Reflections from the President

In my early researches about the geographical and cultural origins of the Linfields, knowing that we were probably associated with the growing of flax, I wrote to the Linfield Football and Athletic Club, of Windsor Park, Donegall Avenue, Belfast, N. Ireland enquiring if there were any family connections. No link was established. However, since then Linfield Athletic have published ‘LINFIELD- 100 YEARS’ by Malcolm Brodie (1985) which describes its first hundred years since its foundation in March 1886. The following extracts are of interest and show that there are a number of associations with our ancient family name:

“There is no other football club in Ireland quite like Linfield. They are loved and hated. Loved by thousands of fans – some of whom have had their ashes scattered at Windsor Park while others were buried in their Linfield regalia. Hated down the years by the opposition for an implacable enmity, a fierce and relentless sporting rivalry has always existed between Linfield and all other teams.

The tradition of Linfield hits you the moment you step through the turnstiles or into the dressing and boardrooms at Windsor. They are a big club who never permit themselves to be parochial in outlook although they jealously guard their rights. Dignity and dedication are two essentials to being a Linfield player or official.”

“It is the proud boast of many Linfield fans that theirs is the bluest of the blue. It is a club with a distinctly Protestant following but, in answer to often-repeated criticism that they don’t play Roman Catholics, club officials point out there is nothing in the rules to prevent this. In fact, many of the distinguished players in the past have been Roman Catholics . . .”

“Everyone wants to triumph over the Blues. “I don’t care who wins so long as Linfield are beaten”, is a comment frequently heard. That has not happened too often for a search of the records reveals few seasons in which Linfield didn’t win a trophy nor have they ever applied for re-election to the Irish League. Supporters look upon success as commonplace and that is the way it has been down the years . . .”

“Everyone owes a supreme allegiance to Linfield but, through the club, they have helped by positive thinking to ensure Northern Ireland football marches on. Another century approaches and no doubt during it the name of Linfield will be in the forefront as it has been since that day in 1886 when the club was conceived in a linen mill . . .”

It was in the latter part of 1885 “that Bob McClurg, an employee in the Linfield mill of the Ulster Spinning Company, led a deputation . . . to ask directors permission to form a team and to use the ground at the back of the mill called “The Meadow”. This was granted and the company even offered the facilities of the dining hall where they had first discussed the prospects of setting up the club.”

“So in March 1886, the club, known as Linfield Athletic, was officially founded; it was decided to limit team membership to employees but it soon became evident that if success was to be attained, the doors had to be opened to all-comers. Therefore six outsiders were welcomed simply because they strengthened the side . . .”

“Throughout the summer of 1886 players trained assidiously, even during lunchbreaks. All wanted to play for Linfield, to be founder members. In the opening match against Distillery . . . Linfield won 6-5 . . . Distillery, already well established, had a highly competent side led by Matthew Wilson who was amazed at the performance of Linfield, nicknamed by the workers as ‘The Sprinters’. “You staggered us . . . we expected to beat a junior side”, he told committee members. That victory established the name of Linfield . .”

During the last few months, I have begun research into the life of George Hayler Linfield who left the SullingtonStorringtonWashington area in the early 1840s and worked for many years as a gardener at Brenchley, near Paddock Wood in Kent. He was one of the grandsons of Peter Linfield, the butcher of Storrington (see Longshot, Vol 2 No 1, May 1993 p. 10). I visited Brenchley for the first time earlier this year and I hope to go again in the Autumn. It’s a beautiful little village with a splendid view of the surrounding countryside from Castle Hill. The following is taken from our database and gives his family history in outline:

GEORGE HAYLER LINFIELD born abt. 1816, Sullington, occupation Gardener, married before 1844 in Brenchley, Kent, Anne born abt. 1812 Brenchley, Kent, living 1891, Castle Hill, Brenchley. George died 1892 (reg.Tonbridge). Anne shown in CR91 as aged 79, bn. Brenchley.


Bertha Hayler Linfield, b. 1844.
Elizabeth Ann Linfield, b. 1846. Occupation: School Matron in CR 1891.
Emma Josephine Linfield, b. 1848. Occupation: Cook domestic, living 1891 at Castle Hill, Brenchley.

Bertha married (i) Thomas Whibley, 21 Nov 1868 at Brenchley (ii) —– Hannaford, before 1920.

Database outlines such as the above give the basic information for my current research. My daughter, Janet Anderson (nee Linfield) lives at Larkfield, Kent about 10 miles from Brenchley.

Finally, a personal memory of my early respect for William Henry Borrer, the famous botanist, of Barrow Hill, Henfield. My family have always been great tree lovers and we valued the grandeur of the cedar trees planted in the little plantation on the left at the top of Barrow Hill. On the flint wall the Borrer family had placed a plaque saying the trees were planted with seed from Lebanon in 1843. I passed these trees every school day for the three years that I attended Henfield Boys (CE) Elementary School, 1928-31 before I began my grammar school education as a rural scholarship boy at Steyning, and often collected pine cones there. I was, of course, completely unaware then of the Borrer/Lindfield connection: William Borrer’s mother was Mary Lindfield (1758-1813), daughter and heir to Nathaniel Lindfield, owner of Pickwell in Cuckfield, which she brought by marriage in 1780 to William Borrer of Pakyns Manor in Hurstpierpoint. William Borrer, botanist, was born on June 13 1781. He died on January 10 1862. The following extract comes from The Story of Henfield by Henry de Candole, Vicar of Henfield (Cambridges, Hove, 1947):

On the upper slope of Barrow Hill, a “new mansion was built by his father for William Borrer the third, a great name in the Henfield of the 19th century. The Borrer family owned, and still own, Pakyns Manor in Hurstpierpoint bought by William Borrer the first in 1783. His son, William Borrer II, was High Sheriff of the county, raised a troop of Horse for defence against Napoleon, and is described as having proved “a very successful caterer for the needs of the crowds of men and horses assembled in Sussex” at the time of the Napoleonic scare. He already had connections with Henfield, and his son, William Borrer III, was born and baptised here in 1781 and showed his devotion to the place during a long life as a generous benefactor to the Church, Schools and village, and an originator of many schemes for their welfare. But his fame was more than local, for he was one of the leading botanists of his time, and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Tradition tells of a letter sent to him, and safely delivered, as “that illustrious man Wm. Borrer, England.” In particular, he was an authority on the plants of his own county and parish as the frequency of allusions to Henfield in the recent ‘Sussex Flora’ by Wolley-Dod (1937) amply testifies. “As soon as he had a home of his own,” we are told, “he betook himself to gardening, and amassed one of the best collections of plants ever grown in the English climate.” The garden at Barrow Hill was indeed famous; in 1860 his gardener made a list of over 6600 plants, the most remarkable of which were given at his death to Kew Gardens. Others of his family shared his interests, and are responsible for the red oaks, and for the cedars brought from Lebanon in 1843 and flourishing opposite Spring Hills. His eldest son William Borrer IV of Cowfold became an authority on ornithology and wrote ‘The Birds of Sussex’, in which may be found his startling record of having once seen no less than 14 golden orioles on a single bush on Henfield Common. But the glories of Barrow Hill are past; the house has been deserted since the death of Borrer’s granddaughter, and the once lovely garden is now, alas! a tangled wilderness.”

The last connection of the Lindfields with the Borrers was in the last century when Mr Lindfield Borrer still lived at Barrow Hill.

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