Family History





Direct male inheritance c.1490 – 1880.


1.  Thomas [born c 1490 – 1557].

2.  Anthony [died 1597].                    Thomas = ?.

3.  Anthony [1568-1653] married Elizabeth.

4.  Anthony [c1635-1697] married Martha Luxford [1644-1712].

5.  Edward [1674-1752] married Hannah Browne [1687-1737/8].

6.  Anthony [1716-1796] married Mary Fuller [1715-1800].

7.  William [1744-1809] married Ann Field [1742-1830].

8.  Anthony [1783-1832] married Mary Neve [1786-1827].

9.  Richard Tuppen [1825-1880] married Mary Ann Scotney Ellis [1843-1927].


Richard Tuppen Tanner, founder in 1877, of the family business R. T. Tanner & Company Limited [website address:] compiled a family tree in 1848 showing various generations of the Tanner, Neve and Field families, but showing no dates for births, marriages or deaths.


When Richard became free of the Spectaclemakers’ Company and the City of London by Redemption on the 28 June 1861, his father Anthony, was shown as deceased of Wivelsfield, Sussex. Fortunately our branch of the family had remained in the same area and it was with little difficulty that I was able to trace them using manorial records and parish registers back to 1672 when they first appeared in Ditchling the next village.


My subsequent research found that there was an Anthony in all but three generations. The name Anthony Tanner is an unusual combination, it appears in the Tanner family of Court in Cornwall and also in a family of Tyler’s in London, but there appear very few mentions elsewhere in the country before 1640. There were also many Tanner family groups living in West Sussex and the earliest mention of the name in a parish record is in 1556 at Patcham. The first Anthony to appear is the baptism of the son of Thomas at Lyminster on the 6 June 1568.  Before the late 1500s there were very few parish records and prior to that the usual sources are ancient deeds, wills, manorial and legal records.  Manorial and legal records are mainly concerned with land purchase or rental from the Lord of the Manor, and much information can be gained from these transactions.


There are several mentions of the name Tanner in early Sussex deeds. A Robert le Tanner was assessed at 11s.11d in a Subsidy Roll of 1327. A Richard Tannere of Lyndefield appears in a deed dated 12 December 1472. An Edward Tanner was living in Nutbourne in 1524 and one of the same name appears as a Freeholder there on the 7 November 1541.


Land tax assessments commenced in 1780 and these list owners and occupiers of properties and the tax levied on their land.   These records gave much information regarding the Tanners and shows their land holdings in considerable detail, and then by using Tithe Maps, which commenced around 1835, it is possible to trace the exact locations of their properties.


Each manor had customs for land inheritance; sometimes the eldest son, sometimes the youngest son and sometimes the widow inherited and held the land until she died. However, this course did not always run true as was the case for the Tanner family in 1598 when the Manorial Court could not decide on the custom!  The run of Court Books for the Manors of the Lord Abergavenny, found at the East Sussex Record Office at Lewes, survive from 1597.  They cover the manors of Cuckfield, Ditchling, Keymer, Northease, Rodmell, Rottingdean, Patcham, Houndsen, Rotherfield, Chiltington, Nutbourne and Lewis Borough.  From 1597-1622 the Manor Steward for Ditchling was a man called John Rowe, his records have been published by the Sussex Record Society, and lists several even earlier references to the transactions of the manorial lands held by various members of the Tanner family.


 In his Will dated 28 November 1557 Thomas Tanner of Pulborough in the County of Sussex gave his son Anthony £5, his son Robert £5 and his best gelding, his son John £3, his son Thomas 40s, and his son Edward the farm lands in the parish of West Chiltington and his leasehold land in the parish of Wigginholt and the rest of all his goods. To his daughters Joan Mynton, Agnes Tilte and Edith he gave four bushels of wheat and four bushels of barley. It is probably Thomas' son Anthony Tanner who at the Manorial Court held on the 22 October 1548 was given a grant for life in the sum of 2s 6d on a farling of land and appurtances in Nutbourne called Noteringbury containing 19 acres with half bushes and briars. He died intestate in 1597 and administration was granted to his wife Joane. At the Court Baron held after his death on 1 March 1598 the land Noteringbury passed to one Thomas Grinfild after 3s.2d was paid in lieu of the herriott of a cow, and at the same Court it also states that one Thomas Sayers held the same land in right of his wife Sybill for their daughter Judith Pratt or the longest liver. His son Thomas jnr. had issue William and Anthony.   Anthony married Elizabeth Michelbourne and it was his son Anthony born c.1630 who inherited the land in 1652


 It was at The Court Baron in 1598 that the confusion arose regarding the inheritance of land as Anthony Tanner also "held of the Lord of the Manor himself and his heirs a ferling of land called Styleplace and a ferlingate of land called Fandlands in Nutbourne after the death of Judith Humfrey the wife of Henry Humfrey and Thomas Pratt alias Cooper......."  Henry Humfrey had married Judith Pratt or Cooper on the 7 April 1591 at Rudgwick, a nearby parish.  I have yet to prove the connection between the two families but it seems probable they were in some way related and thus the inheritance of land occurred. The uncertainty arose because Anthony died without issue. His nephews, William and Anthony, sons of his brother Thomas, became his heirs, and the Court could not decide whether it was the custom for the eldest or youngest son to inherit the land.  At the Court on 11 September 1598 "Anthony Tanner son junior of Thomas brother of Anthony is heir but because there does not appear evidence to the Court concerning the Custom because no such admission can be found in the Court Rolls nor has any such example occurred either by the inspection of copies or by the testimony of the old tenants from their own experience, the admission of Anthony is delayed until it can more clearly appear to the Court concerning the certitude of this Custom".


