The theme for #52Ancestors is Identity. Recently I found on Ancestry the Passport Application for my great grandmother Dorothy Gladys Harmer, or as she was when she applied for her passport, Dorothy Gladys Marini.
She married John Marini on 11 September 1918 at Dallington Church, across the road from the cottage (Yew Tree Cottage now Staces) her place of residence was with her parents, James and Helena (Lorraine) Harmer and no doubt some of her many siblings. The family had not lived there long, for the 1911 census they were in Woods Corner. John Marini was 31 and Dorothy was 26. His place of residence at the time of the marriage was 16th Canadian General Hospital, Orpington, Kent and he was a Bandsman, 211th Battalion, American Legion of Canada. Presumably John had been sent back from Northern France. John’s father was Caesar Antonio Marini, a Shoemaker. He had emigrated from Italy to Canada in the 1880s. Dorothy’s father was a Tree Feller. John and Dorothy both signed the register and James was one of the witnesses and left his mark.
The next part of the story is an application in the US for a passport from John Marini in 1919. It gives a lot of information about him. He lived in Pennsylvania and he had been born in Firli Del Sannio, Italy on 23 November 1886. I think that should actually be Forli Del Sannio, the form typist mistranscribed. It is described as ‘the small centre is located in the heart of the Apennines, in a mountainous area crossed by the Vandrella river, that originates in the north-west at the "Bocche di Forlì" and further on flows into the Vandra, a tributary of the Volturno.’ His family emigrated in 1886 and he was naturalised in 1895. He lived for 32 uninterrupted years in the US until 1915 when presumably he headed for France. He stated that his wife was in England and he wanted to bring her to the US after seeing that her mother was properly cared for and his wife’s affairs settled. One of those affairs was presumably my grandmother who had been born in 1913 and was left behind with Dorothy’s older sister Emily.
Then a year later on 30 August 1920 there is an application for passport from Dorothy applied for at the American embassy in London. It is an emergency passport for a person claiming citizenship through naturalisation of husband. It says she was born in Dallington, Sussex on 21 May 1894 and her husband John Marini emigrated from Italy to the US in 1887. He was naturalised in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1895 and was currently in London awaiting embarkation. They were going to live in New Kensington, Pennsylvania and she wanted to join him.
Dorothy appeared with John on the list of United States Citizens on the SS Olympic which sailed from Southampton on 29 September 1920 arriving New York in October 1920. They returned to England on a number of occasions over the years including the 1970s when I met them as a child. Dad ferried them around in his car and I think we took them to see Jack Fuller’s Follies.
It is amazing how much information can be gleaned from just three documents, if only we read them carefully enough. Sometimes we download a document for a specific bit of information, ie a date of birth or place of birth and miss all the other bits of useful information. From John’s passport application I now have enough information to try and search for his birth; his father’s name, place of birth and even his birth date. More research then…..
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Broken Branch. Another subject I have struggled with, something with enough story to tell in a blog post. Of course the obvious answer is Thomas Sinden alias Winchester.
When I started researching my family tree back 20 years ago, I was sent research and family trees that had Thomas Winchester, the son of John Winchester of Ashburnham and his wife Mary. There were promises of the Winchester going right back to at least the 1500s in Sussex and I was really excited.
But then I was brought right back down to earth. Apparently John Winchester was not Thomas’s father or was he? There is disagreement between genealogists and this little bit of the family is extremely murky. Mary Locke married Thomas Sinden in Ninfield in January 1785. In July 1785 in Catsfield, the couple had a son James. It looks likely that Thomas died in Ninfield in 1788 but is recorded as Sedden. No other burial has been found either in Ninfield or Catsfield. Mary then had two children, Fanny in 1790 and Thomas in 1791, both baptised to her alone as Mary Sinden. No idea who the father was! Then in 1793 she has another child, Elizabeth and the baptism entry reads Elizabeth Winchester, Daughter of Mary Sinden.
