Englefield through the ages has been home to many people of all kinds. We think of geographical mobility as being a modern phenomenon but that is not the case. After the Black Death craftsmen found their skills in such demand that they could move around looking for the best jobs and agricultural workers in particular often moved jobs on a yearly basis. This mobility was helped, of course, by the availability of the tied or rented cottage so the moving was relatively simple compared to today's business of buying and selling houses and obtaining mortgages. Nevertheless, there seems to be a remarkable sort of "stickability" about Englefield, for many who were born there, or who came there later, remained for the rest of their lives. Emily Horne, whose father's family had been in Englefield since at least the early 17th century, married in 1907 while in service at Henley but came back to Englefield to live with her mother at number 10 in the Street when her agricultural labourer husband enlisted in the army in 1915. By then they had four children, all born in different places. After her husband returned from the war they lived initially at Rose Cottages in North Street but when he died in 1925 they were at Crookham, near Thatcham. Emily and the children (now five of them) then came back to number 10 again and remained there until her death in 1981.
In the 1851 census, of the 73 households recorded in Englefield, 32 had a head of household who had been born in the village, including six members of the Horne family and three Coxes. In five of those 32 households both husband and wife had been born in Englefield, including Charles Cox and Caroline Cox, née Horne. In a further 7 households, although the (male) head had not been born in Englefield his wife had been. The effective numbers born in Englefield might actually be even larger for it was quite common for a woman living in Englefield but born in one of the neighbouring villages to return to her mother's home for the birth of a child, so this might apply in the case of some of those shown as born in Sulhamstead, Burghfield, Bradfield or other local places. North Street, too, was in Tilehurst parish at this time, although effectively an outlying part of Englefield. Where the birth place of the head of household was not Englefield, in 23 cases it was in one of the surrounding satellite villages to the main estate.
In the first year of the next century, also the first of the Edwardian era, the number of houses had fallen to 67 and only 13 of them had a head of household born in the village. In 2 of the cases where the head of household was a man born in Englefield, his wife had been also and 2 male heads not born in Englefield had a wife who had been. As further evidence of the mobility that had occurred in 50 years, only 20 of the heads of household not born in the village had been born in the associated villages nearby. Thus in that time the village had gone from 75% "local" people down to 50%. There were now five Cox families, all born in the village, and only two Hornes, although Fanny Horne, born Fanny Pusey in Bradfield and mother of Emily, was the widow of William Horne who had been born in Englefield.
Part of the explanation for this may be that girls went out into service and found husbands there, as Emily Horne did, and although some, like her, sooner or later came back to Englefield many did not. There was also an inflow of servants to work at Englefield House and the Rectory and some of these, including some from the Benyon’s London house, married into village families.
The professionals, like the Agent, the farm bailiffs, Clerks of the Works at the Timber Yard and the clergy usually came from wider afield, even as far as Scotland in the case of William Rhind who was Clerk of Works in the 1880s and 90s, and Wales in the case of Jenkin Davies at Wickcroft Farm. Some served in their offices for a time and then moved on but many stayed and ended their days in the churchyard, as William Rhind and Jenkin Davies did. Several of the clergy, among them Francis Eyre, Henry Travers and David Cound, also have their final resting place in the same churchyard where they had read the committal for so many of their fellow villagers.
The great majority of these people have gone unrecorded except in a few remaining fading family photographs of unidentified people. In these pages we tell a little about some of the people who have made the village over the generations.
© 2017 Richard J Smith