Among the many thousands of names we have now collected in the family archives, there are a number of individuals who stand out from the rest. One of these is undoubtedly Peter Linfield of Storrington. Born in 1734 in the parish of Nuthurst, Peter was the youngest son of William and Sarah Linfield, who were married at Itchingfield in 1724. His grandfather, Peter Linfield of Snow’s Farm in Nuthurst, was a successful yeoman farmer who died in 1715, leaving his estate to his eldest son, also Peter (1677-1756) who appears to have sold his inheritance some time before 1744. William Linfield, one of his five younger brothers, had to make do with the 40 shillings he received in his father’s will; nevertheless, it would appear he owned and farmed his own land because, with his brother Peter, he was qualified to vote in the General Election of 1734. Both of them travelled to Chichester to cast their vote, the qualification being the ownership of freehold lands or tenements whose annual net value was 40 shillings or more.
When William died in 1760, there was no will, so everything presumably went to his eldest son, John, who was born in 1724. Since there was nothing to keep him at Nuthurst, Peter left the parish as a young man, going firstly to West Grinstead where he married his first wife, Mary Hedgecock in 1758; they went to live in West Chiltington where Peter set up his butcher’s business. He must have been very good at his trade because he was able to buy a farm, called Palmer’s, where he presumably reared his own livestock. His wife died in 1764, possibly in childbirth, but in 1766 Peter married again. His second wife was Sarah Sayers, 22 year old daughter of Richard Sayers of West Chiltington. (Richard was tragically killed in a shooting accident in 1771.) Sarah bore twelve children to Peter between 1767 and 1788, eight sons and four daughters.
Sometime around 1779, the family moved from West Chiltington to the neighbouring village of Storrington. Peter transferred his butcher’s business to the premises of a Mrs. Nash in Church Street. Perhaps it was the opportunity of transferring to a busier location which prompted him to make the move, although he still retained Palmer’s Farm at West Chiltington. According to Stanford Smith, the family’s living accommodation was elsewhere in the village, in one of the large old houses which faced the Square, but I have not been able to confirm this.
When Peter died in 1791, his wife received all his furniture, linen, plate and china, as his will shows below. Suitable arrangements were also made to provide her with an adequate income to look after herself and her children. When she lost her husband, five of her children were still under the age of fourteen; the youngest child, Elizabeth, was only three. Sarah died in 1805 at the age of 61. Their eldest son, William (1769-1835) carried on the butcher’s business in Church Street, and bought two new farms in 1816, Hurston Street and Perretts, which were rented out, so things were obviously going quite well.
As both his will and inventory show below, Peter Linfield was a very wealthy man when he died – since he started life with nothing, he must have been an intelligent and hard-working man who knew how to pursue his objectives with drive and determination. What is more, he achieved this at a time of considerable agricultural depression, when thousands were forced off the land to seek work in London and the new industrial areas. In his will, shown first, he leaves 100 to each of his ten surviving children on reaching the age of 24. In his inventory, which follows, the value of his personal estate is estimated at almost 2000 – a considerable sum indeed in the early 1790s.
The information we have on this branch is as follows:
1. Peter Linfield #786 born 1641, Nuthurst?, bp 6 Aug 1641, Nuthurst, married Mary —— #787, born abt 1641, Nuthurst?.Peter died 1715, Nuthurst, but no record in parish registers to say that he was buried there. In his will dated 10 March 1713, he is described as yeoman of Snow’s Farm. HSS also describes him as a parish overseer.
2. i. Peter Linfield #1366 born 1677.
ii. John Linfield #1369.
3. iii. William Linfield #191.
iv. Henry Linfield #1367 born abt 1680, Nuthurst, bp 26 Dec 1684, Nuthurst.
v. Mary Linfield #2180 born abt 1686, Nuthurst, bp 1 May 1686, Nuthurst.
vi. Elizabeth Linfield #2181 born abt 1687, Nuthurst, bp 1 May 1687, Nuthurst.
vii. Jane Linfield #2182 born abt 1688, Nuthurst, bp 16 Sep 1688, Nuthurst died 1689, Nuthurst, buried 25 May 1689, Nuthurst.
viii. Joseph Linfield #321.
ix. Samuel Linfield #1368 born Nuthurst.
