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Big John Kingshott

My great great grandfather John Kingshott was born at Lake House in Bramshott, Hampshire on 6th September 1858. He was the 8th child of Henry & Amelia Kingshott.


The family remained at Lake House until the mid 1860's when they moved to Brookham, near Bramshott. All nine of John's siblings were baptised at Bramshott.


By the time of the 1871 census, which was taken on the night of 2nd April 1871, John was still at school. The family were still in Brookham and things seemed to be going very well. He must have contracted the usual childhood diseases, but survived them, as did all his siblings.


John married Amelia Ann Cannon (known as Ann) at Bramshott on 27th September 1879. She was from a large family of Cannon's in Selborne. She was a small lady, perhaps no more than 5 feet 2 inches, but was very hard.


By the time of the following census, taken on 3rd April 1881, John was working as an agricultural labourer. He can be found at Holne Wood Cottage at Buriton working as a milkman. His wife is with him, and the first two children Christopher John Kingshott, known as Jack, and Sarah Edith Kingshott were with them.


In 1891 John and his ever expanding family could be found in Fernhurst, Sussex and in 1901 he was at Jayes Cottage in nearby Lurgashall. John was still working as a farm labourer at this time, but, by 1901, his family had expanded to 15 children! John was therefore clearly hoping that the end had come with the birth of another son in 1903, who he called Finisher Coronation Kingshott! Alas, it was not to be and John and Ann had no less than 19 children in all! Some estimates take that up to as high as 23, but the 1911 census itself records that the number was 19, although 4 had died by then.


I have a newspaper article from the Surrey Times of Saturday, 28th September 1929, which talks a little bit about John and Ann. There is a lovely photograph of them too. I have attached the newspaper article here. In it, there is talk of a party the following weekend, and the photograph below is of that party. Click the article to enlarge it so that you can read it.

The following photograph shows John & Ann Kingshott, with their surviving family, at the time of their golden wedding anniversary in 1929. My great grandad is the one sitting next to John's wife Ann. At least one of the children is still alive, and it is fascinating to hear her talk about someone who she remembers as a living, breathing person, but who is just a face in a photograph to me.

Subsequently John went to work for Lord Middleton at Peper Harow estate, moving to a tied cottage at a small hamlet called Gatwick, in the village of Shackleford, near Elstead in Surrey. Long after the Kingshott's left the house the new owner discovered its history and named it Kingshott Cottage. It is still called that today.

John (in the tree) and his eldest son Christopher John, known as Jack.

John developed quite a physique from swinging an axe all day and became known as "Big John", long before the song came out. This is something that certainly my branch has retained, as we are all great big lumps.

He may not look very big here, but consider the fact that most men, even at the time of joining the army in the first world war, had expanded chest measurements of around 36 inches. We are a lot bigger now - well I am at least!. I particularly like his excellent Victorian whiskers, something that I remember my dad emulating in the 1970's. Note Big John's hairstyle, and compare it with mine!


John, who is still remembered by some of his surviving grandchildren (almost all of whom are in their 80's) was said to be a big, strong man, but very quiet. He was softly spoken and very mild mannered. His wife, on the other hand, was an absolute ball of fire and struck fear into anyone who crossed her! This, once again, is a familiar trait with our branch!!

This photo of John, taken towards the end of his life, not only demonstrates our branch's male hairstyle, but also looks exactly like my brother, minus the whiskers!


John Kingshott died at home in Gatwick two days short of his 74th birthday, on Sunday 4th September 1932. The following newspaper article, from Friday 9th September 1932, was published about his death.

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