Wed on St Valentine’s Day, 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More at

February 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.


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

May 1853

The start of the merry month was as it should be. According to the Sussex Advertiser, all across the southern counties it was “warm, sunny and balmy.”

The farmers likely remained less merry despite that cheery sentiment, the weather having been “changeable” towards the end of April. The Advertiser had noted that the protracted cold caused “vegetation everywhere [to be] most backward” and unpromising, the wheats showing a yellow and unhealthy tinge. 

May Day

Last year’s May Day had been one of local celebration in Aldershot, the village schoolmistress Miss Naomi York had been married at the parish church on that Saturday. It is easy to envisage gaily dressed children accompanying the bride in her finery as she processed to St Michael’s Church, then greeting her again as she emerged with her young husband, Mr Edward Snowdon, a machine maker from Farnham.

With the various customs of May Day thought to be so deeply ingrained in the culture of English rural life, it is also tempting to imagine the Maypole set in the middle of the village green at the foot of Church Hill. There were about thirty young women in the parish aged from 15 to 19, suggesting that there might have been some competition to be Queen of the May.

No record is found to say who she was in the village that year, nor how she was selected. Indeed, what evidence exists suggests that the day may not have been celebrated in that way at all.

Even by the 1840s, the customs of May-Day belonged to a time gone by.

Extract from Antony's 'May-Day In The Last Century'Part of ‘May-Day In The Last Century’ by Anthony, Illustrated London News, 3 May 1845

Later on in the week in May 1853, the Weekly Chronicle had also reflected that,

“the dance round the May-pole on the village green has been given up … the rising of maidens at early dawn to gather the dew on the first morning of May [is] no longer ..  a custom amongst our less primitive rural populations.”

The only reports of May Queen in the newspapers that year related to a boat; similarly, references to May Day were to a racehorse with that name. When there was mention of a May-pole being erected, it was either to note that the Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens had put on a show of the maypole, morris dancing and other “Old English rural sports, such as we are told were customary among our ancestors in the good old times”, or else report about one erected in the gardens of a mansion in Swindon for children to dance around. 

All matters to do with May Day went completely without comment in the Hampshire Chronicle and in most regional newspapers, although the Halifax Courier did report that its parade had been postponed until Monday as the day fell on a Sunday.

Sunday, 1st May 1853

That May Day was on a Sunday in 1853 would no doubt have put a damper on frivolity in the village, at least as far as the the curate was concerned, even supposing that the young man from the New Forest was interested in how May Day was celebrated at ” ‘ampshire’s top end”.

The Reverend James Dennett was very much a rural man, expected to do well for a parish community dependent upon agriculture. Just how he had made the move from his father’s cottage to hold the position as perpetual curate in their village might have seemed a mystery, even to the two churchwardens, Captain Newcome and Charles Barron Esq. Neither of them had a formal role in Dennett’s appointment. Nor had it been for the Bishop of Winchester alone to decide. In Aldershot, the advowson, that is the right to select and appoint the perpetual curate for the parish, was in the control of a consortium of four families of yeoman farmers. Their only representative now resident in the parish was Mr Richard Allden.

    • Despite that formality, candidates for the nomination as perpetual curate would very likely have originated from the man who operated as a rural archdeacon at Winchester Cathedral, the Very Reverend William Wilson. The 1851 Census recorded James Dennett as his house servant in Southampton where he was the Vicar of the parish of Holy Rhood.

=> More about James Dennett (& William Wilson)

The curate’s first month had been demanding, not only a wedding and three baptisms, but also his first meeting of the Vestry attended by those men of influence in the village.

The good news was that there had been no burials to oversee with funeral ceremony. However, with report of two deaths in the village, that good fortune was about to change. An infant had died on April 30th, Friday just passed, following the death a woman who had died the day before. This was the first time the curate would observe his parish clerk Thomas Attfield in is role as sexton and preparing the graves for the dead.

The dates of the funerals were fixed for Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week. Even with those dates entered in his appointment diary, the curate’s month ahead looked less full of parish duties than it had been for April.

There were no banns to be read this Sunday, his only additional duty was a baptism.

Caroline Marshall

The curate would not have known much if anything of the family of Caroline, the infant baptised at Matins on that first Sunday morning. She was the third surviving child of the agricultural labourer James Marshall and his wife Elizabeth, both parents now in their mid-thirties.