The two marriage records confuse matters even further! As already noted above Mary Locke married Thomas Sinden in January 1785 in Ninfield. She was noted of Ninfield. They were married by Licence and she left her mark. She married John Winchester on 23 February 1794 in Catsfield. Again by licence and she is noted as Mary Lock, a single woman. So is it not the same woman? But then the children point to it being the same woman. She left her mark and one of the witnesses was Thomas Locke who could be her father.
Obviously more investigation is needed but my gut feeling is that it is the same Mary. The fact the first marriage was conducted in Ninfield where she grew up and the second in Catsfield away from the neighbours suggests her parents wanted to legitimise the three children by giving her a husband, but then if you know the geography of Sussex, Catsfield is only a couple of miles down the road and people talk! Finding the burial record for John Winchester’s first wife may put a different light on things as would an alternative for the likely burial of Thomas Sinden. This is another interesting story that rumbles on! So maybe Thomas really was a Winchester after all, or maybe he was something else entirely different.
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Popular name and I thought I would reflect on a name that appears a number of times on my family tree as it does on many based in Sussex particularly during the second half of the 1700s. Philadelphia.
I have 19 Philadelphias on my tree, ranging from the mid 1700s to the early mid 1800s. I’m not sure why it was so suddenly popular in Sussex for naming daughters but it may have something to do with William Penn who founded Philadelphia in the US. William Penn spent a lot of his life in Sussex. The name was also apparently popular amongst early Quakers because it means ‘the loving people’. But whatever the reason there were a lot in Sussex and here I pick out just three of my small pile.
Philadelphia Fletcher born 1787
Philadelphia Fletcher was born 1787 in Battle to John Fletcher and Mary Bishop. She was the second child of five and was my great x5 grandmother. She married Samuel Jenner in 1807 in Battle, they both left their mark on the register and her sister Jane was one of the witnesses. The couple had 9 children. Their 3rd daughter, Mary married my great x4 grandfather Robert Carey Harmer. Picture of Mary below. Samuel Jenner died in August 1832 and Philadelphia married again to Thomas Sinden of Battle in 1838. Thomas was an Agricultural Labourer. They lived ‘below Watch Oak’ in Battle and Philadelphia died in 1863 and was buried at Battle Cemetery on 28 April 1863.
Philadelphia Pennifold born 1776
Philadelphia Pennifold was born November 1776 in Worth, Sussex to Thomas Pennifold and his wife Elizabeth Hall. They had 8 children that I have found in the records. There is a gap between 1778 and 1790 although some Ancestry trees have a couple of other children born in those years, but having looked at the parish records these baptisms cannot be confirmed so more research is needed. A quick look at a family tree on Ancestry gives the possibility of Quaker ancestry, that should be interesting and maybe explains her name. Philadelphia married Richard Vigar my great x5 grandfather on 3 November 1794 in Burstow, Surrey about 5 miles away from Worth. Richard signed the register and Philadelphia left her mark. They had 12 children, 4 of whom died as small children. Philadelphia and Richard both died in 1839, Philadelphia in January and Richard in October and they were both buried in Burstow Churchyard. It looks like her father, Thomas was also buried in Burstow in 1715.
Philadelphia Seaman born 1732
Philadelphia Seaman was born 1732 in Chailey, Sussex to Richard Seaman and Elizabeth Grover. I’ve not managed to find Richard Seaman yet although he may have been born 1702 in Newick to John and Alice. Richard and Elizabeth had 10 children, 9 girls and 1 boy. The oldest child, Elizabeth and the youngest child, Catherine both died in March 1744 within days of each other. Sadly the parish register is very illegible at that point and I can barely read the record let alone wonder if the Vicar added a reason for two deaths within days of each other. Philadelphia married Thomas Cruse on the 19 July 1757 at Chailey and both left their mark on the register. She was his second wife. His first wife Frances had died in 1756. Philadelphia and Thomas had 8 children, 7 survived to adulthood. Their eldest son John born 1756 but baptised in 1759 was my great x5 grandfather. That needs more research because the baptism record clearly says Philadelphia mother but if he was born 1756, surely Frances was his mother. Hmmm.
