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.

 

 

July 1853

Village Talk

The weather featured prominently in casual conversations, even in summer. This was especially true for those dependent on the harvest, both in the field for their employer and for what they grew for themselves. Bell’s Weekly Messenger was reporting frequent rain and high winds, reckoned to be “more favourable to the gardener than to the farmer.”

Nevertheless, the longer days meant that more life was enjoyed out of doors. Whether in the fields or by the cottages, the voices of children seemed to amplify across the village. According to the 1851 Census, more than four in every ten villagers were under the age of fifteen.

=> Children of the village

As had been imagined at the start of the telling of this history, James Hone, the blacksmith’s father was to be seen by the smithy. Standing in the arch of the doorway, he could watch his three grandsons play with their friends on the common village green, none of them much mindful of the weather.

William Cobbett, Farnham-born, like James, had referred to Aldershot as “an ‘agricultural and nice productive little parish.” That sense of rural idyll on a summer’s day would have encouraged positive thoughts about the future of the boys as sons of the village blacksmith. The smithy was kept busy and would remain so as long as horses played such a central role in its life. Moreover, James’ son Henry had married an educated woman, the mother of his grandchildren no less than a former schoolmistress of the village. Caroline Hone was pregnant once more with what would be yet another grandson.

James himself had chosen to have the life of a soldier when he was young; he was surely proud to be recognised as having fought at Waterloo. However, James had enlisted at a time of war. Despite the talk in the newspapers about the French and of the tension between the Russians and the Turks, the prospect of his grandsons having anything to do with army regiments must have seemed remote.

Enclosure of Aldershot Common

  • The notice on the parish church door declared that an Assistant Commissioner was to hold an Inquiry Meeting on July 7th. The Inclosure Commissioners had acted promptly. The application to enclose much of the heathland that lay in the north and west of the parish had been submitted on June 16th. The announcement about the Inquiry was made barely a week later, fourteen days’ notice being the legal requirement.

The application to enclose the Common and its implications would have been the talk of the village. It is easy to imagine women of the village having conversation at the shop on Drury Lane and when passing the green by the smithy; so too, the men huddled across the tables of an evening to exchange views at the Red Lion and the Bee Hive Inns. All would be busy in earnest talk about that upcoming meeting and on what might become of the village.

The range of opinion about the prospects of enclosure for the village is, of course, a matter of conjecture. Some of that would have been based on speculation upon who was really behind the application to enclose Aldershot Common.  Other opinions expressed would have come from what was known or rumoured to have occurred elsewhere in the country.

The process of enclosure of the common lands across England had been taking place for several centuries. Estimates vary, some that as much as seventy percent of England’s land mass had become enclosed. The process was far from geographically uniform, however. 

Parliamentary enclosure was only just reaching the locality all about Aldershot. It was now being rolled out for the adjacent Ash Common. Bentley, the home base for the Eggar family had also been recently enclosed. Provisional Orders had been agreed at the end of May for the enclosure of waste land in parts of Badshot, Runfold, Dogfudd and Wrecclesham, just across the Blackwater within the manor of Farnham.

Many, perhaps most, villagers would have heard the stories handed down about smallholders and cottagers being forced out by larger landowners. Deprived of the means for the women and children in their family to forage, the men were then obliged to work full-time for those landowners or even leave to go to the towns and cities to make a living. That applied not just to the commoners who held rights but was even worse for those who were without legal right to make use of the common lands and had no land or garden of their own to work.

Across the country, enclosure and the fencing of common land during the preceding century had been the subject for protest songs,

“They hang the man and flog the woman
Who steals the goose from off the common,
Yet let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.”

For the adults in the village there was recall of the widespread reporting of farm workers’ uprisings, both peaceful and violent. These had occurred in the southern counties, such as Kent, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire. However, the newspapers said nothing of what occurred in the immediate vicinity of Aldershot.

William Cobbett had railed against the harm done by the enclosure of common land. He had toured extensively on horseback in the 1820s. Knitting together extracts from his book, Rural Rides, published in 1830, Cobbett can be seen to argue that the “new enclosures without end”, rather than being a sign of improvement and prosperity, meant that “the villages are wasting away.” Cobbett had written supporting the cause of the agricultural labourer in a pamphlet entitled Rural War. As a result, Cobbett had faced charges of seditious libel in July 1831, alleging his support of the Captain Swing Riots in which farm machinery was smashed and haystacks were burnt. Conducting his own defence, William Cobbett had been acquitted by the jury.

Land Tenure

Both the Crondall Hundred, and what had been the Bishop’s Hundred of Farnham, had been continuously in Church ownership since before the Norman Conquest. Fields taken from the ‘waste of the Lord’ for cultivation and further settlement, a form of enclosure, was termed ‘encroachment’. In Aldershot, as in other tithings of the Hundred of Crondall, those acts of encroachment had required the sanction of the Prior of St Swithun in Winchester who had owned the Hundred of Crondall. 

In practice, decision-making was delegated to courts convened by the Prior’s steward, variously called the View of Frankpledge or the Court Leet at which the ten tithings, including the likes of Aldershot and Yateley, were represented; the term Court Baron seems to apply to a lower jurisdiction. By this means, established rights were asserted and authority was given for encroachment of ‘the waste’; the cultivated lands in the villages of the Crondall Hundred steadily increased.

