Threads in a
Text of part 2 of 'Threads in a Tapestry' compiled by Margaret Major pub. 1996
Isbn 0473-04231-2 November 1996
The- Tobitt family
Thomas and Jane
The first of our known TOBITT Ancestors was a farmer called Thomas Tobitt, born in 1733, who
married Jane Stredwick, (baptised 1739, the daughter of Henry Stredwick) at Dorking, Surrey England
on the 15th of april 1759. The marriage was by licence.
Jean Tobitt has viewed the original Marriage Allegation at Surrey Archives of Consistory Court , taking
the following notes:
From the January to June 1795 records:
Henry Strudwick appeared personally to give his approval to the marriage of his daughter.
Thomas Tobitt, Batchelor (Farmer) of this parish of Dorking and Henry Stredwick of the same place,
Jane Stredwick (a minor) lived at Dorking for 19 years past
Thomas Tobitt aged 22
Both men signed with a X. 13 April 1759. A licence was given on 14th April 1759. Betty Strudwick (sic)
witnessed Cors (Cornelius) Jeale, Surrogate signed.
Thomas and Jane were married in the parish church of St Martin, Dorking, by Thos Turner, curate, on
the 15th of april. Thomas signed with his X mark; but Jane wrote her name spelling it Jane Strudwick.
They reared a family of four sons and six daughters. All except the last daughter were born and
baptised in Surrey.
Thomas, bap 21 Oct 1759, at Dorking, died 28Mar 1828, buried 04 Apr. Sandhurst, Kent.
Mary, bap 26 Sep 1761, at Dorking.
Richard, bap 20 Nov 1763, Dorking
James, bap 07 Mar 1766, Ewhurst, ‘son of Thomas Tobit’ (sic)
William, bap11Nov1770, Ockley, ‘son of Thos Tobitt of Abinger, died 1852, reg at Cranbrook
Jane, bap 21 Mar 1773 Ockley, ‘dau of Thos Tobitt’
Sarah, bap 05 Nov 1775, Ockley, ‘dau of Thos Tobitt’
Charlotte, bap 29 Mar 1778, Ockley, ‘dau of Thos Tobitt of Abinger’
Anne, bap 21 Jan 1781, Ockley,’dau of Thos Tobitt of abinger’, died 1848 reg at Cranbrook
Elizabeth, bap 19 Jun 1785, Wisborough Green, Sussex, dau of Thomas and Jane
Note: There was also a baptism of a James Tobitt, son of Thomas Tobitt of Dorking performed at
Capel, Surrey in 1788, but this is thought to refer to another family of the same name , though perhaps
Thomas had the tenancy of three properties in the parish of Abinger, Owned by Charles Clarke Esq.
They were Parkland Farm, for which he paid tax of £2.16.0, with a further £3.12.0 on Brickyard and part
of Standen. The children would have been baptised at the Ockley church rather than that of Abinger,
because it was conveniently close to where they lived. Although they were Baptists, they had to comply
with the law of the day that all marriages and baptisms of children be performed in an Anglican church.
Then family moved south into Wisborough Green shortly after the birth of the ninth child, Ann.
From 1780 to 1882 there was a Land Tax imposed on all properties, the collection and recording of
which was the responsibility of each parish. Most of these records for Wisborough Green survived in
the Wisborough Green Parish Chest and in 1781 the name Mr Toboy was recorded as the
leaseholder of Drungwick, part of the estate belonging to Middleton Onslow Esq., a major property
owner of the district. This farm was in Loxwood, the northern end of the parish. By 12783 the tenant’s
name was corrected to Tobitt. He was paying rent on Bulhams too and also
Stones gardens, both part of the same owner’s large estate.
In 1794 he no longer occupied Drungwick farm, but a house in Loxwood, leased to J Steyning was in
the ownership of Mr Tobitt, though to refer to Thomas junior.
From 1799 on other sons of James are also listed as either leaseholders or owners of Wisborough
At some stage after 1792, Thomas Tobitt senior moved to the county of Kent, taking a long term lease
on Gun Green farm at Hawkhurst. His son Thomas either accompanied his parents or moved there
when his father was no longer able to manage the farm. Which Thomas purchased the Loxwood
house is not known for sure ; but it was still in the possession of Thomas junior at the time of his
death. The last two tax assessments in 1828 and 1829 give the owner as the executors of Thomas
Gun Green Farm in Kent was part of Fowlers Park Estate, owned by the family of Gow-Stewart, later
But-Gow family of Hawkhurst and Benenden, for many years. Thomas was a yeoman, ie one who
either owned or paid an annual fee on free land. As such he would have been able to serve on juries
and have a vote for knight of shire. Since both Thomas and Jane were buried in the Sandhurst Baptist
Chapel graveyard in Kent, we know that they were of the Baptist faith. At this period, since it was
obligatory for Baptisits and others to have children baptised in the Anglcan Church, dates of baptisms
in parish records above may not indicate the true year of birth.
Thomas senior died in 1797 and was buried on 23 August. He left an estate of £1000, for which
letters of administration were granted to his wife. Jane lived on to a good age. She was buried on 03
The Descendants of Thomas and Jane
Eventually Gun Green farm was taken over by Thomas junior who lived there until his own death in
1828. However he had no son to pass the tenancy of the property on to, having only two daughters,
Tryphena and Tryphosa (died as an infant) from his first marriage to Edith Lee. Apparently he
returned to Wisborough Green for a second marriage to Rhoda Clayton in 1813. The register states
‘Thomas Tobitt of Hawkhurst, Kent, widower and Rhoda Clayton, Spinster of this parish, married by
banns.’ Witnesses were Jet Mitchell and Elizabeth Clayton. No children resulted from this marriage.
Tryphena had been baptised on 14 Jun 1802 at Lady Huntingdon’s Chapel, mount Ephraim,
Tunbridge Wells, Kent. She married Thomas Tribe at Great Stanmore, London in 1826; but had no
family. The unusual names given to the sisters are from the new testament and were popular names
in the 16th and 17th centuries. They are both derivates of a Greek word meaning ‘daintiness’
‘delicacy’. (The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names.) Biblical names and later, names of
leaders in protestantism, were favoured for Tobitt children. Some of the family continued to follow the
Baptist faith, although many descendants later became members of the Anglican church.
The lease of the Gun Green Farm is reputed to have been taken over by Thomas Tribe after Tryphena’
Returning to the other children of Thomas senior, the second child, Mary married Francis Riddle
at East Grinstead , Sussex in 1787. Their son Jabez Riddle later married Anna Maria Doutty (Doughty)
at St. Botolphs, London 08 Oct 1825 and had a son Jabez Riddle junior.
RICHARD became a schoolmaster, at Castle Street, Holborn, London. He married Mary Whapham in
Lewes, Sussex on the 2nd April 1790. Their daughter, Abagail, married Thomas Beighton at St.
Bartholemew the Great, London, 22 Jun 1818 (issue 4 children)
A son, Timothy (bap 21 May 1795 at Maidstone, Kent and died 27 Aug 1860 at Greenwich) was was a
teacher of writing and accounts. He wrote booklets which were published by his father in law, W.
Timothy married Mary Ann Sears (bap 14 Feb 1800, died 29 Aug 1892) at St. James, Clerkenwell,
London, on 19 Oct 1823. The baptisms of some of their ten children are as follows: Mary Ann and
Caroline, at St Antholin, London 25 Jul 1826. Thomas Bughton , 11 Jan 1829, Jane Rhoda, 23 May
1830, at Fetter Lane, London. George Fox, 17 Aug 1833 at Clerkenwell, died 1907 at Croydon, Ellen c
1839, Clerkenwell. Their youngest Emma registered at Clerkenwell in 1841, was later to marry a
cousin, Edward Tobit Knight, son of Ruth Tobitt who had married Stephen Knight. (see next chapter)
Note.: Jean Tobbit of Wallington, Surrey and Stella Webb of South Croydon, Surrey, are both
descendants of George Fox Tobitt. See photograph on page 32.
JAMES married twice, firstly (by licence) to a Mary Elliott, thought to be the daughter of John and Mary
Elliott, baptised on 16 October 1761 at Wisborough Green. The 1780 land tax assessments lists a
Mary Elliot, possibly the widow of John Elliott, as tenant of Parsonage, a property which would later
become the home of a Tobitt family.
Seven children resulted from the first marriage and three more were born following James’ marriage,
also by licence, to Martha Bridger. (See next chapter, The Decendants of James)
WILLIAM married Ann Lee, who is believed to have been the daughter of Edmund Lee of Surrey. Their
first child, a daughter, was baptised Hephaaba or Hephzibah 06 Jan 1779 at Great Bookham, Surrey.
