Tag Archives: fairs

Picture Postcard Parade: Henfield Church

25 Sep

It is time I started showing you some of my postcard collection again, this is a recent purchase from eBay and shows St. Peter’s Church, Henfield, Sussex.

St Peter's Church, Henfield, Sussex

St Peter's Church, Henfield, Sussex

I love the fact that the photographer had set up his tripod amongst the gravestones. Even on the original card they are slightly out of focus and unreadable, which is a shame because I am sure amongst those headstones is one for John and Mary Ann FAIRS my 3x great grandparents.

There are no clues as to the date, photographer or publisher of this card. I have seen cards with a similar style of caption, it was almost certainly a local publisher, and I would guess it dates from around 1910-20.

The family connection is not only the FAIRS who were buried here, but countless TROWERs who passed through, for baptism, marriage or burial. There is even a record in the churchwarden’s accounts for 1685 of a John TROWER being paid 3s 4d for work done on the Communion table and the bells. John TROWER was almost certainly my 8x great grandfather.

Yet another FAIRS gravestone with an interesting story to tell

27 Jul

This is another FAIRS gravestone from West Grinstead, Sussex. It is for my 5x great uncle Harry FAIRS, son of Thomas and Elizabeth FAIRS.

Gravestone of Harry FAIRS, West Grinstead, Sussex

Gravestone of Harry FAIRS, West Grinstead, Sussex

This kept me occupied for several hours yesterday evening. At this stage of my research into the FAIRS family I wouldn’t normally have spent so much time on a family group who weren’t my direct ancestors, but this one seemed particularly interesting.

Harry FAIRS died on the 16th July 1850 aged 54 and was buried on the 20th July 1850. The condition of the gravestone is quite poor, but I was able to check the inscription (or at least parts of it) against the transcription I already have.

Interestingly the transcription has the name Henry FAIRS but the stone itself has the name Harry FAIRS (and it is one of the clearest parts of the inscription), as does the burial record and the GRO Death Index entry.

However, the most interesting thing is that it is a double headstone but there is only one name on it. I assumed that this meant that Harry had been married but for some reason his wife hadn’t been buried alongside him, the mostly likely explanations being that she had married again or moved away from West Grinstead after his death.

This set me off on a journey through the census years on ancestry.co.uk in search of Harry’s wife.

It was quite a journey, which took me to the neighbouring parishes of Shipley and Ashurst before arriving back in West Grinstead where Harry’s wife Ann died in 1882 aged 84 years. The journey also introduced me to several of Harry and Ann’s children and their spouses and families, with whom Ann was living (she didn’t re-marry).

Ann was buried in West Grinstead on the 16th February 1882, 32 years after her husband. I will probably never know if she was buried alongside her husband, but there appears to be no other gravestone for Ann recorded, so it seems likely she was.

Annoyingly I have not been able to find Ann’s maiden name or a record of their marriage. I would expect it to have been around 1815-20 so it should be on the Sussex Marriage Index, but I can’t find it there or in the transcriptions of the marriage registers for West Grinstead or Shipley, where Ann was born. I am sure it will turn up eventually.

The other thing I learnt whilst chasing Ann through the census was a selection of different spellings of the surname FAIRS. Some were transcription errors (like FARIS and FUIRS) and one was as different variant on the original census return (FAYERS). All useful information for my future research.

A sad pair of FAIRS gravestones at West Grinstead

25 Jul

This was one of the photos that I took yesterday at West Grinstead, Sussex. Both the gravestones belong to my FAIRS family and I think together they paint a rather sad picture.

A sad pair of FAIRS gravestones at West Grinstead

A sad pair of FAIRS gravestones at West Grinstead

It seems sad to me on two counts, firstly the condition of the stone on the left and secondly for the story that the one on the right tells.

The stone on the left is that of my 5x great grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth FAIRS, she died first on the 10th August 1835 aged 62 and Thomas died on the 20th February 1844 aged 73. What is really sad is the condition of the gravestone. The inscription on the stone is almost gone, and there was obviously some sort of carving at the top of the stone above the inscription, but now it is too worn to be able to make out.

Fortunately the inscription has already been recorded (at least twice) so I was able to check parts of it and confirm it was the right stone, but I doubt very much whether the carving was ever recorded anywhere.

The stone on the right is for Richard FAIRS the youngest son of Thomas and Elizabeth. He died on the 6th October 1832 aged 22. Therein lies the sadness, another FAIRS family member who died at a young age. We often hear about infant mortality, but this hardly falls into that category. Of course it is too early for a death certificate, so I am unlikely to ever find out why he died so young.

What does make me smile about the whole situation is the way that both stones are leaning towards each other, almost as if making contact again. What a wonderful illustration of the sentiment so often recorded on gravestones “together again”.

There doesn’t seem to have been much wandering going on recently

25 Jul

You could be forgiven for thinking that I haven’t done much walking recently, well I have been doing a bit, but having been on holiday there hasn’t really been any genealogy related walks to report on.

I have been recording my daily number of steps and mileage for a couple of years, as measured with my pedometer, so not necessarily accurate but close enough for me. Interestingly this week has seen me pass two milestones (pun intend) with my walking. Monday saw me reach 2,000,000 steps for the year and today my total mileage for the year passed a 1,000 miles.

Yesterday, despite the threat of showers, I went for a walk to West Grinstead church to look for FAIRS gravestones. I found the main ones I was interested in and got some photos, but didn’t linger as the weather conditions were looking less than promising as I set off for home.

