One of my favourite poems by a little known Sussex poet.
Sussex Dales and Deans
There’s an old world charm in Sussex, wherever we may go,
Which lends a strength and quietness as we journey to and fro ;
The winds which sweep its Downlands, which blow through dale and dean
Send far and wide our restlessness and leave the mind serene.
There are dales and deans in Sussex, and charming little towns, –
There are Hursts, and Folds, and Havens – all sheltered by the Downs ;
There are shingled spires, and hamlets, and many pleasant things,
Which bind the heart to Sussex, to which our being clings.
There are sheltered lanes and copses which cover many miles,
There are timbered cots and homesteads, all warm with slabs and tiles, –
There are walks on sand and seashore, beside the silver sea ;
These are thy charms, O Sussex, which bind our hearts to thee.
There are barns well filled with storage, and fields well tilled with care,
Great timber stacks for Winter’s fuel, and plenty everywhere ;
While lichened walls of tile and flint encircle deep content ;
To live – to die on Sussex ground, each purpose strong is bent.
Oh ! for the charms of Sussex, the land of Down and Weald ;
Oh ! for the freedom of the hills, its wealth of wood and field ;
Its laden breezes carry health, to all who seek its store –
O Sussex, land of charm and health, we love thee more and more.
Reproduced from ‘The Sussex Weald and Other Poems’ by Reverend Albert J Treloar, B.D. published by The City Press, 35 Sheep Street, Northampton in 1938
On facebook today genealogists have been sharing a 6 generation diagram showing in colour where their family come from. Well naturally I decided I had to have a go at mine and here it is.
I always knew that most of my family came from Sussex, but this really makes that fact stand out. And just to move away from Sussex, the next biggest area is Surrey. My family certainly didn’t move far away.
If you want to have a go for yourself download the Excel chart.
Phillis Funnell was my 4 x great grandmother who with her husband, Richard Hickman emigrated to Tasmania
Father – John Funnell married 5 January 1790, Chiddingly, Sussex
Mother – Mary Willard
Thomas (1790 – 1870)
John (born 1792)
William (born 1794)
Henry (born 1795)
Walter (born 1797)
Fanny (born 1798)
Harriet (born 1804)
Mary Ann (born 1812)
John Funnell born 6 November 1818, Chiddingly, Sussex and baptised 28 March 1819, Chiddingly, Sussex. Parents – Phillis and John Thelwell (warrant for arrest of putative father of bastard dated 6 November 1818 – John Thelwell late of Ringmer now a gunner driver in the Corps of Royal Horse Artillery stationed at Ringmer for the child to be born of Phyllis Funnell of Chiddingly ref P292/15/12 – A2A online accessed 16/07/2007
Husband – Richard Hickman (1794 – 1876 married Phillis 29 December 1821 in Hellingly, Sussex)
Frances (1823 – 1908)
Henry (1825 – 1910)
Owen Henry (1830 – 1908)
Eliza (1832 – 1908)
Lois (1833 – 1907)
Harriet (1836 – 1892)
Richard (1839 – 1891)
(Please note: I have not fully checked out all the above people yet)
During the 1841 census Phillis aged 40 was living with Richard at North Street, Hellingly. He was an Agricultural Labourer. At home with them were Ellen aged 13, Owen aged 11, Eliza aged 9, Lois aged 7, Harriet aged 4 and Richard aged 2.
The following information is from an extract published by Robert Kellett:
Richard Hickman or Hickmore as he was probably known in England, was a wagoner in Sussex. As there were no railways supplying London in those days, a tremendous amount of goods, vegetables, horse and cow feed for threater number of animals then in the city, were moved into the London by wagons.
In a letter dated 26.11.1841 from Hailsham Union asks that two of Richard Hickmer’s children be admitted to the workhouse naming the children, the father’s earnings of 12/- a week and the decision that only one child be admitted. (It is clear from records that the winter of 1841/42 was very severe and that there was great hardship).
