Englefield History

Englefield People


Englefield people, as elsewhere, were always a mixture. Some like William Cox, Egbert Allen and William Horne, were born, married, lived their whole lives, died and are buried there; many of them with ancestors in the village at least back to the beginning of parish records in the 16th century and probably beyond. Others came on marriage or for work; some stayed and some moved on again. Some of those born in the village moved away too, but for a long time Englefield seemed largely to hold on to its own.


In the census of 1851, the fourth year of Victoria’s reign, of the 73 households recorded in Englefield, 32 had a head of household who had been born in the village. In five of those 32 households both husband and wife had been born in Englefield and in a further seven households, although the (male) head had not been born in Englefield his wife had been. There were five separate Horn households, four Coxes and five Allens - of the total population of 359, just under a quarter had one of those three surnames.


The professionals, like the Agent, the farm bailiffs, Clerks of the Works at the Timber Yard and the clergy usually did move around over a wide area. In the last quarter of the 19th century William Rhind who was Clerk of Works at Englefield was from Scotland; Jenkin Davies, tenant at Wickcroft Farm came from Wales; Richard Todd, the Agent, was from Yorkshire as was his predecessor John Turner; Thomas Hand, bailiff at Chalkpit Farm, from Warwickshire; and Rectors Charles Travers and later David Cound from Ireland and Wales, respectively. Some served in their offices for a time and then moved on in the course of their careers, but some stayed for many years and ended their days in the churchyard, as did William Rhind and Jenkin Davies. Several of the clergy, among them Francis Eyre 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, although Francis Eyre had for many years been in retirement at Tunbridge Wells when he died in 1878. Charles Travers lies there too, though after only four years in the village, succumbing to pleurisy said to have been initiated when, after returning home from Reading with his clothes soaked by a storm on the way, he immediately went out again without changing to visit some sick parishioners.


Some of the workers did move around too. Oliver Hopley, a joiner at the Yard, came to Englefield from Cholmondley in Cheshire in 1898 when in his twenties and remained until his death at the age of 89 in 1960, playing a full part in the church choir, cricket team, fire brigade and the Club Committee. Agricultural workers were particularly prone to moving jobs regularly at Michaelmas: Emily Horne married William Percy Smith in 1907 and over the next seven years they had four children, each born in a different place - and a fifth after the War in yet another place.


There was a general propensity in country villages for people to marry the first eligible person of the opposite sex that they met when they left the house in the morning so that village society came to be every bit as much a network of families related by marriage as did the aristocracy. Perhaps Englefield maintained the practice for longer than many places. Caroline Horne and Charles Cox were both born in Englefield and living close to each other at Malpas in North Street when they married in 1848. Esther Horne lived at number 10 and married Frederick Vince from just across the road at number 7 in 1903, again both were born in Englefield. Frederick’s mother was also born in Englefield as was Esther’s father. Frederick’s sister Mary (Kitty) later married Arthur Dance also from the village (though born at Hurst) and Esther’s sister Ethel married George Parsons from 51 Parker’s Corner.


Throughout Victoria’s reign and after, mobility increased dramatically for a number of reasons, one certainly being the possibilities opened up by new industries. Soon after their marriage Frederick and Esther Vince moved away to East Anglia with his job on the railway, an option not open to Charles Cox in 1848, although he did move with the times, becoming an agricultural engine driver at Little Heath in the 1870s. In the census of 1901, the first year of the 20th century and the first of the Edwardian era, only 13 of the 67 houses in Englefield had a head of household born in the village. In only two of the cases were both man and wife born in Englefield, and only two male heads not born in Englefield had a wife who had been.


