#52ancestors (Wk6): Social Media – Alfred Vickery

Surnames provide those instinctive foundation ‘props’ when first getting stuck into drawing up a family tree. Over time, stories become the driving interest, but when I began, it was always those names.

When it comes to this week’s #52ancestors theme of ‘Social Media,’ surnames provide an easy ‘hashtagable’ way of sharing my interest areas, not just to show off my identity, but to seek others interested in the same areas, reaching out using the power of social media. Lines on a tree will collide and intertwine with those on other people’s, so it’s not just living or recent relatives we might be looking for, but further back where we might be able to help each other out too.

Top billing names

Some names inevitably take on greater importance- those that immediately flow from my parent’s parents – on Dad’s side #Simpson & #Backhouse and on Mum’s side #Holland & #Hale

Some family lines do assume greater significance, often because there has been greater success in taking them further back over years and generations.

Special mention for Vickery

That means #Simpson, yes, but very much so #Vickery because of how far back I have taken it on my Mum’s Mum’s Mum’s side, and the affection in which I have always held that name. So far, I have traced the name back to my 8x great grandfather from Bentley, Hampshire, and plenty of stories amongst the siblings of those generations of ancestors.

Others go further back too but may be a much shorter branch for a short period on the tree in the dim and distant past.

Walton leads the field of interest

Names which also have some level of importance on my Dad’s side are #Noad #Dudley #Swithenbank #Gaukrodger or #Gankrodger. The #Walton line is the most recent to finish abruptly, that being the only one I have been unable to get beyond my great grandparents on. If anyone is related to Ellen Walton from Leeds, Yorkshire, who married John Willie Simpson in 1904, I would really like to hear from you. The only other concrete piece of information I have about her is that her Dad was called Fred, but apart from that, I’ve hit a brick wall for some time.

On my Mum’s side, #Sawyer #Watts #Halfacre #Barrett #Varndell #Phillips #Grinham plus #Sellon and #Swayne or #Swaine in the 1600s! Obviously, specific stories will follow in future weeks.

Is there anybody out there?

I want to take the opportunity of this week’s post to do just that – a shameless excuse to share all those surnames I am most interested in, just in case there’s scope to make common cause with someone out there.

All platforms have their uses. I would not have discovered #52ancestors had it not been for somebody introducing it to me when I first started experimenting on Mastodon (@dutchpaul@mstdn.social) – I owe them a great deal. Instagram and Twitter (@dutchpaul) are particularly useful when it comes to hashtags. Facebook (@dutchpaul) has helped me reach out to more recent relatives, particularly some in the USA discovered via Ancestry DNA. All roads can lead back to my WordPress blog thanks to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation and Google tags), and links back from other social media. One of my biggest helps came via meeting someone early on from my Mum’s Dad’s side via one of the genealogy platforms – I really owe her a great deal.

Alfred Vickery – my 2x great grandfather

The ancestor I’ve chosen to accompany this week’s post is one of those Vickery names: Alfred Vickery [23 Jan, 1873 (Elvetham, Hampshire) – 21 April,1947 (Little Sandhurst, Berkshire)].

Carter on a farm

Alfred is my 2x great grandfather – my Mum’s Mum’s Mum’s Dad. He is one of those Hampshire farm labourers on which I’ve long eulogised. For many years, I thought my family tree was pretty monoculture when it came to occupations. On most census returns, Alfred was listed as a ‘carter on a farm’ like his father, William Vickery, which usually involved driving horses to transport goods around said farm.

Alfred was one of ten siblings. Over the generations, the Vickery family had shifted North West across this corner of Hampshire, from Bentley, to Crondall, and in these particular generations, to Minley and then Hartfordbridge, which was part of Elvetham, and is still extremely rural. It is about five miles from where I live today.

Alfred’s parents were William Vickery (1831-1908) from Crondall, and Charlotte Varndell (1834-1915) from Elvetham. They were married in 1856, and according to the 1861 Census, lived initially in Minley Lodge (on the road between Yateley and Fleet), before moving to Hartfordbridge. It is likely that many of the family worked on the Elvetham Hall estate (see 2nd photo below). Over 100 years later in the 1970s, my Nan Joyce (his granddaughter) would work as a contract cleaner there, continuing the tradition ‘in service’ as it were.

