#52ancestors (Wk9): Gone Too Soon – Esther Kinge

Porridge usually guarantees a good start, but your Dad ‘doing porridge’ when he steals a large enough quantity of oats to be sentenced to three months with hard labour in Winchester Gaol can’t have felt good for a ten year old girl in 1854 looking out on what the world has in store for her. That girl was Esther Kinge [late 1843 (Tadley, Hampshire) – early 1884 (Ramsdell, Hampshire)] – my 3x great grandmother, or my Mum’s Mum’s Dad’s Dad’s Mum.

Her Dad was Joseph Kinge (1802-1871), a broom maker in the hamlet of West Heath, near Tadley. This was his second sentence of three months length in just over four years. The first was for larceny when Esther was a mere six years old; the second was for stealing those oats which were the property of one David Ford of nearby Baughurst.

There can’t have been much light back at home for the young Esther. Her horizons must have felt pretty limited. Generations on both her Mum’s side, Hannah Appleton (1802—1871) and the same on her Dad’s side had not strayed far from the hamlets and villages around this corner of Hampshire just north of Basingstoke. Add to that was the fact that Esther was one of thirteen siblings born between 1824 and 1850.

Marriage came for Esther at the age of 19 years to George Hale (1841-1924) of Ramsdell in the summer of 1863. Her husband was also to practice some specific ancient woodcraft like her father but in this case hoopmaking and coopering. They were to set up home in nearby Ramsdell, and have eight children, including my 2x great grandfather James Hale (1866-1944).

Esther died at the relatively young age of 40 years, in early 1884.

‘Gone Too Soon’

There are a number of reasons why Esther’s story makes her perfect for Week 9’s #52ancestors theme of ‘Gone Too Soon’.

First, her husband George Hale not only outlived Esther by a considerable margin with his death not coming until some forty years later in 1924, he married again to a Mary Jane Pope (1858-1934) and had another eight children! He had a total of sixteen children, plus two step-children. George was the last of all of my 3x great grandparents (all thirty two of them) still alive by the time of the 1921 Census!

Second, Esther never got to see the full potential of her children, whose lives spread far and wide, well beyond the village of Ramsdell. It probably helps to give a small stage to all eight of them.

Her children

The eldest of her children, George Hale (1864-1946) moved slightly north to the village of Bradfield, just west of Reading, Berkshire. This may reflect the fact that his Dad had also gravitated towards nearby Woolhampton after the death of his first wife. The eldest son also followed his father into the craft of hoopmaker, who made the hoops that went around casks and barrels.

The second born of Esther’s children, James Hale (1866-1944) – my 2x great grandfather – who remained close-by, marrying Mary Jane Smith in the Parish Church of Wootton St. Lawrence on 6 December 1890. They lived in Whitedown Cottages, Wootton St. Lawrence, which was to become a home for the Hale family over generations. James was a wood dealer, like his father-in-law Thomas Smith, who was both a wood and coal merchant. Thomas had left just over £462 on his death in 1914 – arguably the equivalent of around £68,000 today! Some of my presumptions about poverty amongst surnames like Smith and Kinge in rural Hampshire at this time have been severely challenged. James left a more modest £186 on his death in 1944 – but still arguably the equivalent of around £11,000 today. Both of these were huge surprises to family members living today.

Her third born, another son, John Hale (born 1868) was one of four siblings who at some point ended up spending some time in South London. He married Louisa Saunders on 22 July 1892 in the Parish Church of Emmanuel, West Dulwich. He was a bricklayer working for the South East and Chatham Railway (SE&CR), and they variously lived in Camberwell and Brixton.

Her first daughter was Sarah Hannah Hale (1870-1940). She married a James Lipscombe in late 1896. They remained close-by in Wootton St. Lawrence.

Next born for Esther was another daughter. By the time of the 1911 Census, Jane Hale (1873-1956) was working as a domestic servant in the large household of Edith Georgina, the Dowager Countess Cawdor, in Stackpole Court, Pembrokeshire, South Wales. The mansion was demolished in 1963, but the estate remains National Trust property.

Esther’s sixth child was another daughter, Charlotte Hale (1875-1969), who married Ernest John Pullen (1877-1923), a widower and police constable. They married in St. Paul’s Church, Herne Hill, South London on 7 July 1904. Her father’s occupation here is listed as cooper, or barrel maker. By the 1911 Census, they were living at Pleasant Place, Islington in North London. Charlotte had a long life, and died just a year before I was born! The couple had two daughters, and two sons. More about Charlotte’s story, and in particular her two sons next week.

The next of Esther’s children was Joseph Richard Hale (1877-1953). He was to go on to become a foreman in the Great Western Railway Engineering Department and Maintenance & Repair Shop. He married Mary Susannah Gough on 6 May 1900 in St. John’s Church, Brixton, South London. The couple lived in Brixton, South London before settling in Reading, Berkshire.

The last of Esther Kinge and George Hale’s eight children was Thomas Hale (born 1882). He went on to become a Metropolitan Police Sergeant. Thomas married Emily Priscilla Chapman on 2 August 1903, at Saviour’s Church, Ruskin Park, Herne Hill, South London. By the 1939 Register, they were living on Syon Lane, Isleworth, West London.


I think Esther would have been proud of how her eight children had prospered, and their horizons had been broadened much wider than she could possibly have imagined when her father locked away his brooms as he prepared to serve a second sentence in Winchester Gaol. It is quite possibly the most diverse family unit I have stumbled upon while researching my family tree. Esther Kinge had indeed ‘Gone Too Soon’, but her legacy was not swept aside.

See you again for another #52ancestors post next week. As ever, if there’s anything you think you might be able to correct me on, or on which you have further queries, do not hesitate to get in touch.


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