Caroline’s mother was from Farnham, baptised there in 1817 as Elizabeth Downes at the Church of St Andrew, the same church at which she and James had married in November 1845. Their first child had been born the next year when Elizabeth was aged 29.  Sadly, Anne was buried five days after her baptism at St Michael’s Church that April. A second child was baptised two years later, in September 1848 at the new Church of St John the Evangelist in Hale; the couple were then staying along the Farnborough Road. The couple were back in Aldershot by 1851, their third child baptised at St Michael’s in January that year; the Census lists the family living at Dog Kennel.

James Marshall was from a local family of agricultural labourers, he and his father, also called James, were both baptised at St Michael’s Church.

He had been the eldest of at least five children and had been in his late teens when his mother had died in January 1835 at the age of 36. His youngest brother Henry had been baptised only two years before, in 1833.

    • James’ parents were both underage when wed “with the consent of all concerned” at St Peter’s Church, Ash in 1816; (There is no proof that the marriage was forced by a pregnancy: no baptismal record found for a child of the couple before that of James in 1818, nor was one found baseborn of Jane Brown, that being his mother’s maiden name.)

James’ father, widowed with five children, had remarried a year afterwards in August 1836.  His bride was Caroline Chandler, more than 27 years his junior; at not yet 20, James’ stepmother was but a year older than he was.

    • Caroline was the daughter of a carpenter, baptised in Egham. However, she married in Aldershot, not in Egham. Neither was able to provide a signature in the marriage register. (Thomas Attfield had signed as one of the witnesses, as the newly appointed parish clerk.)

Sadly, James’ half-sister Ann had died at age 14 in 1838 and by 1841 James and his two brothers Charles and William had all left home. his brother William died in 1848, at age 28. His youngest brother Henry had remained with their father and stepmother Caroline, then living on Place Hill. By 1851 James’ brother Charles has moved back to be with his father and stepmothert: they had moved to a cottage on North Lane owned by the farmer Thomas Smith; that Smith paid the rates suggests that this was a tied cottage. James’ brother Henry had left to be a farm servant on the Poyle House estate by 1851, staying on Poyle Lane with the bailiff George Nurse, from Norfolk.

The Great Encampment

More details of plans for a camp of military exercise were becoming available in the newspapers, the exact position of ‘the great encampment’ was to be Chobam Common.

According to the report in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, the event would last about six weeks from the beginning of June. Viscount Hardinge, the Commander-in-Chief, was to stay at a mansion at Summer Hill and the Duke of Cambridge was to establish the headquarters at Bagshot Park.

Participating regiments were preparing to move from their barracks in Windsor, the Tower, Chichester and Regents Park. The event was expected to be …

“no doubt … one of the grandest military spectacles
.. witnessed in England for more than half a century”.

With the choice of Chobham decided, plans were well in hand for maps “to guide the Generals in the choice of positions, manœuvres, marches, &c.” for the ‘Great Encampment’, as recorded soon afterwards in a ‘History of the Royal Sappers and Miners’. The Four large sheets were compiled, drawn to a scale of four inches to a mile, then lithographed and coloured. A 12-inch plan of the encampment around Chobham also was commissioned.

An area of about 220 square miles around was surveyed, with cardinal angles selected at Wokingham, Chertsey, Guildford and Farnham, as roughly sketched below.

Rough area for 1853 military map for Chobham

A special survey of the ground at Aldershot Heath was made and plotted by Sgt. Spencer and Cpl Macdonald, the scale being six inches to the mile. All was to be carried out and completed between 1st May and 14th June. Sappers from the Royal Engineers would be seen in their working dress uniform with surveying equipment all across the heathlands.

Sappers Surveying in Working Dress 1854

Monday, 2nd May 1853

Topics in the newspapers the next week included concern about the growth of population and of the spread of disease and its associated causes, with the weather, the state of public health competing as explanation with that of poverty and threats of pestilence and infection from abroad.

Public interest was fed by the extensive publication of statistics, especially of child mortality.  When presenting before the Epidemiological Society of London on May 2nd, Dr John Snow reported that

It is well known that the average duration of life in the large towns of this country is much less than amongst the rural population.