Letter from Hailsham Union 9 May 1842 agreed to assist Richard Hickman and the family to emigrate to Van Dieman’s Land and asking the Poor Law Commissioners to sanction the sum of £40 for expenses. They had to act quickly as the ship sailed on the 17th)
Letter from Poor Law Commission dated 12 May 1842 gives authority for the emigration proposed. The name is clearly spelled Hickman although there is a strange flourish on the ‘H’.
Letter from the Land and Emigration Commission to the Poor Law Commissioners, dated 20 May 1842 confirms the arrangements. In summary, the Land and Emigration Commission provide a free passage to the family (except the father), the Hailsham Union paid £40 for expenses and Richard Hickman paid his own passage money £15 14s 6d.
The family sailed to Van Dieman’s Land on the Appoline arriving in Hobart on 1 October 1842 after 5 months at sea. A copy of the list of immigrants received into the Belle Vue Quarter shows that Richard aged 45, Hop Planter and family left early to reside with a friend in town but to have their rations continued until 26th October.
It has not been established as to where the Hickman family first moved. They remained in close contact with the Geeves family who sailed on the Appoline, two of the daughters Lois and Eliza married two of the sons, Stepen and Osborne Geeves in 1851 and 1856.
The family ultimately settled on a property named ‘Normanville’ at Brushy Creek Road in Lenah Valley (then called Kangaroo Valley and sometimes Kangaroo Bottom). The census in 1851 has no record of Hickman as a householder. Records in the Lands and Titles Office for 1855 indicate as follows:
25/5/1855 Richard Hickman owner and occupier of farm and cottage.
6/7/1855 Conveyance of 200 acres in Kangaroo Valley from Sinclair Williamson to Richard Hickman Ref 4/1530
19/10/1855 Conveyance of 200 acres in Kangaroo Valley from Richard Hickman to his sons Owen and Richard.
In 1868 Richard became the owner of 150 acres of the property and 50 actres were given to Henry.
At Normanville the family established Orchards and then Jam manufacturing and they were among the first to export apples to England, some time after 1876 when the first trial shipment was sent from Huon Valley by William Bailey – 20 cases of french crabs.
By 1857 Richard jnr was courting Sarah, daughter of John and Cecily Rowland. Some of his letters to Sarah have been preserved and give the impression that he and his mother were living alone at Normanvile. At no time does Richard make mention of his father over the years 1857 – 1859.
Richard Hickman sen went to Geeveston where he took up some land opposite the Congregational Church and eventually planted a small apple orchard. He also made use of his knowledge of hedging and planted most of the hawthorn hedges in Geeveston. A small portion remain to this day (1998). He is remembered as being very active up to his death in 1876 as the result of a fall from a high old mulberry tree.
Phillis remained at Normanville with Richard jnr and Sarah and it seems that for some reason there was an estrangement between Phillis and Richard which caused them to separate permanently. When Phillis died on 6 April 1879 she was buried in the cemetary of the Congregational Church in New Town where her name appears on her son Richard’s family headstone.
John Fuller married Ellen Harmer my great x 3 grandmother. Ellen was his third wife. I recently spent some time researching their children and looking at census returns I found children I could not account for which caused me to research his history and a very interesting history that turned out to be!
John was baptised on 30 May 1813 at Brightling, to Rose and Priscilla Fuller. His first marriage was to Keturah Russell on 25 December 1840. (A good Sussex name). They were found together on the 1841 census living in Brightling, she was known as Kitty. They had two children, Phoebe Ann baptised 6 February 1842 and Catherine baptised 20 October 1844, both at Brightling. Keturah died in 1844 and by the time of the 1851 census John was with his second wife, Jane.
Jane Wickham is said to have come from Wadhurst and before she married John on 25 February 1850 in Burwash, she had had four children, Mary Ann born 1842, George Humphrey born 1844, James born 1846 and Edward born in 1849, baptised in Ticehurst or the poorhouse in Flimwell. John and Jane had four children of their own; John baptised 7 December 1851, Stephan baptised 6 February 1854, Naomi baptised 1 March 1857 and Thomas John baptised 4 September 1859, all at Brightling. The three younger of these children appear on the 1861 census along with some of the older children, although a mystery is William aged 16 (born 1845).
