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Sussex, England

Historical Description

Sussex, a maritime county, bounded on the N by Surrey and Kent, on the NE and the E by Kent, on the S by the English Channel, on the W by Hants, Its form is a slender oblong, extending from E to W. Its greatest length is 73 miles, its greatest breadth is 25 miles, its circuit is about 185 miles, and its area is 933,269 acres. A belt of low land lies along most of the coast. A range of chalk-hills, called the South Downs, begins at Beachy Head, flanks the belt of low land all westward to the vicinity of Hants, and has a mean breadth of about 7 miles, and a mean altitude of about 500 feet. A congeries of elevations, called the Forest Ridge, commences near the E end of the South Downs, spreads east-north-eastward and northward to the boundary with Kent, and rises at the centre to an altitude of 804 feet. A low-wooded tract, the Weald of Sussex, with diversified surface, and fringed or engirt with uplands, forms all the area N of the South Downs and W of the Forest Ridge. The scenery of most parts, particularly among the higher grounds, is richly picturesque. The chief streams are the Rother, the Cuckmere, the Ouse, the Adur, the Arun, and the West Rother. Lower greensand rocks occupy about three-fourths of the entire area, inward from the N and the E boundaries; upper greensand rocks, with ganit, form a narrow belt along the S side of the lower greensand; chalk rocks form a much broader belt thence to the sea and to the vicinity of Chichester and Emsworth; and lower eocene rocks form a tract in the SW, around Chichester and Emsworth, and thence to the sea. Iron-ore abounds in the Forest Ridge, and once was extensively worked. Building chalk, manurial chalk, cement chalk, marl, brick-clay, fullers' earth, and red ochre are now the chief useful minerals.

The soils generally correspond in character to the underlying rocks, and they vary from sterile sand in the Forest Ridge to very stiff loam in the Weald. There are about 30,000 acres of marsh-land, chiefly around Pevensey, which are used mainly for fattening cattle. Wheat, barley, pulse, potatoes, turnips, and clover are generally grown on the best farms, and the potatoes yield from 400 to 700 bushels per acre. Hops are grown somewhat extensively, and chicory, rhubarb, and coleseed to a limited extent. Farms commonly run from 1200 to 2000 acres on the Downs, and to about 100 acres in the Weald, and are mostly held at will. The cattle are a native breed, fine-haired, and good milkers. The sheep are chiefly the native Southdowns, polled, hardy, and fine-wooled.

According to the census returns issued in 1893, the chief occupations of the people of the county were:—Professional, 14,669 males and 10,296 females; domestic, 4848 males and 57,041 females; commercial, 22,754 males and 701 females; agricultural, 41,421 males and 551 females; fishing, 1189 males and 3 females; industrial, 70,416 males and 18,598 females; and "unoccupied," including retired business men, pensioners, those living on their own means, and others not specified, 38,133 males and 150,251 females; or a total in the county of 193,430 males and 237,441 females. The number of men employed in the leading industries was as follows:—Agricultural labourers, 23,926; general labourers, 10,220; bricklayers, 4851; carpenters, 4788; farmers, 3320; and boot and shoe makers, 2087. The chief occupations of women were—domestic service, with a total of 45,900; millinery and dressmaking, 8039. There were also in the county 439 blind persons, 562 deaf, 271 deaf and dumb, and 1777 mentally deranged.

The rivers Rother, Ouse, Adur, and Arun, and the Wey and Arun Canal afford important inland navigation. The London Brighton and South Coast, the South Eastern, and the London and South Western railways traverse and intersect all parts of the county. The manufactures of the county are unimportant. Population (1801) 159,471, (1821) 233,328, (1841) 300,075, (1861) 363,735, (1881) 490,505, (1891) 550,446.

Sussex is divided for administrative purposes into two counties, east and west; and for parliamentary purposes into six divisions, viz—North-Western or Horsham, South-Western or Chichester, Northern or East Grinstead, Mid or Lewes, Southern or Eastbourne, Eastern or Rye. It also includes the parliamentary boroughs of Brighton and Hastings. The county includes six municipal boroughs, viz—Arundel, Chichester, Eastbourne, Lewes, Rye, and Worthing; and also the county boroughs of Brighton and Hastings. There is one court of quarter sessions for the two administrative counties, usually held at Lewes for East Sussex, and then by adjournment at Horsham and Chichester for West Sussex. The port of Hastings, and the boroughs of Brighton, Chichester, Hastings, and Rye have separate commissions of the peace and separate courts of quarter sessions. The administrative county of East Sussex contains 139 entire civil parishes and parts of 9 others; the administrative county of West Sussex contains 172 entire civil parishes and parts of 2 others; the county borough of Brighton contains one entire civil parish and part of one other; and the county borough of Hastings contains 7 entire civil parishes and parts of 3 others. The ancient county contains 363 entire ecclesiastical parishes or districts, with parts of 8 others; and is almost entirely in the diocese of Chichester.

