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.

It’s all in the Genes!

The role of genetics in genealogy is a very topical subject at the moment, and the implications are far reaching. I make no apology, therefore, for reproducing here an article which appeared in The Times on 4 April which reports the work of Professor Bryan Sykes on his surname and its relation to the Y chromosome. The paper behind The Times report is ‘Surnames and the Y chromosome’ by B Sykes and C Irven, American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 66 pp 1417-1419 (Apr 2000).

"Your surname may well be written in your genes, a study has shown. This surprising discovery suggests that forensic evidence left at the scene of a crime could be read in a DNA laboratory and reveal the criminal’s name. Professor Bryan Sykes, at the University of Oxford, started the research as "a bit of fun", but it is likely to have an impact in both forensic science and genealogy.

Professor Sykes used samples from 61 volunteers who shared his surname to establish a link between the name and the distinctive DNA. He has found similar results for three other names, but thinks the link may not hold for the most common surnames like Jones and Smith.

Fathering a dynasty

The research makes the first direct link between genes and genealogy, showing that successive generations of a family can inherit unique sections of DNA. This strongly implies that people sharing a surname share a single male ancestor. Genealogists had long assumed that there would be several founders for every family name. "It puts every family on a par with the aristocracy, in being able to trace ourselves back to an original founder," said Professor Sykes.

The name Sykes means a boundary stream and is a common landscape feature in Yorkshire, suggesting a number of people could have adopted it in the 13th and 14th centuries, when inherited surnames became common.

History of infidelity

It has been traditional in England for children to take their father’s name and so Professor Sykes and colleague Catherine Irven looked at the Y chromosome, which fathers pass to sons but not daughters. They randomly chose 250 men with the name Sykes and asked for DNA samples: 61 replied with a swab from the inside of their cheek.

Half of the group shared four unique sections of DNA which were not found in control subjects either in Yorkshire or anywhere in the UK. The other half did not have the Sykes DNA, suggesting some infidelity in the Sykes dynasty. However, the estimated rate of infidelity over the 700 years the name has existed for is very low.

If just 1.3% of the Sykes children in each generation were fathered by someone other than a Sykes, then the accumulation of "foreign" genes would mean that about half of today’s Sykes would not have the unique DNA. This uncertainty means the DNA evidence of a name could not be used to convict criminals, but it could help to narrow down searches. It is also likely that families with the most common names, like Smith and Jones, do have multiple founders.

The research is published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.”

So, if you receive a request in the near future for a sample of hair or a mouth swab, please don’t worry – you will know what it’s all about!

Storrington and District Museum

The idea of a museum for Storrington has been discussed at various times since 1946, but it has only been in the last year that something has actually materialised. Thanks to the supreme efforts of local historian Joan Ham and her husband Ron, and the enthusiastic support of David Garrett who conducted a feasibility study for the parish council – and until recently Chairman of the Museum Committee – premises have been found in less than a year from the date of the first public meeting.

The original intention of Storrington Parish Council was to purchase the freehold of 13 Church Street, which would have provided a location close to the village centre, but due to legal complications this was eventually rejected. Instead a room was offered at the Old School, which has certain advantages as far as car parking, toilets, kitchen facilities and disabled access are concerned. Although the premises are not ideal in terms of size and the lack of storage space, they are a very useful start until something more permanent can be found – hopefully at some time within the next five year. And so, on Easter Monday, the new Museum room at the Old School Building in School Lane, opened for its very first visitors.