2. Peter Linfield #1366 born 1677, Nuthurst, bp 17 Apr 1677, Nuthurst, married 16 Apr 1721, in Cuckfield, Elizabeth Walters #2178, died 1747, buried 20 Nov 1747, Nuthurst. Peter died 1756, buried 11 Aug 1756, Nuthurst. Of Snow’s Farm, Nuthurst. One daughter.
3. William Linfield #191 born after 1677, married 14 Jun 1724, in Itchingfield, Sarah Dave #192, born abt 1700. William died 1760, Nuthurst?, buried 21 Oct 1760, Nuthurst.
i. John Linfield #193 born 1724.
ii. Mary Linfield #194 born 1725, Nuthurst, bp 20 Jan 1725, Nuthurst, died 14 Nov. 1737 in Nuthurst.
4. iii. William Linfield #195 born 1727.
5. iv Peter Linfield #196 born 1734.
4.William Linfield #195 born 1727, Nuthurst, bp 29 Feb 1727, Nuthurst, married 20 Jan 1756, in Nuthurst, Sarah Penfold, #197, died 1779, Nuthurst, buried 22 Feb 1779, Nuthurst. 9 children.
5. Peter Linfield #196 born 1734, Nuthurst, bp 8 Sep 1734, Nuthurst, Butcher, married (1) 26 Dec 1758, in West Grinstead, Mary Hedgecock #737, born abt 1740, West Grinstead, died 23 Oct 1764, West Chiltington, married (2) 2 Oct 1766, in West Chiltington, Sarah Sayers #738, born 1744, died 25 Sep 1805, Storrington. Peter died 1791, Storrington, buried 29 Dec 1791, Storrington. Will 1792, Chichester vol 44 page 370. pr 1792 as of Storrington Of Palmers Farm, West Chiltington and of Storrington [hss] Went to W. Chiltington in 1759. Surety in 1761, 1771 and 1776, as “of Chiltington”. In 1787, consents to the marriage of his dau Ann, said to be of Storrington then. Widower when he married Sarah Sayers in 1766 Sarah: Will 1805
Children by Mary Hedgecock:
i. Joseph Linfield #1823 born 1759, died 1759.
ii. Sarah Linfield #1824 born 1761.
Children by Sarah Sayers:
iii. John Linfield #1373 born 1767, died 1767.
iv. Anne Linfield #1821 born 1768, Storrington, married 1787, in Storrington, James Hughes #1822, glover. Sussex Marriage Licence.
v. William Linfield #796 born 1769, bp 24 Oct. 1769 West Chiltington, married Harriet Stanford 1803 in Storrington. Farmer and Butcher of Storrington.13 Children. Died 1835, buried 6 Dec. 1835, Storrington.
vi. Lucy Linfield #1374 born 14 Mar 1771, died 23 Feb 1797.
vii. Luke Linfield #1825 born 1773, died 1773.
viii. Edward Linfield #1375 born 13 Aug 1774.
ix. Thomas Linfield #1376 born 19 Apr 1776.
x. James Linfield #1377 born 1778, died 1836, Worthing?, buried 8 May 1836, Storrington. Age given as 58, of Worthing.
xi. Peter Lindfield #806 born 21 May 1781, Storrington, married 29 Aug 1803, in Wimbledon, Sarah Glover #808, born abt 1780, Wimbledon. Peter died 1828, Storrington, buried 12 May 1828, Storrington. Age 47
xii. Henry Linfield #1379 born 1785, died 1849.
xiii. Hannah Linfield #1378 born abt 1778.
xiv. Elizabeth Linfield #1380 born 1788.
