew’s Church, where Mary Ann, now aged 25, had been baptised two years earlier.

Mary Ann had been the eldest of five living with their parents in one of the cottages in West End in 1851.  It was owned by Stephen Barnett. By 1853, her elder brother William, with a wife and child of his own, was occupying another of Stephen Barnett’s cottages.

It is not clear where the newly weds, William and Mary Ann, went on to set up home; William is not listed in the Aldershot Parish Rate Book for July 1853. In 1851, William had been living in his father’s household in Badshot, together with three brothers, all like himself listed as agricultural labourers, and his four younger sisters. Their father, Reuben, was a farmer of 17 acres. The likelihood would seem to be that William’s bride moved to Badshot.

Tuesday, 21st June 1853

There was to be a royal review at Chobham. Visitors started to arrived to see the troops at drill, field operations and parades under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir John Colbourne, Baron Seaton. Queen Victoria herself paid a visit, first traveling by train to Staines and then by open carriage to the Camp.

The number of spectators who travelled to the Camp that day was estimated at 100,000, including those who had travelled by special excursion trains.

Review Chobham 21 June 1853 National Army Museum (Out of Copyright)

Wednesday, 22nd June 1853

Victoria was evidently impressed with what she saw, as shown in her letter from Buckingham Palace to her Uncle Leopold. She was, however, still preoccupied by worries about the Eastern Question.


Saturday, 25th June 1853

The Hampshire Chronicle carried report that, on the whole, the month’s weather had “been auspicious for the growing crops as could possibly be desired … The autumn sown Wheat has shot into ear, and that put in [during] the spring wears a more promising aspect than it did a fortnight ago.” The prospect for prices at market remained good, as the imports “expected from the Black Sea and Mediterranean have not come to hand”. There seemed to be a silver lining for domestic farmers in the mention made of “the uncertainty which exists as to how matters may terminate between Russia and Turkey”.

Most of the whole of page 3 of the Hampshire Chronicle was given over to an account of that earlier visit to Cobham by Queen Victoria. She had ridden upon a dark bay horse, to review her troops and then watch military manoeuvres and a mock battle. 

However, had any villagers decided to visit the Camp at Chobham on that Saturday morning, they would have been met with rain descending in torrents. It was sufficient to prevent the start of operations at the Camp and to deter many spectators. The weather had cleared up by noon,  and witnessed by Prince Albert and a party of distinguished foreign officers, the event was declared “the most brilliant field-day”.

Wednesday, 29th June 1853

By the following Wednesday, “owing to the fineness of the weather”, the number of visitors to the Chobham Camp increased. That was reported to have included both those of the aristocracy and “a very unusual number of fair[ground] equestrians upon the ground, who cantered in among the masses of troops or charged at the head of squadrons of cavalry”. The next day there was again to be a grand review attended by the Queen Victoria, her “illustrious visitors” taking luncheon at what was termed the Queen’s Pavilion.

Thursday, 30th June 1853

A letter is sent to Home Secretary Viscount Palmerston alerting him to the work of the Inclosure Commission and recommending that an enabling bill was put before Parliament to extend the life of the Tithe Commission which would otherwise expire in August.

=> July 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 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.



January 1853

January 1853

Talk about the weather was not idle, its severity having lasted over the Christmas period into the New Year.  Major storms from the southwest had brought high winds and flooding, causing serious damage to property all across the region.

Despite all of that, daily life in the village continued. It had to.

Livestock needed to be fed and tended. Over half of the population of England depended on agriculture for a living. In the village of Aldershot the proportion was about two-thirds. Farmers, agricultural workers and their families had to be up before the winter’s daybreak.

Settlement was scattered all across the lands in the parish that lay south of the open heathland, farmsteads and cottages located on North Lane, at West End and from Manor Farm down to Dog Kennel and along Boxalls Lane by the border of the Blackwater.

The Blackwater, a river in name, was generally little more than a stream. In recent months it had been in full spate, its course at Hampshire’s boundary edge threatening to cut the village off from its neighbouring Surrey parishes.

With no single centre to the village, shown below, any one of several locations could serve as a start to the story of this place.

