Tag Archives: sussex

Tombstone Tuesday: Mary Trower (1793-1855)

22 May

It has been a long time since I wrote a Tombstone Tuesday blog post, but yesterday’s newspaper article prompted me to think some more about William Trower and his wife Mary who were the victims of the crime.

Headstone of Mary Trower (1793-1855) Henfield, Sussex, England

This is the headstone for my 4x great-grandmother Mary, the wife of William Trower. The church in the background is St. Peter’s Church in Henfield, Sussex. Mary was buried on the 8th November 1855, her husband died nearly twenty years later and presumably he is buried in the same grave, although his death is not mentioned on the headstone.

The inscription is not particularly clear on the photo or on the actual stone, the lower part of the stone has a quotation which I don’t have a record of, but the top half reads:

SACRED
TO THE MEMORY OF
MARY WIFE OF
WILLIAM TROWER
WHO DIED NOV 3RD 1855
AGED 63 YEARS

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Making the News: Burglary of the residence of Mr William Trower

21 May

This is one of the most surprising articles I found in my recent trawl of the British Newspaper Archive. It comes from the 10th September 1850 edition Sussex Advertiser and concerns my 4x great-grandfather William Trower and the residence in question was almost certainly Harwoods Farm in Henfield, Sussex.

HENFIELD.

BURGLARY.-On the morning of Sunday, the 1st inst., the residence of Mr William Trower, near New Inn, was broken into by four men, disguised in masks and with muffled shoes. The most violent threats and imprecations were used by the villians against Mr Trower and his wife, whom they awoke for the purpose of demanding where their money was. They remained in the house nearly two hours, and after ransacking it in every part, regaled themselves with some home-made wine they found on the premises. On leaving they took many articles of clothing and provisions, and it is hoped that the property, most of which can be identified, may lead to the detection of the ruffians.

I detect a hint of sensationalism in this story and a touch of humour with the ruffians regaling themselves with some home-made wine, although of course there is a serious crime underlying the story, which I have not been able to follow-up on yet. I would love to find out if anyone was ever brought to justice for the crime.

What is particularly surprising to me is that my 4x great-grandparents had anything worth considering stealing. I have always envisaged them being a fairly poor family, albeit a family that had their own farm, but maybe I need to look again at that picture I have of them.

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Wandering: High Weald Landscape Trail – Cuckfield to Haywards Heath

1 May

Conditions were less than favourable when my friend Chris and I decided to walk the next section of the High Weald Landscape Trail. Our previous walk many months ago had left us in Cuckfield, West Sussex and despite the promise of more rain, on top of a week of heavy rain, we hoped that we could make it from Cuckfield to Ardingly.

Our delay in continuing this walk was in part due to the complexities of getting back to Cuckfield by bus. That all changed in mid-April when Metrobus changed the times of their bus from Horsham to Haywards Heath, meaning I was able to jump from my bus at the wonderfully named Pronger’s Corner and onto the Haywards Heath bus, without having to wait a couple of hours.

It was fairly obvious from the outset that we were in for a wet walk. The walk north from Cuckfield was nice enough and would have provided some wonderful views had they not been obscured by misty rain. The conditions underfoot were also less than ideal.

I was surprised how undulating the ground was, hills and valleys were the order of the day, we didn’t rise to any great heights but enough for there to be some potentially decent views across the Weald. Some of the slopes, however gentle, were made a little tricky due to the wet conditions and in a couple of places the paths were almost impassable due to the expanse of mud and water.

Heading north from Cuckfield we clipped the edge of Whiteman’s Green before turning east, passing through Brook Street and continuing on to Borde Hill just north of Haywards Heath. We had half hoped that we would be able to catch a bus into Haywards Heath from Borde Hill, however there was no sign of a bus stop so we had to make our way on foot following the road south into town.

Without really thinking about it we had decided to call it a day, the light rain and squelching conditions underfoot taking its toll on us. It was such a disappointment, I sense that in better conditions it would have been one of the best sections of the whole trail. I may have to return again in the summer when the sun is shining.

