Tag Archives: Hacker

Tithe Records Benjamin Hacker

One more record from The Genealogist relates to my great great grandfather Benjamin Hacker (1805-1890).

tithe record

This is an extract from Tithe Records for Plot 280 in Broad Hinton, Wiltshire, dated 21st April 1845.

The Landowner is William Browne Ruddle Esquire and the Occupier John Drunford & Benjamin Hacker.

Reference IR 29/38/46


1915 Swindon Voters list

I found this interesting record thanks to my free trial on The Genealogist website. I have very few records post the 1911 census so was excited to see Alfred Benjamin Hacker listed as the resident of 1 Whiteman’s Street, Swindon in the 1915 Swindon Voters list.

street directory

Although he died in 1935 his wife Elizabeth Hacker lived in the house until the late 1950s when she moved to a council house in Portal Road with one of her daughters and her family.

Thomas Hacker

I found an intriguing photograph of Thomas Hacker and description on Flickr from Swindon Local Studies Library.
c1900: Thomas Hacker, 10 Merton Street, Swindon (1835-1904)

According to the description:
Thomas Hacker was born 1835 at Broad Hinton. He was one of nine children of Benjamin & Elizabeth Hacker. The 1881 census records him as being a Master Bread Maker living at 10 Merton Street. Thomas was one of the early christians of the Assembly group at King Street Hall, Swindon who faced oppostion. He considered it an honour to be persecuted for his witness for the Lord. He framed his police court summons and it was an exhibit in his home to the end of his days. In 1889, as one of the twelve brethren with their families they began meeting together at Merton Hall, Merton Street. At some point in the 1890’s Thomas greived by unhappy past events decided to leave Swindon. He sold his business as baker and corn-merchant, also his business premises including the Hall where the believers met, and took up farming. After a period of time he returned to Swindon much broken in health. He had a marvellous escape from death when a horse he was driving in a trap, bolted. He lost grip of the reins, and in trying to recover these, he overbalanced and fell at the horse’s heels; the wheels of the trap passed over his head and scalped him.. Through the Lord’s mercy, he made good recovery, althought not regaining robust health. He was able to see the moving of the group from Merton Street Hall to Regent Hall in 1899 take place as result of increasing numbers in the Fellowship. He died on 30th October 1904 and was buried in Radnor Street Cemetery. A scroll covering a lowly cairn of stones read: “Thomas Hacker, Born 1834, Born again 1854, Fell Asleep 1904. Waiting ‘Till he come’.”

His name and connection to Broad Hinton mean he must be part of our family tree but I can’t quite find where he belongs at the moment.

Shocking fatality at Broad Hinton

The Swindon Advertiser, Friday, November 10, 1899

Shocking Fatality at Broad Hinton: A sequel to “The Fifth”; “David and Jonathan”; The danger of firearms; Inquest and verdict

The inhabitants of Broad Hinton celebrated the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ Day on Monday. They will long remember it with feelings of sadness for a terrible catastrophe ended the celebrations.

Charles Hunt, a young fellow, of 19 years, was accidentally shot by his bosom friend.

There had been a bonfire lighted in a small paddock near the church, and Charles Hunt, with Alfred Hacker, a young man of his own age, had been amusing themselves by firing off an old-fashioned pistol. Suddenly the weapon missed fire, and Hacker proceeded to examine it, the deceased, Hunt, meanwhile looking on. The pistol went off, and the bullet pierced the left side of the poor young fellow, Hunt, who dropped to the ground with a groan.

He was carried to his home, an P.C. Moore was soon on the spot. A messenger was despatched for Dr. Cressy, of Wroughton, and that gentleman rode over on his bicycle with commendable promptitude. His skill was of no avail, however, for after lingering through the night, the young fellow died on Tuesday morning about five o’clock.

It was a terrible scene, said a person who was present. Hunt was a respectable young fellow, of a respectable family, and Hacker was his bosom friend – in fact, the two had often been compared to David and Jonathan. The movements of one were copied by the other; what one did, the other felt it was his duty to do likewise.

The grief of Hacker can best be imagined, when he saw his best friend fall to the ground. He was dazed, he couldn’t realise that his mate was shot – and by him.

