Newell Family

There were twenty four in the village with the name Newell, as reckoned by the 1851 Census. Many were direct descendants of Francis and Mary Newell.

Francis Newell and Mary Beagly married at St Andrew’s Church on Christmas Day in  1793. They were both from Farnham but had settled in Aldershot, likely Francis then working as a labourer on the Manor Farm estate. Together, they had raised at least eight children; Mary was aged 40 when the youngest was born.

Family Group of Francis Newell Senior

Francis lived until the age of 80, his funeral held at St. Michael’s Church in October 1849.  His wife Mary died before him, aged 64 in 1834, and by 1841 Francis was living with his eldest daughter and son-in-law James Fludder on what was known as Arnsted Lane, just north of Boxalls’ Lane.

It is unclear what became of the eldest son, also called Francis, nor of the sons called Henry and William.

Francis’ second son James was baptised at the parish church in February 1797, He married Jane ‘Lloyde’, the daughter of the farmer Robert Lloyd, in the same church in 1819.

Francis was listed as a labourer for the baptism in Aldershot of their first child in 1820, and again in 1822 and 1825.

In 1827, following the (private) baptism of Jane, who sadly died soon afterwards, and in 1828 for that of Francis, he was listed in the parish register as a sawyer. This changed occupation occurred again for the baptisms at the Church of St Peter & Paul in Godalming of Robert in 1830 and of the twins Ellen and Emma in 1834, the latter noting Francis as a sawyer from Farncomb.

 In 1851 the family were living by the Manor House with two teenage children, both noted as having born in Godalming. The family is recorded living in Godalming by the 1841 Census with three elder sons, one listed as a sawyer and named James like his father.

Family Group for James Newell

By 1851, James’ son James was also in Aldershot as a sawyer. The Census recorded his household in North Lane as having five children, all born in Aldershot, the oldest now aged 9. His wife Eliza had been born in Egham.

Francis’ son John had become a shoemaker. His household in Badshot Lea in 1851 included six children, all but the youngest born in Aldershot. The eldest was  then aged 14 and also listed as a shoemaker. The youngest was newborn, listed as born in Farnham, as was John’s wife Louisa.

Charles, another of Francis’ sons, had been living in Badshot Lea since at least 1841. His wife Susan (nee Underwood) died the previous year leaving him a widower with three small children, the youngest of whom was with him in 1851 together with Charles’ brother George. Both were listed as agricultural labourers.

Thomas Newell, Francis’s fifth son, had married Jane Attfield at the parish church in 1826. Both had to make their mark in the register.

Family Group of Thomas Newell

Thomas would seem to have remained on the Manor Farm estate in a tied cottage. By 1841 he and Jane were parents to eight children, from new-born to Francis, their eldest, aged 15. Three more children were evident in the return of the 1851 Census.  That listed Thomas as a farm labourer living close by Woodbine Cottage. Three of his sons, aged from 11 to 20 were also listed as farm labourers, three of his youngest four children recorded as  ‘scholars’.

Francis, an agricultural labourer, was lodging at the Red Lion Inn at the time of the 1851 Census. By 1852 he had left for London where he and Jane Stonard, of Dog Kennel, had married in Shoreditch; he became a leather cutter in London where he and Jane raised a family.

His daughter Ann had entered domestic service, as was usual for the eldest daughter in a large family of agricultural workers. She had secured a position in Shalford, Surrey, with the banker, Samuel Haydon, who was Mayor of Guildford in 1851. 

Jane had also entered domestic service and in 1851 was in the household of the younger John Eggar of the family of Bentley was now a bailiff in Alton.

    • John Eggar had once been in charge of Manor Farm where his daughter Emily born, baptised in 18xx at St Michael’s Church, Aldershot. Henry’s sister Jane was married in July 1852 to George Harris, a farm labourer for Moses Mather, the bailiff of East Wyke Farm, Worplesdon.

Mary was another who became a domestic servant: in 1851 she was aged 18 and a kitchen maid at Braboeuf Manor House, Saint Nicholas, Guildford in the large household of Reverend Henry Shrubb, recorded as “not having the cure of souls”. Two years earlier, he had married the wealthy widow of Major Arthur Wight, late of the East India Company. 

The son Henry had only recently left home to marry Jane Barrett in November 1853.



April 1853

April 1853

The arrival of the young curate added to the sense of change in the village, providing an opportunity to see the place with fresh eyes. The talk amongst the farmers was of auctions and the weather, the arrival of Spring bringing renewed hope for improvement in agricultural activity.

Nationally, the focus was on the upcoming budget from the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Ewart Gladstone. With continuing concerns about the tensions in Turkey between Russia and France, there was also keen interest in the return to Constantinople of Britain’s Ambassador, the recently ennobled Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe.

Saturday, 2nd April 1853

As for the weather, it was wet.

