Category Archives: Research

The 1881 Census in Sussex

As some readers will be aware, a major project was recently undertaken by the Church of Latter Day Saints to index and publish the 1881 census returns for the United Kingdom. This has produced an extremely useful resource for family historians, in that we now have a complete, and comprehensively indexed, set of data for that year. In fact the entries are indexed in a four ways, by surname, by birthplace, by census place and finally as enumerated.

As a formally constituted family history society, the Lin(d)field One Name Group is allowed to purchase copies of the microfiche index and we have now bought the set for Sussex. As luck would have it, the other counties which contain significant numbers of Lin(d)fields at that time, are among the larger counties in terms of population and are therefore much more expensive sets of fiche. We will collect the data from those in due course using copies at local and national archives. I have made a start on that process by obtaining copies of the relevant pages from the surname indexes for Kent, Middlesex and Lancashire.

To return to the Sussex data, I have now entered all of the surname index information into a computer spreadsheet, which allows us to sort the entries automatically and to print them out in various formats as required. The total number in Sussex is 381, made up of 248 of the Lindfield spelling and 133 shown as Linfield. Perhaps surprisingly, there are no Linkfield, Lingfield, Linville or similar names.

For those members who are interested in such things, the data is held in an Excel spreadsheet, and I am happy to make a copy on disc for anyone who wants one for research purposes. There is clearly a lot of scope for analysing the information, in terms of the wealth of demographic data it contains. It would be fascinating, for example, to examine the location, occupations, family sizes and other aspects, as they relate to our family names.

Another related project has been started by Geoff Riggs of the Guild of One Name Studies who is collating statistics for the number of occurrences of various surnames in the 1881 census year. When we have completed our search of the 1881 entries, we will be sending the county totals to Geoff for entry into his database. In return, we will receive a map showing the distribution around the country.

When all the data has been collected and entered into the spreadsheet, we hope to publish it in book form, as well as making it available as a computer based resource.

The Postcard Index

I imagine that most people have at least a few letters that they have kept because of some sentimental value or significance, and such collections may occasionally contain picture postcards as well. However, the vast majority of postcards are probably thrown away within a few weeks or so their receipt. Some of these turn up in auctions and on market stalls, and the rarest examples can fetch considerable sums of money. Most designs though, were of course mass produced, and have little rarity value to collectors, so the millions of cards in circulation represent an affordable, and largely untapped resource for family history research.

I was very interested therefore to receive details recently of a Postcard Index. This has been established, purely as a hobby, by Colin Buck of Cookridge, Leeds. He buys batches of postcards and lists the names and addresses of the recipients in a database. This contained some 14,000 entries when we last heard from him in September 1996, and he had several thousand waiting to be added. He collects cards dated between 1899 and 1950. His aim is quite simple – to unite the old postcards with modern day descendants of the original recipients.

Colin charges 3 to register a name and area of interest, then 1 per postcard, with subsequent postcards to the same address being only 25p. Needless to say, we have registered our interest in any of the name variants of Linfield and Lindfield, wherever they occur. We had an immediate success when we first registered, and the postcard shown below is now in our records. Postmarked 19 March 1914, it is addressed to Master E Linfield at Home Farm, Strood Park, Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham and the message tells us that the initial E stood for Eddie. The sender was called Ena and she refers to someone called Mary in the message. The picture on the reverse is of the Tower of London. This is where the detective work begins!

We have found no trace as yet of that address for any Lin(d)fields, nor of any obvious candidates among the Edwards, Edmunds or Edwins in the database. Eddie was presumably under 21 since Ena refers to him as Master E Linfield. If anyone can suggest who Eddie might have been, or who recognises the Broadbridge Heath address, do please let us know!

If any of our readers would like to register another name which they are researching, or would simply like to find postcards sent to their ancestors (or indeed to themselves) in the first half of this century, they can write to Colin Buck, at 36 Kirkwood Way, Cookridge, Leeds, LS16 7EX

Miscellany (2)

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.

Miscellany (1)

Reflections from the President June 1996

Our journal Longshot represents the most essential and interesting form of communication open to us at present. It enables us to expand our Lin(d)field horizon so that we can appreciate the significance of all the branches of the tree. As Professor Steve Jones is showing in his current BBC 2 series, In the Blood, both Genealogy and Genetics have a common linguistic link, the gene. During the last few years, I have lectured on the Human Genome project and Genetic Engineering, as it seems necessary for us all to understand the significance of scientific research and its technological application. I wonder how many genealogists share my search for this understanding. Finally, on this topic, it gives me great pleasure that I live next door to the parents of Dr Richard Roberts, whom I have known since he was completing his PhD at Sheffield University. Richard shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1994 for his pioneering work on the split gene. Perhaps it would interest our members if I produced a short reading list to encourage reading on the fascinating story of Human Genetics!