However by the Court held 22 March 1599 the matter was resolved  - Henry Humfrey and his wife Judith sought licence from the Lord of the Manor to surrender the lease of Style Place and Fandlands from Michelmas for 37 years and it was granted in the sum of 2s3d. The following then appears: "Into the court comes William son senior and Anthony Tanner son Junior sons of Thomas Tanner brother of Anthony Tanner deceased who hold from his death for themselves and their heirs of the Lord of the Manor the reversion of one tenements and ferling called Styleplace and Fandlands in Nutbourne after the death of Judith Humfrey wife of Henry occurred. William and Anthony brothers presenting to the Court through the Steward a writing signed by Richard Lewknor Sergeant at Law and William Towse Counsellor at Law [Barrister] deposited with the Steward by which it appears that since no similar admission or example can be found in the Court Rolls to confirm or verify the Custom which was presented at the Court therefore there can be no such custom but the reversion should descend according to the course of the Common Law the said presentment not withstanding. The said William seeks to be and was admitted tenant.” As there were several years between entries of land transactions it has not possible to determine exactly when William died and how the land then passed forward to his nephew, yet another Anthony Tanner.


Judith Humfrey died in 1651 and at a court held on 20 January 1652 it stated that Agnes her daughter was the next heir to the premises, and this is confusing with regard to the Tanner family as at the Court Baron held 9 June 1653 it states:   "At this Court the Homage does present Anthony Tanner who holds of the said Manor the Reversion (after the death of Judith Humfrey) of one tenement and three farlings of land called Fandlands in Nutbourne and three farlings of land called Style Place to him and his heirs has died seized thereof herriott ......... and the said Judith Humfrey is also dead and therefore that by the oath and information of Edmund Negus Clerk, Anthony Tanner being youngest son of the said Anthony Tanner deceased, according to the custom of the said Manor is next heir to the premises whereupon the first admission was made.   And now at the same Court upon the first of the month the said Anthony Tanner present in Court in his own upon the whole homage and desired to be admitted to all and singular the said premises to whom the law by his Steward granted thereof..... and because the said Anthony Tanner is within his Age of one and twenty years being the age of year or thereabouts so he cannot govern himself or manage the said premises therefore the Custody of the said Anthony and also of his said tenements is remitted to Elizabeth Tanner his mother until the said Anthony shall come to his full age upon condition that she shall well and honestly educate the said Anthony finding him competent food and rayment and repairing the buildings with the reparations and she gave to the Lord for a fine and was admitted thereof tenant during the minority of the said Anthony”.


Sometime before 1670 Anthony married Martha daughter of Richard Luxford and Sarah (nee Boarde).  Sarah Luxford was the daughter of Sir Stephen Boarde and was baptised 25 August 1611, she married at Cuckfield, Richard Luxford of Hurstpierpoint on the 16 November 1630 and Martha their 9th child was baptised at East Grinstead on the 26 March 1644. Richard Luxford was buried there 3 December 1653 and a Sarah Luxford, was buried at Godstone 30 January 1668. The precise whereabouts of Martha and her family after the death of her father are unknown and her marriage to Anthony has not yet been traced, she is mentioned as Martha Tanner in the Will of her brother Edward of Lambeth, Surrey, when he died 3 December 1670, and again as such in the Will of her brother John who died in November 1693.


Anthony Tanner is mentioned again at a Court Baron held at Nutbourne on the 17 October 1669 ‘A load of timber was allocated to Anthony Tanner to repair his buildings called Fand Lands and Style Place in Nut borne by the assigning of Robert Batcheller’ and a ‘Licence was granted to let to whoever suitable (to? The holdings) should best please him for the term of seven years beginning at the feast of St. Michael preceding the date of this court.  And given to the lord as a fine for such a licence, two shillings and fourpence’.


On the 5 June 1672 he surrendered the land of Style Place and Fandlands back to the Lord of the Manor, and the family moved to Ditchling where at the Court Baron held there on the 9 May 1673, “one cottage and one garden called Leasinghall in Ditchling, which had been surrendered back to the Lord on the 11 April 1673 by one John Turner, was passed to the use of Anthony Tanner his heirs etc.”


Between March 1674 and December 1684 Anthony and Martha Tanner had several children whose baptisms and burials appear in the Ditchling Parish Registers, including the burial of a son Anthony in May 1680. He was presumably born before they moved to the area, as there is no record of his baptism at Ditchling or in the West Chiltington registers. Anthony appears in the parish register as a surveyor of the highway in Ditchling in 1683, an overseer in 1684 and a churchwarden in 1689. He was buried at Ditchling 6 March 1695/6 and as he died intestate his son Edward Tanner, Cordwainer of Ditchling, was granted an administration on the 21 April 1696 on the renunciation of Anthony's relict Martha - he left £62.1.8d.  Until Anthony’s death there had been nothing to indicate the occupation of the family and this is the first time a trade is mentioned.


