All posts by Mary Offer


L.    Looking back over the ages and climbing the Lin(d)field tree,

O.    On researching and hunting, good people emerge – though some we don’t care to see;

N.    Notable characters in all walks of life, though of some we haven’t a clue,

G.    Gentlemen born or butchers by trade, doctors, labourers, and pig breeders too!

S.    Some with families small or great, and with names we’ve never heard.

H.    How can it be that we have survived with genes from such a herd?

O.    Over the years their wives have cast a few more genes in the pot!

T.    Thinking it over I’ve come to feel – we really aren’t such a bad lot!

With apologies, Mary Offer.

Mary Offer Discovers – but too late!

My mother, as I have related in a previous article (see Longshot Vol. 8 No. 1), joined the ranks of the Lindfields at the age of 40. She came from an old Cornish family: her father was one of 14, born in a wee cottage – called a “farmhouse” – on the banks of the river Lyner. Only seven of the family grew up, and only two of them were boys! My grandfather was the elder of the two; the other – Richard Maynard – seeing no future, emigrated to Australia to work in the gold mines. Settling in Queensland, he married and began to rear 3 children.

Then a sad accident happened – he was killed while blasting the rock face. This was in 1864. Our family kept in touch for a number of years. One boy – Richard Absolom Maynard – became a missionary and was sent out to Kenya where he did well. During his working life among the natives, he spent considerable time with one tribe whose language had never been written down. Over the years he managed to transmit this into written words and eventually, after years of hard work, he was able to translate several of the books of the Bible into the language of the tribe! Then with the help of his wife they were able to teach young children to read and understand, in their own language. The Church had ordained him as a priest and he also became an Archdeacon – in Mombassa.

But long before this, the family in England and Australia lost all touch with them. My mother often wondered if there were any left of the lost branch. Later, after I was born and grew up as the only surviving child of my father’s family, I loved to hear my mother speak of this lost branch.

My father died when I was 17, and my mother and I lived together until I married. Being a Baptist minister, my husband was posted to a church in Eastbourne which had been bombed during the war. He was able to help with the restoration of the church and its congregation, remaining there for twenty years from 1947 till his retirement in 1968. My mother lived with us for the remaining years of her life. I got to know many people in Eastbourne as they returned to the town and among them was a large family of Maynards, mostly connected with a large furnishing company in the town. But they were not related to the Cornish branch as far as I knew.

Long after my mother had died, and my husband too – in fact, it was about 1998 – I received a ‘phone call from a complete stranger who claimed to be a relation! I answered her very cautiously, you may be sure! But to each of my questions she was able to give me the correct information. We wrote and exchanged family photos and so it was eventually proved that we both belonged to the same family. As a young teenager, she had left Australia and came to England where she married and now had two teenage children of her own. She was descended from the Richard Maynard who was killed in the mining accident; her grandfather was one of Richard’s sons, a brother of Richard Absalom the missionary. She was able to produce so much evidence of what had happened since. Marlo went on searching for months and was particularly interested in what happened to Richard Absalom. Through the Missionary Society she was told that when he retired from a long working life at the Mission, he and his wife had gone to England and not -as we would have expected – back to Australia!

Knowing this, we anticipated we might be able to find them in the records of Cornwall or Derbyshire, where his wife hailed from. But no! They had gone to Eastbourne! The Archdeacon had found a spiritual home in the Church of Holy Trinity in Eastbourne where he proffered his services as a helper for the ageing incumbent! This was in 1933. And here in the town he moved among the people for some 15 years.

We tried to discover his home. A local directory for 1939 listed the Rev. Richard A. Maynard in Willingdon Road, the road parallel to the one in which we were living at the same time! Oh the agony! Why didn’t I know? More searching through old newspapers revealed an obituary in 1953 and burial in the cemetery at the end of our road. It revealed the love and esteem with which he had been held.

Marlo also found more about his family. The elder son qualified as a medical practitioner and spent his life in Southampton, where we discovered a road named in his memory – Maynard Road. The second son was sadly killed whilst serving with the Royal Air Force during the war. The church at Holy trinity displays a small window in his memory. There were also two girls who continued to live at the house in Willingdon Road after the deaths of their parents. One has since died and we found the other still living – aged 92 – but living in a nursing home and sadly too senile to meet strangers researching their family history.

