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Rickford Families - The Terrys

A newspaper cutting from 1916 reports that the Terry family had lived in Worplesdon for nearly 400 years.  Hmm, I’m not so sure.  Our story starts with Moses Terry, born in Mitcham in 1738, the youngest son of Aaron, so presumably a religious family.  He had 6 children (with 2 wives).  In 1769, he married his second wife, Sarah in Worplesdon.  By 1780 he was farming one of the large plots of land in Worplesdon (exact location not known).  He died in 1791, leaving a small plot of land to his heirs.  2 of them are of significance to Rickford.

Catherine Terry (1775-1863) was the elder of Moses’s 2 daughters to survive into the 19th century.  She acquired (presumably purchased or through inheritance from Moses) Old Forge in or before 1829, and probably owned it until her death in 1863.  She never married.

Now to James Terry, who, after the death of his elder brother, George in 1811, was the only surviving son of Moses.  His approach seems to be to acquire substantial farm properties in Worplesdon, and it seems to have been fairly successful. 


  • 1777:  Born in Worplesdon.  

  • 1805:  Married Ann Watts, whose father, George Watts of Guildford had recently purchased Vinehouse Farm (and other properties in Worplesdon) from John Creuze.  The marriage took place in Little Bookham, where James was living at the time.  James and Ann continued to live there for 2 years before returning to Worplesdon.  On Anne’s father’s death, she inherited Vinehouse Farm, Blanket Mill and Brook Farms, and Perry Hill House in Worplesdon.

  • 1822-30:  Owned the properties above in Worplesdon.  It seems that Moses Terry had been farming next to some of them – possibly Brook Farm - and perhaps had lived near Perry Hill House until his death in 1791, followed by his eldest son, George Terry until his death in 1811.

  • c1840:  The Tithe Map clarifies that James Terry owned the land around Blanket Mill Farm (which he farmed himself), as well as Brook Farm (which he let out).  He also owned the land now taken up by Rickford Hill and The Memorial Hall, and then there was Vinehouse Farm (on the site of today’s Coombe Lane), inherited by his wife from her father.  Oh, and 2 properties on Worplesdon Green, one of which was Perry Hill House, (where he probably lived).  Indeed, a large holding – 90 acres in total.

  • 1851:  Living with his sister, Catherine, (see paragraph above) in Perry Hill.  He described himself as a “Landed Proprietor”, which seems like an appropriate description.

  • 1859:  Ann died in April, and James died 8 months later, both in Worplesdon.  Their joint gravestone at St Mary's is shown below.

Jas Terry grave 1859 IMG_0252.jpg
Ann Terry grave 1859 IMG_0253.jpg

James and Ann had 10 children at regular intervals between 1806 and 1828.  Of these, the 2 eldest boys, George and James are of interest to us.  The eldest girl, Eliza, was blind from at least the age of 48 and remained in Worplesdon, living mainly with her brother George and his family in the Perry Hill area (probably at Perry Hill House) until her death in 1894.  Two of the other boys, William and Francis, lived in Worplesdon (Francis lived at Blanket Mill in the 1890’s), but the other 5 children either moved away from the area, or died at a relatively young age.

We’ll deal with George (the eldest) first.


  • 1807:  Born in Little Bookham.

  • 1832:  Married Naomi Freakes, who bore twins George and James in 1834, and Ann in 1836, but died just 4 years later in 1840.  They were living in Flexford (the area around Wanborough Station).  Ann later married Samuel Burch, who played a prominent role in Worplesdon and Rickford life.  This is described in more detail on the Burch family page

  • 1850:  Married Emma Eade in Worplesdon.  George was a widower, and described himself as a miller.  Emma was the daughter of Henry Eade, the miller at Rickford Mill.  She was born in Selborne, Hampshire (which is where the Christmas family originated).

  • 1851:  George and Emma now lived at Brook Farm (owned by his father, James).  George was a farmer.

  • 1859:  On deaths of his parents, George inherited Vinehouse Farm and probably some of the other properties belonging to them.  Brook Farm was sold within a year (either by George or one of his siblings).

  • 1860:  George was appointed as an overseer of the poor (whose role was to administer Poor Relief).

  • 1861:  George was now a farmer of 11 acres, living at Perry Hill House (one of the cottages on Worplesdon Green which had belonged to his father) with Emma and their son John, who was recorded as being dumb from birth.

