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Alfred Bartlett

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Alfred Bartlett, by Trevor Wood
Alfred Darce Bartlett, Sussex
by Trevor Wood Oct. 2012.

My Grandfather was Alfred Darce Bartlett and he was born in Tillington in 1889. I have traced him back in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census.
In 1911 he was lodging with another farm worker at an address given on the census form as 283 River Park, Tillington, I can find no reference to this address and wonder if you have any knowledge of it?
My searches on the Bartlett side show him on the other census as being born in Tillington in 1889. I have traced his male line back to about 1790 and they are all shown as farm workers in and around the Midhurst area.
However, I was told by my mother that my great grandad was a French Gypsy and this is where his middle name (Darce) came from. I have found out that Bartlett was, and still is, a common Romany name. He was undoubtably a carter on a farm, it states that on my mums marriage certificate and I remember him working with horses in the late 1950s.

Alfred & Dorothy Bartlett
My Grandfather and Grandmother, Seaford, 1950s.
Alfred & Dorothy Bartlett
He did seem to move about a bit, but again this was quite common for farm workers in those days. I suppose what I am really trying to find out is if there is a Romany connection. I was always told, when a child, I was very like my grandad and was certainly his favourite. Sadly I was only 8 when he died but I do seem to have inherited many of his ways and skills, many of which are traditionally Romany.

1911 census
1911 Census, ref- 11
1911 census
1911 Census, ref- 12
1914 recruitment form
WWI Recruitment form, ref- 13

I did a search of the 1911 census when it was first available and found his parents and siblings at Moor Farm, Petworth, but no sign of him. I was also told by my mother that he started his working life at the age of 11, as a member of the garden staff then as a stable boy at Petworth House. I dont know if he ever went to school but he could not read or write.
At the outbreak of World War I, he volunteered for the forces, but was rejected as he was blind in one eye, a result of the days of making quicklime apparently.....see here
A Bartlett is recorded on the Tillington War Memorial
BARTLETT, Private Austin George Henry
Royal Sussex Regiment.
Killed in action, Hooge 13, Feb.1916.......see here

By 1918 he had moved to Cranleigh where he married my grandmother. From there they moved further into Surrey, at Witley, Peaslake and finally Abinger Hammer.
I dont have much 'passed down' information about him. He worked until he was 70 and died in 1961, aged 72. Apparently he had no birth certificate and did not know when his birthday was, it was either April or July time, so he just used to have 2 birthdays! and I can remember that happening! I was only 7 or 8 when he died and 16 when his daughter, my mother, died. She was, Isobel Maud Bartlett and was born in 1921 at Peaslake, Surrey, where my grandfather was working at Hoe Farm. She died in 1971.
She had an older brother, another Alfred, but known as Arthur. He was born about 1919 and died in the mid 1970s.
I traced back as far as his grandfather, Edmund Bartlett, born in Cocking Causeway. They seem to have been there for many years. The address given is 'The Cottage', Mill Lane, Cocking known to be Pitsham..ongoing
I have sent the only photo I have of him. This was probably taken in the mid 1950s on a pub coach trip. I seem to recall being told it was at Seaford. Shown with him is my Grandmother Dorothy, called Dolly by Grandad. She was born Dorothy Carpenter in Cranleigh, Surrey in 1895. In the 1911 census she was shown as a domestic servant at the Jolly Farmer pub in Bramley, Surrey. She died in 1963.

The more it seems likely that he was of Romany origins the more a couple of incidents related by my mother begin to look like persecution. The first incident must have been in the late 1920s or very early 30s. They were living in a wooden bungalow at Wormley in Surrey. Presumably this was a tied farm dwelling. It was the subject of an arson attack whilst they were all out and they lost everything. My mother told me someone was seen with an oil lamp nearby, but no one was ever caught.
The second incident related to the family dog. It was wrongly accused of sheep worrying, and was shot in their garden by a local resident.
My mother also did once tell me they used to visit his mother, Mary Bartlett, who by this time was living in a cottage at Northchapel. Apparently the place was a proper mess with a mattress rammed against the front door to keep it shut! She remembered an uncle who lived there which I think was Percy who had what we now call 'bad back syndrome' and would lay in bed all day!.

Jolly Farmer, Bramley,
Jolly Farmer, PH, Bramley, c1910-13

Baynards Park, Cranleigh, Surrey WWI
Baynards Park, Cranleigh, Surrey WWI
Alfred Bartlett is shown on second trailer.

I have found a photo which shows Alfred riding on a farm trailer [see here].
at Baynards Park in Surrey during the First World War.
The tractor shown was an American International Titan. Over 3,000 were shipped here during WW1.
I know that, at some time, he did have his foot run over by a tractor, possibly this one, I dont know. He used to wrap his toes in pieces of rag, the original 'toe rags' as a result of this accident.
The sacks on the wagons would have contained corn and when filled with wheat weighed 2¼ cwt [about 112kg]. They would have been loaded by hand, a task that would take 3 men to load on a wagon this high. When offloading they would be carried by one man on his back, often up steps into granaries. The sacks themselves were usually hired from firms like the Heald Sack Company in Godalming. Their building was still standing in the 1970s. These early tractors were expensive and probably beyond the reach of smaller tenant farmers. It may well have been owned by a local threshing contractor. I did try to find out about Baynards Park during this time and it seems the estate was split into several tenanted farms.

Alfred [my Great Grandfather] appears in 1881 with his parents, Edmund and Emma, and says born Cocking. The 1891 census shows Alfred Bartlett with wife Mary at Terwick. He can then be found in 1901 with wife Mary and 6 children living in Thakeham.
Then in 1911 living at Moor Farm, Petworth, my Grandfather by now aged 21, living as a boarder with a George Pearce, nearby at Tillington were he was employed as a Carter.
As a family they do seem to have moved about a lot, with every child born in a different place.

Trevor Wood [Isle of Wight, 2012]

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