    • “… in some estates like Crondal we can trace the steps by which large quantities of forest land were brought into cultivation; tenants seem to have been often encouraged to enclose, but rent was always charged upon the land they had reclaimed, and formed a valuable source of income [for the Priory].” Capes (1901)
    • The Crondall Rental of 1221, kept by the monks and copied in 1282, names 22 persons holding a virgate (c.20 to 30 acres) or more in the Tithing of Alresshate (Aldershot); their 14 holdings totalled approximately 380 acres. An additional 148 acres (or more) had been ‘taken from the waste’ as encroachment. That included both 52 acres through grant of a charter (the origin of Aldershot Park)  and 31 acres of encroachment (for the monks at Waverley) through the action of the Bishop of Winchester. Baigent (1891)

The impact of what happened elsewhere in England during succeeding centuries upon the Crondall Hundred was mediated by the continuous, and remote, lordship role of the Church. With few exceptions, customs in the tithings, such as Aldershot, relating to land tenure and inheritance persisted from Anglo-Saxon times. 

The capture of the English Throne by the Tudor Henry VII upset the status quo. Winchester would also regain some of its former significance, the Tudors keen to assert their legitimacy.

Discovering an empty treasury and unsure of support from the aristocracy, Henry invested in the success of an emerging merchant class. This meant overseas trade, primarily in the wool but also to assist the start of English colonies abroad. As was the proven route to secure both status and power, the merchant class converted their wealth from trade into ownership of land. 

This process continued throughout the reigns of the later Tudor kings, Henry V to Henry VII. It was accelerated during the English Reformation, enabled by the confiscation and resale of Church property by the Crown.

Early in the Tudor period, Robert White of Yateley, a wool merchant who became Mayor of the Staple of Calais, had begun to buy lands all across the southern counties. His descendent, Robert White of Farnham, subsequently bought land in Aldershot. Robert’s son John White would later purchase the monk’s 31 acres at Aldershot which had been confiscated from Waverley Abbey.

The Crondall Customary was commissioned in the early years of Elizabeth, the last of the Tudor monarchs, given her seal in 1568. During the turmoil and property transfers associated with the conflict during and after the Reformation, there was need to clarify who owned what.

The Customary covered all the tithings of the Crondall Hundred. Remarkably, the formal ownership of the lands of the Crondall Hundred remained with the Church. They were transferred, almost by sleight of hand, from the Prior and Priory to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral at Winchester; the former Prior had become the new Dean. Whilst recognising that lordship, the Customary re-affirmed ownership and obligations of ‘freehold’ land (that granted by earlier charter) and the customary ‘copyhold’ property rights for both large and small farmers and for cottagers. The document indicates how the named tenants, both men and women, had obtained the lands, by inheritance or purchase.

    • For the tithing of Aldershot, the Customary listed ‘John White, Knight as Freeholder’ and his son Robert as one of 24 named tenants for a total of over 888 acres. The ‘parcels of the lands, tenements, & possessions of the late Monastery of Waverley, lately dissolved’ were listed amongst the encroached land held by John White. 

After the publication of the Customary, details about the transfer of ‘copyhold’ lands, by way of inheritance or sale, continued to be authorised and noted at the Crondall Court. The Lord of the Manor, regarded as the owner of the waste, subject to the rights of ‘commoners’, held the minerals (mining) and surface rights (sand and gravel).

The parish officers of the Vestry were now the parochial authority within what had been the tithing of Aldershot. With no dominant landowner, this collective decision making body of Vestry exercised overall responsibility for the management of the lands held in common.

    • In 1839, for example, the Vestry appointed Joseph Miles, as hayward, to look after the Common and to prevent the cutting of fuel by persons without authority and selling it outside of the parish. The Vestry occasionally had to make reference to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral at Winchester, as it did in 1835 for permission to dig the ‘waste of the Lord, for clay to make bricks, tiles etc.

At its meeting in October 1841, the Vestry initiated the commission of the Tithe Apportionment Survey of Aldershot. The resultant Report noted that 1,400 acres of the total of 4,100 acres in the parish were occupied, the remaining 2,700 acres being common land.

    • Of the 1,400 occupied acres, the 484 land parcels having 72 different owners (including the Parish itself), 730 acres of land were given over arable, 19 acres for hops, 230 as meadows and pasture, 130 as woodland and 20 acres for buildings and gardens.

Fast forward to 1853 and those 2,700 acres of Aldershot Common still constituted the larger part of the areal extent of the parish. As a shared resource for the community, the ‘waste of the Lord’ was used in various ways. Owners of both freehold and copyhold lands retained commoner rights for forage, with turbary rights to cut turf for fuel. There were also sporting rights for shooting birds and hunting of other game. Rights to the soil, and to what might exist below, remained with the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral.

The Vestry was scheduled to meet next at the Church on Wednesday July 20th, a fortnight after the Inquiry Meeting.

Saturday, 2nd July 1853

In an event, seemingly far away and irrelevant to the lives of the villagers, the Imperial Army of Russia had crossed into Moldavia and Wallachia. The occupation had been signalled and forewarned in the Manifesto of the Russian Czar. News of this act, however, would take time to reach the public in Britain. It would not be reported in the London press until the following Wednesday afternoon, the Evening Standard and Evening Mail⁠ doing so by virtue of telegraphic despatch from Vienna. Only on the following Saturday, July 9th, would the Russian occupation justify a column inch in the Hampshire Chronicle.

The Camp at Chobham

The Camp on Chobham Common featured in most every national and regional newspaper across the country. The vivid representations in the Illustrated London News served a novel function. The images portrayed in the numerous etchings served as a lens onto the action. 

Chobham Troops ILN July 2nd 1853

Begun in May by the self-made businessman Herbert Ingram, circulation of the Illustrated London News had reached 66,000 copies by the end of the 1842, rising to 100,000 as it caught the national mood in the week in which the Great Exhibition of 1851 opened. It had become the leading nonpartisan weekly, with an appeal beyond its increasing paid circulation. Copies once bought and read were often then passed from hand to hand. 