She married John Ashby of Bobbing, Kent, at Hawkhurst. (Jean Tobitt says that there were several of
her descendants later named ‘Hephsab ah’).
The next chilld was named Edmund Lee, baptised 01 Sep 1801. He married Catherine Barrett at
Rolvenden, Kent 31 May 1826 and lived at Etchingham. They were both listed in the 1841 census
as being 35 years old, living at a Hawkhurst property called East Barn Farm. Their children were:
Edmund junior 14, George 12, Samuel 9, Daniel, 7, Thomas 5, Katherine,3.
By 1851 Edmund’s address was a property of 140 acres named Tipden. His age was then corrected
to 47 years. At this time he employed 5 men on his farm. His wife Catherine was 49 years old and
stated that she had been born in Rolvenden. Edmund junior by then was 23, George, 22, Samuel, 19
Daniel, 18, Thomas, 14 and Katherine was 12.
Son George married Ellen Butcher. The family born to this couple were: Catherine Ellen, bap 02 Jun
1857, Frances Maria, bap 17 Jul 1858, George, bap 03 Mar 1860, Thomas, bap 19 Apr 1861, Harry,
bap 16 Dec 1862, Emily, bap 12 Aug 1864, Edith, bap 16 Jan 1868, Ada. bap 25 Apr 1866.
The 1881 census shows William’s third son Samuel with wife Emily as innkeepers at Etchingham in
Sussex; but the surname has been spelt Tobett.
JANE married Thomas Beach at Maidstone on 18th November 1802. Two of their three children died
in 1810, but their daughter Betsy married a man with the surname of Thompson and emigrated to
SARAH. A licence for her marriage to a John Marchant was applied for in Maidstone and they
married in Hawkhurst on 29 Aug1802. One daughter named Zipporah, born in 1803 at Hawkhurst,
later married Thomas Harris of Hays Wharf, London. (She was still alive in 1888, living in Peckham
with two daughters)
By the census of 1841, Sarah was living with her 60 year old husband, a beer retailer. Sons, David
and Samuel were said to be both 15. ( As in the 1841 census years were sometimes rounded off to
the nearest 0 or5, this may not have been their true age) They were living at home, both farm
labourers. By 1851 the husband, John Marchant, who stated he had been born in Hawkhurst, was
working as an agricultural labourer.
(Elizabeth Tobott an unmarried seamstress, born in Wisborough Green, was residing at Gun Green,
as a visitor.)
CHARLOTTE married William Woodhams on 02 Feb 1799 at Northiam, East Sussex, which is a
parish not far from Hawkhurst in Kent. Their son William married and had two daughters. Charlotte is
named as a legatee in her sister Ann’s will of 1848; but as Charlotte Parsons, suggesting that had
ANNE remained a spinster in Hawkhurst, living on independent means. In her will of 26 Sep. 1848
she bequeathed £10 to her sister Sarah Marchant, wife of John Marchant, For her extra trouble with me
during my illness. She left the residue of her mony to her three sisters, Sarah Marchant, Charlotte
Parsons , Widow, and Elizabeth Tobitt , spinster. The will further stated The real estate vested in me
as trustee morgagee to the said John Marchant and to my nephew Edmund Tobitt of Hawkhurst, miller
and I make them Executors.
The census of 1841 listed Anne at Gun Green as being 55 years of age and she was said to be living
by independent means.
ELIZABETH who also remained unmarried, was known to the family as Betsy. It is very likely that she
was the Elizabeth Tobott, seamstress, staying at Gun Green as a visitor, at the time of the 1841
The 1851 census showed that an Elizabeth Tobitt said to be, at this stage, from Rusper, was a
‘needle woman,’ living at Crustin, Crawley Street, Ifield.
The Decendants of James
From here our story concentrates on the family who descended from James Tobitt. It was in
Wisborough Green, where he had spent most of his early boyhood, that the two marriages were
solemnized and his children baptized. As already said in the previous chapter, he married Mary Elliott
by licence 24 Apr 1788 and Martha Bridger, also by licence 04 May 1805. (The next year James and
Martha Tobitt again signed the church register, but this time as witnesses at the marriage of James
Pacy to Sarah Ward.)
Following his marriage to his first wife, Mary Elliott, James had taken a lease on a farm called Sole
and part of Stroodland in middle division of Wisborough Green. After working this piece of land for
several years he was able to purchase it from the former owner, Mr Johnson. By the time he had
turned 50 he appears to have sold off part of his land to John Hards and a year or two later was
leasing the remainder.
In his latter years he became the tenant of house with some land owned by a gentleman, Mr Mackerall,
in the Parish of Kirdford, very close to Wisborough Green. The land with this property did not appear to
be very extensive, by the small amount of tax payable. Mackerels House and Mackerels common are
still shown on a modern Ordnance Survey map and it can be seen that, as the crow flies, they were not
far from the Kirdford farms worked by his eldest son John Elliot Tobitt.
Like his father James had ten children. (The family name was once again written as Tobit for some
years before reverting to Tobitt.) Their birth dates are: John Elliot(t) born during 1789, bap 8 Dec 1789,
Wisborough Green parish church. Samuel, born 25 Jan 1791. Mary, 25 Aug 1792, Westley, 13 Nov
1794 , Martha, 18 Sep 1795, Israel, 10 Nov 1798, Ruth 04 Oct 1800. These last six from the first
marriage to Mary Elliott were baptised together on 07 Jan 1805, three days after James’ second
marriage, to Martha Bridger. It is tempting to speculate that upon Martha’s discovery that her step
children were not baptised in the Anglican church, she had matters put right immediately. There after
followed Whitfield, born 14 Jan 1806, bap 18 May 1806, Elizabeth born c1808, bap 23 May 1808 and
James Berridge ( or Burridge) born 1813, bap 23 May 1813. All the children were baptisd at the parish
church, St Peter Ad Vincula, Wisborough Green , though James loyalty lay with the Baptist Church. He
is known to have registered the non conformist meeting house at Plaistow Place as his place of
worship in 1813.
JOHN ELLIOT TOBIT (T)
[See John Elliot Tobitt and Ruth Pacy further on]
SAMUEL TOBIT(T) and his family
Samuel married Anna Harwood, their union resulting in a family of eight.
Anna, Mary, Henry, Samuel, Edward, John, Thomas, William.
Samuel was an overseer for the poor in the Wisborough Green vestry. During 1821 he was appointed
, along with Charles Lewery of West Chiltington and William Jefford of Storrington, as impartial
observers, to measure and give a description of all the properties of the district of Pulborough, A Copy
of Admeasurement and Valuation of the Parish of Pulborough which gave names of owners and
fields, the state of cultivation and the acreage. They were to be assisted by the overseers of the
His name appears in the land Tax reords for Wisborough Green as owner of Stroodland in 1816 and
the next year he also had tenancy of Richard Edward’s farmland, namely Three lands End and Vincent
From 1818, Stroodland was leased to James Hards jun., while Samuel continued to farm Three lands
End until 1821 when he changed to Thomas Edward’s property Farningates, still continuing
ownership of Stroodland. In early 1822 he acquired a second property , Ferney Fields which he used
himself until his younger brother, Israel took over both farms.
This must have been about the time that Samuel moved to Arundel where he became clerk to the
Lighter and Barge Co. He sold his Wisborough Green properties to W. Napper Esq. around 1829.
When he died he left assets of £450 in his will and was buried in Arundel. The baptisms of his family,
Anna, Mary, Henry, Samuel, Edward, John, Thomas and William are as follows:
Anna, bap. Wisborough Green 22 Dec 1816, died 1833
Mary bap W.G. 05 Nov 1818. Married George Booth at Lewes 13 Oct 1836, died1865
Henry bap 08 Sep 1822 Arundel. bur Arundel 1838
Samuel bap 17 Jun 1825 Arundel. death reg. Havant 1853 (not confirmed)
Edward William bap 05 Mar 1828 Arundel death reg 1857 Worthing
John bap 10 Jan 1830 Arundel bur Arundel 13 Dec 1837
Thomas bap 03 Jun 1832 Arundel bur 23 Mar 1866. reg. district of Worthing.
William bap 25 Jan 1835 Arundel. He married Mary Ann Malyon. They had 9 children.
Mary, daughter of James, married George Holden at St. James, Westminster, London 18 May 1816.
There was no issue.
