Family History



Born: 1863.Billingshurst

Died : 1796 Wisborough Green

Married: 1788 Kirdford Mary Pellett

George Steer was baptised 13 November 1763 Billingshurst the eldest son of George Steer and Elizabeth Page, widow. His marriage to Mary Pellett on 8 October 1788 was witnessed by Thomas Woodhatch and ? Evans and William Wild (parish clerk or similar as he signed many other certificates at this time. I have been unable to find out anything about the other witnesses. They were not from Kirdford, there were Woodhatch families in Wisborough Green but I have not found a birth of or children of Thomas there, or any marriage for him in Sussex.

A Morgan Evans married 2/6/1783 Wisborough Green Jane Hawkins but he is shown as a Rev[erend} on his marriage certificate, so this seems unlikely.

Kirdford is a village 4 miles north east of Petworth. The parish has a land area of 2,008 hectares (4,960 acres). The parish church is dedicated to St John the Baptist is built of local sandstone and roofed with Horsham stone slabs. Herringbone masonry and the style of column capitals indicate that the nave is early twelfth century. The north aisle is thirteenth century and the tower fifteenth. In the Middle Ages iron production using ironstone and charcoal,[ and forest glass making were important industries. Near the road junction to the west of the church an inscribed stone set into the old rectory wall warns against drunkenness in no uncertain terms.

Apart from this the interesting information known about George is connected with his burial 4 August 1796 Wisborough Green.

On record of funeral says he was member of friendly society and had a funeral sermon [Friendly societies were apparently only starting up formally at this time although they had been around for hundreds of years. They grew from the simple premise that if a group of people contributed to a mutual fund then they could receive benefits in time of need. The early meetings were often held as a social gathering when the subscriptions would be paid. They became acknowledged by the government and an act of 1875 called for their registration and auditing. It was often the only way working people had to receive help in times of ill health or old age

Suspicious death?

Two other Friendly Society members also had funeral orations just after George. Were three members deaths in such a short time just coincidence? John Luff on12/8/1796 age 34 (no trace of birth) Charles Boxer? On 23/8/1796 aged 48). (No trace of birth again)

John Luff may have married 1789 Sarah Johnson and/or 1792 Sarah Reeves. Possible children John 1790 and Elizabeth 1793, also Sarah 1796 but also a John Luff baptised Wisborough Green 1798 (who couldn’t have had our John as his father!).

I hope soon to see if there is any mention of suspicious deaths in The Sussex Weekly Advertiser

Children: James Steer b 1790/91 Wisborough Green died 1871 married 1822 Rebecca Miram

Thomas Steer b 1793 Wisborough Green died 1796

William Steer b. 1795 Wisborough Green died 1876 married 1836 Lucy Pacey


Find out: more about his death and the others buried very near to him