Edward Aldis Schoolmaster and Aldis of Long Stratton (1717 - 1790)

Ephraim may also have been influenced by the success of his brother William. Baptised 4 September 1814 in Tivetshall St. Margaret, William married Hannah Smith. Hannah, baptised 3 November 1809 in Pulham St. Mary, the daughter of William and Sarah Smith, already had a son William born in 1833 in Tivetshall. A record has not been found of William's marriage to Hannah who is described as 'Hannah Aldis Independent' in the 1841 Census and as 'Hannah Aldis wife married' in 1851. Whatever their marital state, they remained together in Stratton with their family of six children, Hannah being buried 10 October 1881 aged 72 and William 3 April 1906 aged 92. William was an enterprising colt breaker and horse dealer, as can be seen from his entry in White's Directory for 1845: Aldis Mr.George // William. Coltbreaker. 'Mr. George' was Edward's son and William's great-uncle, business man and entrepreneur of Stratton, who doubtless saw in young William a man capable of making something of himself; while William would have recognised Uncle George as a successful self-made man, a man of property and social position who had earned for himself the right to be addressed as Mr.

Family memory records William as a vigorous man who could not understand why, in his eighties, he struggled to put on his coat! Young Ephraim doubtless saw that a good living was to be made from horses and followed in his brother's footsteps. Precisely when he left Stratton, and his movements between there and Middlesex and eventually Kent, are not known. He must have had something about him, becoming a successful horse trainer/dealer and comfortable family man and citizen; a significant development from poor motherless Norfolk boy, son of an agricultural labourer, and a reflection perhaps of the bustling Victorian age in which he made his way. Ephraim's whereabouts in 1851 and 1861 may be unknown, but by 1871 he was well established, in a house large enough for a family of seven with the addition of two lodgers, in Bexley, Kent where he remained for the rest of his life:

Bexley RG/10/879. f. 9. Bourne Lane
Ephraim Aldis Head Mar. 38 Horse Breaker Norfolk
Eliza do. Wife Mar. 31 Middlesex
Ephraim do. Son Un. 10 Scholar Plumstead
William Robert do. Son Un. 9 do. Greenwich
Eliza Harriet do. Dau. 5 Bexley
Ernest Walter do. Son 2 do.
Edward do. Son 1 mo do.
Thomas Streetley Lodger Un. 22 Bricklayer do.
Walter Covill do. Un. 19 Labourer Sutton, Swanley Road

By 1881 he had moved into the centre of Bexley and elevated himself to Coachman:

Bexley RG/11/860. f. 45 High Street
Ephraim Aldis Head Mar. 48 Coachman Norfolk, Long Stratton
Eliza do. Wife Mar. 41 Middlesex
Eliza do. Dau. Un. 14 Scholar Kent, Bexley
Ernest do. Son Un. 12 do. do. do.
Frederic do. Son Un. 8 do. do. do.
Arthur do. Son Un. 5 do. do. do.
Hilda do. Dau. Un. 2 do. do.

By 1891 he had moved yet again to a quiet side street nearer the Church and was enjoying a further uplift in social position:

Bexley f. 264 15 Salisbury Road
Ephraim Aldis Head Mar. 59 Job Master Livery Norfolk, Long Stratton
Eliza do. Dau. Un. 24 Dressmaker Kent, Bexley
Arthur do. Son Un. 16 Clock CC do. do.
Hilda do. Dau. Un. 12 Scholar do. do.
William Noldwritt Boarder Mar. 34 Shorthand writer Reporter Kent, Peckham
Evelyn do. do. Mar. 32 Wife India,Calcutta, Fort William

Ephraim's wife, Eliza, must have been elsewhere at this time, but by 1901 she is back in Salisbury Road with Ephraim, both retired. Of their children still at home, Arthur is a Gold and Silversmith in employment and Hilda Sarah already a qualified Schoolmistress at the age of 22.

This account begins with Edward Aldis, Schoolmaster of Stratton, and is written by his descendant George Aldis who spent much of his working life as a teacher as did his great aunt, Hilda Sarah Aldis. Apparently, George Aldis chose to become a teacher; he feels, however, that teaching chose him, that teaching was 'in the blood', that he was genetically programmed almost to become a teacher. A separate account will detail the high level of literacy in Norfolk Aldises from the earliest records. One interesting feature is how the literacy gene (if that is what it is) is dispersed throughout generations, appearing in some but not all of the children of a literate parent and apparently reappearing in a later generation of children of non-literate, or not especially literate, parents. Arguably, of course, the whole process is completely random and there is no significance in the sequence of literacy from eighteenth-century Edward to twentieth-century George.

For the record, however, Edward's son James continued the school started by his father and was, additionally, Registrar for Depwade* and dissenting Protestant minister; in turn, his son James assisted him for a while in the school before leaving for the West Indies as a Wesleyan missionary, while another son, William (1815-1897) ran a successful Boarding Academy in East Dereham. James's son Robert by his first marriage was schoolmaster in New Buckenham before his early death aged 36 in 1832. Edward (1788-1880), the son of William and Susanna Thirkettle, was Parish Clerk of Long Stratton for many years, and his son George (1816-1904) a Census Enumerator in 1871. Francis Aldis Keable (b.1843) followed in his grandfather Edward's footsteps as Parish Clerk of Long Stratton. Harry Gidney Aldis (1863-1919), son of William and Janette Maria Gidney, was an author and Secretary of Cambridge University Library. It is known, moreover, that Hilda Sarah Aldis (1878-1964), daughter of Ephraim and Eliza Patten, was also a school teacher. How many other Aldis women 'carried the gene' is not known.

It is difficult to conclude other than that Edward Aldis, Schoolmaster of Long Stratton, would have been proud of his descendants.

George Aldis

July 2002