Bletchingley, the home of Horace Colgate

The little town of Bletchingley was the home of Horace Colgate for most of his life. He died serving his country in World war 1 leaving a grieving family of his mother, step father and four younger siblings.

Bletchingley hasn’t changed greatly, apart from the traffic and the housing estate built at Coneybury where Horace’s cousins Dorothy, Adeline and Frances lived with their families after the Second World War. Horace was born in London in 1898; I can find no  record of his mother Emma Pither Dodd having married either a Mr Pither or a Mr Dodd, and I cannot positively trace her or her family. She married Tom Colgate of Bletchingley and Horace was adopted by the Colgates, and in turn adopted their name.

By 1891 the Bletchingley family of Colgate was well established; Henry and Charlotte had been living there forty-five years or more and most of their children still lived in the area.

Their eldest son, Martin was doing well in 1891; he was now a farm bailiff and living in Park Lane, Reigate; his nephew, Arthur was no longer with the family but the children still lived at home, Catherine no doubt helping her mother round the house, and maybe helping her father on the farm, William was a milk retailer, and Martin junior  a carpenter’s apprentice. Arthur had stayed in Bletchingley and was a groom and domestic servant; he lived with his grandparents Henry and Charlotte and Uncle Thomas in Brewer Street.  Henry and Thomas continued to work on the land as agricultural labourers. At some time over the next eight years, Tom will meet Emma and her baby Horace.

Henry Colgate junior and wife Harriet and three boys had a little girl in the family, Fanny, no doubt named after Harriet’s sister. They lived in Stychens; Henry was a general labourer, Harry a Baker’s assistant and Burt a grocer’s assistant.

John and Sarah Jane  now lived not very far away from Bletchingley in Whitehill Lane, Godstone. John was still an agricultural labourer and his young family were all at school. Like Martin, younger brother Edwin had also moved away from Bletchingley; he lived in Dorking on Roman Road and was a domestic coachman. His wife was Fanny née Elsey, sister of his brother Henry’s wife Harriet.

As for Henry and Charlotte’s daughters, Mary still is a mystery and cannot be traced in the census. Susan was a domestic servant living in Nutfield, and Charlotte junior, now Mrs Alfred Bryant was living in Barfields with her husband and daughters Flora, Mabel and Charlotte, 6, 4, 2.  Alfred was a domestic groom, and so was his brother-in-law, John Betts, married to Jane Colgate and living in Lewisham with her and their daughter Florence. Catherine had married William Dagnall and lived in Reigate with him and their five children, Catherine, William, Winifred, Margaret and Henry.

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Great change had come to the life of Tom Colgate by 1901; he was married and had a young step-child, named Alfred Dodd at birth, but soon to become Horace Colgate. Tom and Emma lived in Brewer Street at number 3, with his widowed father, Henry, 75 years old and still working as the foreman on the  roads, still labouring. What a hard life ordinary folk had in those days. His wife, Charlotte had died in 1896 after fifty years of marriage… I hope she lived to celebrate her golden wedding anniversary.

Martin and Ellen had moved from Reigate; he was still a farm bailiff but they were now living in Sussex,  and had a cousin staying with them, Mary Maskell. Their son William was married, still living in Reigate and no longer a milk retailer but a brewery dray-man and father to 3-year-old Harrie. Young Martin too was married, to Anne and with a small son of his own, Stanley. No longer an apprentice, Martin was a carpenter. Sister Catherine, married to George Boxall, was living in Guildford… the Colgates are moving away from Bletchingley.

Henry Colgate junior and his wife Harriet were now living at 7 Barfields, still in Bletchingley. Their sons Burt and Martin were still living with them, Burt  a brick-layer, Martin still at school and their father worked in the quarry.  Their son Harry was living away from Bletchingley now, with his wife Mabel, née Grice, and  sister Fanny. They are living in Eton, Buckinghamshire and Harry is a baker. Sydney is an assistant butcher, to a business run by widowed Mrs Mary Sendall in Nutfield, not too far away.

John was living not far away from his brother at 6, Stychens, with Sarah Jane and Ernest now a farm labourer, his father was a road man… maybe in the same gang as his father, old  Henry? Their sister Alice didn’t live far away, in Merstham with her husband James Knight who was a kiln filler at the lime works at Merstham. Her sister Annie lives in Old Merstham, not far away, and her husband William Jones was a stockman.

Jane Colgate, now Betts was living in Croydon with her husband John who has progressed from being a groom to being a coachman; their daughter Florence was a dressmaker. Jane’s brother Edwin and family don’t appear in the 1901 census for some reason, and nor do the Bryants, Alfred and Charlotte and their children, Flora, Mabel, Charlotte and baby Dorothy. Susan has married Charles – Charlie Fairs who was a domestic gardener and they are living in Cuckfield in Sussex… another Colgate has left Bletchingley.

From a single man arriving from Kent, the family grew, and then spread out again, moving away from the small Surrey town. Now, today there are still Colgates in Bletchingley, and the name of Horace Colgate will be forever on the war memorial.

war memorial 4

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