Jane apparently died at the end of May 1863 and was buried in Brightling and John married Ellen, my ancestor on 16 February 1866 in Brightling. Ellen already had three illegitimate children; Ann Harmer baptised 10 April 1861 in Ashburnham, (she had died in 1863) James Frederick Samuel Harmer (my great great grandfather) baptised 3 November 1861 in Ashburnham, Harriet Rosina Harmer baptised 2 August 1863 in Ashburnham.
John and Ellen had six children between them; Philadelphia baptised 21 October 1866, George Thomas baptised 5 July 1868, Robert baptised 4 September 1870, Mary Louisa baptised 3 December 1872 (she died in Feburary 1873), Charles William baptised 1 November 1874 and Rachel Ann baptised 1 July 1877, again all at Brightling.
I am currently searching for marriages, burials and other records for these children. John died in 1886 and was buried at Brightling. So between him and his three wives there were 19 children born to this family. Just imagine some of the later Christmas day gatherings!
Hannah (born 1808)
George (1810 – 1881)
James (1811 – 1870)
John (1814 – 1820)
William (1815 – 1896)
Ann (1818 – 1836)
Harriet (1820 – 1887)
Thomas (1823 – 1891)
Robert (1826 – 1860)
George Pilbeam was born in 1784 to Thomas and Hannah and baptised in Burwash Church on 10 November 1784. His father was said to have been a shoemaker and his four siblings were also baptised in Burwash.
George married his first wife, Anne on 21 November 1807 at Burwash Church. Anne had given birth to a daughter, Celia the previous year, father unknown but future census returns show that she lived with George, the 1851 has her as daughter.
George and Anne had 9 children, all born and baptised in Burwash Church over the next 19 years but by the time of the first census in 1841 two had already died. Anne herself also died in 1840 leaving George a widower for a short while. At the time of the 1841 census George, age 55 was living at Woodsell, Dallington with Celia 30, Harriet 20, Thomas 15, Robert 15 and Ann 6 and by this time George was a farmer.
On 18 October 1843 George married a widower Phoebe Skinner in Peasmarsh, Sussex. Phoebe was from Rye and had been married to a John Skinner since 1827. By the time of the 1851 census George, age 67 was living at Battenhurst Farm, near Ticehurst where he was described as a farmer of 120 acres employing 4 labourers. Living with him were Phoebe 56, Celia Weston 44, Thomas 29, Robert 25, Ann, granddaughter 16 and Ann Simmons, granddaughter 8.
George died on 6 January 1857 at Battenhurst, Ticehurst from 36 hours Apoplexy, he was 74 years old. His informant was Thomas Pilbeam who was present at his death, presumably his son. He was buried along with Anne and 3 of their children, John, Ann and Robert in Burwash Churchyard.
After his death an auction was held of farm equipment on 26 September 1857 and furniture and household goods on 28 September 1857 by order of the executors. (see table below) Some of the goods were obviously bought by his own family and the amount of money raised was £377 6 11 1/2.
I work at the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in a Unit set up to help conserve a very special landscape. Long before I started working there or even before I had heard of the High Weald or AONBs, the Wealden part of Sussex was a special place to me.
My grandparents lived in Punnetts Town and my childhood was punctuated with holidays there, exploring the woods, gills, fields and footpaths around the area between there and Dallington. I always felt a strong affinity with the landscape and have always felt drawn there as if I was at home despite living some 10 miles away.
It was not until 2004 when I embarked upon my family history that I realised why, for 500 years and more my family have lived in that part of Sussex. Burwash, Dallington, Warbleton, Wadhurst, Heathfield are all names embedded in my family tree and now I know why I feel so at home.
So what has this got to do with working at the High Weald AONB, well this is a special landscape, and as quoted on the homepage of the website ‘A medieval landscape of wooded, rolling hills studded with sandstone outcrops; small, irregular-shaped fields; scattered farmsteads; and ancient routeways.’ I feel an immense pride in the fact that this landscape was shaped by my ancestors along with many other local families who helped to farm the medieval landscape, fell the woods and create the sunken routeways. I have been carrying on that tradition for 15 years by ‘doing my bit’ at the Unit.