The Church of St Michael the Archangel, stood high on the hill, was surely one candidate. As the geographic centre it was the central focus of regular social and religious communion. Other buildings in the immediate vicinity included not only the curate’s parsonage and the parish school, but also three houses whose occupants ranked amongst of the most important in the village. Close by was what had come to be referred to as the Manor House; Aldershot Lodge and Elm Place were both located along Church Lane East. The owner of Aldershot Place, the largest estate in the parish, lived half a mile further on.

Extracts from maps held in Aldershot Public Library, ‘Map referred in the annex of the Award for Inclosure of Aldershot 1855’. The name of a beer house is blanked out; otherwise the scene had hardly changed from 1853.

The area around Drury Lane might be a second candidate as this was the nearest the village had to a centre of industry and commerce. In addition to the obvious social attraction of the Bee Hive Inn, activities there included the main village shop, a bakery, a laundry and one of the two remaining potteries.

At the other end of what was known as Aldershot Street, stood the Red Lion Inn, not much more than ten minutes away. This, a third focal point for the village, was both an alternative social venue and a centre for auctions, business transactions and public meetings.

Let us, however, start this story at yet another candidate to be the centre of this community, the triangular-shaped village green. Set at the foot of the steep incline of Church Hill, this served as a junction connected the three others competing for our attention.

Located part way along the Street, regarded as common ground, the Green served as an everyday meeting place, at least in good weather. The village’s other pottery and one of its several shoemakers were on the northern corner of the green. At its apex, stood the village smithy, as suitable place as any at which to begin.

A New Year

Saturday was much like any other day all across the parish, even on a cold New Year’s Day. The smithy had to be open for business, the importance of horses and the blacksmith’s role in the manufacture and mend of tools adding to the significance of its locality by Aldershot Green.

There had been at least four blacksmiths since agreement for the house and smithy be taken from ‘the waste’ had been granted sixty years or so before. Henry Hone was now its blacksmith assisted by young George Ellis, a labourer’s son who lived opposite, on the other side of Church Hill. Henry, himself aged only 30, was supported in the business by his father James who kept the books.

At a break in the weather, children across the parish would be called upon to help with much needed repairs. Over four in ten in the village were aged under 15. Some boys would be sent out of doors to run errands. Some girls would be set to do household chores or look after the youngest. Doubtless, many of those remaining would just be told to get from under feet and to go out and play in whatever sunshine of the New Year, several agreeing to meet on the village green.

James Hone

It takes little prompt of imagination to envisage the figure of a burly man standing at the doorway of the smithy, enjoying the benefit of the heat radiating from the furnace inside. This evokes the everyday nostalgia associated with the village blacksmith, a mighty man with strong muscles and large and sinewy hands.

Rather than the blacksmith, hard at work and noisily busy inside, let this burly man instead be the blacksmith’s father, stood watching over his grandchildren play on Aldershot Green. The eldest of those boys is now aged eight, the youngest, named James after himself, just turned five. 

James Hone’s own sons had been able to play in the much warmer climes of the Greek island Corfu where he was stationed as a soldier. His son Henry had been very much the youngest of his three children, his world a heady mix full of make believe amongst the marching soldiers in colourful uniform. It was so different now for both of them in this quiet rural life in a village, away from all that military hustle and bustle.

James Hone was recorded in the 1851 Census as a Chelsea Pensioner, a widower and aged 62. He had enlisted almost forty years ago, when single and aged 24. That was in December 1813, when the 51st Regiment of Foot. had returned to England to raise a second battalion.

Several months after enlisting with the 51st, in August 1814, James had married in Bermondsey, London, by licence. His bride, Fanny Prince, was from Badshot, the small hamlet on the border of the two parishes of Farnham and Aldershot. Their first born was baptised three months later, in October, at the church at Aldershot, with residence stated as Badshot.

The 51st was dispatched to the Continent following Napoleon’s escape from Elba in February 1815. The regiment was present in June at Waterloo, the entry in his service record clearly indicating James’ status as a veteran of that decisive battle.

Along with others who were at the triumph which was accorded to the Duke of Wellington, James was awarded the Waterloo Medal. It was the first British service medal issued to those present in a conflict. Waterloo veterans enjoyed a favoured status in later years. That was especially so in the patronage extended to the officer class as the Iron Duke became a dominant force in British politics and all things military.

The death of Wellington in September 1852 had brought that famous victory to mind, still remembered in the village as all across the country from the national day of mourning declared for the Duke’s funeral that November. It might not be too fanciful to imagine the attention given to James Hone, his Waterloo Medal proudly on display.