Oh why did I not find this out before?!! But at least I have found Marlo and her husband and family, but I do so want to tell my mother all about it! How thrilled she would have been.

So there it is . . . we found the missing branch in the end. And how glad I was! It was a most wonderful end to nearly a century of silence.

Some Early Memories

I found Alan Linfield’s article in our last newsletter on that terrible battle of the 1914-18 War – the Battle of the Somme – very stirring. I have often wondered what happened. I read the account of the young lives so freely given, with much feeling. My own dear father suffered – no, not more than – but with, thousands of other fond parents.

He had married at the age of twenty and he and his dear wife were justly proud of their “pigeon pair”. But sadly, as my brother and sister reached school age their mother died. My sister was taken by her maiden aunt and lived with her, as she cared for her ageing parents in the old home. But Israel Charles John remained with his father and was the ‘apple of his eye’.

Israel Charles John Avery Royal Fusiliers

After some six years Father married again and I believe it was a real love match. Soon another baby girl was born and cherished, of whom Issie became so fond that he told his Dad: “Don’t ever tell her she isn’t our real sister”. But when this little sister was only four, again sorrow entered the home and her dear mother died of cancer! Needing help my father advertised for someone to care for them and she who was to become my own dear mother saw the advert and applied. “Never shall I forget that dear little child in her little black frock, clinging shyly to her father”, she has told me since. “It went to my heart!”

This was 1914 and the War was commencing. Business was becoming more and more difficult. For convenience they moved to smaller premises. Then came the threat of conscription! My brother – then 22 – felt he could not wait for conscription and be forced to “go”! So like many other loyal men, he volunteered! This was in February 1916. Training followed and he was stationed near Dover. By July they were given “over-seas” leave. Knowing this was the real thing, he came to say “goodbye” to his dear ones – he made his will and visited the old haunts – for as he said – “this may be the last time?” He had always been very fond of horses and on the front cover you see him with his favourite pony “Greybird” driving his Dad around as he said “goodbye” to his friends.

There was I think one letter from him before he left for France. That was all. The next was a note from the War Office: “Wounded and Missing”. They waited – and waited – but no more! Days passed into weeks. All that could be said was “missing”. How were his dear ones to know the carnage of that awful month? Hope sometimes revived as hope will. Was he a POW? Nobody knew.

However as the days passed a little diversion occurred which perhaps helped to distract their poor minds. In September I was born! Dad had married the loving housekeeper who so lovingly took my little sister to her heart! And now, she too had produced yet again a baby girl. I was born into that home of sorrow and I like to wonder if my coming did in anyway comfort their sorrowing hearts? I only hope it was so.

Months passed and I grew into a toddler but still there was no news. “Is he a POW or will they ever find the body?” was always a background thought.

When I was four years old yet another sorrow entered our home: my sister, the one at home, developed cancer, evidently passed on from her late dear mother. My mother nursed her tenderly night and day to the end. She was thirteen.

But still there was no news! Newspapers often produced long lists of POWs being released from Germany, even as late as the mid 1920s. I can well remember the eager way my parents would search down the names. Once there was a name! The number was slightly wrong, but the initials were nearly right! Oh what conjectures! What agony! In my childish way I did not understand! I vaguely wondered what it was all about.

Then in 1925 I remember being told my elder sister had had a stroke! I remember how when visiting her with Father – he leaned over her to say “goodbye” as we were about to leave – he said “I wish I could bear the pain for you dear!” I remember thinking: “How could you say that? I don’t want to be ill!” I was an active child, bubbling over with energy and it seemed so awful to be willing to be ill. Callous little thing that I was! Two years later she had another stroke and died. But of Issie there was no word till 6th May 1930 when a buff envelope from the Imperial War Graves Commission came with the news that “it has now been possible to identify the burial place of Private I.C.J. Avery. The soldier’s grave was found at a point north of Beaumont Hamel and the remains were identified by portions of his kit bearing his regimental particulars”. So now we knew. The remains were re-buried at No 2 Beaumont Hamel Cemetery.