  • 1863:  Death of Emma.

  • 1871:  George was a farmer of 12 acres, still living at Perry Hill, for the second time a widower.

  • 1881:  George was still living at Perry Hill House, with his sister Eliza (blind) and son John (now recorded as an imbecile).  This must have put a great strain on him

  • 1888:  George died at Perry Hill House.  His personal estate was valued at just £94, which seems low given his likely property holdings, but land was usually not included in probate valuations.  He bequeathed Vinehouse Farm to his sons, George and James.    Perry Hill House passed to George’s daughter, Ann, who had newly returned to Worplesdon from London (quite possibly lured by the attraction of living in Perry Hill House).  Ann was married to Samuel Burch, and his life is described on the Burch Family page.

The second of James and Ann’s sons was James (II), who was born in Worplesdon in 1809.  In 1851 and 1861 he was a farmer of 50 acres in Worplesdon (possibly Vinehouse Farm) with his wife Harriett and their family.  However his circumstances changed for the worse after his father’s death:  His brother Francis moved into Vinehouse Farm, and by 1871 James had become a labourer in Farnham, and then a gardener in Ash (in 1881).  He died in Ash in 1884.  

George had 4 children, and we will examine just one of them, James (III).  Here is what we know about him:


  • 1833:  James (III) was born at Flexford (the area near Wanborough Station).

  • 1861:  Was a wheelwright, living at Hackney (with his late mother’s sister, Elizabeth Fairweather, and her husband Joshua), presumably in some sort of apprenticeship.  The same year, he married Flora Loveland at Worplesdon.  They remained in Hackney for at least 6 more years, and their first 2 children were born there.

  • 1871:  Was a “wheelwright master”, living at Whitmoor Common, not far from Worplesdon Church, with Flora and their family.  

  • 1881:  James and Flora and their family were living 2 doors from his father at Perry Hill, probably somewhere on The Green.  Later that year, Flora died, aged just 41, leaving James with their 7 children, 4 of whom were under the age of 10.  

  • 1888:  Within 2 months of their father’s death, James III and his brother George (II) sold Vinehouse Farm to Charles Peyto Shrubb (the owner of Merrist Wood) for £3,650 (£300,000 in today’s money).  Their uncle Francis had been living there for several years, but presumably he was appeased by being given Blanket Mill Farm to live in (where he and his family were in 1891).  Their sister Ann had inherited Perry Hill House.  Thatchers Land was also offered for sale at the same time, but I do not know who purchased it.

  • c1888:  James had used his share of the sale proceeds to purchase Rickford Mill and surrounding property from the estate of Major Ewing, late of Bridley Manor.  He quickly auctioned off some of this newly acquired land for building purposes.

  • 1891:  James and 3 of his younger children (Phillis, Arthur and Silas) were living at The Mill.  He described himself as a “miller and farmer”.

  • 1895:  Was a member of the Worplesdon Parish Council.

  • 1900:  James died.  The Rev William Farris performed the ceremony, suggesting that James was a member of the Congregational Church.

I can’t trace what happened to James’s 3 eldest children, George, Ernest and Victor Emmanuel, other than an appearance by George at his brother

Arthur’s funeral in 1916.  I suspect they flew the family nest early to get away from a household with no mother and 3 younger siblings,  and decided to make their own way in the world.  I was hoping to find out whether Victor Emmanuel was named after the then King of Italy, and if so, why.  

Of the 3 younger children, Phillis married the gloriously-named Austin Bottle in 1893.  They lived for a time at Pitch Place (under the name Bottles).  
The brothers Arthur and Silas worked in partnership together, and their families remained close for the rest of their lives, later moving to Fox Corner, where they stayed for the rest of their lives.  

First, this is what we know about Arthur:


  • 1874:  Born.

  • 1898-1916:  Lived at Old Forge.

  • c1900:  Married Janet (nee Horne near Andover c1875).

  • 1901:  Coachbuilder. Both he and Silas described themselves as employers, so it is likely that they had already started their business together.

  • 1911:  Terry Bros, wheelwrights at Perry Hill, appeared in the 1911 Kellys Directory.  This was presumably Arthur and Silas.  They may have also been in partnership with a Charles Primmer.