The Weald is not a wild place like the Lake District or the Peaks, its beauty to me at least, is in the fact it has been managed over centuries by people making a living for themselves in a number of landscape based industries such as farming and the Iron industry, which was so prevalent in the Weald during the Tudor times.
Through this blog I will tell the human stories of some of those who lived and worked in this landscape and why this landscape is so important and why we should care today.
Nahomi Vincent (28 April 1850 – 14 February 1923, Cuckfield to Hellingly)
Father – William Vincent (1810 – 1885) Agricultural Labourer
Mother – Louisa Johnson (1814 – 1882)
Louisa (baptised 16 August 1835 in Cuckfield)
William (1839 – 1910 in Cuckfield)
Edward and Edmund (twins born 1842 in Cuckfield)
Martha (born 1843 in Cuckfield)
Nathan (born 1845 in Cuckfield)
James (born 1848 in Cuckfield)
Sarah (born 1854 in Cuckfield)
Esther (born 1855 in Cuckfield)
Husband – Gaius Diana Winchester (1852 – 1897)
Catherine Edith (born 1875 in Dallington)
Mildred Adeline (born 1876 in Dallington)
Mercy Louisa (1878 – 1968)
Gaius Edward (born 1880 in Dallington)
William (born 1881 in Dallington)
Naomi Elizabeth (1882 – 1956)
Alma Gertrude (born 1885 in Dallington)
Arthur (born 1888 in Dallington)
Henry (born 1890 in Dallington)
Mabel (born 1892 in Dallington)
Percival (1896 – 1965)
(Please note: I have not fully checked out all the above people yet hence many death dates are missing)
During the 1851 census Nahomi, aged 11 months was living with her parents at Millfield, Cuckfield. Also at home were her siblings, William aged 12, a scholar, Edward and Edmund aged 9, Martha aged 8, Nathan aged 4 and James aged 3. William was described as an Agricultural Labourer.
During the 1861 census Nahomi was living at home with her parents, again at Millfield Cottage, Cuckfield. She was 11 years old and her father William was a Thatcher. Also at home were her siblings, William aged 22, an Agricultural Labourer Martha aged 18, Nathan aged 15, James aged 13, Sarah aged 7 and Esther aged 6.
By 1871 Nahomi had left home, she was 21 years of age and was working as a Laundress. She was living with her brother, Nathan, his wife, Catherine aged 24 and their son William John aged 1. Nathan was a Police Constable for East Sussex Police Force and they lived at Rushlake Green. It was here that Nahomi met Gaius Winchester who she married in 1875 back at her parent’s home in Staplefield.
By 1881 Nahomi and Gaius were living at Dadds Farm, Earls Down near Dallington in East Sussex. Gaius was a Carrier. Nahomi was 31. Living with them were the following children – Catherine aged 5, Mildred aged 4, Mercy aged 2 and Gaius Edward aged 1.
By the time of the 1891 census Nahomi was 41, the family had moved down the road to Ades Farm where Gaius was a Farmer and Carrier. Children living at home were Mercy aged 12, Gaius aged 11, William aged 9, Naomi aged 8, Alma aged 6, Arthur aged 3 and Henry aged 1. Sadly on the 9 January 1897 Gaius died at the age of 44 years from Influenza, Pneumonia Exhaustion.
Now a widow at the age of 51, Nahomi remained at Ades Farm, Dallington where she was described as a Farmer. Living with her were Arthur aged 13, Henry aged 11, Mabel aged 8 and Percival aged 4.
Gaius & Naomi Winchester c 1875
Gaius & Nahomi Winchester marriage:
The marriage of Nahomi Vincent and Gaius Diana Winchester took place on 2 January 1875 at St Marks, Staplefield, Sussex. Staplefield was the residence of Nahomi at the time of her marriage so presumably she had taken her parent’s home to be married from. Gaius was described as a bachelor of full age and a carrier. Nahomi was a spinster of full age and a Laundress. Gaius’s father James Wincester was a farmer and Nahomi’s father, William was a labourer. The ceremony was conducted by W Smith, Official Minister and witnessed by William Vincent (either Nahomi’s father or brother) and Katie Winchester (Gaius’s sister).