On the 26 October 1696 John Farncombe, yeoman, of Ditchling and Poynings, “held Leasinghall in Ditchling as security from Anthony Tanner and was admitted on forfeiture on the 28 October 1697”.   John Farncombe died on the 27 April 1700 and in his will it states "whereas I have surrendered two copyholds one in Ditchling and one in Preston to the use of my last Will & Testament I give and bequeath same to Elizabeth Hamsher [his half sister] ...but whereas the Ditchling copyhold is only a mortgage provided the money thereupon be paid of that the said Elizabeth Hamshar shall be thereupon satisfied...."    The mortgage was obviously paid up as this same extract is quoted in the Court Books in October 1700 when Martha, Anthony’ widow, was admitted to the land.


Cordwain is derived from the name of the Spanish town Cordova where leather was made out of goat-skins tanned and dressed, or later of split horse-hides, which were mostly used, for shoes etc by the wealthy during the Middle Ages. From the diary of John Burgess a glover of Ditchling, written in 1780 and mentioned later, horse hides and also sheep skins were obviously much in use in Sussex.


The preparation and tanning of hides appears to have been one of the oldest known to mankind and the process took about eighteen months from beginning to end. First the hide had to be cleaned in a water pit to remove any blood and also to swell the fibres. It was then put into the limepits, firstly into a mellow solution of old lime in water with hen manure and dog excreta, next into a less mellow solution and thirdly into a solution of almost new lime. The length of time depended on the type of leather required. For hard sole leather, eight to ten days in the strong lime but for soft pliable leather, such as for harnesses and shoe uppers, up to six weeks was needed in the old mellow solution. The main purpose of liming was to loosen the hair and outer portion of the skin. This was done by a beamsman using special knives, working in the beam house - the beam being a steeply sloping wooden work table with convex top, over which the hide was thrown for de-hairing and fleshing. Before tanning, the hide was cut up, as different parts took up the tanning at different rates and the odd uneconomic pieces were sent away to make glue or gelatine. A vast quantity of oak bark was used and had to be kept dry in the bark room, before being finely ground in the mill house - a very dusty process. The powder was added to cold water in a leaching pit, and then transferred to the tanning pits. First the hides were suspended in a weak solution, and then moved from pit to pit into gradually stronger solutions, keeping the hides from touching each other. Afterwards they were moved into another set of pits of much stronger tanning where they were laid flat before a final wash in a weak solution and being hung up to dry slowly in the drying shed. Tanned leather ended up stiff and badly coloured so had then to pass through the hands of a currier to make it suitable for the shoemaker and other craftsmen to use. Currying was a separate, highly skilled craft. There were very strict laws governing the processes of tanning, and buying and selling hides had to be on the open market, the finished ones being stamped by the licensing officer before sale.


Returning to the family, Edward,  Anthony and Martha’s son was baptised at Ditchling in 1674 and married there 4 December 1707 Hannah Browne the daughter of William and Susanna of Wivelsfield.  It is probable that the Browne’s were non-conformists as Hannah was baptised at Ditchling a few months before the wedding on 14 September 1707.     Between 1708 and 1721 Edward and Hannah’s eight children were all baptised at Ditchling.


Edward is listed in the Parish records for Ditchling as an overseer in 1708 and as a churchwarden in 1714, 1715 and 1716. At the Court Baron held in Ditchling in April 1729 Edward Tanner appears on the homage and in August of the same year Leasinghall appears to be leased to him again.


 A stamp duty was imposed on apprenticeship indentures by an act of 1710 and the records of this tax up to 1811, are held at the The National Archives at Kew. [An index can be found online]. From these, we know that Edward's son Anthony was apprenticed to Richard Earle of Ditchling, Sussex glover for 7 years from 14 April 1729 in the sum of £8.  Laurance, his youngest son, was apprenticed to an Edward Tanner, of Hellingly, Sussex, wheeler, in the sum of £5 on the 6 Oct 1748 (possibly his elder brother, however no connection has been made). Laurance continued in the trade of wheelwright during his working life, and the information and tree of his family and descendants were researched and given to me by Peggy (nee Tanner) Shelley one of his direct descendents. Although there appears no record of a formal apprenticeship, Edward's other son William became a Carpenter and is referred to as such of Ditchelling, Sussex both in his will and when he took Jos.Davey as apprentice in 1748.


At the Court Baron at Ditchling on the 15 July 1751, Edward Tanner surrendered the cottage and gardens named Leasinghall to the Lord of the Manor on reversion to his son Anthony Tanner, fellmonger,  his heirs and assigns for ever. Nobody came to make a claim  so a second proclamation was made at the next Court on 18 May 1752 and Anthony Tanner was admitted tenant for a fine of 6d. A Fellmonger was a dealer in skins or hides especially sheep skins, today an operative who works skins.


Edward Tanner was buried at Ditchling in 1752 and there appears no trace of any will so it is difficult to establish whether his eldest son Edward was still alive, certainly there appears no reference to him, or another son John in the Ditchling parish records after their baptisms. Also on the family tree composed by Richard Tuppen Tanner in 1848 only Anthony, William and Laurance appear so it is probably safe to assume that the other brothers, Edward and John were deceased.

