The Elliotts of West Sussex

My grandmother was Violet Chatfield (1892-1985) and her mother, my great grandmother, was Ann Jane Elliott (3rd November 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 (1829 Wisborough Green, West Sussex – 21st March 1900 Fairlight, Hastings, East Sussex), who eventually became the gamekeeper at Fairlight Hall, near Hastings in East Sussex.  He was married three times, first to Elizabeth Holden (1834-1859) on 16th October 1852 in Kirdford and third to Esther Coomber, born in Brasted, Kent (1833- 9th October 1907 Fairlight).  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 Jane Elliott, 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 –  please note that this section is incorrect, but left here in brackets because others may have read this already and wonder why it has changed).  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. UPDATE: George married his second wife Priscilla Cooper (1832, Lodsworth  – 1870 Petworth) on 30th April 1862 in Kirdford.  In the 1871 census George had moved as a widower for the second time to Fairlight and became the gamekeeper at Fairlight Hall, along with his children, David, Ann, Henry Aquila and Elisha James, shortly after Priscilla passed away.  Oldest son George was elsewhere.  In the 1881 census Ann Jane had become a servant at Ore Rectory, near Hastings.

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 Rapley (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.  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 third 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”.

UPDATE 17th June 2021:  In the second paragraph above, I have added more information on the dates, left an incorrect part of the posting in italics – marked accordingly – and updates details for George Elliott’s second marriage to Priscilla Cooper, whilst changing his marriage to Esther Coomber to his third marriage instead of his second.  Priscilla was mother to Henry Aquila and Elisha James and they were not born out of wedlock to Esther.