Three Philadelphias, with remarkably similar lives although they lived in different parts of Sussex and at different times. I imagine due to the geography of where they were living they were all from labouring families of some variety, probably agricultural labourers in Chailey and Burstow. It is hard to tell without Census records though, and that is where other records such as Apprentice record, land records or wills prove very useful. More research then….
This week’s theme for #52Ancestors is Mistake and I thought I would write about my latest research into the family of David Smith. He married Emily Smith Harmer, my paternal grandmother’s aunt and they brought my grandmother up when her mother and stepfather emigrated to America in 1920. I have been looking at David’s ancestors and his mother’s family were the Sturt family from East Hoathly.
Samuel Sturt was born around 1815 in East Hoathly, no baptism found as yet. His sister Sarah was baptised in 1811 and their parents were Samuel Sturt and Sophia Ford who married in Burwash in 1810.
The 1841 census had Samuel living on Teelings Common, which now appears on the map as a housing estate Teelings Drive and Old Common Road at Ridgewood, at the northern end of Uckfield. Samuel was a 25 year old shoemaker, the same profession as his father and he was living with Ann, and Henry aged 3 and Mary aged 1. A marriage was not found before 1841, however in 1841 banns were called for a Samuel Sturt and an Ann Terry in Lewes and then in 1842 a Samuel Sturt and Ann Terry were married in St Nicholas Church, Brighton. It appears that Henry was in fact Jacob Henry Sturt, mother’s maiden name Terry on his certificate and he was registered in the 3rd quarter of 1838 in Hailsham Union. A registration has not been found for Mary ‘s birth as yet. The family was split up by the 1851 census, Ann, Turnpike Gate Keeper at Hailsham with the children and Samuel was a Turnpike Toll Gatekeeper but was lodging at the Kings Head Inn in East Hoathly. This may be due to the circumstances reported in the local newspaper The Sussex Advertiser, Surrey Gazette on the 29 April 1851.
This leads to a number of unanswered questions such as why did Ann pay his fine after such an allegation. My feeling is that maybe she knew there was no truth in the allegation, but we shall never know or maybe he was threatening her to come up with the fine but the rest of the story of his life shows no repeat of such behaviour. There was one further newspaper report in 1854 of Samuel Sturt, Toll Gate Keeper bringing Thomas Sinnock, Farmer to court for evasion of the toll. The case was thrown out.
By the 1861 census, Ann was alone with the children, described as a widow. However no death for Samuel Sturt could be found. In fact a number of family trees on Ancestry all put Samuel Sturt in New York, USA married again with another family by the 1860 census. He was described as a Shoemaker from England and aged 39 which was not quite correct but plausible. I searched for a marriage certificate for Samuel and his second wife Sabra Ploss but none has been found so far. The first child, was born about 1857 so Samuel must have moved to US between 1854 and 1857. Again no birth certificate for Ruth or the second child Mary were found. Neither were census records for Sabra before 1860 but I continue to look. A naturalisation record dated 1869 stated he was formerly of Sussex, England. There was one record that helped to prove that this was the same Samuel Sturt and that was the death certificate for Samuel’s son Samuel who died in 1945. He had been born in 1867 in New York. He stated that his father Samuel Sturt was born in East Hohley, Sussex, England. No doubt other death records or even birth records for his children would add further proof.
Samuel died in 1880 and I found a copy of his will, it did not mention any family in England, as you would expect. He left his land and appurtenances to his wife Sabra to be divided between his 7 heirs on her death. A curious story and usually, and I blame this on the years I spent working for a Child Protection Team in Social Services back in the 1990s, I have no sympathy for paedophiles but somehow this story does not resonate with me as being of a paedophile. Of course we shall never know what went on that night in the privy but to me Samuel made a mistake and then he ‘came good’. An interesting family that I continue to research. I wonder what I shall uncover next?
