Category Archives: News

Annual General Meeting 2016

This year the AGM will be held on 24th September at the usual location, Southview, Copsale Road, Maplehurst, Horsham RH13 6QY. As always, we invite members to join us at the White Horse pub (3 minutes walk from my house) for lunch beforehand, and the formal meeting will commence at 3pm.

Please ask if you need directions, the phone number is 01403 864389 or my mobile is 07484 606006. It would be helpful to know in advance if you are coming so that we can organise a big enough cake for the end of the meeting!

The Future of LONG

As we announced at the AGM, we feel that after 21 years of operation, we need to consider how to manage the Group in the future in the light of several factors:

  • a steadily declining membership
  • the general lack of contributions by members of material for publications (though with some honourable exceptions for which we are very grateful!)
  • the lack of members who are willing to join the Committee or assist with the running of the Group
  • the trend towards electronic exchange of information and the decline and cost of printed matter Continue reading The Future of LONG

A Tribute To Eric’s Life in Education

The following tribute to Eric was given by friend and former work colleague Don Bourne at a Thanksgiving Service on Thursday 29th August, 2002 at St. Mary’s Church, Saltford. We are very grateful to Don for his kindness in allowing us to reproduce it here for the benefit of a wider audience. Don was one of Eric’s many friends – for a total of 39 years – 21 of them as a colleague at Newton Park College, Bath. Continue reading A Tribute To Eric’s Life in Education

Eric Linfield – An Appreciation

It is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of Eric Linfield. Eric died peacefully in Bath Hospital after suffering a stroke on 16th August 2002. He was 81. Eric was, of course, the first President of the Lin(d)field One Name Group, from the moment of its inauguration in February 1992 until he stood down in 1999.

As family historians, we owe an enormous debt to Eric. His interest in family history was ignited by a newspaper article he read in 1963 describing the Golden Wedding celebrations of Evelyn May Page (nee Linfield) and Joe Page, who were caretakers of the Village Hall in Storrington. This article explained how Harry Stanford Smith had done some research on the Linfields during the 1950s, and had drawn up a detailed family tree going back to the time of the Anglo-Saxons. Eric duly wrote to May Page who provided him with a copy of the famous Stanford/Linfield tree. College work kept him very busy throughout the 1960s, but from the late 60s/early 70s, Eric began his research in earnest, spending many hours at the Public Record Office and at the West and East Sussex Record Offices.

After some early difficulties, Eric eventually managed to fit his branch into the Stanford Smith tree. He was able to show how he descended from Peter Linfield (1734-91), Farmer and Butcher of Storrington, through a younger son, Edward Linfield (1774-1861), who had a market garden at Sullington. I remember his immense pleasure when I was able to send him a photograph of his great great grandfather, Harry Linfield (1807-78), who was a farm labourer on the Sandgate Estate for over 50 years. This pictorial treasure, which shows Harry wearing a traditional Sussex smock, had been discovered by local historian Joan Ham in a book of old photographs belonging to the Carew-Gibsons of Sandgate House.

Eric was born on 25 April 1921 in the Sussex village of Henfield, son of George Mark Linfield and Annie Knapp, who were married in 1916. His sister Eileen followed in August 1922. Unfortunately, his father had a serious accident whilst tree-felling at Woodmancote Place in December 1922, and he never worked again. His childhood was far from easy, but Eric was an intelligent and very able child who was able to do extremely well for himself at school. Between 1928 and 1931, he attended the Henfield (CE) Elementary School, before moving to Steyning Grammar School as a rural scholarship boy. He was called up to serve during the Second World War, spending the latter part of the conflict in France. On returning to England in 1945, he went to university, initially at Oxford for a year and then to Cambridge, where he read Moral Sciences, specialising in Psychology in Part II. Later on, he took a second degree, a M.Ed. in Curriculum Theory, at Bristol.

After graduating, Eric decided to become a teacher and after a number of appointments around the country, he moved with his wife Sheila (they were married in December 1956) and their young family – they had two daughters, Janet and Julia – to Saltford in order to take up a new post as a Senior Lecturer in Education at the City of Bath Teacher Training College at Newton Park. This was in August 1963. Here he remained until retirement in 1984, a well-liked and approachable figure, with an irrepressible enthusiasm for knowledge across a wide range of subjects – family history being just one of them! He continued his part-time tutoring for the Open University until 1988, something he had started in 1975.

