Tag Archives: our sussex parish

Who was Thomas Geering?

24 Feb

Thomas Geering was the author of the book Our Sussex Parish and appears to have spent most (if not all) of his life in Hailsham, Sussex. Having spent some time looking into his background I have been unable to find an obvious connection with my GEERING ancestors from Hailsham.

Thomas Geering Thomas (pictured left) was born on the 6th September 1813 and baptised on the 31st October 1813 at Ebenezer Chapel, Alfriston, Sussex. His parents were Thomas GEERING and Elizabeth HOLMAN, who had married in Alfriston parish church on the 30th November 1812. It looks like Thomas and Elizabeth may have had another two or three children.

Thomas followed his father’s footsteps into a career as shoemaker and currier, based in Hailsham. By the 1851 census Thomas’ father has died and he is running the business with his mother. In the 1871 census Thomas is employing seven men and two boys in his business, however by 1881 he is only employing five men.

In Q2 1854 Thomas married Frances HOLMAN in Hailsham Registration District. The couple only had one child, Emma, whose birth was registered in Hailsham Registration District in Q1 1858. Thomas died in 1889 and was buried at Hailsham parish church on the 3rd May 1889 aged 75 years. Frances appears to have carried on the business for a while after Thomas’ death. Frances herself died in 1903.

So where does this leave me, well I can’t make a connection to my family yet, in fact I can’t confidently go back beyond Thomas’ father. I have a similar problem with my own GEERING ancestors, things start to get confusing once I get back around 1800.

Only time (and more research) will tell if there is a connection between the two sets of GEERINGs. There is however one story in the book that seems to relate to my ancestors, the story of “The Old Druggist: Her Shop And Her Lodger”, more about that later.

Our Sussex Parish by Thomas Geering

23 Feb

I mentioned the book Our Sussex Parish by Thomas Geering in my weekly to-do list. It is interesting to me because the parish in the title is Hailsham, Sussex and I have traced my GEERING ancestors back to Hailsham.

The book itself has quite an interesting history, it was first published in 1884 as Our Parish: A Medley. It didn’t achieve any real recognition until it was re-discovered by the well-known Sussex writer Arthur Beckett, who was instrumental in getting the volume re-published in 1925 by Methuen.

The 1925 edition included a foreword by Beckett, and Beckett also grouped the chapters together into three categories: “Our Sussex Parish And Its Institutions”, “Some Personalities In Our Parish” and “Sketches And Tales Of Our Parish”. He also removed some of the longer stories from the book.

In 2001 the book was re-published by Piccadilly Rare Books of Ticehurst, Sussex. This was limited to only 100 copies, and appears to have been a straight re-print of the 1925 edition.

The book was re-published again in 2003 by Country Books, in essentially the same format, but with an extra chapter which featured a story entitled “The Old Sussex Bookseller”, and a new introduction by Richard Knowles.

Copies of the first edition are as rare as hen’s teeth, but the more recent editions can be found in second-hand shops or websites, as well as in libraries.

Thomas Geering’s writing is so evocative of a time gone by, take for example his notes on inns and public houses:

Man, being gregarious, must have a common meeting-place, be he poor or be he rich – the public-house for the toiler, the club-house for the independent man, where any matter may be talked over, if not finally settled, where refreshments may be had, and the thirsty soul gratified, if not satisfied.

Or his description of the blacksmith:

…. a round-eyed, fierce, wild-looking man, rarely seen out of his ragged leathern apron, but withal, as gentle as a lamb; he who made his own songs, and sang them to his own tunes, to the stroke of his hammer as the sparks flew out of his shop window ….

I can see why Arthur Beckett was so enamoured of Geering’s work, but I still need to work out if Thomas Geering was a relation of mine and do his stories mention any of my relations.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 7)

14 Feb

There doesn’t really seem to be much focus in my research at the moment, I seem to be darting all over the place at the moment as I tidy up lose ends and sort through my files.

Occasionally I will settle on one particular family or individual and dig a bit deeper, filling in more details and deciding in which direction I want to take my research.

This week I expect more of the same, with one exception. I have learnt about a book by Thomas GEERING entitled Our Sussex Parish which was first published in 1884. The parish in question is Hailsham, Sussex. My GEERING ancestors have been traced back to Hailsham, so there is a good chance that Thomas GEERING was a relation. This needs investigating, and may provide some clues to my own ancestry.

  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames.
  • Make another attempt to find something about the BATEMAN family from Gloucestershire that is going to get me hooked on researching this family.
  • Find out who Thomas GEERING was, and investigate the GEERINGs in Hailsham to see if I can make a connection and progress my research on that branch of my tree.
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