Hannah was baptised 17 September 1780 at Warbleton
Father – Joseph Oliver baptised 23 October 1737 at Warbleton, Sussex
Mother – Mary Moor (married 4 May 1768 at Wartling, Sussex)
Mary baptised 10 February 1771, Warbleton, Sussex
Sarah baptised 19 June 1774, Warbleton, Sussex
James baptised 6 October 1776, Warbleton, Sussex
Thomas baptised 20 July 1783, Warbleton, Sussex
Jesse baptised 16 October 1785, Warbleton, Sussex
Ann baptised 4 May 1788, Warbleton, Sussex
The story so far:
The search for Hannah began with the baptism record for her daughter Elizabeth Harriet Message. She was baptised at the Independent Chapel, Chapel Cross, Cade Street, Sussex on 1 April 1823 to __________ and Hannah Message. Elizabeth was my 3 x great grandmother.
From this I presumed that Elizabeth’s father had died somewhere during 1821 to 1823, however after extensive searches of local parish registers no death could be found. On Elizabeth’s marriage certificate to John Funnell, 27 October 1840 at Herstmonceux she gives her father as Richard Message. (Although it should be noted on her second marriage certificate dated 5 February 1868 at Warbleton to James White she leaves her father as blank).
I started searching for a Richard Message and eventually found a marriage to Hannah Oliver on 20 October 1803 at Dallington, Sussex on the Sussex Marriage Index. Then I found the baptism of a Richard Message on 9 February 1807 at Warbleton in the parish registers to Richard and Hannah Message. Then all went quiet.
To my surprise on a search on Ancestry for Richard Message I found records of a transportation to New South Wales as a convict in 1807 on the Admiral Gambier. I discovered that Richard Message from Sussex was convicted of Larceny in 1807 and transported, pardoned in 1816 and then married the same year to Mary Ann Mullins in Hobart. He died in 1821 in Hobart. The age fits with the Richard Message married to Hannah Oliver, supposing he is the Richard Message baptised in Shoreditch 1786 on Family Search to Richard Message and Mary. No baptism has been found for a Richard in Sussex and various family trees that I have seen have Richard Message senior as coming from Dallington, Sussex. This is yet to be proved by me.
Hannah also had two illegitimate children before she married Richard, Benjamin Carley Oliver baptised at Warbleton on 16 February 1800 and Stephen Carley Oliver born 1802, no baptism found at this stage.
Possible census returns for Hannah 1841 to 1861 are as follows:
1841 – Herstmonceux, Alehouse
John Catt 50 Ag Lab
Hannah Message 60
1851 – Herstmonceux, Bodle Street
John Catt, head, widower, 63, Ag Lab born Warbleton
Hannah Message, servant, widow, 70, born Warbleton
Emily Sands, servant, unmarried 15 born Arlington
1861 – Warbleton, on common (not far from the Three Cups Inn where her daughter and family were living)
John Catt, head, widower, 74, Ag Lab, born Warbleton
Hannah Message, servant, widow, 80 Housekeeper, born Warbleton
Caroline Funnell, granddaughter, 4 born Wartling (although Caroline, daughter of John Funnell and Elizabeth Harriot Message is also with her parents at the Inn the details are exactly the same so I am sure this is the same child with her grandmother).
The last bit of the jigsaw is the death certificate I obtained from GRO which could possibly be Hannah. She died on 12 November 1868 at 3 Cups, Warbleton, 88 years which does fit with the baptism I have. However the informant, Hannah Hedgcock who I believe was a neighbour, there were certainly Hedgcocks next door on the 1861 census, has entered that Hannah was the widow of Thomas Message, Farm Labourer. I have been unable to find a marriage for a Thomas Message with a Hannah. There was a Thomas Message who lived next door to Hannah and George Hedgcock in the 1861 census but he was half Hannah’s age. Therefore I am assuming this is a mistake, Hannah Hedgcock did not know who Hannah Message had been married to or more interestingly Hannah had spread that rumour around to stop gossip about Richard Message who was a convict!
