The Elliotts of West Sussex

My grandmother was Violet Chatfield (1892-1985) and her mother, my great grandmother, was Ann Jane Elliott (1859-1930) who was born in the village of Kirdford, near Petworth in West Sussex.  Ann married William Chatfield (1850-1919), my great grandfather, in 1887 and they had three daughters, and apart from my grandmother, they were my great aunts; Annie Chatfield (1888-1958) and Alice Chatfield (1889-1970).  See the blog page – The Chatfield Connection.

Ann’s father, my 2 x great grandfather, was George Elliott (1830-1901), who eventually became the gamekeeper at Fairlight Hall, near Hastings in East Sussex.  He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Holden (1834-1859) on 16th October 1852 in Kirdford and second to Esther Coomber, born in Brasted, Kent (1834-1907).  Elizabeth’s death was registered in Petworth, so George may have moved to Hastings sometime afterwards.  In the 1871 census sons Henry Elliott 7 and James Elliott 3, were living at home with siblings David Elliott and Ann, as well as their father.  Later that year, recorded in quarter two, George and Esther were married in Hastings.  It seems that Esther was the mother of Henry and James out of wedlock, because they were born after Elizabeth died and before her marriage.  However, it is possible that someone else bore Henry and James.  Esther was a maid at Fairlight Hall in the 1861 and 1871 censuses.  In 1881, Esther 47, was recorded as living with husband George along with David, Henry and James.

My 3 x great grandfather, George Elliott, George’s father, was living at Upper Barbary, Kirdford in the 1841 census, working as an Agricultural Labourer.   He was noted as being 40, with the usual 5 year rounding that applied to that census.  Similarly, his wife Elizabeth was also recorded as 40.  They had five children living at home; Charles Elliott 15, George 11 (my 2 x great grandfather), Henry Elliott 6, Ellen Elliott 2 and Hannah Elliott 7 months.  By the time of the 1851 census, only Ellen and Hannah were still living at home, but the ages of George (51, born 1800) and Elizabeth (53, born 1798) were given more accurately.  Through links on Ancestry, I believe that Elizabeth’s maiden name was Elizabeth Coote and they were married on 5th March 1823 in Kirdford.  George is shown as being born in Wisborough Green, whereas Elizabeth, Ellen and Hannah were born in Kirdford.  By the time of the 1861 census George was a widower, living with his son George in Kirdford, and his sons George Elliott 7 and David Elliott 3, so there were three generations named George Elliott in the same house.  Daughters Mary 5 and Ann 1, were living elsewhere – see below.  The senior George does not seem to appear in the 1871 census.

In the 1861 census, Ann Jane Elliott was one year old and she was living with her grandparents, on her mother’s side, David Holden and Rhoda Holden (my 3 x great grandparents).  Also living with her grandparents was her sister Mary Elliott, aged 5.  Mary was born in North Chapel, West Sussex.  Ten years later she was living elsewhere as a servant.  It seems that both sisters may have gone to live with their grandparents because of the death of Elizabeth Holden in 1859.  It could be that Elizabeth died as a result of childbirth.  David was 52 in the 1861 census and Rhoda was 48, with both being born in Kirdford.  They had their sons George Holden, 20, and Charles Holden, 17, living with them in 1861, both of whom were born in North Chapel.  Rhoda’s maiden name may have been Scrace or Rapley due to varying opinions on Ancestry, so further research is needed.  In the 1851 census, David and Rhoda had Elizabeth Holden 16 (see above), Daniel Holden 14 and Jane Holden 12 living with them (all born in North Chapel),  as well as George and Charles.  By the 1871 census David was a widower.

My Auntie Betty told me that she believed that Esther Coomber (borne 1834), the second wife of George Elliott, was the sister of Mary Ann Coomber (born 1824), the wife of Richard Chatfield.  Both ladies were born in Brasted, Kent, so there is a geographical connection.  As usual, with this as a good example, there are a number of unanswered questions and further research is needed.

UPDATE 14th February 2021:  Rhoda Holden has been confirmed with a maiden name of Rapley by DNA test and this is detailed in my blog page “Rapleys in Ontario, Canada and Michigan, USA”.