The birth certificates I ordered for the birth of John Hughes registered in Reading in the September quarter of 1856, and the birth of Margaret Hughes registered in the March quarter of 1859 turned up in the mail today.
The one for John Hughes showed a birth date of 23 August 1856 to parents Thomas Hughes and Frances Hughes formerly Applebee. Not a match.
The one for Margaret Hughes showed a birth date of 22 Dec 1858 to parents Emma Hughes formerly Griggs and Henry William Hughes (deceased). This is clearly a match, and the information for the mother is consistent with that for Lucius Cooten born in 1862.
FreeBMD shows a death registered in March 1858 for a Henry HEWES in Watford. This is possibly Emma’s husband.
Searching FreeBMD for the births of John Hughes in Berkshire between 1850 and 1865 shows births in Reading in March 1853 (ref 2c 351), June 1855 (ref 2c 326), September 1856 (ref 2c 306), and September 1861 (ref 2c 319). The best information that I have at the moment for the birthdate of John Hughes VC is 7 Nov 1855. I guessed that the September 1856 registration seemed most likely. I’ll order the March 1853 one next and see what it shows.