A Tale of Inheritance: The Neales

George Neale

courtesy Caitlin family tree on ancestry

James John Neale looked up at the portrait of his father, that epitome of the Victorian Age, continuing to dominate all that he surveyed from his position hanging over the fireplace. George Neale II had been a hard taskmaster, but they got on much better now that James was able to monopolise the conversation – indeed it was rare these days to get any response at all. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Not that the exchanges were completely one-sided. Sometimes, late at night, as James smoked a post-prandial cigar in his study and swirled his brandy round in a snifter, he had the distinct and uncomfortable feeling that his father was watching him and, on one memorable occasion, a sidelong glance at the portrait caught his father raising an eyebrow at him in a most disdainful manner. That was the night James had decided to cut down on the brandy.

It was his grandfather, George Neale I, who had moved to St Mary Bourne from Dorset in the early nineteenth century, and set up shop as a carpenter and wheelwright.1 Either he had been able to bring a capital sum with him from Dorset, or his business prospered mightily, as he was able to buy the George Inn in the centre of the village (which had been going for at least 100 years, plot 54), which he put in his wife’s name. George and his wife lived, and had their carpenter’s shop, near the church in the Egbury Road (plot number 20 in the Tithe Map below, and they rented part of plot 23 behind as an orchard).

Church close up - Copy

Detail of Tithe Map held at Hampshire Record Office 1840

James never met his grandfather and had no recollection of his grandmother, who had died when he was only one year old. After George I’s death, Harriet Neale had continued the carpentry and wheelwright business right up until her own death twenty one years later, at the age of seventy-seven, with her unmarried daughter Ellen living with her and working as a dressmaker.

By 1861, her eldest son, George II, (the one in the portrait) had moved into his own house, set up as a grocer employing one man, and married the unfortunately named Olive Green (more amusing for her parents than for her, no doubt). James had been born at the end of 1860, the sixth and last child of his parents: he had an elder brother (inevitably called George) and four sisters.

By 1871, George II had branched out into farming and described himself as a ‘shopkeeper, wheelwright and occupier of 77 acres of land, employing two labourers and one boy’. He had also taken on the post office, as well as owning a grocer’s and a draper’s (the two were probably not in the same shop – it is hard to imagine buying cotton reels and cabbage together). And George III is described as a baker.

By 1878, George III has taken on Jamaica Farm, to the east of the village.

Jamaica 001

Ordnance Survey Map 1875










So far, so good. But then two things happened. George II died in September 1879 and the agricultural depression took firm hold. The History Blog explains it thus:

External as much as internal forces increasingly influenced the Victorian countryside.[2]  The poor harvests and deep depression especially in the arable sector in the 1820s and 1830s[3] was followed by recovery as rising home markets took agriculture into a so-called ‘Golden Age’ from the late 1840s to the early 1870s.[4]  The dominance of wheat production ended as grain prices collapsed under the flood of cheap imports from the New World after 1875.  Free trade meant that British farmers could not respond.  Markets for stock and dairy products and perishable cash and fruit crops benefited from rising real wages and growing demand, but they too experienced foreign competition with the development of refrigeration and canning after 1870.  The agricultural depression of the late 1880s and 1890s was widespread and crippling. [5]  It reflected the decline of agriculture’s share of national income from one-fifth in 1850 to one-twelfth by the 1980s.[6]


In settling George III into Jamaica Farm, it had no doubt been George II’s intention to settle his eldest son into a lucrative business, which would allow him to live in relative comfort and continue to build the Neale family fortunes. The habit of primogeniture dies hard in the British male bosom.

By allocating the shop(s) and the post office to the younger of his two sons, James John, George II had presumably intended to leave him adequately provided for, but not to the same standard (or with the same social prestige) as George III. But fate and international markets had, as it turned out, decreed otherwise.

George Neale juniorPoor George III. He had not done too badly in the end, he moved to Charlton Manor Farm and spent the next forty years or so in some comfort, married Agnes Withers and had nine children. When he died in 1938, he was to leave George Neale probate 1938a respectable but not huge sum of £5,000.

And what of James John? Well, in 1911 he is listed as ‘Neale and Son, grocers, drapers, and sub-postmasters’. By 1920, he was to cross through the green baize door and be listed among the ‘Private Residents’ in Kelly’s Directory as the owner of Hilliers Lodge in Stoke.

