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  A Green-fingered Vicar and his Descendants


The name Alderson can be seen in several places in Tickhill from road names (Alderson Drive and Alderson Close), to the War Memorial, the plaque on the Buttercross and memorials in St Mary's Church. So, who were the Aldersons? There were several different Alderson families in Tickhill; the focus here is on the Revd Christopher Alderson (1737-1814) and his descendants. He was born in Brough, Westmorland, and, unlike his brothers who were shepherds and miners, was educated at Sedbergh School then Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was nominally the Vicar of Tickhill from 1774 to 1784, although he was involved in other activities in these years including being curate at Aston. He officiated at no marriage services at St Mary's from 1774-84 but he did officiate at a few weddings here after 1784 when he was still described as Vicar.  He built the Buttercross in 1777 based on a design by William Mason, Rector at Aston, but called by David Hey 'a futile attempt to revive the weekly trading market'.

He married Elizabeth Ball of Aston in 1767. (She was the daughter of the Steward of the Holderness estate at Aston.) Three of their children were born in Aston before they moved to Tickhill: Elizabeth, Jonathan and William, the two boys later being ordained. A fourth child, Mary, was born in Tickhill in 1781 and a fifth child, Christopher, was born in Eckington, Derbyshire, in 1788. The Revd Christopher Alderson was given the living at Eckington in 1784 (the living was in the gift of the Crown) and this made him financially secure.

Alderson achieved prominence as a garden designer often working in partnership with fellow clergyman William Mason. Alderson not only improved the garden at Eckington vicarage but also worked on various commissions including the gardens at Nuneham Courtenay and Renishaw Hall. Royal patronage followed when he was recommended to Queen Charlotte by Lady Holderness. The Queen was well known for her love of gardening, botany and botanical illustrations and after acquiring the Frogmore estates, later incorporated into Windsor Home Park, set about creating a delightful garden there. Alderson, described by one of the Queen's daughters as having 'infinite taste in laying out places', began work at Frogmore on 7 February 1791. The Queen subsequently lavished an average 1000 a year on this garden. After Mason died in 1797 Alderson took over the living at Aston whose church has a memorial to him and his wife who died in 1817.

Christopher Alderson's eldest son the Revd Jonathan Alderson (1769-1848) married Anna Maria Hodgson in Sheffield Parish Church in 1798. They had eight children the youngest being Anna Maria Alderson who was born in Harthill but who died in Tickhill in 1906 aged 92.  Anna Maria Alderson and her older sister Augusta were most generous benefactors funding improvements in St Mary's Church, Anna Maria also part funded the buying of St Leonard's Hospital to be the Parish Room, as well as restoring the Buttercross in 1898 and awarding Coronation medals to local children in 1902, for example. Jonathan's great grandson was Augustus Dixwell Alderson (1868-1944), Vicar of Tickhill 1899-1911. As the granddaughter of one Tickhill Vicar and great aunt of another one, Anna Maria's generosity to the Church and the local community here can perhaps be better understood.

According to the 1901 Census the Revd Augustus Dixwell Alderson's household at the vicarage (now Darfield House) consisted of his family: wife Wilhelmina Mary, son Augustus and recently born daughter Eileen; the servants were a cook, housemaid, 'horseboy', nurse and nursemaid. The Revd Augustus Dixwell Alderson had a nephew Dixwell Ian Alderson (son of his elder brother Marmaduke Jonathan George Alderson) who was accidentally killed aged 17 on board HMS Conqueror in 1917 when he fell from the ship's mast. Dixwell is the youngest person commemorated on Tickhill's War Memorial (see John Cowie's work on the War Memorial on the Society's website).

Christopher Alderson's second son the Revd William Alderson (1773-1852) became the Rector of Aston in 1811 and married Harriet Walker in 1813. The Revd William Alderson was a friend of Henry Gally Knight Jnr, who inherited Firbeck Hall from his father in 1808, and Sir Henry Fitzherbert. Christopher's daughter Mary Alderson (1781-1865) lived for a while at Firbeck Hall - she opened an account at Hoares Bank in 1818 when she was living at the Hall. Mary would be known to the Gally Knights through her brother’s friendship with Henry Gally Knight Jnr. Mary spent the last years of her life at Barlborough, Derbyshire, being recorded there in the 1851 and 1861 Censuses; there is a memorial to her in the East window of Barlborough Church.

Thanks to Valerie Oxley and Donald Thorpe for help with various aspects of this item. See also Marmaduke Alderson's book From the High Pennines, Hayloft, 2003 and Jane Roberts' book Royal Landscape: The gardens and parks of Windsor, Yale University Press, 1997.


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