I first made contact with Eric in 1973, to answer a letter he had sent to the West Sussex Gazette (which my grandfather had noticed and passed on to me). This was just before he sent out his mailshot to every Linfield in the UK telephone directories, appealing for others to help him in his quest to build upon the original researches of Stanford Smith. His eventual aim was to write and publish a pamphlet or book about the Linfield story. In his letter, Eric asks to hear from any readers who might have remembered his grandfather George Linfield, who married Katherine Leach at Clapham in 1885. Katherine was in service at Castle Goring, whilst George was a cowman. I wrote to Eric, stating my interest in family history, and so began a regular correspondence which continued for the next 29 years!

Eric’s letters were always very helpful, full of encouragement and useful tips on how to proceed with a particular piece of genealogical research. We would often up-date each other with our successes, and I was most pleased when I was able to tell him that I had finally found the link connecting my own particular branch with the Stanford Smith tree. This resulted from his suggestion that I ought to have a detailed look at the Nuthurst parish registers, where I discovered the baptism of my great great great grandfather, Henry Linfield on June 12th 1796. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that Eric knew I would find this link, since it was rather odd that he had recorded the baptism of Henry’s sister Ann in 1792 but had apparently ‘missed’ the entry for Henry! I first met Eric and Sheila in person when I was invited to meet them at their home in Saltford towards the end of 1978. I was immediately struck by Eric’s infectious enthusiasm, as all these boxes of books and papers were miraculously produced and their contents duly scattered about the living room floor. Poor Sheila!

Eric enjoys himself at the Group’s 10th Anniversary event at the Old School, Storrington on June 1st 2002

Eric enjoys himself at the Group’s 10th Anniversary event at the Old School, Storrington on June 1st 2002.

When we both met Alan Lindfield for the first time in July 1991, the whole business of the Linfield family history was suddenly transformed into the computer age. Alan explained how he had set up a database of Lin(d)field records and we were both mesmerised with the new possibilities that this modern technology could offer. One of the outcomes of this fruitful meeting was the decision to set up of a Lin(d)field One Name Society, something which greatly appealed to Eric because it represented a new and exciting phase in the development of the family history. It would bring together many more people who would be able to help with the research, whilst the publication of a members’ journal fulfilled Eric’s hopes that parts of the family story would be properly recorded for future generations.

Eric contributed regularly to ‘Longshot’, mainly with articles about his Sullington ancestors and his thoughts on possible avenues for future research. He was aptly appointed the first President of the group, and his letters of encouragement were a great support to Alan and myself as the project gradually unfolded. We were both very pleased that he was able to attend the 10th anniversary of the Group at Storrington on June 1st, when he thoroughly enjoyed himself and was able to meet many of the people with whom he had corresponded over the years.

Eric was also a very generous benefactor of books from his extensive collection, at one time, I believe, numbering some 20,000 volumes! We reported in an earlier edition of this journal how he donated his collection of books on humour to the library at the University of Kent in Canterbury.1 He also gave his fascinating collection of books on Sussex – some 98 volumes – to the recently established Storrington and District Museum, and this forms the nucleus of their fledgling library. A condition of this gift was that members of the Lin(d)field One Name Group can borrow any of these books to help them with research work. 2

Needless to say, we are going to greatly miss Eric’s words of wisdom and encouragement. He achieved so much in the field of family history as, indeed, he did in so many other areas. It was a privilege to have known him, and I shall always fondly remember the times when we enjoyed a pint or two in one of the local hostelries as we animatedly discussed some of the finer details of this strange hobby that had brought us together. Eric was unique, a loyal and kind friend and on behalf of us all, I would like to express our condolences to Sheila and their two daughters, Janet and Julia and their respective families.

1 The Linfield Library of Humour, by Malcolm Linfield in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 4 No. 1 (June 1995) p. 25.

2 If any member would like a copy of this list of books, please contact me directly.

Public Meeting and Reunion to Celebrate 10 years of the Group

Next year sees the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Group, and to celebrate this fact we are arranging a public meeting to coincide with the Annual General Meeting. The meeting will serve several purposes:

  • It will be an opportunity for some press coverage which might bring new members
  • It will be a social occasion for existing and new members to meet
  • It will include the AGM
  • It will attract potential members
  • It will attract those who could contribute data about branches of the families, even if their connections were remote and did not lead them to join the Group immediately
  • It will be an opportunity to send a mailshot to all the Lin(d)fields listed in the electoral rolls and phone books, which will bring some new members from people who were too distant to travel to the meeting.

