Tag Archives: blackboys

The Gun Inn, Blackboys: A little background on pub history

11 May

Pub history is something I became interested in through my local history studies, so it was really pleasing to discover that one of my ancestors had been the owner and licensee of a pub.

That ancestor was Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) and the pub in question (actually a beerhouse) was The Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex. I have written several posts about Henry HEMSLEY before, but haven’t written a lot about the pub itself.

Pub history is closely related to family history because an important part of the pub is its people, whether it is the owners/workers or the people/organisations that used it. Many of the same sources are used such as census returns and directories.

Pub history is also closely related to house history after all it is about a building and it’s contents. As such it uses many of the same records that are used in house history, like tax and rate books and maps and plans.

Pubs have also generated their own set of records as a result of the fact that they were licensed. Of course they weren’t unique in being licensed but it has helped generate a potentially large set of records to investigate.

It also helps that pubs have always needed to attract customers, so they needed to be advertised, which means they are often mentioned in guide books and in more recent decades there have been books devoted to lists of pubs and their facilities.

As well as providing a resting place for the weary traveller they also served an important role in the local community, they have served as meeting places for a range of organisations and groups, another excuse for the pub to be featured in newspaper reports.

Then there is the physical building itself (if it still exists) which potentially offers many clues to its history and what it used to look like. There might be architectural features that provide a connection to a brewery or maybe the layout of the building will provide clues to the original layout of the building.

In short there are lots of sources of information for pub history, pulling them all together to create a complete picture can be a complicated task. Just like family history part of the challenge is knowing where to look for the information and not being disheartened when that missing piece of information is not where it should be.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Time to pull myself out of a genealogy slump

9 May

The last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet for my family history research. Apart from doing a little bit of filing, which took far longer than it should have, I haven’t really done my family history work.

I have done quite a bit of reading and an awful lot ofworrying about what I should be doing, but not actually getting down to actually doing any research. It hasn’t helped that there have been plenty of distractions this last couple of months.

I have been working longer hours recently, the weather has been fantastic enabling me to get out and do some walking (with lots of bank holidays providing me the opportunity to get out and about). On top of that we have entered lawn mowing season and several hours a week have been spent cutting my parent’s grass.

So I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing but I am starting to miss the pleasure of family history research. I am missing the excitement of waiting for a certificate to arrive, the sense of discovery in following a previously unexplored line or the challenge of overcoming a brick wall.

I need to try to get back into a routine again, of doing some family history research every evening after work. There are plenty of projects I could be working on at home, without having to get out to an archive. I am still supposed to be trying to find all my 5x great-grandparents and although I am going to be more reliant on visiting archives for this, there is still a lot I can do at home.

This week I am going to try to get a birth certificate ordered for one of the children of Thomas and Mary WELLER of Twineham, Sussex. This should give me Mary’s maiden name and give me the confidence to explore this branch of my family tree with some certainty.

Whilst I am waiting for the certificate to arrive I need to get back into my DRAPPER/NICHOLLS research, if only in preparation for a visit to an archive. I know that visit probably won’t be soon, but at least I can be ready for it when the time does come.

The other thing I want to work on is the Gun Inn/Farm in Blackboys, Sussex. Whilst organising my notes a couple of weeks ago I went through my notes from the license registers and need to tie all these together with newspaper reports and other census and directory information to create a history of the inn (technically it was actually a beerhouse).

I have a couple of other non-genealogy tasks to complete this week, but once I get them out of the way I am going to get stuck back in again!

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Ancestral Profile: Henry Charles HEMSLEY (1854-1931)

25 Apr

Henry Charles HEMSLEY was my 2x great-grandfather and was the son of Henry and Charlotte HEMSLEY of the Gun Inn/Farm in Blackboys, Sussex. He was baptised on the 2nd April 1854 at St. Thomas à Becket Church in Framfield, Sussex. He appears to have been the eldest of eleven children born to Henry and Charlotte.

In both the 1861 and 1871 census Henry Charles is living with his parents and younger siblings at Gun Inn/Farm, in 1861 he is shown as a scholar and in 1871 he is recorded as farmer’s son, presumably this means he was working on the family farm.

Henry Charles HEMSLEY married Caroline RUSSELL (daughter of Thomas and Caroline RUSSELL) on the 10th November 1877 at St. Thomas à Becket Church. The marriage was after banns and both were recorded as being of full age. On the marriage register entry Henry Charles is recorded as farmer.

Together the couple had nine children, all were baptised at St. Thomas à Becket Church, Framfield.

  1. Charles William HEMSLEY (baptised 26th January 1879)
  2. Albert Ernest HEMSLEY (baptised 27th June 1880)
  3. Henry Herbert HEMSLEY (baptised 31st December 1882) [my great-grandfather]
  4. Minnie HEMSLEY (baptised 29th March 1885)
  5. Elizabeth Annie HEMSLEY (baptised 26th June 1887)
  6. Frank HEMSLEY (baptised 29th September 1889)
  7. Harry HEMSLEY (baptised 31st January 1892)
  8. Walter HEMSLEY (baptised 25th February 1894)
  9. Enorah Caroline HEMSLEY (baptised 26th April 1896)

The family lived in various locations within the parish of Framfield, some of which I haven’t pinned down yet. In the 1881 census they are living in Muddles Lane, by 1891 they are at Pound House, Framfield and by 1901 they are living in School Lane, Blackboys.