The Lead article in the Illustrated London News on the first weekend of July used the Camp at Chobham as an occasion to contrast British sensibility with French obsession with the size and glory of their army. This provides insight into the contemporary attitude of the English urban classes to the military. Although it might not fully reflect attitudes in a rural village on the Hampshire/Surrey borders, it does serves to contrast how sentiment can change from one century to the next. In 1853, the Royal Navy was held in very much higher regard than the Army.

This is remarkable given the magnificence of the funeral arrangements which had been made for the Iron Duke during the previous November. The attention given to that by the Illustrated London News had added about 20,000 to its circulation figures, then estimated at 150,000.

Few in Aldershot might have ever seen July’s edition of the Illustrated London News, let alone sat to read the text of the Leader. The copies which did find their way to villages would rarely be up-to-date.

Regardless, this expression of national sentiment towards the greater significance of the Navy would have rung true for Reverend James Dennett, the young curate born and raised on Hampshire’s southern coast where the call of the sea dominated.

There might also have been recall of Captain Newnham RN by some in the village. He had married the widow of Admiral Gayton, taking up residence at Aldershot Lodge at the end of the previous century. A white marble of remembrance to him was on the wall within St Michael’s Church, placed there by his widow before she remarried once more to become the wife of the Reverend Piggot.

The Illustrated London News lead article, likely penned by its talented editor Charles Mackay, went on to hope that the Camp at Chobham would prompt improvement in the lot of the men who served in the military.

“But, though the English [unlike the French] are not smitten with the military madness, there is no reason why they should neglect the comfort, and … means for the elevation of the physical, social, and moral condition, of the brave men who serve in their armies. .. The assemblage at Chobham is likely to attract far more attention to these subjects than they have hitherto .. if the result of the grand display be no other than this, the sham battles and real hard work of officers and men may not have been fought and undertaken in vain.”

The Camp at Chobham and subsequent conflicts abroad would accompany a change in attitude to the military, bringing fame to the village of Aldershot.

What does seem probable in the short term was prompt delivery of a copy of the Illustrated London News to the Pall Mall residence in London of Charles Barron Esq. The owner of Aldershot Place and his wife would have taken keen interest in the Camp, their second son Fenwick being amongst the cavalry which had arrived at Chobham at the start of July.

Fenwick Boyce Barron had risen to the rank of Captain in the 4th Light Dragoons. His stated address in 1840 when he had obtained a commission by purchase had been given as Aldershot Place. His older brother Charles Stephen was in the Militia and doubtless would also have taken the opportunity to travel to see his brother at Chobham.

Aldershot had two other, less well-born representatives at the Chobham Camp. One was the son of the parish hayward, both called Joseph Miles. Listed in the 1851 Census at Portman Barracks in Marylebone, Joseph was a private in the Scots Fusilier Guards. The 1st Battalion was amongst those first assembled on Chobham Common. Joseph had enlisted in May 1840, recorded as a labourer born in ‘the parish of Aldershot near the town of Farnham’, unable to sign his name. He had received a bounty of two pounds ten shillings. He was in London in 1841, recorded as part of the 3rd Foot Guards, an alternative name for the Scots Guards, and was stationed at Windsor in 1851.

One more son of the village present at Chobham was another called Joseph. Joseph Young was a private with the Grenadier Guards. Enlisting at Colchester in 1847, he had received the larger bounty of ten pounds and ten shillings. Now aged 29, Joseph had the stature associated with a guardsman: 6 foot 2 ½ inches tall, he had black hair and hazel eyes. His previous occupation had been that of a gentleman’s servant and he had signed on with a very well-formed signature. After five years’ service, in November 1852, he had been awarded a Good Conduct Mark; Joseph had probably been present on duty at the funeral of the Iron Duke.

A story of a different kind but one of particular local interest appeared in the Hampshire Chronicle on that first weekend of July. Thomas Hall had been found guilty of an indecent act at Aldershot. Details of the offence are hard to establish, only that Hall was convicted at Winchester Assizes and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. This was also reported in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal.

Oddly, no one called Thomas Hall was recorded as a resident in the village, neither in the 1841 nor the 1851 Census, nor was any of the name listed in the 1853 Rate Book. Nothing has been found to connect this Thomas Hall, neither with the family of Eliza whose child was baptised that same weekend, nor with Mr Henry Hall, of Alton, who owned the Bee Hive Inn.

    • There were, however, at least three called Thomas Hall living in Hartley Witney and one at Alton. The culprit might have been the Thomas Hall, born in Long Sutton, 25 miles west of Aldershot, and aged 55, who in 1835 had been a deserter from the 18th Regiment of Foot.

Sunday, 3rd July 1853

The young curate had three christenings to perform after Matins.

Ellen Newell

Ellen was a first born. Her parents had been one of two couples wed less than three months previously, on March 14th. Both brides were then very evidently large with child. Francis was from an established family of sawyers, the son of James Newell.  Also now a sawyer, he was listed as such in parish register of baptisms, as he had been earlier in the marriage register when neither Francis nor Eliza had been able to sign their name. Francis had also been baptised at St Michael’s Church, in 1828. The family moved to Godalming, Francis recorded there in 1841 as one of six children.

Francis’ parents and two younger teenage siblings lived in one of the three cottages on Church Hill owned by James Elstone.  His eldest brother James, also sawyer, had set up home in North Lane, now with five children aged under 10; his wife was from Egham.

It is unclear where Francis was living in 1851 prior to his marriage. (He was not the Francis Newell, of very similar age, lodging at the Red Lion in 1851.) 