WESTLEY TOBIT. No definite records of his life nor the date of his death have yet been found. There is
however, among the notes on Kirdford Farms made by Hugh Kenyon, a suggestion that in 1836 Little
Slifehurst then called Gasford Farm of Pallingham Manor, was in the occupation of ‘Wesley Tobitt’
which suggests that he worked this property, which appears to have been leased by his elder
brother John E. Tobitt.
MARTHA TOBIT died at 21 years and was buried at Wisborough Green churchyard in 1817.
Israel Tobit and his children further on
RUTH TOBIT (last daughter of James and Mary Elliott)
Ruth married Stephen Knight of the Isle of Wight. They appear to have lived on the Isle of wight by the
baptisms of their sons, the first four being at Ryde and the two youngest at Cowes. Frederick Stephen
18 Oct 1821, James Henry 17 Jul 1831, Joseph Charles 21 Jul 1833, William John 16 Aug 1835,
Edward Josiah c 1841, Alfred Wallace c 1843.
Edward married his cousin Emma Tobitt, youngest daughter of Timothy Tobitt and later became the
Mayor of Deptford, Kent.
WHITFIELD TOBITT (son of James and Martha Bridger - James’ 2nd marriage)
Whitfield, worked as a farm labourer. He married Mary Keen in Kirdford on 30 July 1831. In 1881
Whitfield was listed as being a widower, living in a cottage at Kirdford common with his 45-year-old
daughter, Mary. His death was registered at Petworth in 1883.
Elizabeth married Felix Foster, after the birth of their first daughter. As can be seen by the document
from the parish chest of the Wisborough Green church, Elizabeth was cared for by her brother John,
when she gave birth to a daughter by Felix Foster, a local farmer. Whether these two young people
really loved each other at this stage we will never know; but their subsequent marriage was a lasting
and fruitful one. Their ten children were named: Elizabeth, Henry, Edith, Felix, Albert, Ambrose, Alice,
John Wesley, Edwin and Ellen.
Elizabeth and Felix married at Kirdford 07 Jul 1832. They had the next four of their family in Kirdford
before emigrating to Brighton,Victoria, Australia where the other children were born. When the English
census of 1841 was taken they were farming at the leasehold property called Redland in Kirdford.
Their daughter Elizabeth was 10, Henry 8, Edith 6, Felix jun. 4, Albert 2 and Ambrose I month. Agnes
Tobitt aged 14, (not from Sussex) was also in the household. Three years later the Foster family
emigrated to Victoria, Australia, on the ship Lord William Bentinct, arriving on 22, Aug 1844. Felix
Foster’s name appears on the electoral roll of 1847. Later the family moved further down the
peninsular where Felix had acquired 647 acres of land at Moorooduc. Agnes Tobitt who had migrated
with the Fosters later married in Adelaide in 1850.
[Lawrence Roderick Foster of Auckland, New Zealand is a descendant of Elizabeth and Felix Foster.
Lawrence’s wife Lorna has assembled a very comprehensive family tree of Elizabeth’s descendants
JAMES BERRIDGE TOBITT
James Burridge / Berridge Tobitt, the youngest in the family of James and Martha, married Mary
Nickols at St Leonards, at Shoreditch, London, on April 22 1838. During his working life he became
the land steward to Lord Truro at Shooters Hill, Kent. James’ death, registered at Dorking, Surrey, at
age 66 was recorded in 1880. A son Henry was baptised late in 1838 at West Ham,London. As an
adult he emigrated to Ballarat, Victoria, Australia where he married Harriet Ling in 1865. Their
Henry, born Ballarat 1865 married Florence Harris at Ballarat.. They had a son, James Frederick,
born Ballarat, 1897 and a daughter, Thelma Parlene, born 1906 at Williamstown. This Henry died in
Williamstown in 1918.
Alfred, born 1868 Ballarat, died 1896 Ballarat.
George born 1870 Ballarat.
James born 1872 Ballarat, married Laura Louisa Francis, Ballarat. Their son George Clarence
born 1903 at Ballarat died the following year.
Eic (Eric) born 1875 Ballarat, died there in 1891.
Frederick born 1877 Ballarat, married Charlotte Saker (or Laker) in 1900. Their children were: Norman
Frederick born 1900 Ballarat, Marjorie Bernice born 1903 Ballarat, Raymond Ellis born 1913,
Below left: James Berridge Tobitt. Right: Henry Tobitt who emigrated to Australia.
Israel Tobit and his children
ISRAEL TOBIT and his children
Israel married Mary Mills 08 Jun 1824 at Wisborough Green. They had the following children all
baptised at St Peter Ad Vincula, Wisborough Green: Ann 05 Mar 1826, Thomas 04 May 1828, William
01 Aug 1830, Mary 24 Jun 1832, John 22 Feb 1835, Samuel 26 Nov 1837.
For some time the family’s name was written as Tobit but later the extra ‘t’ was added again.
They are all to be found in the 1841 census, at the farm, Gunshot near Kirdford where Israel had
moved to after leasing his brother Samuel’s farms in Wisborough Green. Also in the household were
2 farm workers and a female servant.
Amongst papers belonging to the vestry records for the parish of Wisborough Green, there is a letter
from Petworth, dated 19 June 1828, to the Parish Clerk.
Sir , I think there should be an inquest on Henry Steer under the circumstances you relate.
I have therefore fixed ten o’clock tomorrow morning if you will procure me a jury. The poor man may be
placed in his coffin and any other preparation made for his funeral as may be deemed necessary. I
am Sir, Your Obt. Servt. I.L. Ellis
There follows a list of the appointed jury:
Henry H. Botting, Thos. Elliot, James Hard, Israel Tobitt, John Luff, John Hard, James Thorpe, Micheal
Jeal, Arthur Beer, John Voice.
As a young man Israel farmed his brother’s two properties, Stroodland and Ferney Fields, continuing
the leasehold whenWilliam Napper Esq became the proprietor, until 1831 when he took up a tenacy
on Gunshot and Burlands, part of the large Onslow estate. His death in his mid 70s was registered
at Hambledon in the 1st quarter of 1873.
The lives of Israel Tobitt’s family follow here.
Ann married a Mr Frost
Thomas married and had 5 children. They lived in Kennington, Surrey.
William, ( in the IGI as William Tobut, became farmer of Dunhurst neighbouring Gunshot. His wife’s
name was Frances. The following children of this marriage were all baptised in the parish church of
Wisborough Green. Fanny, 02 Sep 1855, Margaret Mary,13 Mar 1859, William James, 28 O ct 1860,
Ann Maria, 10 Aug 1862, Kate,18 Sep 1864, Gertrude,26 Mar 1867, Lizzie,25 Apr 1869, Ernest,28 Jul
The 27th of February 1864 must have been a very sad day for William and Frances when they buried
two of their children, 5 year old Margaret and 3 year old William. Whether they died as a result of
accident or illness is not known. Anna Maria married J. Jones of Croydon. Gertrude died unmarried
at Croydon 23 Mar 1959.
The 1881 census showed William Tobitt of Dunhurst Farm, 256 acres, employing 4 men and a boy.
His wife Francie (from Marlborough, Norfolk) is 49. With them were Ann, 18, Kate, 16, Gertrude, 14,
Ten years later the next census tells us that 19-year-old son Ernest Tobitt was working on the farm
with his father. ( he was absent from home in the previous census, possibly being at boarding school)
William’s 35 year old married daughter Fanny Sainsbury was staying at the farm with her two sons
Reginald William Sainsbury and Arthur Leslie Sainsbury born in Hauts Odium. Kate was also there,
now married as Kate Strand aged 26. Her younger sister Lizzie was unmarried at 22.
Five years later saw the marriage of the younger son Ernest. ‘ Ernest John Tobitt, bachelor, 24,
Farmer, Loxwood, Wisborough Green, father, William Tobitt, Farmer,’ married Jenny Agnes
Thompson, aged 24, daughter of Alfred James Thompson, grocer at Kirdford on 30 Oct. 1896. The
witnesses were Reginald Thompson, W. Tobitt, Lizzie Tobitt and Alfred Thompson.
It is not known yet what became of the three other members of the family. Their father William Tobitt
died in 1917.
Dunhurst, later called Dounhurst, eventually became one of the farms that changed from cropping and
stock grazing to fruit growing. Janet Austin in her Kirdford, The Old Parish Revisited, says that the farm
was bought in 1930 by Mrs F. G. Mursell, who with her brother in law planted out an orchard and
became an early member of the Kirdford Growers. A leaflet written about this enterprise gave some
notes on the early history of the property.