This depends, as most persons are aware, partly on the smaller number of persons who attain to old age in large towns, and partly on the greater mortality in infancy and early childhood.

He contrasted the high proportion of total deaths in cities being of children under five [Liverpool (52%), Manchester (51%) and London (>40%]) with the “the more distant and rural part of Surrey” around Guildford, Farnham and Hambledon in which less than 29% of deaths were under five years old.

However, Dr Snow went on to state, living in a town is not itself cause of the difference in mortality in general: “In London the mortality amongst females, between fifteen and twenty-five years of age, is lower than in the rural districts; but in the towns w[h]ere textile fabrics are manufactured, the mortality at this period is higher.”

    • These are, of course, the ages of the young women who had left villages to enter domestic service in the towns and cities, so perhaps this was the explanation. 

The focus then was on the squalor of life in parts of the cities with prospect of low life expectancy. In contrast, the villages, where half the population still lived, was taken by default as the comparator. What was not then thought relevant was that the much greater extent of physical work, including the lengthy walk to work, combined with large consumption of fresh and varied produce meant that the agricultural workers of the 1850s were very healthy.  

Tuesday, 3rd May 1853

The curate conducted his first funeral in his new parish for the a child called Charles Young. He had died aged only four weeks old on 30 April. The cause would be listed as “Inflammation of the lungs – not certified” when the death was eventually registered on 17 June 1853 by Mary Matthews, a younger sister to the child’s mother Martha who had been present at the death.

Reverend Dennett would likely have checked that the child had been baptised, noting that this had by done by his predecessor in the previous month. Perhaps he would have recalled how shocked he himself had been when hearing of the news in March of the death of Frank Henning, the infant he had baptised when first visiting Aldershot in January.

Just how much the curate would have known about this child’s parents, Charles and Martha Young is unclear. Thomas Attfield, who had dug the grave for the infant in his combined role as sexton as well as parish clerk, would have surely known of the gossip. The father Charles had been a prisoner in the Police Station in Farnham at the time of the Census in 1851. His wife Martha had been a mother prior to their marriage, two children in the household with her maiden name of Matthews: ‘Miriam Crane’ Matthews, registered in Farnham in 1844, and Richard Matthews, baptised as illegitimate in Aldershot in 1846.

Wednesday, 4th May 1853

The curate’s second funeral, held on Wednesday, the next day, was for Eliza Nicholls. She had passed away on April 29th, aged 37 with cause was noted as “Chronic Disease of the Heart – not certificated”. She had died with her mother Eleanor Nicholls at her bedside. Her mother reported Eliza to be a ‘Servant’ when later registering her death. 

Born in the village, Eliza was the eldest child of Eleanor and James Nichols, an agricultural labourer with a rented cottage at West End. Eliza had been baptised in August 1815, her sister Mary in November 1817,  Jane, the youngest daughter in February 1820. She had two younger siblings, George and Agnes who were with their parents as teenagers in 1841. Eliza and her two sisters, Mary and Jane, had left home by 1841. It seems likely that they had all been working in London; Eliza was then a female servant in the household of the artist Edward Pasquier in Upper Gower Street, St Pancras, in 1841.

Eliza’s sister Mary had married a baker in London in 1849, Eliza recorded with her as a visitor in Isleworth, near Brentford, in 1851. In that same year, Jane was a domestic servant in an orphanage in Clapham. By then George had also left the family home, a cottage in the West End rented from Stephen Barnett. Agnes, however, had remained in Aldershot, recorded by the 1851 Census as a lodger in her parents’ house together with her husband and children. She had married the tilemaker Henry Stonard in 1844; he was the son of one of the two Brickmasters in the village. The baptism of Agnes’ fifth child earlier in the year, in January 1853, had been a happy family occasion for the grandparents, in stark contrast to the ordeal of attending the burial of Eliza, James and Eleanor’s own eldest child.

    • Eliza’s parents had married in St Giles, Ashtead, Surrey in October 1814. The entry in the register notes that the marriage was by Banns, “with consent of Friends”. As bride, her mother, Eleanor, could sign her name, James Nichols could not. Both were described as “of this parish”, likely because James was working in the area near Epsom, where Eleanor had been baptised in January 1789, to parents John and Penelope Iles.  She was older than James who had been baptised in February 1792 at St Peter’s Church, Ash, to parents Charles and Elizabeth. 