James had stayed on with the 51st after the peace, promoted to corporal in August 1815. His wife was ‘on the strength’ of the regiment, their second child William baptised in Plymouth in July 1818 when the 51st was stationed there. James was later promoted to sergeant in April 1819, his third son Henry born in 1822 when the family were billeted in Corfu.

What might not have been widely known about this Waterloo veteran, was that having served as sergeant for seven years James Hone had then been reduced to the rank of private in January 1826. The reason is unclear. Perhaps this was a family secret, not even shared with his daughter-in-law.

In 1832, James’ son William had enlisted with his father’s regiment at the age of 14, joining the regimental band of the 51st. He later served in Australia and the East Indies. William was also promoted to sergeant, in February 1852, being assigned on a permanent basis to the West Kent Militia.

The youngest son Henry had not enlisted. Instead, he had returned to England with his parents after his father was discharged from the 51st with the award of a disability pension for his 22 years of service. However, Henry had learnt enough growing up amongst the military to be capable of starting at the smithy in Badshot, just across the county boundary.

Caroline Hone

Caroline was the blacksmith’s wife. She came from Farnham, her father a shoemaker. Many in the village would recall that ten years before she had been Miss Caroline Williams, the village schoolmistress, lodging with a family close by the pottery on the northern side of Aldershot Green.

The schoolhouse was up the hill opposite the parish church. Caroline’s journey to visit her parents on a Friday after school would have taken her from the schoolhouse along a long path across the fields of Grange Farm. The path led down to Boxalls Lane by the foot of Place Hill, also known as the lower road to Farnham. Then she would cross the Blackwater by the Pea Bridge to Badshot. Her route to East Street in Farnham passed by the smithy at which young Henry then worked.

Caroline was older than Henry. There must have been something that prompted the schoolmistress to be attracted to the blacksmith, about three years her junior. Obviously a strong young man, Henry would have had blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion, were his brother William’s army service record any guide. Perhaps there was also fascination with the way in which Henry told stories about far off islands in the Mediterranean, as though opening up the prospect of a new world to Caroline, beyond the confines of the market town of Farnham and its surrounding parishes.

In 1841, when Caroline was still Miss Williams, she had also often passed by this smithy in Aldershot at the foot of Church Hill. William Higlett had then been the village blacksmith, the smithy known as Paine’s Shop, even though James Paine had been dead for over five years before. Paine’s widow had remarried and then moved to Ash, selling the house and smithy to Mr James Elstone up at Aldershot Lodge. The purchase by Elstone in 1845 would have seemed an obvious one as the properties had belonged to the estate before the blacksmith James Paine had acquired them in 1822.

We cannot know whether Caroline had ever imagined that she would later move back to the village to be the blacksmith’s wife. Nor that part of the plan was that William Higlett and his family would move in the other direction in 1845 to take over the smithy at Badshot.

Now she was Mrs Henry Hone, almost ten years wed come September and a family of five children. The youngest, baby Albert, had been baptised last June up at St Michael’s Church.

Few would have known more about who-was-who across the whole of the parish than Caroline, despite not being ‘Aldershot, born and bred’. Not only was she its former schoolmistress, her husband Henry was one of the two men who had acted as the local enumerators for the Census taken in March 1851.

The choice of Henry Hone as a census enumerator, also serving as a constable in some years, said something about his social standing as blacksmith. It reflected well upon the quality of education he had received in a garrison school when his father served with the Army. Such schooling would have been much better than most children had in England, and certainly better than most of the men in the village.

The choice of the older man, William Wheeler, as the other enumerator also says something about the extent of his literacy and the numeracy associated with the demands of his trade. According to William Wheeler’s own hand, the Census recorded him as a cordwainer, a shoe maker like Caroline’s father. Both William and his wife had also used a full signature in the marriage registration book in 1832. William Wheeler had been both a neighbour and the father-in-law to the woman in whose household Caroline had lodged in 1841.

Caroline Hone would have had access to the household forms which her husband collected and, with the organisational skills of a teacher. We can only guess of the extent to which she and her father-in-law had played a significant part in collating the work of both census enumerators. The notion of strict confidentiality of the Census was not then a legal requirement.

