#52ancestors (Wk14): Begins with a Vowel – Emily Charlotte Vickery

Pepé the pet poodle is pretty emblematic of the challenge facing us in getting a grip on the personality of my Mum’s Mum’s Mum, my great grandmother Emily Charlotte Vickery (1901-1967). To my Mum and her two sisters (pictured below), she was their sweet Nan who was missing an eye due to a wood-chopping accident, who would visit with her pooch to shower them with affection.

The only other testimony I have secured during my lifetime was however from a very different perspective, from my Grandad, who felt so little warmth towards her that he would not allow me to utter her name in his presence right up until his death almost fifty years after hers.

Black and white family photo at the back door of the family home, brickwork going back into the distance, with similar council homes in the distance on the estate.
Great Grandmother Emily Charlotte Vickery (behind) with her grand-daughters Brenda (holding her Nan’s poodle Pepé), Mary (my Mum) and Eileen.

Her name, Emily, ‘Begins with a Vowel’ (the theme for Week 14’s post), but how accurately can any search begin to understand the personality of any of our ancestors?

Sepia tinged photo of my great grandmother holding a baby, with a brick outbuilding behind her.
My Great Grandmother Emily Charlotte Vickery, holding a baby.

Emily Charlotte was born towards the end of 1901 in the parish of Elvetham, Hampshire. She was the eldest daughter of agricultural labouring and forestry family Alfred Vickery (1873-1947) and Rhoda Phillips (1876-1958) after their first two daughters Amy Alice (1899) and Rose Anne (1900) died the same year they were born. In the following twelve years, she was joined by siblings William George (1903-1957); Charles, known as ‘Fiddle’ (1905-1962); Annie (1907-1981); Alice Maud (1909-1997); and Frederick James, known as ‘Rasher’ (1913-1998). She was living at home in Hartfordbridge in the 1911 Census.

Life was soon very different. She gave birth to her first child, Edwin Vickery on 10 March, 1919. Emily Charlotte was seventeen years old. No name is given for the father on either the birth certificate, or the baptism record from Elvetham Parish Church.

By the 1921 Census, Emily Charlotte is no longer living in the family home, and Edwin is not living with her either. She is ‘living-in’, working as a domestic ‘in-service’ at Dummer House, near Basingstoke for the household of Baron Major Sir Richard Nelson Rycroft, who had been both Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of the County. This must be how she met her future husband, Reginald Richard Hale (1899-1981) whose story follows next week, as his family home, Whitedown Cottages, Wootton St Lawrence was just across the fields from Dummer House. They were married in the third quarter of 1923.

Sepia tinged head and shoulders photo of a rather dashing looking photo of my grand uncle in his young adult years, slicked back hair and wearing a suit and tie.
Emily Charlotte’s son, Alfred James Hale, otherwise known as ‘Jim’ – my grand uncle.

A family of eight children soon followed for the couple. The eldest, Alfred James Hale, otherwise known as ‘Jim’ was born on 13 September, 1924. Next eldest was Gordon William Hale, otherwise known as ‘Bill’, born on 6 May, 1927.

Sepia tinged head and shoulders photo of my grand uncle wearing army uniform, including a beret with the army badge on the front.
Emily Charlotte’s son Reginald Robert Hale, otherwise known as ‘Bob’ – my grand uncle.

Next came Reginald Robert Hale, otherwise known as ‘Bob’ on 31 January, 1929. I was lucky enough to get to know Jim, Bill and Bob as a young child since they and their families continued to live close-by on the Hampshire/Surrey/Berkshire border.

Black and white photo of my Nan, sat in front of an old car, wearing a bold, big polka dot dress.
Emily Charlotte’s daughter Joyce Hale – my Nan.

The first daughter to arrive was my Nan, Joyce Hale, born 26 November, 1930. Her birth certificate records that she was born at ‘Castle Bottom’, confirming that the family were one of only a handful that lived on the Common in a location that is today a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) where there is now very little evidence of there ever being any houses in that location except for some limited brick foundations.

Sepia tinged photo of my Nan and her sister stood in front of the dominating image of the Nissen hut in which one of them lived after World War Two, rough uncut grass in front of that.
Emily Charlotte’s daughter’s Joyce (my Nan) and Margaret – my grand aunt – otherwise known as ‘Meg’. They are stood in front of the Nissen hut in which my Nan’s family lived after WWII.

Next to arrive was Margaret Hale, otherwise known as ‘Meg’ in 1932. I met Meg many times as a very young child but for some curious reason, her image gets confused with that of Crossroads matriarch Meg Mortimer in my aging brain.