How many hundreds of households have suffered in the same way?

"They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old!
At the going down of the Sun and in the morning
We will remember them".


My brother Israel Charles John Avery (Royal Fusiliers 27651) was born on May 16th 1894 and died on August 4th 1916.

He was a son of Israel Avery and grandson of Martha Avery (nee Lindfield), great grandson of William Lindfield of Huggetts Farm, Chailey. He was a descendant of John Lindfield of Dean House, Hurstpierpoint.

The Avery and Beard Connections

Reading a Will made some 300 years ago, is rather like having a letter from a friend one has not seen for a very long time. How interesting are the items mentioned and those who were to receive them!

ANN BEARD, the daughter of JOHN BEARD of Woodmancote, was baptised there in 1613. She was married at Woodmancote on the 30th September 1641 to a certain JOHN LINDFIELD. And now, at the age of 62 – and from the Land Tax Records we know her to be a widow – she is making her Will. She may be already ill and in need of nursing, for the Will is witnessed by two women, one is ELIZABETH DOVE and the other is SUSAN AVERY, the eldest daughter of NATHANIEL AND SUSAN AVERY of Knowl’s Tooth, a very old farm house still standing in Langton Lane, Hurstpierpoint.

From the Will it appears that Ann’s family consisted of three daughters and a son. The eldest daughter Ann, is married to William Stone of The Nunnery, Rusper. Mary, who may later have married John Tilley, and Sarah, also there is a son, John Lindfield. This son was not the eldest child, therefore would have been contemporary in age with Susan Avery. It does seem likely that he was the John Lindfield whom Sarah Avery married – perhaps after the death of his mother?

Ann, who married William Stone, had a daughter Elizabeth, who became Mrs. Thomas Marchant of Little Park Farm, Hurstpierpoint. Thomas Marchant wrote an amusing and informative Diary, which is reproduced in the Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 25. It throws much light on the goings and comings of these local families and the name Lindfield is frequently mentioned.

But, to return to Susan Avery now, the wife of John Lindfield, after the birth of their son John Lindfield in 1676, Susan became a widow and Letters of Administration were granted to her on January 28th 1681/2. In 1680, on 27th August, is recorded the burial ofone John Lindfield at Hurstpierpoint. In 1684, on August 27th Susan married at All Saint’s, Lewes, Samuel Savage of Biggs, Cuckfield.

Susan’s mother, Susan Avery, refers in her Will dated 1689, to “the five children of Samuel Savage“. Whether they are all Susan’s or whether Samuel had been married before, I do not know. Susan Savage, in her own Will in 1718, refers only to one Sarah, who was baptised at Hurstpierpoint on 2,4th September 1686 and who married on February 1 Oth 1711 to John Stapley of Hickstead Place – thereby linking in again yet another notable family. John Stapley also kept a Diary and in it he mentions many points of interest which happened among our Ancestors in this locality.


The Winds of Change

Have you ever lain awake at night and, looking back over your life, wondered what it would have been like if just that little thing had not been allowed to have turned your feet into another course? Rather like a great express train is directed – just by flicking over a set of points which causes the great monster to go into a quite different direction. So it has been with our lives, little trifles so very small – hardly noticeable – have been used in God Almighty’s hand to direct our steps into quite a different path than we expected or that might have been. I believe in God, and believe that He had an over ruling hand in what happened in my life.

It so happens that in my family I can look back over 220 years and yet only then come to the birth of my great grandparents! My father was 49 when I was born, that was 80 years ago. My grandfather was 49 when my father was born. Then, strange to say, my great grandparents were both 44 when my grandfather was born, which brings it back to 1777 covering only 4 generations!

In another article I have told you how I listened to bits of conversation as I sat on the claw of the table under the chenille tablecloth. There i got the impression that my great grandmother Sarah had been a woman of some character. She was the daughter of a certain JOHN BURTON 1747-1835. John had come from a well connected family who had lived in Rottingdean for some 200 years. He had married a young lady in Newtimber, but sadly she had died only 6 months later. Then he met another lady who had just become a widow – ANN HYDER, and who had been left with 2 children and a large market garden. No doubt a mutual sympathy and an ability to help her brought them together. They married and had two daughters, one of whom was my great grandmother Sarah.

