Albert George (1) Hogger

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Brief biography

Albert George (1) Hogger was born in 1881 to parents Benjamin (1) Hogger and his wife Georgianna Adelaide (nee) Golding. The birth certificate [Birth Index: Cosford 4a 599, 1881 (June)] states that he was born on May 21st 1881 at Groton, Suffolk (no more specific address cited). His father's occupation was wheelwright and his mother - her name misspelled as 'Georgena' - was the informant.

The 1891 Census finds him living at age 9 with his parents in Groton.

In the late 1890s he left his home in Suffolk and moved to central Wales, perhaps through the encouragement of his sister Flora Kate (1) who had married a gardener, George Thomas. It is related in Small Worlds [SW] that Albert George (1) took up a position as a trainee gardener at Pencerrig, a large and very beautiful country house situated in Llanelwedd parish just off the road connecting Builth Wells to Llandrindod Wells. From Pencerrig there is a track leading down to a little hamlet called Cwmbach where there stands an attractive Victorian church named St. John's. It was after a service there one Sunday morning that Albert George (1) met his future wife Eliza Ann (nee) Mason.

Eliza Ann was born in 1883 to parents Evan (2) Mason and his wife Eliza (nee) Price at their home Cwmprophwyd near Cwmbach. The GRO reference is [Birth Index: Builth 11b 78, 1883 (Sept)]. Her mother Eliza was a daughter of Evan (2) Price, a huntsman and farmer of Red House, one of the many farms then belonging to the Pencerrig Estate.

The earliest known photograph of Albert George (1) shows him as quite a young man, perhaps not even 20. On its reverse side is written, in either his or Eliza Ann's hand, the phrase "met Oct 2nd 1899".

The 1901 Census finds him at age "19" boarding at a house named Pengraig, very near to Pencerrig, and occupied as a domestic gardener.

They married on April 8th 1902 at the Register Office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, almost certainly because Eliza Ann was by then many months' pregnant with their first child Alice Hilda (1). The marriage certificate [Marriage Index: Haverfordwest 11a 1801, 1902 (June)] describes him as a domestic gardener and bachelor aged 21 and her as a spinster aged 19. His place of residence was given as Lower Farm in Fishguard and hers as "Cwmprofit", Builth" (although her home Cwmprophwyd was actually in Radnorshire, whereas Builth - a few miles away - was in Breconshire). The witnesses were Ernest Mason - Eliza Ann's (favourite) brother - and James Davies whose connection is unknown. At that time Ernest - an agricultural engineer - is believed to have been living in or near Haverfordwest. The wedding may have been held there only because Eliza Ann (or her parents) did not wish to see her married locally in such an obviously advanced state of pregnancy. It is not clear why Albert George (1) was in Fishguard at that time, though he may have been just lodging there over the period of the wedding.

Albert George (1) had been contented with his progress at Pencerrig and was nearing the end of his training there when he was obliged to work for a spell in its glass-houses. The heat in these caused him nose-bleeds of such severity that he could no longer continue, and brought his ambition - of becoming formally qualified for a position as a head gardener himself one day - to an end. It is not yet known whether his departure from Pencerrig preceded or followed his wedding, but if it was before then it may be that for a while he took a less demanding gardening position at Fishguard, which could explain his presence there when he married. More probably, however, he left Pencerrig soon after marrying. Either way, he soon took up more menial employment in the new quarries at Llanelwedd, just across the River Wye from Builth.

It is believed that he and Eliza Ann made their home together in an area just outside Builth called Oaklands (on the Hay road), possibly in a house named The Firs, and that it was there that their first two children were born and raised. Albert George (1) was certainly living there around late 1914-early 1915 when the 1915 Electoral Register was being compiled, and was recorded as lodging in a single room for which he was paying rent to Evan (2) Mason. Around this period Evan (2) and Eliza moved to Newbridge-on-Wye in Radnorshire. Evan (2) then had an incapacitating accident on the railway bridge where he was working as a stonemason, whereupon Albert George (1) and his family moved into the cottage next door in order to be of assistance. He then had to cycle that seven miles each day to and from his work at Llanelwedd. During these journeys in the early mornings he would often be accompanied some way by his son Albert Cyril (1); they would spend a while hunting game (using a catapult or sporting rifle) which the boy would take back home for the table, Albert George (1) then continuing on to his work in the quarries.

