Family History

JAMES STEER Born: 1736 Billingshurst Father: James Steer Mother: Mary Woodman Baptised: 21/3/1736 Billingshurst Died: 24/3/1803 Shipley Buried: Horsham General Baptist Church Married: 3/10/1758 Billingshurst Spouse: Mary Potter Born: 1735 Died: 3/1/1805 Shipley aged 70 Buried: Horsham General Baptist Church 1758: 3/10/1758 marriage witnessed by William Potter and John Bax. Banns read 17/9/1758, 24/9/1758 & 1/10/1758. 1759: 22/5/1759 James witnessed marriage of John Bax, Itchingfield to Sarah Potter, William Potter the other witness 1762: Billingshurst Settlement certificate (WSRO Par/21/35/5/06): 18 Apr 1762 James Steer married: Mary STEER; Shipley James Steer takes away the Steers from the Anglican church to non-conformism. He and his wife Mary were obviously members of Horsham General Baptist Chapel, as it was in its former garden that they were buried. Horsham General Baptist Church was founded in 1719, Horsham being the home of the radical preacher Matthew Caffyn. Horsham had a very long tradition of nonconformism and was the home of radical preacher Matthew Caffyn. There were known to be 18 Baptist families in Horsham in 1724, but in the chapel's early years about 350 worshippers typically attended: the building served as a central meeting place for congregations and individual people across a large area. Horsham General Baptist Chapel was extended in 1727 with the addition of an entrance porch. The original rostrum was replaced with a conventional pulpit in 1752 and in 1772 the building was extended at the south end to accommodate a second vestryand an internal baptistery. Until this, worshippers were taken to the mill pond at nearby Broadbridge Heath to be baptised. Amongst the baptisms and burials recorded in the early registers were several Potters from Slinfold. It is plausable though unproven that Mary came from this family. During the mid 18th century a William Potter had a family in Slinfold. He might have been the brother of Mary and witness at her marriage, also it is probable that Sarah Potter whose wedding he also witnessed (with James) was probably his and Maryís sister. A William Potter might also have been the father of Mary and Sarah, John Bax the other witness at Mary and Jamesís wedding was to marry Sarah Potter. He was probably the John Bax of Rye Farm Itchingfield, buried in Itchingfield 12/1/1791. Although several Baxes appear in the Itchingfield baptisms in the late 18th century there is no trace of children of John and Sarah being baptised, as there is no trace of James and Mary having children. Both couples might however had children unrecorded have if they were attending nonconformist churches in the area, including Horsham. More research at West Sussex Records might throw up further information. For my next visit!