Dounhurst had been a typical wealden farm producing cattle, sheep,corn and grass as far back as
records go. There was a John de Dunhurst here in 1321 and Dounhurst Parcus is mentioned in
records dated 1283, 1299 and 1358, though earliest proof of the age of the present house was a
cartoon of Charles 1st found scribbled in Charcoal on a plaster wall behind old oak panelling when it
was moved in 1963. So the present house probably dates back to the 16th century. In 1930 the barns
came to within five yards of the house.
Mary. No record of her life found so far
John and his wife Eliza (from Kirdford) had several children. The baptisms show that the young
couple began their married life in Wisborough Green, then had a period in Worth before returning to
Wisborough Green, finally making the move to take on the Brook farm in Whitely, Surrey. The 1861
census for Worth shows that John and Eliza were living there with a 3-month-old daughter Alice who
had been born in Worth. Their first two children had both died there the year previously. (reg East
Eliza bap 19 Apr 1857 Wis. Green, John bap 07 Aug 1859 Worth, Alice Helena bap 02 Nov 1861,
Florence 02 Feb 1862, Worth, Francis Caleb Tobitt bap 31 Jul 1864 Wis. Green, Percy Leonard born
1874 at Whitely. The 1881 census lists John and Eliza with daughter Florence and son Francis at the
Whitley farm of 214 acres. When John died in 1899, aged 64, he was buried at Witley and his death
was registered in the 4th quarter at Hambleton.
Two years later the 1891 census shows that Francis C. Tobitt, aged 28, was farming at Rudgwick. His
wife, Evaline (born in Hants Huntington) was also 28. The young couple had a 6 months old daughter
named Evaline after her mother.
Samuel, the youngest member of Israel and Mary’s family, married Sarah Ward, a young woman of
Henfield, in 1860 and continued to reside there as a grocer and draper in High Street. It has been
said that he also owned a windmill in the same district.
Their children were baptised in the parish church of Henfield as follows: James William 08 Sep 1861,
John 09 Aug 1863, Annie 09 Apr 1865, Charles 14 Jun 1867, Arthur 13 Jun 1869, Alfred 09 Oct
1870, Ada Mary 09 Mar 1873
(The eldest son James William became a clergyman, marrying and having a son William Crathern
born in 1887. James W. Tobitt was minister of the Tabernacle, Hastings for 30 years. He died in 1928
at 66 years)
By the Henfield census of 1861 Samuel’s family was living at London House, but by 1871 the address
was High St. By 1891 Samuel was aged 55 and Sarah 58. Their daughter Annie was 26, son Arthur
aged 22 was a draper’s assistant and Alfred, 20, a grocer’s assistant.
The shop’s living quarters must have been too cramped to house all the family as John Tobitt aged
27, draper and grocer, was a lodger at a nearby house along with three other shop assisants, in the
home of Eliza Candle.
Samuel’s youngest daughter, Ada Mary, born c1873, lived at Rus House until the 1960s. Jean Tobitt,
of Wallington, Surrey remembers going with her father to visit Ada when she was a very old lady. Jean
says, ‘She insisted on opening the front door to let us out. It had not been opened for some time as
everyone in the country used the back door.’
John Elliott Tobitt and Ruth Pacey
John Elliott, the eldest son of James Tobitt and Mary Elliott, married Ruth Pac(e)y by banns at the
Wisborough Green parish church in 1815. In the early 1820s his name appears in the Kirdford land
tax assessments as a tenant farmer of ‘house and land’, although when his first child was baptised,
John was earning a living working for another farmer. Later on he farmed three properties, living at
one known as Little Slifehurst. After their marriage John and Ruth had a family of six, the eldest
named John Elliot Tobit after his father. (At this stage the names seems to have dropped the last ‘t’ for
a while in records. John junior was followed by Sampson and Westley, (later always written as
Wesley) It is from Wesley’s family line that Joyce Coffin and Margaret Major descend.
After Wesley there followed Anna, James Calvin and Ruth (who married Frederick Mann May)
Prior to marriage, John Elliot Tobitt senior and Ruth Pacey had already had a son. A child born out of
wedlock was a matter of concern to the Parish Vestry. A warrant to convene the Parties for Filliation
was sent from the area Justices of the peace to the Constable of Wisborough Green. It is one of the
documents surviving in the Parish Chest, which states that:
On the 8th of January 1815 Ruth Pacy gave birth to a son , at the house of her father Thomas Pacy
Ruth named John Tobitt, husbandman of Kirdford, as the father. Both Ruth Pacy and John were
summoned to appear at the House of James Tylar, known as the Half Moon, in Petworth, at 11 am on
Saturday the 18th March. John was to appear as the reputed Father,
that he may make his lawful Defence; to the end that, upon the Examination of the Case and
Circumstances, we may take such Order therein, as to the Law doth appertain.
The upshot was that John had to pay a fine and pay 2/6d a week into the parish vestry funds for the
upkeep of the child, a boy. Ruth Pacy likewise was ordered to pay 6d per week.
On 12 Feb. 1815 Walter Pacey, son of Ruth Pacey was baptised at Wisborough Green. Walter later
used the name Pacey as a middle name, which was passed on to his own future family.
A few months later John and Ruth were legally man and wife. Why they did not marry immediately is
not clear. Perhaps Ruth’s parents insisted on John’s being able properly to support a family or John
may have needed some coercion to enter a state of matrimony. Be that as it may, the wedding took
place at St Peter Ad Vincula, Wisborough Green on the 11th September 1815. The ceremony was
conducted by the vicar, Montague Rush and witnessed by James Boxall and Mary Pacey. [She wrote
her name a Peacey]
There seems to have been a long association of the extended Tobitt and Pac(e)y families. John’s
parents had been the witnesses at James Pacy’s wedding in 1806. In 1821 John and his wife Ruth
signed as witnesses at the marriage of Peter Pacy and Hannah Joyes, then several decades later
their grandson Walter was to marry Emma Pacy
A copy of an English Paleogaphy,Genealogy and Topography Catalogue of 1930, found in the
National General Assembly Library, Wellington, lists among it items for sale, an assignment dated
soon after the marriage of John and Ruth.
John Elliott Tobitt of Wisborough Green to Thomas Mellersh of Goldaming, Co Surrey, for residue of a
term of 10,000 years. Witnesses, Jas Limbert, clerk to Mellersh and Marshall, Goldaming. Signature
John Tobitt 16 Sep.1818 M10.
For a long time such documents have been considered collectable items, frequently changing hands
at auctions where antique maps, wills, deeds of sale, family Bibles and the like are offered.
The 1825 Sussex Land Tax Assessment included John as the tenant of a farm in Kirdford that had
been ‘in the late possession of Gatford’. From notes made by Hugh Kenyon, now deposited in the
West Sussex Record Office, it would appear that this place was the same as later referred to as Little
Slifehurst and which became John Tobitt’s family home. By the next year he was working two
properties and by 1826 leased three farms; but during this period the names properties were not
recorded by the tax assessor. Incidentally ‘Slifehurst’ appears to have originated from the name of
Thom. Slefhurst who was on the original Pallingham Manor rent roll in 1405. The names of farms
varied over time as did their boundaries, which were changed to meet the needs and finances of new
In the 1841 census for Kirdford,John and Ruth were farming at Slifehurst Farm and it is thought that
also they had purchased or else had the tenancy of Hills Green Farm (which appears to have been
worked by John’s younger brother Westley and which was later to be owned by John’s son Wesley).
The census returns show John and Ruth as a middle aged couple with the family still living at home;
Sampson aged 21, Wesley 19, Ann, 16 and Calvin 11 years old. Hugh Napper, aged 25, of
independent means was also in the household. He was the man that young Ann would marry the
John died in 1864. His grave is in the Kirdford Churchyard. Ruth lived on until age 80 in 1875.
The lives of the children of John Elliott Tobitt and his wife Ruth Pacy
Walter Pacey Tobett (The son born in 1815)
Not much is known of his life except that he appears in the 1881 Sussex census, at age 66, living at
Chichester as a pensioner with his 53 year old wife Jane P. Tobett, who says that she had been born
in Kirdford. It is not known if it was Walter’s own choice to spell his surname differently from his
Living in the same house were an adult son, another Walter P. Tobett, a shoe maker, aged 24 and a
daughter, Clara P. Tobett aged 27 who was also a shoemaker. A 9 month old grand daughter
(presumably daughter of Clara) was in the household also and her name was Bessy P. Tobett.
Clara had been born in Hayling Island, Hampshire and her younger brother at Hillingdon Middlesex.
John Elliot junior, the next child born to John Elliott Tobitt and Ruth, born 18 Mar 1817, bap. 27 Apr
1817, died 24 Feb 1848. This child was buried at Kirdford.
