Alan March’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back many generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from Alan’s as (1)(1)

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WILLIAM TOWSE. On 12 Jan 1812 we have the baptism of John Towse, son of William Towse and his wife Jane. The baptism took place in West Hoathly, Sussex.

This makes it likely that William’s baptism is the following:

Baptism. West Hoathly.
1783 Jan 26   William son of James Towse and his wife Elizabeth.

His mother’s name was Elizabeth Best.

West Hoathly is a village 4m SW of East Grinstead in mid-Sussex. It stands on a hilltop on the Weald, between the North and South Downs. It is close to the ancient woodlands of Ashdown Forest.

West Hoathly [1]

William was the fourth of seven children.

His father was a husbandman, which had come to mean a farm labourer, rather than someone who farmed a small amount of land.

On his wedding day William’s father was served with a removal order from the East Grinstead Overseers of the Poor and obliged to return to West Hoathly.[2] This suggests that the Overseers deemed him unlikely to be able to support a family without recourse to the Poor Fund.

William is likely to have grown up in straitened circumstances.

He came to manhood when Britain was at war with Napoleon’s France.

William became a labourer like his father.


JANE. At John’s baptism, his mother is said to be Jane. We have found no marriage of William Towse to Jane, and no further baptisms for this couple. There is a burial in March 1815 for Jane Towse. It is tempting to think that this is William’s wife, but it is more likely that she is the wife of William’s elder brother James. Baptisms for this couple cease after that date.

John’s baptism is followed by a string of other baptisms to William and Mary Towse, and we have a marriage for William Towse to Mary Meades in 1811, the year of John’s birth. There is no other evidence of a second William Towse in West Hoathly at this time.

It is possible that there is an error in the baptism register, or in the transcript, and that John’s mother has mistakenly been named as Jane instead of Mary. Things may become clearer when we have a scan of the parish register, rather than just a transcript.

If John’s mother is really Jane then we have no further information about her birth or her marriage to William.


MARY MEADES. We have a more solid foundation for Mary. The most likely baptism is in East Grinstead, a town 4 m NE of West Hoathly.

Baptism. East Grinstead.
1790 Dec 8  Mary daughter of Wm and Eliz Meads.

She was the sixth of seven children.


Marriage. West Hoathly.
1811 Oct 10  William Towse and Mary Meades.

After John’s birth, there follow the baptism of three daughters to William and Mary Towse.

Baptisms. West Hoathly.
1815 Jan22  Mary Anne
1820 Dec 17  Charlotte
1828 Feb 6  Sarah

We have not found either William or Mary in the 1841 or 1851 census. Neither have we found their burials.

There are civil death registrations in the East Grinstead district for William Towes in the 1st quarter of 1854 and for Mary Towes in the 3rd quarter of 1862, but if these were the West Hoathly couple we should expect them to appear in at least one census.


[1] PSP Homes. North Lane, West Hoathly, East Grinstead, West Sussex.
[2] National Archives. Par/348/32/4/54




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