Albert John TERRY, Post Master, Lingfield Post Office

(1880 – 1958, Lingfield, Surrey)

Father – William Andrew Terry (1858 – 1931)
Mother – Mary Rusbridge (1854 – 1883)

Ethel Mary (born 1883)

Emily Payne (1883 – 1950)

Harold William (1909 – 1984)
Edith Evelyn Mary (1911 – 1991)
Winifred Vera (1914 –
Maurice Albert John (1919 – 1992)

Old map of Lingfield and Crowhurst
Old map of Lingfield and Crowhurst

Albert John Terry was born on 3 May 1880 in Crowhurst, a small hamlet just outside Lingfield in Surrey. His parents were William and Mary Terry. They had married on 21 October 1879 in Blindley Heath, Surrey.

In 1881 Albert was 11 months old when the 1881 census recorded the family as living at Old Park Farm Cottage, Bletchingly. William was an Ag lab and boarding with him and Mary were Mary’s younger brother, William, age 14 also an Ag lab and William Roffey age 17, who may have been one of Mary’s cousins.

In 1883, Ethel Mary was an addition to the family. She was born on 30 March 1883. By then the family were living at Anchor Field Cottages, Godstone, Surrey. Sadly Albert’s mother, Mary died on 4 April from Phlegmasia dolens thrombosis, which is known today as a deep vein thrombosis and was common in mothers who had given birth. Mary was 28 when she died.

On 2 April 1885 William married again, to Ethel Knight, in Lingfield and between 1886 and 1905 William and Ethel had 11 children.

By the time of the 1891 census the family were living in Crowhurst where William remained an Ag lab. Albert, aged 10 and Ethel aged 8 were joined by Edith and Sydney.

William and Edith had lost two small children, William Andrew born 1886 and Martha Mabel born 1890, the previous year, both died of whooping cough and acute bronchitis. Sydney just 8 months old died on 21 April 1891, again from acute bronchitis.

In 1901 the family were living at 2 Oak Cottages, Newchapel Road in Lingfield and Albert, aged 20 was a Post Office Clerk. William was now a Bricklayer’s Labourer. Additions to the family were Clara, aged 8, Alfred, aged 7, Kathleen, aged 4, Dorothy, aged 3, Leonard, aged 1 and Winifred, aged 9 months.

In 1907 Albert married Emily Payne on 24 August at the Lingfield Mission Hall, which appears to have been at Baldwin’s Hill, Felbridge Lane on the way to East Grinstead.

Lingfield Post Office
Lingfield Post Office

Albert and Emily had 4 children; Harold born in 1909, my grandmother Edith

born in 1911, Winifred (Winnie) born 1914 and Maurice (always known as John) born 1919. All 4 were born and raised in Lingfield and by the time the census was conducted in 1911 Albert had become the Post Office Clerk at Lingfield and the family had moved to the flat above the Post Office.

During WW1 Albert was called up in January 1917, when his occupation is noted at Post Office Clerk. He was recruited as a Canteen Steward. Their address was noted as Swiss Cottage, Lingfield. On his medical history he was found to have Flat Foot and something else which is not readable and was rejected from the Army. He was posted to Dieppe where he stayed for the remainder of the war. He forfeited 7 days pay on 13 July 1918 for leaving his kit bag hanging in the kitchen contrary to EFC Standing orders and apart from that his conduct was good. He was transferred back to England in January 1919.

By the time of the register compiled in 1939, just prior to WW2 he was the Sub Postmaster and the family were living upstairs at the Post Office. My mother remembers visits to her grandparents in the flat above the Post Office. By 1939, Harold was the Post Office Assistant working alongside his father and Winnie was a telephonist also working at the Post Office, a position my grandmother had also held until her marriage. In fact she met my grandfather in Three Cups when seconded in the early 30s to work at the Telephone Exchange in Heathfield. She visited the local Brethren Chapel where my grandfather attended.

letter dated 1935
part of a letter dated 6 March 1935

When my grandfather died in 1991 we found a pile of letters written to him by my grandmother during the middle 1930s during their courtship which relay life at the Post Office as well as lists of presents just before they married in 1937.

Albert died on 12 February 1958 and was buried in Lingfield graveyard. He died of Coronary Thrombosis, Chronic Myocardial, Senility, Arteriosclerosis and K Terry; daughter was present at the death. Actually I think this is probably Kathlene, his daughter in law. He died at the Post Office and I believe that his son, Harold had taken over the running of the Post Office. In fact locals from Lingfield remember both Mr Terry’s of the Post Office and have mentioned they were kind and polite gentlemen.