Sussex is governed by a lord lieutenant and custos, a high-sheriff, and two county councils—one for the eastern and the other for the western division. The council for East Sussex consists of 51 councillors and 17 aldermen; and that for West Sussex of 45 councillors and 15 aldermen. Sussex is in the south-eastern circuit, the assizes being held at Lewes, where also is H. M. prison.

The territory now forming Sussex was inhabited by the ancient British Regni; was included by the Romans in their Britannia Prima; was overrun, in 477-50, by Ella the Saxon; became then the kingdom of Sud-sexe or the South Saxons; was united about 728 to Wessex; suffered much devastation at different times by the Danes, and in 1051 by Earl Godwin; was the scene of the landing and of the decisive victory of William the Conqueror; was divided by William among several of his chief followers, including the Earl of Mortaigne and W. de Warenne; became the scene at Lewes of the great battle between Henry III. and his barons; shared in the turmoils and conflicts of the civil wars of Charles I.; and gave the title of Duke to the sixth son of George III. Ancient British entrenchments, and many barrows, are on the South Downs. A chain of camps, some of them Roman, occurs on such of these hills as command both the sea-board and the Weald. Roman stations were at Bignor, Chichester, Midhurst, Lewes, Pevensey, Aldington, and Amberley. Roman roads connected the stations, and went toward the N. Many minor Roman antiquities, including a temple, villas, baths, pavements, urns, and coins, have been found. Saxon architecture has left vestiges in several places.


Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Archives and Libraries

East Sussex Record Office
The Maltings
Castle Precincts
Lewes
East Sussex
BN7 1YT
Tel: 01273 482349
Fax: 01273 482341

West Sussex Record Office
3 Orchard Street
Chichester
West Sussex
PO19 1DD
Tel :  01243 753602
Fax : 01243 533959
email: records.office@westsussex.gov.uk


Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Sussex from 1837 to 1974.


Directories & Gazetteers

The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Sussex online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.

We have transcribed the entry for Sussex from the following:


Maps

Old map of Sussex circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Old map of Sussex circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)


Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Sussex newspapers online:


