Family History




                                                           Married: 1737 Heene Robert Nottingham

Buried: 1777 West Tarring

Elizabeth Peerley married 16/1/1737 in Heene parish church Robert Nottingham.

What was Heene in which Elizabeth lived? The civil parish of Heene lay on the sea coast 1 mile west of Worthing hamlet. It was a medieval chapelry of West Tarring; the layout of its boundaries in the 19th century shows that its area had been carved out of Tarring parish. The parish was almost square in shape, the entire northern and western boundaries being formed by the Teville stream and by roads. Most of the parish lay on the brickearth, with a small area of Coombe deposits in the north-east corner. A low east-west ridge provided the site for the village, and earlier for a Roman villa to the west, the land sloping gently northwards to the Teville stream and southwards to the sea. The coastline of Heene has fluctuated over time, lagoons had formed behind the shingle beach and during the 18th century it suffered further erosion. A watch-house was built on the coast near the boundary between Heene and Tarring manors about 1700 date, but by 1724 its site was covered by beach. In 1755 a local man remembered the sea at Heene having once been much further away than it then was. Six perches of land were estimated to have been lost during the 18th century. In the early 19th century the land along the coast, called Heene common, was rough pasture, intersected by watercourses, and covered with gorse.

By the time Elizabeth was living in Heene the population was much smaller than it once was, mainly due to the lords of the two manors of the parish systematically depopulating the village by various means so that during the 17th century the number of dwellings fell by over half; twenty were listed in 1664. In the 1670s mention was made of East, High, and West Streets but by Elizabeth’s time most of the few remaining tenements would have been along the High Street, the present Heene Road. Much of the land was originally the demesnes of the two manors and by 1758 these had been coalesced into a single farm of some 438 acres, also incorporating some of the former smallholdings. The Nottinghams could well have worked on this. Crops recorded were wheat, barley, oats, rye, flax, peas and beans, and vetches. Only one field, East field, by now remained largely unenclosed with 17 strips there, mostly of less than 1 acre in area, belonging to about 8 tenants. Commoning of cattle, sheep and horses may still have been taken place on Heene common on the sea shore at this time although it had apparently ceased by the early 19th century. There was a windmill in the open field later called Mill field, west of the church, and the villagers might still have supplemented their livelihood by fishing as they had done earlier and maybe some coastal trading, both at home and abroad. In 1770 one fisherman was listed in Heene. In 1798 there was definitely a shopkeeper in the village. And the public house recorded earlier might have still been in existence.

For most of the period 1663-1868 there was only one churchwarden and two overseers from at least 1642, but waywarden and constables came from Tarring.

Heene church may have been a chapel of Tarring church but there is no record, however, of any incumbent of Heene before the 19th century The vicar of West Tarring apparently still preached at Heene once a month according to agreement in 1684, but in 1766, since no services had been held there in living memory, and since the chapel had become very ruinous, a faculty was obtained to pull it down and re-use its materials in the repair of West Tarring church. The chancel had been taken down by 1770, and the rest, except for some walling, by 1778. The chapel dedicated to St. Botolph consisted of a nave, chancel, aisle, and steeple. It is unlikely burials ever took place at the chapel.

(Abridged from From: 'Heene', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1: Bramber Rape (Southern Part) (1980), pp. 85-92.)

Elizabeth was buried 27 May 1777 St Andrew, West Tarring. But is possible she was still living in Heene at the time. When her son married the year before the bann for him read at West Tarring gave him as being from Heene.


Children: Elizabeth Nottingham born 1738

Mary Nottingham born 1740 married 1765 James Taylor

James Nottingham born1743

Peter Nottingham born 7/10/1746