“Towards afternoon of yesterday the weather
… suddenly changed its mind and gave us another spice of its quality.
About six o’clock the rain came down in torrents and
continued to fall without intermission till six o’clock this morning.

The weekend edition of the Morning Advertiser went on to declare,

“.. the month of March,
in place of coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb,
came in like a bear and has gone out like a tiger.”

Regardless, one advertisement in the Hampshire Chronicle that Saturday was sure to have grabbed the attention of farmers in the village. Auctioneers Trimmer and Hewett would be putting 53 acres of hop and arable under the hammer. Lands in neighbouring Runfold, Tongham Moor and Seale were to be sold in eleven lots at the Bush Hotel in Farnham, at three o’clock a week on Tuesday.

The back page of the Hampshire Chronicle carried a snippet of news which might have passed unnoticed, having little apparent significance at the time. Mentioning the extensive encampment of troops on the race ground at Chatham, it noted that decisions were being taken on the selection of locations for Summer camps of instruction, with grounds near Sandhurst and Ascot Heath being considered.

Captain Newcome

Another entry in the Hampshire Chronicle likely to have been read with possible curiosity was on behalf of the ‘Hants County Hospital’ in Winchester. Beneath news that the physician for the week would be Dr Hitchcock, there was the announcement of a new subscriber, none other than “Captain Newcome, Aldershot Manor, near Farnham”. He was listed as having taken out subscription to the value of £1- 1s.

As recorded in the 1851 Census, he was ‘late Captain’ of the 47th Infantry, his rank still used as his formal title. Captain George Newcome had not long been in the village, although, with effect from March 25th, he now served alongside Charles Barron as a churchwarden. He had taken over from Mr Barron to chair the Vestry, as though signalling a more significant change.

The entry in the 1851 Census stated that Captain Newcome owned 63 acres, employing two labourers and a boy, in what was the fourth largest land holding in the parish, in a house which was second only in terms of grandeur to that of Charles Barron Esq. .

Newcome had bought the Manor House estate only seven years before, in 1846. He was not, however, as might have been implied in snippet in the Hampshire Chronicle, the owner of ‘Aldershot Manor’. When John Eggar had sold what the Rate Book had then referred as the ‘Great House’ to Matthew Bridges in 1842, the ‘Aldershot Manor Halimote’ had passed to his brother Samuel Eggar. And, in any event, there was surprise in store about what that meant.

With Newcome on Census Night were his wife Harriet, five servants and three visitors. All had been born outside the parish. The visitors included Charles Short, together with his wife and daughter, recorded as a West India Merchant and also a former Captain. Charles Short had served in the Coldstream Guards. He had probably been present at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, as had Harriot’s brother, Charles Andrew Girardot, also of the Coldstream Guards. In fact, when Charles Short had been promoted to Ensign ‘without purchase’ in 1814, he had replaced Harriot’s brother who had been promoted, also without purchase, to the rank of Captain. These were military men promoted on the basis of merit; Girardot was destined later to reach the rank of Colonel.

In contrast, George Newcome’s military career of 15 years and 8 months was ‘by purchase’ and ‘by exchange’; his advance could be considered to have been well crafted. He began as an Ensign with the 14th Regiment of Foot, ‘exchanging’ within a month to join the more illustrious 88th Foot, later to be stationed in the Ionian Islands. As Lieutenant in the 88th, at the death of his father, he become a Captain the 47th Regiment ‘by Exchange’, paying half pay to another, and briefly serving at that rank in the West Indies in 1841.

His appointment and status as an army captain would have assisted George Newcome to marry well, as he did in May 1844 to Harriot Sophia Girardot in Little Bookham, Surrey, the ceremony conducted by her brother, the Reverend John Girardot. They came from a French Huguenot family once based in Derbyshire where their father had been High Sheriff. John Charles Girardot had moved to the Little Manor House, Little Bookham by 1841, then aged 70, with his unmarried daughter Louisa.  He died in July 1845, a year after Harriot’s marriage.

George and Harriot Newcome moved to Aldershot, into what was known as the Manor House  in 1847. George Newcome might already have known something of the area as two of his sisters had earlier married into the Mangles family who were settled close by at Poyle House, Tongham and in Woodbridge, near Guildford.

=> More about the Newcome family, and who really owned Manor House.

=> More about the ‘Mangles Brothers’ in later chapters.

The Second Panic

The same newspaper reported the story about a deputation sent to Paris with document signed by 4,000 merchants, bankers and other commercial men from London:

The object of this remarkable document is to remove the impression,
alleged to be existing in the minds of the French people, that the people of England entertain an unfriendly feeling towards them.

The Emperor Louis Napoleon had addressed the deputation in English, professing his desire for peace. He wished to counter the contrary impression in the editorials of the British press.