The baptism of Enorah Caroline in 1896 has the family living at Mountfield Farm. By the time of the 1911 census Henry Charles and Caroline are living in nearby Buxted, Sussex at Stone House Farm with their children Harry and Walter.

Across the census and baptism entries Henry Charles is described variously as a farmer, farm labourer and labourer. It seems unlikely that he ever owned any land but he may well have been a tenant farmer from time to time as well as working for other land owners.

Henry Charles’ wife Caroline died in 1912 whilst they were still living at Buxted. Henry Charles himself died on the 24th June 1931, aged 77 years. His entry in the National Probate Index (shown below) reveals that he was living in the nearby town of Uckfield, Sussex (at 50 Alexandra Road).

HEMSLEY Henry Charles of 50 Alexandra-road Uckfield Sussex died 24 June 1931 Probate Lewes 10 August to Charles William Hemsley bricklayer and George Ralph smallholder. Effects £825 19s. 5d.

The first of the executors was his son but I am not sure who George RALPH was, but Henry Charles’ daughter Elizabeth Annie had married a William RALPH in 1912, so he may have been related through this marriage.

Although I haven’t checked the details in the parish register or found a headstone yet I believe that Henry Charles was buried in Framfield churchyard where his wife was also buried.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Ancestral Profile: Ellen VINALL (1857-1899)

3 Jan

Ellen VINALL was my 2x great-grandmother, the seventh of the eleven children of Ambrose and Sarah VINALL of Buxted, Sussex. I don’t have Ellen’s birth date, her birth was registered in Q4 1857 in Uckfield Registration District. Her baptism was on the 8th November 1857 at St. Margaret’s Church, Buxted.

In 1861 the three-year old Ellen is living with her parents and siblings (four sisters and two brothers) at Rocks House, Buxted. Her father was employed as a farm bailiff. Ten years later Ellen was still with her parents (and six siblings) but the family have moved to nearby Blackboys Common in Framfield, Sussex where her father was working as an agricultural labourer.

In 1879 Ellen married Thomas DRIVER, an agricultural labourer also from Framfield. I don’t have the exact date or place for the marriage, but it was almost certainly at the parish church in Framfield. The couple had six children in total:

  1. Kate DRIVER (baptised 28 March 1880 in Framfield, Sussex)
  2. Asher DRIVER (born 1882)
  3. Minnie DRIVER (baptised 26 May 1884 in Lewes, Sussex) [my great-grandmother]
  4. Ambrose DRIVER (born 1885)
  5. Herbert DRIVER (born 1888)
  6. Anna DRIVER (baptised 8 November 1891 in Lewes, Sussex)

Although Kate was baptised in the parish church at Framfield, her sisters Minnie and Anna were baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Lewes, Sussex. I have been unable to locate where Asher, Ambrose and Herbert were baptised.

Some time between 1885 and 1888 the family moved across the parish borders to Waldron, Sussex. In 1891 the couple and four children (Asher, Minnie, Ambrose and Herbert) were living at Hawkhurst Pit, Waldron, Sussex.

Ellen died in 1899 aged only 42, her death was registered in Q4 1899 (in Uckfield Registration District). I don’t know what the cause of death was or the exact date and I don’t know where she was buried, probably at the parish church in Waldron or the cemetery in Uckfield, Sussex.

Clearly there is much work that needs doing on the life and family of Ellen, starting with the parish registers for Waldron and Framfield. I also need to put Hawkhurst Pit on my list of places to visit, along with the parish church at Waldron.

Ancestral Profile: Charlotte THATCHER (c1800-1882)

15 Nov

Charlotte THATCHER was my 4x great-grandmother and although I know quite a bit about her later years, details of her birth, baptism and parents still remain something of a mystery to me.

The first record I have of Charlotte is her marriage to Benjamin WREN on the 14th October 1828 in East Hoathly, Sussex. Benjamin was from nearby Framfield, Sussex so presumably East Hoathly was Charlotte’s home.

Because the marriage was before 1837 I wouldn’t expect to find her father’s name on the marriage register entry. Their marriage was by licence (granted on the same day), so there may be more details included on that which I need to check.

In the years following their marriage Benjamin and Charlotte appear to have had eight children in total, all baptised (and presumably born) in Framfield, Sussex.

