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Born 1834 Wisborough Green
Died: 1918 Lancing
Married: 1871 Lancing Jane Steer
James was the sixth of the nine children of James Steer and Rebecca Miram and their fourth son. He was baptised 23/11/1834 Wisborough Green . In 1851 he was an agricultural labourer living with William King, farmer of 100 acres, at Swann Inn Pulborough. This I am sure was his employer as it was very common for young single agricultural labourers to ‘live-in’.
The Swan Inn on Lower Street Pulborough is still in business. An internet entry: " Swan Inn which dates from 1382 combines the very best traditions of a traditional coaching InnSituated in a picturesque village setting The Swan Inn is a charming and Traditional family run ... "
In the1861 census: James lodging with his uncle Stephen Ticknor in Minstrels Wood Billingshurst, working as a carter. Googling Minstrels Wood Billingshurst brings up a delightful Grade II listed building. I am sure the big house is not where James was living! Or was it? Looking at the census there is no big house in Minstrels Wood listed.
Stephen Ticknor born23/11/ 1809 Wisborough Green and baptised there 11/2/1810 was the youngest half-brother of James’s father. Stephen was orphaned by the age of six and it seems probable that James’s father James Steer brought him and his siblings up, or had a large part in their rearing. In early years Stephen worked in Wisborough Geen but between April 1857 and April 1861 moved to Minstrels Wood Billingshurst with his wife mary Ann, born Jupp in Selsey 1824 and young family of Mary Ann (1846) Stephen (1848), twins James and John (1853) and Henry (1857). The 1871 and 1871 census shows Stephen returned to Wisborough Green as a farmer of 20 acres at Champions Lane.. He died 1884, Mary Ann having pre-deceased him by ten years. The 1881 census: Stephen widower living Champions Lane with son Henry and housekeeper Alice Launder 28 unmarried and her 11 month old son Frederick. The story of Alice to some extent parellels that of her mother, and I am making it into a separate article.
1871 census gives James as an agricultural labourer living by himself in Lancing at Monks farm. Why had he come to Lancing? It could have been because in 1861 his cousin 21 year old William Steer wasworking as a gardener and lodging with the Boyce family in Sea Blue Cottage, although by April 1871 William himself had returned to Wisborough Green and married. Unless it was a quick romance James must have arrived in Lancing in plenty of time to have met and become engaged to Jane Steer whom he married in October 1871. Perhaps he met her because he was surrounded by her relatives. He was lodging with George Jupp and his family next to Jane’s cousin William Winton, her aunt Frances Mitchell and her family were four households away, and next to them another cousin Elizabeth Greet, with her uncle Ambrose Steer next to Elizabeth.
Monks Farm may have started as the manor house of the small manor Monks South lancing middle. It probably got its name as commemorating s small piece of land granted to the Monastery of Mottenden in Kent. There was also a Monk family in the parish in the middle ages. The name of Monks South Lancing does not appear until after the execution of Thomas Cromwell in 1541, who had obtained the Mottenden ‘estate’ in 1538. By the latter half of the 17th century the manor of Monks had become Monks farm. In 1828 it was bought by James Martin Lloyd who at this time as well as owning the Manor of Lancing was buying up most of the remaining land in Lancing. In the 19th century the farm was also known as the Manor farm and the farmhouse was used to hold the Manorial CourtsIn 1871 bachelor James Steer from Wisborough Green was probably working on Monks Farm then rented by Charles Stone described as a farmer of 487 acres employing 15 men and 8 boys.
Monks Farm in 1881 was lived in farm bailiff James Nunn and family1891 was lived in by the farm bailiff Henry Allam and his family, James’s neighbours in the Cottages were 1881 George & Caroline Wilmer and Charles Winton, a cousin of Jane and his family and past two empty houses Emmanuel Mitchell another cousin of Jane ; in 1891 the neighbours in Monks Cottages were Daniel Lisher and his family and Emmanuel Mitchell. The Steers themselves had Jane’s unmarried cousin Thomas Steer lodging with them. The Farmhouse now serves as the Catholic Presbytery in North Street Monk’s Farm Cottages according to R G P Kerridge in his ‘History of Lancing’ were a block of three old flint cottages built before 1770 and he includes a ketch of them. They were on the other side of North Road to the Farm.
By 1901 James and his family had moved to Salt Lake (No 2), a row of cottages along the unmade Salt Lane (later Freshbrook Road) by the side of the railway line. Salt Lane and nearby Penhill Road were the site of several nursery gardens which no doubt offered work for James and his sons
After his wife’s death in 1908 it seems likely that James went to live a few doors away in Salt Lake with his son George, as he died at 10 Salt Lake on 13 may 1918, from senile decay and chronic gastritis. He was buried at St James the Less in 18 May.
Children: John James Steer b 1874 Lancing died 1875
George Edward Steer b 1877 Lancing died 1955. Married 1903 Flora
Frederick Charles Steer b 1883 Lancing died 1942 married 1906
. : Harriet Ward