The Storrington Linfields & their poor relations of Sullington and Washington: part 2

My first instalment of this family history of my branch of the Linfield tree (Longshot, Vol 2 No 2) needs some clarification, as some confusion may occur if one fails to realise that PETER LINFIELD’S (1734-91) two sons, WILLIAM (1769-1835) and EDWARD (1774-1861), both had two sons named WILLIAM and HENRY. They can be seen on the Register format listing in the article on the Monk’s Gate murder elsewhere in this issue. Peter’s eldest son, William, married HARRIET STANFORD and formed the trunk of H. STANFORD SMITH’S researches in the 1950s. Both WILLIAM, and his brother, EDWARD, my great great great grandfather, were both described as butchers in various documents, but it is obvious that the major Linfield farming interests in Storrington were the inheritance of his sons, William and Henry and not his nephews, William and Henry, my direct ancestors. We can only fill in the story of the fifty years from Peter’s death in 1791 to 1841 by some future research into the archives of the Egremont/Wyndham family of Petworth House, especially any details of land ownership and farm tenancies (See Joan Ham: Storrington in Georgian and Victorian Times, 1991 and Lord Egremont: Wyndham and Children First, Macmillan, 1968.)

Peter’s second son, EDWARD had twelve children and Henry, whose photograph appeared on the cover of Longshot, Vol 3 No 1, was his fourth son. Henry appears to have led a hardworking life on the Sandgate Estate, and was not so fortunate as his brother PETER, who worked on his father’s market garden at Water Lane. My own early researches to discover where I fitted in to the Stanford Smith tree revealed that Henry was very unfortunate in losing his first wife, FRANCES GOODYER, when she was 26, after only four years of marriage. This was in 1834. This tragedy may be one of the causes of the chequered career of their daughter, ELIZABETH, my grandfather’s mother.

Elizabeth was only four months old when her mother died, and in the 1841 Census Return for Sullington Parish, it appears that she went to live with her uncle and aunt, WILLIAM and SARAH, and her cousins MARY, WILLIAM, THOMAS, HENRY, GEORGE and JAMES. In 1851, Elizabeth, then aged 17, was living with her father, stepmother Jane and her father, THOMAS WHEATLAND, aged 77. Ten years on, in 1861, she is recorded as a domestic servant at Clayton Farm with the Barnard family. My grandfather GEORGE LINFIELD’S birth certificate records that he was born on May 4th 1862. JOAN HAM, who has been researching the diaries of CANON PALMER, kindly supplied me with the following entries, illustrating the awesome occasion of his christening:

1862 6 July:

“In afternoon a christening of a bastard child of Elizabeth Linfield – a very bad case indeed – the second. I spoke to this woman and that some shame is left I had proof by tears.”

and on 7 August:

“Spoke to the poor H. Linfields about Elizabeth and must see whether something cannot be done for them. She seems impenitent.”

My hunches suggest that Elizabeth was rather a lost soul without her mother, and found it easy to engage in amorous activities in her search for love, resulting in the birth of her two illegitimate children, HENRY, when she was 24, and GEORGE, my grandfather, when she was 29. She eventually married GEORGE BERRY, a widower with three children by his first wife, Mary Ann, in the early 1860s. My grandfather lived with them as a stepson for several years. In the 1871 Census Return they are living at Sparrows Cottages, Ashington, with an extended family of four additional children, WALTER (6), ALFRED (4), JANE (1) and another baby boy two days old. At the cottage next door, George Berry’s father and mother lived, HENRY BERRY (89) and ELIZABETH (73). The Berry family continued to have their home in Findon village, and both Nepcote Lane and the Street are mentioned in the 1881 and 1891 Census Returns. In 1891, George Berry is shown as 70 and my grandfather’s mother as 56.

By this year, my grandfather, George, had married KATHERINE LEACH at Clapham Parish Church on July 18th 1885. They were living in April 1891 at Sheepcombe Cottages, just below Cissbury Ring in the Findon Valley (now converted into a large flint built house), and had two children, FREDERICK, my uncle, and GEORGE, my father. After Findon, they moved to Shermanbury where my grandfather, father and uncle all worked on the Ewhurst Manor estate for their kind and liberal landlord Sampson Copestake, who built a cottage for our family and another for his chauffeur next door!!

In the First World War my father, GEORGE MARK LINFIELD served for three and a half years in India on the North West Frontier as a bandsman with the Royal West Kent Regiment, having married my mother ANNIE KNAPP at Henfield Parish Church in 1915. His bachelor brother, Fred, my uncle was killed near Arras, France in April 1917. He is buried in a beautiful War Graves Commission cemetery near the little village of Croisilles. In 1991, I visited his grave; it was a very moving experience, as his tombstone was one of the few with an inscription, which read as follows: “DEAR FRED NEVER FORGOTTEN BY YOUR LOVING FATHER.” His death precipitated my grandmother’s death in 1918 at Shermanbury. My grandfather remarried in 1919, EDITH CHATFIELD, a widow and retired farmer’s daughter.

Unfortunately, my father had a serious accident whilst tree-felling at Woodmancote Place in December 1922 and his sister, Elizabeth was found drowned on Eastbourne beach, a year later. My father never worked again as a result of his crippling injuries, and, eventually died in 1953, after years of constant pain and continuing complications needing regular hospital treatment.

My sister, EILEEN, born in August 1922 and myself, born in April 1921, have both survived into our seventies and are now the last Linfields on our branch.

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