THE WILL OF PETER LINFIELD OF STORRINGTON 1788
Peter’s will is a fascinating document in many ways, not least because it says so much about the man himself. Fully aware of his responsibilities to a large family, his will is primarily concerned with providing for their future security. It is a well thought out document, meticulous in its attention to detail, and naturally reflects Peter’s character, especially his flair and aptitude for business. His wife keeps all the household goods and “all the meat and liquors whatsoever standing lying and being in my dwelling house at the time of my decease”, whilst his children receive 100 each on attaining the age of 24. The residue is left to Henry Hughes, the elder (the father of James Hughes, his son-in-law) and James Sayers (presumably his brother-in-law) to convert into money, and to “put all out at interest upon some good private security…or else lay out the same in the purchase of stock in some of the publick funds or other Government securities…” The interest was to go to his wife; at her death or remarriage, the principal and interest was to be divided among his surviving children. The full transcript of the will is as follows:
“This is the last Will and Testament of me Peter Linfield of Storrington in the County of Sussex Butcher made this twenty fifth Day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand seven hundred and eighty eight. First I commend my soul into the Hands of Almighty God my mercifull creator trusting through the meritts of my blessed saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ to obtain Remission and pardon for all my sins. And as to the wordly estate with which it hath pleased Almighty God to bless me I dispose thereof as followeth: that is to say, I give and bequeath unto my loving wife Sarah All my Household goods Household furniture Linnen plate China and all the Meat and liquors whatsoever standing lying and being in my dwelling house at the time of my Decease for her use and benefit forever. Also I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Sarah Linfield the Sum of One hundred pounds of lawfull money of great Britain to be paid to her in one month next after my Decease by my Executors in Trust hereinafter mentioned. Also I give and bequeath unto my ten children namely Ann Wife of James Hughes, William, Lucy, Edward, James, Thomas, Peter,~Henry, Hannah, and Elizabeth, the Sum of one Hundred Pounds apiece to be paid to them and every of them at their severall and respective Ages of Twenty four years by my Executors in Trust hereinafter mentioned. And I do hereby will and direct that my said loving wife shall receive the Interest of the said severale one hundred pounds Legacies so given to all and every of my said children respectively for the better Maintenance and Support of them untill they shall severally and respectively attain the Age of twenty four years. And in case either or any of my said ten children shall happen to dye before he she or they shall attain the age of twenty four years, leaving no issue of his her or their body or bodys lawfully begotten Then the legacy or legacies of him her or them so dying, without lawfull issue, shall be divided equally amongst and between the survivors of them share and share alike and if but one then to such only child. All the Rest Residue and Remainder of my Stock in Trade Goods Chattells Money or Securities for Money personal estate and Effects whatsoever and wheresoever not herein before by me bequeathed, my Debts Legacies funeral Expenses and the Expenses of proving this my Will and of carrying into Execution of the Trusts and Executorship of the same, I give and bequeath unto my good Friends Mr Henry Hughes the elder of Storrington aforesaid Fellmonger and Mr James Sayres of West Chiltington in the said County of Sussex Farmer Upon Trust and confidence nevertheless and to the intent and purpose that they the said Henry Hughes and James Sayres or the Survivor of them or the Executors or Administrators of the Survivor of them shall and will at any time after my Decease as by them shall be thought most convenient and proper sell and dispose of all my Stock in Trade Goods and Chattells and convert the Residuum of my personal estate into Money and put and place the whole thereof out at interest upon some good private Security or Securities or else lay out the same in the purchase of Stock in some of the publick Funds or other Government Securities as to them shall seem meet and from time to time pay all the Interest and proceed arising therefrom unto