Richard Cobden M.P. was later to describe the years leading up to 1853 as ‘The Second Panic’, triggered in December 1851 by the coup d’etat led by Louis Napoleon. Subsequently re-elected as President of the French Republic, the nephew of Bonaparte then declared himself Emperor in December 1852.

Many former military and naval officers had taken to writing pamphlets and letters to the national press, as well with articles in the two weekly periodicals, the Naval and Military Gazette and the United Services Gazette. An alarm was sounded about French intentions. After four years of reduction in military and naval expenditure, a rapid growth in the prosperity of the country had provided the Treasury with a surplus funds.

Partly in response to what Cobden termed ‘invasion-panic’ amongst the public in 1852, much amplified by the press, the Government had introduced a Local Militia Bill. This proposed the enrolment over three years: at first the plan was for 70,000 men, then 100,000 and finally the total would rise to about 120,00 in the third year. In the event, the passing of an amendment to that Bill was the trigger for the fall of the Whig Government from which Viscount Palmerston had been excluded two months earlier.

    • Palmerston had previously been the long-running role as Foreign Secretary, popular in the Commons and the country for his patriotic stance. However, he was seen to have exceeded his authority by providing approval for the coup d’etat by Louis Napoleon of December 1851, consulting neither his Prime Minister nor his Queen. He had been obliged to resign. 

A Minority Tory Government came to power, introducing a new Militia Bill. Gaining the support of Viscount Palmerston, who vigorously championed the measure, the bill was passed, granting the Government authority to raise 80,000 men. When that Minority Government fell at the end of 1852, a Coalition Cabinet was formed headed by Lord Aberdeen. That included Viscount Palmerston at the Home Office with direct responsibility for the Militia.

As Cobden was to write,

“Such was the state of feeling in the Spring of 1853.
The nation had grown rich and prosperous with a rapidity beyond precedent … it seemed only a question upon whom we should expend our exuberant forces – whether on France or some other enemy”

Items from the United Services Gazette found wider readership through their repeat in other newspapers. One such was that stated in the London Evening Standard about how Viscount Hardinge, Commander-in-Chief was advancing his reforms of the military. He had expressed the view that “the efficiency of a corps was materially deteriorated by being cut up into detachments”. He believed that towns would now have to find their own police, “the British Army spared a duty that did not properly belong to it”. The same report noted that the 2nd Battalion of the Life Guards would encamp on Bagshot Heath early in May.

It was later reported that Hardinge had made a new rule that he would not appoint any candidate to a commission unless he had been on the list for twelve months, “however powerful may be the interest used in his behalf”.

Viscount Hardinge had been encountering resistance to the reforms he had been pursuing since his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Army last September. Prominent amongst the ‘Old Guard’ was Lt General Sir George Brown, appointed Staff Officer and Adjutant-General in 1850. He had been passed over for the post of C-in-C at the death of the Duke. Brown was loyal to the former regimental system associated with Wellington and resentful of Hardinge’s “restless propensity towards innovation”.

Hardinge was not unarmed as a reformer, however, nor was he alone in proposing change. He himself has also been close to Wellington, and indeed was the Duke’s nominee as his successor. Moreover, he brought a breadth of experience to the post. He shared his plans with the long-time proponent of army reform, General John Colborne (Baron Seaton). Neither were from wealthy families, they had both advanced with successful military command and had experience as in colonial administrator, Hardinge in India and Seaton in Canada and the Ionian Islands. Hardinge had also been both the Master of the Ordnance and a former Secretary at the War Office. Despite not sharing much of their politics, he had the support of the men in the Cabinet, including the current Secretary of War, and he was well connected with the Palace.

Viscount Hardinge had been in the news for other reasons. The Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal had reported on April 1st that “The London correspondent of the Liverpool Standard states ‘beyond all probability of doubt or cavil’ that Lady Peel was about to be married to no less distinguished a stateman and warrior than the present Commander-in-chief, Viscount Hardinge.”

Although the date was long known as April Fool’s Day, the story was syndicated across the country by other regional newspapers as though it were true. It eventually prompted reportage to the contrary:

A stupid paragraph … has been going the round of the newspapers.
Lord Hardinge is a married man, his wife being the sister of the present Marquis of Londonderry.
The absurdity of the report … is manifest to all who are aware that
… Lady Emily Hardinge .. is alive and well and residing with Lord Hardinge, who is a most devoted and attached husband.

A Village Wedding

The state of the weather was regarded as of more importance by several others in the village that Saturday. That was especially so for the Fludder family who gathered once more at the parish church. Their ardent wish after Friday’s downpour was for the chance of sunshine to match the occasion of the wedding of William Fludder to Miss Jane Carpenter.