Sunday, 2nd January 1853

Prayers said the next day by the Reverend Dr Henry Carey on the first Sunday Matins of the year would traditionally have included those for peace and stable government. This year, the assembled congregation would surely have looked to their curate also to lead prayers for better weather. That had been atrocious during the previous six months, the newspapers reporting it as the wettest since 1767, the year when records at the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford had first begun.

In consequence, the harvest of 1852 had been poor. The economy and well-being of the village was very dependent upon what could be grown in the gardens of the cottages as well as upon the produce sold by the farmers. The families of agricultural workers would need to turn to the store each had made of provisions and fuel for the fire, their main source of heat and light during the long nights of winter.

The curate was to perform two christenings on that Sunday Matins, of George Brown and Jesse Stonard. The new arrivals would be the fifth child for the family of Henry and Agnes Stonard and the seventh for that of Daniel and Jemima Brown. Both fathers were recorded in the baptismal register as labourers, although the 1851 Census had listed Henry Stonard as a tilemaker. He was from a well-established family of workers in the brickmaking business, living with his wife Agnes at the southern edge of the parish along Boxalls Lane in the household of her parents, James and Eleanor Nichols. The Browns’ household was located centrally, along the Street.

Baptisms, burials and weddings were matters of collective significance in the village, social events played out over the seasonal rhythm of the agricultural and ecclesiastical year. Mostly occurring in the larger families in the village, focus on such occasions, also served to counter any undue attention by the curate Dr Henry Carey upon the lives of the major landowners, whose society would have exerted a pull of attraction.

Reverend Dr Henry Carey

Henry Carey came from Guernsey, the son of gentry. He was an Oxford graduate with a doctorate. Reverend Carey had arrived into the parish as perpetual curate in 1838, the year of the Coronation of Queen Victoria. Likely, he and his wife Emily were  the most well-educated in the village.

They lived at the Parsonage, opposite St Michael’s Church, the 1851 Census recording that their household also included a live-in pupil from Guernsey called Alfred de Mesurier and three servants. Their household in 1841 had included two locally-born servants and four live-in pupils, one of whom was Carey Brock, Emily’s younger brother. He would later enter the ministry and be appointed to a position in Guernsey.

Perhaps not known widely amongst his parishioners, Henry and Emily were first cousins. They had married in 1833 shortly after Henry had been ordained by Bishop Sumner at Farnham Castle. Henry had recently published a biography of his father-in- law, the Reverend Thomas Brock, whom Bishop Sumner had appointed Commissary General of Guernsey.

John Carey, their shared grandfather, had been an elected Jurat of the Royal Court of Guernsey although dismissed with all other Jurats in a dispute with the Bailiff in the 1770s.

=> More on Henry and Emily Carey

Tuesday, 4th January 1853

Opinions about the status and intentions of Louis Napoleon III as the self-declared Emperor of France had featured throughout the New Year editions of the national and regional press. Particular attention had been paid to the delay in recognition by the Northern Powers of Continental Europe, particularly that by the Russian Czar. Letters from the Ambassadors of Austria and the German States had only just been presented at the French Court, the Patriot expressing the view that the phrase ‘Monsieur mon Free et bon Cousin”, generally used between sovereigns, might not be employed. 

Queen Victoria’s correspondence with her Uncle Leopold, King of Belgium, including joking reference to the newly crowned Emperor, serves as an early signal of the tensions in the Holy Land that would eventually lead to conflict in the Crimea:

Windsor Castle, 4th January 1853


Mrs Mary Barnett

The focus that day in Aldershot was the funeral of Mary Barnett. Her death was not unexpected, having reached the age of eighty-five. Living to such an age was hardly the norm but neither was she the only exception.

Despite the January weather, the pews of the parish church would surely have been full; Mrs. Barnett had been the hub of an extensive web of kinship. There were several other large family networks across this small village; the count of the individuals having the surnames of Robinson, Newell, Attfield, Bedford and Hughes particularly high, from as many as 20 up to 27 in number. Even so, the Barnett family was remarkable, with as many as forty-five individuals, one in every twenty, on Census Night in 1851. The Barnetts accounted for eleven of the 160 households in the village, perhaps double that if counting the marriage of daughters to be wives in families having different surnames.