my said loving wife Sarah for and during the term of her natural life in case she remains a Widow and unmarried. And from and immediately after the Decease or second Marriage of my said Wife Then upon this further Trust to pay and divide the principal money so directed to be put out at Interest as aforesaid and all interest then due for the same equally to and amongst all my children as shall be living at the time of my said loving Wife’s Decease or second Marriage Share and Share alike. And if either or any of my said Children shall happen to dye before the Decease or Marriage of my said Wife leaving no issue of his her or their Body or Bodies lawfully begotten that then the child or children of him her or them so dying shall be intituled to the Father’s or Mother’s Share of the Residuum of my personal estate after my said wife’s decease or second marriage. And my will and meaning is and I do hereby further order and direct that if any one of my said children shall at any time hereafter be admitted for his or her life in and to my copyhold messuage Barn Farm and Lands lying in West Chiltington aforesaid called Palmers holden of the Mannor of West Chiltington in the Occupation of John Humphrey alias Adams that then and in that case such child being admitted as aforesaid shall not be intituled to receive any Benefit by this my Will but the legacy of one hundred pounds and Share of the Residuum of my personal estate so left to him or her as aforesaid shall be equally divided amongst and between all my other children share and share alike. And I make nominate and appoint my said good friends Henry Hughes the elder and James Sayres Executors in Trust of this my last will hereby revoking and making void all known and other wills by me at any time heretofore made. In Witness whereof I the said Peter Linfield the testator have to this my last will and testament set my hand to the first of the said sheets and my hand and seal to the last of the said sheets the Day and year first within written.
Signed sealed published and declared by the said Peter Linfield the testator as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who have inscribed our Names as Witnesses hereto in the presence of the said Testator and in the presence of each other. Chas. Browne Wm. Bennett Richard Searle 18th January 1792 James Sayres Friend of the Deceased and one of the Executors abovenamed (Power being reserved for Henry Hughes the other Executor) whence) was sworn Before me -
Robt. Edwards, Surrogate.”
INVENTORY OF PETER LINFIELD OF STORRINGTON 1792
First, wearing apparel and money in purse 202.10s. 0d
In the Kitchen One Oak Dresser and shelves, one Clock and Case One table, eight chairs one great Arm’d chair, One deal Ironing board, one warming pan, one corner cupboard, Two tea tables, one small cupboard, one roasting Jack, Three spitts, Three Box Irons, Two hand do. A knife box with knives and forks, two brass mortars and pestles, three brass candlesticks and sundries, two pair of tongs a toasting fork, One coal grate, two pair of potthooks and treft, a fire pan, tongs and poker A sifter, some candlesticks, a pair of bellows, Eleven pewter dishes, Twentyfour Do. plates, six Delph plates, nine earthen Do. One dish, potts, juggs and sundries. 12. 9s- 6d
In the Parlour One Wainscott Oa
Dining table, one round Oak do. One Mahogany Tea table, one do. Tea board, one pier glass, six chairs, a coffee pot, china and sundries 3. 1s. 6d
On the staircase One clock and case, two cloathes horses and a candlestick 1. 7s. 6d
In the shop chamber Three boxes, four chairs, a glass, one pair of chest of Drawers, a bed, Bedstead and furniture and one Cloathes press. 3. 9s. 6d
In the parlour chamber Eight Ash chairs, One Arm’d do. One pair Mahogany Chest of Drawers, One Chest, Two Boxes, One feather Bedd Bedstead and hangings and a pair of Iron Dogs 6.16s. 0d
In the dark chamber One bed and Bedstead, Two Chairs, One Chest a Mahogany Chest upon Chest of Drawers, One single Chest, One oak Chest, One Dressing table, One Bed and Bedstead with Blue hangings, One stump-bedsted and bed, Two Ash Chairs, One Box, one night stool, one swing glass, one pair of Dogs and a candlestick 1. 3s. 0d
In the pantry One safe or tray, three powdering tubbs, six crocks, Earthen plates and crocks of sundries, A Bucking Tub and Vate, One Tun tub, four keelers, two small tubs, two stands, a bucket and a tun dish. 3.19s. 0d
In the brewhouse Three pottage potts, bucketts, pans and dishes, a frying pan, skilletts and sundries, two firms, one table and one copper. 1.11s. 0d