    • The Francis Newell lodging at the Red Lion in 1851, was listed by the Census as an agricultural labourer. Baptised in 1826, that Francis Newell was the son of Thomas Newell, also an agricultural labourer. He had left the village for Shoreditch in 1852 to marry Jane Stonard, the daughter of the brickburner William Stonard. The couple had later settled in St Luke’s, Finsbury in London, Francis becoming a leather cutter.

Eliza, the child’s mother had a more complex family background. She was the daughter of John Cawood and Mary Hall, entered in the parish baptismal register in 1836 as illegitimate, as was her younger brother Charles also described. Eliza’s parents had both been widowed and had lived as man and wife with children from those previous marriages. Eliza’s mother Mary (Hall, nee Cole) died, in 1847 at the age of 52.Eliza was subsequently listed with the surname Hall in the 1851 Census, and described as a lodger and house servant, although still in her father’s household. She was now Eliza Newell, with a child of her own.

Anthony Kircher

The baptismal register for this infant does not record the identity of his father. His mother was Maria, aged 18 and the eldest daughter of John Kircher, an agricultural labourer based in one of the Morland Cottages who was described in the 1851 Census as a pauper. Maria was baptised in Aldershot as was her older brother and her four younger siblings. Maria’s father was baptised in Farnham in 1809, as John ‘Curcher’. It is unclear whether he had married Maria’s mother Charlotte.

Emily Bateman

The first name entered in the baptismal register after Matins had been that of the infant Emily Bateman. She was the eighth child in their family, her parents not long moved into the village. As such she was their first to be baptised at St Michael’s Church, as her mother had been just over forty years previously, christened as Harriet Collins.

Harriet’s mother, Elizabeth Collins, died a few days after Harriet’s birth. Elizabeth had been the younger sister of the two potters William and Charles Collins. Charles had been buried at the Church just over four weeks before, at the start of June 1853.

Harriet married in 1836 to Daniel Bateman, the miller at Bourne Mill in Farnham. One of the witnesses was a John Smith. Likely, he was her uncle by marriage to her mother’s sister Ann.

    • It also seems plausible that, when orphaned at birth, Harriet was taken into the family of her Aunt Ann and went with them when they moved to the pottery at Frimley. Their eldest daughter Esther was only two years older than Harriet, also baptised at St Michael’s Church.

Daniel Bateman, the father of the infant to be baptised, was not locally born. Although baptised in Buckland, Buckinghamshire, in 1807, Daniel might have been raised in Ash which was where his parents were recorded by the 1841 Census, his father then a labourer aged 65.

    • Daniel Bateman was the first child of Matthew and Sarah who had married in Buckland, Buckinghamshire in 1806. Oddly, his parents were listed as paupers in Ash in 1851, his father buried later that year. His younger brother Alexander had left for London, recorded in 1841 and in 1851 as a prison officer in the Surrey County Gaol in Newington/Lambeth.

… Who lived on Drury Lane

Daniel and Harriet Bateman and family had recently taken up residence in the vicinity of Drury Lane and the Bee Hive Inn which could be regarded as Aldershot’s commercial centre. Daniel had set up business there as Bateman’s Corn & Forage Merchants.

The Tithe Survey of 1841/43 records two small plots of land in Aldershot called Owlings & Bush Field. They belonged to Daniel Bateman which were being farmed by William Gosden, the potter turned grocer and farmer. By 1851, that land was being worked by Daniel’s two eldest sons, John and Daniel.

Map of vicinity of Bee Hive Inn and Drury Lane, Aldershot 1855

Talk amongst the locals about the Camp at Chobham in the Bee Hive Inn might have prompted stories from the former soldiers in the village. 

George and Emanuel Finch

Living nearby at the edge of settlement, alongside the heath, was George Finch, another listed as a Chelsea Pensioner in the 1851 Census. Aged about 47, he had only recently returned to the area having served with the 41st Regiment of Foot. George Finch had enlisted in 1826, recording Farnham as his town of birth although he was baptised in the parish of Farnborough in 1806.

Finch’s wife and son had both been born in Ireland. Ann was born in Co. Kilkenny, their son Emmanuel born in Blennerville, a port built to serve Tralee in the County of Kerry. George had been stationed in County Kerry in 1837, around the time of his son’s birth. By 1841 he had rised to the rank of sergeant, recorded with family at the Depot in Chatham. He was a veteran of the 1st Anglo/Afghan War.

    • That had been waged in an attempt to protect the interests of the East India Company from Russian incursion. The men of the 41st had been dispatched to Afghanistan in 1842 as part what was later regarded as an ‘Army of Retribution’ led by the celebrated General Nott. The Regiment had returned to the UK in 1843, serving in garrison in Wales for a short period of time to act as a guard of honour in 1845 at the funeral given to Nott.

After initial discharge at Limerick in November 1847 , George re-engaged in the following February for return and disembark in Portsmouth in May 1850. His statement of discharge notes that he was a “labourer … born in the parish of Farnham in or near the town of Farnham”.

Now aged 16, Emmanuel Finch was recorded in the 1851 Census as an agricultural labourer in the village. Presumably, he had gained some kind of education from the schooling provided for children of serving soldiers. It is not evident at this stage that Emmanuel had acquired a trade, as had another military child, Henry Hone, the blacksmith.

Emmanuel Finch might well have spoken with an Irish brogue, like his mother, although his father George would have had a local accent, having grown up in and around Farnborough. Moreover, having been raised within a regiment, variously stationed in London and in Wales, as well as in Ireland, the accents of military children would always be difficult to pin down.

