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.




The plan to enhance search on people is twofold.

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

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

This is very much a work in progress

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

Richard Allden

Reuben and Thomas Attfield 

Charles Barron Esq.

Reverend Dr Henry Carey

The Cawson Family

John Cawood and Mary Hall

Reverend James Dennett (& Very Reverend William Wilson)

The Dutton Family

James and Caroline Elstone

The Hone Family

The Hughes Family

The Knowles Family

Captain George Newcome

Naomi York / Snowden

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

These include:

William Cobbett

John Eggar of Aldershot and Bentley

Viscount Hardinge

The Mangles Family

The Tichborne Family

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

Charles and Raleigh Viner

Duke of Wellington

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