Monday, 9th May 1853

The increase in the ‘excessive mortality’, attributed to smallpox, scarlatina, typhus, influenza and bronchitis, reported in the Quarterly Returns from the Registrar-General, was featured in The Illustrated London News.

    • There had been 118,251 deaths in the first three months of 1853, the ‘winter quarter’, exceeding by 11,550 (10.8%) the deaths in the equivalent period of 1852 and “still more for any previous except 1847 and 1848 when influenza and cholera prevailed”. 

The Morning Chronicle noted that the Registrar-General attributed many of the deaths to small-pox to neglect on the part of parents to have their children vaccinated. The Poor Law Board used the publication of its Annual Report to call the attention of guardians of several unions to the mortality arising from this epidemic, including printed notices to secure public attention amongst the poorer classes.

A bill was being introduced in Parliament directed at compulsory vaccination of babies against smallpox. It was to be debated that month in the Committee stages in the House of Lords.  Notwithstanding, the newspapers were reporting progress being made with Smallpox vaccinations. The total number of persons successfully vaccinated by the public vaccinators in England and Wales during the previous year had been 397, 128, an increase of 58,181 (17.2%) over the number in 1851.

Tuesday, 10th May 1853

The keen eyed amongst those who frequented London from the village might have noted, with interest bordering on curiosity, two advertisement in The London Gazette and The Globe. These had been placed by the Office of Ordnance as tenders for “paillasse straw” and “Wood for Billets”, respectively. These were to be “for the Service of the Troops at the proposed Encampment in the neighbourhood of Chobham-common, in the County Surrey, and of Aldershot Heath in the County of Hants.”

What Dennett Did Next

Now with a clear diary, the young curate had opportunity to take stock and reflect upon his priorities for the parish, both personal and for his vocation. 

At some stage there was still that obligation for Reverend James Dennett to meet with Bishop Sumner at his palace in Farnham Castle. That was but an hour’s walk from the curate’s parsonage, with a choice of route, both much the same distance. Being new to the area, the simpler of the two was to go due South, all the way down the lane from the schoolhouse to where Boxalls Lane met the foot of Place Hill, then to go on to the Pea Bridge and over the Blackwater into Badshot and the road Farnham. Then finally, when arriving in the town, to turn right and walk up to the top of Castle Street. 

The alternative route, likely preferred by villagers for the ease of its gradient, required some local knowledge. Rather than take the lane from the schoolhouse all the way down, there was a path to the right that cut diagonally southwest through fields which in bygone years had once been farmed by the Cistercian monks from Waverley Abbey. That way came out at Arnsted Lane, across from Dog Kennels. Then it was due west past the alehouse on the corner and left up towards Hale going by Weybourne House. Finally, by going straight on at the crossroads and onto the Six Bells, there was a path right along the edge of Farnham Park to the Castle grounds. 

Doubtless, the new curate would also have wished to confer with Reverend Wilson to seek advice about his recent experiences. As one of the more senior rural deans, he held the position of Canon at the Cathedral in Winchester.

The journey to Winchester might be made by coach from Farnham although it could also be done by railway from the station at Farnborough. That was the railway that ran from London to Southampton.

Reverend Wilson was Rector of Holy Rhood in Southampton, but of greater relevance that city was also where Mary Ann Compton lived. She was the daughter of a local businessman in Reverend Wilson’s parish. Keeping in touch with Mary Ann, the young woman to whom James would later be married, was now easy by letter, the penny post now well established. However, according to the railway timetable, published every Saturday on page 6 of the Hampshire Chronicle, there were daily trains from the station at Farnborough to Southampton.

Of course, making use of Farnborough station would mean a longer walk from his parsonage, but that could be done in not much more than an hour and a half. If he needed to take luggage, perhaps he might shorten the time taken by making use of one of the carriers in the village, Joseph Miles or Stephen Porter. 

There was a train from Farnborough which left at 9.35am and arrived in Southampton five minutes before midday. The earlier one at 8.18am would do so by ten o’clock, suggesting that he could be there and back in a day. The very last train left Southampton at 7pm, changing at Basingstoke, arrived back in Farnborough by nine o’clock in the evening. To avoid a long walk to Aldershot after dark, he would need to check whether there was a coach from the station to Farnham with a convenient stopping place along the Turnpike Road. Having to catch the three o’clock train back might have seemed too short a visit to be worthwhile. 