    • There was likely a wide variety of speech in the village. The predominant brogue of the ‘Hodge’, the derogatory terms used during this period to label agricultural labourers, had a ‘Wessex tang’ and vocabulary. This was drawn from across Dorset and Wiltshire but doubtless also extended into large parts of ‘ampshire. This might have been countered by the influence of ‘Cockney’ from London. Then there would have been the more mannered speech of the townsfolk at Farnham and those who had retired to Aldershot from London. One imagines that the yeoman farmers who exercised local governance through the Vestry in Aldershot might have had to master both vocabularies, as though bilingual.  

Jane Callingham

Now aged 13, Jane was probably doing much more than fetching, cleaning and washing up at the Bee Hive Inn. When collecting beer mugs from the tables, or perhaps occasionally serving behind the bar, Jane Callingham would have been alive to overheard conversations. 

Jane would not have known the exact date when the Bee Hive Inn began. However, last month, after the funeral of Charles Collins, the Bee Hive Inn would have been busy with potters. Several would have been old men from across the Heath, full of stories as well as drink about how there used to be at least three potteries in that immediate locality. That would have provided sufficient reason for the pub’s existence.

More recently, the talk would have included heated exchanges amongst both potters and agricultural workers about the proposals to enclose the heathland. 

Born at the other side of the village, up on North Lane in 1840, Jane Callingham was the youngest of at least seven children. Her parents, Charles and Elizabeth, had married in February 1821. Her mother, baptised in Frimley, had been Elizabeth Whare. Charles and Elizabeth had eachsigned their names in the register (both ‘of this parish’), as had Henry Webster who acted as one of the witnesses. This suggests a literate family of farm workers.

Henry Webster was the landlord at the Bee Hive Inn, listed in the 1851 Census as ‘publican and grocer’, the latter term also appearing in the return made for the 1841 Census. Originally from Guildford, Henry had married in 1820 to Mary Callingham, Jane’s aunt, the sister of her father Charles.

Their household in 1841 included Mary’s mother, Charity ‘Collingham’, and her niece, another called Mary, aged 13. She was Jane’s older sister. There was also Henry’s nephew from Alnwick, Northumberland, also aged 13.

Jane’s elderly grandmother had died in the winter of 1844 at the age of 80. Her sister Mary had left, Jane having taken her place by 1851, recorded by the Census as a servant, aged 11. Henry’s nephew had remained, becoming an agricultural labourer and recorded as a lodger. There were two paying lodgers of a different kind: Thomas Henley was a 22-year-old ‘annuant’ and Moses Matthews a local carpenter. Moses had left to marry by 1853, living in a nearby rented cottage.

Jane’s father had died in 1847 when she was only seven. Aunt Mary had stepped in to assist, providing employment for Jane’s older sister and then later for Jane.

    • Jane’s sister Mary [Ann] moved from the Bee Hive Inn into domestic service. By 1851, she was a ‘farm servant indoors’ at Blue House Farm, near Merton for a farmer of 130 acres.

The eldest brother Charles had been in the family home in 1841 together with siblings George and Elizabeth. James Williams, one of village’s two Waterloo veterans, had been there as a lodger. Charles had then left to marry and set up home in another cottage on North Lane.

    • Charles and Jane Prince married at St Michael’s Church in June 1846; his sister Mary [Ann], who had earlier left to work at the Bee Hive Inn, signing her name as a witness in the register. His bride was the daughter of James Prince, an agricultural labourer in Elvetham. Her two sisters were in domestic service in Aldershot, as perhaps she had also been.

Jane’s older brother George and their widowed mother had continued at the cottage in North Lane working as outdoor agricultural labourers. Her sister Elizabeth had left to enter domestic service; by 1851, aged 16, she was a domestic servant in the household of the farmer William Gosden, close by the Bee Hive Inn.

Uncle James’ daughter, another called Mary, also lived close at hand on Drury Lane.  She had married Reuben Miles in November 1849; Mary was then aged 15, recorded as a minor. Reuben, only three years older, was the son of Joseph Miles, the hayward who had several roles in the village, listed then as a shoemaker.

    • Uncle James has also recently married, for a second time, to Jemima Warner from nearby Hoghatch in November 1850, his first wife Charlotte having been buried three years previously in December 1847. The family had also moved, from the Aldershot Park estate in 1851 to a tied cottage at Boxall’s Farm, James working as a farm labourer for Mr Richard Allden.

Jane would not have known the exact date when the Bee Hive began. However, she would have heard the stories that there used to be at least three potteries in that immediate locality. That would have provided sufficient reason for its existence.

One of those former potteries at the top of Drury Lane was now used as a laundry by the widow Jane Fedgent. She lived locally with her daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law, Henry Elkins, the baker. The couple had married in 1845 and now had three small children, their household in 1851 also containing Henry’s 14-year-old niece as a house servant.

There was also a shop in the neighbourhood, the house and premises for which was shared with the bakery at which Henry Elkins worked, perhaps converted to that purpose by the former potter William Gosden. It might have been a bakery for more than a century, however. 

A windmill had also once stood at the top of Drury Lane. As far back as 1727, the Crondall Court records note that Stephen Matthews had been given licence to erect a windmill on part of his customary land. He then owned a five acre plot of land which had a house and two closes of arable land, called Woodacre.

Confusingly maps dated around 1816 display “Windmill Clump” in the general vicinity of what is higher up onto the heath, marked in Plot 209 on the map above as “Gravelmill Pond”.  The Woodacre properties on which Matthews had permission to build a windmill, and which eventually passed to William Gosden, are instead the properties shown on that map above as the cottage and garden (Plot 273) connecting two fields, one marked as Plot 278.

