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Horatio ALDIS was born the 14th of February 1796 in Heigham, Norwich, the first of five children of Francis ALDIS (1766-1834) and his wife Elizabeth TRIPP (1770-1848) who were married the 25th of March 1792 at Norwich St. Giles. Francis worked as a ‘comber’, that is a woolcomber, which was an apprenticed trade in the manufacture of woollen textiles. We know a little about Francis’ early life and movements from his Settlement examination the 31st of December 1799: that he was born in Aslacton, Norfolk, and about the age of 13 his father Daniel took a farm in Scole where Francis lived for some seven years; Daniel then moved to Dickleburgh, and Francis with him for three months before moving on to Hoxne where he lived with Mr William Clark, a miller. So by about 1790, it would seem, Francis had settled in Norwich where he found a wife, raised a family, and remained until his death in 1834. In the Will of unmarried sister Margaret (1772-1831), who was a “shopkeeper in his Majesty’s Gaol of Newgate London”, Francis was one of several family beneficiaries (“ten pounds to my Brother Francis Aldis of Norwich in the County of Norfolk”). Margaret’s Will was proved in London the 6th of May 1831, just three years before Francis died. Margaret had regularly attended Gracechurch Street Quaker Meeting House. A second spinster sister, Rachel (1770-1836), who was the sole executrix of Margaret’s Will, died in 1836, her Will being proved in London the 30th of September of that year. Among a number of bequests is one to “the widow and children of my late Brother Francis Aldis”, proving, if proof were needed, that by 1836 Francis was dead.

Surprisingly, Horatio was not baptised until the 6th of August 1818, by which time, of course, he had reached the age of majority and could therefore decide such things for himself. An alternative explanation might lie in Horatio’s Quaker origins. Francis ALDIS was one of the many children of surgeon Daniel ALDIS (c.1731-1799) of Moulton and Aslacton and his formidable wife Mary DIX who were married in 1761. Apart from her extraordinary child-bearing (see chart), Mary was also leader of the women’s section at the major Quaker Meeting House at Tivetshall, and her children were raised as Quakers, as has already been noted in respect of two of her daughters. Francis’ brother Charles ALDIS, for instance, who was born the 16th of March 1776 at Aslacton, is recorded as having been the subject of Quaker removals from Tivetshall to Lammas in 1794, again in 1795, and from North Walsham to London in 1796. Charles, who was knighted by King George IV in 1820, was surgeon at Barts & Guys Hospital, London, and introduced vaccination into Hertfordshire. So Horatio’s delayed baptism might have something to do with his Quaker ancestry. There is no evidence, moreover, that Francis himself remained a Quaker, or Sir Charles for that matter; whereas sisters Rachel and Margaret certainly remained Quakers throughout their lives, and a third sister, Esther (1778-1840), married in 1799 Charles ATKINSON of Littleport, Cambs. in the Chatteris Meeting House.

Horatio’s first marriage was to Hannah BANHAM the 21st of October 1816 by Banns in Norwich St. Michael at Thorn. A witness was James ALDEN who also made his mark along with Horatio and Hannah and might in fact have been a relative. No children have been found of this marriage, and Hannah died three years later in 1819, her burial being the 2nd of March at St. Martin at Oak, her own parish. Hannah’s age at death was 39, putting her birth to about 1780; so she was 36 at marriage to Horatio’s 20, which might have raised a few family eyebrows. Surprisingly perhaps, a further twenty years elapsed before Horatio’s second marriage, by Banns, the 26th of November 1840 in Norwich St. Julian. Horatio is described as a widower and rope-maker, while his bride, Ann ALDERSON, is a widow and daughter of Robert BAXTER, a cordwainer. (Cordwainers made boots and shoes, often from fine soft leather, as distinct from cobblers who were shoe- and boot-menders). Horatio seems to have preferred older women because, at marriage, he and Ann were aged, respectively, 44 and 50. On the face of it, here are two widowed individuals finding comfort and companionship together in their declining years. Not at all. In fact, Horatio and Ann had been having children, and presumably living together, since 1825 when son Horatio was born in St. Margarets Norwich. Charlot followed in 1827, born in St. Michael at Thorn, Robert and Mary Ann in 1830, Alfred in 1832, and Harriet in 1834, all born in St. Michael at Thorn. The 1827 BT for St. Michael at Thorn records “Charlot, daughter of Horatio and Ann Aldous (late Baxter) cordspinner of this parish, born October 23rd, baptised 11th Of November 1827”. So Horatio and Ann were living together as husband and wife long before their marriage in 1840. Moreover, the record of these events found in the BT for St. Michael at Thorn, the original having been destroyed, refers to Ann as “late Baxter spinster”and “Anne Aldis his wife” despite clear evidence of Ann’s previous marriage to James ALDERSON and her delayed marriage to Horatio ALDIS.

Ann BAXTER had married James ALDERSON, a tailor, the 9th of October 1817 at Norwich St. Julian, the marriage witnessed by James KETTLE who also, incidentally, witnessed her marriage to Horatio ALDIS in 1840. James ALDERSON, son of John ALDERSON and his wife Honour KEMP, was born c.1790 at Norwich St. Peter Mancroft, while Ann was also born in 1790. Ann always stated that she had been born in Tharston, Norfolk; but the record of her birth on the 28th of February 1790 and private baptism on the 10th of March 1790 is to be found in the registers of All Saints Tibenham, Norfolk. Ann’s parents, Robert BAXTER, a cordwainer of Stratton St. Michael, and Charlotte BUNN of Tharston, both single, were married, by Banns, in Tharston on the 10th of June 1783. Charlotte made her mark, while Robert signed his name. Their first three children, Elizabeth, Mary, and Robert, were baptised in either Tharston or Stratton St. Michael between 1783 and 1787. The family was the subject of a Settlement Certificate between Stratton St. Michael and Tibenham the 7th of January 1790; and it was this piece of inter-parish administration that led to the discovery of Ann’s baptismal registration. It is worth noting that Ann’s birth just two months later in March 1790 was followed by Robert’s early death the following month. He was buried the 5th of April 1790 in Stratton St. Michael, aged 29, leaving Charlotte a widow with three young children and a new baby. Unsurprisingly, Charlotte BAXTER re-married, on the 6th of April 1793 in Tharston, Robert DYE, a single man of the parish. Charlotte and Robert DYE had 5 children, Robert, Henry, Charlotte, Martha and William (the latter died in infancy) between 1793 and 1806. Charlotte died in 1846 and Robert in 1849. James and Ann ALDERSON had two sons: John ALDERSON born the 27th of August and baptised the 13th of September 1818 at Norwich All Saints; and William ALDERSON born the 2nd of September and baptised the 18th of September 1821 at Norwich St. Peter Mancroft. William appears to have died in infancy, his burial registered the 1st of August 1822 in Norwich St. John de Sepulchre.