Sampson bap 12 Sep 1819. He was born intellectually handicapped; but was employed as a farm
labourer until hard times reduced him to living as a pauper. The 1881 census shows Sampson then
61 years as number 13 Southgate, an inmate of the workhouse. He died in 1888 and was buried in
the Kirdford churchyard.
Westley (Wesley,) bap 12 Aug 1821. see chapter: ‘Wesley Tobitt of Hills Green’
Anna (Ann) bap 12 Jun 1825. married Hugh Napper 17 May 1842, when she was 17. Their first four
children were baptised at Kirdford: Anna 20 Aug 1843, John Laker 04 May 1848, Edgar 19 May 1850,
Sarah 15 Mar 1853, Edwin 17 Feb 1856, Dendy 29 Jul 1860. These last three were baptised at
Wisborough Green. They were living in Rudgwick at the time of the 1891 census, Hugh said to be 77
and Anne, 65. Their son Hugh, born while they were still at Wiborough Green, lived with them,
working as a farm labourer.
James Calvin bap 07 Oct 1827, died late 1910. (Registration at East Grinstead, Sussex.)
In the 1878 post office directory he was shown as farmer of Slifehurst
He had also worked as a farm bailiff. In 1886 he took on the lease of Miswell Farm at Turners Hill,
Ruth Bristow bap 05 May 1833, married Frederick Mann May 20 Sep 1853 at Kirdford. (Frederick
then became both brother in law and stepson to Wesley Tobitt who had already married Frederick’s
mother, some years previously)
The Tobitts of Hills Green Farm
Wesley, third son of John and Ruth, in turn became a farmer in his own right. The farm property ‘Hills
Green’ in Kirdford was to be his home for sixty odd years. Hills Green is a farm with an interesting
history. It is close by Slifehurst where Wesley spent his childhood and is mentioned in an article by H.
Kenyon Kirdford Inventories 1611 to 1776. He writes of the Strudwick family, who were long time
owners of Hills Green:
By about 1600, possibly with the help of their glass and iron production, there were three main
branches of the family established, at Idehurst, Crouchland and Hills Green. The Hills Green farm
house dates from this time or earlier.
There exists an inventory of the goods and chattels of William Strudwick of Hills Green who died in
1678, the one time owner whose name is inscribed on a beautiful silver communion cup and paten
belonging to the Kirdford Church. It is interesting to compare his inventory with the auction catalogue
of the farm and house contents made when Wesley sold up in 1902, before his son took over Hills
In 1678 the farmhouse had a kitchen, hall, ‘parlor’, buttery, milkhouse and brewhouse. Upstairs over
these rooms were several ‘chambers’ used as bedrooms and judging by the number of beds listed,
the household was a large one. The kitchen was well equipped for the time, with iron and brass
utensils for cooking; puter (pewter ) rather than ceramic dinner ware, and the usual andirons, firepan,
spitts, pothangers, hooks and tongs. There were a number of tables in the house and plenty of forms
and chairs for seating, one or two cupboards for storage and several chests for linen and clothing.
A cider press and a quantity of stored malt show that cider and beer were always made at Hills Green.
There was also a store of grain in the barn and several acres growing in the fields. The livestock
consisted of ‘fore oxen, fore cowes, three young bools, sex pigs, a sowe, a hors and three pony.’
Transport would have been by the new wagon listed and there was a dungcart for use on the farm. A
york harrow, chains and harness are the only implements named, besides ‘all other husbandry for
Events leading to Wesley Tobitt’s marriage to Ann(e) Mann
When manufacture of iron and glass moved from Sussex to Northern counties the fortunes of the
Strudwicks diminished and Hills Green was taken over by a succession of owners until in 1830 the
Kirdford Land Tax & Assessment lists a farmer called Noah Mann occupying Hills Green, leasing it
from William Stoveld. He also leased Withurst from Lord Newburge and a property named Howick -
which was where he resided. He was one of the respected farmers of the district as shown by his
appointment as an assessor of tax for 1829 and his name appears on documents in the parish
chest which he signed as overseer in 1821. His wife was Anne, baptised 03 Mar 1817, the daughter
of John and Anne May, of Kirdford. The Mays lived at a neighbouring property called Slifehurst Farm
(later to be the home of John Elliott Tobitt’s family, where Wesley spent his youth.)
Noah was considerably older than Anne when their marriage took place on 08 April 1836. Their son
William was baptised 24 Feb 1837 at Kirdford; but it appears that formerly Noah had a natural son,
John Stemp , ‘otherwise Mann’, and also that Anne had already had two children by Noah, namely
Frederick May, born c1833 and Mary Ann May (bap 13 Apr 1838, birthdate not known.) These three
natural children were treated equally with William in Noah Mann’s will.
When the 77 year old Noah Mann died (of constipation) 02 Apr 1840 he made a will on his death bed,
witnessed by Thomas Hale, the doctor attending him, Thomas Cooper and George Remnant. He
must have been too ill and weakened with pain to write his name, as he only signed the document
with a cross.
Probate for the will was obtained by Dr Hale and a relative, James Mann junior on 28 Sep1840.
This is the last will and testament of me Noah Mann of Howick Farm in the County of Sussex, Farmer.
I give and bequeath to my wife Ann Mann all my real and Personal Estate for her use and benefit
during the term of her natural life as well as for the maintenance and support of all my natural children
viz John Stemp otherwisw Mann, Frederick May, Mary Ann May and my Child, William Mann, born of my
wife Ann Mann since my marriage. It is my will that after the decease of my wife Ann Mann, that my
natural children John Stemp otherewise Mann, Frederick May, Mary Ann May and my legal Child ,
William Mann Should share and share alike and that each should have an equal moiety as the other. I
also declare that James Mann junr. of Clamrin Hill in the County of Surrey, Farmer and Edward Cooper
of Bale House in the County of Sussex Exors. under this my last Will and Testament and by this
document take out letters of Administration to all my Effects, Real and Personal for the benifit of the
parties above mentioned in witness b
of which I have signed my hand this 2nd Day of April 1840.
Noah Mann X
In the presence of Thomas Hampton Hale. Petworth
Thomas Cooper his X mark
George Remnant his X mark
By this time, Slifehurst farm had become the home of the John Tobitt family. As it was in the same part
of Kirford as the Mann properties the families would have been well known to each other. Edward
Cooper, named as executor, was also a close neighbour.
By the 1841 census, Hills Green was occupied by a farm worker’s family. Ann remained living at
Howick after her husband’s death and was still there when her son Albert was born. G. H. Kenyon’s
notes on Kirdford farms mentions Hills Green as being leased by John Tobitt from J. Stoveld.
Although no date is given this must have been soon after the death of Noah Mann. It is possible that
John Tobitt subsequently bought the farm from the Stoveld family.
Nineteen year old Wesley, it seems, had formed a liason with the young widow, Ann Mann, four years
his senior, because she baptised a son Albert Tobitt Mann, on 24 Jul 1842 at Kirdford. Wesley and
Ann married in April the following year, soon after the birth of their daughter Jane and the surname
Mann was dropped from Albert’s name. (Jane Tobitt was to become the wife of John Downer) The
children of this young Tobitt family were brought up at Hills Green, but how and at what stage the
property came into Wesley’s possession is not known, because by the census of 1841 he was still in
his father’s household at Slifehurst Farm; but we do know that soon after his marriage he became
the owner of Hills Green and suspect that either his father had purchased it or it was bought with an
inheritance of Ann Mann.
In his mature years Wesley was considered something of a ‘character’ and undoubtedly was a great
tease, fondly remembered by all his descendants, especially his great grand children. Una Joyes
wrote on a postcard photo of Hills Green: This is where dear old Great Grandpa lived for over sixty
years. Joan Spragg (nee Joyes) recalls her father saying that when he came to know his Great
Grandpa Tobitt, the old man had but one tooth in his head on which he could still manage to spear an
apple. Joyce Coffin (nee Tobitt) says that her grandfather Albert Tobitt, eldest son of Wesley, related
how his father used to tease his wife (Albert’s mother ) known as ‘Dutch’. He would say ‘There you go
Dutch, tearing about as if you hadn’t a minute to live.’ The family thought it was good that someone
bustled about because Wesley had a reputation by then, of being not too fond of hard work himself.
He was known sometimes to get up early and ride over to visit a neighbour, in time for breakfast, to
avoid, it was suspected, doing the chores on his own farm. She continues, ‘There was once a visitor
from town, taking a country holiday at Hills Green, who asked Wesley where the bathroom was.
