Farnborough village 1821 Census Thomas Elkington Downloads and links Contact
Go to the Littlebeams site to see more Little Histories, mainly in Warwickshire. Go to the Littlebeams home page to see details of more Little Histories A Little History of Farnborough, Warwickshire


From the first quarter of the nineteenth century dates an historical record of Farnborough that is a rarity in national terms. The 1821 census, giving the names of all the householders and, for the first time in a census, the approximate ages of all the inhabitants, survives for only 300 places out of over 40,000 (less than 1%), and Farnborough is one of them. As two of my ancestors were Farnborough householders, I made a complete transcript. It is published on this site, together with images from the scanned original, by permission of the Warwickshire County Records Office.

Also featured are the accounts for 1758-9 of Thomas Elkington, who appears to have been an estate servant of the Lord of the Manor. The record of his expenses, which Thomas noted in the pages of his Rider’s Almanac, give a glimpse of the routine affairs of his working life, while the almanac is interesting in its own right and is reproduced on pages linked to A Little History of Farnborough  via the Downloads and Links page.

Farnborough is a village of 265 inhabitants (in 2011) in the local government district of Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon, and lies on the eastern edge of the county of Warwickshire. It is some six miles (10 km) north of the town of Banbury, and adjoins the Oxfordshire parishes of Claydon, to the east, and Mollington, to the south.

The parish church dates at least from the 12th century, and is one of seventy mediaeval churches in the country dedicated to St. Botolph (d. 680), one of the earliest and most revered of East Anglian saints. Botolph built a monastery believed to have been near Aldeburgh in Suffolk, but certainly in a marshland area, for he was said to have expelled the swamps of their "Devils". In fact, he probably had the marshes drained and eliminated the "marsh gas" with its night glow. Could it have been because travellers then probably felt safer that he became known as the patron saint of wayfarers?

The other notable building in Farnborough is the Hall, home to the Holbech family since Ambrose Holbech acquired it in 1684. Remodelled in the 1700s, it has outstanding rococo plasterwork, as seen below. Today it is a National Trust property, but remains a family home.  


                Photo: ©National Trust

The magnificent interiors date from the time of William Holbech II, grandson of Ambrose. He was the employer of Thomas Elkington, whose accounts, referred to above, include a veiled complaint about the late payment of his wages by William Holbech. History shows that quite a number of the gentry and aristocracy were notoriously bad payers.

In the twentieth century, probably the best-remembered Holbech was Johnny, who as Managing Director of Gordon's Gin in the 1950s was responsible for making it one of Britain's best-recognised liquor brands. Away from work, he loved racing and gambling, to which he had been introduced by his father, and at whose burial in 1956 he famously threw a bookmaker's ticket into the grave.