No wonder George II raised a quizzical eyebrow at him from time to time.

1 George Neale the first died at the age of 45 and was buried in the churchyard of St Peter’s Church, St Mary Bourne, on 13 October 1840. A copy of his will (1841B/42) is held in the Hampshire Record Office; it gives his occupation as carpenter and wheelwright.

Ann Gibbons Pike


Edward Charles Barnes, resident in St Mary Bourne 1870s

Ann Gibbons Pike, born in St Mary Bourne in 1845, was first and foremost the daughter of George Gibbons, the Parish Clerk, who was the son of William Gibbons, in turn the son of John Gibbons, who had moved to St Mary Bourne from the neighbouring village of Hurstbourne Tarrant some time in the 1770s.

She sat at her kitchen table, drinking a glass of parsnip wine, and looked up at the drawing of her as a young woman which had been done by the famous artist Edward Charles Barnes. He had gone on to paint an oil picture based on this, which he had sold, but he had promised her the drawing and she had always loved it. She was the model, but the man was based on no one she knew. He had quite an eye for the ladies, did Mr Barnes, and she was by no means his only model in the village (and everyone agreed that his women were much more lifelike than the men).  He and his wife, Mary Anne, came to church from time to time, which is how she had got to know them. The vicar, together with her father, had applied a mixture of pressure and charm with the result that on 24 July 1875 Edward and Mary Ann had had their three children baptised together all on the same day, even though the oldest was seven years old by then!

She remembered the skirt she was wearing in the drawing, and having sewn on the border. She was also very proud of her boots, which had been made for her by her cousin Henry, one of the well-to-do Gibbons.

It was just after she had sat for this portrait that she had married Albert Pike, on 21 December 1872. In these parts, where farming was the main occupation, it was usual to have weddings around Christmas as the crops were dormant and days were so short that it was convenient to include marriage festivities in the general Yuletide celebrations.

Albert her husband could also trace his family back to the 1770s, when his grandfather William was born in the village.  She could not say it had been love at first sight, as the families had known each other all their lives. Also, her father had been noticeably sad that, when it came to signing the register, whereas she of course wrote her name without difficulty, Albert could still only sign with his mark (although by that time most people could read and write 1). But he was a good man and if you wanted, as she did, to go on living in the village after marriage, you had to choose a husband from those already there and likely to remain. Then you had to find someone the right age, and single, and Church not Chapel (unless you happened to be Chapel yourself of course) so there were not that many pebbles on the beach from which to pick.

That being so, when the time came to find a husband for her younger sister, Jane, the obvious choice was Albert’s younger brother, Henry. The stork had been a little premature in leaving a child at Jane’s door when she was only eighteen. She had refused point blank to name the father, but luckily Henry was willing to take her on, which he did on 18 December 1873 (Ann did sometimes wonder if in fact Henry was the father, since he needed little persuasion). And Henry was able to sign his name, which gave great satisfaction to the Gibbons family (and presumably the Pikes as well?)

The Pike families tended to be larger than the Gibbons, which meant less of everything to pass on from generation to generation. She and Albert had not made that mistake, and she had borne him four sons and a daughter (Sidney, Mabel, Herbert, Edwin and James) and then stopped. They had all lived to adulthood and were doing well.

Their eldest, Sydney, had gone to work at the Huntley and Palmer‘s biscuit factory in Reading, where he had lived with Albert’s brother William. Then he moved .up to Wimbledon, working as a railway signalman. He shared a house with another signalman and his family until he met his wife Ellen, a Surrey girl.

And now Sidney had got their second youngest, Edwin, a job as a railway porter and they were living together in Wimbledon.

James, the youngest, had joined the army and gone out to South Africa, where he had been for six years . He was a bandsman – there was something rather splendid about playing rousing music to keep up the spirits of the men.1

And Mabel? She had gone into service, where she met someone called Alfred Cook, working as a chauffeur. Anyway, she is now Mrs Cook and living in style in a mews house in Porchester Gardens, Bayswater, where they have a little girl.

Albert had died in Winchester hospital in 1894, leaving Ann widowed at the age of forty-nine. The next son, Herbert, who was a good and loving boy, had stayed with her and kept her company. He had trained as a wood sawyer, and they could just about manage with the wage that he brought in.