Week 22 of #52Ancestors already, and this week’s theme is Conflict. Time to reflect on the research I have carried out so far on one of my two WW1 forebears and the records I have gathered that give a snap shot of his life. Henry James Baldwin, the eldest son of my great x2 grandparents William James Baldwin and Jane Elizabeth Turner.
Henry was born on 30 September 1885 in 4a Bristowe Street, Hoxton New Town. This was the home of his maternal grandparents James Turner and Emma Traies. James Turner had recently died on 12 September 1885. James and Emma had lived at 4a Bristowe Street since at least 1871.
Henry enlisted at Stratford in 1903 for the regular army. His attestation papers tells us that he was residing at 40 Dock Street, his father’s address and was single. He was 18 years and 9 months old and was Clerk for a Messrs Goldsmith Myers. He was to serve in the Royal Artillery Regiment as a gunner. He was 5ft 7 ¾ inches tall, had grey eyes and brown hair and a number of tattoos. His parents were both still alive and his brother Frederick Charles was at Devonport on HMS Lion. His two younger brothers, Bertie and Reuben were still at home with their parents. No mention of Sydney, Alfred or Victoria though. At the time of the 1911 census he was stationed at Honeybutton Island, Hong Kong with the 87th Company Royal Garrison Artillery. He was a 22 year old Gunner and still single.
On 17 September 1914 at the age of 29 he joined the 4th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery in France. The Siege Batteries were deployed behind the front line, tasked with destroying enemy artillery, supply routes, railways and stores. The Batteries were equipped with heavy Howitzer guns firing large calibre 6, 8 or 9.2 inch shells in a high trajectory.
He was killed in action on 16 June 1915 nearly 30 years old, and is buried at Ypres Reservoir North British Cemetery, Ypres, France. From the CWCG website I have gathered a number of papers about Henry that tell me he was buried at Ypres Reservoir Graveyard, his body was exhumed and buried in a CWCG graveyard presumably meaning he was originally buried where he fell during battle.
I have a copy of his will found in pay book after death which states he left all his personal belongings to his mother Jane Baldwin who was living in Peckham. I also have a copy of his personal effects which states that 21s and 9d were sent to his mother, Jane as the sole legate plus another 5s again to Jane Baldwin. Sadly it is not stated where he died and that is where my research will take me next, I want to find out a bit more about the role he would have played and the role the 4th Siege Battery would have played in the war and presumably one of the battles in Ypres. It would be great to find a regimental diary which might give an idea of where they were during June 1915 and what they were involved in as a regiment.
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Yearbook but being British we don’t really do Yearbooks. Thinking about a conversation I was having yesterday evening I decided I would write about some of the coincidences I have found in my family tree. Coincidentally they all have something to do with the Sussex Trug.
The first coincidence I found when I started researching my other half’s family tree. He was born and grew up in Hammer, near Haslemere on the Sussex/Surrey border where his family had lived for a couple of generations before him and I have not found any link with East Sussex at all. Except for one in 1861. His great x2 grandfather, Charles Marden, born in Wateringbury, Kent in 1827 and died in Camberwell, Middlesex in 1891 was a blacksmith. I could not find him around the Wateringbury area and couldn’t find him in Middlesex on the 1861 census, and he eventually turned up in Burwash, East Sussex for no apparent reason and wasn’t there for any other census return. The coincidence is that a number of the families on my tree came from Burwash including the Pilbeams, Eastwoods and Westons and would probably have gone to Charles to shoe their horses.
Talking of my other half he has been a Sussex Trugmaker now for nearly 30 years, since he moved to East Sussex when we first got together. That leads to my second coincidence, my grandmother told us that my grandfather, Alf Baldwin had made Sussex Trugs when he was employed at Green Brother’s in Hailsham. Recently I have been researching David Smith who informally adopted my grandmother with his wife Emily, (my grandmother’s aunt) and on the 1921 census he was taking part in a Government backed employment scheme at Green Brother’s making Sussex Trugs. I wonder if he met Alf there and introduced him to my grandmother.