“Bathroom?” he replied, “Who would want a bathroom! I’ve washed nothing but my head and feet for
forty years. If I feel extra dirty I run through the pond.” ’ And he horrified the fastidious wife of one of his
grandsons, visiting from America, when he offered her son,‘Little Bertie’ a string of sugar candy from
amongst the dubious contents of his pocket.
Wesley was, as Joyce puts it, ‘No respecter of persons’ and unlike the majority of Kirdford
farmer who had tenancy of their properties, he was the owner of Hills Green. In those days Lord
Leconfield of Petworth was the chief land owner in the district and it was the accepted custom for
the gentry to hunt around Kirdford, following the Leconfield hounds here, there and where ever the
quarry led them. Wesley, fiercely independent, was not about to bow to custom on at least one
occasion, as Joyce describes: ‘During one hunting season when the local hunt was due to go over
his land and he considered the conditions unsuitable, he betook himself to a gateway the hunt
would have to use and started to cut the hedge. When the hunt, headed by Lord Leconfield, arrived
Wesley said “Not this way today my Lord.” Lord L. called out to the other riders “Here’s Tobitt with a
bill-hook barring the gate. We’d better go another way.” ’
Many years earlier, Wesley Tobitt and Ann Mann, the young widow, had been married at Kirdford on
the 12th of April 1843.
ALBERT TOBITT 1842 - 1933. (Information from his great grand daughter Joyce Coffin.)
Albert worked as a game keeper at Alfold, Surrey then moved to Pilling, Lancashire when he was
offered employment by Mr Robert Herman Hodge (later to become Lord Wyfold)
When the new Lord of Wyfold moved onto his Estate, in the parish of Checkendon, in Henly, Oxon,
Albert had the position of steward, living on Neals Farm. This was a post he held for 41 years after
which he retired to live at Caversham, Reading, until his death in 1933.
He married three times. His first wife was Fanny Pannell. Their first child was Albert John, baptised
at Kirdford 29 Apr 1866. The next two children were born while they were at Pilling, Jane 1867, (died
in infancy) and Percy Wesley 1668. Amelia Jane 1871 and Florence Wyfold 1873 were born after the
move to Checkendon.
Fanny died after the birth of her fifth child; but her children had a new mother when Albert married his
cousin Mary Downer.
Mary herself had seven children before her death at 32 years of age in January 1887. The children
were named: Harold Sidney b.1875, Mary Adelaide b.1877, Ethel Alberta b.1879, Stanley b. 1881,
(reg in 1882) Eveline Gertrude b.1883, Herbert Leslie b. 1885 (reg 1886) Edith May Downer b.1886
(reg 1887) Edith married Robert Charles Coulton. They had two daughters, the elder being Eveline
May known as ‘Dick’(b.1908) who married Alfred Catell. Their son , Tony (b.1939) died in infancy. A
daughter, Angela, (b.1943) married Les Wallis and has two sons Richard and Stuart. Edith’s other
daughter, May Ethel known as ‘Jak’(b.1909) married Sydney Yan Thompson, son of Sidney Lough
Thompson, the well known New Zealand painter, in 1938. Their children were: (1) Ian Charles Lough
(b.1940) married to Akiko (b 1957 Japan) They have a daughter Yoshiko Alice May ‘Dolly’ (b.1991)
(2) Annette (b. 1944) who married John Horniblow.. They have two sons Jonathan (b. 1971) David (b.
1973) and a daughter Jessica (b.1985)
Albert’s third wife was Laura Mary Heard. Their only child, a son, Cyril Richmond was born in 1891.
Laura died in 1940, outliving Albert by seven years.
Brief notes on some of Albert’s other children:
Albert emigrated to USA. (one son)
Percy also went to USA; but returned to England (two daughters)
Amelia Jane known by the family as Jennie, married General Heastey, an army officer who served in
India. (two daughters and a son)
Florence married (1) C. Jackson, barrister of the High Court of Bombay (2) C.Radford Young, a
Harold emigrated to USA (three sons and two daughters)
Mary married the Rev. J. Shackle. It is thought that they had a son.
Ethel married a farmer Frank Morgan (two sons)
Stanley was a captain in Merchant Navy. Married Daisy Eyres. no issue.
Eveline married her cousin George Downer. no issue.
Leslie emigrated to Nashville, Tennessee, USA, where he died in 1970. (six sons and two daughters)
The second child, a girl named Jane, (called Jennie or Jeanie) bap 29 Oct 1843, died 1903, was
destined to marry John Downer of Marshalls Farm in Kirdford. (see the Downer Family, part 1 of this
WESLEY TOBITT. Next came a son Wesley junior, bap 05 Oct 1845, who broke with the tradition of
rural living by entering the Metropolitan Police Force. He was known by the family for a saying that
‘criminals needed a good hiding!’ There were two children from his marriage to Ann Matilda Pannell in
Petworth in 1869, Annie Jane b 1871 and Charles Wesley born the following year. Wesley junior was
successful in his chosen career, rising to be Superintendent of Police, Rochester Row, London; but
retired later in life to live, after his father’s death, at Hills Green Farm in Kirdford until his own death in
1911, at age 65.
Walter, bap. 05 Sep 1847, was a tenant farmer of Barkfold farm Kirdford. His wife Emma Pacey, born
at Holborn, London in 1847, bore six Tobitt children. Walter Henry,bap 12 Sep 1869 Kirdford, John
Wesley, 24 Sep 1871, Albert Frederick, 03 Oct 1873, Emma and Amelia, c 1876, Annie,1881.
In the 1881 census of Kirdford Walter is the farmer of ‘Little Barkfold’ on the same estate as Barkfold
House an imposing residential building on the road between Kirdford and Wisborough Green. The
census record shows that Walter was employing 8 men on his 350 acres. He and Emma were both
33 years of age. Their eldest son, Walter Henry, was then 11 years old and baby of the family, Annie
was 7 months. Albert was 7 and Emma and Amelia, 5. There was a girl servant in the household and
two of the farm workers boarded with the family.
Ten years later Walter Henry was still living with the family, working on the farm. Emma at 16 was a
scholar as was 11 year old Annie, but there was no mention of Amelia.
By the Kellys diectory of 1913 Walter and Emma had moved to another old established Kirdford
property, Belchambers Farm. Walter died in 1931. Joyce Coffin and her father attended Emma’s
funeral in 1935. The graves of both Walter and Emma are in the Kirdford churchyard
In her book, ‘Kirdford The Old Parish Discovered’, Janet Austin refers to an article published in the
County Times of 1893 about the Kirdford Friendly Society’s Annual Dinner held at the Half Moon
following a service at the Kirdford Church. The function was presided over by the vicar the Rev. E. A.
Birrel, supported by a group in which Mr Walter Tobitt, Mr Ernest Tobitt and Mr A. J. Thompson were
included. (Ernest married Mr Thompson’s daughter. See page 12)
The son of Walter and Emma, Walter Henry married Mary Wright. It is thought that they took over the
farm of Little Barkfold when Walter’s parents shifted to Belchambers. One of their six children was a
son named Walter Hubert who became the farmer at Pendell Court and Sandhill’s farm , Bletchingly,
Surrey. His wife’s name was Winifred. One of their sons, William continued as a farmer of Pendell
The second child, John Wesley, born in 1873, two years younger than Walter Henry died early in 1877
and was buried at Kirdford.
Albert Frederick (Fred) Tobitt who married Ethel Anne Downer, was farmer of Parsonage Farm
Loxwood (by Kirdford) They had no children and eventually retired to a bungalow in Plaistow, nearby.
Both Jean Tobitt and Joyce Coffin can recall the occasions of visits to Parsonage Farm. Jean
describes Fred as a typical ruddy faced farmer, who spoke with a strong Sussex burr.
Joyce remembers the lovely walled garden at Parsonage Farm. Fred taught her to play tennis on the
court there in the late 1920s. Many years later in 1960 she and her husband called to see the elderly
retired couple in their bungalo. Fred complained that it was like living in a box after Parsonage Farm
house. He and Ethel died within a few days of each other in 1968, having been born in 1873 and 1880
respectively. One of them was taken to hospital after some sort of accident and the other died at home.
