Martha Lindfield of Stream Cottage Wivelsfield

No Family History is complete without the proverbial skeleton in the cupboard. I was a long time before I found mine, and then, to my surprise, it was as close as my own Uncle. My father – as I have said in a previous article – was the 13th child of John William Avery who had married Martha Lindfield the daughter of William Lindfield 1788-1862 of New House or Huggetts Farm, Chailey, and his 2nd wife Elizabeth neé Walker.

Martha Lindfield (1826-1874), married John Avery in 1841. He was a butcher and lived in a small house in Wivesfield known as Stream Cottage; this has now been divided into two houses known as Stream Cottage & Averys. It consisted of a butcher’s shop and the dwelling part, with the slaughter house behind, and behind this was a field where the cattle were kept before needing to be slaughtered.

Martha and John had 13 children, most of whom were born at Stream Cottage. In about 1864, when their eldest son John was getting married to Mary Horton, John and Martha moved to Martha’s original home at New House Farm, about one mile up the road. Their son John was now 21, and he and his new wife took over the house and business at Stream Cottage. Their second son, Thomas Lindfield Avery, who was three years younger than John remained behind as an assistant and lodger.

Thomas was of a more lively disposition than his brother and spent much of his leisure time at the Cock Inn, just down the road. One evening in August 1865 as Thomas returned home, he found his brother John in the slaughter house dressing a sheep. Whether this was a task that Thomas should have done before going out we do not know, but John did reprimand him for some fault. Thomas was not in the mood to be corrected, having had quite as much drink as he could take, and an argument flared up, during which Thomas grabbed a knife off the bench and stabbed his brother in the stomach! A doctor was sent for, but John died from the stab wounds the next day. Consequently Thomas appeared before the Magistrates accused of killing his brother. He was committed for trial at Lewes.

A lengthy account of the inquest appeared in the Brighton Gazette, on August 24th. This must have been a great trouble to Martha and William, who were Godly people attending Bethel Chapel at Wivesfield, and were much respected in the locality. Early in 1866, John’s widow gave birth to their daughter Ellen. A wonderful provision was made for Ellen, as her mother married again later in the same year, to her late husband’s cousin, William Avery of Manns Farm. So Ellen was provided with a father of the same surname, and grew up with her brother and five sisters of that family.

But what of Thomas Lindfield Avery? Where did he go? What verdict was passed on him? It has been said that he died in Canada, but this has not been proved. The census of 1871 shows him living at New House Farm with his parents, so if he went to Canada it was after this. I wonder if I will ever know?

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