Tag Archives: henfield

Unplugged: More snow…

18 Dec

This month is shaping up to be the coldest December for 100 years (according the weatherman on the news this morning). Yesterday there was quite a heavy, but thankfully brief, snow shower about lunchtime, and today there was another heavy shower in the morning. There hasn’t been quite as much snow as there was a couple of weeks ago, only about an inch in total, but just enough to mess up our plans for the day.

Instead of a day out in London “enjoying” the festivities in the run-up to Christmas, we had to make do with a short walk in the snow. To be honest the landscape wasn’t looking quite as pretty as I hoped (the snow had started melting), but I did take a few photos to share with you.

Looking south to Truleigh Hill from north of Henfield, West Sussex

The River Adur north of Henfield, West Sussex

Henfield Cemetery looking towards St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church, Henfield, West Sussex

Ancestral Profile: Annie FAIRS (1864-1952)

1 Nov

Annie FAIRS was my 2x great-grandmother, she was born towards the end of 1864 (I don’t have the exact date) and was baptised at St. Peter’s Church, Henfield, Sussex on the 8th January 1865. She was the second of six children (all daughters) born to John FAIRS and his wife Mary Ann (née WELLER), sadly only four of the girls survived to adulthood.

It is likely that Annie was born at either Betley or Little Betley in Henfield, in the 1861 census her parents (unmarried at the time) living at Betley, by the 1871 census they are married and living at Little Betley, a couple of fields away from Betley. In 1871 Annie was six years old living with her parents and her four sisters. Both Betley and Little Betley are pretty remote locations, about midway between the villages Henfield and Partridge Green but about a mile and a half from either of them, and prone to flooding from the nearby River Adur.

In the 1881 census Annie is to be found in Chichester, Sussex living in North Pallant in the centre of the city. She was employed as a housemaid in the household of the Rev. Josiah Sanders TEULON and his wife Fanny Elizabeth. At first glance this seems an odd place to find the sixteen year old girl, but once you realise that Fanny was also from Henfield and was the daughter of Charles DUNLOP the Vicar of Henfield it doesn’t seem quite so unusual.

Annie returned to Henfield sometime before September 1889, because she was married to Ebenezer TROWER on the 30th September 1889 at St. Peter’s Church, Henfield. Annie was 24 years old and her husband was 23, the two witnesses at the marriage were her father John and her older sister Fanny.

Together Ebenezer and Annie had six children, the first two were born (and baptised) in Henfield and the remaining four were born (and baptised) in Sayers Common, Sussex. The first two were also probably born at Little Betley, because in 1891 the couple and their two children are still living at Little Betley, along with her widowed father.

The move to Sayers Common took place sometime around 1892 and once again there seems to have been a connection with the DUNLOP family. Another member of the DUNLOP family from Henfield was vicar at Sayers Common and Ebenezer bought their home (Vicarage Cottage) from Mrs. DUNLOP for the sum of £350 in May 1927.

Annie and Ebenezer’s six children were as follows:

  1. Ethel Mary TROWER (1889-1962)
  2. Henry John TROWER (1891-1963) [my great-grandfather]
  3. Mabel Annie TROWER (1893-1928)
  4. Ernest Arthur TROWER (1895-1917)
  5. Percy Ebenezer TROWER (1898-1968)
  6. Edith Ellen TROWER (1903-1965)

In the 1901 census the family (with the exception of Ethel Mary) are living at Cobbs Mill Cottage. By 1911 they are living at Vicarage Cottage and Mabel Annie has also left home. It is not clear whether Cobbs Mill Cottage was an earlier name for Vicarage Cottage or a different building altogether. Either way the proximity to Cobbs Mill lead to at least two of the sons finding work at the mill (Henry John and Percy Ebenezer).

The two youngest sons served during the First World War. Ernest Arthur was killed in action in 1917 and Percy Ebenezer received gun-shot wounds, but survived. Their eldest son Henry John seemingly escaped military service due to the death of his wife in 1916.

As is quite typical with much of my research there now exists a large gap where very little is known about the life of Annie. I have already mentioned that her husband bought their house in 1927 and in April 1928 their daughter Mabel Annie died. Apart from that very little is known about the last three decades or so of Annie’s life. I don’t know whether she was involved in any of the village’s social activities or whether she worked after her children had grown up.

Annie died four years before her husband on the 20th February 1952, aged 87, of cardiac failure and was buried in the churchyard at Christ Church, Sayers Common on the 23rd February. The grave is located in the north-western corner of the churchyard and is next to the grave of her daughter Mabel Annie TROWER. Nearby is the grave of Ruth TROWER (her sister-in-law) and that of Dorothy May TROWER (her daughter-in-law). Her husband Ebenezer died on the 6th June 1956 and was buried in the same grave.