I get the impression that when Sarah met my great grandfather Allen who was the son of a very small farmer in Chailey, that it was felt that she had married beneath her! When later, John Burton made his will, he completely bypassed his son-in-law and made his grandson his heir. He made the necessary provision for his daughter Sarah during her lifetime. John owned the farm on which they were living and the adjoining farm on which he himself was then living, besides property in Brighton and the market garden and land in Hurstpierpoint, which had been his wife’s. This latter property he gave to his second daughter Barbara before his actual death. That Sarah was his favourite daughter was pretty obvious, as each of her children received a portion in his will. Her sister is stated in a codicil as having had her portion during his lifetime, and her children are not mentioned.

Sarah and Allen had 9 children. Ann, the eldest, married at the age of 20, a certain CHARLES TULLEY, and went to live at the mill farm at Scotches Farm at New Close, about two and a half miles from Fowls Farm, her old home. Here, on 23rd of March 1821, she gave birth to her little son Charles. After his birth she suffered much from postnatal depression. This caused her husband much anxiety, and one day while at work in the fields, Charles had such an impression that all was not well. At first he ignored it but it became so insistent that he dropped his tools and hurried home – only to find his fears well grounded – Ann was floating in the mill pond – dead!

Now, what to do with baby Charles? He was rushed up to Fowls Farm to grandma Sarah. She herself had been delivered of her youngest son John William on February 23rd. So, baby Charles was to be suckled by his grand mother. In after years John William would tell the story of this and laughingly say “ Yes, Charles had all the cream while I had only the skim milk!” It so happened that Charles was a tall finely built man while John William was short.

So, Charles and John William grew up together like twins, – uncle and nephew, – while Sarah ruled. So much so that when the boys became 13 they felt that enough was enough and they ran away! Charles went to Brighton and became a butcher’s boy. Speaking of this time he used to tell us of how, tired and footsore, he would have to walk through the streets carrying a wooden tray of meat on his shoulder. One day in particular he would recall how he sat down on a certain door step and burst into tears. But many years later he was able to buy the very house where he had sat!

He learned the trade of butchery and opened eventually his own shop and slaughter house. This was at St John’s Common, which at that time was fast becoming an important residential area owing to the nearby Pottery and Brick Works. After this he had his own farm at Pangdean and became a very noted breeder of Southdown sheep. So wealthy did he become that as his family married, he gave each a house, and built himself a house at Hassocks to which he and his wife and his one unmarried daughter retired. He lived to the ripe old age of 103 years and 11 months.

In his book, A Sussex Farmer, Mr William Wood writes: “At one of those fairs at Lindfield, a very dry year, .. ewes and lambs were in very poor condition and I came across a very large consignment.. . quite up to the standard of other seasons. The owner, Mr Charles Tulley of Pangdean Farm, sat on the wattles, and I congratulated him upon the fact that his sheep were as good as they always had been in spite of the drought. “Yes” he said, “nine years out of ten my flock keeps me, and when we get a year like this – I keep my flock.”

My grand father, John William ran in a different direction. He went to Chailey to his Uncle CHARLES AVERY of Longridge Farm, and became his carter boy. He was allowed to sleep in the attic, and he worked hard, one of his tasks being to take cattle to the market. He very soon became a very good judge of what was good or bad in cattle. This gift became very noticeable to other farmers. It got to the stage where they found it worth their while to get him to buy for them. In this way John began to get substantial tips and to store them away in his little room under the eaves.

