Tag Archives: gravestone

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.

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!

Framfield Photos: Part Two

14 May

My wife thinks I am obssessed with photos of gravestones, and doesn’t think it appropriate for me to post them on Facebook! Hopefully here I will have a more appreciative audience.

This is a batch of general views of the churchyard at Framfield, Sussex taken last Saturday (9th May 2009). I was surprised at how large the churchyard was for such a small place, there was quite a variety of gravestones, some quite recent but also some quite old in appearance with unreadable inscriptions.

Framfield or bust!

9 May

At the very last minute this morning (literally as the bus was coming down the road), I changed my plans for getting to Framfield and Blackboys. Instead of getting the train and replacement bus I realised that I could actually catch a normal bus from Brighton to Uckfield, which would not only be a bit quicker, but also cheaper and there would be more frequent buses.

On top of all that I got a much better view of the Sussex countryside from the top of a double decker bus, plus a trip around Lewes (another ancestral home) and a ride through parts of Brighton I don’t normally get to see. What more could you ask for?

From Uckfield I took another bus to Blackboys, and after getting a few photos and exploring the area I walked from Blackboys to Framfield (only about two miles). I took rather too long in the churchyard at Framfield, so instead of walking back into Uckfield as I had originally planned I took the bus back instead.

Framfield has a lovely church, surprisingly large, and a large churchyard packed with gravestones. I found the gravestones of a few known ancestors, but I also found lots of possible relations as well. They are going to take some sorting out, but I am not in a rush to do that. Now I really need to have a look at the burial register and see who else I missed.

It was great to be able to get a feel for both Framfield and Blackboys, I had never visited before, but now I know where they are and how easy it is to get to them I am sure to be visiting again. Although most of my exploring today was never far from the main roads, there is some lovely countryside surrounding the villages so I would be nice to explore that further. At the moment I know very little about exactly where my ancestors were living, but I am sure in time I will have some houses to go and photograph.

Over the next couple of days I will put up some of the photos so you can see where I went, and what a lovely church Framfield has.

Tombstone Tuesday: Mabel Annie and Ernest Arthur TROWER

28 Apr

Mabel Annie and Ernest Arthur TROWER were brother and sister, my 2x great aunt and uncle. The gravestone tells a sad story of two young people whose lives were cut short. Ernest’s body was never found and he is remembered here at Sayers Common, Sussex and also in Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium.

The gravestone of Mabel Annie TROWER and Ernest Arthur TROWER

The gravestone of Mabel Annie TROWER and Ernest Arthur TROWER

The inscription reads:

SEP 23RD 1917, AGED 22 YEARS


Restoration of Police Constable’s grave as a result of a family historian’s discovery

24 Apr

This interesting story turned up on the BBC News website today, about a family history researcher who has helped get the grave of a murdered policeman restored, 140 years ago today. The twist to the story is that it was her 3x great uncle William Pullin who was responsible for the murder.

Elaine Rees deserves recognition and congratulations for actually doing some good with her research, in making sure the memory of PC Richard Hill lives on.

A day out in Chichester (or what I did on my lunch break)

19 Apr

On Saturday lunchtimes the West Sussex Record Office closes for lunch (I always refer to it as getting kicked out at lunchtime), and to be honest it is quite a good thing as it forces me to take a break. Usually I would just wander around Chichester city centre, but that is not the most enjoyable way of spending an hour (even if there is a very nice bookshop in South Street).

Today I decided to jump aboard a No. 60 bus and head out of the city to the village of West Dean. Not only was it a great way to see a bit of the countryside (from the top of a double decker) but it also gave me the chance to visit the burial ground at West Dean where my great grandparents are buried (and several other relations).

It wasn’t the first time I had done it, and I was there and back almost within the hour lunch break, so it wasn’t a particularly long visit. The weather wasn’t perfect, the sun was still struggling to break through the clouds, but it was still nice to get outside and away from the crowds of the city.

I was pleased to see that some clearing up had been done at the burial ground since my last visit, and most of the undergrowth had been cleared. I had located my great grandparents grave before, so knew exactly where to go. I am embarrassed to say that the grave is looking very much uncared for (you will probably see a photo of it on Tombstone Tuesday).

Herein lies a problem, I want to do something about it, it needs a bit of work on the grass and soil around and inside the kerb stones, but it is not going to be easy for me to get the tools down there, but one way or another I will find a way.

I have a similar issue with flowers on graves, I never leave flowers on my distant ancestor’s graves because there is nothing worse than a bunch of dead flowers on a grave, so unless I know that I or someone else is going to be there to clear them away when they have died I don’t bother. Artificial flowers may last a bit longer, but they eventually die (fade and fall apart in the sun) as well.

I wish there was a way of marking the fact that I had been to visit, that I knew who these people were and what they meant to me, and most importantly that they are remembered.

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