My Early Researches

My real interest in the LINFIELDS began after my father, George Mark Linfield, died in 1953. I had met his father, also George Linfield, vary rarely, as he had remarried after his wife’s death in 1917 and lived latterly at Firle, near Lewes, whereas we lived at Henfield. My mother (neé Annie Knapp) moved to Shoreham-by-Sea in 1955 to live with my sister, and she kept me posted with West Sussex news by sending me newspapers and newspaper cuttings. Indeed, it was a newspaper cutting from the Worthing Herald in November 1963 sent to me here at Saltford, a village on the Avon half-way between Bath and Bristol where I still live, that stimulated my first researches into the LINFIELD family tree and my own links with it.

This cutting was an article describing the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Evelyn May Page (neé Linfield) and Joe Page, caretakers of the village hall in Storrington for 47 years. Here is the relevant paragraph quoted from the long article:

“May Linfield is a member of what is certain to be the oldest Storrington family. The family tree carefully prepared and neatly laid out by H. Stanford Smith of Cambridge is a remarkable document. It goes back to John Sayers of Wiggonholt in 1382. Stanford Smith, the genealogist, is another of the family’s roots, the Stanfords having been in Dingley, Berkshire, back in 1162. On the Linfield side, the lineage goes back to a Burgess of the City of London and a judge pre-1066. The Linfields in succession are found in Rusper, Ashington, West Grinstead and Nuthurst, where they were from 1524 to 1724, when they moved to West Chiltington, later to Storrington, where Peter Linfield was the local butcher. They have been in Storrington ever since.”

I wrote to Mrs. Evelyn Page and we corresponded for several months; she kindly loaned me her copy of the famous STANFORD-LINFIELD tree produced by H. Stanford Smith in 1953, and I managed to have it photo-copied on a large machine in Bristol (photocopying was in its infancy then).

In 1963, I had moved to Saltford to take up my new post as a Senior Lecturer in Education at the City of Bath Teacher Training College at Newton Park, so I was very busy in the 1960s with my college work. My actual researches at the Public Record Office, Somerset House, and at the West and East Sussex Record Offices began in earnest in the late 60s and early 70s, and I spent many hours in these offices.

I had my father’s birth certificate and my grandfather’s marriage certificate, sufficient documentary evidence to begin with, but I was really concerned to see if they could be fitted in to the Stanford Smith tree. Eventually, after some difficulty in tracing my grandfather’s mother, Elizabeth Linfield, as grandfather had been born illegitimately in 1862, I managed to fit us in to the Peter Linfield (Storrington butcher) branch of the tree, which Stanford Smith had never completed. I found one or two small errors in Stanford Smith’s researches, but he was very accurate on the whole. I understand that he was a retired Brighton surveyor and estate agent. I was lucky to meet Katie Linfield of Steyning in the 1970s, who was one of his distant cousins who had met him and had corresponded with him in the 1950s. We have some of their letters in the archives, but it needs an article in a future newsletter to evaluate the contribution that the Stanford Smith researches have made to the development of Linfield family history in recent years.

Many of you reading this newsletter will have had a copy of the Stanford Smith tree, for in September 1973 I decided to circularise all the Linfields listed in the telephone directories of England, Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland with some details of my own research and a request for further assistance. The magnificent response to this letter enabled me to separate the Littlehampton/Angmering branch of Linfields from the rest and I was able to make contact with many other Linfields, including Malcolm Linfield, whose recent researches have been so valuable.

As a family, we are fortunate in having a not very common name and in that our ancestors lived mainly in the Sussex Weald. The fact that they tended to be content with that beautiful area of Sussex, makes research easier. One hopes that one day our researches will be complete, so far as is possible, and the full LINFIELD story can be told.

I was very fortunate in my searches of the 1851, 1861 and 1871 Census Returns for establishing certain family facts, and the West Sussex Record Office provided me with a photocopy of Peter Linfield’s 1788 will, which has been invaluable throughout. One of the most interesting aspects of all my Linfield researches is the discovery of some of the places where my ancesters lived, in buildings still standing, such as Palmers Farm in West Chiltington and Old Clayton Farm in Sullington. Perhaps I should go round and photograph these old buildings to form a pictorial record of some of my ancestors’ homes.

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