Woodacre properties are shown more clearly to be at the top of Drury Lane, latterly called Windmill Lane, as plots 5, 311 and 314, in the extract of the map drawn up for the 1841 Tithe Apportionment Survey.

Map of the vicinity of the Bee Hive Inn and Drury Lane, from the 1841 Tithe Apportionment Survey.

The existence of the windmill would suggest that a bakery might have also been in operation in the previous century.

The shop and bakery at the corner of Drury Lane and the village Street (Plot 267) was now owned and run by George Gosden. He was the son of the late William Gosden who had arrived as a potter from Cove to set up as a farmer and become an active member of the Vestry.

George Gosden had also served as an Overseer in 1848. He had married three years before, in 1845. By 1851, he and his wife Sarah had two young children, aged six and four, their household also supporting a young female house servant.

    • George was named executor and the main beneficiary of his father’s will, with his sister Harriet having right to live rent-free in the ‘House and Garden’, referred to in the 1853 Poor Rate Book as Newlands Cottage – shown as such on the map extract above. She was also bequeathed all of its household goods and provisions, plus a capital sum of £1,250 and £10 per annum for life. Harriett Gosden later married Charles Burt Hewett of Shinfield in November 1855. 

The shop and bakery at the corner of Drury Lane and the village Street (Plot 267) was now owned and run by George Gosden. He was the son of the late William Gosden who had arrived as a potter from Cove to set up as a farmer and become an active member of the Vestry.

George Gosden had also served as an Overseer in 1848. He had married three years before, in 1845. By 1851, he and his wife Sarah had two young children, aged six and four, their household also supporting a young female house servant.

    • George was named executor and the main beneficiary of his father’s will, with his sister Harriet having right to live rent-free in the ‘House and Garden’, referred to in the 1853 Poor Rate Book as Newlands Cottage – shown as such on the map extract above. She was also bequeathed all of its household goods and provisions, plus a capital sum of £1,250 and £10 per annum for life. Harriett Gosden later married Charles Burt Hewett of Shinfield in November 1855. 

Three of the cottages on Drury Lane (shown in the 1841 map as plot 16) were owned by Mrs Ann Goy. The sister of Robert Hart, she had married George Goy in 1810 but had been widowed in 1833. She also owned the buildings which fronted onto the Street (plots 17, 18 and 19). She lived in one and rented out the other two.

Mention should also me made of the house nearby (plot 21) which also fronted onto the Street, opposite the Manor House estate. According to the Rate Book for July, this had only recently been let by George Baker to Mr Noles, about which not much is known. The former tenant had been Mr James Vidler, a widower with an annuity in his late sixties. His household in 1851 included a widow in her mid-50s as housekeeper and locally born Jane Nichols as female servant aged 17.

    • Ten years before Vidler and the housekeeper were in Hartley Wintney, Mr Vidler listed by the Census as having ‘Independent’ means. James Vidler was baptised at St John the Evangelist, Smith Square, in June 1783. He had married Eliza [Jane] Batchelor in Alton in 1814, widowed twenty years later.

This was a sizeable property, the advertisement in The Times in June 1852 describing the house as “a genteel residence, situate[d] in the pleasant and healthy village of Aldershott, Hants.” It was said to contain “two front parlours, five good bedrooms. kitchen, large pantry, excellent cellar .. a pump of good water, .. other domestic offices and a large productive garden, with thriving fruit trees .. Rent moderate.”

Its location was noted to be close to the two railway stations at Ash, one on the South-Western (which went to London) and the other on the Reading and Reigate line. Also noted was the market town of Farnham, which was where George Baker now lived, in West Street.

    • George Baker and Anne Allden had been married on 7 July 1831 in Saint Giles, Reading, Berkshire, England. George Baker was born in 1809 in Farnham, Surrey; he was baptised on 8 December 1809 at St Andrew’s Church in Farnham which was where his parents William Baker and Elizabeth Crawte were married on 19 July 1791.

The house in Aldershot had been left to George’s wife Ann by her father James Allden in his will in 1835, together with £600 to be given her by her brother Richard Allden who inherited the bulk of their father’s estate.

    • The house was described in James Allden’s will in 1835 as a “Messuage or tenement wherein I now dwell and which was erected on the spot where stood a messuage divided into several tenements since pulled down with the buildings garden and appurtenances belonging.  Which said messuage since pulled down was purchased by my brother John and myself from Michael Rapley and Ann his wife.” It was referred to as Rapley’s in the Poor Law Rate Book of 1841 which recorded George Baker as the owner.

By 1841 it had become the home of George and Ann Baker, their household including not only their locally born servant Elizabeth Barnett, aged 15, but also Henry Elkins who was a young baker by trade. George Baker was listed as a mealman, the occupation now used to describe Daniel Bateman.

Tuesday, 5th July 1853

The name of Cobbett was in again the national news. John Morgan Cobbett, the second son of William Cobbett had, like his father, become the MP for Oldham. John Cobbett had introduced a Bill which proposed to limit the hours of labour in factories of women, young persons, and children to ten in the day for the first five days of the week, and seven and a half hours on-Saturday. This would have had the effect of restoring the Ten Hours Act of 1847. 

    • The Bill was seconded by Fielden, the other MP for Oldham and a long-time admirer of William Cobbett. It was Fielden who had secured the nomination for both William and then his son John Cobbett to enter Parliament.

Speaking as Home Secretary, Viscount Palmerston distanced himself and the Government from the proposal put forward by John Morgan Cobbett. 