Most of the Barnett family lived at West End but there were others working for the farms along North Lane. Like the majority of families in Aldershot in 1851, most of the men worked out in the fields for others as agricultural labourers and most women worked at home as wives and mothers in large family households.

Mary Barnett had not been a wealthy woman but she had also not been without means. She had been widowed in 1840 by the death of the farmer Henry Barnett. Her inheritance of property had followed the custom of the Crondall Hundred, of which Aldershot was part, passing to the surviving spouse unless explicitly stated otherwise. Moreover, Mary had been born into the Avenell family which itself had extensive holdings in the area. Her nephew James Avenell was a ‘hop planter of 156 acres’ owning Hale Farm and having property in Aldershot up at Deadbrooks, at the top of North Lane as well as a cottage that fronted on to the Street. After her husband died, Mary Barnett had first lived with her son Charles; then, by 1851, she had moved in with her eldest son Stephen who, on her death, now became the copyholder of several cottages.

One or other of Caroline, Henry or James Hone would likely have been amongst those huddled to one side of the muddy path amongst other villagers who had come to be seen to pay their respects. Members of the deceased’s extended family were slowly ushered in by the main door.

Some who attended the service within St Michael’s Church might have wondered why the funeral was being taken by Reverend Frederick Richard Stevens, the curate from the parish of Seal, and not by the Reverend Henry Carey.

The curate for almost fifteen years, Henry Carey was soon to be moving on to become rector in another country parish. Had only a few heard about that before Christmas, the rumours in the village would doubtless have started in earnest. His absence from the parish would be noticed, not only at the funeral services for two of his parishioners but also later for Matins on Epiphany Sunday. The latter service was taken instead by young Reverend James Dennett, newly ordained and seeking his first position as curate.

Mr James Elstone

Mr James Elstone would almost certainly have been present at the funeral service for Mrs Barnett. His wife, in the black of mourning hidden beneath the wrap of winter clothing, was Mrs Barnett’s granddaughter, Stephen Barnett’s eldest.

Mr Elstone had significance in the village. Although not born in the parish, he had arrived into the village in his mid-twenties when his father, also called James, bought Aldershot Lodge in 1822. James Elstone Junior, as he was sometimes still known, commanded respect in several ways, not just that he was master of Aldershot Lodge, reputed to have stood since before the Reformation.

Like his father before him, James was very much an enterprising farmer, a specialist in hops and in cattle. The 1851 Census records him as a farmer of 290 acres, most of which were in neighbouring Surrey parishes where he operated in he role of a tenant farmer. The land he owned in Aldershot included the arable fields that ran down alongside Church Hill and the great meadow which stretched down from Aldershot Lodge towards the Red Lion. He employed 30 men, also owning additional hop fields, the village smithy and some brickfields.

James Elstone had managed farms in his own right in and around Ash during the 1830s and 1840s, on record in newspapers for winning prizes at the Farnham Cattle Show. He had taken the opportunity during one after-Show dinner in 1845 to complain of government neglect of the interests of farmers, citing the injury done to good farming land by the railroads. This was doubtless about the loss to the railways by compulsory purchase of the land which Elstone worked in Ash at Foreman’s Farm.

Elstone’s opposition to the railways might not have been typical of landowners who had stood to benefit from the compensation that was paid to them. It seems that, although he owned some land himself, James Elstone Junior had the mentality of a tenant farmer rather than a land proprietor, keen to extract produce and value resulting from his husbandry. In reply, George Nicholson of Waverley House, whilst acknowledging the loss, had argued for progress and exalted the benefits to the farmer of the railway.

=> More on the Elstone family

Mr Richard Allden

The social standing of Mr Allden suggests that he would also have been present amongst the mourners at the funeral service for Mrs Barnett.

There was also that matter of the family link which James Elstone had to her. Richard and James had developed a strong friendship, even to the point of sharing a newspaper subscription.

If any two men were to be thought of as representing the village elite in 1853, then Richard and James would be amongst the nominees, especially Richard as the Alldens were a well-established family of yeoman farmers in Aldershot, with christenings at St Michael’s dating from at least 1730 when his grandfather Joseph Allden was baptised.

The senior branch of the Allden family was now across the County boundary in Surrey, an eldest son having inherited the extensive estates from his uncle, George May. Notwithstanding, Richard had himself inherited holdings passed down the junior branch. This amounted to 170 acres, much of which stretched south towards Boxalls Lane where he also owned brickworks. Richard Allden’s local holdings were second in size only to the 210 acres of the Aldershot Park estate in the possession of Charles Barron Esq, a land proprietor from London.