For the groom’s sister, Esther Hughes, the year was only three months in and already there had been three family gatherings at the Church of St Michael. First, there was a funeral in January of her young nephew Frederick, then another in February for her mother-in-law, Mary Hughes. Fortunately, those sad occasions were followed in March by a much happier event, that of the marriage of young Jane, Esther’s niece. And now there was to be a wedding of Esther’s older brother William. Aged 57, he had been a widower for over twenty years. His first wife Mary had died in 1832, only two years after they were wed.

A year or so before this second marriage, William had jointly occupied the family’s cottage in North Lane with his brother John who was also widowed. William’s forthcoming marriage had prompted the two brothers to subdivide the family home in North Lane into two cottages: the Rateable Value of £4 then assessed as £2 each. The household beforehand had included John’s two teenage sons and their niece Jane Fludder with her infant daughter. Jane had recently moved out having herself married only two weeks before, to Moses Matthews.

Caroline Hone, the blacksmith’s wife, would very likely be another at the wedding. She was second cousin to the bride; she and Jane Carpenter were of a similar age. Jane’s mother had been first cousin to Caroline’s father Thomas Williams and to her uncle James Williams the Chelsea Pensioner, all baptised in Farnham.

Had the weather held, the bride would have processed up the steady incline of Red Lion Lane and then along the avenue of tall elm trees in Church Road, the initial pink blossom turned bright green as a sure sign of Spring. Although unmarried, Jane was not herself, however, in such an early bloom of youth.  She was 35. She had been the sole companion to her widowed mother for most of those years.

Seemingly, Jane was an only child, made an orphan when aged only four. Her father had been a schoolmaster, buried in 1822 at the same church at which she was now to be married.

      • The link between Jane’s father as schoolmaster and Caroline’s selection as village schoolmistress is suggestive. However, John Carpenter had died in 1822 when Caroline would have been only four years old, the same age as Jane. 

The bride’s parents had married there, many years before in 1809. Her mother, then Mary Williams, had to make her mark in the marriage register. Now it was Jane, like her father, who was capable of signing her name in the register and it was her husband who had to make his mark, even though he was a shoemaker.

Jane Carpenter and her widowed mother had shared a household two doors up from the Red Lion Inn, her mother, listed in 1851 as in receipt of parish relief. Passing away in February 1852, Mrs Carpenter had been aged 77. Only then it seems had Miss Jane been free to marry the man twenty years her senior.

The curiosity amongst the congregation that day was prompted by more than the advanced ages of the bride and groom. The clergyman officiating looked so young in comparison. He was unlike his predecessor in very many ways, not only his youth but some might have discerned an ‘ampshire accent beneath the mannered speech of a minister.

More eyes were on the young man when he conducted Sunday Matins the next day.

Sunday, 3rd April 1853

James Dennett’s time in the cities of Southampton and Cathedral city of Winchester would have provided him with a rich experience, exposing him to Baptists, Independents and various type of Wesleyan as well as those of the Roman Catholic faith. There were also soldiers garrisoned in both cities.

Aldershot would have seemed a quiet and suitable place for Dennett to have his first parochial appointment, a rural parish of almost universal Anglicanism. Like his predecessor, he might have wondered whether his life now would be full of baptisms, weddings and funerals. Fortunately, there would be no burials at which to officiate during his first month of tenure.

The christenings that morning were not the first he had conducted at the Church of St Michael. Members of the congregation might have recalled that he had officiated at Epiphany Sunday at the start of the year. It was then that he had baptised the son of Francis Henning, the superintendent of the District School. Some might also have brought to mind that the infant had died not long afterwards.

This time, however, James Dennett was able to record his new status, writing “Perp. Curate for Aldershot”  under his signature in the parish register for the baptisms of three daughters.

Ann Gravett

Ann was the daughter of Leah and William Gravett of Copse Lodge. William worked as the Keeper on the Aldershot Park estate for Charles Barron Esq.

Leah had two other children from a previous marriage in Ewhurst to David Ede, an agricultural labourer. She had been widowed in 1844. William Gravett was then working nearby at Highedgar Farm, also as an agricultural labourer. Leah and William had married in Ewhurst in February 1847, their first son George buried later that year at only eight weeks old. The move to Aldershot, with William’s appointment as a keeper, represented a fresh start, William now 37, Leah aged 33. Baby Ann’s elder brother had been baptised at St Michael’s Church some eighteen months before.

Mary Porter

Mary was the next child to be admitted into the Church through baptism. Her parents, Stephen and Eliza Porter, had married at St Michael’s Church in 1839. They were living in a rented cottage owned by Mrs Tice which was close by Copse Lodge.

Stephen had also been baptised in Aldershot at St Michael’s Church in 1812, although his family were from Runfold where Stephen had been born. His parents now lived in Badshot. Despite both small hamlets being geographically in the Parish of Farnham, across the county boundary in Surrey, on the other side of the Pea Bridge at the Blackwater, St Michael’s Church in Aldershot was much closer than Farnham’s parish church of St Andrew’s.