  • 1911:  Wheelwright.  By this time, Arthur and Janet had had 3 children.

  • 1916:  Arthur died “after a long and painful illness” according to the newspaper report.

  • 1918:  After Arthur’s death, Janet moved in next door with Silas and his family. 

  • 1919:  Janet remained in Waltham, while Silas and his family moved to the Post Office at Perry Hill.

  • c1932-1939:  Janet moved to St Brelade, Fox Corner (not to be confused with St Breward, Rickford)  probably to be close to Silas and Fanny.  George Gunner and his family also lived in the house.  

  • 1940:  George Gunner died, and his funeral notice in local newspaper recorded that “the family also wish to thank Mrs Terry for her great kindness towards her father”.

  • Janet died in 1942.

Turning now to Silas:


  • 1876:  Born.

  • 1901:  Silas was living in Old Forge with his brother, Arthur and their family.

  • 1902:  Married Fanny (surname unknown).

  • 1911:  Living at Waltham with Fanny and their 2 daughters, next door to Arthur and his family.  He was a coachbuilder, but still in the wheelwright business with his brother.

  • 1919:  The family moved from Waltham to The Post Office at Perry Hill (presumably as lodgers).

  • 1927:  The family moved from The Post Office to Westbrook at Fox Corner.

  • 1939:  By this time Silas described himself as a carpenter.

  • Died in 1960, still at Westbrook.

So what happened to the large property holdings of James and Ann Terry in the mid-1800’s?  We know that much was sold off (eg Brook and Vinehouse Farms).  My guess is that by the turn of the 20th century, the only property still held by the Terry Family was Old Forge (sold in the 1930’s), and by the 1960’s only Westbrook Cottage and St Brelade at Fox Corner.

We can’t leave the Terry family without mentioning what happened to Arthur & Silas’s business, and also writing about Ebenezer Terry, who was a well-known Worplesdon figure in the 1900’s.  Here is the story of Primmer & Terry....

Primmer & Terry

Primmer & Terry was a well-known business in Perry Hill until the mid 1970’s.  It was situated in a workshop/barn on Perry Hill Green on the site of the current Forge House, behind the smithy which became Philps Garage (and is now Perry Hill Antiques).  One obvious question is:  What relationship did it have with the Terry family?  The answer is not straightforward...

Judging by early photos, the barn was of some antiquity.  Before the 1700’s, Guildford had been a thriving wool market town, and the barn may have been used for storing wool (collected in local Worplesdon fields) for sale in the Guildford markets.

It is difficult to know what the barn was used for before 1890, although we know that it had formed part of the Creuze (and later) Terry estates, abutting Perry Hill House since at least 1792.  

Arthur and Silas Terry (2 of James Terry’s children) started a wheelwright’s business, named Terry Bros, in the barn around 1889 or 1890, and 2 of the early workers there were William Austin and Charles Primmer.  We can’t be sure of the exact dates, but what we do know is:


  • There is a wonderful early photo of 2 of the early workers – possibly Charles Primmer and William Austin – in front of the barn, attached to which is a poster advertising a railway excursion dated June 1889 (shown below).

Terry Bros c1890 - Len Primmer and Austi
  • William Austin arrived in the area c1890, having been born in Sutton.  He was a carpenter and joiner in 1891, but he stayed in the area (possibly at Terry Bros) until c1910, at which point he returned with his family to Sutton.  In 1901, he was living at No 1, Kelvin Cottages, Rickford.

  • In the 1891 census, Arthur Terry was recorded as being a wheelwright (living with his parents at Rickford House)

  • Charles Primmer first appears as living in the area in 1893, and an advertisement for a “wheelwright for a smith) was placed in the local paper in 1898.

  • There is another early photo (shown below) of several people in front of the same barn.  We can’t be sure of the date, but there are some clues.  It is understood that the gentleman on the left with the top hat is James Terry, who died in 1900.  Next to him is the man from the earlier photo (possibly Charles Primmer).  The man with his hand on his hip is Samuel Burch, and the lady near him is his wife, Ann Burch.  William Austin doesn’t seem to be in the picture.  The barn looks in decidedly better shape than the earlier photo, and the vegetation on the roof has been cleared away.  My guess is that the picture was taken c 1897, plus or minus 3 years.  Arthur and Silas Terry would surely have been in the picture.  Perhaps they are the 2 bowler-hatted gentlemen in the centre.