Having served his apprenticeship in 1736 Edward's son Anthony married at nearby Westmeston, 30 July 1741, Mary daughter of John and Mary Fuller who was baptised at Ditchling 13 November 1715. Although Anthony and Mary were married for 50 years they only had two children, Mary baptised 15 May 1742 who married at Ditchling 14 February 1765 John Borer and William baptised 26 June 1744.


It was during the next 50 years that the Tanners started to accumulate more property and land, some of which they inherited through marriage. However, they continued to raise money by taking out mortgages and on 11 June 1753 Anthony surrendered Leasinghall for the sum of £159.12s. 0d.  to Mary Hollingdale of Lindfield spinster. He had to repay her £4.8s.0d at her dwellinghouse in Lindfield on the 27 April 1754, 28 April 1755, 27 April 1756 and then the residue of £144.18s 0d. on 27 April 1757. If not the surrender would be void. However, at the Court on 6 June 1759 Mary Hollingdale acknowledged herself satisfied!   He is shown as a Fellmonger when paying off another surrender 30 May 1780, and at the Court Baron in 1783 "Anthony Tanner Fellmonger satisfied and paid all principal money and interest on conditional surrender of premises of Leasing Hill by Richard Cox".


 Anthony and his brother William appear regularly signing inhabitant’s lists and rates books during this period and both were obviously heavily involved in the running of the affairs of the village.   On Sunday 9th September 1744 Anthony was a signatory on a memorandum "We whose names are hereunder written do hereby testify that notice according to an Act of Parliament was published in our Parish Church of Ditchling signifying that an assessment for the Poor of the said Parish at the rate of 2/6d on the pound was allowed by two of his majesties Justices of the Peace”.  William signed a similar memo in 1745.


Anthony was appointed a surveyor in 1746, a sidesman in 1747, was a signatory at a vestry meeting held at the Bull in Ditchling 4 November 1748 and was again appointed surveyor 26 December 1748. He held the office of churchwarden from 1749-57, and on 26 December 1749 he was appointed an Overseer of the Poor with John Attree, and on the 26 December 1750 with his brother William. William took over the post of churchwarden from March 1758 - 1762 and 1767, 68, 69 and was a surveyor in 1765 and 66.


In 1775 Anthony is styled yeoman, when he was granted 15 acres of land called Rowles Croft. Some years later at a Court Baron held in 1787,  he surrendered this land on the fine of 2s to his daughter Mary Borrer wife of John Borrer of Ditchling Gent.  In 1780 the land tax assessment for his house in Ditchling was £2.5s 0d so he paid 9s.0d tax and for Leasing Hill, which had been renamed the Bull, £4. 10s 0d. - 18s.0d tax.   At the Court in 1790 he surrendered this tenement building and garden to the use of Henry Hubbard Innkeeper. I have yet to establish when the family rented out Leasinghall and moved to the house. By 19 September 1795 when he drew up his will he was a gentleman of Ditchling, Sussex and to show the extent of his land holdings an extract of his will is shown below. He died and was buried at Ditchling on the 4 April 1796.


"To my daughter Mary wife of John Borer, freehold and copyhold estate tenement and garden late Scrases' in Ditchling now in the tenure and occupation of Mistress Affield and also tenements shops stable building garden and field thereto adjoining - one acre - late Nights, also my three pieces or parcels of copyhold land late Hubbards called Noor Diamonds Croft and Little Sands, all which said copyhold tenements are situate in the Parish of Ditchling. Also to my daughter Mary Borrer the sum of £800 within three months after my decease. Also one moiety or half part of the principal sum of £220 lent and advanced by me to the Trustees of the Ditchling Turnpike Road and secured to me on the credit of the tolls thereof.


“I give and bequeath to my son William Tanner all and singular the freehold and copyhold estates hereinafter and particularly mentioned freehold messuage or tenement stables, barns, buildings farm and lands with the appurtances called or known by the name of Newhouse situate and lying and being in the parish of Hurstpierpoint. Also freehold stables, barns, drying houses, buildings, tan yard farm lands and premises with all the appurtenances in Wivelsfield and now in the tenure and occupation of my said son William Tanner. Also copyhold messuage tenement garden orchard and fellmongers yard late Harden's situate lying and being in Ditchling. Also my piece of copyhold land in Ditchling called Rolls Croft and the new stable thereon lately erected and built.


“I subject and charge the same with the payment of one annuity or yearly rent of £40 clear of all taxes and deductions to my loving wife Mary and her assigns during the term of her natural life. Four times a year, feasts of Annunciation. The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, St. Michael the Archangel and the Nativity. Also to my wife Mary the sum of £10 to be paid immediately on my decease and all my household goods, implements and utensils of household.


“Witnessed by Peter Morley, John Tanner, John Chanther 18 September 1796 Sworn to William Tanner sole executor goods chattels and credits do not amount in value unto £5,000."