Life had had its struggles, and these continued. But she was a survivor, and hoped her nearest and dearest would continue to survive, and even to thrive.


Taking periods of 25yrs the figures read thus—–
From 1813-1837——74.5% could not write
From 1837-1862——59.2% could not write
From 1862-1887——31.9% could not write (Dr. Joseph Stevens, A Parochial History of St Mary Bourne quoted by Kevin Holdway)

Parish Clerks

Parish clerks should be at least 20 years old, and known to the parson “as a man of honest conversation and sufficient for his reading, writing and competent skill in singing” Canon 91(1603). Functions – reading the lessons and epistles, singing in the choir, giving out the hymns, leading the responses, serving at the altar and other like duties, opening of the church, ringing the bell, digging graves if there be no sexton. The role of Sexton is usually combined in country parishes. They are the sacristan, the keeper of holy things relating to divine service. Responsible for the care of the church, vestments and vessels, keeping the church clean, ringing bells, opening/closing doors, digging graves and care of the churchyard.

The south door being the main entrance to the church, has always been the one used for funerals, this has been the reason given for the superstition forbidding its use for a bride who always enters by the small north door. Within living memory a bride, scorning superstition announced her intention of coming into the church by the more impressive south door. At that time there was a sexton in whose family the office had been for generations  (George Gibbons parish clerk and sexton for forty years ) and to whom the tradition had been handed down the bride’s determination was met by a resistance so strong that, convinced if she persisted her procession would find a locked door with no key forthcoming. She gave in and used the north door.

Small-pox was a terrible scourge in the village from time to time, in some cases probably more severe than it might have been under more judicious treatment; So fearful was the visitation that George Gibbons the aged clerk and sexton, informed me that 13 persons, who had died of this disease, were buried about the same time in a plot of ground close to the south wall of the graveyard, and the earth at that spot had not since been disturbed. There is no doubt that the following extracts from the church register refers to this. (Joseph Stevens quoted by Kevin Holdway)
George Gibbons was parish clerk for 40 years from 1840- 1880. From 1880-1920. Walter Gibbons was clerk. He died in 1938 aged 91, and was succeeded by his son, Arthur, who resigned in 1929, thus ending a family record of service in that office extending over 89 years. (Kevin Holdway)

A note on sources

The information on Ann Gibbons Pike’s family is accurate, drawn from the trade directories, censuses and parish registers.

The information about George Gibbons as parish clerk comes from Stevens’ history of the village, and Kevin Holdway’s reading of various documents as he explains on his website, St Mary Bourne Revisited.

1</sup According to the Andover Advertiser of 21st May 1915,James Pike had served for six years in South Africa.

The information about the artist Edward Charles Barnes is historically accurate in that he is shown in the directory as living in St Mary Bourne in the 1870s and the scenery of many of his pictures is clearly taken from the Bourne Valley. We do not know, however, the identities of any of his models, still less whether Ann Gibbons Pike ever sat for him.

se non è vero, è ben trovato

Edwin Black Black-Hawkins Esq: A Man Of Means


Courtesy hockmeyer tree on ancestry.co.uk


‘Northern’ Origins

Edwin was born in 1844 into a property-owning brewing family in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire. It would perhaps be fair to describe the Hawkins family as from the ‘beerage4 — though it appears that none of them was in fact ennobled. The family’s financial base was the Newbury area of Berkshire, but many of them gradually drifted south. Although this was not a great distance, moving to Great Bedwyn, Appleshaw and finally St Mary Bourne involved crossing a county line twice, ending up in the beautiful (the writer is admittedly prejudiced) Bourne Valley.

John Edward Hawkins at Diplands
Bourne Court

The first of the clan to arrive was John Edward Hawkins, Edwin’s uncle. He moved into Diplands, St Mary Bourne, in the early 1870s and was probably host to Dr Joseph Stevens who describes attending a Mummers’ play there in 1874.

ThomAS eDWARD hAWKINS at spring hill

By 1891 Edwin’s brother, Thomas Edward Hawkins, who had been Mayor of Newbury in 1878, had arrived and was living at Spring Hill. He was presumably already ill, as a male nurse is included in the household and in September the following year he died at the age of 52.