The pistol was taken possession of by the police, and the coroner acquainted with the facts.

Deceased is one of a family of ten, and worked for Mr. Charles Leighfield of Bynoh [or Bynoli?]. The family are much respected in the village, and the sad occurrence will long be remembered by them as a terrible sequel to their Guy Fawkes’ celebration of 1899.

The inquest on the body of the deceased was held on Wednesday morning at the Bell Inn, Broad Hinton, before Mr W.E. N. Browne, County Coroner, and a jury, of whom the Rev. R.C. Crokat was foreman.

The body was first identified by the sister of the deceased, Elizabeth Hunt, who said her brother was aged 18 years. It was soon after eight o’clock when her brother was brought home after the accident. Later on he told he didn’t think poor “Benny” (meaning Alfred Hacker), who was holding the pistol at the time of the accident, would get much sleep that night. It was a pure accident, he said.

Alfred Tasker, a tall young fellow, who appeared afraid to give whatever evidence he knew, said he was present when the deceased and Hacker were amusing themselves with the pistol. Hacker had the pistol, and it was only fired off once before the accident to his knowledge. He could  not say who loaded the pistol after the first shot. Hunt was standing at the right of Hacker, witness at the left, when it went off accidentally, and struck deceased. The latter was taken home by two young fellows. There was no illfeeling between the young men at all. They had simply gone out together for the purpose of lighting a bonfire when the accident occurred. Witness was ignorant as to owned the pistol; he had never seen it before.

Albert Bunce, another young fellow, about 18 years of age, said he was present with Alfred Hacker, Charlie Hunt and Tasker. The four of them had gone out together to “have a bit of a bonfire,” and soon after he heard the report of a pistol close by him, and heard that Hunt had been shot. Hacker was holding the pistol, but witness was sure it was a pure accident. He heard Hunt cry out, “I’m shot,” and after walking a few yards fell to the ground. Until he heard the report witness said he did not know Hacker had a pistol in his possession.

Mary Hayes, an elderly lady, said she sat up with the deceased during the night after the accident. “I shall never forget bonfire night,” she said. “Poor Ben, it was a pure accident, but he will have little sleep to-night.” A change came over the sufferer in the early morning, and he died. She knew that he and Hacker had been bosom friends.

Alfred Benjamin Hacker, a fine looking young fellow, who appeared terribly distressed, was first cautioned by the coroner that anything he might say could be used in evidence against him. On the night in question, he, with deceased and others, went out to light a bonfire. Witness took with him a revolver he had purchased from his uncle, some months ago. He and “Charlie” had “shot off” the revolver four times previous to the accident, when they were by themselves. After the bonfire was lit deceased said, “put another cartridge in,” and witness did so. The pistol would not fire, and he and Hunt proceeded to examine it. Suddenly it went off without any warning, and the bullet entered the side of Hunt. He had no wish to shoot his friend.

A Juror: They were the best of friends; always together.

The cartridge found in the revolver after the accident showed that the hammer had struck in two distinct blows.

P.C. Henry Moore, who called on the night of the accident, and with the assistance of others had deceased carried home on a stretcher. Witness immediately sent for a doctor, but at 4.30 a.m.a change for the worse set in, and he again sent for the doctor. Before the latter arrived, however, the young fellow was dead. The only thing Hunt said to witness was, “I am very cold, Mr Moore.”

Dr. Cressy gave evidence to the effect that he found deceased on the Monday night in a very collapsed state. There was a small wound in the left side, and the bullet had gone in between the fifth and sixth rib – inwards and then downwards. The deceased told him he felt a pain over the stomach, and thought the bullet was there. When the young man vomited there were blood stains in the same, and he was of opinion that death was due to internal hemorrhage.

The Coroner summed up, and pointed out the danger of allowing such a dangerous weapon to be put into the hands of those who did not know the use of it.

The Jury then returned a verdict  of “Accidental death.”

Deceased belonged to the Wilts Friendly Society but his life was not otherwise insured. His mother is a widow.

The jurors returned their fees to the mother of the deceased.

The Swindon Advertiser, Friday, November 10, 1899

A new photograph

Kathleen Hacker

A newly discovered photograph of my beautiful maternal grandmother, c. 1936. She’s on the left.