The meeting will be held on 1st June 2002 at the Old School at Storrington, which we have used for the two last AGMs. The building has two main rooms, one of which will be used by the caterers to set up for lunch, whilst the larger room will contain the displays and meeting areas for the various family branches. The Storrington and District Museum is also located in the same building and is intending to set up an exhibition about prominent local families of which the Linfields are one.

A buffet lunch will be available. This will be optional, and visitors will be welcome to drop by for an hour or less without taking lunch. We will however need to know the numbers in advance for catering purposes. There will be a reply form in the mailshot, with a request for payment in advance for those wanting lunch. Tea, coffee and cold drinks will be available throughout the day. Lunch will cost £6.50 per head, and every visitor will be offered a free glass of wine or soft drink on arrival, whether or not they are having lunch.

The displays will be organised on the basis of the various branches. Each display area will need a host or hostess, preferably from the branch concerned, who will welcome visitors, introduce them to their distant cousins and answer their questions. We hope that members of the Group will volunteer to help in this way for all or part of the day.

We have been planning for some time to send a further mailshot to attract new members, and we will combine this with an invitation to the meeting. This will include a letter introducing the Group and inviting the recipient and family to attend, a membership form for those who cannot attend but might want to join, and a data request form on which the recipient can fill in known details of his/her own Lin(d)field connections, either to bring to the meeting or to send in to us.

At the entrance, we will need one or possibly two people to welcome visitors, give them their drink and take down details of their interest in the families or the Group. The process of collecting data from them will start here, with the initial checking of the data request from the mailshot, if they have one, or the noting of their Lin(d)field connection. We will probably issue colour coded badges for the various branches so that the hosts on the displays, and other visitors, can spot their cousins.

In order to maintain a single definitive version of the database, we will only have one person entering data at one time, with the data being copied to the other machines at intervals during the day. We expect to have at least 4 computers linked together on a network.

Having captured any additional information from a visitor, we will then want to be able to produce printed copies of their family information for them to take away. This will include ancestor listings, Register format descendant listings, or drop line charts. We will have facilities for binding any printed material that we produce. The printouts will be placed in envelopes which the visitor will fill in at the time of ordering, and these will be left in a rack for collection. Those remaining uncollected at the end of the day will then simply be posted. We will also have back issues of Longshot and other publications for sale. Finally, we will have a desk at which members could renew, and new members be persuaded to join.

We hope also to have the facility available to copy any original documents that visitors may bring. If anyone has a suitable desktop photocopier they could bring, please let me know. We will also have cameras and a scanner to photograph documents, people and the event generally.

We need people to commit to carrying out the various tasks in the coming 15 months and on the day. Please let me know if you would be willing to help. We might be able to offer transport to members who will otherwise have trouble reaching the venue, and would also like to hear from members who can help in this way.

Peggy Champ

With great sadness, I have to report that Peggy Champ, our Vice-President, died on April 7th at the age of 84. She was a staunch supporter of the Lin(d)field One Name Group from the very beginning and we are all going to miss her lively and fascinating articles. I really liked Peggy: she was unconventional, an extremely talented writer and poet, and a gifted actress. She was also young at heart, with a mischievous sense of humour and I am going to miss her anecdotes and funny stories gathered through a lifetime of acute observation. In many ways she was the family historian’s dream: not only because she collected together so many old family photographs and papers, thereby preserving them for future generations, but her phenomenal memory combined with an extraordinary ability to bring people back to life. When you were listening to one of her stories, you knew the people she was telling you about – you were there with her! Not surprisingly, she inspired my own initial interest in family history and I have been hooked ever since. Thanks Peggy.

I would encourage our readers to look through their old copies of ‘Longshot’ and re-read her articles: their appeal to the general reader is obvious. The words flow from the pages, the style is eminently readable and the content fascinating. Compare this to the many dull and boring articles which often appear in family history publications and which are therefore of very limited interest.

We will all miss you, Peggy. Thank you for your support and friendship over the years, and the interest you have inspired in family history.

We offer our condolences to Peggy’s daughter, Judith and to her three grand-daughters, Kate, Rachel and Vicky.