I recently researched and wrote a history of the Truggery at Herstmonceux for Sarah Page, the owner. As part of that research, I looked at the family of Reuben Reed who turned what had been a Carpenters workshop into the Truggery in 1899. Reuben’s mother was Sarah Winchester who appeared very distantly related to my Winchesters, from the Warbleton area. A part of the family that I hadn’t until now researched but can now be added to the tree. The common ancestors being Thomas Winchester and Elizabeth Wenham who were married in Folkington in 1708. I also have Reed/Read in my family but at the moment I’m not going to go there!
I am beginning to think I have the Sussex Trug in my DNA. Have you found any coincidences like this in your own tree. Please share.
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Textile and gives me chance to write about my only bit of the family from up north. The story started down south of course. In 1818 or thereabouts Phillis Funnell, my great x4 grandmother met a young soldier who was stationed at the barracks in Ringmer, John Thelwell. On 6 November 1818, my great x3 grandfather, John Funnell was born. For a number of years the only clue to John’s father that I had was a warrant for the arrest of his putative father, 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 – date: 6 November 1818.
It wasn’t until I started searching the Royal Horse Artillery that I discovered who John Thelwell was. Probably born in 1793 in Gorton, Lancashire to John Thelwell and Martha Marsh, he had 11 siblings, 3 of whom died as small children. Despite a lot of searching this John seems the most likely but his second marriage certificate in 1855 names his father as Thomas strangely. John was married to two different Nancy’s, the first one died young in an asylum. He had 10 children, 5 of whom died under the age of 5. He died in 1870, a Chelsea Pensioner, having fought at Waterloo.
Looking through the census returns held for him, marriage records, burial of first wife and his children’s baptisms and burials they all have his occupation as Weaver or Dresser. Both occupations involved in the Cotton Industry. Specifically his burial record in 1870 was Cotton Warp Dresser. He was living in Brimmington, Stockport and further research should be carried out possibly find out who were the main cotton factories in Stockport.
According to a very useful website that has a list of old occupations Old Occupations - C2 (rmhh.co.uk) a Cotton Dresser was an Operator who assembled the yarns or threads prior to the weaving of cloth.
In the early days of power weaving, looms had to be periodically stopped every few minutes to adjust the cloth and dress the warp with a flour paste to strengthen the threads as they unrolled from the beam. In 1803 William Radcliffe invented the dressing machine operated by a dresser who prepared the yarns for weaving. This was found in a book I purchased ‘My ancestors worked in Textile Mills’ by Adele Emm and published by The Society of Genealogists 2019.
During the 1851 census two of John’s sons, aged 19 and 17 were also involved in the cotton industry as a Power Loom Weaver and a Silk Plush Weaver (part of the Top Hat industry). In 1861 the household has a Cotton Twister and a Cotton Winder. All the neighbours were involved in various parts of the industry in the three census returns I have for John, 1841 to 1861. In 1851, agricultural labourers formed the biggest occupation group in England and Wales, servants next and third was those working in textile industries. The industry was concentrated particularly around the north west and Manchester became known as Cottonopolis.
Currently that is as far as I have got with my research into John Thelwell’s cotton past. It’s all completely new to me, with most of my family hailing from Sussex I am much more used to Agricultural Labourers and the odd brickmaker. But I look forward to finding out more about Lancashire and its cotton industry as well as more about John’s heritage.
sThis week’s theme for #52Ancestors is Food and Drink. Well that’s a topic I could talk endlessly about I thought. But bringing it back to genealogy, I thought I would write about The Three Cups Inn near Punnetts Town, now sadly closed but I have frequented it in the past for family celebrations and meals out. The Steak and stilton pie in the days of Woody was to die for!
My connection however goes back further than the Jenga chips, one of the most disappointing meals I’ve ever had, 9 chips set out like jenga blocks. The chef was trying to go upmarket, didn’t last long, homecooked pub grub was what was wanted. My x3 Great Grandmother Elizabeth Harriot Message married John Funnell in 1840 and for the 1861 census are recorded as being at the Three Cups. John was a Farmer of 15 acres but presumably he ran the beerhouse too.
