Tag Archives: shipley

Back from the Civil War to Sussex

14 Apr

In a perfect example of how easily distracted I am my thoughts these last couple of days have shifted from the American Civil War back to the English countryside.

I can see how my train of thought took me there. I was looking at the two Sussex families that emigrated to the US (the ALLCORNs and EADEs) convincing myself that now was not the time to carry on researching them. The thing that really annoys me is that there are a couple of family members who married and I don’t have their spouse’s full names.

This makes my database look rather untidy and it is this aspect that annoys me. Looking at the list of other incomplete names I stopped on Sarah, the wife of James NEWNHAM of West Grinstead, Sussex (one of my 5x great-grandparents).

Before I knew it I was starting to assess the situation with James NEWNHAM and wondering whether I already had the information to hand that would enable me to identify his wife’s full name. I have transcriptions of the parish registers for West Grinstead (from the Parish Register Transcription Society) and also monumental inscriptions (from the Sussex Family History Group) as well as sundry other sources.

The evidence suggests that she was Sarah HOLLAND who married James NEWNUM in the neighbouring parish of Nuthurst, Sussex in 1787, further to this it appears that she was probably from the neighbouring parish of Shipley, Sussex. They appear to have had quite a large family and Sarah probably died in 1825 aged 59 whereas James died in 1851 aged 87.

In short there looks like there is quite a wealth of information waiting for me to explore further. Before I do too much exploring however I need to investigate my connection to James NEWNHAM and make sure that he is my 5x great-grandfather, I seem to remember that the evidence wasn’t 100% satisfactory, so I need to be sure before I go any further.

However I realise this is just another way of me avoiding working on the NICHOLLS and DRAPPER families in Kent. It is very easy for me to find other things to do rather than face having to do research in Kent, so I am going to try to ignore James and Sarah and get back to Kent again.

Festival of Postcards: Struck by Lightning

21 Feb

The theme for the latest Festival of Postcards (hosted by Evelyn at A Canadian Family) is Light. As you can see I have taken a slight liberty with the theme for this edition.

Struck by Lighening

Rather than light I have gone for lightning, and this real photographic postcard from 1924 shows the devastation caused by a lightning strike on a tree (probably an oak, but hard to tell).

What really interests me about this card is the spelling of the word lightning. I can’t decide whether it was a mistake or not. I suspect it was case that it was spelt the way it sounded with a soft T, as in lie-ning rather than light-ning. Any experts on Sussex dialect care to help me out here?

Knepp Estate in Shipley, West Sussex is probably best known for it’s two castles, one ruined (and visible from the A24 London to Worthing road) and the other still a home (although nearly destroyed by fire in 1904). The estate is home to many nature conservation and preservation projects as well as a polo club and a fantastic lake.

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.

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