Parishes & places

Albourne
Alciston
Aldingbourne
Aldrington or Atherington
Aldsworth
Alfriston
Almodington
Amberley
Angmering
Ankton
Appledram or Apuldram
Ardingly
Arlington
Arundel
Arundel and Portsmouth Canal
Ashburnham
Ashdown Forest
Ashington
Ashurst
Balcombe
Balsdean
Barcombe
Barlavington
Barnham
Bathurst
Battle
Bayham
Beachy Head
Beckley
Beddingham
Bepton
Bersted, North
Bersted, South
Berwick
Bexhill
Beyworth
Bignor
Billingshurst
Bilsham
Binderton
Bines Green
Binsted
Birdham
Bishopstone
Bodiam or Bodiham
Bodle Street Green
Bognor
Bolebrook
Bolney
Boreham Street or Boreham Manor
Bosham
Botolph or Buttolphs
Bow Hill
Boxgrove
Bracklesham Bay
Bramber
Brambletye House
Brede
Brickwall Park
Brightling
Brighton
Broadbridge
Broadwater
Buckhurst Park
Bucks Green
Bulverhithe
Buncton
Burbeach
Burgess Hill
Burpham
Burton or Bodexton
Burwash
Burwash or Burghersh
Burwash Weald
Bury
Bustington
Buxted
Cabum Mount
Cakeham
Camber Castle
Catsfield
Chailey
Chalvington
Chanctonbury
Charlton
Chesworth
Chichester
Chiddingly
Chidham
Chilgrove
Chiltington
Chithurst
Cissbury
Clapham
Clayton
Cliff
Cliffe, Cliffe by Lewes, or St Thomas at Cliffe
Climping
Coate
Coates
Cocking
Coldwaltham
Colgate
Collingwood
Colworth
Compton
Compton Place
Cooks Bridge
Coombes
Cootham Common
Coppards Gap
Copthorne
Cousley Wood
Cowdray
Cowfold
Crawley
Crawley Down
Crockerhill
Cross in Hand
Crowborough
Crowborough Beacon
Crowborough Cross
Crowborough Town
Crowhurst
Cuckfield
Dallington
Danehill
Danny Park
Denton
Devil
Didling
Ditchling
Donnington
Drayton
Duncton
Dunford House
Durrington
Earnley
Eartham
Easebourne
East and West Ashling
East Blatchington
East Blatchington or Bletchington
East Chiltington
East Dean (Chichester)
East Dean (Eastbourne)
East Grinstead
East Guldeford
East Hoathly
East Lavant
East Marden
East Preston
East Wittering
Eastbourne
Eastergate
Easthampnett
Ecclesboume Glen
Edburton
Egdean
Elmer
Elsted
Eridge Castle
Eridge Green
Etchingham
Ewhurst
Fairlight
Falmer
Fay Gate
Felpham
Fernhurst
Ferring
Field Place
Findon
Fishbourne
Fisher
Fittleworth
Five Ashes
Five Oaks
Flansham
Fletching
Flimwell
Folkington
Ford
Forest Ridge
Forest Row
Framfield
Frant
Friston
Fulking
Funtington
Gardiner Street
Glen Ross
Glynde
Gold Bridge
Goldbury Point
Goodwood
Goring
Graffham
Grange Road
Greatham
Guestling
Hadlow Down
Hailsham
Halland
Halnaker
Hammerwood with Holtye
Hamsey
Handcrosa
Hangleton
Hankham Street
Hapstead
Hardham
Haremere
Hark Cross
Hartfield
Harting
Harvest Hill
Hasfold Shipburn
Hassocks Gate
Hastings
Hawkham Street
Haywards Heath
Heathfield
Heene
Hellingly
Henfield
Hermitage
Herstmonceux
Heyshott
Hickstead Place
Highden
Highdown Hill
Holbrook House
Hollingsbury Castle
Hollington
Holty Common
Hooe
Horeham
Hornet
Horsham
Horsted Keynes
Houghton
Hove
Hunston
Hurst Green
Hurstpierpoint
Icklesham
Iden
Ifield
Iford
Ilford
Iping
Isfield
Itchingfield
Jevington
Keymer
Kidbrook
Kingly Bottom
Kingsham
Kingston
Kingston by Lewes
Kingston by Sea
Kirdford
Knap Castle or Knepp Castle
Kynor
Lagness
Lancing
Langley Point
Laughton
Lavant
Lemanus
Lewes
Lidsey
Limbo
Linch
Linchmere
Lindfield
Little Common
Little Horsted
Littlehampton
Littlington
Lodsworth
Lordington
Lower Beeding
Lower Lancing
Loxwood or Loxwood End
Lullington
Lurgashall
Lye Green
Lyminster
Madehurst
Maresfield
Maudling
Mayfield
Meads
Merston
Michelham
Middleton
Midhurst
Milland
Mount Ephraim
Mountfield
Muntham
Netherfield
New Fishbourne
New Groombridge
Newhaven
Newick
Newmarket Hill
Newtimber
Ninfield or Ninefield
Norlington
North and South Ambersham
North End (Findon)
North End (Hamsey)
North Marden
North Mundham
North Stoke
Northchapel
Northiam
Northwood
Norwood
Nuthurst
Nutley
Oakhurst
Offham Street
Old House Warren
Ore
Oving
Ovingdean
Owers
Pagham
Pallingham
Pangdean
Parham
Partridge Green
Patcham
Patching
Peasemarsh
Peasepottage Gate
Penhurst
Peppering
Pett
Petworth
Pevensey
Piddinghoe
Piltdown
Plastow or Plaistow
Playden
Plumpton
Plumpton Green
Poling
Portfield
Portslade
Poundhill
Poynings
Preston
Pulborough
Pyecombe
Pyecombe or Piecombe
Rackham
Racton
Ringmer
Ripe, Rype, or Eckington
Robertsbridge or Rotherbridge
Rodmell
Rodmill
Roffey or Roughey
Rogate
Rosegreen
Rotherfield
Rottingdean
Rowfant
Rudgwick or Ridgewick
Rumboldswyke
Runckton
Rundhurst
Rusper
Rye
Rye Harbour
Saddlescomb
Salehurst
Salvington
Seabeach
Seaford
Sedlescombe or Selscombe
Selham
Selham or Sulham
Selmeston
Selsey
Sennicotts
Sheriff
Shermanbury
Shillinglee Park
Shipley
Shoreham
Shoreham Gap
Shripney
Sidlesham
Sidley
Singleton
Slaugham
Slindon
Slinfold
Sompting
South Common
South Heighten
South Malling
South Mundham
Southborough
Southbourne
Southease
Southwater
Southwick
St Leonards
Stanmer
Stansted, Forest Side
Staplecross
Staplefield Common
Stedham
Steyning
Stonegate
Stopham
Storrington
Stoughton
Street
Sullington
Sutton
Sutton near Seaford
Swines Gate
Tangmere
Tarring Nevile or East Tarring
Tarring, West, or Tarring Peverel
Telscombe
Terwick
Thakeham
The Adur or Alder
The Arun
The Ashburn
The Brede
The Broyle
The Cuckmere
The Eden
The Lavant
The Ouse
Ticehurst
Ticehurst Road
Tidebrook
Tilgate Forest
Tillington
Tortington
Town Bow
Tremains
Treyford
Trotton
Turners Hill
Twineham
Uckfield
Udimore
Up Marden
Upper Beething
Upper Dicker
Wadhurst
Walberton
Waldron
Waltham, Up
Warbleton
Warminghurst
Warnham
Wartling
Washington
West Blatchington or Bletchington
West Burton
West Chiltington
West Dean (Chichester)
West Dean (Seaford)
West Firle
West Grinstead
West Hampnett
West Hoathly
West Itchenor
West Lavant
West Lavington
West Stoke
West Thorney
West Wittering
Westbourne
Westergate
Westerton
Westfield
Westham
Westmeston
Wesy Marden
Whatlington
Wiggonholt
Willingdon
Wilmington
Winchelsea
Wisborough Green
Wiston
Withyham
Wivelsfield
Woodcote
Woodmancote
Woolavington
Woolbeding
Worth
Worthing
Yapton
Map of Sussex