Lewes History Group: Bulletin 139, February 2022

Please note: this Bulletin is being put on the website one month after publication. Alternatively you can receive the Bulletin by email as soon as it is published, by becoming a member of the Lewes History Group, and renewing your membership annually.

  1. Next Meeting: 14 February 2022, Sue Berry ‘Farming and the Ouse Valley Landscape’
  2. John Farrant and Rendel Williams
  3. Lewes Churches from the Gentleman’s Magazine
  4. Francis Jefferay’s will: No Popery in South Malling
  5. Life on the River
  6. The Exploits of Butcher George
  7. Cholera in the Cliffe Workhouse
  8. The Ouse Valley Floods of 1909
  9. Cliffe High Street          


  1. Next Meeting                       7.30 p.m.                               Monday 14 February      Sue Berry      Farming and the Ouse Valley Landscape, 1770-1940

In this month’s talk Dr Sue Berry FSA will describe the changing management of farming in the part of the Ouse Valley between Lewes and the sea, and its impact on the landscape between 1770 and 1940. Many landowners and tenants invested heavily in improvements which they hoped would increase agricultural output. They created bigger farms, ambitious drainage schemes that included altering the course of the river and, eventually, housing schemes and a dairy. However, outside influences such as changes in state policy and the arrival of cheaper imported food eventually resulted in major changes in ownership and farming.  Sue will describe the key themes in a saga that affected many chalk landscapes.

This meeting will again be a Zoom webinar, and to attend you must register in advance. You will then be able to join the meeting from 7.20 pm. LHG members will be sent a link to register directly: non-members will need to purchase registration via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/lhg.


  1. John Farrant and Rendel Williams

I am very sorry to have to report the recent deaths of John Farrant and Rendel Williams, two Lewes residents who both made substantial contributions to our understanding of the history of Sussex. They were both long-serving employees of the University of Sussex.

John Farrant was a talented university administrator who played a key role in the establishment of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, perhaps the first major successful joint project between the two Brighton-based universities. He carried out half a century’s research into the history of Sussex, was a stalwart of the Sussex Archaeological Society and regularly published his work. He had an expert knowledge of Dr William Burrell’s 18th century collection for what was intended to become the first Sussex County History. This project sadly never came to fruition but led to the deposition of all his working papers in the British Library, where they served as a tremendous resource for later scholars. He was the editor of Sussex Record Society volume 85, ‘Sussex Depicted’ and an expert on the historic evidence available from old prints and other works of art.

Rendel Williams taught Geography, but is probably best known to Sussex historians for his creation of the website www.sussexpostcards.info. This includes a directory that lists alphabetically all the main Sussex postcard publishers, with biographies of each and examples of their work. This is an invaluable and authoritative resource, which I very much hope will be a lasting legacy.


  1. Lewes Churches from the Gentleman’s Magazine

The prints below showing two Lewes churches as they had appeared in 1770 were published in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1825. A very similar print of St Peter Westout is included in Thomas Walker Horsfield’s ‘History and Antiquities of Lewes’, published in 1824.

St Mary in Foro, Lewes, 1770 

St Peter, Westout, Lewes, 1770

Source: http://www.rareoldprints.com/county/Sussex?opendocument&town=Lewes


  1. Francis Jefferay’s will: No Popery in South Malling

Francis Jefferay of South Malling, esquire, made his will on the date that he called 19 January 1617, though as the new year then started on Lady Day, 25 March, we would today say 1618.  He tells us that he was “by reason of my sickness put in mind of the day of my death”, so wished to settle his estate. He was a gentleman of means, childless despite his two marriages, but had many nephews and nieces and chose three of the nephews as his principal heirs. He was a member of the Jefferay family of Chiddingly, descended from one of Queen Elizabeth’s judges. He was the only son and heir of Richard Jefferay, who had also lived and died in South Malling a decade earlier, but who had asked in his will to be buried at Chiddingly. Richard and Francis Jefferay both refer to their house in South Malling as ‘Malling Howse’, but other deeds at The Keep suggest it was Malling Deanery, which they held on a long lease. Mr Francis Jefferay of South Malling was buried at Ringmer on 26 January 1617/8, exactly a week after the date of his will. Mrs Elizabeth Jefferay, wife of Mr Francis Jefferay of Malling, had previously been buried at Ringmer in September 1611.