Something nasty on the way?

Something nasty on the way?

This was the view looking north from West Grinstead church, however I should have been worrying about what was coming in the opposite direction. Unusually I heard the rain first, as it started to splash in the river, then it started to splash on me, so I put on my raincoat and hurried on.

The rain got harder as I started to head away from the river and towards a wood, which I hoped would give me shelter from what I hoped would only a passing shower. As I stepped inside the wood the hailstones started, not very big hailstones (some as big as peas but mostly smaller) but I moved deeper into the wood in search of shelter.

Soon I was on the other side of the wood, I had pulled my umbrella from my rucksack as well and at least my head was protected from the rain. At the gate on the other side of the wood I was more sheltered by a larger oak tree, and I could safely look out across the field where the other side of the field was barely visible.

Then as quickly as the rain had started, sunlight began to spread across the field, and the rain eased, and it was drops of water from the trees that were hitting my umbrella not rain. I started to make my way out into the field, edging my way along the side of the wood as the rain died away.

Then some where to my right there was an almighty crack of thunder, I decided that walking in the shelter of the wood might not be such a good idea after all and I edged my way out into the middle of the field and put my umbrella down, just in case.

Soon however the inside of my raincoat was getting wetter than the outside as I started to sweat in the sunshine, and I had to take it off. As I passed through the gate on the opposite side of the field I turned to look back towards the wood, and was surprised to see steam rising up off the field.

The whole incident had probably only lasted five minutes, and the sky had cleared again. I had avoided the worst of the rain and hail by taking shelter in the wood, but wondered if I had upset someone up at West Grinstead church!

More questions than answers from this FAIRS gravestone

24 Jul

I was looking at my FAIRS ancestors again last night (and it was well into the night), and have noticed a few strange things that are going to require some further investigation and some death certificates.

Gravestone of John, Eliza, Ann and James FAIRS

Gravestone of John, Eliza, Ann and James FAIRS

It all started with the gravestone (pictured above) of John and Eliza FAIRS (my 4x great grandparents) and two of their children at West Grinstead churchyard, Sussex. It is not easy to read the inscription, but I have the monumental inscription from the volume at the West Sussex Record Office (PAR 95/7/9).

1867. AGED 25 YEARS

Obviously this is quite a useful source of information, four members of the same family on the same gravestone, three of which have ages and dates of death. In connection with the burial records (from the Parish Register Transcription Society) it becomes even more interesting.

John FAIRS buried 11 Mar 1846 (aged 41)
James FAIRS buried 24 May 1848 (aged 10)
Eliza FAIRS buried 9 Dec 1867 (aged 61)
Ann FAIRS buried 9 Dec 1867 (aged 25)

I now have a list of questions that I want to find answers to, and that means I am going to need to order some death certificates.

  1. What caused John FAIRS to die so young?
  2. Why was John FAIRS buried on the same day as he died? or is one of the sources incorrect?
  3. Why did Ann FAIRS die so young?
  4. Was there any connection between the deaths of Eliza FAIRS and her daughter Ann FAIRS who died four days apart?
  5. Why did James FAIRS die so young?

Time to go do some shopping I think!

Dating the photo of John FAIRS

15 Jul

Whilst picking out the photos of my grandfather and his car yesterday, I found another photo of John FAIRS on my hard drive, which is probably more interesting than the one I showed you a few days ago, although it is actually the same image.

John FAIRS (front and back)

The previous one was mounted on a large piece of card but this one is smaller, what would probably be called a carte de visite, with a wonderfully helpful advert on the back.

The Directory of Brighton Photographic Studios on the Brighton Photographers Index website lists William Hall & Son operating under that name between 1887 and 1895. So the number 1889 near the bottom of the card is probably the year, which ties in nicely with the marriage of his daughter Annie to Ebenezer TROWER.

Introducing John FAIRS

11 Jul

This is my 3x great grandfather John FAIRS, looking at the photo you wouldn’t have thought he spent all his life as an agricultural labourer. I don’t know where or when this photo was taken, but I am guessing it might have been on the occasion of marriage of one of his daughters.

John FAIRS (1839-1915)

John FAIRS (1839-1915)

John was baptised on the 8th December 1839, in West Grinstead, Sussex. He was the son of John FAIRS and Eliza WORSFIELD. His father died whilst he was quite young, and John began his working life in West Grinstead at an early age.

Between 1851 and 1861 John moved to Henfield and he married his wife Mary Ann WELLER there on the 2nd March 1862. Together they had six children, all girls. Two of them (Mary and Ellen) died as children, aged seven and six respectively.

Three of the four remaining daughters married. Annie married Ebenezer TROWER (my 2x great grandparents) in 1889, Fanny married Thomas Arthur BARRY in 1894 and Jane married George SHEPHERD in 1902.

John’s wife Mary Ann died in 1883 and was buried in the churchyard at Henfield. John appears to have been living with Annie and Ebenezer TROWER (or was it the other way around) at Little Betley, Henfield. After Annie and Ebenezer moved to Sayers Common, John appears to have lived with his daughter Jane, and later with her husband and son after her marriage.

John died on the 27th November 1915 and was buried with his wife at Henfield churchyard. A headstone exists (or existed) because it has been transcribed by the Sussex Family History Group, but I have been unable to locate it yet.

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