Pile Family

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George Pile Died

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A village history in West Sussex


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There appears to be no mention of our own George Pile (or Piles) in Westbourne records prior to his wedding in 1824 but it is possible that he is related to the other Piles in Westbourne in the early nineteenth century, maybe a further brother to William Piles. Even his place and date of birth is unknown, the 1841 census is the only clue available but that only suggests he was born in Sussex, all available records which give an age point to a year of birth between 1795 and 1802.

What is known is that George was an agricultural labourer and as such would have probably lived in virtual poverty; we know that in the years after his marriage he obtained financial assistance from the Select Vestry in Westbourne particularly in the winter when work and food would have been scarce. In 1840 he was renting a garden in North Street and may have kept some livestock such as pigs or chickens to supplement the family’s living and could possibly have grown some produce.

When his second son, David married in 1847 and again in 1854 he described his father as a joiner and cabinetmaker respectively and, although there is no contemporary evidence of this in Westbourne records George may have supplemented his income further with these trades. Alternatively his main trade may have been as a joiner with agricultural work supplementing this when joinery work was hard to come by. David could, of course, just have been making his father’s standing seem better knowing it could not be challenged.

On Monday 7 June 1824 George Pile married Martha Martin at the parish church of St John the Baptist at Westbourne, the was marriage performed by the curate Edward Cornwall and was witnessed by George and Rosetta Fossey and John Wooldridge. Like most farm labourers of the time George was illiterate, being only able to “make his mark” in the marriage register.

Martha was born Martha Ranger at Petworth to William and Sarah Rainger and christened there on 2 May 1790. At some point she left Petworth for Funtington, possibly to obtain work, where on 18 May 1815 she married John Martin who originated from Bosham.

On 10 September 1815 Martha gave birth to a daughter, Emma at Westbourne and on 6 July 1817 another daughter Frances.

On 16 March 1818 John Martin was sentenced at Sussex Assizes to be transported for life allegedly for sheep stealing. He sailed on the ship General Stewart from Portsmouth on 19 July 1818 and arrived at Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales on 31 December 1818. Two weeks later he was disembarked and sent to Parramatta to join a road gang. Records suggest that he worked around Sydney for a few years and in 1823 was sent north to Hunter River. By 1824 he appears to have had another wife, Jemima Raynor. Jemima successfully petitioned for her husband to be assigned to her as her employee.

On 1 January 1842 the Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, signed an order which remitted the remainder of John Martin‘s life sentence of. This order was eventually issued as a Conditional Pardon on 20 February 1843.

John and Jemima Martin seem to have settled at Martin’s Creek near Paterson, NSW.

An entry in the Westbourne parish baptism register on 11 June 1820 records the christening of Thomas William Henry Martin, his mother is Martha but no father is recorded.

Some two years later Martha had presumably requested relief from the parish and in order to recover their costs the parish would determine by examination who was the putative father. They would determine that the father was Thomas Suett a fellmonger who then seems to have left Westbourne to avoid maintenance payments. On 22 October 1822, the Justices of the Peace issued a bastardy order for the arrest of Suett. The order also states that Martha's husband John Martin had been transported for life.

Nothing more is known of Martha’s life in the few years after her son’s birth but she was pregnant again when she married George Pile in 1824. A son William was baptised, at the parish church on September 19.

In December 1824 George applied for financial assistance from the Westbourne Select Vestry; there are two entries in the Minute Book one on 3 December when George was granted relief of three shillings and again on 17th when he received five shillings, this last entry also states that he had worked four days for the church in the last month and his payment of 5/- is further recorded in the Overseer’s accounts although what work George did is not recorded.

The Select Vestry does not record paupers who were receiving long-term relief and generally only includes occasional payments over and above these; therefore it is not possible to know whether George received regular relief.

On 10 February 1826 a William Pile married Jemima Mansbridge at St Thomas' church Portsmouth. It is not possible to say conclusively whether this is the William Pile from East Meon but it is very likely. Jemima was a widow, her husband, John Mansbridge had died sometime before 1817 when his father refers to him as his “late son” in his will. A John Mansbridge married Jemima Hoar at St Mary's Portsea in 1815; this may be the Jemima Hoar who was born at Catherington in 1786 to Joseph and Mary Hoar.

Later that year George and Martha had a second child, David. He was baptised by curate Edwin Jacob at St John’s church on 23 July 1826. Once more, in December, George applied to the Select Vestry for relief, this time the Minute Book entry records that George had a “bad leg” and as he was presumably unable to work because of this he was granted relief of four shillings.

The Select Vestry not only supplemented parishioner’s income but occasionally provided assistance for special purchases; In May 1827 Martha Pile asked the Select Vestry to assist in their purchase of new shoes and she was given four shillings.

On the 5 October 1827, the Select Vestry Minutes record:

The wife of George Pyle who has a child named Henry Suett aged about 7 years her husband wishes to have advanced 20 weeks at -/6 per week the overseers are to comply with his request.

George adds his “mark” and confirms the entry. This appears not to be George’s natural child as the minutes are quite specific in saying that the child is that of “the wife of George Pyle”. Henry Suett is in fact Thomas William Henry Martin, Martha’s illegitimate son by Thomas Suett.

In February 1828 the Vestry Minutes record that George fell ill and on the 22nd he was granted seven shillings relief. Martha became pregnant again and within a few months Sarah the first of four daughters was born, she was baptised on 6 April.

On 7 July 1829 a copyhold meadow of two acres which was occupied by William Pile was sold at auction at The Lamb in Westbourne, it was owned by the estate of the late Rev. W. D. Tattersall.

On 2 May 1830 George and Martha baptised a second daughter, Ann.

Before their next child was born George and his family would be plunged into chaos.

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