Now it is up to all those involved with the project to make it a success because only by attracting the support and enthusiasm of the general public will the parish council respond favourably when the time comes to consider a new location. Certainly there is a very active ‘Friends’ organisation who have run a well-supported winter lecture programme; for the Summer months a series of local walks have been arranged to reveal some of the fascinating history of the parishes involved. Why am I telling you all this, you may ask? Firstly, as Secretary of the ‘Friends of Storrington and District Museum’ I do have a vested interest in the new project. But as a family historian, it is significant to our group that all of the parishes covered by the Museum have important Lin(d)field connections. Take Storrington, for instance: Edmund Linfield was making brass dial clocks in the village from the 1750s (see article " Edmund Linfield of Storrington, Clockmaker" in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 6 No. 1, December 1997), and there is a superb example of his craftsmanship now on display in Horsham Museum. He lived in the village from at least 1753 until his death in 1799, when he was sadly an inmate of the local workhouse. His kinsman, Peter Linfield was the local butcher, moving to the village from West Chiltington in 1779 when he set up his butchers’ business in Church Street (see article "Peter Linfield of Storrington 1734-1791"in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 2 No. 1, May 1993). He still retained ownership of his farm and farmhouse in West Chiltington – called ‘Palmers’ -which remained in the family for many years. Although Edmund and Peter both ran businesses in the village, their fortunes ran in opposite directions: whilst Peter thrived and his business grew from strength to strength, Edmund’s eventually failed, possibly because there was nobody to carry on when advancing age forced him to give up.

The other parishes involved in the project presently include Sullington, Parham, Thakeham, Warminghurst, Washington and West Chiltington. Thakeham, of course, is still home to the mushroom business known as ‘Chesswood Produce Ltd.’ In 1913 AG Linfield and Sons of Worthing first acquired the land at Town House Farm where they set up a number of farming activities, including mushrooms, which in those early days were a risky but worthwhile crop because of the high prices they could command (see article "A Family Business" by Peggy Champ in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No.1, May 1994). They became a large market gardening business, but after the Second World War mushroom growing expanded dramatically as cultural improvements and extensive mechanisation heralded a new era of prosperity. By 1960 they had become the largest mushroom growers in Europe. The firm ceased to be a family business in 1980 when control initially passed to Ranks Hovis McDougall (RHM). I intend to set up a museum archive which should help to reveal more of the history of a business which has played a prominent part in the local area. It will hopefully pull in more material as people gradually become aware of its existence and make their own contributions.

The former parish of Warminghurst (now part of Thakeham) was for many years the home of the famous Quaker William Penn and his family (see article "William Penn and the Quaker Linfields of Sussex", in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No. 2, December 1994). Penn bought Warminghurst Place in 1676 and we know of at least one Linfield Quaker marriage taking place at his house, when John Linfield, Blackskmith of Ifield married Mary Wolvin in 1693. At the ceremony, the parents of the groom, William and Mary Linfield of Horsham, and his brother and sister attended. Warminghurst Place was situated between the two churches of Thakeham and Warminghurst, and was sold to James Butler in 1707. Butler disliked Penn so intensely that he promptly demolished the old house, even going so far as to dig up the very foundations so as "not to leave a trace of the Old Quaker."

In previous articles, our former President Eric Linfield has related his family history connections with Sullington and Washington (see articles "The Storrington Linfields & their Poor Relations of Sullington and Washington", Part 1 in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 2 No.2, November 1993 and Part 2 in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No. 2, December 1994). Eric relates how his great great great grandfather Edward (1774-1861), who was a younger son of Peter Linfield of Storrington, left the village in his youth and moved to the neighbouring parish of Sullington. Coming from a large family, it was understandable that younger children often had to move away from the parish of their birth and find work elsewhere. Initially, he carried on his father’s trade as butcher, but by 1841 he is running a 3 acre market garden at the crossroads junction where Water Lane crosses the Storrington to Thakeham road. His son Peter (1810-68) joined him at the market garden, whilst his other sons Harry and William worked locally as agricultural labourers. Harry (1807-78) was Eric’s great great grandfather and completed 50 years service working for the Carew-Gibsons on the Sandgate Estate. We are extremely fortunate to have a surviving photograph of Harry, wearing the traditional smock of the Sussex labourer (reproduced in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No.1, May 1994).

At the last count, there were over 1600 catalogued items and photographs in the museum collections. Now it is open, many people are bringing things along and it is an exciting time as the collection expands. I think it is important to establish a Lin(d)field archive at the museum because we are a family with particularly strong and long standing connections with the parishes involved. If anyone would like to join the ‘Friends of Storrington and District Museum’, then please get in touch with me and I can send you a membership form – the cost is £5 per annum for individual members or £7 for family membership (two adults and any dependent children living at the same address).