Sadly I don’t have any photographs of Albert Terry and would dearly love to see him!

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Sussex Dales and Deans by Rev Treloar

Dudwell Valley by Janina Holubecki
Dudwell Valley

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

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Where do I come from?

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.

6 generations of my family
6 generations of my family

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.


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Phillis Funnell (1801 – 1879, Chiddingly to Tasmania)

Phillis Funnell was my 4 x great grandmother who with her husband, Richard Hickman emigrated to Tasmania

Phillis Funnell
Phillis Funnell

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)
Ellen (1827-1905)
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)

Census Information:
1841 census:
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.

© Kerry Baldwin

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John Fuller – three wives and too many children!

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!

Brightling Church
Brightling Church

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!


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George Pilbeam, Ticehurst farmer

(1784 – 1857, Burwash to Ticehurst)

Father – Thomas Pilbeam (1756 – 1822)
Mother – Hannah Eastwood (1757 – 1789)

Thomas (1781 – 1862)
Hannah (born 1782)
Sarah (born 1786)
James (1789 – 1850)

Anne Weston (1783 – 1840)
Phoebe Skinner (1795 – 1858)

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)

Sussex Cattle
Sussex cattle, photographer Janina Holubecki

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.


Battenhurst Farm
Battenhurst Farm, near Ticehurst

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.

Sold Bought by Price
Pick and Half mattock Weston 2s
Cross mattock and Graft Weston 2s
Spade and shovel Barden 1s
Seed Lift Barnett 3s 6d
Hop Sieves Barnett 1s
2 Turnip Pullers Barrow 1s
Potato Brake Barrow 16s
Winnowers Jarvis 2s 6d
Vemin Hutch Pilbeam 1s
Set of 2 horse harrows Rivett 6s 6d
Round Plough Jenner £1 1s
Drag Harrow G Pilbeam 6s
Strike Plough Standen 3s
6 In Wheel Waggon with double G Pilbeam £9 19s 6d
Saddle and bridle Onley 1s 6d
2 Pails and yoke Simes 4s 6d
9 Ox Bows Mepham 2s
1 Cart Whip Simes 5s
Sussex Cow (Lovely) 8 yr Barden £15
Sussex Barren (Chequer) 6 yr none £14 15s
Sussex Cow (Polly) 5 yr none £13 10s
Alderney Cow 3 yr none £12 5s
Barren Heifer 3 yr Barnett £13
Yearling Steer Barden £6 6s
Black Mare (Darling) G Pilbeam £11 10s
Black Mare (Star) G Pilbeam £11 11s
Brown Cob Barden £12
4 Hens Pilbeam 6s 6d
Rooster Vidler 1 s 6d
Medlins 7.5 Bushels G Pilbeam 15s
Cheese Press W Pilbeam 1s 6d
6 Black Irons W Pilbeam 4s
Sally Iron and Shoe Brushes Pilbeam 2s
2 Water Pails Dann 2s 9d
Copper Kitchen Boiler none 3s 6d
Washing Trough Eastwood 7s 6d
Beer Barrels W Pilbeam 2s
Pottage Pot Balcomb 2s 6d
4 Milk Pans Pilbeam 2s
Tea Caddy Dann 1s 6d
Looking glass Simmons 1s 3d
Window Curtains and valence Simmons 4s 6d
Pair Bellows Simmons 3s 6d
Fire Irons Pilbeam 2s 9d
Pair Fire Dogs G Pilbeam 3s
3 Meat Dishes King 1s 3d
Corner Cupboard Thomas Pilbeam 10s
Bureau James Pilbeam 1s 4d
Chaff Mattress Balcombe 1s 6d

(c) Kerry Baldwin

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My ancestors of the Weald

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.

Grandparents at Punnetts Town
Grandparents at Punnetts Town

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.

Dudwell Valley, photographer Janina Holubecki for the High Weald AONB Unit
Dudwell Valley, photographer Janina Holubecki for the High Weald AONB 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.

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Nahomi Vincent, Cuckfield to Hellingly

Nahomi Vincent (28 April 1850 – 14 February 1923, Cuckfield to Hellingly)

Nahomi Vincent
Nahomi Vincent after Gaius death

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)

Census Information:
1851 census:
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.

1861 census:
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.

1871 census:
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.

1881 census:
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.

1891 census:
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.

1901 census:
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 and Nahomi Winchester c 1875
Gaius and Nahomi 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.”

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Ancestral homes?

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.

tindalls cottageTimber 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.

Inside Tindalls CottageHusbandmen 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.

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