So the hunt for Hannah continues. Who exactly was she, was her husband a transported convict? Sadly the records I have acquired about Richard all say he came from Sussex but nothing more than that, sadly none add Warbleton.
I’ve been relooking at an old brickwall on my family tree this week. My x 4 great grandfather Jeremiah Hall was baptised in Edenbridge in Kent in 1789. He had a sister Jenny, baptised in 1781 and a brother, William baptised in 1787, both in Edenbridge. Their parents on the baptism records were Michael and ______ Hall. Very useful!
A marriage for a Michael Hall in the right time frame has not been found and neither has a baptism of a Michael Hall. The closest we have come to is a Miles Hall who married Jane Holiday in 1769 in Crowhurst in Surrey and went on to have 4 children, all baptised in Crowhurst; Sarah – 1769, Martha – 1770, William – 1773 buried in 1774 and Benjamin – 1775.
I have spent 10 years picking away at this problem, and chatting with other people who are also trying to solve this riddle.
We know that Jenny baptised in 1781 married a Richard Holmden in Edenbridge in 1802, a marriage which has led to a further clue.
A will has been found for a Mary Ware who died in 1807 in Crowhurst. She mentioned several family members. She had previously been married to Benjamin Hall who had a brother, Michael. She mentions three of Michael’s children; Benjamin, Sarah who married _____ Fowle of Westerham and Jane who married ______ Holmden of Edenbridge.
So far that is looking good, Jane and Jenny, same person? There is a marriage for a Sarah and a John Fowle in 1792 and Benjamin could be the one baptised in 1775.
Mary Ware also mentioned a Nicholas, another brother of her late husband Benjamin who also had a son Benjamin. (What a popular name that was!) So plenty of clues to help pick away at this. But sometimes the obvious and most needed answer is just plain elusive.
Could Miles and Michael in Crowhurst and Edenbridge be the same person or am I clutching at straws? There is a family being baptised to a Nicholas and Ann in Crowhurst in the 1720/30s including a Benjamin, a Miles and a Nicholas but Miles was baptised in 1722 meaning he would have been in his late 40s when Sarah was born, never mind Jeremiah in 1789!
I will keep at this one and hopefully one day I will find an answer.
I misquote Shakespeare.
I started looking at the Billinness family from Wartling yesterday. Lydia Billinness born 1816 in Wartling married Henry Martin in Wartling in 1839. Their son, James married Harriet Pilbeam, sister of my great great grandfather William Pilbeam. Further details can be found on my TribalPages tree at https://baldwintree.tribalpages.com/tribe/browse?userid=baldwintree&view=0&pid=525&ver=383. They farmed Ebenezer Farm in Punnetts Town and had one child, John Henry who died sadly at the age of 2 and half years old.
I started searching for Lydia’s family and discovered that her parent’s were Thomas and Deborah Harvey also of Wartling. This rang a bell and well it might. Lydia had a brother born three years before her, Benjamin who married Barbara Cornford. They had a daughter, Mary Ann who was born in 1837. Mary Ann was the second wife of my great x 3 grandfather Thomas Cruse. The funny thing is this links two sides of my tree, my maternal grandfather (Pilbeam) to my paternal grandfather’s mother (Cruse).
Fascinating I thought and just confirms what I know from my dna, 83.9% South East England, and make that Sussex.
Then as I carried the Billiness line further back I discovered that the aforesaid Thomas's mother was Lydia Badcock. Another family I know well. However, as yet I can't find a link between the Badcock family that Lydia came from and the family that my Badcocks came from who married into the Carey family who married into the Harmer family. Of course the Harmer family was the family of my paternal grandmother. So if I can link Thomas Badcoke at the top of my line, who married in Lewes and lived in Willingdon and Hooe, to the Badcocks from Wartling that is three grandparents all linked together. So what are the chances of finding a link with my fourth grandparent, although that line came from Surrey so perhaps not!
Wartling Church, Sussex
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