Tag Archives: henfield

When the Trowers moved to Sayers Common

2 Jun

When I wrote about the importance of Betley I mentioned that my 2x great-grandparents moved from Henfield, Sussex to Sayers Common, Sussex.

I have long known the reason behind this move, it was because Ebenezer was going to work as a gardener for Rev. William Buchanan Dunlop the new vicar at Sayers Common parish church, but the exact date was a puzzle.

From the baptism records of their children it was possible to narrow down the date range to around 1892, but it never really felt that important to have an exact date.

An entry in the diary of Percy Ebenezer Trower (one of their sons) provides an exact date for when the family moved and also a date for when Ebenezer retired from work.

Wednesday Dec 31 / 30

The end of 1930! Father came home to-day at dinner-time. 39 years ago next March 7th that he came to Sayers Common to work for Mr Dunlop, just installed as Vicar here. 39 years, probably half his life he has spent with Mrs Dunlop. He came from Henfield with two children, Ethel & Henry one year old. Since then four more were born. I being the fifth, and two have died, one in the R[oyal] Sussex C[ounty] Hospital and the other killed in France. What changes he has seen in those 39 years. He must feel the severance of this long time as gardener for Mrs Dunlop but the long journey to Hassocks was too much for him.

The “next March 7th” would be in 1931 and 39 years ago would be 1892. So Ebenezer and Annie Trower and their two children moved to Sayers Common on the 7th March 1892.

It is nice to have an exact date for when an ancestor moved, because so rarely is there any record of their actual movement unless, it is a major move such as emigration, usually the only sign that they had moved is the change from one record (like the census) to the next.

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Wordless Wednesday: Betley Bridge

30 May

Betley Bridge, near Henfield, West Sussex (28th May 2012)

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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.

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The Opportunistic Wanderer

28 May

For the second time in two days I have seized the opportunity and gone for a walk. Yesterday morning I took advantage of the fact that my wife had to work and got a lift to work with her and walked home, about four and a half miles.

This evening as I made my way home on the bus I could see the South Downs as clear as they had been for weeks, and instantly I knew I had to go and get a closer look.

So when I got home I swapped my work shoes for walking boots and headed out the door. I didn’t have time this evening to go far, so no need for a map or rucksack, only a mobile phone and digital camera.

My destination was Betley Bridge, which once took the railway over the River Adur between Partridge Green and Henfield, West Sussex. From just north of the bridge the southern horizon is dominated by the South Downs, from east to west.

I mentally named the hills one by one as I scanned the skyline from left to right and straining to see them disappearing to the west. I recalled the many hours spent walking along the ridge in the last two years and looked forward to the chance to walk them once again this year.

It felt so good, such freedom. I could quite easily have carried on walking, within a couple of hours I could have been up on the hills, but it would have been getting dark by then and I have to get up early tomorrow so I retraced my steps home.

It was probably only about three miles in all, so no great physical challenge, but standing in the warmth of the evening sunshine and admiring the Downs did a great deal for my sense of wellbeing.

WW2 gun emplacement north of Betley Bridge near Henfield, West Sussex

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My Family History Week: Sunday 27th May 2012

27 May

Family history activity has been a bit haphazard this week. Nothing really very focused, just poking about my family tree adding bits and pieces here and there.

National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk

I spent a while conducting some searches on the newly updated National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk but I soon realised that I probably ought to be a bit more methodical about it.

There are potentially hundreds of records in this collection that I ought to be looking for, but unless I actually make a point of being more methodical I am probably going to miss plenty of people along the way.

I am going to have to give some consideration to what is going to be the best way to achieve this.

Early Trowers in my family tree

I also spent a while looking at the information I have for some of the earliest (17th and 18th Century) Trowers in my family tree. I am conscious that I have lots of different bits of information floating about, mainly from wills.

I felt it was probably about time that I actually translated some of this “floating” information into some hard facts in my family tree or at least decide what further work is needed to be able to include this information.

Adding a pair of 7x great-grandparents

One off-shoot of this work on the early Trowers was that I was able to add another pair of 7x great-grandparents, Robert and Mary Greenfield of Henfield, Sussex whose daughter Ann married Henry Trower in 1747. This brings the total number of 7x great-grandparents in my family tree to eight individuals or four pairs.

Challenging times: Sorting out Patrick Vaughan’s information

As I suspected I never got around to doing anything about sorting out the information I have about Patrick Vaughan. I don’t want to let this slip but it has been several weeks since I said I was going to do this.

We have a long bank holiday weekend coming up soon and I am hoping that this will give me the opportunity to get back on track. Hopefully after this I can get on with setting myself with some new weekly challenges.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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William Trower and the fly in the ointment

24 May

My 4x great-grandfather William Trower of Henfield, Sussex is one of the weak points in my Trower ancestry.

At first glance everything seems right with the world, William was born about 1790, his death was registered in 1875 when his age was given as 85. Likewise with his burial at Henfield on the 8th January 1875 his age was given as 85.

Tracking back through the census we find him aged 81 in 1871, 70 in 1861, 59 in 1851 and 50 in 1841. In short everything seems to add up right and points to William being the son of Henry and Ann Trower.

A baptism exists in the Henfield parish registers for William the son of Henry and Ann Trower on the 13th March 1791. Don’t you just love it when everything works out neatly?

Unfortunately the fly in the ointment is a burial at Henfield on the 23rd January 1794 for William the son of Henry and Ann Trower, which of course I can’t explain.

Was this William my 4x great-grandfather? or rather was did the William who I thought was my 4x great-grandfather die at the age of three? Should I be looking for another William?

I can’t satisfactorily explain this burial record, it looks like my William Trower could not be the son of Henry and Ann Trower, but there are no other William Trowers who would fit the bill for my William Trower.

My saviour is in the form of a family bible (technically a prayer book), which has been passed down through the Trower family, or rather has survived through the generations without being thrown out. This bible clearly links Henry and Ann Trower with William’s descendants.

So where does this leave the William who was buried in 1794? I can only assume that Henry and Ann Trower had another son after my William but he died suddenly, perhaps before he had even been given a name or baptised. Stuck for a name for the burial register they used the name William. Either that or the vicar simply made a mistake.

Perhaps one day I will find further evidence (there is no sign of a will for William’s father) to be able to prove the relationship one way or another. For now I can only acknowledge the presence in my database of this fly in the ointment.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Waiting in the shadows

23 May

Waiting in the shadows: Henfield Church, West Sussex (13th April 2009)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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