    • Palmerston: “It was a matter of considerable delicacy to interfere by legislation with the employment of those who, being of age to determine for themselves, were to be considered as free agents, and therefore ought to be at liberty to work as long or as little as they should think fit to do.”
    • Palmerston: “did not mean to oppose the bringing in of the Bill .. but at the same time he did not pledge himself as to the course which he might feel it his duty to take on the second reading of the Bill.” As Home Secretary he would be proposing that “children should not be employed earlier than six o’clock in the morning, nor later than six in the evening.”

There was no such legal restriction on the hours of labour for agricultural workers, of any age.

Thursday, 7th July 1853

The Inquiry Meeting into the enclosure of Aldershot Common was held on this day. Such meetings were convened by an Assistant Commissioner. The general practice was that they should be held at some convenient place within the parish. The Red Lion Inn seems the most likely venue, as auctions and other public events had been hosted there in the past.

The Inclosure Acts set down a strict procedure to be followed. That included the requirement that applications for enclosure could be made by person or persons representing one-third in value of the land proposed for enclosure.

The task for the Assistant Commissioner was to assess the basis of the application. If he was satisfied, he would then prepare a report which would form the basis of a Provisional Order. That had to command the support of ratepayers whose property represented two thirds of the total value.

The Aldershot Commoners

According to the Rate Book for April 1853, the total Rateable Value (RV) for the parish was £2,233. The Inclosure Commissioners would base their calculations for ‘Common-rights over the Aldershot Waste’ upon a total of £1964 for the owners of rateable property.

    • The difference of £269 might approximate to the rateable value assigned to the property of the Tithe Proprietors (RV £274).

There were 87 private owners of rateable properties in the village, with a total Rateable Value of £1,806. There were also ‘corporate owners’: the Managers of the District School (RV £85), the Basingstoke Canal Co. (£39) and the Parish itself (with property valued at RV £20, of which £13 – 10s. was for the extra-parochial lands at Brixbury). 

Despite the distribution in the value of property being highly skewed, no one single ratepayer in Aldershot owned sufficient to have made the application by themselves. That required at least one-third of total value, that is, about £654. 

Rateable Value by Private Owner, April 1853

Even Charles Barron Esq., the owner of the compact Aldershot Park estate and having the highest Rateable Value (£243), could not have acted alone. Nor could the absentee landowner Samuel Eggar (RV £148).

    • Until this moment, the reader may, as was the case for this author, have been led to believe that possession of the Aldershot Manor Halimote by the Eggar family conferred rights which gave them a controlling form of ownership of the heathland. This appears not to be so. (More research is needed to determine the rights and powers invested in the possession of the Manor Halimote for Aldershot.)

The six largest holdings, those above 100 acres, however, accounted for just over half (£951) of the total in private ownership. It would not have taken much cooperative action to reach the application qualification of c£654.

Unsurprisingly, there was very significant overlap between land ownership and the officers of the Vestry. Charles Barron and George Newcome were the Churchwardens, Richard Allden and James Elstone were the Guardians, Allden also appointed Surveyor of Highways and Elstone one of the two Overseers elected at the Vestry for the coming year. Thomas Smith, of Rock Farm at West End, had held office in the past, as one of the Overseers; before he had served as the paid Assistant Overseer until that post was taken instead by Reuben Attfield, the latter having sold much of his land.

Neither Mrs Tice, the widow of William Tice, nor her son, Henry, who was based in Puttenham, were members of the Vestry. However, Richard Allden was Mrs Tice’s nephew and so cousin to Henry.

There had not been a member of the Eggar family on the Vestry since Samuel’s nephew John Eggar was recorded as having attended in March 1850. The Eggar holdings were now let to the tenant farmer, Henry Twynam. Twynam had recently been appointed as Surveyor of the Highway on the Vestry; although not himself an owner of property, he might have been asked to represent Samuel Eggar.

There were also several non-resident owners of significant holdings and therefore votes as ‘Commoners’, such as Messrs Andrews, Eggar, Hall, Houlden and Tice and Mmes Benham, Leghorn, Osborne and Shipley.

For some in the village, the prospect of transforming Aldershot Common into productive agriculture would be judged positively, both additional land holdings for the leading members of the parish and improved job opportunities for their workers. The owners of the larger holdings had most to gain financially from enclosure of ‘the waste’. Once enclosed, there was the potential to bring the land into cultivation, as arable or for use as grazing.

In total, about 35 (one in five) of the 162 rate-paying households resident in the village were owner-occupiers, many with smallholdings. Commoners with smallholdings, had to offset that against the loss of their customary rights of turbary and forage, for fuel and the like.

The remaining 127 households in the village were in rented or tied accommodation were, with one or two exceptions, not Commoners.  These were the majority of agricultural labourers. They might have made various use of the heathland of Aldershot Common, even without any legal right of forage.

Tuesday, 12th July 1853

The Great Lamb Fair at Alton was organised by the North-East Hants Agricultural Association. James Elstone was an active member of the Association, with expertise in cattle and sheep.

The prices fetched were good, some 4. to 5 shillings per head above those achieved at the previous year’s Fair. From the farmer’s viewpoint, the weather at Alton had also improved, the Morning Advertiser later declaring it to be most favourable.

Saturday, 16th July 1853

The Assistant Commissioner was prompt in lodging his Report for the enclosure of Aldershot Common, only nine days after the Inquiry Meeting. It would make positive recommendations.

Monday, 18th July 1853

Two days later, the Inclosure Commissioners issued the Provisional Order for the enclosure of those 2,715. One of the signatories was William Blamire, a former Whig politician and Chief Tithe Commissioner who had become very influential.

