Farmers of the Hampshire Downs
George, a younger son of William and Martha Whistler, was baptised at St Michael’s Church, Basingstoke, on 13 August 1802. He became established as a leaseholder of large-scale farming operations on the Hampshire Downs. His sons trained to follow in their father’s profession.
From about 1825 to 1835 George Whistler was the farmer at Ewhurst Farm located north-west of Basingstoke near Baughurst. He married his bride Mary Tubb at a wedding in Sherfield-on-Loddon on 8 December 1825 (1). A son William Henry Whistler was born at Ewhurst Farm. Sadly, Mary died at the age of twenty-two and was buried at St Mary’s Church, Ewhurst, on 24 September 1828. George’s second wife was Mary’s younger sister Jane. Their eldest son George Whistler was baptised in Ewhurst on 9 November 1834 (2). Less than one year later, on 29 September 1835, a devastating fire broke out at Whistler’s farm (3).
At the time of the 1841 census George and Jane Whistler were living with their young children at Down Grange Farm, Basingstoke. The 1851 census found the family at Viables Farm, Basingstoke, where George Whistler was a farmer of 860 acres, employing 20 men. The farmhouse was the home to George, his wife Jane and their sons George (aged 17), Richard (aged 15), Charles (aged 13), Alfred (aged 11), Septimus (aged 7), Walter (aged 3), and Albert (aged 2 months). A daughter Ellen was born in 1853.
In about 1857 the Whistler family moved to Litchfield Grange farm, west of Basingstoke near Ashe where, in the 1861 census, George Whistler was a farmer of 660 acres (4). In 1861 George Whistler was now a widower living with his unmarried sons Richard (aged 25), Charles (aged 23) and Septimus (aged 17) while the two younger sons, Walter (aged 13) and Albert (aged 10), were pupils at the Salt Hill Grammar School in the village of Farnham Royal in Buckinghamshire, and seven-year-old Ellen was a schoolgirl at a small boarding school in Church Street, Basingstoke.
George Whistler was also the leaseholder of Cannon Heath Farm in Kingsclere, located west of Basingstoke with nearby placenames including Ashe, Hannington, Ewhurst and Baughurst. The lease of Cannon Heath Farm was mentioned in his will.
There is also a record of George Whistler as a farmer at Nutley, a community south-west of Basingstoke (5). Possibly George was the son of George Whistler of Litchfield Grange; or the senior George Whistler held the lease for a number of farming operations which he may then have sub-let to a resident farmer.
George Whistler died on 8 November 1868 at Hinton Ampner, a village east of Winchester (6). He left an impressive farming legacy for his eight sons to emulate.
The two eldest sons, William and George Whistler, have not been traced. Information about their six brothers follows.
Albert, the youngest of the Whistler brothers, became a farmer in Hinton Ampner. The evidence from the 1871 census is that Septimus Whistler took over the farming operation at Litchfield Grange, Ashe. Cannon Heath Farm, Kingsclere, became the home of Alfred Whistler and his family. At various times Walter Whistler worked both at Alfred’s farm in Kingsclere and Albert’s farm in Hinton Ampner. Richard Whistler became a tenant farmer in the Berkshire parish of Winkfield.
The two brothers Charles and Septimus Whistler left the Hampshire Downs for a new life in America.
Charles Whistler married his bride Annie Cocking on 3 December 1863 at Fulstow, a village in Lincolnshire. Annie was born in Pennsylvania to English-born parents. When Annie was a young girl the Cocking family returned to England to run a farmimg operation in Fulstow (7).
Charles Whistler crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1864 and settled in Iowa where he established a successful career as a teacher of ‘scientific farming’. In 1884 he moved to Florida for his health, living in Jacksonville and later Tallahassee. Charles died in 1904, in his 66th year, at Plant City, near Tampa, Florida. A newspaper obituary noted that ‘he was a man of fine education and address and an excellent conversationalist’. He was survived by his wife Annie and daughter (8). Annie Whistler passed away in 1919 at Plant City (9).
On 17 January 1865 the wedding of Septimus Whistler and Eliza May took place at the parish church of Ashe (10). In the 1871 census for Ashe, Septimus Whistler, aged 27, was a farmer of 600 acres living with his young family at Litchfield Grange farm. The decision to emigrate to America may have been motivated by the agricultural depression of the 1870s that affected British farming. The passenger list of the steamship Alsatia, arriving in New York on 30 April 1880, identified the Whistler family as Septimus, a farmer, his wife and their children Emily (aged 13), Frank (aged 10), Florence (aged 7), May (aged 6), Kate (aged 3) and an ‘infant’ (11).
At the census in June 1880 Septimus and his family had joined his brother Charles in Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa. Septimus Whistler settled in Palo Alto County, Iowa, where a daughter Beatrice was born in February 1885 (12).
In 1905 Septimus Whistler’s barn was damaged by a tornado that also destroyed a number of windmills in the area (13).