Anthony's only son William born in 1744 married at Ditchling 2 February 1780 Ann the daughter of Thos. Field gentleman and Sarah his wife who was baptised at Ditchling 27 August 1742. William and Ann Tanner only had three children. Thomas William baptised 13 February 1781 who died and was buried at Wivelsfield 24 August 1811 aged 30. Anthony baptised 4 May 1783, who married Mary Neve 5 February 1811 and was buried at Wivelsfield 26 September 1832 and Ann baptised 3 September 1786 who married John Neve a Farmer of Halden in Kent 14 May 1811 and died there on the 23 March 1816.  William had inherited the tanyard at Wivelsfield from his uncle John Fuller and by the 1780's he was shown by trade as a Tanner of Ditchling and Wivelsfield.


 Before the Police Force came into existence, it was the usual thing for people of property, for their own safety, to band themselves together into societies. Such a society flourished in Ditchling during the eighteenth and well into the middle of the nineteenth century.  Ditchling Society for the Prosecuting of Thieves was   established 30th day of November 1784 at a meeting held at the Bull Inn, Ditchling.  The object of the society was to raise a fund for prosecuting persons who were found to be guilty of murdering or robbing and defrauding any member of the said society of their property, and for the more effectually discovering and bringing such persons to justice, and for offering and paying such rewards to persons giving information hereby such offenders were apprehended and convicted.


A meeting of this society “was held once in every year at the Bull Inn on Monday nearest the full moon in the month of November, and that dinner be upon the table at two o’clock in the afternoon, and that each member pay three shillings to defray the ordinary expenses thereof”.   At this meeting all the business of the Society was transacted, and a treasurer and a clerk appointed every year .No member, we are told, was to claim protection for any property ‘situated beyond ten miles from the town of Ditcheling’. [The History of Ditchling by Henry Cheal Jnr Organist of St Margaret’s Church Ditchling printed 1901]


A document is still hanging [1993] in the pub showing the names of members of the Society and in which several Tanner names appear.


We can gain further insight into the life in Ditchling during the period 1785-90 from a journal written by John Burgess, a glover, who lived and worked in the village, and in which he mentions the Tanners and their tanyards.  In his diary he recorded his day-to-day life, with references to business transactions and everyday events, and always, in a column on the right hand side ruled for the purpose, he commented on the weather - thus the fixation of the climatic conditions around us are not a modern idiom! John Burgess was a Baptist and eventually in 1794 he decided to go to America with his sons Henry 13, and Tom 11, mainly because he was in debt and because he was probably finding his religious beliefs were being oppressed.


We know, therefore, that on Sunday 28th January 1787 "there was a great fall of snow with strong south wind but toward night it began to thaw and was much wasted before morning, we have had a good winter for cold and wet", and "we have had a remarkable sharp frost great deal of snow likewise the frost began Nov 24th 1788 and lasted about 8 weeks many people say it more severe cold than it was in the hard winter water was scarce and very bad many wells dry has been so very dry for so long, long time great numbers of fish was perished as well as birds &c.


John Burgess went to the tanyard in Ditchling and on a fine Thursday 15 June 1786 he "purchased a pair of collerd oyl skins of Mr Tanner at 3/- each", and on a wet Wednesday 6 June 1787 he " went to Mr.Tanners and bought collered sheep skins to make Mr.Sanders a pair 5/6d each". On another wet Saturday, 7 November 1789 he went to "ye tanyard paid Mr.Tanner £1-2-6d for tanning all I owed him". On a fine Saturday, 2 September 1786, he went "to ye tanyard with 3 dozen of leather to tan" and on a very wet and windy day Saturday 3 March 1787 he went to "ye tan yard after 2 doz leathers". On Friday 27 April when it was only cloudy he went to "ye tanyard Mrs Baker with me brought 3 dozen in ye weelbarrow we got home about 9 o’clock." On a fine Saturday lst March 1788 he went "after my leather 4 dozen" and finally on a frosty Monday 17 November 1788 he "went to ye Tanyard after leather paid him for all that have been tand since I paid him before paid him £0-19-0d.  He again  "went to ye Tanyard at Weavelsfield on a frosty and cold Friday, 25 March 1785, a cold Sunday 26 March 1786 on a showery Wednesday, 5 July 1786 he "went to ye tanyard with 2 dozen leather". On a very windy and wet day Thursday 14 September 1786 "he went to Weavelsfield to ye tanyard for 3 dozen leather and the same on Wednesday 4 October 1786. However it was fine on Friday 14 and Thursday 27 September 1787 went he went to get his leather.


At the Quarter Session Indictments at Horsham in 1788 William Carter gent, Collector of Excise stated "that one William Tanner of Wivelsfield, Tanner, on 24th June last at Wivelsfield, did take 9 hides out of the Wooze and Liquour wherein the same had been tanned and did hang up or dispose of the said hides to be dried without giving or sending notice in writing to the proper office for the duties payable to such hides of the time when the said William Tanner should so take the said hides two days before and dispose of them in Horsham --- plead 'not guilty-- Thomas Coxton Officer of Excise (a credible witness) declares that the hides were taken without notice --- found guilty and fined £20".


William died and was buried at Wivelsfield 23 December 1809 and the following appears on one of the family tombs in Wivelsfield Churchyard.

William Tanner of the Tan Yard died 17 December 1809 aged 65

 Ann Tanner his wife died 27 September 1830 aged 88.

