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:
- Ethel Mary TROWER (1889-1962)
- Henry John TROWER (1891-1963) [my great-grandfather]
- Mabel Annie TROWER (1893-1928)
- Ernest Arthur TROWER (1895-1917)
- Percy Ebenezer TROWER (1898-1968)
- 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.