Tag Archives: Wiltshire

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


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.

Over half a million Wiltshire baptism records dating back to 1530 now available online

Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk has today, 23 July 2014, added over 55,000 more Wiltshire parish baptism records to the website.

Spanning the years 1530 to 1886, the 580,361 baptism records now available on Findmypast comprise transcripts of the registers from over 150 Wiltshire parishes compiled by Wiltshire Family History Society.

The Wiltshire baptisms are unusual, as some of the earliest records in the collection are 484 years old. The records begin in 1530, eight years before the Vicar General of England, Thomas Cromwell, ordered all of the nation’s parish churches to keep a record of all baptisms, marriages and burials.

The county of Wiltshire has produced a number of notable individuals, including the architect Sir Christopher Wren, whose baptism record can be found within the collection.

The Wiltshire parish baptisms add to Findmypast’s already extensive collection of Wiltshire records that includes over 290,000 Wiltshire Memorial Inscription Index records, 67,000 Wiltshire Quarter Session Calendars and 20,593 Wiltshire removal orders.

Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “We are particularly excited about the Wiltshire parish baptisms, as parish records kept before 1538 are relatively rare.  Family historians, wherever they are in the world, can now search this historical goldmine and possibly trace their Wiltshire ancestors further back than ever before.“

The new records can be searched at: http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-records/wiltshire-baptisms-1530-1886

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.

Wedding Wednesday – Hacker/Hunt 1902

I love this photograph taken on the 7th October 1902 showing Alfred Benjamin Hacker and his new wife Elizabeth Hunt.


They got married at St Peter ad Vincula, the parish church of Broad Hinton, Wiltshire. For much of his life he was a master baker in the area, later joining the GWR as a plasterer in Swindon. They had 10 children, one of which was my maternal grandmother.