The Provisional Order included three special allotments and needed the consent of the Aldershot Commoners. The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral at Winchester were to receive 1/15th of the total value of the Common. This was in recognition of their residual rights as the Lord of the Manor, “inclusive of mines, etc”. Next, the four acres of the village green, referred to as “Paines Green”, was to be set aside. Lastly, there was provision for ten acres for the “labouring poor” and a further fifteen acres “as endowment for [a] national school.”

Thursday, 20th July 1853

The weather did not stop the Vestry from meeting at St Michael’s Church. The main business was agreement to make a rate for the relief of the poor at 7 ½d in the pound. Recorded in the minute book, this was signed off by Rueben Attfield, Assistant Overseer.

Two matters of significance were almost certainly discussed. The first would have been the terms of the Provisional Order for the enclosure of Aldershot Common. The other would have been the actions of the District Auditor. Following his examination of the Overseers’ Book for the previous year, ending March 1853, the Auditor Thomas Hoskins had instructed certain deductions, under his signature on June 7th.

The audited Overseers’ Book had recorded a small negative balance for the half-year ending 25 March 1853. The deficit was £5 – 19s – 6 ¼d in a total spend of £230 – 15s – 8d. Although this was less than three per cent variation, all would have been mindful of Charles Dickens’s book David Copperfield. Serialised in monthly instalments from May 1849 to November 1850, the feckless character Mr Micawber declares,

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.

The DistrictAuditor Thomas Hoskins had disallowed three items:

    • £3 – 3s. paid to Mr Keen for surveying the property [presumably that of the Union School] as the order had not previously been sanctioned by the Guardians of the Farnham Union
    • £1 – 1s. as part of what was paid to William Hollest [solicitor in West Street, Farnham] for drawing up a special bond for Assistant Overseer and Surveyor [R. Attfield]
    • 17s. paid to Henry Elkins; his bill as Constable included some charges which were illegal and had not received sanction by the signature of the parties.

The disallowed total of £5 – 1s. was legally due to be repaid by the Overseers, William Faggetter and Francis Deakins. Whether it was paid by other members of the Vestry on their behalf is not known.

Curiously, what was likely the most relevant page in the Vestry minute book had apparently been removed.

Small-Pox

Also, on that day there were reports from the House of Commons of a bill which would make vaccination against small-pox compulsory. Small-pox was a very real and continuing threat in country and town. Mortality in England, where vaccination remained voluntary, remained greater in England than in any other country in Europe and affected all classes.

Lord Palmerston felt obliged to accept that “the classes most in need of this protection were the poorest and most ignorant”. Despite objections from others preferring voluntary vaccination and education to overcome prejudice, the Vaccination Extension Bill received its second reading.

Friday, 21st July 1853

One lesson Viscount Hardinge had taken from the Camp at Chobham was the need for a camp of exercise which could operate all year round. Also, he did not wish repeatedly to hire land, to, as he had to do at Chobham, and to approach Parliament for ad hoc grants. This he had made known in correspondence in mid-June to his close confident Lord Seaton. No doubt this has also been shared with Prince Albert and Viscount Hardinge had been obliged to report frequently to the Palace.

Hardinge would have been pleased to receive the letter which Prince Albert wrote on this day to offer to the Commander-in-Chief his support. [Strachan]

Neither Viscount Hardinge nor Prince Albert were aware of the machinery in other parts of government; the formal procedure for the proposal to enclose Aldershot Common was now well underway.

Sunday, 23rd July 1853

The Commoners of Aldershot lost no time in lodging their consent to the terms of the Provisional Order. This required a two-thirds majority, in terms of Rateable Value property. As indicated, according to the Rate Book for April 1853, the total Rateable Value (RV) for the parish as a whole was £2,232.

For a two-thirds majority, a combined rateable value of over £1,300 was required. Although the five families possessing the largest holdings, that is, above 100 acres, accounted for just over half (£951) of the total Rateable Value (£1,806) in private ownership, as many as twenty ‘commoners’ would have had to agree.  

Nothing could happen, however, until Parliament gave its approval. The last part of that process was the inclusion in a consolidated Report put to Parliament to secure an Authorising Act. Nobody knew when that would be.

Saturday, 30th July 1853

A week later, Commander-in-Chief Viscount Hardinge was still none the wiser of developments at Aldershot. He had traveled to Chertsey Camp in order to arrive by 11 o’clock for the Grand Field Day at Chobham Common.

Lord Cardigan, the Bishops of Litchfield and Oxford, the Speaker of the House of Commons and three Generals were already assembled, joined by thousands of spectators. As many as 3,500 had been passengers to Chertsey in special trains laid on by the South-Western Railway. As many more had arrived by way of Windsor using trains from the Great-Western Railway.

General Lord Seaton had ordered out the whole army to receive the Commander-in-Chief with military honours. Described by the press as the “noble and gallant veteran”, Viscount Hardinge rode along the line, accompanied by his daughter.

Story continues in August

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
the Lady ELLEN TICHBORNE,
eldest daughter of Robert White, of Aldershott, Esq.
who godly departed thys lyfe the 18 day of May,
in the year of our redemption 1696, and of her age 27.

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

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

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

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

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

6th March 1853

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

Three christenings took place at Matins.

Charles Young

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

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

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

Esther Barnett

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

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

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

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

William Attfield

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

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

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

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

10th March 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14th March 1853

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

The first bride, Jane Fludder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moses Matthews, Groom’s side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second bride, Eliza Hall

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

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

In any event, it was complex.

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

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

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

The Groom, Francis Newell

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

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

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

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

15th March 1853

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

23rd March 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25th March 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tichborne Dole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27th March 1853

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

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

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

=> More on the Allden family

29th March 1853

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

Buckingham Palace, 29th March 1853

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=> 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.