Parochial Duty

Refocussing his attention upon his vocation and mission as curate, the Reverend James Dennett had obligation to attend to the needs of the poor. That required an understanding of the stance of the Aldershot Vestry towards poor relief, especially ‘out-door relief’, that is, assistance by way of food, clothing and money, as well as lodging and medical attention, given in a person in their own home, rather than through admission into a workhouse. 

Provision, especially for those regarded as ‘deserving poor’, such as the elderly, the infirm, lunatics and widows and orphans in distress, had long been governed by the Poor Laws. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 attempted to unify nationally the varied provision given in each parish. Intended to lower the cost of poor relief, parishes were grouped into unions of parishes. These were given national direction to reduce outdoor relief and have different types of workhouses for the aged, for children and for men and women, all to be monitored by a central government agency. It took years to come into effect.

    • Training for the ministry would have provided the curate with an understanding of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. The Report of the 1832 Poor Law Commission, drafted by Edwin Chadwick and chaired by the Bishop of London, had included Bishop Charles Sumner’s elder brother, John Bird Sumner, a future Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Opinion was divided on the appropriate approach to assisting the ‘deserving poor’. The curate would therefore have been interested in reading past minutes of the Vestry, and perhaps also in the Overseer’s Account Book, in order, thereby, to understand something of past practice in the parish. 

The Curate and the Vestry Minute Book

With the year ending March 1853 closed, the record of the rates collected in the Poor Rate Book for 1852/53 was due to be audited, so too the accounts of expenditure by William Faggetter and Francis Deakins as joint Overseers. Both had to be signed off by the District Auditor appointed by the Farnham Poor Law Union to which the parish belonged. That would happen in June, although not without amendment. 

Asking to inspect the Overseers’ Book might have seemed a rash move, even for a young man in a hurry. However, as the Vestry not due to meet again until July there was surely opportunity to look at the Minute Book. The numbered pages of the Vestry Minute Book would enable Reverend James Dennett to glean some understanding of the history of poor relief in the parish.

The entries were generally brief and summary, some just reporting the rate in the pound set for the poor law rate. 

The notes referring to the Vestry meeting held in April just passed were on page 109 of the Vestry Minutes Book. That had been written by Reuben Attfield in his role as the Assistant Overseer. They were very brief indeed, noting little more than agreement to make a rate for the relief of the poor at 15 pence in the pound. Dennett would need to remind himself that to assess the total amount collected, rates were levied more than once a year, often three times annually.

Turning to the start of the Minutes Book, the first minutes were of a meeting held on 10th day of April 1835. There, almost twenty years previously, was the name of Richard Allden as one of the churchwardens. He was ever present in one post or another down the years. The other churchwarden was John Eggar. There was none of the name Eggar now living in the village. The curate would learn that John Eggar had inherited the Manor Halimote for Aldershot in 1808 and that it was his younger brother Samuel who in 1853 was now the absentee owner of Manor Farm which he had let to the tenant farmer Henry Twynam. 

John Eggar had been a man of significant influence in the village for over thirty years until he left, at age 69, to retire to his home village of Bentley. The Great House, also referred to as the ‘Manor House’, together with its surrounding estate, had been sold by John Eggar in 1842. That was also when he handed over what became known as the Manor Farm estate to his younger brother Samuel, together with “the reputed Halimote Manor of Aldershot”, as referred to in the will of Thomas Buddle, from whom John Eggar had inherited.

=> John Eggar of Aldershot and Bentley

The departure of John Eggar coincided with both the statement of a deficit in the parish accounts and the greater presence of Charles Barron in village governance, having rebuilt Aldershot Place on the ruins of another Tichborne mansion.

One supposition is that Barron, aged 41 and having experience as a land proprietor in London, took charge in proposing the Tithe Apportionment Survey of 1841.  Charles Barron was installed as one of the churchwardens in March 1843 and continued as such thereafter, still retaining that office in 1853. Charles Barron Esq, who had a house in Pall Mall, seemed to be a man of substance and influence in the village. As Dennett would discover, Barron also owned the Grange Farm estate, across the Blackwater in Tongham. 