John Funnell was killed in 1863 by being run over by a cart wheel and Elizabeth married again to James White in 1868. By the time of the 1871 census James White has taken over the Three Cups as Beerhouse Keeper and Orpah one of Elizabeth’s daughters was described as waiter. By 1881 James is a Farmer of 30 acres and Beerhouse Keeper. Rhoda another of Elizabeth’s daughter’s was a barmaid.
The building which is currently closed and derelict, someone is hoping for permission to build houses no doubt, has recently been listed Grade II. Apparently built around the 17th Century and extended over the years. According to the history that has been compiled on the building at the time my ancestors were running it, it was owned by the Trill family. Incidentally having just looked at the Tithe map of 1838, it was owned by Mrs Trill and rented by R Message, which needs a bit more research but that is likely to be Richard Message who was the half brother of Elizabeth Harriot.
I clearly have some more research to do as there is also an intriguing entry on The Keep (East Sussex Record Office) catalogue dated 1717 of suspected parties for a murder being involved in smuggling activities at the Three Cups Inn.
In the meantime I look back at happy memories of eating at the pub and wish wholeheartedly it could be saved and opened as a pub again!
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Social and for a minute there, I was going to go for 4 weddings and a funeral (a rather lovely film!) but decided to stick at the 4 weddings.
I chose the weddings of 4 siblings, my grandfather Ronald Pilbeam and 3 of his siblings, Phyllis, Gwen and Sidney.
The first to marry was Phyllis Naomi, the oldest child, born in 1907 to George and Nahomi Pilbeam of Rushford Farm, Three Cups, Punnetts Town. She married Percy Thomas Cottingham, second son of Mr C E Cottingham of Warren Farm, Halland on 22 July 1933 at The New Gospel Hall, Maynards Green. Mr W Payne from Lingfield officiated, who I need to research as I am thinking he could be related to my Grandmother, Edith Terry. Her mother was a Payne from Lingfield. The bride wore a dress of white satin and an embroidered net veil surmounted by a coronet of orange blossom. There were three bridesmaids, Joan Pilbeam, the bride’s sister and Ruth and Winnie Cottingham, sisters of the bridegroom. Edward Cottingham, brother of the groom was the best man. The report in the local newspaper has an extremely long list of people who gave presents.
The second pair to marry was Sidney George, the first son of George and Nahomi Pilbeam born in 1909 and he married Eva Edith Delves, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs William Delves of Lynton, Maynards Green on 21 August 1935, again at Maynards Green. The newspaper announced that Punnetts Town Teacher weds. Eva was a teacher and then headmistress at Punnetts Town for many years and is remembered by many past pupils. The bride wore a simple gown of white crepe de chine, embroidered net veil, wreath of orange blossom, white kid shoes and carried a shower bouquet of white carnations and ferns. She had two bridesmaids, her sister Vera Delves and Joan Pilbeam, groom’s sister. The best man was Ron Pilbeam, groom’s brother. The couple were to live at Beech Croft, Punnetts Town, newly built. Again there was a long list of presents including many family members.
Only a few weeks later, on 14 September 1935 the second daughter, Gwendoline born 1908 married Edward Charles Cottingham, brother of Percy Cottingham at Maynards Green Gospel Hall. The bride wore a dress of white satin, with embroidered veil and coronet of orange blossom and white satin shoes. Her bouquet was of bronze chrysanthemums. Bridesmaids were Joan Pilbeam, the bride’s sister and Ruth and Winnie Cottingham, groom’s sisters. The best man was Leslie Cottingham, groom’s brother. The couple were reported to be going to live at Ash Grove, Shortgate, Laughton and they received many useful presents, not listed this time.