In the small Beer cellar One Baking Table, One Bottle Rack, Two Stands, Three Ten Gallon Barrells, One do. One Six Gallon do. a flour Tub. Crocks, pans and sundries. 1. 4s. 0d
In the Ale Cellar Two Twenty gallon Barrels, One Thirty Gallon Do. and one six Gallon Do. 2. 6s. 0d
In the butcher’s shop One meat safe, Beam scales and weights, an Oak chest, a Chopping block a Handsaw and Sundries. 1.13s. 0d
Linnen Five table cloathes, seven Breakfast cloths and Napkins, Twelve pillow cases, two pair of sheets, twentyfive pair of do. Eight Table cloths, Eight Hand Towells and ten Butchers cloths. 15. 1s. 0d
Plate Table spoons and tea spoons 1. 5s. 0d
Stock etc. Five heifers 25. 0s. 0d
Three horses 25. 0s. 0d
Book debts 339.10s. 0d
Bonds and other securities 1213. 0s. 0d
As befitting a wealthy tradesman, Peter’s house contains a number of items regarded as luxuries in the late 18th Century. He has two grandfather clocks, Delft china, mahogany furniture and mirrors; the family also drank tea at a time when it was still an expensive indulgence, and out of reach of most people’s pockets. It is tempting to imagine he bought his clocks from his distant kinsman of Storrington, Edmund Linfield, clockmaker, who established his business there in the early 1750s. As an interesting observation, although they both had businesses in the same village, their fortunes ran in opposite directions: whilst Peter thrived, and his business grew from strength to strength, Edmund’s eventually failed and when he died in 1799, he was sadly an inmate of the local poor house.
Nevertheless, although his house was comfortably furnished, Peter was certainly not extravagant. The largest proportion of his personal wealth was invested in bonds and securities (some 1200) and his farm at West Chiltington, occupied by John Humphries. Rather than expend further resources on his personal consumption, Peter preferred to invest in the future security of his family. As a boy, he must have seen the reduced circumstances of many of his relatives at Nuthurst; the population explosion of the 18th Century meant that the old farming communities could no longer provide enough work for everyone. Many people were forced to seek work elsewhere, and quite a few made a success of it. Peter Linfield was undoubtedly one of those who prospered. Haunted by those youthful images of hardship and insecurity, Peter was determined to ensure that his own offspring had a good start in life, and he was prepared to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices to achieve it.
A cursory glance at his inventory would make anybody wonder whether Peter was a brewer foremost, and a butcher as a sideline! He certainly took his brewing seriously judging by the enormous quantities of beer stored in his cellars. But in the days when the water was too impure to drink, the only sensible alternative was to produce ale or beer in the home in sufficient quantities to satisfy personal needs. Beer was considered a healthy and nourishing drink, and most households would have made their own brew for personal consumption, especially as the ingredients were relatively inexpensive. The wives normally took charge of the home brewing, and Sarah was probably no exception. Even the children would drink it, which helps to explain why they needed such a large amount. But putting everything into perspective, the need to provide a continuous supply and have sufficient to entertain when called upon required careful calculation if they were not to run out prematurely and tea was still too expensive to drink in any quantity!
As a final thought, I wonder whether Peter ever returned to Nuthurst to visit his relatives. Both his brothers, John and William, stayed there to farm the land which their forebears had cultivated for generations, but whether they owned their land is impossible to say. The move towards larger farms during the course of the 18th Century saw the gradual disappearance of the traditional yeomen and husbandmen. The corresponding increase in population brought about a general decline in the overall living standards experienced in the rural parishes of Sussex, and I would imagine that Peter’s brothers found their life at Nuthurst became more and more difficult as the years rolled by. Peter was lucky – apprenticeship as a butcher, when he also presumably learned to read and write, and a personal flair for business, enabled him to escape from such hardship and insecurity. We are very fortunate that his will and inventory have survived to give such a vivid insight into his life.