Both Richard and James were active on the Vestry which exercised local governance for the parish. Now in their early fifties, each had served as Overseer more than once in past years, as had their fathers before them; they were now the two representatives for the parish on the Board of Guardians of the Farnham Poor Union. However, Richard Allden may have had the greater significance in the parish as he was also the only resident member of the consortium who held the right to the collect the tithes and appoint the curate.

=> More on the Allden family

Monday, 10th January 1853

The church calendar recognises the Twelfth Day of Christmas as the beginning of Epiphany and special dedication on the first Sunday following. In the rural calendar, the day after was named Plough Monday to mark the start of agricultural activity when traditionally the husbandmen of the parish resumed their work with the plough. In days past that was an occasion for playful festivity all around the parish, including the practice of wassailing, when carols were sung as the villagers went from one grand house to another seeking reward. There is none to say that such revelling did not take place in Aldershot on Plough Monday, although the newspapers of the day, including that of the Hampshire Advertiser in January 1853, noted such celebrations for the date were now something of the past.

Despite the weather, it seems likely that Plough Monday would have featured some mention of the success of Stephen Porter. He had won £3 as the “best ploughman, with two horses … servant to Mr. Richard Allden” at the year-end meeting of the North East Hants Agricultural Association held in Alton. The prize for best ploughman with four horses had been won by a man working for Mr Samuel Eggar, the absentee owner of Manor Farm and the Aldershot Halimote.

Wednesday, 12th January 1853

The Reverend Henry Carey continued to be away from the parish on the Wednesday following when the second funeral in January was held. The service was taken instead by the Reverend Stevens. As an outsider, he would know even less about  the deceased than he had earlier in the month for the funeral of Mrs Barnett.

The occasion would have been altogether much more sombre, even the weather that day seemingly turned for the worse. The deceased was Frederick Fludder who had died a week previously on Wednesday 5th January. Frederick was an agricultural labourer, aged only 16. His stepfather had reported his death on the following Saturday stating that the death was from a three-week bout of bronchitis.

The family lived at the top of North Lane, on the margin of the village beyond Deadbrooks. That a cottage, garden and yard had once belonged to his grandfather, George Fludder. He had been one of the many smallholders in the parish, owning and farming about two acres of land; he was also working as a butcher at the time of Frederick’s birth. Frederick’s grandparents had both been baptised in Ash, at St Peter’s Church, but George and Sarah Robinson had married in Aldershot.  During their long marriage since 1787, they had raised ten children and at least two grandchildren in their household, including Frederick.

Frederick had been baptised in May 1836. The parish register at St Michael’s noted him as baseborn, the illegitimate child of Mary Fludder. The youngest of those ten children, she was the daughter who had stayed behind after the others had all left.

Five years after Frederick’s birth, his mother Mary Fludder had married in October 1841 to an agricultural labourer from Ash Common. James Wolf had then moved in to the household of his new wife’s elderly parents. George and Sarah were then in their eighties. George died less than four years later, in August 1845, aged 86. Frederick then came more directly under the authority of his stepfather who by then had two children of his own with Mary. Frederick’s grandmother passed away five years later in November 1850, his stepfather, then with four children of his own, in almost uncontested command.

Frederick’s mother had a large number of older brothers and sisters, providing hime with an extensive family network across the village. He had many uncles, aunts and cousins, varying widely in age. Two cousins about the same age as Frederick were two sons of his Uncle John. George (aged 19) and William (16). Now a widower, Uncle John was an agricultural labourer with a complex household, not the only one in the village. In addition to John’s two sons there was his older brother William and their niece Jane Fludder, aged 25, together with her small child called Lucy. Cousin Jane was the daughter of Mary’s older sister Eleanor. 

Frederick’s Aunt Esther was the eldest of his mother’s sisters. She lived in North Lane having married the sawyer George Hughes in 1833. That link provided an even larger kinship network for the Fludder family as George Hughes was one of thirteen children. Although many of those had left the village there were twenty of that name in village in 1851. George’s brother Thomas Hughes, another Sawyer, also lived in North Lane; he was father to thirteen of Frederick’s cousins.