Thomas William Tanner their son died 21 August 1811 aged 30

 John Neve Tanner son of Anthony and Mary Tanner died 10 March 1820 aged 4.


In his Will dated 17 June 1796 and proved 26 March 1810 he left everything as follows:  “To my eldest son Thomas William all that freehold capital messuage or tenement and Mansion House called Newhouse otherwise Willmansworth together with the barns, stables, buildings, orchards, backsides, curtilages and the several closes pieces and parcels of arable meadow pasture and woodland by estimation 108.5 acres being in the several parishes of Hurstpierpoint and Twineham and now in the tenure and occupation of James Wood or his assigns sometime since purchased by my late father Anthony Tanner deceased of and from John Norton then of Leatherhead in Surrey, Tanner. Also that piece or parcel of copyhold land by estimation one acre and one road lying near Herringsbridge in Twineham and held by the manor of Camios which I have duly surrendered to the use of this Will.


“To my youngest son Anthony Tanner messuage or tenement, barns outhouses and buildings and all those several closes pieces or parcels of arable meadow and pasture land to the said messuage known as Pepperhall and were sometimes called Easterfields in Wivelsfield. Also all those several close pieces or parcels of arable meadow and pasture land to the said messuage and premises belonging or appertaining thereof severed and inclosed from a certain common called Wivelsfield Common containing by estimation 46 acres now the tenure of Joseph Hyder. Also Griggs otherwise Giffords about 11 acres Wivelsfield. Also Pdstream and all barns, stables, outhouses, buildings, backsides, tanyard, gardens, orchards and three several pieces or parcels of land to the said messuage or tenement known as Tanhouse, Mead Ryecroft and Hurstwood containing 11 acres Wivelsfield in my own occupation, the said last mentioned premises were purchased by my father Anthony Tanner deceased from Francis Warden Esq., and Robert Chatfield, Yeoman Executors in trust named in the Will of Richard Fuller formerly of Cuckfield deceased. To hold the said several messuages or tenements or farm lands etc unto my said son Anthony Tanner his heirs and assigns for ever.


“Also (in pursuance of Covenant in a certain indenture of release by way of settlement dated 28 Jan 1780 previous to my marriage to Ann Field spinster) I bequeath to my dear wife a yearly annuity of £60 for her natural life clear of all taxes quarterly Lady Day, Midsummer Day, Michaelmas Day, Christmas Day. And I do hereby charge and make chargeable the aforesaid capital messuage tenement and Mansion House called Newhouse otherwise Willmansworth and the barns stables buildings gardens orchards lands given and devised to my eldest son Thomas William.  In order to secure the due and regular payment I direct my Executors to place out at interest on Government or good security the sum of £1000 and with the dividends and interest thereon to pay my wife Ann the yearly sum of £40 being two thirds of her annual annuity. I do give and bequeath the said principal £1000 and all dividends and interest thereon and also such overplus and surplus as shall on my death be remaining in the hands of my executors from the dividends after discharging the said £40 and all costs and charges to my son Anthony Tanner and my daughter Ann Tanner equally within six months after the death of their mother provided they are 21. Also to my wife Ann all my household goods, household, furniture, plate, linen, china, beds, bedding and other implements of household in my dwelling house and premises in Wivelsfield. I give to my son Anthony Tanner £1000 and my daughter Ann Tanner £1500 to be paid within 6 months.

 Executors: Reverend Richard Turner Westmeston Clerk [brother-in-law]. William Tanner of Morehouse, gentleman.[brother] 5 guineas each for mourning rings.

Witnessed by Saml Waller. Walter Chatfield, Luke Killick. 26 March 1810 Goods not valued above £5000.

Codicil 13 June 1798 leaving the outhouses, garden, orchard, close of land one acre one road twenty seven perches lying and being at Haywards Heath on the East Side of the Turnpike Road leading from Lindfield towards Ditchling now in the tenure of widow Langham purchased from Sir Thomas Shirley Baronet to Anthony Tanner.


Thomas William died aged 30 and was buried on the 24 August 1811 at Wivelsfield. Administration of his goods was granted to his brother Anthony on the 9th October 1813.


Anthony married Mary Neve by licence at Tenterden in Kent on the 5 February 1811. They returned to live at Cleavewater Farm next to the tanyard in Wivelsfield and Anthony appears as a gentleman/farmer and tanner in the baptisms of his eight children between December 1811 and May 1825. Their son John Neve Tanner died aged 4 and was buried at Wivelsfield 17 March 1820. His wife Mary died aged 40 and was buried 15 June 1827. Following her death Anthony drew up his Will on 31 August 1827, when he was styled gentleman of Wivelsfield. His mother Ann died aged 88 and was buried 30 September 1830. On the 26 September 1832 aged 49 he died as a result of falling from his horse on Ditchling Hill on his way back from a day in Brighton and the following appeared in several Brighton newspapers.


Brighton Guardian Wednesday 26 September 1832

“We are concerned to announce the shocking death of Mr Anthony Tanner of Wivelsfield. The particulars of his lamentable end will be found in our account of inquests.  Mr Tanner was as we learn generally esteemed, but we cannot conceive that we shall be discharging our duty as public journalists unless we draw the attention of our readers to the sad and fatal consequences which are ever to be apprehended from too free an indulgence in the seductive vice of drinking.