    • This was before the Church of St John was completed in 1844 at what became the Ecclesiastical District of Hale, the family home of Bishop Sumner. 

The infant Mary was one of five young children in the family, all recorded in the baptismal register at Aldershot; William, the eldest, had been baptised in November 1839. On each occasion, Stephen was listed as a labourer, although the 1851 Census recorded him as a carter. He was locally famous for winning the prize as champion ploughman at last year’s Alton Fair, entered then as working for Mr Richard Allden.

Mary’s mother Eliza was also from a family of agricultural labourers. She had been baptised at St Andrew’s Church in Farnham in 1817; she was from Hoghatch where her parents, James and Mary Raggett, were in 1841 before they too had later moved to Badshot.

Amelia Vear

The third infant baptised that Sunday was not the child of an agricultural worker. Amelia’s father was instead the landlord of the Row Barge Inn up on the Turnpike Road, near the wharf for the Basingstoke Canal. Amelia was one of five daughters born to Sarah and of Clewer Vear. The 1851 Census recorded Clewer Vear as both a publican landlord and a bricklayer. Having two occupations was quite normal for inn keepers. It was certainly true for the landlords of the two public houses within the village, the Beehive and the Red Lion.

As its name suggests, the Row Barge served the needs of those associated with the canal that cut across Aldershot Heath, first those who built it and then those who used it, especially the potters in the area whose products were sent up to London.

Given its location, few from the village would have ventured out to the Row Barge without special cause. Just when Clewer Vear had became its landlord is unclear. The birth of his older daughter Julia was registered near Bracknell at Easthampstead in late 1848; she was not baptised in Aldershot. However, the toddler Jane Vear had been baptised at St Michael’s Church in 1851.

    • Older members of the congregation might have recalled that the Row Barge Inn had earlier been held by the Shurville family, from 1831 to 1844, first by John Shurville, then Jane and finally Thomas. The 1841 Census records Thomas Shurville and his wife Jane having three infant children. The household included seven others, some of whom might have been paying guests. Thomas Shurville had also been farming 14 acres owned by Mary Lambourn just north of the Canal.  By 1851 the Shurville family had moved to Fish Pond, Farnborough, Thomas becoming a farmer of 28 acres employing one live-in labourer.

Recent Deaths in Village

Thomas Harding died in October 1850. In January of that year, he and Clewer John Vear of the Row Barge had been tried and found guilty of keeping hours  beyond the legal hour of 11 o’clock. Both were given penalty at the Odiham Petty Sessions of 3s. 6d and costs of 11s. 6d, each paying the sum immediately.

Thomas Harding was then the farmer at Shearing Farm on North Lane. The supposition is that he might either have kept a beer house at his own premises or have been the landlord at the Red Lion Inn before George Faulkner who had taken up the position by 1851.

The death of Harding is associated with a number of other subsequent changes in the village. His daughter Ann had married Robert Lloyd in 1838. Robert was listed as an agricultural labourer in 1841, but by 1851 he described himself to the Census as a farmer of 10 acres; it is unclear whether this was Shearing Farm, the enterprise previously farmed by his father-in-law, or land through which Lloyd’s Lane would run.

Thomas Harding’s wife, also called Ann, had stayed on in the farmstead, her household in 1851 including not only her locally born servant, Richard Barnett, but, supplementing the annuity upon which she depended, she also had a lodger named James Williams.

Aged 67, James Williams was listed in the Census as a Chelsea Pensioner, born in Farnham. Like the blacksmith’s father, James Hone, Williams was also a veteran of Waterloo, his regiment, 23rd Foot, being present at the battle in June 1815.

    • James Williams was balloted in Farnham at age 19 to join the Reserve of the 57th Regiment of Foot. This was in 1803 when war had broken out against the French once more. A general call for recruitment led to the 57th Foot, also known as the West Middlesex, to raise a 2nd battalion. He served an initial seven years of balloted service in 1810, before then transferring to the 23rd Regiment of Foot. His service record notes a pension for service in the 23rd Foot from the year 1810 in addition to that for his balloted service.

James Williams had also died in recent year, just after the 1851 Census was taken. The cause was certified as cystitis, George Turner, of Farnham, another Chelsea Pensioner of similar age, in attendance. James’ death on 14 May 1851 was registered the next day; he was buried two days later in Aldershot at St Michael’s on 17th May 1851.

Ten years before, James Williams has been as a lodger on North Lane with the Callingham family, recorded in the 1841 Census as was Caroline Williams, the village schoolmistress lodging with the Wheeler family. It seems very likely that James was Caroline’s uncle, the brother of her father Thomas Williams.

    • There were, however, two of the name James William baptised in Farnham in 1784, one in May and the other in September, to two different sets of parents. One set of parents was Isaiah and Rachel Williams, James being the younger brother of Thomas. The other James Williams baptised in Farnham in 1784 might have been the one recorded by the 1841 Census as living in the Epsom workhouse, aged 60 and from Surrey.