Saturday, 15th January 1853

Reverend Dr Henry Carey returned to his parish in time for a second and happier event for the Barnett family. The village was to have another Mary Barnett through the marriage of Mary Seymour to Richard Barnett, both of this parish.  Mary was listed as a minor, perhaps only 15 years old. There was no subsequent baptism in the parish or within the locality around this time; any miscarriage before birth would not have been publicly recorded.

Mary was able to sign her own name in the marriage register; Richard could not and had to make his mark. The two witnesses of the name Barnett also signified by making their mark. The curate may have noted that Mary was the daughter of a labourer, but he probably did not know her circumstances. In 1841 her father John Seymour had been a blacksmith in the village of Froyle, aged 35, with a wife and young family, including Mary, then aged 3. Ten years later, by 1851, Mary’s father John was in the Alton Workhouse, recorded as a pauper blacksmith. Mary had become a domestic servant listed as aged 13 as born in Froyle, at Ash Green to the wealthy widow Rebecca Younge; Mrs Younge had died in November 1852.

In 1851 Richard had been a servant in the household of the Ann Harding, the widow of Thomas the farmer of Shearing Farm. Richard was an agricultural labourer like his father, another Richard Barnett.

After their marriage, the young couple rented a cottage near the Bee Hive Inn owned by Mr Hall.

A New Government

Newspapers, both regional and national, gave prominent coverage during January to the policy intentions of the ‘coalition’ Government of Whigs and ‘Peelite’ Tories led by Earl Aberdeen. 

The Peelites supported the Free Trade policies of Sir Robert Peel who had split the Tory Party with the abolition of the protectionist Corn Laws in 1846. On those grounds alone they would not find favour amongst the farmers in the village, James Elstone having voiced opinion against the abolitionists in meetings at the Farnham Cattle Show the year before.

Sir James Graham credited members of the Coalition with having abolished slavery throughout Britain’s dominions, emancipated Catholics, passed the Reform Act, repealed the Corn Laws and established Free Trade. With rising concern over the state of Britain’s defences the Coalition were also intent upon military reform. Ironically, the death in September of the Duke of Wellington, the hero of Waterloo, had made that easier, although there would be resistance amongst some of the military establishment. The Iron Duke and his policies had dominated thinking and proved an obstacle to change; he had continued to sit in the House of Lords, retaining his position as Commander-in-Chief and membership of the Cabinet until his death at age 83.

Speeches made in the Lords and the Commons in January set the tone for the new Government. They contained the seeds of internal contradiction which would later erupt. Earl Aberdeen affirmed his commitment to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of foreign nations “with the great object [of] the maintenance and extension of free trade and the commercial and financial system established by the late Sir Robert Peel”. In the House of Commons, Viscount Palmerston spoke from the despatch box to explain Government intentions.

Palmerston had dominated diplomacy in Europe for decades as Britain’s Foreign Secretary, associated with the policy of gun-boat diplomacy. He had  been obliged to resign from that post when in the previous Administration for upsetting the Queen and her Consort. Popular in the country and in the House of Commons, Palmerston was regarded as essential in order to ensure a working majority for the Coalition.  A compromise was reached and he had agreed to join the new Cabinet as Home Secretary. This position gave him both formal oversight over reform of the militia and a platform from which to voice opinion about other matters associated with the defence of the realm. 

Viscount Hardinge

Almost all the incoming Cabinet were of aristocratic birth; the exceptions included Viscount Henry Hardinge. A seasoned commander in the Peninsular War, Henry Hardinge had been rewarded for his tenure as Governor-General of Bengal with a generous pension and a place in the Lords. Viscount Hardinge was regarded as an able and reforming administrator. Having succeeded Wellington as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, he had agreed to stay on in the Cabinet as part of the new Government. As with others in the Cabinet he favoured reform of the regular army and the militia, also enjoying the confidence of Prince Albert.

Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge, (James Faed, 1851)

Viscount Hardinge would have significant impact upon the future of the village, even if very few in the village knew much about him in January. Doubtless, former soldiers like James Hone, as a veteran of Waterloo, would have known him by reputation. Captain George Newcome who now occupied the Manor House was likely another. Several more might have recognised the name, given his role in organising the funeral of the Duke and the extensive coverage it had received in the country’s newspapers.

=> February 1853