The will provides insights into the social circles in which he moved, and the customs and beliefs of the day. ‘Careful’ was an adjective he used to indicate high praise. His warning to his nephews and nieces about the dangers of being seduced into Popery may not have been unwarranted – the Ringmer recusants of the time included members of a Gardiner family, dependents of the Roman Catholic Gages of Firle.

Francis Jefferay’s will was proved, along with that of his father, in London in May 1618, and the probate copies survive in the National Archives. During the pandemic the normal charge for electronic images of such wills has been waived. They are written of course in the Tudor secretary hand of the day but, despite some interesting spelling, quite easy to read. I have abstracted the terms of his will below. Where I quote his exact words, these are in italics. All his financial bequests were expressed in pounds, shillings and pence, but many were clearly based on the mark (13s 4d). I have modernised the spelling and punctuation. As usual at the time, his first bequests are of his soul and his body.

  • First I willingly render up my soul to God that gave it, assuredly believing to be saved by that all sufficient sacrifice of mine alone saviour Christ Jesus. And as for my body I doubt not but at the general resurrection it shall be united again to my soul and enjoy eternal bliss. Meanwhile my desire is that it may be laid in Ringmer church as near the place where my first wife lyeth buried as conveniently may be.”

He then bequeathed

  • £10 to the poor people of the parishes of South Malling, Chiddingly, The Cliffe, Hamsey and Ringmer, so to each parish forty shillings, one half to be distributed the day before his funeral and the other half six months later.
  • £10 to his very kind and faithful friend Mr Edward Wood of Hamsey [vicar of Ringmer 1604-1610, rector of Hamsey 1605-1641].
  • 20s 0d each to Mr Aldridge of Ringmer, Mr West of Barcombe & Mr Gouldsmith of Kingston Bowsey [clergymen serving those parishes].
  • £3 6s 8d [equivalent to 5 marks] to his brother-in-law John Gardener
  • £5 in gold to his sister Lady Pawlett and £3 6s 8d to each of her sons and daughters.
  • £30 each to his nephews William Mascall, John Gardener and Thomas Gardener and to his nieces Frances Tynley, Susan Mascall, Elizabeth Gardener, Mary Gardener & Anne Gardener, to include the legacies left to them by his father but not yet paid, “and further my meaning is that if any of my nephews or nieces be seduced to Popery by any Priest, Jesuit or Papist that then the party or parties so seduced shall lose the whole benefit of this my will”.
  • Three score pounds to Cicely Bellingham, his first wife’s niece, for the payment of which he was legally bound.
  • 10s 0d each of gold, in remembrance of his love towards them, to Mr Robert Morley, Mr Anthony Stapley, Mr Harbert Hay, Mr Richard Shelley of Lewes and Mr Anthony Shirley of Bishopston [all prominent members of the local Protestant gentry].
  • An annuity of £6 13s 4d “and his lodging and diet at Malling gratis during his life also” to his careful servant John Browne.
  • £3 6s 8d to his godson Francis Mantle.
  • £6 13s 4d to his servant Edward Middleton.
  • A small English bible each to Lady Hunsdon, to Lady Pellham her mother and old Cousin Sherley of Preston, his mother-in-law Mrs Churcher, his sister Flud, his sister Barbara Bustin, his brother-in-law Dr Say and his sister Patience [the King James bible was first published in 1611].
  • 40s 0d in gold each to his good friends Mr Panton and Mr Scotson “who I have found very careful for my good in my sickness”.
  • 13s 4d, over and above their wages, to every one of his men and maid servants not otherwise remembered who had dwelt with him for one year and a half, and 33s 4d to those who had dwelt with him for four whole years before his death.
  • 40s 0d yearly for life to his old Cousin Shelley of Southover.
  • £3 6s 8d to John Smyth of Lewes, his servant.
  • 20s 0d to Edward Lulham’s widow.
  • 20s 0d to his nephew Tinley.
  • 10s 0d each to Mr Elton of London and his wife.
  • 20s 0d each in gold to his good friend Mrs Rowe and her son John Rowe, his first wife’s godson, in remembrance of her.
  • 40d 0d to his cousin Margery Marten, “my mother’s sister’s daughter, and I hope that my nephews Richard Mascall and Richard Gardener will be careful of her good from time to time”.
  • To Elenor “my loving and careful wife” £20 of his best gold, half his plate, all her jewels and apparel, all the linen she brought into his house when she was married, half the linen she had made since they were married, his best bed save one (furnished), two trunks containing her apparel and linen, the boxes she brought, two chairs and stools that she had lately made, his little bay nag, his dun nag, and his grey mare. Also £30 p.a. for the next two years after his death, provided she remained his widow, together with house room, “and the use of the new chamber with the closet there and the chamber adjoining where we used to lie for her lodgings, or in lieu of the said £30 diet during that time for herself, a man servant and a maid servant at her choice if she please to stay and dwell at Malling Howse but not elsewhere”. She could choose to remain there longer, in the same rooms, paying a reasonable consideration for her diet in the house, for as long as she remained his widow.
  • His leases of South Malling and Stoneham to his nephew Richard Mascall.
  • The armour that he bought for his own body and his buff doublet with silver lace to his nephew Richard Gardener.
  • His best cloak, with his gilt rapier and dagger, to his cousin Thomas Shirley of Preston.
  • A bell or cup of silver and gilt of £15 price to his good friend Mr John Rowe of Lewes “for his careful following of my law business heretofore and for his good advice and counsel”, which bell he would like Mr Rowe to leave to his son, Francis Rowe “my godson”.
  • The best of his wearing apparel was to be bestowed on his nephews Richard Gardener and Edward Mascall, with the rest to his other nephews and servants.
  • The residue of his goods, cattle, chattels, plate & household stuff, after the discharge of his funeral expenses and his debts “which I owe and are due either by specialty or conscience” to his nephew Richard Mascall, who he appoints as his executor.
  • He appoints as overseers, to assist his executor, “his very special and loving good friends” Mr Thomas Shirley, his cousin Thomas Jefferay of Chiddingly, Mr Edward Wood of Hamsey and Mr John Rowe.
  • Lastly “I do require and charge my nephew Mascall to use my wife with all kindness and due respect”. If his nephew Mascall dies without issue then his nephew Richard Gardener may have the lease of South Malling, and if he dies without issue it is to go to his nephew Edward Mascall.