Edwin Black Black-Hawkins at Bourne Court

Next came Edwin Black Black-Hawkins himself,who is described in Kelly’s 1899 Directory as one of the principal landowners of St Mary Bourne. He lived at Bourne Court, at the south-east end of the village (formerly Upper Link House). From here he seems to have taken an active role in county life, probably huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ with the smart set, though the family also maintained a flat in Oakwood Court, Kensington.

HAgricultural Show Winchester EBBH wins prizes for horsese won prizes at the Winchester Agricultural Show in 1900 for two horses which he had bred, and also on several other occasions.

The ultimate Victorian pater familias, he and his wife Eleanor had eleven children (and yes, they did call the tenth one Decimus). However, despite their wealth, they did not escape the prevailing mortality rates: by 1911 three of these had died in early adulthood.

Eleanor Black-Hawkins

Edwin’s wife, Eleanor, was a frequent writer to The Times, and clearly regarded it as her duty to take an active part in public life, an attitude possibly explained by her two great uncles, one of whom had been headmaster of Harrow, and the other of Eton. Here she has an idea about those sitting idly at home during the Boer War occupying themselves by composing scrapbooks which could be used to entertain wounded soldiers:


Marion Black-Hawkins

Possibly the most interesting – if most eccentric – member of the family was Edwin’s youngest daughter Marion, who never married. The following extracts from her writings on the delights of keeping spiders, snakes and wasps as pets may give some hint as to the reason for her failure to find a husband. Here, an account of her pets reaches the pages of the Luton Times and Advertiser. 1909 Miss Black-Hawkins' pet waspsMiss Black-Hawkins pet snakes 1913snakes part 2And here she is writing for the ‘National Review’ again:

Marion Black-Hawkins writes for the National Review on spidersOn the other hand, it may all have been a prolonged tease…?

It is almost irresistible to imagine the Black-Hawkins relations as real-life counterparts of the Gascoyne D’Ascoyne family as played by Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets:

Note on Sources

1. In general, this post is based on the census records, as well as the trade directories for the area.

2. The newspaper extracts were sourced via the British Newspaper Archive.

3. The Hampshire Records Office is the source for the legal and property dealings of the Hawkins and Black-Hawkins family. (I keep on my desktop a link to the HRO catalogue search page, which is in constant use).

4. The National Archives provided the link to the London and Metropolitan Archives

The Company was incorporated in 1897 as “Hawkins and Parfitt South Berkshire Brewery Company Limited” upon the amalgamation of Edward Parfitt, Atlas Brewery, Newbury, and Thomas Edward Hawkins and Company, West Mills Brewery, Newbury. They were based at the Atlas Brewery, Bartholomew Street, Newbury, Berks.The company acquired John Platt and Son, Manor Brewery, Hungerford, c 1900, and Westcombe and Sons, St Nicholas Brewery, Newbury, 1902. Acquired Blandy, Hawkins and Co, Castle Brewery, Bridge Street, Reading (possibly successors to Stephens’ Mill Lane Brewery, later Willats and Blandy’s Mill Lane Brewery), 1910. The name was changed to “South Berkshire Brewery Limited” in 1913; and was acquired by H and G Simonds in 1920. In voluntary liquidation 1936.

4. Details of the sale of ‘Bourne Court, formerly Upper Link House’ can be found in the Hampshire Record Office in 165A06/144 for 2008; 159M88/1692, 187A09/7/3, 46M84/F80/41 and 46M84/F80/42 for 22-26 July 1950. The papers for the sale of ‘Upper Link Farm’ in 1865 (65M74/Z3) may also apply.

Emily Bacon Kent and ‘The Hurdler’s Arms’, Binley

Hurdler's Arms, Binley via Alamy

‘The Hurdler’s Arms has been used by farmers for over 300 years’ (photographer)

Emily Kent née Bacon was, on the whole, pleased with the way her life had turned out so far.

