Tag Archives: hove

See the latest progress on The Keep

19 May

The Keep is the new historical resource centre for East Sussex and Brighton & Hove which is currently under construction in Falmer, East Sussex.

The construction seems to be progressing at a rapid pace and you can see the latest status of the development on a dedicated photostream on flickr.

Admitedly it doesn’t look much like a record office at the moment, that is not surprising as there is still another year to go before it opens for business, but it is great to see progress being made.

I like that the building work is being recorded (and being made available) so that we can watch this building site transform into an archive before our eyes.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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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.

Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part two)

9 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

I have been able to find out precious little about Ernest’s military service. A couple of years before the British Army service records started to appear on Ancestry.co.uk I had already been up to the National Archives at Kew and searched the microfilms for Ernest, but had found nothing.

At the National Archives I was able to get a copy of his medal index card, which would later also turn up on Ancestry.co.uk, but that told me nothing more than I already knew from the inscription on the edge of his medals.

What little information I have comes from two sources, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Register, and Soldiers Died in the Great War which at that time was only available online at Military-Genealogy.com but now it is also available on Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.com.

These two sources confirmed that this man was my 2x great-uncle, but only gave me a few other details about his military service. He was a member of the 12th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry upon his death, but he had previously been in the Army Cyclist Corps (with the regimental number of 10572). He had enlisted at Hove, Sussex and had given Sayers Common, Sussex as his residence, so he was probably still living at home with his parents.

It confirmed that the date he died was the 23rd September 1917, and the place was “France and Flanders”. The CWGC site also told me he was commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, at Tyne Cot Cemetery near the town of Ypres in Belgium. Ernest is one of the thousands of men who have no known grave.

At the National Archives I was able to consult the war diaries of 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (WO 95/2182), and have since download a copy via their DocumentsOnline service. This sadly tells me very little about what happened on the 23rd September 1917. Between the 20th and 24th September the battalion was involved in an attack but the report of this attack fails to make any mention of the number of casualties.

It seems unlikely that I will ever find out what happened to Ernest, the best I can hope for is to learn more about the actions of the 12th Battalion from other sources and learn what took place, but I will be very lucky to find out anything on an individual level that is going to help me learn more about Ernest’s service.

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A postcard puzzle to ponder

1 Aug

I picked up this postcard in Exeter whilst on holiday, I wouldn’t normally have bothered with it, but there were a couple of things about it that appealed to me, which meant I just had to have it.

Church Street, Steyning (front)

The subject of the card is not particularly rare, but I do have a personal connection with it. Church Street, Steyning is probably best known as the home of Steyning Grammar School where I went to school for several years.

This in itself wouldn’t normally be enough to make me buy it, as I said it is not particularly rare to find a postcard of Church Street and I don’t think this is a particularly good picture either. What really caught my attention was the addressee and message.

Church Street, Steyning (back)

Just in case you couldn’t read the message on the front, here it is again, but the right way round this time.

Church Street, Steyning (message)

This is what intrigued me. A card of Steyning, Sussex was being forwarded by George Coleman of Hove to a gentleman in Belgium, in 1903. Why?

What business was George Coleman in? Why did he have a stamp made with his details on? Does this mean he forwarded a lot of postcards? Was he involved in publishing postcards? Was this being sent as a sample of his work? And who was the gentleman in Belgium? What did he want with a postcard of Steyning?

Perhaps one day I will find some answers. Next time I am at the Brighton History Centre I will do some digging in some local directories and see if I can find an entry for George Coleman, that will at least give me somewhere to start.

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