So far Francis Jefferay had dealt only with his personal estate, but his will then continues, to dispose of his real estate – his freehold land and his copyhold land that he had duly surrendered to the uses of his will.

  • His wife, presumably through her marriage settlement, held a life interest in a manor and lands in Arlington and Wilmington, the reversion of which after her death he bequeathed to his nephew Richard Mascall and his heirs, with remainders to his nephews Richard Gardener and then Edward Mascall.
  • His freehold and copyhold lands in Chiddingly and Hailsham were bequeathed to his nephew Richard Gardener.
  • His freehold and copyhold lands in Ringmer were bequeathed to his nephew Edward Mascall.
  • The residue of his real estate, including his manor of Pastidowne, was bequeathed to his nephew Richard Mascall.

Francis and Elizabeth Jefferay memorial, Ringmer Church

Memorial to Francis & Elizabeth Jefferay in Ringmer church: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4238324


  1. Life on the River

In April 1817 the magistrates at Lewes Quarter Sessions considered the legal settlement of Joseph Mitchenor, his wife Hannah and their daughter Mary, aged 12.

More than 50 years previously, in 1763 when he was a young boy, Joseph Mitchenor had been included in a settlement certificate issued for his family by the parish of Rustington, where his father was legally settled, to enable them to live in Newhaven. Later the teenage Joseph Mitchenor had been bound apprentice to a Newhaven lighterman, who he had served for 7 years. This would normally have given him a legal settlement in Newhaven, but during his apprenticeship Joseph had  not always slept in his master’s house. He regularly travelled up and down the river between Newhaven and Lewes in barges, sometimes being absent for two or three nights together, and sleeping either at the Bear Inn, Cliffe, or on the barge moored in the part of the river belonging to Cliffe parish. While he slept there often, this was never for more than 40 days in any one year.