Englefield tended to keep itself, and its people, to itself for perhaps much longer than many places and people from outside were still a noticeable rarity even into the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the origin of its population changed a good deal during the time of Queen Victoria. In addition to the general increase in mobility at that time Englefield had one particular factor: even in 1851 the Englefield estate covered a greater area than just the immediate surrounds of the village. There was therefore more interaction between these surrounding parishes for work or social reasons than might otherwise have been the case and many a marriage resulted. Of the 41 instances in the 1851 census where the birthplace of the head of household was not Englefield, in 23 of them it was in one of the immediately surrounding villages. By 1901 the estate took in at least parts of the parishes of Ufton, Sulhamstead, Burghfield, Mortimer, Theale, Bradfield and even further afield and although the number of households where either husband or wife had been born in Englefield had fallen considerably, the number of heads of household not born in the village but born in the associated villages nearby was nearly the same as in 1851 at 20. These figures may be skewed somewhat by the tendency of women to return to their mother’s home as the birth of a child drew near, as witness the number of children shown as born in the same (neighbouring) village as their mother although she and her husband were resident in Englefield at the time.


Sometimes, too, there was no house available in the village for workers at the Yard, the Gardens or on one of the Englefield farms when they married and they were forced to commute from an estate property elsewhere until a house nearer their work became available, leading to at least some of the next generation being born outside Englefield but then becoming very much part of the village later. Alfred Lamperd, living with his parents at Wimbleton’s before his marriage 1908, lived afterwards in Church Terrace at Theale until 33 North Street became available. “Jim” Smith lived at number 10 with his mother until he married Renee Cook in 1951 when the only house vacant was 60 Mayridge Farm Cottages (at least still on the main estate) although he worked at Chalkpit. They were later able to move into 31 North Street.


Perhaps the main thing that created movement of people in the 19th century, in Englefield as elsewhere, was the practice of sending young men and women to be domestic servants in households distant from their home village. Of the 18 servants living-in at Englefield House in 1901, three were born in other parts of Berkshire with the remainder coming from a wide variety of places across the country: from Scotland to Devon; Westmorland to Norfolk. To this must be added some of the more senior servants who were married and lived-out: butlers Edgar Worth (born in Sussex) at number 5 in 1901 and Donald Large at Wimbleton’s Cottages in 1939, for example. Similarly, chauffeurs, coachmen and grooms,married or not, generally lived over the Stables, as did Percy Garton in 1939 and Frederick Reid in 1901.


In 1851 two maids had Englefield House to themselves on census night, the family being at their London house, 34 Grosvenor Square, with 19 servants, including coachman James Smales from Cumberland. His wife, Mary Ann Smales also from Cumberland, was at number 4 in The Street. Most of the servants no doubt had travelled from Englefield but their places of birth, showed the same spread as in 1901. The only example found of a living-in servant born in Englefield was in 1881 when Caroline Cox was a stillroom maid at 17 Grosvenor Square, to which Richard Benyon had moved from number 34 in 1869.


Given the propensity of country people for next-door marriages, the presence of servants in the village community usefully stirred up the gene pool by “out-crosses”, both between servants or their children and villagers and between servants in the same or associated households. May Winchcomb (granddaughter of Thomas Horn and Matilda May, representing the union of two long-time Englefield families) married Shropshire groom Ted Van Veen; Arthur Claydon, son of James and Clara Claydon at the Club, married Mabel Reid, daughter of Mr Benyon’s coachman Frederick and Hannah Reid, from Blackheath and Scotland respectively. Annie Claydon, Arthur’s sister, didn’t go far for service herself, being cook to the Rector, the Reverend Granville Gore Skipwith, but she married William Milne (originally from Kent) who was chauffeur to the Rector’s father-in-law George Tyser at Oakfield near Mortimer and after the First World War (during which William was twice awarded the MM) they lived in the village until he died in 1938. Emily Horne, from number 10 in The Street, was in service at Henley when she married William Percy Smith from Remenham and after years of moving around with him came back to Englefield when he died in 1925 and stayed until her death in 1981. Renee Cook, whose father William took over the Club from James Claydon, was a children’s nanny at a nursery in Newbury during Second World War and in 1942 married John Hayward, originally from Corsham but a chauffeur at Speen. Sadly, the marriage lasted but six months before he was killed in the Mediterranean and Renee later reverted to type by marrying her sister’s husband’s brother from six doors down The Street.


Despite all the changes during and since the War, a few descendants of the old families cling on, if not exactly in Englefield then not far away. Others are represented only by a few fading photographs, mostly of people whose names are unknown.


© 2021 Richard J Smith

Englefield History
Englefield History
Englefield History
Englefield History