Tag Archives: fairs

The importance of Betley

29 May

One thing I didn’t mention yesterday when I wrote about my short walk to Betley Bridge was that the area has an important role in my family history.

Just south of the River Adur are two properties, to the west of the old railway line is Great Betley and to the east is Little Betley. The river itself marks the parish boundary between Henfield and West Grinstead in West Sussex so both these properties are just inside the parish of Henfield.

The family connection begins in the 1861 census, when my 3x great-grandfather John Fairs is to be found at Betley (presumably Great Betley) employed as a cowman. Prior to this he had been living “across the river” in West Grinstead, but I can’t pin down when he did start work at Betley.

The railway from Horsham to Shoreham was opened in 1861 and cut through the farmland on which John must have worked. A far more important event however was John’s marriage in 1862 to Mary Ann Weller.

By 1871 the couple had five daughters and were living at Little Betley, probably sharing the small cottage with Henry and Emma Nye and their three young children.

A decade later in 1881 the couple were still at Little Betley, with two of their daughters and sharing the cottage with William and Elizabeth Pierce and their daughter. Just across the fields however at Betley is the 15 year old Ebenezer Trower, my 2x great-grandfather, working as an agricultural labourer.

Although John’s daughter Annie wasn’t living with them in 1881, she obviously wasn’t away that long because in 1889 the she and Ebenezer were married in Henfield Church.

In 1891 the widowed John is still at Little Betley working as an agricultural labourer, and sharing the house with Annie and Ebenezer (also an agricultural labourer) and their two children. One of these was the newly born Henry John Trower my great-grandfather.

By 1901 the families had split up, Ebenezer and Annie with their children to Sayers Common and John had moved closer to the village of Henfield itself.

It is easy for me to forget just how lucky I am to live so close to the house were my great-grandfather (Henry John Trower) and my 2x great-grandmother (Annie Fairs) were probably born and where my 3x great-grandfather (John Fairs) lived for at least 20 years and not forgetting of course my 2x great-grandfather (Ebenezer Trower) and 3x great-grandmother (Mary Ann Weller). And they are just my direct ancestors.

I probably ought to devote some more time to studying this house and the farm on which they lived and worked, it only seems right that I knew more about this particular area, especially considering it is practically on my door step.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My top-ten surnames updated (or not as the case may be)

31 Mar

On two previous occasions I have produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree (in February 2010 and May 2011) and I decided it would be interesting to see if much had changed since the last time.

The results were quite interesting (for me at least) and illustrated just how little work I did on my family tree last year.

  1. TROWER (152)
  2. GASSON (133)
  3. MITCHELL (92)
  4. HEMSLEY (75)
  5. BOXALL (52)
  6. KINGHORN (49)
  7. FAIRS (45)
  8. GEERING (39)
  9. HAYBITTLE (36)
  10. WREN (31)

None of the positions have changed since last year and the actual number of entries had changed very little. Only the number of Trowers and Gassons have increased and somewhat worryingly the number of Mitchells and Boxalls had decreased.

I remember removing a family of Mitchells who I haven’t been able to link into my family tree yet, but I am not sure why I have lost a Boxall. I think it might have been the result of a merger.

I know it is not really about the numbers, but it would be nice to see them increasing a bit more.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My top-ten surnames revisited

4 May

Fifteen months ago I produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree, for fun really more than anything, however it did highlight an imbalance in the names in my family tree.

I thought it was about time I had another look at the most common surnames in my family tree, so I fired up my copy of Family Historian and Microsoft Excel and produced an updated list (the number of individuals with the surname is shown in brackets):

  1. TROWER (139)
  2. GASSON (123)
  3. MITCHELL (94)
  4. HEMSLEY (75)
  5. BOXALL (53)
  6. KINGHORN (49)
  7. FAIRS (45)
  8. GEERING (39)
  9. HAYBITTLE (36)
  10. WREN (31)

This is much “better” than last time, the top four names are the surnames of my grandparents. The HEMSLEY surname was way down at number ten last time, so it is good to see that I have done enough work to push it higher up the “chart”.

The HAYBITTLE and WREN surnames are both new entries. I remember doing some work on the HAYBITTLEs, but I don’t remember doing much work on the WRENs but I suppose I must have done.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

Creative Commons Licence

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

Ancestral Profile: Eliza WORSFOLD (1806-1867)

27 Dec

Eliza WORSFOLD was my 4x great-grandmother and the wife of John FAIRS, whom I wrote about last week. She was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth WORSFOLD and appears to have been the eldest of four children.

Eliza was baptised in the parish church of West Grinstead, Sussex on the 13th April 1806. Nothing more is known of Eliza until she marries John FAIRS at West Grinstead on the 11th October 1826. As I mentioned last week, the couple had ten children (all baptised at West Grinstead):

  1. Mary FAIRS (baptised 17th December 1826)
  2. Harriet FAIRS (baptised 26th January 1829)
  3. Elizabeth FAIRS (baptised 27th February 1831)
  4. Eliza FAIRS (baptised 10th November 1833)
  5. Henry FAIRS (baptised 10th January 1836)
  6. James FAIRS (baptised 8th October 1837)
  7. John FAIRS (baptised 8th December 1839) [my 3x great-grandfather]
  8. Ann FAIRS (baptised 13th February 1842)
  9. Jesse FAIRS (baptised 24th September 1843)
  10. Fanny FAIRS (baptised 16th August 1846)

In 1841 John and Eliza were living at Goreland Farm, West Grinstead with their five children (Elizabeth, Eliza, Henry, James and John), with John working as an agricultural labourer.