Now on the opposite side of the road from Longridge is another farm originally known as “Huggetts”. But later it is known as “New House Farm”. A long row of Poplar trees had been planted along the road hedge at one time and while they were there the house was frequently known as the Poplars. About 1815 this farm was let to a WILLIAM LINDFIELD (Ref:#108 in database). He had been born at Keymer in 1788 as the son of Thomas and Sarah (n� Scrase). He had married first LYDIA STUBBS, but after the birth of their only child Frances, Lydia had died and William had married ELIZABETH WALKER in 1816. To her there were born 8 children and the lovely old house became a happy home to these youngsters. The great old farm house on the south side of the road had not been so blessed. Charles Avery was not married until much later in life. He did eventually marry the lady who had been his housekeeper so faithfully for so long. You can imagine my grandfather as a lad felt lonely at times, for “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” the saying goes! One little dark haired girl especially became a favourite with John William. He was five years older than she. It was not long before thoughts of the future began to form in his mind and being of necessity practical minded boy, he says “ I used to sit in my little attic window and look across to New House, count up my savings and try to work out how long it would be before I could marry Martha” (Ref: #224 in database).

Perhaps this was a good incentive to perseverance for we find that on March 26th 1841 at Chailey Parish Church John William married his heart’s desire- little Martha Lindfield though she was only 15! Yes, only just! After the service was over the Clergyman who married them said “If I had known you were so young I would not have done it! The marriage was witnessed by her father and mother so they must have had some confidence in him. For the first few months they lived at home with her parents but when their first child was born they are living at Ditchling. So I guess with intention to better himself John William is with Martha’s relatives at Ditchling learning how to be a butcher? Before the next child arrived they are settled at Stream Cottage, Wivelsfield Green, where they have a part of the house turned into a butcher’s shop with a small slaughter house at the rear. Here at Stream cottage were born nine children. By this time John their eldest son intends to get married so – again John William stops to think.

Martha Lindfield 1826-1874

Martha’s parents have died and the eldest son has decided to vacate New House. What could be better than for John William and Martha and their nine children to move back to New House and leave son John and his new wife in Stream Cottage. So, in 1864 they moved back to Martha’s old home and here was born the last of their 14 children, my own father being the 13th.

But sadly, in 1874 Martha died, not in childbirth but with appendicitis for which in those days there was no known cure. She was only 48 and my father lost a loving mother when he was only 6. But Grandfather was not to be daunted. The following year he married again and they had 3 more children, but my father said how kind his stepmother was to him.

But to return to great grandmother Sarah. During her life time the preaching of that great Evangelist George Whitfield and his great confederates had changed the lives of many families throughout England. At Great Ote hall in Wivelsfield, Salina Countess of Huntingdon had opened her house for preaching. The great William Romaine and others were guest speakers at her home. At last she built for the people of Wivelsfield a chapel now known as Ote Hall Chapel. The Burton Family were staunch Church of England attendants but somewhere along the line great grandmother Sarah and her family became Chapel attendants. The story went that Sarah who had been a keen card player, saw them image of Satan on the back of her cards and she put them down never to play again. Members of her family became much attached to Ote Hall Chapel and then there was a breakaway there, and Bethel Chapel was built. Children were often taken to chapels miles away to be named instead of being christened and because of the distance they were done in batches! In the case of William Lindfield’s family I eventually found them at Jireh Chapel Lewes where 4 of them were named in May I824. after Bethel Chapel opened batches of children were named there. When researching one needs to know a little about their lives and the signs of the times.

I wonder what future generations will remember about us.

How Did It All Begin?

At our recent A.G.M. our President was trying to encourage us to write more for “Longshot” and he suggested we might write what he called a “living obituary”. I have to go back a very long way as I have been interested in my family history for about 70 years.

As a very little girl first staring school, I was soon to find that other children and their home lives were very different from me and mine. What this difference was seemed something of a mystery to me and I began to notice things. Young children and especially girls, can be very unkind and I resented it when one catty little girl sneered “Your father is old enough to be your grandfather!” – I adored my father and to have him slighted put my back up. Continue reading How Did It All Begin?

The Avery Connection

At our AGM it was suggested we might find it interesting if we wrote about some of the families who inter-married into the Lindfield family. Being something of a mongrel myself, I welcomed the suggestion as I do think these contemporary families add colour and interest to our Lin(d)field line. They also tell us much of what life was like in those far off days. Continue reading The Avery Connection

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. Continue reading Martha Lindfield of Stream Cottage Wivelsfield