John, bap 03 Jun 1849 at Kirdford, emigrated to the USA. He is known by English relatives to have
had a son, named Fred.A. Tobitt who worked for the Armco Steel Corporation, Indiana. Fred’s son
Edward (Ted) Tobitt visited relatives on trips to England and contact was kept until his death in the
In the 1900 census of Lemon Township, Butler, Ohio, USA, there was a record of four young persons
by the name of Tobitt residing with a 46 year old aunt called Virginia Helwig, her brother, Arthur, 43
and her 72 year old widowed mother, Ellen Helwig. Their names were Carrie A. Tobitt, born Jul 1878,
Mary E. Tobitt, born Jul 1880, Fred A. Tobitt, born Aug 1882, Walter J. Tobitt, born Jun 1884. All four
were said to have had a father born in England and a mother born in Ohio. These are surely the
children of John Tobitt, but there is no sign of their parents.
Fred’s marriage to Hazel Robbins resulted in the birth of a son and a daughter.
Frederick Edward (Ted) married Margaret Kurz. They had two daughters, Sarah and Joanne. Sarah
married twice (1) Lee Brown and had a son Evan. (2) Jarred Freeman.
Joanne married Peter Smith , having a daughter Alice and a son Peter, who is married with children.
Jeanne married Walter Hunt. Their daughter was named Susan who married Jay Wright. Their son
Tobitt Wright was known as ‘Toby’.
Amelia (Milly) bap 23 Feb 1851, died at the age of 21.
JAMES SAMUEL TOBITT
James Samuel bap 03 Dec 1852, emigrated to America, marrying Frances M. Mitchell at Butler, Ohio
29 Jun 1876. He became well established in oil business in Ohio. Several of his Downer nephews
visited him and he helped at least a couple get started in their careers in the States. Many years later,
Mildred Downer wrote of him, ‘Uncle Sam had come to Cincinnati, Ohio, soon after oil was discovered
at Titusville, Pennsylvania. Uncle Sam was a sharp businessman, he did, in time, own the Monach Oil
company which he sold to the oil baron John D. Rockefeller. He always lived well in a choice section
just out of city limits called Wyoming, Ohio. He and his wife, known as Fanny, had two children’
Berridge (Burridge) bap 29 Oct 1854. There seems to be some inconsistency in the spelling of his
name. Burridge Tobitt was buried in the Kirdford graveyard on 18 November 1898, aged 44 years.
(Note. There is a record of a Burrage Tobitt marrying Mary B. Hatch, 28 Apr 1881, at Butler, Ohio, USA.
He must have returned to Kirdford some time prior to the marriage of my grandparents Henry Marshall
Joyes and Jane Downer - eldest daughter of John Downer and Jane Tobitt. )
The Last Days at Hills Green
In the 1891 census only 3 people were at Hills Green, 70 year old Wesley, 74 year old Ann and a
young farm worker. Ann’s name is written as Hannah; but that is clearly an error by the enumerator.
She died in 1902 at 85; but Wesley lived on until he was 86 years of age. He died on 28 Nov 1907 and
was buried at Kirdford churchyard on 2nd December.
Their gravestone in the Kirdford churchyard reads:
In affectionate Remembrance of Wesley Tobitt
Who died November 28 1907.
Also of Ann Tobitt wife of the above
Who died March 5th 1902 aged 85 years.
Thy Word is True Thy Word is Just
To Thee we leave them Lord, in Trust.
After his wife’s death, Wesley decided to sell off his stock and the contents of the house. Luckily, the
auction advertisement and catalogue have been deposited at the West Sussex Record Office.
Reading through the list of farm implements and utensils takes us back to a time when butter,
cheese, bread and cider were still made on the premises from the farm’s produce and horse power
was the preferred source of energy, used to drive farm equipment for ploughing, sowing and reaping.
Athough it is probable that many items were given to family members first, the inventory of interior
furnishings that were assembled for view in several rooms also lets us build up a picture of the
household as it was in the 19th century.
The advertisement posted by DEATH, SON and TOMKINS, stated that they had been instructed to hold
an auction on Tuesday July 22, on behalf of Mr Wesley Tobitt , who retiring from farming.
Quantity old iron, Wood seedlip and 2 Shauls, Two grafting tools and garden rake, Pick axe, 2 hoes, 2
hedge trimmers, Meal chest and tub, Long form, Two hay cutting knives, Turnip cutter, Cider press,
Apple mill, a 3 prong and a 4 prong fork and shovel, Six hay forks, A 21 round ladder, Grease jack,
Two feeding pans, Rick cloth, Tarpaulin, Wheelbarrow, Coal weighing machine and two weights, Sack
cart, Chaff bin, Four cow chains, Two oak cow cribs, Three woodbeam ploughs, Strike plough,
Machine cloth and pair tail ropes, Chain harrow, Set drag harrows and whippance, Set small harrows
and whippance, Two drag harrows, Cambridge roller, Horse rake, Mowing machine and two knives in
good working order, 2 Manure carts, Broad-wheel waggon, 2 Narrow wheel waggons, Light spring
cart, Pony chaise and cushions, 2 sets trace harness, 2 sets thill (shaft)harness, Set light harness,
(Like all farm wagons of the district, Wesley’s would have been painted in the regulation colours for
Sussex which was a blue for the body work with venetian red on the undercarriage. ‘W. Tobitt, Hills
Green, Sussex’, would have been written in large letters on the front panel board and also on a
smaller notice displayed prominently on the side of the wagon.)
(1.) Chestnut horse “Nobby”, (2.) Roan horse “Champion”, (3.) Chestnut mare “Smart”, (4.) Grey
mare “Blossom”, (5.) Black mare with foal at foot “Steamer”, (6.) Chestnut mare “Silver”, (7.) Brown
gelding “Captain”, (8.) Bay cob 15.4. 8years, (9.) Nag gelding, quiet to ride and drive, (10.) 3year old
black cart colt, (11.) 2 year old ditto, (12.) 12 month old ditto.
(1.) Cross breed cow “Cherry” stocked June 10th, (2.) Ditto “Nancy”stocked July 4th,
(3.) Ditto “Colly” in full profit, (4.) Ditto with calf at side, (5.) Alderney cow, due to calve Aug 20th, (6.) 2
years short horn heifer, (7.) 3 suckler calves, (8.) fat calf.
(1.) Two young Sussex sows, (2.) Ditto, (3.) Twelve store pigs.
(I.) Nine hens and a rooster, (2.) Twelve young chicken, (3.) Ditto.
Dairy and Brewing Utensils:
Quantity of jars, Five milk tin pans, Butter scales and weights, Two 20 lb box churns, Two large butter
crocks and a cream crock, Cheese press, Two nine gallon casks, Stollage (a stand to hold a seive)
and 3 seives, Several cider casks and 2 seives, Two small washing tubs, Two pork tubs, A 30 gallon
copper furnace pan, Steelyards (portable balances with weights) and 2 oven peels (long handled
shovels for removing bread from a bakers oven)
Household furniture: ( Small items are in groups)
Three iron saucepans, Two frypans, meat saw, chopper and enamel bowl, Round iron pot and
cover, Sundry tinnery, Plate screen, Five Stools, Galvanised pail, washbowl and water can, Two
kettles, box iron and footwarmer, Two deal (wood) tables, Lamp, candlesticks and two small trays,
Sundry dinnerware, Two large well meat dishes, Two dish covers.
Fire Irons, pothooks and a pair firedogs, Three brass candlesticks, snuffer, two trays and pair
bellows, Three spitoons, pair bellows and two trays, Rug and table cover, Five strips cocoa matting,
Three jugs and hot water jug, Three jugs, 3 small glass jugs and 12 tumblers, Two sets each of two
decanters and six wines, Twelve cups and saucers and 4 dessert plates, Twelve (silver) plated forks,
4 table spoons, 4 dessert spoons and 8 knives, plated cruet and oak knife box, plated sugar and
cream, Tea pot, coffe pot, 2 hand lamps and chopping knife, Mahogany stained book shelf and a shelf,
Sundry books, Mahogany 2-leaf dining table, A 5ft 4in by 2ft 6in oak table, carved front and long stool
with carved front, Carved back chair, Rush-seat arm chair and 1 other , High back easy chair in
cretonne, A 3-fold screen , Ditto, Rush-seat arm chair, Four Windsor chairs, Sofa in cretonne, A 30-
hour grandfather clock in oak case, Large corner cupboard, Mahogany cornice pole, rings and
brackets, Wheel barometer, A 4-fold stained wood screen, Table lamp and moderator ditto, 16 yards
by 1yd 5in cocoa matting, Hearth rug and 4 mats, Antique mirror in rosewood frame, A 3ft. oak bureau
with drop handles, A 2-leaf oak dining table, with cloth cover, Six rosewood frame dining chairs, Arm
rosewood dining chair, Four mahogany carved-back stuff-seat chairs, Folding chair and cushions, Oak
occasional table, A 3ft 6in rosewood loo table (card table) on pillar and claw, Mahogany Pembroke
table ( a small table with drop leaves) with 2 drawers, Ditto tea table, Massive polished oak table, 9ft
6in by 2ft 6in with drawer, A 30 hour American clock, Stuffed duck in case, Two paintings in maple
frames, Engraving, Painting in ebony frame, Three small pictures and antique mirror in gilt, Corner
cupboard with folding doors, Cast fender, fire irons and scuttles, Pair horns and shells, A 3ft 6in
extending walnut table on castors.