Linchpin of the family

[This narrative was written for Week 9 of my creative writing course]

Linchpin of the family

Elizabeth Hacker (nee Hunt) was my great-grandmother. I only know her through black and white photographs and other people’s memories. Most of the photographs show her surrounded by her family, many with my grandparents, mother and aunt. There are two earlier photographs, one of her with her twin brother taken in the back garden of their family home when they were in their late teens, the other a more formal portrait with her mother and first born son.



She grew up in a small village called Broad Hinton in Wiltshire during the end of the nineteenth century. She had seven brothers and sisters including her twin brother Charles. Her father was employed as a farm labourer and it seems that many of her brothers followed into this profession.

According to my mother Elizabeth sometimes helped at the vicarage, and also occasionally taught the younger children in the school, as this was allowed in those days.

At some point she became engaged to the local baker. One of her younger brothers was a Bakers Boy (according to the 1891 census) so perhaps they met through him or everyone knew each other in their small village.

Unfortunately on the 7th November 1899 tragedy struck. Her twin brother Charles was shot by her fiancé, Alfred Hacker, whilst they were shooting pigeons and died. Her fiancé was apparently accused of murder but acquitted at the inquest and the cause of death was recorded as “accidentally shot by a pistol”.  [Family stories had the incident occurring when the twins were 18 or 21. I eventually ordered a copy of his death certificate so I could be sure of the date. I’ve recently been communicating with the local record office and am waiting to hear what was reported in the local newspaper.]

Two years later Elizabeth married her fiancé on the 7th October 1902 at Broad Hinton Church. The vicars’ wife made her bouquet with orange blossom grown from the vicarage garden. They went to church in a carriage drawn by two white horses. Not bad for a local girl.

Married life

It seems the shooting accident turned my great grandfather to drink. According to family legend when he went round the village to collect payment for his bread deliveries each Friday he began to accept home brew rather than money. Eventually his business went bankrupt and his family had to leave their home and business in Broad Hinton. They are found in the 1911 census in Hilmarton and his occupation is given as journeyman baker rather than the family baker of the 1901 census.

Move to the city

At some point Alfred stopped working as a baker and got a job at the Great Western Railway Works [not sure doing what yet]. He walked the 6 miles from Hilmarton to Swindon and back again every day before the family moved to Swindon. He earned £5 a week but spent half on alcohol and gave half to Elizabeth for rent, bills and food.

Linchpin of the family

Elizabeth had 10 living children and 10 miscarriages. Their move to Swindon was permanent and they were never to return to their roots in the country. They rented a small terraced house where they brought up their family. Out of the surviving children the 4 boys were in one double bed in one room, the 4 girls in one double bed in the other room. This arrangement stayed until the children grew up and left home.

The Great Western Railway Works was the biggest employer in Swindon, peaking at over 14000 in the 1920s. In those days her sons were guaranteed jobs as her husband worked there. Three of her daughters were employed at Wills Tobacco Factory and one at Compton’s clothing manufacturers, all well known Swindon businesses, before they were married.

An undercurrent of sadness continued. Her husband and one of her sons died of TB in 1935.

Her children grew up, got married and left home except the youngest daughter and her family. Elizabeth kept the large front bedroom she had always occupied; her daughter, husband and son sharing one of the smaller back bedrooms. During the Second World War another of her daughters moved back in with her (my grandmother with my mother and aunt) as her husband was away from home in the Army. Fortunately her sons were employed by the Great Western Railway, which meant their occupations were protected.

Her family escaped any major tragedy during this time. Her son in law was on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal when it was torpedoed in 1941 but survived. The Great Western Railway Works became a war factory and a target for German bombers. Swindon was heavily hit and, although bombs fell around the streets that Elizabeth and her family lived, no one was directly hurt.

The End

Elizabeth kept a dairy of which I have the year 1955. Unfortunately the rest were all thrown away after she died. In it she records the daily visits from her children and their families, visits from extended family, the weather and surprisingly notes about the local football team.

Her youngest daughter and family continued to live with her until she died of a stroke aged 70 in 1959.