Eliza’s husband John died in 1846, so by the time of the 1851 census we find Eliza living as a widow with her four youngest children (John, Ann, Jesse and Fanny). Although the address isn’t included on the census page, they were probably living at a house named Whitefoots in West Grinstead. Eliza’s occupation is given as charwoman.

In 1861 Eliza is living in the village of Partridge Green, still within the parish of West Grinstead, but unfortunately the exact address is not given. Her occupation is given as housekeeper and she is living with her nephew John WORSFOLD (an apprentice wheelwright) and a seemingly unrelated lodger William BAKER (a blacksmith).

According to her headstone (which may not be accurate) Eliza died on the 3rd December 1867 and she was buried next to her husband at West Grinstead on the 9th December 1867, she was aged 61 years.

There appears to be little more that I can add to the life of Eliza WORSFOLD but it may be possible to find out exactly where Eliza was living after her husband’s death (through parish rate books) and she may have received some form of poor relief after her husband died and she had to raise several small children on her own.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 52

26 Dec

Week 52 by my reckoning must mean we are at the end of the year. I think I will save my review of the year for next weekend, but this week I will have a look at how I failed to achieve any of the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, but try not to beat myself up too much about it!

I had hoped I could get down to some serious family history last week, but that didn’t really materialise. Like the week before, I did a lot of thinking about family history but never really got around to doing anything about it. I did get the death certificate for John FAIRS ordered and received it by the end of the week, but that was about the limit of my family history.

Much of my thinking has been around what I am doing next and in the future. At the moment my research is lacking focus, I am really only working on one project at the moment (the housekeeping of my database) and that is not particularly exciting at the moment. My to-do list is growing, but I am not getting chance to explore much further. I feel I should be digging deeper and making opportunities to do more research.

This week, as well as looking back, I need to decide what I am going to try to accomplish in 2011. One plan has already had to be set back because Carlisle Record Office is now due to open in April next year, not January. I think my plan will be to continue with my housekeeping and see where that leads, but try to schedule in at least one day a month to visit an archive and clear some items off my to-do list.

With a couple of days off this week I hope I can get some more research done, but in reality I ought to be spending a large proportion of that time sorting out other non-genealogy stuff, but I will see how it goes.

Carved in stone, but that doesn’t make it correct

24 Dec

On Monday I wrote about John FAIRS, my 4x great-grandfather. I mentioned that his headstone records that he died on the 11th March 1846 and that the parish register recorded that he was buried on the same day.

I was rather suspicious of this, it seemed plausible that he died and was buried on the same day but it seemed unlikely and incredibly efficient of all the people involved, including the people who had to dig the grave.

A much more likely explanation was that one of the records was wrong, either the wrong date had been carved on the headstone or the officiating minister had recorded the wrong date in the burial register.

Given that John died aged only 41 years I felt that there could be an interesting story behind his death, so I decided it would be worth ordering a copy of his death certificate. I was astonished to receive the certificate in the post today, having only ordered it on Monday evening (excellent service from the GRO and the Royal Mail).

The certificate revealed the truth, John FAIRS died on the 7th March 1846 not the 11th March, so the inscription on his headstone is wrong.

Disappointingly the cause of death was not very exciting, the cause given is “Acute Gastritis 48 hours” according to Wikipedia Gastritis is “an inflammation of the lining of the stomach”. Not particularly exciting or unusual, Wikipedia does also say that “the main acute causes are excessive alcohol consumption”, so maybe it was alcohol that caused his premature death?

Regardless of the cause of his death, this story does prove one thing, even if it is carved in stone it is not necessarily true.

Ancestral Profile: John FAIRS (1804-1846)

20 Dec

I have a couple of direct ancestors named John FAIRS, the subject of this post was my 4x great-grandfather. His life was quite short, but he and his wife had lots of children including the other John FAIRS my 3x great-grandfather.

John FAIRS was probably born in West Grinstead, Sussex in 1804. He was baptised at the parish church at West Grinstead on the 9th December 1804. He was one of the six children (five boys and one girl) of Thomas and Elizabeth FAIRS.

John married Eliza WORSFOLD (also of West Grinstead) at the parish church at West Grinstead on the 11th November 1826. Together the couple had ten children (all baptised at West Grinstead):

  1. Mary FAIRS (baptised 17th December 1826)
  2. Harriet FAIRS (baptised 26th January 1829)
  3. Elizabeth FAIRS (baptised 27th February 1831)
  4. Eliza FAIRS (baptised 10th November 1833)
  5. Henry FAIRS (baptised 10th January 1836)
  6. James FAIRS (baptised 8th October 1837)
  7. John FAIRS (baptised 8th December 1839) [my 3x great-grandfather]
  8. Ann FAIRS (baptised 13th February 1842)
  9. Jesse FAIRS (baptised 24th September 1843)
  10. Fanny FAIRS (baptised 16th August 1846)

At each baptism John’s occupation was given as labourer and in the 1841 census he was described as an agricultural labourer. John and Eliza were living at Goreland Farm, West Grinstead with their five children, sadly Goreland Farm no longer exists, but I do know where it was and have walked past the site many times.

According to his headstone (a double headstone shared with his with and two of their children) John died on the 11th March 1846 aged 41. Interestingly the parish register records that he was also buried on the 11th March. This doesn’t seem quite right, maybe one of the records is wrong, or perhaps there was some reason why he needed to be buried quickly. I really ought to get a copy of his death certificate and see what was going on.

The other interesting thing to note is that their youngest child, Fanny, was baptised on the 16th August 1846, five months after John’s death. Again this record needs checking but of course it is perfectly possible that Fanny was born after John’s death.

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