Ralph Parkinson Linfield: An Update

In Longshot Vol 2 No 1 (May 1993), I wrote an article about CAREY HAMPTON BORRER, rector of Hurstpierpoint and amateur genealogist whose papers are now kept at the West Sussex Record Office. His research into the Lin(d)fields of Cuckfield and Hurstpierpoint led him to write a letter of enquiry to RALPH PARKINSON LINFIELD, a fellow clergyman, and vicar of St. Stephen’s, Elton, near Bury in Lancashire. Since his reply is preserved in the Borrer archive, I fully reproduced the contents which are of considerable interest, especially his claim that his grandfather was born in the Sussex village of Storrington and that as a boy he remembered visiting the churchyard and seeing the grave of his great grandfather. Unfortunately, Ralph gave no details of his immediate predecessors, but subsequent research has now revealed their identities and we are able to show exactly how he fits into the Storrington branch.

RALPH PARKINSON LINFIELD made a will in 1909, which was proved in 1913. There is no mention of any wife or children, so he may well have been a bachelor up to the time of his death. Describing himself as a “Clerk in Holy Orders,” he appoints his two ‘friends’, GEORGIANA GREY WILSON of Richmond in Surrey, and JOSEPH BROWN, Mill Manager of Bury to be his executors and trustees. His will may be summarised as follows:

£100 to his housekeeper, ANN MARIA STONE.

£100 to his godson, RICHARD LINFIELD WILSON, son of his half cousin William Herbert Wilson.

£100 to his goddaughter, ETHEL ANNIE BEATRICE QUIN.

In order to pay his legacies, debts and funeral expenses, he directs his executors to dispose of his personal estate, including his cottage and garden on Brierley Common near Barnsley (in Yorkshire). The residue to be invested in a trust fund for the benefit of AGNES RUTH WILSON, ALAN JAMES RICHMOND WILSON, JOHN HENRY WILSON and GEORGE FREDERICK WILSON, children of his late half cousin JAMES HENRY WILSON and the said GEORGIANA GREY WILSON.

His trustees to use part of the yearly income from these investments towards the education of these children, and to re-invest any residue at their discretion.

RALPH PARKINSON LINFIELD was born in 1843, and died on 14 December 1912. Probate was granted to GEORGIANA GREY WILSON at Manchester on 10 March 1913. Intriguingly, he left a considerable sum for those days – £11,453 12s 11d – much more than most clergymen! He is listed in the Alumni Oxoniensis as matriculating from Queen’s College, Oxford on 23 October 1862, aged 19; BA 1866; MA 1869.

The Calendar of Wills at Somerset House has subsequently revealed that both of Ralph’s parents made wills. His father was RALPH LINFIELD, an ironmonger of Wakefield in Yorkshire, who died on 25 February 1866. Since his will is quite short, the document12 is reproduced here in full:

WILL OF RALPH LINFIELD13 OF WAKEFIELD 1866 (Ref. in database #1568)

This is the last Will and Testament of me Ralph Linfield of Wakefield in the County of York Ironmonger which I make publish and declare in manner following that is to say First I direct all my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses to be first paid and discharged by my Executrix as soon as conveniently can be after my decease. I give and bequeath unto my dear wife Sarah all my household goods furniture plate linen china and all my Stock in trade book and other debts moneys and securities for money and all other my personal estate and effects to and for her own absolute use and benefit. And I appoint her sole Executrix of this my Will. In Witness whereof I the said Ralph Linfield have to this my last Will and Testament set my hand this fourteenth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty eight – R. Linfield –

Signed published and declared by the said Ralph Linfield the Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses- Henry Lumb – Sam: Fenton Heald – Elizabeth Lumb – 3 folios.

Proved at Wakefield the 28th day of March 1866 by the oath of Sarah Linfield widow the Relict the sole Executrix to whom Administration was granted,

The testator RALPH LINFIELD was late of Wakefield in the County of York Ironmonger and died on the 25th day of February 1866 at Wakefield aforesaid – Under £2000.

A crucial piece of useful information from this will is the name of his wife – Sarah – and since a SARAH LINFIELD of Wakefield had a will proved in 1881, it wasn’t too difficult to make the connection. She made her will in 1870, and appoints her son RALPH PARKINSON LINFIELD as executor. His mother would appear to be the primary source of his wealth since she refers to a deed of settlement made before her marriage to RALPH LINFIELD in order to separate her personal property from his. Her main bequests can be summarised thus:

(1). To pay the annual income from the sum of £500 she has invested in the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board to her sister ANN PARKINSON for life, and , after her death, to her said son, Ralph.

(2). All the remainder of her personal estate including her “messuage lands cottages tenements and hereditaments whatsoever” to go to her said son, RALPH PARKINSON LINFIELD.

Sarah died on 13 May 1881 and her will was proved at Wakefield on 31 May. Her total effects came to under £5000, a very considerable sum for the 1880s, and could well explain how, through shrewd and careful investment, her son was worth over £11,000 some thirty years later.

Armed with the helpful information divulged from these probate records, the next logical step was to try and find the marriage certificate for Ralph and Sarah Linfield. Sure enough, a RALPH LINFIELD and SARAH PARKINSON were married in 1842; and since marriage certificates also name the father of the bride and groom, it allows us to go back another generation. They were married in the parish of Hemsworth in the County of York on 9 July 1842. Ralph’s father is entered as THOMAS LINFIELD, butcher (late deceased) and Sarah’s as PAUL PARKINSON, farmer (late deceased). The fact that Sarah’s father was a farmer helps to explain how she had inherited quite a bit of property before her marriage – especially if she had been an only child; equally, the fact that Ralph’s father had earned his living as a butcher is highly suggestive of a possible connection with the Storrington branch.

Thanks to the IGI, we didn’t have to look very far to find the missing link. Apparently, a RALPH LINFIELD, son of Thomas and Elizabeth, was baptised at Richmond in Surrey on 4 May 1810. And from the parish registers of Storrington in Sussex, a THOMAS LINFIELD married ELIZABETH JOAN SKINNER on 7 July 1801. Since this couple make no further appearance in the Storrington registers or, for that matter, in any of the other neighbouring parishes, all of which have been extensively checked, it would be a reasonable hypothesis to assume that they left the area soon after their marriage, probably to find work. By a process of elimination, Thomas must be the son of PETER AND SARAH LINFIELD, who was baptised at West Chiltington on 19 April 1776. Since PETER (1734-91) established a very successful butchers’ business in Storrington in 1779, it is interesting to observe how all of his sons became involved at some time or other in the butchering business, but only the eldest son, WILLIAM (1769-1835), continued to trade in Storrington. Presumably the others were forced to move away in order to find enough customers to support them. We know that Edward Linfield (1774-1861) moved to Sullington, but it would be interesting to know what made Thomas decide to go as far as Richmond.

In my previous article (Longshot Vol 2 No 1), I stated that RALPH PARKINSON LINFIELD was probably a great grandson of PETER LINFIELD (1734-91), who started the long association of the Linfields with this Sussex Downland village. We can now safely say that this is, indeed, the case. His grandfather was THOMAS LINFIELD of Storrington, who, in order to make a successful living in the family trade of butchering, decided to go much further afield than his brothers where, presumably, there was less competition. So after his marriage to ELIZABETH SKINNER in 1801, they probably moved away from Sussex altogether, and certainly by 1810 they were living in Richmond. Whether they had any other children before Ralph is unknown, but highly likely. We will probably never know what made their son move much further away, to Yorkshire, but, undoubtedly, he too was motivated by the need to find work and for some reason or other, he established his ironmongery business in Wakefield.

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