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.

Gravestone of Mary Ann and John FAIRS

5 Mar

This should be a Tombstone Tuesday post, but I couldn’t wait that long. Today I finally located the headstone of Mary Ann and John FAIRS, my 3x great-grandparents.

Gravestone of Mary Ann and John FAIRS As you can see it is not in great condition, it is at the eastern end of the churchyard at Henfield, Sussex, and on previous visits I have not been able to find it because that section of the churchyard has been overgrown. The photo below shows what it was like in June last year, the headstone is in the section on the left-hand side.

Henfield Churchyard

I knew if I was patient the grass would die back over winter, rather than me having to trample my way through. The problem was that it has been so wet and cold that I have not been able to get there until now.

I should add that I did have some help finding it. The churchyard had previously been transcribed for the Sussex Family History Group, so I already had a transcription of the headstone, but that wasn’t the same as seeing it for myself.

Mercy TROWER: the story so far

5 Feb

Mercy TROWER was my 3x great-aunt and the story of her life is increasing becoming something of an obsession for me. This post is partly for my own benefit, an attempt to get the known (and unknown) facts clear in my head.

Mercy was born in 1852 in Henfield, Sussex (probably Harwoods Farm), the fourth child of Henry and Jane TROWER. Her birth was registered in Q3 1852 in Steyning Registration District. A record of her baptism, like those of her younger siblings, has not been found.

On the 1861 census Mercy is shown as a scholar, living with her parents and grandfather (William TROWER) at Harwoods Farm, Henfield. By the 1871 census the 19 year old Mercy has left home, she is a servant in the household of Eliza GRAY, the widow of a solicitor, in Church Street, Reigate, Surrey.

Mercy was one of the witnesses at the marriage of her brother Abraham TROWER to Jane BATCHELOR in Henfield on the 9th November 1878. This doesn’t mean she is living back in Henfield, but by the 1881 census Mercy is back home at Harwoods Farm, Henfield, back with her parents again, and still working as a servant.

Banns of marriage were published on the 21st May, 28th May and 4th June 1882 in Henfield. Mercy was preparing to marry a bachelor, also from Henfield, by the name of George BARLEY. There is no record of the marriage taking place in Henfield, or anywhere else in England and Wales according to the GRO marriage indexes.

On the 14th October 1884, Mercy gives birth to a son, who was named Ernest John. She was still at Harwoods Farm at the time. His birth was registered on the 20th November 1884 in the Steyning Registration District, no father was mentioned on the birth certificate.

No baptism record has been found for Ernest John TROWER, and in the 1891 and 1901 census Ernest John is living with his grandparents, not with his mother.

The next record I have for Mercy is the 1891 census, she is at 25 Compton Avenue, Brighton, Sussex as a servant in the household of Francis John MAY, a civil engineer and Borough Surveyor of Brighton. Mercy is recorded as a widow and her surname is STEADMAN. There is no record of a marriage taking place in England and Wales according to the GRO marriage indexes.

Her name and marital status remains the same for the 1901 and 1911 census. In 1901 she is living with Emma C BROWN at 24 Hove Park Villas, Hove, Sussex, employed as a cook. In 1911 she is at 5 Selbourne Road, Hove and is a cook in the household of Emma SCARLETT.

The next record I have for Mercy is her will, it was written on the 14th August 1928 at Whitesmith near Chiddingly, Sussex. She left everything to be divided equally between her son Ernest John TROWER and her sister Ruth TROWER, who was named as executrix.

Mercy died on the 21st March 1929 aged 74 of a cerebral haemorrhage, there was no post mortem. Her address was given as 97 Wellington Road, Portslade, Sussex. Although it appears that her death actually occurred at the Steyning Union Workhouse in Ham Road, Shoreham, Sussex (although this probably is not an indicator that Mercy was a pauper, merely receiving medical care).

Mercy was buried in Henfield Cemetery on the 25 March 1929, in consecrated ground, there doesn’t appear to be a headstone. The event was mentioned in the diary of Percy Ebenezer TROWER, her nephew, "To-day Aunt Mercy died was buried at Henfield Cemetery, she died on Thursday at Shoreham Infirmary". The burial register records her surname as STEDMAN.

Probate was granted to Ruth TROWER on the 17th May 1929 at Lewes, Sussex. The estate was valued at £404 12s 2d. Going forward from the 1891 census, all records refer to Mercy as Mercy STEADMAN, widow (with the exception of the burial register mentioned above). Her death certificate records her as the widow of ___ STEADMAN, occupation unknown.

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