That James Williams was her uncle adds plausible context for two life events for Caroline. First, when she arrived to be to the village schoolmistress, she would have had the reassurance of a relative in Aldershot. She would then lodge in a household of the daughter of a cordwainer, another term for a shoemaker as was Caroline’s father. Second, Caroline’s later marriage in 1843 to Henry Hone, the son of soldier, might also not have been such a coincidence: her future father-in-law was a veteran of Waterloo, as was her uncle; both were born in Farnham and likely had some form of prior connection which had brought Caroline and Henry together.

Monday, 4th April 1853

Had the curate decided to visit the Bishop at his palace, he may well have encountered a large gathering of men at Farnham Park. This being the first Monday of April, it was the annual ‘Clay Audit’ at which potters from all across the locality. They came to settle their account for the fine white clay which they had used to produce top quality Borderware pottery, sometimes known as ‘Surrey Whiteware’.

In earlier times, the green glaze used during the 16th and 17th Century had given rise to the term Tudor Green. However, much of the pottery supplied as London’s redwares had also come from the potteries operating along the Blackwater using other types of clay.

The full extent of the contribution made by the potters of Aldershot would not yet be plain to the young curate as by 1853 there were only two working potteries in the village; both were operated by members of the Collins family.

Pottery kilns had existed to the north-east of Farnham for many centuries, as shown in a sketch map based on archaeological findings at Farnborough, Cove, Frimley and Pirbright as well as Aldershot and Ash.

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.

Farnham Park and Tongham were the acknowledged source of the fine white clay used in pottery sold in London and abroad as far as Jamestown in the American colonies, its green glaze giving rise to the term Tudor Green. However, much of the pottery supplied as London’s redwares, coming from other types of clay, also came from the local Borderware potteries.

By 1853, competition from the more industrial manufacturing, typified by Wedgwood in Staffordshire and Doulton in London, had diminished the national significance of Borderware pottery. Regardless, several active potters remained. They 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, marriages creating additional bonds between them.

The heath 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. They all relied on turbary rights on Aldershot Common.

The variety of soil type in the area is displayed in a map by John Arrowsmith published in 1844. The key in the map makes distinction between the clay for brick (shown as blue/grey) and potter’s clay (pink).

Wednesday, 6th April 1853

Reverend James Dennett had much to learn about his new parish. Stood at the top of Church Hill, James would have recognised some aspects of the outlook, especially the view north onto the heathland. The farms were similarly scattered all across both of the Hampshire parishes. Dennett’s home parish also had clay to support the making of bricks, used in large part in the city and port of Southampton.

There were, however, some obvious differences from the edge of the New Forest where James’ father, mother and sister still lived. There, the call of the gulls from the estuary at Bailey’s Hard, also called Buckley’s Hard, was the dominant sound. The parish of Beaulieu was also twice the size, extending over more than 9000 acres, nearly 8000 acres of which were heath and woodlands adjoining the forest. The population was also larger than Aldershot, with a count of 1,177 at the 1851 Census.

Moreover, the land, the tithes and the patronage of the living as curate were all in the hands of a single grandee, the manor having passed to Walter Montagu Douglas, who as 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry held vast estates in England as well as Scotland. He had been personal body guard to Victoria at her coronation and had served in Peel’s Government in the 1840s. The Duke maintained a hunting lodge in the grounds of the old Beaulieu Abbey.

The Vestry

The young curate’s immediate challenge this day was the meeting of the Vestry, the principal locus of formal authority for the village. This was opportunity to discover how power and control was structured in the absence of a dominant aristocrat.

James Dennett might have wondered what his role in this parish would be, confronted with the seniority of these men around the table at his first meeting of the Vestry. Looking around the room, all the others assembled were at least twice his age.

As part of his training in Winchester, Dennett would have learnt that the incumbent of the parish had the right ex officio to be present and to take part in every meeting of the Vestry. More than that, he also had the right to take the chair and preside over its deliberations. The young Reverend James Dennett, however, would not be its chairman at this meeting.

Despite earlier minutes of meetings of the Vestry revealing that the Dennett’s predecessor had sometimes taken the chair, that role was now exercised by the laity. Captain George Newcome was chairman that evening, the sole item of business, as subsequently recorded in the minutes, being the setting of the Rate for the Relief of the Poor at 15d in the Pound.

Captain Newcome of the Manor House, who would likely have led the introductions, was fifty years old, a man with experience of military command in the West Indies. Charles Barron of Aldershot Place was in his early sixties, a seasoned businessman and land proprietor from London.