=> Charles Barron Esq

Perhaps of more direct interest for the young curate was the role taken by the churchwardens in chairing the Vestry. In a meeting of the Vestry in 1835, the curate Reverend Hume had been the chairman, as might have been expected and there were several occasions during the 1840s when Dennett’s immediate predecessor, Reverend Carey, was recorded as having done so. However, it was now Captain Newcome who assumed the role as part of his appointment as Churchwarden alongside Charles Barron.,

The curate would also note that the Vestry exercised control over what could occur on ‘Common Land’, although making reference to the Dean of the Cathedral, who was Lord of the Manor. Various initiatives to offset the effect of unemployment were taken in 1835 and later in 1842. There was also preference given to outdoor relief, including assistance given to Widow Matthews and for the washing and clothing of two men called Hall. 

There was rich information on that amongst the minutes, as well as detail of office bearers and the appointment of parish officials, such as the parish clerk, the hayward and parochial constables. 

=> Vestry Minute Book

In March 1837 there had been reference to the let of two acres of land at Brixberry to Richard Cawson, to expire at Michaelmas 1841. Brixbury (Bricksbury) Hill, a place known previously as Tuxbury (Tukesbury) Hill, lay outside the parish boundary of Aldershot, located to the north of Farnham Park . This was the one of several puzzles the curate would have to solve about the actions of the Vestry towards poor relief. 

=> Brixbury [to be added at a later date]

In what might have been confusing, there was a younger John Eggar, the nephew of the older John and Samuel Eggar, who later held various positions on the Vestry up until 1850. He had taken over management of family’s farmlands in Aldershot; three of his children would be baptised in Aldershot during the period 1845 to 1849. 

The minutes made various references to the sale of the Aldershot Workhouse, noting that “the Paupers of this Parish be removed to the Workhouse at Farnham at a charge of 3 shillings and six pence each person per week”, an annual sum of £9 – 1s.

With the Reverend Henry Carey in the chair, the March meeting in 1848 was attended by the leading men of influence in the village: Richard Allden, Charles Barron, John Deacon, John Eggar [the younger], James Elstone, William Herrett, John Kimber, George Newcome and Henry Webster.  The latter, the landlord at the Bee Hive Inn, had been made Collector of Taxes. 

The minutes of that meeting make mention of a charitable bequest, a legacy left to the parish by Mrs Viner’s will. The mystery about Mrs Viner, her will and how that related to the Aldershot Workhouse, was something which the young curate would surely have wished to resolve. It might have taken some years before he knew the full story.

The building for Workhouse had been a rebuild of what had originally been constructed by Sir Richard Tichborne as his sub-manor when he had become the 2nd Baronet in 1629. The rebuild had been made possible through a bequest from Mrs Raleigh Viner, a descendent both of the sister of Sir Richard and also from Sir Walter Raleigh, a hero of the later Elizabethan age.

=> Mrs Viner and the Aldershot Workhouse [to be added at a later date]

In the minutes of Vestry meetings in more recent years was note of the appointment of Henry Elkins (baker), William Downes (dealer) and John Dutton (labourer) as Parochial Constables. The March meeting of 1852, chaired by Charles Barron, once again confirmed Messrs Allden and Elstone as Guardians and also Charles Barron as Churchwarden, this time alongside Reuben Attfield who was also appointed Assistant Overseer at a salary of £20. William Jefferson and Francis Deakin were made Overseers, James Elstone taking on the post of Surveyor, apparently without renumeration.

Page 108 contained the minutes of the Vestry meeting held in March 1853. It listed the office-holders in the Vestry for the coming year. Once more, Richard Allden and James Elstone were the Guardians representing the parish at the Farnham Poor Law Union and Charles Barron was a Churchwarden, the other being George Newcome. James Elstone had taken the post of  Overseer alongside Thomas Deacon. 

George Newcome had chaired the meeting in March 1853, the attendees listed as Messrs Elstone, Allden, Twynam, Herret, Hart, Stovold and George Gosden (his father William having died in 1851).

There was no mention of Charles Barron being present. The supposition is that he might therefore have been in London at his  Pall Mall residence.

Friday, 13th May 1853

What might either have passed unnoticed by any associated with the village, or to have set hares running, were two advertisements placed by the Board of Ordnance.

