Frederick Caesar Linfield and family c. 1892
The formal portrait shown above depicts Worthing Councillor Frederick Caesar Linfield and his family, c. 1892. Frederick was the youngest son of William and Anne Linfield of Worthing, and was born on 23 September 1861. His name has appeared several times in previous issues of Longshot, and include stories about the disastrous fire which severely damaged his work premises in 1889 (he was a corn merchant) and his enthusiasm for the telephone, when he became one of the first people in Worthing to have it installed in 1886.
Frederick was actively involved in local politics, and became one of the first councillors at Worthing when the borough was incorporated in 1890. Promoted to Alderman in 1893, he was Mayor of the town between 1906 and 1908 and remained on the council until 1915. He then moved with his wife to London to pursue his political ambitions, which eventually saw him elected as Liberal Member of Parliament for Mid-Bedford in 1922. During the First World War, he worked in the Ministry of Munitions Inventions Department and was awarded the MBE. In 1924, he was a member of an East African Parliamentary Committee, which visited Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya and Zanzibar.
Frederick married Kate Ayres, a dressmaker on 10 April 1884. They had two sons and two daughters. She is shown in the photograph with their eldest son, Frederick William (grandfather of our membership secretary, Barry Linfield) born 23 January 1885, and their daughter Beatrice Kate, born in 1888. Another son, Herbert John (Jack), was born on 24 July 1892, and another daughter, Mary Gertrude, who was born in January 1896. Sadly, they lost both their daughters in 1896, Kate at the age of 7, and Gertrude at 9 months. Their little gravestones can still be seen at the cemetery in South Farm Road, Worthing.
Kate died in February 1929; Frederick lived another ten years, and died on 2 June 1939 at his home in Balham. He was buried in a grave next to his wife at the South Farm Road Cemetery.
The photograph on the front cover shows his mother, Anne Linfield who was the only daughter of Benjamin Julius Caesar of Godalming. Her brother was the famous Surrey and England cricketer, Julius Caesar whose tragic life has been the subject of a previous article in Longshot.
Incidentally, I have a couple of interesting items that belonged to this lady: the first is a very worn kitchen spoon, which she had apparently used all her life for cooking, whilst the other is her fascinating birthday book. This little document provided a very valuable piece of genealogical information since it records the date of birth and death of her father-in-law, Henry Linfield who was born on 4 May 1796, and died in Brighton on 5 November 1873. Henry moved about quite a bit during his life, and when his children were born in the 1820s he was working as a gardener (perhaps a market gardener) in Croydon. But where did he come from?
Having the date of his birth proved an extremely useful clue. It was whilst researching the parish registers of Nuthurst in West Sussex that I discovered that a Henry Linfield was baptised on 12 June 1796, son of James and Elizabeth Linfield. Could this be him? The baptism date would fit perfectly. Henry lost his wife in 1826 during childbirth, so I wondered whether he may have remarried. Through trial and error, I managed to find that indeed he had: in 1842, he married a widow, Harriet Ann Plumridge, a bootmaker’s daughter, in Middlesex. I was convinced this was the right marriage because the informant on Henry’s death certificate was H.A. Linfield. But crucially, the marriage certificate gives the name of Henry’s father, ‘James Linfield, deceased’. I’ve still to find a census entry for Henry, which should confirm his place of birth as Nuthurst.
Henry had obviously left Nuthurst as a young man to “seek his fortune elsewhere”. Agricultural depression was severe in Southern England after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and remote rural parishes like Nuthurst could only provide a modest living for a limited number of people.