It is probably worth finishing this article with the words of Joan Ham, taken from the January newsletter: "Storrington and District Museum will not be a dull collection of things in glass cases. We intend to make it a living part of local life. Displays will be changed regularly. Neighbouring villages which make up the "and District", will be invited to contribute. The proximity of public rooms means that we can welcome school and other parties with an introductory talk, or stage temporary exhibitions . . . The new year and the new millennium will see the beginning of an exciting new project that has been discussed and wanted for the past half-century. Now we can make it happen."

An Update on my Family History Researches

This millennium year 2000 has enabled me to extend my family history in several ways and briefly I review the main elements.

The publication of two fascinating books by the Horsham Museum Society in January, “The Shelleys of Field Place” – the story of the family and their estates – and “The letters of Bysshe and Timothy Shelley” and other documents put me in touch with Mr George Bason of Hove. Mr Bason has researched the history of Castle Goring for many years, and I am extremely grateful to him for sending me a file of notes and photographs, including one of the gamekeeper’s cottage where my grandmother, Katherine Leach lived with her father Noah Leech, gamekeeper in the mid-19th century. The gamekeeper’s cottage remains an architectural gem, as does Castle Goring itself, originally built for Sir Timothy Bysshe Shelley in 1790-1810, the poet Shelley’s grandfather (see Pevsner’s account on pages 125/7, The Buildings of England: Sussex , Penguin 1965).

My father often talked to me of his mother’s domestic service at Castle Goring and it had obviously affected her greatly. As she only married when she was 35 on July 18th 1885, she registered her first child Frederick in 1887 as resident at Castle Goring, so the connection obviously continued after marriage for a while. Castle Goring near Worthing is now a language school! Unfortunately, my grandmother died before I was born and Uncle Fred, too, had been killed in 1917 whilst near Arras in the First World War.

We spent a delightful week’s holiday at Eastbourne in June. Whilst there I visited Summerdown Road to find the large house, Muskoday, where my aunt Elizabeth Linfield was in domestic service at the time of her tragic death – she was found drowned at Pevensey Bay on November 12th 1924 (see Longshot Vol 5 No 2 p.52). Unfortunately we failed to find the house – no wonder, it had been destroyed by a German bomb. In a recent letter from Vera Hodsoll (formerly Hon. Secretary of the Eastbourne Local History Society) she told me that the house was destroyed in a heavy raid by Focke-Wolfe FW 190s in the afternoon of June 6th 1943, exactly one year before D-day. So it is sometimes impossible to see the houses where one’s family has had connections in the past, despite my suggestion in a previous Longshot (see Vol 1 No 2, p.42, “Starting a Picture Story of One’s Own Family”.)

However, I have been able to build up a collection of photographs where my father, grandfather and his grandfather’s grandfather, Peter Linfield (1734-91) lived. They make a very colourful and interesting album and I am adding a copy of the Gamekeeper’s Cottage, Castle Goring shortly!

Thoughts from a Not-so-Distant Land

Back in June 1998 I moved to Northern Ireland with my wife and son to undertake a two-year posting. When we first told friends and family that we would be moving to Northern Ireland for two years, by far the most common response was ‘Why on earth do you want to go there?’ and ‘Who have you upset?’ For minds conditioned by media reports of the Troubles over the last thirty years, the concept of spending any time living in Northern Ireland was probably as appealing as trampolining in a neck harness. Continue reading Thoughts from a Not-so-Distant Land

Longshot Vol 8, No. 1

The Storrington Linfields, by Richard Beaton
Lin(d)field Businesses & Occupations – a brief survey, by Malcolm Linfield
Thoughts from a Not-so-Distant Land, by Nick Linfield
An Up-date on my Family History Researches, by Eric Linfield
Storrington and District Museum, by Malcolm Linfield
It’s all in the Genes! by Malcolm Linfield
Some Early Memories, by Mary Offer
Some Lin(d)field Miscellanies: 2, by Malcolm Linfield

Front Cover: Israel Charles John Avery of the Royal Fusiliers – with his favourite pony Greybird, he takes his father with him to say goodbye to his
friends before embarkation to France, 1916. (See article by Mary Offer on p. 35).