The last wedding was that of my grandparents Ronald and Edith on 7 August 1937 at Lingfield Mission Room. The service was again conducted by William Payne. The bride wore a long white dress and veil trimmed with orange blossom. She carried a shower bouquet of pink and white carnations and her only jewellery was a string of pearls. She had two bridesmaids, her sister Winifred and Joan Pilbeam, groom’s sister. Sidney Pilbeam was the best man. They left the reception bound for their reception in Worthing.
The more I search the British newspapers that are currently available on Findmypast, the more I am learning about how my family lived their lives, the places they worshipped at, the people they knew and the families that intermingled through these connections. These articles are also a useful tool for giving you hints to family members not yet found and places they lived. But mostly I love the details from these reports of the wedding dresses and the flowers that were fashionable at the time.
#52Ancestors theme for this week is Document and I have so many copies of documents that I was struggling to pick one to write about. Searching my A3 folder of early photocopies from TNA I found a large envelope which contained a photocopy of the Farm Survey for my great grandfather George Charles Pilbeam’s farm at Three Cups near Punnetts Town. Wow I had forgotten I had ordered it! The envelope is postmarked 2013.
When the Second World War began in September 1939, Britain was faced with an urgent need to increase food production, as imports of food and fertilisers were drastically cut. The area of land under cultivation had to be increased significantly and quickly. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries set up War Agricultural Executive Committees in each county (‘County War Ags’) to carry out a farm survey between 1940 and 1941 and to use the information collected to bring uncultivated land under the plough and to improve poor farms.
Once the short-term objective of increasing food production had been met, the government decided to carry out a more general National Farm Survey between 1941 and 1943, with a longer-term purpose of providing data that would form the basis of post-war planning. Such a survey was seen at the time as a ‘Second Domesday Book’, a ‘permanent and comprehensive record of the conditions on the farms of England and Wales’.
The first survey showed that:
No fruits or vegetables were being grown for human consumption. There was ¼ acre of main crop potatoes, ½ acre of turnips and swede for fodder. There was ¼ acre of kale for fodder. Also ¼ acre of All other crops. Seven acres of permanent grass for mowing and 11 ¾ acres of permanent grass for grazing. Total acreage was 20 acres.
Employed labour on 4 June 1941 consisted of 1 male part time worker, 21 years old and above.
There were 8 cows and heifers and 17 fowl over 6 months and 1 horse used for agricultural purposes.
The general survey for Rushford Farm was carried out on 30 October 1942. The farm was recorded as 18 acres within the parish of Warbleton and the farmer was G C Pilbeam of Rushford Farm, Three Cups, Dallington, Heathfield, Sussex.
The general comments are as follows:-
Small dairy holding quite well kept and having sufficient ploughed out to maintain the herd in winter green fodder. One field has also been reseeded. This could be carried further to some of the other fields where the grass is getting worn out. Stock and general management satisfactory. The water arrangements could be better. Stock: Cows 7 young stock 4 Horses 1.
Information gained from the survey tells me that:
George Pilbeam owned the farm and was a full time farmer. He didn’t occupy any other land or have other grazing rights.
The condition of the farm was 100% medium soil. The farm was conveniently laid out and was 100% naturally fair. The situation with regard to road was fair and railway was bad. The nearest railway station is Heathfield some miles away. The condition of the farmhouse was good, farm buildings and road were fair, fences – good, ditches – fair and field drainage was good.
There were no infestations and no derelict fields. Water supply to the farmhouse was from the well, farm buildings from the roof, fields from a stream and there was a pond that supplied water both to the farm buildings and the fields. There was no seasonal shortage of water and no electricity supply.
The farm was classified as A. The condition of the Arable land was good, pasture good to fair. Adequate use of fertilisers on the arable land and to some extent on the grassland. For the 1941 harvest 2 fields were marked for fodder crops to be grown.
The first glance at the documents didn’t look like it was going to reveal as much information as it did. The condition of the farm and buildings as well as the stock on the farm. A lot of information about the farm can be gleaned from it and I’m off to see if there are any other farms in my family I need to know more about.