Midhurst, Sussex Genealogy

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Midhurst St Mary Magdalene & St Denys

Parish History

Midhurst St Mary Magdalene and St Denys is an Ecclesiastical Parish and a market town in the county of Sussex, created in 1725 from chapelry in Easebourne, Sussex  Ancient Parish. Other places in the parish include: St John of Jerusalem.

MIDHURST (St. Denis), a borough, market-town,and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Easebourne, rape of Chichester, W. division ofSussex, 11½ miles (N. by E.) from Chichester, and 49¼(S. W.) from London; containing 1536 inhabitants.This place, which was a town even prior to the Conquest, is agreeably situated upon a gentle eminence surrounded by hills, and on the banks of the river Rother; the streets are clean, and the houses generally well built: the inhabitants are remarkable for longevity.The market is on Thursday; and fairs are held on April6th, Whit-Tuesday, and October 29th. The Rother, or Arundel, navigation commences at the town. A bailiffis chosen annually at the court leet of the lord of the ancient borough, and the petty-sessions for the lower division of the rape of Chichester take place on alternate Thursdays at the Angel inn: the powers of the county debt-court of Midhurst, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-districts of Midhurstand Farnham. Midhurst is a borough by prescription,and has sent members to parliament ever since the 4thof Edward II. By the act of the 2nd of William IV.,cap. 45, it was provided that in future it should send only one representative, and the right of election was extended to the £10 householders of an enlarged district,comprising an area of 22,188 acres; the old borough contained only 650 acres: the bailiff is returning officer.The military order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem had a commandery here, among the privileges of which was the jurisdiction in a certain district, now recognized as "The Liberty of St. John of Jerusalem,"which still enjoys several exemptions, being independent both of the borough and manor.

The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £160;patron and impropriator, the Earl of Egmont. Thechurch consists of a nave, chancel, and south aisle, in the later English style: the tower rises from between the south aisle and a small chapel, in which latter is a lofty altar-tomb composed of marble and alabaster. On the lower altar of the tomb are two recumbent figures of females in robes of state, the effigies of the two wives of Anthony Browne, first lord Montague; between them another altar rises, upon which is an effigy of that nobleman in the habit of the order of the Garter. There is a place of worship for Baptists. A free grammar school was founded in 1672, by Gilbert Hannam, of Midhurst, who granted a rent-charge of £20; and the late head master,Dr. Bayly, having made large additions to the schoolhouse, and, with aid from the old scholars, erected a detached schoolroom, it has now become a school of considerable importance. A national school is supported by subscription; and there are four almshouses,and several charitable donations for the poor. The union of Midhurst comprises 26 parishes or places, 24of which are in the county of Sussex and 2 in that of Hants, the whole containing in the year 1841 a population of 13,320.

In the immediate vicinity is Cowdray Park, which contains about 800 acres, diversified with dells and knolls commanding pleasing views, and adorned with timber of luxuriant growth, especially a noble avenue,nearly a mile in length, of magnificent Spanish-chesnut trees, for dimensions and beauty scarcely to be exceeded in England. The mansion, which was chiefly built by the Earl of Southampton, occupied more than an acre of ground, and in form was a quadrangle, with the principal front towards the west; it was destroyed by fire,with its valuable contents, on the 24th of September,1793, and now presents a splendid pile of ruins, in many places mantled with ivy, which gives it an exceedingly picturesque appearance. In 1547, King Edward was entertained here with great splendour. Close to the town of Midhurst, near the church, on the west bank of the Rother, rises a mound, on which was anciently a castle surrounded by moats: within its walls was a chapel, dedicated to St. Anne.

From: A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 310-313. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51149 Date accessed: 01 May 2011.


Civil Registration

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

Church records

Contributor: Include here information for parish registers, Bishop’s Transcripts, non conformist and other types of church records, such as parish chest records. Add the contact information for the office holding the original records. Add links to the Family History Library Catalog showing the film numbers in their collection

Census records

See Sussex Census

Poor Law Unions

Midhurst Poor Law Union,Sussex

Probate records

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Sussex Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers

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Web sites

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