Recent Discoveries

One of the organisations from which we gather research material is the Family Origin Name Survey. This is an excellent service, which has set out to collect all types of documentary material and to search documents for occurrences of particular names. Among the recent references we have received from FONS, are several which we are still trying to identify. If anyone can help, or would like to research these mysterious Lin(d)fields further, do please let us know. Continue reading Recent Discoveries

The Early Linfields

We have often referred in this journal to the work of Harry Stanford Smith, the Brighton estate agent who researched his Linfield origins during the 1950’s. He left us with some fascinating pieces of information, but since he failed to include records of his sources, we cannot readily see what is fact and what is merely conjecture in his extensive findings. Even if all the names and dates which he quoted were in fact correct, the relationships between individuals are unlikely to be confirmed by documentary evidence and some conjecture is therefore inevitable. Continue reading The Early Linfields

The Linfield Library of Humour

The 1995 International Humour Conference is being held at the University of Aston, Birmingham from July 31st to August 4th. Our President, Eric Linfield, has been invited to present a paper on the LINFIELD LIBRARY OF HUMOUR, his collection of books now on loan to the University of Kent Centre for the Study of Cartoon and Caricature. It has been assembled over the last forty or more years as the result of two major influences – his parents’ love of laughter and their sense of humour and his decision to focus his dilettante book collecting passion on one major topic; whilst an undergraduate at Cambridge, 1948-51, he decided to concentrate on humour in all its manifestations. There are some similar collections at San Francisco Public Library, California and at the University of Cork, Eire. Continue reading The Linfield Library of Humour

Sands of Time

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”

When Longfellow wrote these famous lines, I doubt that he was thinking of family history; however, there is no doubt that we all leave some “footprints on the sands of time”, whether or not our lives are sublime! Some of these footprints only come to light after we have departed this life, and amongst the more useful are the contents of wills and administrations. For this reason, one of our first tasks on setting up the Group, was to transcribe the probate records held at Somerset House, which cover the period from 1858 to the present. We have now published the contents of the Calendar of Wills for the Linfield and Lindfield surnames from 1858-1920, which number 62 entries, or an average of exactly one for each year. (Ref 1) Continue reading Sands of Time

Ann Caesar – the wife of William Linfield (1822-92)

Ann Caesar married William Linfield at St. Nicholas’ Church, Brighton on 30th September 1850. She was the only daughter of Benjamin and Anne Caesar of Godalming and had been born on the 9th November 1822. The Caesar family were well known and respected in the district. Ann had six brothers, the youngest of whom was Julius, the well-known cricketer who played for Surrey and England, being in the first teams to visit America and Australia. Continue reading Ann Caesar – the wife of William Linfield (1822-92)

Henry Gordon Linfield (1889-1975)

My father and his brothers and sisters were reared on very strict ‘Wesleyan’ principles. Sundays were sacrosanct – chapel morning and evening, and Sunday school in the afternoons – and no food must be cooked, so all meals were cold (though I gather it was considered acceptable to have hot boiled potatoes with lunch, provided they were peeled the night before and left to cook slowly on the kitchen range before leaving). Card games, in fact all games, were banned and only special ‘Sunday’ (i.e. very religious) books were allowed. Continue reading Henry Gordon Linfield (1889-1975)

Don’t forget the ecclesiastical courts

I have mentioned in previous articles how certain records, such as probate documents, can provide a unique insight into the everyday lives of our ancestors. We are therefore very fortunate as family researchers when we come across this type of record; in effect, they can bring people to life who may have died centuries before. Another very useful source of information which can bring people intimately alive are the records of the ecclesiastical courts. These are the courts of bishops and archdeacons administering church law, and their records survive from the 15th century. Typically they deal with such matters as heresy, non-attendance at church, behaviour at church and in the churchyard, betrothals, wills, allegations of slander, immorality, tithes, the maintenance of church property and so on. Penalties could include excommunication but more usually they involved a remorseful declaration of guilt before the church congregation. Since a large proportion of the cases concern fornication and adultery, not surprisingly the term “Bawdy Court” was commonly used to describe these courts. Needless to say, the records provide an interesting – and often very amusing- insight into everyday parish life which is quite unique. Although the proceedings are recorded in Latin, the Attestations (Depositions)- of most interest to the family historian – are in English; and the witnesses are identified by name, condition, occupation, age, and length of abode in the parish concerned. Continue reading Don’t forget the ecclesiastical courts