Chapter 2
Elijah’s parents, brothers and sisters

Eli was the fourth child and third son of Charles Titchener and Mary Smith [T.3]. Charles, an agricultural labourer, was born in Bishopstone in 1795, the son of an agricultural labourer and, as far as can be traced, one of a line of such [T.3a]. Mary Smith was from the market town of Lambourn about 10 miles away, across the Wiltshire downs and over the Berkshire border. Charles and Mary married in the parish church in Bishopstone in 1819 [T.3]. They had eight - possibly nine - children. They also brought up as theirs the illegitimate son, Henry [T.3], of their elder daughter, Ann. All the children were born in Bishopstone, and, in the 1841 census, all except the eldest, William, are living at home. William is found at the address of Margaret Smith and her son, farmers, where he is employed as an agricultural labourer. As they grew up the family left Bishopstone, reflecting perhaps the depressed nature of agriculture in Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century. By the 1851 census only the three youngest, George, Alfred, and David are still in the village, plus Henry, Ann’s illegitimate son. Ann had married a William Appleford of the nearby village of Baydon in 1847. The marriage, which took place in Bishopstone, was witnessed by the two fathers. William’s father is named as “Thomas Appleford, labourer”. He is possibly the Thomas Appleford listed in the 1851 census for Bishopstone. I have not tried to trace Ann after her marriage.

By the 1851 census William and Amos have disappeared from Bishopstone. George is working as a “farm labourer” for a Thomas Hedges and is living in the Hedges household. By the 1861 census George too has disappeared. Only David and “Harre” (Henry) are left, both still living with Charles and Mary. By now about 16 years old, Harre is admitted to be “grandson”. Alfred had died in 1853. He was buried in the parish churchyard. He was only 17.

When Mary dies only Harre is still with Charles, for Charles in his letter to Eli in 1862 remarks despairingly, “My Dear son this is the worst los as ever I head in this worle how Harre and myself shall get a lon I dont know it dont seem like hom.”

This letter also tells of David. Charles writes that, when he first left home, David joined the police on the Great Western Railway. He was for “a good wile” at Steventon station, but he and the stationmaster were evidently discharged after letting a train pass through two minutes too soon. However, David’s employers, writes Charles, gave him “a good careter” and he went up to London “to Scotlon Yard and got in the London Police as soon as he tried”. At the time of Charles’ writing David is at “a toune caled Totenham in Midelsex a letel station wher ther is a bout twelve men kep - but know ben short of men ther onley seven”.

Notwithstanding Charles’ strange spellings and occasional odd grammar one cannot but be deeply moved by his desperately sad account of his wife’s illness and death. In lay language, she died of dropsy. She had been ill and in pain for more than a year. The death certificate, more prosaic than Charles, records “cardiac disease”. His “Deare Children Gon to so mane parts of the worle not one to say Mother how are you”, Charles is a man from whom his one remaining prop has been taken away. “My Dear son and Daughter,” he writes, “this is a vexen teale to write.” Bereft, he survived his Mary by only four months, dying in November 1862 of acute bronchitis. He was 67.

2.1 American Titcheners

Charles’ letter to Eli and Emma mentions at one point “your brothers and sisters in a Ameraca” and names “your Brother George” as one of them. Who besides George went to “Ameraca”? It is perhaps significant that Charles, in writing to Eli and Emma, uses the form of address, “My Dear son and Daughter”. The short answer is that I do not know who went besides George. I have never seriously tried to trace the American descendants of Charles and Mary.

Titcheners are certainly to be found in the U.S.A. One, with a distinguished reputation, is Edward Bradford Titchener, “the Anglo-American psychologist” as the 1929 Encyclopaedia Britannica describes him, “born on Jan. 11, 1867, in Chichester, possibly a descendant of John Tychenor (1532) of Chichester.” One detects from this entry a whiff of self-importance, reminiscent of “Blind Frank”. But he is no relation. Another is Professor John B. Titchener, Chairman of the Department of Classical Languages at Ohio State University, who, my scrappy notes tell me somewhat mysteriously, was “in U.S.A. as a Fulbright scholar ca. 1960”. This would seem to mean that he was born in Britain, not America.

An American family we met when we were in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1955 to 1958 were the sisters Ellen Titchener and Dorothy Peacock (nee Titchener) of Providence, Rhode Island. Their father, Albert Edward Titchener, was born in Reigate, Surrey, and had come to the U.S.A. about 1895. How Albert Edward came to make contact with “our” Titcheners in New Zealand is a tale to be told later. When we visited Ellen and Dorothy in Providence in 1958 they gave me a dozen or more of their father’s books - illustrated descriptive books about Surrey and other nearby English counties. His many years in America did not extinguish, perhaps indeed heightened, his affection for the country of his birth and youth.

The name of Titchener in the U.S.A. is also to be found in E. H. Titchener and Company, a firm in Binghampton, New York, which specializes in making wire products. “Working Wonders in Wire” says the label on the box which contains a “Wire Circuit-Board Puller” and which my son, Mark, bought in U.S.A. some years ago. The company address, interestingly, is 1 Titchener Place, Binghampton, N.Y. When Mark produced this box to show me, it at once brought to mind a long-forgotten memory; that I had read, 30 or more years ago, an article in the American engineering journal, “Machine Design”, written by a Titchener of this Binghampton firm about the design and manufacture of wire products.

2.2 Mysterious Susan

In the Bishopstone parish register there is recorded, in 1842, the baptism of a Susan Titchener [T.3] to parents Charles and Mary. In Bishopstone at this time were a second Charles and Mary Titchener. This Charles was about 20 years younger than “our” Charles.

Who were Susan’s parents? A disembodied soul insubstantial as the air, she does not appear in either household or in any other Bishopstone household in the 1851 census; or in any later census. She might have died young; but the parish register has no record of this.

She might perhaps have been a last daughter of “our” Charles and Mary, but this possibility seems remote. She remains a mystery.