One appearing in the Globe on this Friday was “for the supply of wood for billets for the service of the troops at the proposed encampment in the neighbourhood of Chobham Common, in the County of Surrey, and Aldershot Heath, in the County of Hants.”

A similar advertisement had been placed in The London Gazette for ‘paillasse straw’, that is oaten straw used for bedding.

Saturday, 14th May 1853

What would not have passed unnoticed was the accident on the railway at Farnham that afternoon. Charles Cannon, aged 20, was a porter employed by the London and  South-Western Railway. He had been cut in two by the arrival of a second train shortly after the regular passenger train had done passed by. The Coroner’s Inquest would be held promptly on the Tuesday. It generated considerable interest in the town, as was later reported the next day in the Evening Standard. It transpired that the station master had not been informed of the timing of the arrival of the second survey/observation train.

Monday, 16th May 1853

The date of Whitsun Monday followed Whitsun, the name given to the Day of Pentecost. Whit Sunday was the sixth Sunday following Easter Sunday.

The roots of the Pentecost went back to a celebration fifty days after the Passover. In the Christian calendar it signified the descent to the Apostles of the Holy Spirit.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 226.png

Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860.

Reverend Dennett would have followed what was written in the Book of Common Prayer to guide the services he conducted on both Whit Sunday and Whit Monday.

Whit Monday was a public holiday, although what that meant for those who worked on farms was moot; even in the towns and cities this was not a paid holiday. However, something special had been advertised in London.

Ad for Electricity

There was a fascination with electricity, the science now being translated into inventions having practical use, such as long-distance telegraph to speed up communication. It was now being promoted as a source of light to rival the newly introduced gaslighting in the nation’s cities.

According to the Globe, “crowds of holiday folks” assembled on Hungerford Suspension Bridge to witness both towers brightly illuminated. “(T)he numerous gas-lamps on either side of he bridge appeared eclipsed, as it were by the marvellous action of the electric batteries.” The latter had been developed by Dr Watson at a lower and potentially economical cost.

Saturday, 21st May 1853

The leader column of the Mark Lane Express, which was syndicated in the regional weeklies, commented that the wet autumn had meant that farmers experienced difficulties in getting seed into the ground. Since then nights had been exceedingly cold and the days dull and cheerless. In the months of April and May there had been “an excess of wet”. Even now, temperatures were more typical of March than of May which had “commenced auspiciously” but “since had been a total of want of genial warmth so much needed”.

Prices had not risen however as there had “been large arrivals from the Mediterranean and Black Sea ports and “good supplies from the Baltic.”

The editor of the Mark Lane Express was Henry Corbet, Secretary of the London Farmers’ Club. He berated the malt-tax and supported the interests of the tenant farmer as much as he advocated the use of science to advance improvements in agriculture.

Eastern Question

The Hampshire Chronicle also included the leader from the Morning Herald which had an ambiguous messaged about the Eastern Question:

Morning Herald leader on Agreement Holy Land

The dispute between France and Russia about precedence at the Holy Shrines had apparently been settled. However, the Russian Ambassador, Prince Menshikoff, had demanded with Turkey to oversee the rights already granted to the Greek (Orthodox) subjects. The newspaper was calling for action to resist what was in the form of treaty, bemoaning “the compliant [Prime Minister] Aberdeen” and invoking the name of Viscount Palmerston.


The Hampshire Chronicle also included report that the exact position and form of the ‘Great Encampment’ on Chobham Common was now decided, the ground having been surveyed and “judiciously selected”.

There would be 10,000 encamped, some “on the ground about the  1st of June, but the whole of the encampment will not be formed until the first week of Ascot races”.  Lord Seaton was to take command, stationed at Highams in Chobham where he would entertain the Queen and Prince Albert.

    • It would later be suggested that Prince Albert had urged the choice of Chobham. 

Lord Hardinge would occupy a mansion near Sunninghill, the Duke of Cambridge would reside at Bagshot.

The Guards stationed at at Windsor, Winchester and Regents Park had already received orders to prepare format was to be “one of the grandest military spectacles which have been witnessed in England for more than half a century”:


Saturday, 28th May 1853

The leader in the Mark Lane Express, included in the Hampshire Chronicle this Saturday, struck a more optimistic note . It declared that a “decided improvement took place in the weather at the commencement of the week .. The autumn sown wheat looks better than it did eight to ten days ago .. but .. many farmers are of the opinion that the yield to the acre must prove short .. [Although the] days have been very hot, with bright sunshine .. the nights have been cold.” Despite all that, trade in the market was dull, largely due to “the continued liberal receipts of foreign grain”.