Bed Room No 1:
A 4ft 6in mahogany 4-post bedstead., Ditto wool matress, Ditto feather bed, Pair new blankets, Four
small blankets and white quilt, Three small blankets and white quilt, Bolster, 2 pillows and ditto, Two
counterpanes and blankets, Mahogany chest of 5 drawers, Dressing table with flounce, Mahogany
toilet glass, Folding chair and cushions, A 3ft 2in panelled oak chest, with 2 drawers under, Mahogany
commode, Japanned washstand with glass attached and ware, Three chairs and towel airer, Two
clothes baskets and 2 small flap desks, Three pairs dimity curtains, Three strips tapestry carpet, Wool
skin rug and slip mat.
Bed Room No 2:
Two pieces of tapestry carpet, Two shred hearth rugs and 2 mats, 3ft 9in antique carved pannelled oak
chest, Two rush-seat chairs, Mahogny commode, Japanned chest of 5 drawers, Dressing table with
flounce, Mahogany toilet glass and towel airer, Mahogany chest of 5 drawers, Stained washstand and
ware, A 4-post bedstead with fluted posts and hangings, Feather bed, Flock matress, Wool matress,
Bolster and 3 pillows, Oak hanging press, Four table cloths, Two pairs sheets, Five sheets, Six
chamber towels, 6 kitchen towels and 6 pillow slips, Three pictures, Oak pannel front wardrobe,
Antique oak lined chest of 5 drawers with drop handles, Two work boxes and tea caddy, Mahognay
toilet glass and timepiece, Wash stand and ware, One wool and 5 slip mats, Hearth rug and linoleum.
Bed Room no 3:
Antique oak chest, Corner wash stand and ware, Feather bed and bolster, Flock matress.
It seemed puzzling, at first glance, to find that that Kelly’s directory of 1913 and 1915 gave Mrs Wesley
Tobitt’s name as owner of Hills Green; but it was his parents’ old home and farm that Wesley junior
moved to when he retired to Kirdford from the Police force in London and his widow lived on at Hills
Green after his death in 1911. It is a coincidence that her name was also Ann; so Wesley and Ann
were followed by another Wesley and Ann at the old house
Wesley junior left the property to his wife and nephew. It was purchased by Lord Winterton in 1918, but
was later bought by Mr and Mrs Lionel Baker in 1924.
At one time the Sussex County Magazine ran a series of articles by Viscountess Wolseley, HISTORIC
HOUSES OF SUSSEX. No 28, Vol 4 of 1930 featured ‘HILLS GREEN, KIRDFORD.’ At the time it was
a fruit farm, still in the occupation of the Bakers.
The article’s opening paragraph shows that the approach to Hills Green has not changed much over
more than half a century. When the writer and her husband were touring in late summer of 1994, the
narrow road, now sealed, still wound its way, in parts, under a leafy canopy. While the grass verges
were less rampant in growth than in 1930, perhaps the hedgerows were a little more overgrown and
the trees now taller.
Interwoven with my recollections of this charming old house is a picture of a narrow old-fashioned
lane coming from the direction of Roundwick, where golden buttercups waved in the long grass upon
either side and pink, wild roses swayed in the hedgerows. Here and there a sombre little wood gave
shadow and after twists and turns that lent an added zest to our search for Hills Green, we suddenly
came upon a fascinating gabled house that proved to be the one we were seeking
She goes on to describe the east gable which faces the roadway of this ‘Horsham slab roofed, timber
beamed house.’ and the south-east front with its inviting, roofed, entrance porch and the nearby well.
An interesting feature is the old well with its wooden wheel , carefully sheltered by a small picturesque
roof supported upon four stout wooden uprights. Paving stones are pleniful in this part of Sussex and
so these lead to it and surround it. Beyond the garden fence are stately groups of elms, giving a
parklike appearance to the field further south.
In those days the rounded doorway in the front entrance gave into a homely, low ceilinged living room
with a wide open hearth which had inglenook seats. Bricks in one wall were set in herring-bone
fashion and many of the ancient beams, as throughout the house, had chamfering done in varied
patterns. The fireplace backed onto another of of similar size in the next room. This room had a grey
slab floor of Winkle marble, a locally quarried stone, so called because of tiny shells imbedded in its
hard substance. Sometimes referred to as Sussex marble, this material was used for floor paving in
many of the Kirdford farm houses built in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and was
quarried locally. (The font in the Kirdford Parish church is of this material and is inscribed H.S. 1620 -
for Henry Strudwick, who was church warden at the time.)
A room which particularly took her fancy was the long narrow one on the east side of the ground floor
with its wide, short window of seven divisions, set very high in the wall, known as a ‘weavers
window’. Upstairs the bed chambers had highly polished, solid oak floors, the wide planks of which,
over time, had taken on a ‘perilous slope’. She was most interested in the wood beams which all
bore the makers’ marks and noted their method of securing the roughly hewn woodwork in place, by
either square wooden bolts or more ancient rounded wooden ones.
In one room there was an oak door with an enchanting Butterfly hinge to it and above the overmantel
were two small recesses in the brickwork that aroused one’s curiosity. Were they to hold books or
churchwardens’ pipes? What was their purpose?
In her opinion the most interesting view of the exterior was to be seen at the rear garden where ‘you
see mostly red weather-tiled walls, mellow and lichen covered, for they are really old ones and these
are made more picturesque by the dull grey Horsham slab roofs.’
Upon a close inspection of the projecting window, supported on brackets, on the south east end of the
house, she realised that it was, in fact, a clever reproduction of an earlier one. This must have been
added during the occupation of the Earl of Winterton. Certainly in Wesley Tobitt’s time, the plain
casement type window in the same position was flush with the wall. By 1930, a third upstairs
window had also been added on the long wall, giving it a more balanced appearance. In the
photograph taken in the 1980s it can be seen that the old roofed entrance porch had been removed
and replced by a window and a new entrance created nearer the end of the wall. Another addition
was a dormer window let into the roof on this side.
When we saw the frontage of Hills Green house in 1994 is was partly obscured by foliage in the front
garden; but was still easily recognized. The barn close by appeared to be still in good order.
Notes on the history of Hills Green
(Taken from notes made by G.H. Kenyon, held at West Sussex County Record office)
It is likely that the name Hills Green comes from a family mentioned in early Assize Rolls: William de
la Hulle 1271, Willmo atte Hulle 1296, John atte Hulle de Kunredford, 1371, Thos. atte Hulle,
mentioned in connection with a house and land in Kerdeforde.
From the Pallingham Manor rent roll:
1578 Henry Strudwick of Hills Green.
1610 Hills Green passed from Henry to his son William.
1619 William Strudwick settled Hills Green and some other farms on his son Henry at
the time of his marriage to Mary Yaldon.
1622 William Strudwick of Hills Green, yeoman
1635 Henry Strudwick of Hills Green, yeoman
1656 Release by Mary Strudwick widow of Henry of an annuity
1658 J. Coplen’s will appointed “my friend Wm. Strudwick of Hills Green” as
overseer of his estate
Notes from Kirdford land Tax Assessments
1782-5 Hills Green leased to Sam Pledge by Mr Green
1803 Hills Green occupied by King
1817 Hills Green owned by W. Stoveld
1827- 40 Hills Green leased to Noah Mann by Stoveld family
Hills Green. Some field names:
Big Bennefold, (Beanfield) Little Benefold, Walk Field, Ball Field, Frog Field, Kimmins
called (Cenings in 1645) George Hooks Field, Brambley Field.
A LIST OF TOBITT GRAVES AT KIRDFORD
ref.no. Name Born Buried
493 Albert Frederick 1873 1968
Ethel Anne 1880 1968
553 Annie 1880 1954
Emma 1847 1935
Emma 1875 1964
Walter 1847 1931
499 Ann 1817 1902
Wesley 1821 1907
488 Amelia 1850 1871
492 Burridge 1854 1898
489 John Wesley 1873 1877
163 John Elliot 1817 1848
500 Mary 1855 1887
491 Sampson 1819 1888