Black and white group shot of my four grand uncles standing in front of an old caravan.
Group shot of Emily Charlotte’s sons – left to right – Alfred James (Jim); Gordon William (Bill); Michael; and Reginald Robert (Bob) – my grand uncles.

The youngest of the sons to arrive was Michael Hale, born on 31 March, 1935. Michael was the only one of my grand uncles I never got to meet, and because he looked so much younger than the rest of his brothers in this photo, I always imagined him as a dashing and eternally younger man!

Sepia tinged head and shoulders shot of a rather young looking image of one of my grand aunts looking directly at camera, shoulder length hair and large collar.
Emily Charlotte’s second youngest daughter, my grand aunt Mary Rhoda.

Last but one of Emily Charlotte’s children to be born was Mary Rhoda Hale on 23 June, 1937. She was always spoken about in hallowed terms by my family, because she died at the relatively young age of thirty five years due to a brain bleed. Again, because the only photo I have of her shows her in almost teenage imagery, I always think of her as an eternally young girl.

Colour photo of one of my grand aunts, standing on a path in front of what looks like a canal and trees on what is obviously a sunny day.
Emily Charlotte’s youngest daughter, my grand aunt Eileen.

Finally, there was the youngest of her children, Eileen Hale, born in 1942. I always found it difficult to compute that one of my Mum’s Aunts was born in the same year as my Dad, but there it is.

By the 1939 Register, the family had moved down from any residence they had on the Common, to a property called Ash Dene, on Chequers Lane, Eversley. The only child yet to be born was Eileen. The rest were at school or under school age, except for ‘Jim’, who was a shop-boy. Emily Charlotte’s husband was a roadman having previously worked with wood. Edwin was living with his grandparents a few miles away in Little Sandhurst.

The revealing part of the 1939 Register is given in a code ‘NRA 230 RBA’ amending the record. This reveals that Emily Charlotte, whose married name was Hale, had changed her name by Deed Poll on 2 October 1951 to Bright, in the Alfreton area of Derbyshire. This confirms family testimony that Emily Charlotte upped sticks, left her husband and the family home for a new home with a Mr. Bright in Derbyshire after the War.

There is very little detail beyond this, save that is likely to be the reason for my own grandfather’s low opinion of her. When she left the family home, her youngest daughter would have been around nine years old. That same amended record shows that by August 1959, less than eight years later, Emily Charlotte had returned to Hampshire with her tail between her legs, and reverted her name to Hale. It does not appear that she got a divorce at any point – simply that she lived as a married couple with another man.

Black and white photo of my great grandmother, sat on the door step to her caravan home with one of her grandchildren, with a white pebble lined path leading to a shed in front of the caravan on the left of the photo.
Great Grandmother Emily Charlotte Vickery (with one of her grandchildren Christine), sat in front of her caravan home in later years at Hawley, Hampshire.

For the remaining years of her life, Emily Charlotte lived again with her husband Reginald Richard Hale, but in reduced circumstances in a caravan on the Hawley Lane, at Hawley, Hampshire. My Mum clearly remembers visiting her there as a child, and that her and Reginald Richard had their own separate rooms in the van to which he would retire on his own.

Colour photo of three of my great grandmother's children taken very much later in their lives, on the pier at Bournemouth with their backs to the sea and the coastline and beach in the background in the distance.
Three of Emily Charlotte’s children in later life on the pier at Bournemouth: (L-R) youngest son Michael (my grand uncle); daughter Joyce (my Nan); and eldest son Jim (my grand uncle).

Emily Charlotte died on 28 October 1967, less than three years before I would be born. Of my four sets of great grandparents, Emily Charlotte and her husband are the ones most tangible to me, and even more so their children – my grand aunts and grand uncles – who I got to know pretty well for the most part.

While Emily Charlotte died less than three years before I was born, I actually met her husband on a number of occasions as he lived on until early 1981 over thirteen years later. Because my Mum knew them well, I have plenty of family testimony. Despite this, I can’t really say anything with any certainty about who she actually was – we don’t, for example, know for sure what her motivations were for leaving the family home, and again for returning almost a decade later. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that her first name ‘Begins with a Vowel’ – the theme for this week’s #52Ancestors.

Thank you for reading this week’s post. If you can shed any light on anything, correct anything I have written, or have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.


One thought on “#52ancestors (Wk14): Begins with a Vowel – Emily Charlotte Vickery

  1. Pingback: #52ancestors (Wk15): Solitude – Reginald Richard Hale | Common

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