Writing as a Hobby

So Communication in all its channels – the media – must depend ultimately on words. Indeed, forty or more years ago at university, I spent some time studying symbolic logic because I had been inspired by Bertrand Russell’s writings and FP Ramsey’s ‘Foundations of Mathematics.’ However, the work of the Viennese logician Carnap and some of his contemporaries seemed so arid that I became more interested in the work of Russell’s famous pupil, Ludwig Wittgenstein than symbolic logic. So I decided that statistics and experimental psychology were more appropriate in part II of the Tripos, as I really wanted to communicate as an educator with “all sorts and conditions of people.” Writing, like lecturing, has always attracted me, and whether it’s a personal letter, a book review, a magazine article or a press report, I enjoy the process. Sometimes words fail me and I look for some mathematical measure like opinion polls but our individual thoughts and feelings seem infinitely more important than marks on a scale. Every Lin(d)field has a unique story to tell and if anyone would like any help in its shaping with words on paper, I would be pleased to help.

Mary Offer’s delightful article “How did it all begin?” in the last issue of Longshot (Vol 4 No 2) seemed an excellent beginning. Even if your linkage with any of our known branches has not yet been fully established, write down some personal family history, especially memories of your own grandparents or interesting family friends or places you may like. There are vast areas of our Lin(d)field family heritage still to explore and every field is interesting. You might find the new journal ‘Family History Monthly’ useful to inspect as it aims to make family history more popular.

Field Name and Place Name Research

Until early 1994, when I had my slight stroke, I was alternately Secretary and Chairman of our Keynsham and Saltford Local History Society (1981-1994), although I had no academic qualification in History. However, both as an evening class student in Archaeology and Local History in Essex, Hertfordshire, Hampshire and here in the West Country, I have probably heard more lectures on historical subjects than on any other!!

Place names and field names fascinate me as much as family names, for research on names involve similar methods, as they all have connections. Anyone having the word FIELD as their whole surname or part thereof, as with us Lin(d)fields, must have an ancient connection with the land and/or farming. Field is derived from FELD (Old English) and corresponds to FELD in Old Frisian and Old Saxon, VELD (Dutch) and FELD (Old High German and German). LIN(D) is more difficult to identify as it can be any of the following in its origin: 

  • LINN, a waterfall, obsolete variant.
  • LIN, made of flax.
  • Variant of LITHE from the Old High German word LINDI, German LIND meaning soft and agreeable (of things) and gentle, meek (of persons).
  • Old English LIND or LINDE was the lime tree and also Old English LINDEN, LIND also meant made of the wood of the lime tree.

Whatever the historical origins of our family name, I will settle for gentle, meek, growers of flax in some Saxon fields!! (The Sermon on the Mount in the A.V. New Testament tells us “Blessed are the Meek”.)

Research on place names is often more disappointing; for instance, in recent years I have tried to trace two cottages mentioned on early Census Returns but I have been unable to locate their sites as so many cottages do not last more than a hundred years. One was at Hammerpot between Crossbush and Clapham, the home of NOAH LEACH, gamekeeper, my father’s maternal grandfather (1851 Census) and Granary Cottage in the parish of Shermanbury, where my maternal grandfather, GEORGE KNAPP is recorded as a nine year old scholar in the 1861 Census. However, I was delighted to find in recent research that my maternal grandfather, George Knapp, lived at Shermanbury from 1851 to 1877 when he married and moved to Woodmancote. My grandfather, GEORGE LINFIELD, and his two sons, my father George, and Uncle Fred, lived and worked at Ewhurst Farm, Shermanbury from the late 1890s until 1918/19, the end of the First World War. This discovery of links with the same place from both my maternal and paternal grandfathers has explained my fascination with this really rural tiny Sussex parish beside the upper reaches of the River Adur.

Researching our Military Ancestors

In the previous issue of LONGSHOT a suggestion was put forward that some research should be done on the various Lindfield)fields who down the years have served in the armed forces. This immediately caught my attention, since I was already interested in this field as a result of my plans to research the army career of my great-grandfather, who served during the second half of the 19th Century. In the light of this wider interest in our military ancestors, I have therefore broadened the scope of this research to include other members of the family who have served in any of the armed forces and whose military documents can be traced. Since my immediate period of interest was in the Victorian Army, this seemed the logical starting-point for this new project. Continue reading

Trying to Connect You

Thank you to all the members who have sent in details of their ancestors – I have attempted in each case to find a connection with one of the branches already on record, and in most cases this has been possible. Obviously, this linking becomes much easier where details are given back to the great-grandfather or beyond, particularly where the family were in Sussex or surrounding areas for which we have reasonably comprehensive records. Continue reading