The bench considered that this was enough to invalidate his settlement in Newhaven, so confirmed a magistrate’s order that he should be removed from Newhaven to his ‘home’ parish of Rustington. However, they were not completely confident of the application of the law in this case, so they made their decision subject to the opinion of the court of the King’s Bench.

Source: Quarter Sessions Order Books, ESRO QO/42/1817-04-18.


  1. The Exploits of Butcher George

Early newspapers, seeking tales with which to entertain of inform their readers, shamelessly copied suitable items verbatim from rival publications. One such story which probably originated in a Sussex newspaper, appears, inter-alia, in the 24 April 1816 Hereford Journal, the 30 April 1816 Chester Courant and, a little later, in the 22 June 1816 Royal Gazette of Jamaica.

 “Extraordinary Chase on Dog-back: A deer was on Wednesday last turned out at Ringmer, in the county of Sussex, before the dogs kept by Mr Scrase of that place and a large field of sportsmen. The fleet animal made a good burst, and after being two or three times turned in her course by casual spectators, crossed the river at Malling, and was followed, but with more courage than prudence, by Mr Samuel Paine, who, to regain the land on the opposite side of the water, was obliged to quit his horse, and use considerable exertions in extricating him from difficulties of a rotten, muddy bank, during which the dogs were very unexpectedly and unsportsman-like called off in a different direction.  

  Mr Paine was not, however, the only one of the hunt who dared the danger of the water, as a young fellow called Butcher George, who resides at Lewes, with the independence of a gentleman, on a guinea a week allowed him by his connexions, actually crossed the river, in safety, of the back of his favourite dog, by the help of whose ears he retained his seat, and appeared to enjoy the fun in common with the spectators. This trusty animal, apparently swam with great facility, though the current was somewhat stronger than common from the influx of the tide, and betrayed no disposition whatsoever to incommode his master in his novel but fool-hardy pursuit.”


  1. Cholera in the Cliffe Workhouse

The 24 October 1866 Sussex Advertiser reported that since the start of an outbreak of cholera in the Cliffe workhouse the previous week there had been only three deaths. Six or seven people with choleraic diarrhoea had made a full recovery. On the previous day there were only three cases remaining, and they were all going on well. It was hoped that the Guardians had the outbreak under control. Two weeks previously a Lewes inquest had heard that a death from cholera had been caused by eating contaminated shellfish.


  1. The Ouse Valley Floods of 1909

The Edwardian postcards below are from a series published by the Press Photo Company of 75 Havelock Road, Brighton. The company was established in 1907 by photographer Edward Leonard Carr (1874-1949) and continued until about 1913, specialising in recording topical events in the area. The Lewes floods shown below are those of October 1909. Two other dated P.P. Co. photographs of these floods were published in Bulletin no.40.

Lewes flood October 1909, Press Photo Company postcard

The Pells, Lewes flood 1909, Press Photo Company postcard

Sources: www.sussexpostcards.info (Rendel Williams) & www.photohistory-sussex.co.uk (David Simkin)


  1. Cliffe High Street

This postcard view of Cliffe High Street was offered for sale recently on ebay. It was published by E.A. Sweetman of Tunbridge Wells, number 52,603. The postcard is not posted, or otherwise dated. According to the website postcard.co.uk Mr E.A. Sweetman died in 1929, but his son Donovan continued working under the same business name until he retired in 1964.

The lorries making up the majority of the two-way A27 traffic along Cliffe High Street look like those I remember from my 1950s childhood. The advertised cigarette and tobacco brands are also familiar and the women’s dresses resemble those my mother wore. I have half a dozen Sweetman postcards in my collection, all with similar numbers, with one bearing the date 1955. In the 1951 local directory Rice Brothers were at 56/57 Cliffe High Street and the Castle Inn was still in business. By the 1964 Kelly’s directory Rice Brothers had been replaced by the Victor Value grocery store, and the Castle Inn had also gone.

Cliffe High Street, Lewes, E.A. Sweetman postcard 1950s

John Kay

Contact details for Friends of the Lewes History Group promoting local historical events:

Sussex Archaeological Society
Lewes Priory Trust

Lewes Archaeological Group
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