The two Overseers for the year were Thomas Deacon Esq, also from London, and Mr James Elstone, the enterprising farmer and employer of thirty men. They were both aged about fifty. So too was Richard Allden, another yeoman farmer and large-scale employer in the parish, whom the curate would have encountered at the time of his appointment. Together with Reuben Attfield, another in his fifties, these were the leading members of the ruling elite.

Reuben Attfield now occupied the paid position of Assistant Overseer.  He kept the minutes and other paperwork for the Vestry, including the entries made in the Overseers’ Receipt & Payment Book and the Poor Rate Book, both of which were present at meetings of the Vestry.

The administrative year having ended on Lady Day, 25 March, the Overseers’ Receipt & Payment Book had been closed off and duly signed off and dated by the two outgoing Overseers. It would be submitted for auditing in June.

The collection of the Poor Law rates and other taxes was another of Reuben Attfield’s responsibilities, shared with Henry Twynam, a tenant farmer aged 48.

The Poor Rate Book on the table contained a list of the names and addresses of all the ratepayers and would be able to tell the curate much about his new parish.

Messrs Attfield and Twynam had been prompt in the collection of the rate. That was duly signed off that day by Reuben Attfield and the two incoming Overseers, Elstone and Deacon.

On the left hand of the page listed the owner of each of the 216 rateable properties, the occupier and a brief description of the rated property and its name.

Each right-hand page listed the area of the property, measured in whole and part acres, as well as the assessed Rateable Value and an account of the rates payable and collected. Also indicated were instances where the owner rather than the occupier paid the rates, an indicator of tied housing.

Inspection of the entries would have made plain to the curate the extent to which the wealthy were well represented amongst the members of the Vestry.  But first, the Rate Book had to be taken to Winchester for approval and sign-off by two Justices of the Peace.

=> Poor Law Rate Book

An eager James Dennett would also have been keen to examine the Overseers Book in order to learn more about the practice of the Vestry towards poor law relief. That too would have to wait.

Sunday, 10th April 1853

Reverend Dennett had no baptisms at which to officiate at Matins. Instead, he was called upon to read out the ‘Form of Thanksgiving’ for the health of the Queen and her infant prince. This had been commanded at all churches and chapels across England and Wales by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Buckingham Palace had issued an announcement on the previous Thursday:

“The Queen was safely delivered of a Prince at ten minutes
past one o’clock this afternoon.
Her Majesty and the infant Prince are well.”

Just when news of the event would have first reached Aldershot is unclear, but likely it was well before the details in syndicated report from the London Gazette Extraordinary appeared in the Hampshire Chronicle at the end of the week.

Named Leopold, after Queen Victoria’s uncle, the King of the Belgians, the child was fourth in line of succession, the eighth to survive birth during the Queen’s first 13 years of marriage.

    • The delivery of Prince Leopold included the novel and controversial use of Chloroform which might have formed a topic for village discussion. He had inherited haemophilia from his mother and at the age of 30 he would predecease her.

Tuesday, 12th April 1853

Aldershot’s Poor Law Rate Book for April 1853 was presented in Winchester. A total sum of £ 131- 1s. 6 ½d had been raised in Aldershot for poor relief and highway maintenance.

A bill had been introduced in the House of Lords earlier in the year on compulsory vaccination against Smallpox. It had passed its second reading and was at the Committee stage on that Tuesday. The bill  required compulsion. Mothers were to be advised of their responsibility when registering births and vaccination required of any person entering the country.

Quoting the Report compiled by the London Epidemiological Society, Lord Lyttleton had explained that the incidence of deaths from small pox was as high as 100,000 in the ten years to 1760 but had fallen since 1780 down to 16,000 in the most recent ten years.

The argument made was that vaccination had been saving lives but also that compulsory vaccinations were even more effective for this highly contagious and nasty virus. Lyttleton remarked that during the forty-eight years that had elapsed since the opening of the Royal Military Asylum (School) at Chelsea, where vaccination was enforced, there was not a single death from small pox after vaccination amongst 31,705 admissions, and only four from second attacks of unvaccinated persons.

Earl Shaftsbury stated that the effect of the compulsory system, when established in other countries, had been almost to exterminate the disease there. It was compulsory in Prussia, with small-pox accounting for 7.5 per 1,000 deaths, and in Berlin where it was as low as 5.5; in Copenhagen it was nearly so, with 6.75. Where vaccination was permissive, such as in London and Glasgow, the rates were very much higher, at 16 and 36 per 1,000 deaths, respectively.

Saturday, 16th April 1853

Readers of the Hampshire Chronicle were rewarded with an account of the course of lectures which had been given by Professor Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution on “Static Electricity”. Various experiments were demonstrated, including the “excitement of electricity that takes place whilst combing or brushing the hair when dry” and the “charge to a small Leyden jar by which gunpowder was fired.”

