The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Compigne, Alfred 1821 – 1891; Catherine 1821 – 1873; Mims, Frederick 1854 -1937

Grave Number x55

(Also Frederick Bosworth Mims, father of Jessie Mims, 1854-1937)

Alfred Compigne was born on 15th May 1819 in Berkhamsted to parents George and Sarah, nee Culy. Sarah died the following year at the age of 50.  He married Catherine Collins in 1846. They had eight children. He then married Louisa Collins (related to Catherine?) in October 1879. He died on 3rd January 1891.

Catherine died aged only 52. In the year of her death she was a pianist at the Working Men’s Club entertainment accompanying the Misses Compigne singing ‘Hark the Lark” with others.[1]

In 1851, the family were living in Bovingdon, he was described as a proprietor of houses; in 1861  they were probably visiting Alfred’s younger brother Abraham at Pouchen End but the children were  living at Aldenham  (Alfred G., Eugene, Catherine, Ellen, Jessie, Roselle). In 1871, the family were living in Highfield Road on the Highfield house estate, and in 1881 (when he had re-married) at Egerton Terrace in the High Street.

DEATH OF MR. A. COMPIGNE – We regret to announce this week the death of Mr. Alfred Compigne, which took place on Saturday at Egerton-Terrace, at the age of 71. For several years Mr. Compigne had been a severe sufferer from a neuralgic affection, and had lapsed into retirement, but in his time he had been a prominent public man in the town. He was a man of broad and independent views, and rendered valuable public service in various capacities. His father was a gentleman of independent means. Mr Compigne was one of the actors in procuring a new scheme for the Grammar School[2], he was a member of the committee of the old British School, of the Bible Society, Mechanic’s Institute, and kindred institutions. As a Surveyor of the Highways he did good service. On the formation of the School Board here in 1871 he was appointed its clerk, and he was also secretary for many years of the Water Works Company, and of the Gas Company, Herts and Bucks Newspaper Company, Neale’s Charity, &c. In politics he was a staunch Liberal, and was a genial man of the world.[3]

As a surveyor of the highways he would have had good local knowledge, being involved in ‘stopping up’ and ‘proposed new courses’ for footpaths and highways[4]

In 1867, Alfred caused some consternation at the vestry meeting for nominating overseers and highway surveyors having altered the notice from one p.m to five p.m, the rector refused to sign the notice, and the Rev. F.B Harvey commented ‘that a notice being altered like this was a very grave matter, the surveyor had no business to sign it all. Mr Compigne, who during this criticism on him entered the room, explained that had the time been left at one o’clock, they would have had no surveyor present, therefore he took the liberty to alter the time of the meeting.[5] The meeting continued in a rather fractious manner, with the election of Alfred as surveyor  being disputed, perhaps because in the same year, he was one of the ‘martyrs’ in refusing to pay rates in 1867[6].

In 1874, he, with a School Board Officer, preferred a charge ‘against Benjamin Pratt, of Berkhamsted, for neglecting to send his boy regularly to school during the past six months. (The School Board officer said that parents were not paying 2s (the fine), if their children could earn 4s by staying away)[7]

In 1877 at the vestry meeting, ’Mr Loader inquired if the clerk (Mr Compigne) who did a lot of work, was paid – Mr Read: No, but during the past four years he had earned fully £20. Mr. W. Nash said they all understood that the work was gratuitous.[8] Regarding his work as Clerk to the School Board, on 3rd March, ‘in accordance with a notice previously given, the Chairman moved that the salary of the Clerk (Mr Compigne) be increased from £10 to £15 per annum, commencing from the 1st January last. He had often thought that the really efficient services of their clerk were insufficiently remunerated by 4s a week. The auditor had stated that no books and accounts were better kept than theirs. Mr H. Nash seconded, remarking in that in the past there had been a great deal of heavy work done by the clerk – Rev. E. Bartrum felt that the clerk had done his duty exceedingly well and that it had been heavy, but their salaries were increasing, and he observed that of all employments that of the clerk’s work was the cheapest, and if Mr Compigne should resign the duties at least half-a-dozen men would be ready to perform them. Moreover, he thought that such a motion if made should be made by the new Board. He felt how invidious it was to make such remarks and knowing how Mr Compigne had served them, it was not pleasant to make such observations… The Chairman said he well knew the amount of time Mr Compigne had given to the work, and he did not think there was another man in Berkhampstead who knew so much on the subject of his duties, or could perform them as well.[9]’ On a vote, the increase was agreed.

In 1880, Alfred was handling tenders for renting Hyde Farm, in Great Missenden, the property of the Trustees of Neales’ Charity[10]

In 1891, Alfred’s funeral took place at the Cemetery and the proceedings included a short service at the Baptist Church, conducted by the Rev. J.F. Smythe. The mourners were the widow and Mr Alfred G. Compigne, Mr Eugene Compigne and his wife, Mrs Fred Cork, (Cook)  Mrs John Goodman, Mrs F.B Mims, daughters, and their husbands, a daughter of Mr. Lloyd Compigne, brother of the deceased; Mrs. C. Collins, and Messrs. Henry Nash and G. Loosley. Messrs Matthews conducted the funeral arrangements.[11]

Alfred and Catherine’s first son, Alfred, died at the age of 1. Their second son, also Alfred, trained as a compositor, died in Clarendon Street Pimlico the following year, aged 44.[12] His third son, Eugene died in 1934 in Saffron Walden, Essex, aged 84. Their eldest daughter, Catherine, born 1853 married Frederick Cook, eldest son of Mr Thomas Cook on February 1st 1875 at St Mary’s Church, Newington and died 1910.  Ellen was born in 1854 first married John Goodman, who died in 1912, then married Frederick Cook, her sister’s former husband in 1913. He died in 1915 and thirdly, she married George Duncombe, who died in 1923. She lived to 1935. His daughter Jessie, born in 1856 married Frederick Bosworth Mims of 12, Northwick Terrace, Maida Vale on September 6th 1880.[13] She died at Tunbridge Wells and chose to be buried at the Cemetery – although strangely she is buried with her parents-in-law, whilst her husband is buried with her parents.  Roselle was born 1859 but died at the age of 12 in Berkhamsted, though there is no record of her burial. Lionell was born in 1862 and died in San Diego in 1942. 

Where is Alfred’s second wife buried – she died at Brentford, Middlesex, at the age of 91?  The Project would be delighted to hear from you if you have connections or information relating to members of this family. Please contact James Moir

[1] Bucks Herald 8th March 1873

[2] Bucks Herald 25th July 1874

[3] Bucks Herald 31st January 1891

[4] Herts Agricultural Record 12th September 1865 and Herts Guardian 22nd August 1865

[5] Bucks Herald 30th March 1860

[6] Herts Guardian 23rd April 1867

[7] Hertford Mercury and Reformer 7th November 1874

[8] Bucks Herald 31st March 1877

[9] Bucks Herald 3 March 1877

[10] Bucks Herald 8th may 1880

[11] Bucks Herald 31st January 1891

[12] Bucks Herald 2nd April 1892

[13] Herts Advertiser 18th September 1880

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