Englefield History

Jenkin Davies of Wickcroft Farm

 

Jenkin Davies was a Welsh farmer from a farming family, born 1824 in Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan. He arrived at Wickcroft Farm in May 1857 in somewhat unusual circumstances. He had married Anne Wiltshire, a servant girl in his village but originally from Studley in Wiltshire and Anne gave birth to twin boys but died shortly afterwards, as did one of the boys. Anne’s sister Martha had gone from home in Wiltshire to be with her sister at the end and stayed to help with the remaining child. She and Jenkin became close but the law did not then allow a man to marry his dead wife’s sister and within a year Jenkin had moved to Wickcroft Farm - taking Martha with him.

 

Jenkin and Martha remained at Wickcroft, where they lived as man and wife and had 14 children, until his death. Although the census returns say they were married it is clear from the grant of probate to “Martha Wiltshire (commonly known as Martha Wiltshire Davies)” referred to as a spinster, that they were not. All of their 14 children had the middle name Wiltshire.

 

A few days after Davies arrived at Wickcroft, on 7 May 1857, one of his workers was accused of stealing a knife from him. Davies had mislaid the knife in the rick-yard and it was found by Charles Horne who kept it. A few days later he sold it to a man named Liddiard for a short smock and sixpence. Charles Horne was found guilty by the magistrates and sentenced to 10 days imprisonment with hard labour.

 

 

 

Jenkin Davies was an innovative farmer and and an early adopter of machinery and in 1865 he designed and patented a sack holder. His enthusiasm for modern practices would have struck a chord with Richard Benyon for he was himself a keen proponent of all the latest equipment and methods, which he tried out at Chalkpit Farm. As well as being a farmer Davies was also a prominent local auctioneer and had a stand at the Reading Cattle Market. He took a prominent part in public life with the South Berks Agricultural Society and was also elected a County Councillor when the County Councils were introduced in 1888. He was a Guardian of the Bradfield Union and Overseer of the Poor for the parish of Englefield as well as Overseer of Highways.

 

Jenkin Davies had an attack of rheumatic fever in early 1893 from which he was not expected to recover. Although he did get better he suffered afterwards from angina pectoris and died on 14 September 1893 from such an attack. Martha died 5 February 1898 at Wallingford but was buried at Englefield on 10 February with Jenkin and three of their children who had died in infancy and is referred to on it as his widow.

© 2019 Richard J Smith

Englefield History

Englefield History
Englefield History
Englefield History