Nahomi died on 14 February 1923 at 4 Oak Cottages, Lower Dicker, Hellingly, Sussex. She was 73 years and died from Myocardial Degeneration and her death was informed by Henry Winchester of the same address. I therefore presume that at the time of her death she was living with Henry, but I will have to wait for the release of the 1921 census to find that out!
I recently came across a book called ‘A Detective in Sussex’ written by Donald Maxwell (Published by The Bodly Head in 1932) that described a story about how Gaius Diana got his name. I am sure this story is somewhat embellished but I like to think there is a grain of truth in it:
“The curious use of the name Diana as a man’s Christian name happened in this wise. Old Mr Winchester, the father of this worthy, was in a state of great anxiety and restlessness for within a few hours, so said the good doctor, his wife would present him with a son or daughter. He was obsessed with the idea that he must think instantly of a name, but the difficulty was the uncertainty of the sex. He might be wasting his time choosing girl’s names if it should be a boy and likewise a great waste of energy choosing boy’s names if it should be a girl.
He firmly believed that the Bible was verbally inspired and was meant to be a guide for every eventuality. He would consult it in his dilemma and both name and sex could be determined at once. With trembling hands he carried the great volume to the table and in the solemn and fitful illumination of a candle opened the Book at random. The leaves fell apart and turned over slowly until they stopped towards the latter end of the tome. With impartial deliberateness he put his finger down upon a verse and it fell upon these words in the Acts of the Apostles. “Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion; and having caught Gaius and ….” This short passage was enough; one name for a girl and one for a boy.
A boy was born and he was baptised Gaius Diana. A mild remonstrance on the part of one or two friends did nothing more than bring forth the assertion that the Bible could not be wrong. Mr Winchester scorned any tinkering with Holy Writ or he could have compromised on Ephesians. Ephesians Winchester would have sounded very well for a boy and for a girl it could have been shortened into Effie.”
Have you ever wondered what sort of house your ancestors lived in? What it would have looked like? Well the Weald and Downland Museum gives you the chance to glimpse into the past and find out. This summer they opened their latest exhibit, Tindalls Cottage. This 18th century cottage from Ticehurst, East Sussex was taken down 40 years ago before the Bewl Reservoir was flooded.
Timber framed from oak, much of it re-used from other buildings, this three bay husbandman’s cottage was built between 1700 and 1725. Downstairs are four rooms, a kitchen with a bread oven by the fireplace, a buttery, a brewhouse containing a furnace/copper and a milkhouse. Upstairs are two rooms, a kitchen chamber and a buttery chamber and there is a small garret or attic probably used as a storeroom.
The Weald and Downland museum have studied in depth the people who lived in Tindalls who were Yeomen and their interpretation of the cottage gives me a really good idea of how some of my Yeomen ancestors in the same area would have lived. Sparsely furnished and very utilitarian it gives a really good clue to the lives these people would have lived.
Husbandmen were known to sit on forms (benches) at rectangular tables and stored their goods in cupboards and chests. They ate off pewter, wooden or earthenware plates and drank from pewter, earthenware and tin mugs. Food continued to be cooked over an open fire in iron or brass kettles, pots and skillets.
Tallow candles were held in iron, brass or pewter candlesticks. By the end of the 18th century tea was beginning to replace beer as the principal drink within the home, partly due to the high price of malt and by this date some, if not all husbandmen would have owned tea making equipment.
Stephen Pilbeam my great x7 grandfather lived in Wadhurst at the same time as this cottage was built in Ticehurst (the next village) and it is interesting to see how he as a Yeoman might have lived. Compared to many of my ancestors who were agricultural labourers this family would have been fairly well off and had better quality furniture and goods. Sadly a will has not been found for Stephen to see what he left to his family after his death or how much wealth he may have accumulated.