In his senior years Septimus Whistler returned to live in England where he died. On 15 March 1922 The Emmetsburg Democrat, Iowa, printed the obituary: (14)
A short time ago Septimus Whistler, who was for many years a resident of Palo Alto county, passed away at his home at Newberry [Newbury], England. He was, we understand, seventy-eight years of age. He was a native of that country and spent his early life in the land of his birth. He was married in 1862  to Miss Eliza May. He came to Palo Alto county forty-one years ago. He and Mrs Whistler and seven sons and daughters for a long time lived on their homestead near Mallard. Eleven years ago, Mrs Whistler having previously passed away, Mr Whistler returned to England where some time later he remarried. He was tenderly nursed during his last illness by his sorrowing wife, who, with one son and five daughters, survive him. The son is Arthur S. Whistler, who lives in Colorado. The daughters are Mrs May Reigard of Pennsylvania, Mrs Florence Baker [Bekker] of Canada, Mrs Katherin Blake of Rodman, Mrs Beatrice Blake of Lamoni, and Mrs Emily Laubenthal of Whittemore. A son, Francis Whistler, passed away thirty years ago. Mr Whistler was a successful farmer, a peaceful, upright citizen, a kind and loving father and husband, a typical Christian gentleman and an obliging friend and neighbor. All who knew him respected him and will learn with profound regret of his death.
Memorials at Oaklawn Cemetery, Plant City, Hillsborough County, Florida
(Photographs at Find A Grave contributed by Donna McPherson, 2012).
(1) The marriage register of Sherfield-on-Loddon has an entry on 8 December 1825 for George Whistler, of the parish of Ewhurst, bachelor and Mary Tubb, of the parish, spinster, by licence, with consent of parents; witnesses: Samuel Tubb, Sarah Whistler (photocopy ordered from the HRO).
A transcript of the parish register of Ewhurst, Hampshire is available at the
Library of the Society of Genealogists, London. In entries dated from
1826 to 1834, George Whistler was described as a ‘yeoman of Ewhurst Farm’.
The 1851 census reported the birthplace of George’s wife Jane as
From FamilySearch Historical Records online, Mary Tubb was baptised
at Bramley on 20 April 1806, and
Jane Tubb, born 13 March 1812, was baptised at Bramley on 26 Mar 1812.
They were both daughters of Richard and Sarah Tubb.
The will of Sarah Tubb, widow of Sherfield, dated 12 June 1849 and
proved in Winchester on 7 August 1850, mentioned her daughter Jane,
the wife of George Whistler, and her grandson William Whistler, son of
her late daughter Mary Whistler
(copy of will ordered from the HRO).
A fire broke out on Tuesday night on the farm of Mr Whistler, of Baughurst, near Newbury, Berks, which spread so rapidly that before any effectual means of extinguishing it could be procured, no less than 19 ricks of corn and hay had fallen a sacrifice to the flames. The fire is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary, but nothing is yet known positively as to its origin.
(5) George Whistler, a farmer at Kingsclere, and George Whistler, a farmer at Nutley, are included in the Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire, 1855, website: Historical Directories . On 10 March 1860 the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, Portsmouth, reported from the County Bench, Basingstoke: ‘Albert Goodyer and Charles Kimber were charged with stealing nine bushels of oats, the property of Mr. George Whistler, of Nutley; the case was adjourned until next bench day’ (British Library 19th century newspapers online). An 1859 directory listed George Whistler as the farmer at Cannon Heath Farm (William White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1859, pp. 472–6, reprinted at the webpage: Kingsclere History ). An 1865 directory named George Whistler as the farmer at both Litchfield Grange, Ashe, and Cannon Heath Farm, Kingsclere (Postal and Commercial Directory of Hampshire with the Isle of Wight, 1865, website: Historical Directories ).
(7) St Lawrence Church, Fulstow, Lincolnshire
transcribed marriage record at FreeREG online:
Charles Whistler, aged 25, bachelor, farmer, son of
George Whistler, farmer, & Annie Cocking, aged 26, spinster, daughter of
John Cocking, farmer, both of the parish, witnesses: John Cocking, Jane Cocking.
(9) Annie Whistler, widow, was buried 26 November 1919 at
Plant City, Hillsborough, Florida.
The burial record gave the details that she was born 5 March 1837 in Pennsylvania;
and her parents, both born in England, were John Cocking and Nancy Edwards
FamilySearch Historical Records ).
The record of the wedding in Ashe on 17 January 1865 gave the details as
Septimus Whistler, bachelor, miller, father: George Whistler, yeoman, and
Eliza May, spinster, father: Jonathan May, gentleman;
residence of both bride and groom: Litchfield in Ashe;
witnesses: Richard Whistler [brother of Septimus], Sarah Mills Whistler
[wife of Richard], and Ellen Whistler
(photocopy from marriage register ordered from the HRO).
(13) Newspaper report,
30 August 1905, the Emmetsburg Democrat, Emmetsburg,
Palo Alto, Iowa (transcribed at the webpage:
Co, IA USGenWeb Project ).
The newspaper report noted that all the tornado losses were
‘insured in the Mutuals’.
(10) The record of the wedding in Ashe on 17 January 1865 gave the details as Septimus Whistler, bachelor, miller, father: George Whistler, yeoman, and Eliza May, spinster, father: Jonathan May, gentleman; residence of both bride and groom: Litchfield in Ashe; witnesses: Richard Whistler [brother of Septimus], Sarah Mills Whistler [wife of Richard], and Ellen Whistler (photocopy from marriage register ordered from the HRO).
(13) Newspaper report, 30 August 1905, the Emmetsburg Democrat, Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa (transcribed at the webpage: Palo Alto Co, IA USGenWeb Project ). The newspaper report noted that all the tornado losses were ‘insured in the Mutuals’.
(14) Website: NewspaperARCHIVE.com