On the 23rd inst. the body of Mr A Tanner of Wivelsfield – George Hoather stated that he worked at the lime kilns at Ditchling Bostell and was lying down at one of the kilns about eight o’clock on Saturday night, when he heard the sound as of a horse galloping down the hill very fast towards Ditchling – Sarah, the wife of George Brooker, deposed that her husband was a labourer and lived at Ditchling lime kilns; that about ten o’clock on Saturday night, Richard Bonnyface, a carter at the kilns came into the house and requested her to go out with a light saying there as a man dead in the road, and that she answered dead drunk supposed, and went out immediately with a light, which was put out by the wind: that about five or six rods from the house she saw the body of a man lying with his face flat upon ground with one leg doubled under him and the other straight. She turned up the body, it was covered with blood, and she knew it to be Mr Anthony Tanner.  She washed his face on the spot, and conveyed him to the house in a chair; he was dead; the body did not appear to have been moved; it appeared to her that deceased had had something to drink – James Beall was the next witness examined; he stated that he was a bricklayer and lived at 30 Chesterfield Street, Brighton, that between ten and eleven o’clock on Saturday night he was at the Ditchling lime kilns and heard an outcry amongst some women. As the cries continued he went down from the kiln to the spot, where he saw the body of a man lying upon his face in the road, he untied his handkerchief and unbuttoned his shirt collar and the waistband of his clothes; he felt his bosom, which was warm, he put his head close to the deceased’s and thought he perceived him to draw breath; he mentioned this to Mrs Brooker, he put his mouth to the mouth of the deceased, and perceived something like a rustle come from it, he washed him and had him placed in a chair and conveyed him into the house – William Randalls deposed that he was a shoemaker at Ditchling, that he was in the Bull Inn at Ditchling on Saturday evening in company with several other persons, when George Heather came in and said there was a man lying dead under the kiln, that they then started together towards the place, and when they came to the turnpike gate he saw a horse on the Brighton side of the road.  The horse was bridled and saddled, the stirrups were spring stirrups, and the left hand stirrup was open there was no dirt upon the saddle, he mounted the horse and rode up to the place where the body was lying, he examined the horse’s knees, they were not injured – Robert Boddington stated he was a surgeon at Ditchling that he saw Mr A Tanner, the deceased, about five o’clock on Saturday at Brighton that they agreed to return home together at six.  He did not consider the deceased quite sober at the time. He waited for him till nearly 9 o’clock and as deceased did not come, he started home by himself and got to Ditchling about 10 o’clock.  As he was coming down Ditchling Bostell he saw the deceased who had then been removed into the house and was quite dead and he supposed had been for an hour or two.  He saw William Randall upon a horse, which he knew, belonged to the deceased, had examined the body of the deceased in the presence of the jury, the skull was fractured, as he imagined, from a fall.  In his opinion the body had been drawn for some distance, the fracture he saw was sufficient to have caused death.

Verdict – Accidental Death.



Brighton Gazette Thursday 27 September 1832.

“We have the pain of recording the death of Mr Anthony Tanner of Wivelsfield under very distressing circumstances.  On Saturday last he was in Brighton nearly the whole day, and spent the afternoon with a friend in Ship Street. He left the Brunswick Arms about seven o’clock in the evening on horseback and proceeded up the Ditchling road on his way home. About 10 o’clock Mr Tanner was found quite dead on the road, near the bottom of Ditchling Bostell, by a man in the employ of Mr Bennett, lime burner. The body was almost cold; the back part of the head was dreadfully cut and the coat much torn.  It is supposed that whilst riding down the hill, the deceased fell asleep and overbalanced himself. It appeared from marks of blood in the road that he must have been dragged a considerable distance before he was clear of the stirrups. The horse went on to the turnpike. On the following day a Coroner’s Inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of  ‘Accidental Death’ returned. The deceased left six children but no wife.



Brighton Herald  Saturday 29 September 1832

“FATAL OCCURRENCE  On Saturday night last, between eleven and twelve o’clock, Mr Anthony Tanner, a respectable farmer, residing in Wivelsfield, in the county was found lying dead in the road, at the foot of Ditchling Bosthill.  An inquest was held the following day on the body, when it appeared that on Saturday, the deceased had been to Brighton, and had agreed to ride home with Mr Boddington, a surgeon of Ditchling.  The deceased was at the King and Queen between five and six o’clock, but as Mr Boddington had not arrived, he started alone.  No more was seen of him until he was found by some labourers at Ditchling lime-kilns, as above stated.  The deceased’s skull was fractured, and his horse was found at the road side, near Ditchling. It is rather remarkable, that Mr Boddington, who left Brighton soon after Mr Tanner, saw his friend lying in the road, at the foot of the Bosthill, and called out to him: but, receiving no answer judged it was some person in liquor laid down to sleep, and passed on.  Verdict ‘Accidental Death’.