  1. Benjamin WREN (baptised 31 May 1829)
  2. Charlotte WREN (baptised 21 August 1831) [my 3x great-grandmother]
  3. Charles WREN (baptised 7 December 1834)
  4. George WREN (baptised 23 October 1836)
  5. Alfred WREN (baptised 20 May 1838)
  6. Lewis WREN (baptised 19 July 1840)
  7. Mary Anne WREN (baptised 24 April 1842)
  8. Thomas Thatcher WREN (baptised 2 February 1845)

Benjamin died relatively young (not long after his fiftieth birthday) on the 21st December 1852. He had been a farmer and inn keeper, and whilst Charlotte appears to have carried on as a farmer, the inn keeping appears to have been dropped. Benjamin and Charlotte’s daughter (also called Charlotte) married Henry HEMSLEY in 1853, and the inn keeping part of the “business” may have passed down to Charlotte and Henry and may have been the origins of the Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex.

Charlotte carried on farming in Framfield with the assistance of various of her sons and grandsons. I need to do some further research to identify exactly where the farm was, what type of farming took place and whether they were just tenants or actually owned the land they worked on.

Charlotte died on the 19th November 1882 aged 83 years and was buried with her husband in Framfield churchyard on the 24th November 1882.

Going back to the beginning of Charlotte’s life, the best evidence I have is from the census, which indicates that she was born in Somerset, but it is not clear where in Somerset or exactly when. I wrote about this a while ago but haven’t really made any serious effort since to find her origins, but now would be a good time to review the available sources and see if anything helpful has appeared online in the intervening months.

Satisfying my curiosity – ordering the wills of my ancestors

27 Aug

The recently released National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk has tempted me into ordering copies of four wills, three of which I wouldn’t have even thought about ordering for a long time, the other one I probably would have ordered in the near future.

I don’t think any of these four wills are actually going to solve any particular research problems, but they should hopefully satisfy my curiosity.

  • John FAIRS (my 3x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in November 1915. John FAIRS was an agricultural labourer and if the cross on his daughter’s wedding certificate is anything to go by he was not well educated. So why was his estate valued at over £982? Where had this wealth come from?
  • William TROWER (my 4x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in January 1875. William TROWER was a farmer, almost the last of several generations to farm and live at Harwoods Farm in Henfield. I will be interested to see if the TROWER family were still owners of the farm.
  • Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) of Blackboys, Sussex who died in January 1914. Henry HEMSLEY was the licensee and owner of the Gun Inn, and the attached farm. This is the will I would probably have ordered quite soon, in the process of trying to find out everything I can about the inn.
  • Henry WRIGHT (my 3x great-grandfather) of Alton, Hampshire who died in August 1895. Henry WRIGHT was originally known as Henry SHORNDEN and he moved from Kent to Hampshire for some reason, I don’t really expect find answers as to why he changed his named and moved to Kent, but I would like to find out as much as I can about his life.
    If nothing else these wills are going to give me plenty of work to do as I process this lot, but it is also going to force me to get my act together when it comes to recording all the details in my database, in fact it might be worth starting now and deciding how all the information should be recorded.

Whilst I am waiting for them to arrive I should probably also write a post on how to order copies of wills, and how easy it is if you live in the UK and have a cheque book, otherwise things start getting a little more difficult.

More HEMSLEY pub connections

8 Jul

Anyone who has spent any time looking into the lives of licensed victuallers will know that it is not unusual to find multiple connections with pubs within the family tree. The HEMSLEY family of Framfield, Sussex seem to have been no exception.

I was looking at Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) and his connection with the Gun Inn at Framfield, Sussex, and in the process have come across another family connection, or actually several other family connections with Framfield public houses.

It appears that Henry’s son John was also a licensee, firstly of Crown Inn at Blackboys and then of the Barley Mow at Mount Ephraim. Sadly it looks like neither of these pubs are actually functioning as pubs, but it does look like the buildings are still there.

The Uckfield Petty Sessional Division registers of licenses (held at the East Sussex Record Office) reveal that John HEMSLEY took over the license for The Crown on the 14th September 1876, and on the 21st October 1880 it was transferred to Alfred SEAMER, although there is no indication why.

In the 1881 census John is back at the Gun Inn, working as an agricultural labourer. On the 11th September 1890 he took over from Emma MARCHANT as licensee of the Barley Mow. According to the license registers the license was transferred to Henry HEMSLEY (probably his father Henry) on the 14th April 1898.

In this case the likely reason for the transfer is more obvious. John HEMSLEY died on the 3rd March 1898, aged 38 years. It is quite possible that Henry was acting as executor for his son, although John did also leave behind a widow (who later remarried).

On the 21st July 1898 the license was transferred from Henry to Reuben STEVENS. Reuben was Henry’s son in law, having married Henry’s daughter Edith in 1893. Reuben’s time at the Barley Mow was quite brief because the license was transferred to William HOAD on the 13th April 1899.

After Henry’s own death in 1914 the license for the Gun Inn was transferred to his son Joseph, although is seems to have taken a few years for the register to be updated to reflect this.

It all seems to be getting quite complex, and I feel that there really needs to be a better way of showing all these pub connections and the locations of the pubs themselves. On top of that there is also further work that could be done within local newspapers, trying to find reasons for the transfers of licenses.

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