Looking west from Borde Hill, West Sussex (28th April 2012)

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Metropolitan Police Constable Thomas Gasson: a timeline

27 Apr

I mentioned yesterday (and on several occasions before that) that my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Gasson spent a short time a constable in the Metropolitan Police.

What I haven’t done until now is put together a timeline for this particular period of his life, bring together the evidence that I have for his time in the Metropolitan Police.

His exact dates of service are not known, so every little bit of evidence helps build up a picture, and may hopefully lead to further records.

28th July 1858 (Slaugham, Sussex)

  • Alfred Gasson son of Thomas and Harriet Gasson is baptised in St Mary’s Church, Slaugham. This is the last record of the family that I have in Sussex before Thomas joins the Metropolitan Police. Thomas is recorded as a labourer.

Q3 1860 (Edmonton Registration District, Middlesex)

  • The birth of their son Edward Gasson was registered in Edmonton Registration District, Middlesex. This places the family in Middlesex, but without checking the actual birth certificate I can’t tell whether Thomas was serving with the Metropolitan Police at the time.

7th April 1861 (Winchmore Hill, Edmonton, Middlesex)

  • Thomas, Harriet and their four children are shown in the 1861 census in Winchmore Hill in the parish of Edmonton, Middlesex. Thomas is recorded as a “Metropolitan Police Constable”.

16th May 1861 (N Division, Middlesex)

  • The Metropolitan Police Orders for the 16th May 1861 record that P.C. 265, Gasson was dismissed for being drunk on duty. This doesn’t provide enough information to confirm that P.C. 265 was my Thomas Gasson. I am also not sure what made up the boundaries of N Division, but I don’t think this matches Winchmore Hill.

Q1 1863 (Cuckfield Registration District, Sussex)

  • The birth of their daughter Harriett Gasson was registered in Cuckfield Registration District, Sussex (later census returns give her place of birth as Bolney or Warninglid, Sussex). This places the family back in Sussex, although it is not conclusive that Thomas had lost his job and they had permanently moved back home.

The only real evidence of Thomas’ service is the 1861 census, but it looks like he probably joined between July 1858 and Q3 1860, and he left between April 1861 and Q1 1863, probably in May 1861. With a bit more work I might be able to narrow these date ranges down a bit, especially with the purchase of a couple of birth certificates and a couple of baptism records.

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I tried not to get sucked in, honestly I did

24 Apr

I was getting along quite nicely with updating my to-do list when I succumbed to temptation and decided that I ought to try to clear one of the items. It looked so simple:

Add step children of Edward and Jane (BURTENSHAW?) GASSON from 1881 census RG11/1063 folio: 74, page: 13

Of course I couldn’t just add census events for the two children, for starters I had to add them into my family tree in the first place. They were step-children so that meant Jane had probably been married before, so there was another husband to add as well. The fact that she had married Edward Gasson (my 3x great-uncle) was a clear indication that her first husband had probably died as well.

In short there was a whole lot more work involved in that single item than I had first envisaged.

It wasn’t particularly difficult work, after all everything was focused around the parish of Bolney, Sussex which I have some experience of and a useful set of parish register transcriptions. Although it was more work than I had intend it was quite an interesting little diversion, and to be honest I am pleased that I did it.

Jane Linfield had married David Burtenshaw in Bolney in 1873, they had three children Edith Jane (born 1874), William (born 1876) and Alice Louisa (born 1877), although only two of those were on the 1881 census.

William Burtenshaw was baptised on the 28th June 1876 and sadly was buried on the 1st July 1876. The age given in the parish register (according to the transcription) was just 38 hours. I think that is the first time I have ever seen anyone’s age recorded in hours.

That wasn’t the end of the sadness for Jane. The third child, Alice Louisa, was baptised on the 15th July 1877 and although she was recorded as the daughter of David and Jane Burtenshaw, the occuption given (presumably for Jane) was widow. David Burtenshaw had been buried at Bolney on the 4th July 1877.