BinleyHer family had been settled in Binley, on the north-eastern fringes of the parish of St Mary Bourne, since her great-grandfather, John Bacon, had come here over a hundred years ago. The men in the family worked as woodmen. They also sold beer as a side-line, with the womenfolk doing most of the brewing and serving the customers. But what exactly was the drink on offer at the Hurdler’s Arms? Zythophile, a modern blogger on beer writes:

Here is an extract from The Engineer’s and Mechanic’s Encyclopædia by Luke Hebert, published in 1836:

“In England two distinct sorts of beer are known, called ale, and porter, or beer, and of each sort there arc numerous varieties. Although the difference in the flavour of ale and of porter is sufficiently marked, it is difficult to say in what way it is produced: that it is not altogether owing to pale malt being used for brewing ale, as some assert, is clear from the fact that in many parts of the country, ale is brewed from brown malt: neither is it owing to a larger quantity of hops being used in making porter, for the pale ale which is exported in large quantities from this country to India contains a larger proportion of hops than the porter exported to the same place; neither will a difference in the proportions of the malt to the water account for it, since some ales are stronger and others weaker than porter.”

The development of a well-hopped light-coloured malt liquor that went by the name pale ale was an important step in the merging of meaning for ale and beer.

Born in 1856,  Emily had been sent like her older sister to an adjoining county (in her case Berkshire) to go into service. Her parents’ intention was not for this to be a lifelong career choice, rather that she would absorb some polish from exposure to the gentry at such close quarters. But it had been a little hard to be sent away from home before she was fourteen years old. However, Alexander Davis and his wife had been kind to her. He lived at Highwood Villa, near the auction house in Donnington which had been founded by Thomas Davis in 1759 and which he now owned.

By 1881, she had returned home and was charmingly described (by her father or the census enumerator unprovoked?) as a domestic servant in the family household. Her father died in 1887, but his widow Mary was ‘a licensed victualler’ by the 1891 census, with her daughter living with her. Emily’s eldest brother, John Blanchard Bacon, had moved to live next door with his wife and two children, but his oldest son (Emily’s nephew John Sidney Bacon) was living with Emily and her widowed mother.

Emily at this point decided to take stock of her life. The man of the house, her father, was gone. Her mother was by now in her mid-seventies. Her nephew would not be around for ever, and it would be unreasonable for her to turn to her brother for every little thing. What was to become of her?

The answer was obvious: she must find a husband, and without much delay. She still hoped to have children of her own, after all, although she had been thirty-one years old at the time of her father’s death. She knew that men did not find her alluring, and that waiting for one to fall in love with her might be wishful thinking. She would treat it as a business project, in a matter of fact sort of way. She would look for a good man, but someone who was probably her social inferior. After all, she was to inherit the Hurdler’s Arms and it should not be too difficult to find someone to take her on, together with her property.

Emily did not know it, but as she was thinking these thoughts a man called Harold Brighouse was writing a play called Hobson’s Choice about a man such as she was looking for: Will Mossop was a bit of a chump but he was a malleable chump. Though the setting of the play was an industrial northern town in the 1880s, her situation was very similar to Maggie Hobson’s.

She looked around for a suitable candidate and found one in Henry Kent, who worked on the same Binley farm where his father was a carter. He was six years younger than her, no bad thing, and she decided he would do very well. They were married at St Peter’s Church, St Mary Bourne on 22nd October 1892. She was thirty-five years old and he was thirty-two. He was described in the register as a labourer.

They had three children in quick succession, George Andrew, Edward and Norah. By the 1901 census,  Henry Kent was being described as a ‘farmer on his own account’ (ie self-employed), and by 1911 he was down as the licensed victualler as well. However, in the Kelly’s Directory for 1895, 1899, 1911 and 1920 the listing is firmly for ‘Kent, Emily (Mrs), beer ret. Binley’, and there is no mention of Henry at all.

She was also pleased that they had been able to settle her nephew so well. Married to a nice girl, John Sidney Bacon had obtained employment with Colonel Arthur Buck Kitchener and his wife Edith. The Kitcheners had been well-liked in the village when they arrived in 1901 (and it didn’t hurt that he was the brother of Lord Kitchener, the hero of Khartoum). Even so, it had taken a bit of getting used to when he renamed his house Waihemo after his sheep farm in New Zealand. But the sad thing was that he had died in 1907, and his wife not long after. He had been buried in the graveyard at St Peter’s, may he rest in peace. Her nephew had stayed on at the house as gardener, with his wife as caretaker.

She wondered what the future would hold, and hoped that The Hurdler’s Arms would be taken over in the fullness of time by one of the two boys. Or perhaps history would repeat itself, and Norah would be the next proprietress?


See comments – here is the photograph of the brass plaque to commemorate the opening of the reading room: