Reflections from the President, December 1996
Browsing through the first nine issues of Longshot (1992-96), I am impressed by the energies of our Chairman, Malcolm and Secretary, Alan in establishing such a wealth of knowledge of the Lin(d)fields over the generations. I realise that their research work has opened up an extremely interesting family story and certain topics have suggested themselves as subjects for further investigation:
One topic might be the other Sussex families associated with the Lin(d)fields through marriage, such as the Stanfords and the Borrers. Perhaps we could invite a contribution from any family historian in those families.
Another interesting area would be the Lin(d)fields and their various religious quests, which appears so varied in a small family. We know that John Linfield was Archdeacon of Chichester in the early years of the 15th century (he died in 1440) but, as a lawyer concerned with civil law, he had contact with Rome for papal dispensations in connection with other benefices that he held. As I reported at one of our AGMs, he is worthy of more research some time. He bequeathed his better books on civil law and case law to All Souls College library, Oxford but only MS 55 has survived and can be seen at the library by prior appointment.
Malcolm has written extensively7 on the 17th and 18th century Quaker Linfields. The Worthing Linfields were prominent Methodists, and two of our members the Rev. Derek Lindfield and Alan Linfield have other non-conformist connections. I have sometimes called myself a Quaker Catholic but there were some years of my life when I was a member of the British Humanist Association and also in the 1950s I attended meetings of the London Buddhist Society where I met Christmas Humphreys, a Buddhist Judge who presided at some famous Old Bailey trials.
We also know that Peter Linfield, the Storrington butcher was a churchwarden at the Parish Church at some time when he was living at Palmers Farm, West Chiltington. There must be other family details. Additionally, we might ask members to write potted autobiographies of their working life.
Perhaps we could do a feature some time on celebrities we have met; Christmas Humphreys was very helpful in recommending books to me. Another Buddhist, whom I first met in the 1950s when he came to visit the school where I was teaching on thr edge of Epping Forest, was Professor UD Jayabekera of Colombo, Sri Lanka. We have corresponded at Christmas time for over 40 years – he is nearly 80 now but is a very interesting and scholarly man.
When I was at Cambridge I met poets and politicians, writers and jazz men, and many others. More recently, I have had close contact with Tracy, Marchioness Worcester who is a well known local environmental campaigner – the Times did an article on her last year.
Last October, through the kind service that Alan supplies, ordering copies of birth, marriage and death certificates from St. Catherine’s House, I solved one of my outstanding queries which should enable me to complete my picture of my father’s and grandfather’s story. I refer to it briefly in my article in Longshot Vol 3 No 2, pp. 51-53. Here are the details from the death certificate for Elizabeth Linfield – my aunt who died mysteriously in 1924. (My father was 33 when he had his accident and she died when she was 33, so my mother, a Knapp often said 33 was the Linfields’ unlucky number – avoid it if you ever buy a National Lottery ticket!) :
“12th November 1924. Found dead washed up by the sea at Pevensey Bay, Pevensey RD. Elizabeth Linfield, female, 33 years, General Servant (Domestic), at Buskoday Summerdown Road, Eastbourne. Found drowned on the beach at Pevensey Bay, washed up by the Sea. No evidence to show how she came to be in the water. Certificate received from G. Vere Benson, Coroner for Sussex. Inquest held Fourteenth November 1924.”
My aunt’s death remains a mystery as the coroner’s verdict was Accidental Death, but I have the documentary evidence of his views at the inquest now. Family history research would be much easier if we had GRO evidence of births, marriages and deaths before 1837 when it began; parish records, nonconformist records etc. are interesting but their searches are often very difficult. I well remember an afternoon in the summer of 1973 when I searched the West Chiltington Parish register in the church vestry.
The other interesting information also arrived in October, discovered by Rosemary Milton in researching old Sussex newspapers. It appears in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser of October 11 1779:
WHEREAS we EDMUND SEARL and PETER LINDFIELD, both of STORRINGTON, in the County of SUSSEX, Butchers, did appear before Sir Harry Goring, Baronet, one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County, in Pursuance of his Summons for that Purpose, at the Chequer Inn, in Steyning, on the 10th Day of February last, in order to prove that John Scardefield, of Storrington, aforesaid, had sold two Hares to Henry Baker, of the same place, Farmer; the said Sir Harry Goring, Baronet, having an Information thereof lodged before him by William Green, Esq. another of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County, and which we could have proved, but with great Contempt refused to be sworn for that Purpose; And whereas an Indictment hath been preferred against us for such our Contempt, and the same came on this day to be tried at the Quarter Sessions, at Petworth, in the said County, but at our earnest Request, and on our paying the Costs and Ten Pounds, to be distributed as the above-mentioned Justices of the Peace shall direct, the Court, with the kind Consent of our Prosecutors, forgave us, on our promising to ask Pardon in this public Manner, and paying the Money and Costs above-mentioned; We, therefore, hereby most humbly ask Pardon for such our scandalous Behaviour, and do acknowledge the great Goodness of the Court, and our Prosecutors, for their kind Forgiveness on such easy Terms, and do promise for ourselves, and recommend to every Body else, never to be guilty of the like Contempt to Magistracy in future. As Witness our Hands, this 5th Day of October, 1779. PETER LINDFIELD, EDMUND SEARL.
Malcolm, Alan and I have met occasionally at the Chequers in recent years for exchanging Lin(d)field information, so it seems that the Lin(d)field families have over 200 years association with that lovely old inn in the heart of Steyning High Street.
Once again, can I invite our Lin(d)field One Name Group members to submit some written record of their branch of an unusual Wealden family to the Editor.