It was such a sad story, albeit on the edge of my family tree, but well worth the time invested.

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My Family History Week: Sunday 22nd April 2012

22 Apr

It was a good week, although admittedly most of the family history happened towards the end of the week. There wasn’t really anything new this week, no new databases plundered just sorting out what I already have and a little bit of updating from things like the census and BMD indexes.

Challenging times: Processing Framfield burial records

The thirty-eight Framfield burial records that I captured at East Sussex Record Office have been recorded on my spreadsheet and all but ten of these have been included in my family history software. The ten individuals who didn’t get included weren’t in my database yet and I successfully resisted the temptation of going too far down the road of trying to find out who they were.

I am sure that they will eventually fit in somewhere, but I can wait until that time comes rather than go chasing after them.

East Sussex Record Office information

As well as clearing the Framfield burials I have also finished recording all the other records that I captured at the ESRO have also received a similar treatment. Some records fitted neatly into place in my family tree and others didn’t, but like the burials they will eventually find a home somewhere down the road.

It is great to have these papers off my desk and captured digitally, it is not that I don’t have enough papers on there already.

Future Challenges

I am not sure what my challenge will be this week yet but it probably ought to be either sorting out the information I have for Patrick Vaughan or finishing off updating my to-do list.

I now have the urge to get some of my family photos identified, but before I can do that I really need to get them sorted into some sort of order. I need to do some research into what is going to be the best method for organising them.

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Wandering: Haywards Heath Recreation Ground

19 Apr

A recreation ground may seem like an unusual choice for a place for me to go walking, but I had been looking for something to do on Saturday morning before the start of the SFHG Annual Conference and had come across a mention of the recreation ground and decided it might be interesting to take a closer look.

Black’s Guide to Sussex for 1898 gives the recreation ground a brief mention:

The building of many scattered villas and bits of streets has much cut up the heath, part of which will be found, to the east of the station, laid out as a pleasure-ground with paths and seats.

The idea that the recreation ground was the last trace of the heath from which the town got its name was what attracted me to it. I knew from the Ordnance Survey map that there wasn’t much left of it, but it would still be interesting to have a look around.

The recreation ground is divided into two parts, the northern part largely consists of a well maintained cricket pitch and the southern part is a wild area of woodland, divided in two by the cricket pavilion and a children’s playground.

Looking south across the cricket pitch

To be honest there wasn’t really much walking to be done, I could probably have walked around the perimeter of the recreation ground in fifteen minutes if I had really wanted to, but I had time to kill so I took my time, wandering at random around the paths.

The cricket pitch is quite interesting in that it looks like the ground has hollowed out, leaving a flat cricket pitch and an embankment on the eastern side, with a couple of paths running across the embankment which are dotted with benches. It is this cricket pitch which I had seen many times from within Clair Hall, but had never stepped outside to take a closer look.

The southern part was really what I was here for though. Given that it is surrounded by buildings on three sides (and a cricket pitch on the other) it is surprising rural in appearance. You are never far from a tarmac path but it didn’t seem to be overly managed, there are a few patches of daffodils and bluebells but it is mainly just scrubby ground with a mixture of trees.

Amongst the trees at Haywards Heath Recreation Ground

I was really surprised to very little sign of human activity, I had expected to find more litter, but perhaps it has not really been the weather for sitting in the woods and leaving your rubbish behind, perhaps that is more of a summer activity.

It is hard to say whether this patch of woodland is typical of the landscape of the original heath, it wasn’t really what I imagine heathland to be like and I suspect it owes more to the victorian pleasure ground than the earlier heath.

It is however an interesting reminder of an earlier time, before the railways and enclosure caused the heath to be torn up. I feel sure that someone must have studied the history of the heath in detail before but my limited research so far has failed to turn up much information.

I really must make an effort to take a stroll around the recreation ground again in the summer when there are more leaves on the trees and the surrounding buildings will be less visible.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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