In mid-1915 his third and last child John Ernest George (1) was born at the Newbridge home, the address of which was at that time 6, Woodland Cottages. The cottage still stands, but may now bear a different number. Albert George (1) now moved his family again, this time to a remote cottage named Penbenkin near Carneddau Farm, high up in the range of hills known as Carneddau. He then volunteered for service with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, 1st Battalion, and was duly despatched to the Great War then raging in France. His movements and actions abroad are largely unknown but they included a spell of guard duty in France at a prisoner-of-war camp, believed to have been at Peronne near the Somme. By the end of the War he had become a corporal and had survived without a scratch. He returned home to Penbenkin, bringing with him a little souvenir from the camp at which he been guarding German prisoners. Now in the possession of the site owner, this consists of a small metal case into which a matchbox is slotted. On one side is inscribed "A.G. HOGGER FIRST K.S.L.I." and on the other side "FRANCE WAR 1918". Inside the matchbox is a lock of pale hair, probably Eliza Ann's.

There survives a registered letter which he sent from France to Eliza Ann and his youngest child on May 30th 1918, one week before the latter's third birthday on June 6th. With it in its envelope is a pale blue silk handkerchief embroidered with floral motifs and the words "To my dear Son". Written in now quite faint pencil, the letter reads as follows:

          On Active Service With The British Expeditionary Forces
          Thurs. May 30th '18

          Dear Georgie and Mum,
          Just a line in a hurry to wish little Georgie many happy returns of the day. 
          I don't suppose he will know what it means, but please give him a birthday 
          kiss from his Dad. I tried last night to get him some little thing, but could 
          not find anything suitable, there's nothing about here in the way of toys. 
          I've enclosed two halfcrowns, one for him, perhaps you will get him some 
          little thing in Builth for him with it, the other one for Bert. The blue rosary 
          is for yourself, if you would rather have a black one or a white one, let's know 
          the next time you write. I'm thinking of sending Alice one. I was thinking if 
          you did not care for the colour you could change, but I don't suppose I should 
          get your reply in time to know which to send. The black one is only a cheap one. 
          I thought it might amuse Georgie a bit although neither of the things I've sent is 
          very suitable for him. The handkerchief will do for his new suit. I will write again 
          tomorrow. I received a letter from you last night. Hoping this will find you all well, 
          with best love & wishes I remain your loving Dad and husband. AGH. 

Back in civilian life, Albert George (1) now resumed his former work at the Llanelwedd quarries, but moved the family to a much more spacious rented home - one of a pair of semi-detached houses situated very near to the Groe in Builth. These had previously been a single house named Groe Villa, but were now known as Nos. 1 and 2, Groe Villa. The Hoggers occupied No. 2. The Groe is an extensive green parkland running alongside the River Wye. This new home had five bedrooms as well as cellars. The in-laws Evan (2) Mason and Eliza also moved in there with them. Albert George (1) adapted some of the remaining space to accommodate his various gardening and carpentering operations, these being his main hobbies. He also loved whist and attended all the local whist drives, once winning a little cup on a pedestal.

His physique was strong and stocky, probably not taller than about 5'8". His usual head-gear was a cap, but on Sundays - on which he attended Church with his wife - he wore a bowler and a navy blue suit. His hair remained thick, strong and unwhitened throughout his life. His moustache was gingery and quite long, brushed back each side from the centre.

Both he and Eliza Ann started becoming unwell in the 1930s, he with the onset of bowel cancer and she with diabetes. His illness had possibly been triggered by working with the carcinogenic tarmacadam used in the quarry's road-making activities. Eventually he had to have a colostomy operation at Cardiff General Hospital. After this he took up an easier job at the local brewery. He remained very active in his gardening, which he pursued in several allotments around Builth besides his own garden, and sold much of what he produced.

In Spring 1941 he and Eliza Ann were both still at 2, Groe Villa, together with their as-yet-unmarried daughter. The two sons were away in the armed services and the in-laws were long dead. Albert George (1) was by now really ill and died at age 59 around April-May of that year [Death Index: Builth 11b 188, 1941 (June)]. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Matthew's Llanelwedd. Eliza Ann remained at Groe Villa for a few more years, but very soon after the War she moved to the Wishaw-Motherwell region of Lanarkshire, Scotland to live with Alice Hilda (1) who had at last married, to a Scotsman. Her diabetes now became so serious that she had to have a leg amputated, and in January 1947 she died. She was buried in Wishaw or Motherwell.

His children by Eliza Ann Mason

  1. Alice Hilda (1) Hogger - [Birth Index: Builth 11b 67, 1902 (Sept)]
  2. Albert Cyril (1) Hogger - [Birth Index: Builth 11b 69, 1904 (June)]
  3. John Ernest George (1) Hogger - born June 6th 1915 at Newbridge-on-Wye, Radnorshire [Birth Index: Rhayader 11b 218, 1915 (Sept)]