Terry Bros c 1897 - BARN1.jpg

As to the exact nature of the business, it is difficult to be certain.  In 1901, William Austin was a journeyman carpenter, and Charles Primmer was a coachbuilder, both workers, probably at Terry Bros.  Arthur and Silas are both recorded as coachbuilders (employers).  By 1911, William Austin had left the area, and Charles Primmer was a “wheelwright in a coachbuilding business”.  Arthur is recorded as a wheelwright, and Silas as a coachbuilder.  The 1911 Kellys directory shows Terry Bros as wheelwrights.

So it seems that the business was mainly a wheelwrights, working with Philps’s smithy next door, as the businesses would be to an extent complementary.  But they were also coachbuilders (ie they made entire carriages, consisting of a body sitting on an underlying carriage, to be pulled by horses).  It is easy to see the synergies between coachbuilding, wheelwrights and a smithy at that time, but unfortunately the advent of the motor car in the early 1900’s sounded the death knell for that type of business.

Terry Bros continued under Arthur and Silas’s ownership until Arthur’s untimely death in 1916, which is described above.  
But in the 1920’s there were several changes.  

Firstly, Charles Primmer died in 1920, aged only 55, which would have had a big adverse impact on the business at that time.

Secondly a young man from Newbury called Ebenezer Terry (born 1894, and no relation to the Worplesdon Terrys) met a young lady called Alice Primmer during the war at an experimental wooden airframe shop in Hayes, Middlesex.  Alice was the daughter of Charles Primmer, and maybe Alice mentioning that her father worked for a Mr Terry was what started a conversation.  Things seem to have moved on from there, and in 1919 Ebenezer and Alice were married in Worplesdon.  
They moved into 1, Thatchers Lane, not far from the Terry Bros workshop.  They may have actually been the first occupants, as the road doesn’t seem to have existed prior to then.  

Ebenezer soon moved into the Terry Bros business, possibly to replace Charles after his untimely death in 1920.  We will see what happened to Ebenezer below, but for now we’ll stay in the 1920’s.

Thirdly Silas and his family moved out of Worplesdon to Pirbright, living at Fox Corner.  This may be a sign that he had left the business.  

And fourthly, the business changed its name to “Primmer & Terry” and started a completely new line of business – as undertakers.  The Primmer in the name would have referred to Len Primmer, Charles’s son (and Alice’s sister), who was born in 1907.

So to sum up thus far, it looks as though Ebenezer Terry joined Terry Bros c1920, partly due to a happy coincidence of surnames, but partly also because the business was suffering from the death of one of its key employees, Charles Primmer.  Ebenezer, who as we shall see was a man with plenty of drive, seems to have taken control over the business, inviting his young brother-in-law Len to join.  He also used his business sense to change its direction, and by 1929 it was arranging funerals (as well as continuing the declining wheelwright and coachbuilding businesses).  It had also changed its name to Primmer & Terry.

Ebenezer played a prominent role in the Worplesdon community.  He was a Parish Councillor and was Hon secretary of Worplesdon football club.  He was also Hon secretary of the Worplesdon cricket club for 31 years, and his contribution was marked at the annual club dinner, which was held in the Memorial Hall in 1956 and was attended by Peter May (later to be England cricket captain, Chairman of the England Selectors, and President of the MCC).  He died in 1969.  The 2 photos below show Ebenezer with the football team in 1925 (he is standing in the middle row on the extreme left), and with the cricket team in 1951 (standing in the middle row, but this time on the extreme right).

Eb Terry - Football Group.jpg
Eb Terry Cricket 9-altered-1951.jpg

Primmer & Terry continued under the reins of Ebenezer Terry and Len Primmer until the 1970’s when the old barn was sold, demolished, and Forge House built in its place.  Below are 5 photos of the workshop between the 1930’s and its demise in the late 1970’s.  The stern-looking gentleman is Len Primmer.  The final photo shows the workshop at the end of its life with a For Sale signboard outside – appropriately in the pouring rain.

P&T - MAR_1798.jpg
P&T - MAR_1799.jpg
P&T - primmer-terry_1.jpg
P&T - blacksmith 1.jpg
P&T - Philps Van and Forge House site02
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