Tuesday, 19th April 1853

As the month progressed there were newspaper reports about preparations for the formation an extensive encampment for summer camps of instruction, later to be referred to as the Great Encampment. The Morning Post carried a story about its location; according to reports, regiments were to march to Chobham Common by late May or early June.

The big story in the daily newspapers, however, was of William Gladstone’s first Budget. It was viewed as a triumph. Whilst railing against Income Tax, arguing that it should be abolished, he proposed to continue it for a further seven years, after which it would cease.

    • Gladstone proposed “to re-enact it for two years, from April 1853 to April 1855, at the rate of 7d. in the £; from April 1855, to enact it for two more years at 6d. in the £; and then for three years more … from April 1857, at 5d. Under this proposal, on 5 April 1860, the income-tax will by law expire.”

The coverage of this direct tax was also to increase, lowering the threshold for Income Tax to £100, at a reduced rate of 5p in the £. The tax had previously applied only to incomes above £150. The logic was to include those who were educated and had the vote, but to exclude those who laboured without that responsibility.

The Chancellor also extended the legacy (succession) tax to real property, raising an additional £2m. That and his use of Income Tax enabled relief to the burden of hundreds of indirect taxes. The highlight was the abolition of tax on soap which cost the exchequer over £1m and the reduction in the duty on tea and various foodstuffs. The duty on newspaper advertisements was also reduced and stamp duty on receipts was cut to a flat 1d.

Much of this, although perhaps not the extension of the Income Tax coverage, would have found favour in the village, as it was across the country. Also noted was the reduction in the tax levied on horses, dogs and male servants.

Saturday, 23rd April 1853

William Gladstone’s Budget was reported in great detail in the Hampshire Chronicle on the following Saturday.

The Hampshire Telegraph did much the same, describing it as a “hybrid budget – a coalition budget – a budget of compromise, but, on the whole a useful budget.” It declared the imposition of a legacy duty on real property to be a simple act of justice and concluded that “With [the exception of failure to repeal the advertisement tax] the new budget … if not perfect,  .. is an immeasurable improvement on that of Disraeli.”

Benjamin Disraeli had been the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the previous Government which had fallen when his Budget had been defeated.

Opinion amongst the farmers in the village would have been divided as, unlike the Budget unsuccessfully proposed by Disraeli in 1852, Gladstone’s Budget did not include the hoped for 50% reduction in the duties on malt and hops .

Saturday, 30th April 1853

Confirmation that the Camp would be at Chobham were included in the weekly summary of reports in the Hampshire Chronicle. A matter of interest to some in the village but not thought to be one of major significance. That confirmation in writing might have put to rest any concerns raised had any villager observed Viscount Hardinge riding across Aldershot Heath as he had also done in March just past.

Neither the Chronicle nor the Telegraph made much of the increases in the estimated expenditure for the Army and Commissariat. Part of that for the latter was retrospective (£200,000) but most was prospective (£700,000). There was also an alert that a further sum (£23,000) would need to be put aside for the plans “my right hon. Friend [the] Secretary for the Home Department” has for the Militia. This was none other than Viscount Palmerston.

As erstwhile Foreign Secretary, he had asserted British interests abroad through a balance of power. That had been based upon distrust of the so-called ‘Holy Alliance’ of Russia, Prussia and Austria and an alliance with the former foe of France. This remained the stance of Lord Clarendon, now the Foreign Secretary, both with respect to the maintenance of the integrity of the Turkish Empire against the press of Austria on Montenegro and also a wish that Russia did not impinge upon other Turkish possessions.

Lord Clarendon had begun his career as an attaché to the British embassy at the Russian Court.

The Hampshire Chronicle reported in its edition of April 30th the view expressed by Lord Clarendon that he saw no reason to expect any disturbance to the peace of Europe, nor any interruption of the unanimity which prevailed between the Great Powers on the Turkish question.  This formed part of his reply to a question asked in the House of Lords on April 25th, basing his answer on intelligence received from Ambassador Viscount Stratford, from “a telegraphic despatch was also received yesterday, which stated that up to the 14th inst. all was quiet at Constantinople.”

Lord Clarendon had summed up the Government’s challenge in reconciling the competing pressures from Russia and France upon Turkey in a single, rather long and convoluted sentence:

“The Turkish Government, having made to the French Government certain concessions in respect of the Holy Shrines which appeared to be inconsistent with previous concessions made to Russia,

“the Emperor of Russia, knowing the great interest felt by the population in the East in respect to the Greek shrines, and regarding his own position in reference to that Church, determined upon sending Prince Menschikoff upon a special message in order to arrange this matter, and to place the question of the Holy Shrines upon a permanent footing.”

Communications with its Ambassador to Constantinople over the coming months would be subject to a delay of around 10 days, each way. Much would depend, therefore, upon the ability and judgement of Viscount Stratford and his statements to the Turkish Government and other parties at the Porte.

=> Story continues as May 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.