The Hampshire Chronicle included notice of about 150 acres of land newly available for sale through the enclosure of Ash Common. The land, declared freehold and tithe-free, was to be auctioned “in suitable lots from one acre to twenty acres, being good sites for building with frontages to good roads”. Further particulars were to appear in next week’s paper although additional information could readily be obtained from the valuer, Mr Charles Pink of Fareham.

This was a further stage in the process that had been underway during 1852 when Mr Pink had started to hold public meetings at the Greyhound Inn, just across the Blackwater from Aldershot, not far from the Ash Bridge.

General enclosure of common land had not yet come to Aldershot, although as with much of the area previously known as the Hundred of Crondall, land had been taken into cultivation from ‘the waste’ over the centuries. That process had been overseen by the local ‘Court Baron’ of Crondall and recorded in times past as ‘encroachment’, with hedges grown to mark out one field from the next, recognised as owned by different individuals through the system of copyhold. Encroachment on the ‘waste’ increased the extent of cultivated land in a parish, although it did require authority. Before the English Reformation that had been the Priory of St Swithun, the monastic order attached to the Cathedral, had been the ‘lord of the manor’; after the Reformation, the Priory was dissolved but the Prior was translated to become the Dean of the Cathedral along with its possessions. However, in practice, decision making on what could be ‘taken from the waste’ was devolved to the Vestry.

Nationally, enclosure of land had been carried out through a large number of individual Inclosure Acts going before Parliament. In 1845, to speed up the process, the  authorised enclosure of lands other than common pastures by provisional order alone. Permanent salaried Enclosure Commissioners were appointed having the power to issue Enclosure Awards without submitting them to parliament for approval. They had Assistant Enclosure Commissioners and Valuers/Surveyors to help them with their work.

As a result, by 1849, the parishes of Binsted and Headley had been subject to enclosure, of 990 and 1532 acres, respectively. This was followed in 1851 by the enclosure of 108 acres at Bentley, the home of the Eggar family who owned the Aldershot Manor Halimote with rights over about 3,000 acres on Aldershot Heath.

This General Enclosure Act was further amended in 1852 to require statutory authorisation for all enclosures.

Monday, 30th May 1853

Francis Barnett

The death of yet another infant brought sadness to the village at the end of the month. Aged only 15 months, Francis was the son of William and Esther Barnett. His death, registered at Farnham on that very same day, was reported as due to ‘Dentition’ after three days of convulsions by Jane Newell, the child’s grandmother, who had been in attendance at his passing.

=> June 1853






March 1853

March 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5th March 1853

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

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

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

Tichborne and White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=> Two brothers called John

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

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

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

Extract from Hampshire map of 1575

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6th March 1853

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

Three christenings took place at Matins.

Charles Young

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

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

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

Esther Barnett

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

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

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

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

William Attfield

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

The parents were both baptised in 1822, William in July and Caroline in January, at St Andrew’s Church in Farnham, which was where they later married in March 1841. In June, the Census listed William at Hoghatch in Upper Hale, staying with his older brother John and his family. 

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

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

10th March 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14th March 1853

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

The first bride, Jane Fludder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moses Matthews, Groom’s side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second bride, Eliza Hall

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

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

In any event, it was complex.

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

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

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

The Groom, Francis Newell

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

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

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

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

15th March 1853

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

23rd March 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25th March 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tichborne Dole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27th March 1853

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

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

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

=> More on the Allden family

29th March 1853

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

Buckingham Palace, 29th March 1853


=> April 1853

Edited on 24 February:

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

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



February 1853

February 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 5th February 1853

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 14th February 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 21st February 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

two maps 1841 1856 Cross House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 26th February 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The third son, Daniel, was born in Islington, although he was baptised in Aldershot in February 1802. He also became a sawyer and worked in London. All of his three teenage children by his second wife were born in Islington.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military Matters

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 27 February 1853

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=> More about the Attfield family.

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

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

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

=> March 1853