In the 1881 Census, an 8 year old scholar Alfred was living at home in Hartfordbridge with his father William (aged 50, a carter), mother Charlotte (aged 48, a carter’s wife), brother John (aged 22, a carter born in Minley), sister Fanny (aged 20, a carter’s daughter born in Minley), brother William (aged 18, a carter born in Elvetham), brother Thomas (aged 13, a carter’s boy from Elvetham), brother Arthur (aged 11, a scholar from Elvetham), sister Alice Flora (aged 5 from Elvetham) and brother James (aged 2 from Elvetham).

By the 1891 Census, the family are still living at Hartfordbridge, but it is clear this was on the Elvetham Lane leading from the nearby main London to Exeter road (now the A30), right next to the old All Souls Church (picture above), which was built in 1876 for the Elvetham Estate workers, and where many of the Vickery family are buried. The church itself is no longer consecrated.

Young sister in service at a prep school

The family are clearly dominated by agricultural labouring. In 1891, both Alfred (18) and his father William (60) are listed as such. Still in the family home are mother Charlotte (56), Thomas (23, a brewer’s drayman), James (12, a scholar), and now Charles (9, a scholar). By this point, Alfred’s younger sister Alice Flora (15) was already in service as a dormitory maid at the nearby preparatory school, Hartford House. The headteacher was a famous first class cricketer, Edward Lloyd, who as well as playing cricket for Cambridge University and the MCC, was an accomplished headteacher here, and before that at Marlborough College!

Alfred married Rhoda Phillips (1876-1958) in the parish church at Elvetham on 9th October, 1897. I wrote about Rhoda in week 4, so much of the rest of Alfred’s story has already been addressed.

The couple had eight children, although the first two did not live very long.

In the 1901 Census, Alfred (aged 28, a carter on a farm) and Rhoda (aged 23) lived as a couple on the road towards Elvetham at Hartfordbridge. They had lost two children – Amy Alice (1899) and Rose Anne (1900).

In the 1911 Census, the family are still living in Hartfordbridge, but now have five children. Alfred (aged 38, a carter on a farm) and Rhoda (aged 35) were joined by my great grandmother, their daughter Emily Charlotte (aged 9, who was at school), William George (aged 8, also at school), Charles (aged 6, also at school), Annie (aged 4, also at school), and Alice Maud (aged 1).

Good with wood

By the 1921 Census, Alfred (aged 48, now a wood cutter) and his wife Rhoda (aged 47, on home duties) have moved across the London Road, from Hartfordbridge, to Hares Lane, Hartley Wintney. Living in their home are Annie (aged 14, home duties), Alice (aged 12, at school), and Frederick James (aged 7, at school). By this point, their daughter Emily Charlotte (my great grandmother) is aged 19 and away working in service in the home of the Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of the county. More about her when I write about her in future weeks.

I have always had a real affection for this location. Yes, it is beautiful (my Granddad used to take me ‘conkering’ here in my early years). Yes, there is the family link. But on the corner of London Road and Hares Lane at Hartfordbridge, there is an old coaching inn called the White Lion (pictured above). Today it is my favourite antiques shopping haunt, but as a child, it was first a Schooner Inn, then a Berni Inn, where my Grandparents Frank and Joyce would take us for a meal rounded off with a Knickerbocker Glory back in the 1970s! What a majestic haunt, complete with a towering electricity pylon overseeing proceedings.


By the 1939 Register as WWII breaks out, Alfred (aged 66, an incapacitated forestry labourer) and his wife Rhoda (aged 63) are living at The Bungalow, School Hill, Little Sandhurst, Berkshire. As acknowledged when I wrote about Rhoda, the couple may have lived on common land at Castle Bottom between these two addresses. Still living with them are adult child Charles (aged 34, a general labourer), plus Edward (aged 20, a butcher’s labourer). The latter was most likely their grandson, Edwin.

The record reveals Alfred, like others in my family had been a forester for part of his life, most likely in the forests around Eversley and Bramshill. Fast forward to today, and the UK Government has just announced an initiative to provide free courses to help plug the gap in the shortage of foresters – obviously a dying craft, and one much needed with a push on nature conservancy. Such a shame that these trades and skills have not continued to be passed on across the generations.

Alfred died on 21st April, 1947 aged 74. His wife lived a further eleven years.

See you for another ancestor next week, and hopefully less meandering! As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch!


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