The following letter to the Editor:

SIR, - In the Brighton Guardian of the 26th instant, there appeared an account of the death of Mr. A. Tanner of Wivelsfield.  Now, Sir, to expect any thing but the most cold-hearted malignity from this quarter would be to imagine any impossibility could be realized.  The shameless and cowardly Guardian must make this affair a vehicle for his ravenous appetite for slander. The grave was not suffered to close on the unfortunate man before he is held up as an example for drunkards to beware and take warning by his untimely end.  Think you, Sir, that the inhabitants of Brighton will not appreciate the conduct of this excrescence; who, perhaps, cannot be more justly described than in the word of the poet:

“A bloated mass, a gross unkneaded clodd,

“A foe to man, a renegade to God:

“From noxious childhood to his present age

“Sacred be infamy, thru every stage”.

It is an act of common humanity, Mr Editor, if justice be dear to you, if you would rescue from attempted insult the memory of one of the most benevolent, one of the most kind-hearted men that ever existed. Pray give publicity to these remarks.  Nor, Sir, do I shrink from avowal, if required, of who I am: and here throw down the gauntlet and bid defiance to the base malinger – and stigmatise him thus, publicly as a libeller and coward!!!



 Anthony Tanner’s will proved on 4 June 1833 ran to several pages. He left as his executors his brother-in-laws John Neve of Tenterden, Kent, and Thomas Neve of Benenden, Kent, and his cousins William Tanner of Patcham, and Richard Tanner of Wivelsfield, gentleman and stated that they should "absolutely sell and dispose of all and singular my said messuages lands tenements hereditaments and premises either together or in parcels and by public sale or private contract..... Sell everything and call in all rent etc equally divide the proceeds between his children.”


At the time of his death the tanyard was mortgaged and over the next few years Thomas Neve, acting for the other executors, disposed of all his property. The tanyard, on the particulars of Sale by Auction on June 4th 1833 by Verrall & Son at the Star Inn at Lewes at 4pm of 12 Lots by Direction of the Acting Devisee in Trust and Executor of the late Mr. Anthony Tanner is described as follows; "a most desirable freehold property ...consisting of a roomy dwelling house, late the residence of Mr .A. Tanner, deceased, with Excellent Gardens, Orchards and Pleasure Ground, a Summer House, Chaise House, Stabling for five horses, Granary, Cart Lodge, Cow Lodge, Farm Yard, Bark Barn, Mill House, two Drying Sheds, Leather Beam, Lime House and Tan Yard, well supplied with water, and containing sixty-five Pits, also five pieces of Rich Meadow land, 8a 3r 36p, subject to annual quite rent of 1 shilling to the Manor of Franklands and 6d to the Manor of Otehall. The purchaser to have option of taking the Pits, Bark Mill, Stock in Trade and Implements at fair valuation".


It appears that the tanyard was no longer operational as no tanner was found in the 1841 census but a John Cook who occupied Cleavewater, was farming the Tanyard Meads. One of the executors, William Tanner purchased it in 1856, by which time the land had diminished from almost 9 acres to one acre and nineteen perches. The pits were later incorporated into the garden of Hurstwood House, which was built in 1869.


When Anthony died his children were aged as follows - Mary 21, Elizabeth 19, William 18, Maria 14, Anthony 12, Harriet 10 and Richard Tuppen 8. They obviously left Wivelsfield by the middle of the following year when the farm was up for sale and moved to London to live in Lambeth with their Aunt Harriet Neve, (their mother's youngest sister).  Probate off Anthony’s will was granted in 1835 and the sum of £3,000 was shown. By the 1841 census they were living at 9 Walnut Tree Walk, Lambeth.  William as the head of the family was a Clerk, Richard was an apprentice and Elizabeth, Maria, Harriet and Harriet Neve as independent. However although named in their father’s will and being shown on the Inland Revenue document dated 1835 there appears no further reference to either Mary Ann or Anthony despite searches in many burial and/or marriage records. It has not been possible to ascertain which publisher William was employed by but from later records we know that when he was about 14, Richard was apprenticed to Spalding and Hodge, wholesale stationers and paper manufactures in Drury Lane, Westminster. 


Maria Tanner died on the 3rd March 1843 at 9 Walnut Tree Walk at the age of 24, the cause of death given by William Carter, Coroner for Surrey, Kingston was that she “cut her throat being at the time in a state of mental derangement.” She was buried at St May’s Church Lambeth.


In the 1851 census at Walnut Tree Walk William is a Publishers Assistant, Richard a Stationers Assistant, Harriet his sister, and Harriet Neve his aunt still independent and his cousin George Dixon aged 20 a Tea Dealers Assistant. Elizabeth was shown as a visitor staying at Ditchling, with her cousin Martha, the wife of George Dixon the Rector, parents of the aforementioned George.


     On 3rd July 1849 John Neve died at Tenterden after cutting his throat.  His first wife Mary was Anthony’s sister who had died in 1816; under the terms of her marriage settlement upon John’s death money was to be returned to her brother or his heirs.  John’s brother Thomas Neve was one of the executors and once again he was acting for the four surviving Tanner children. The problem arose as John Neve had married again and so a settlement had to be reached with his second wife.  Therefore his will was not finally proved until the 8 July 1850 – the sum showed under £25,000.  In the Inland Revenue document it states that  “ By deed dated 28 April 1850  £3,200 was settled in trust for the same purposes as the ⅓ of residue given to the four Tanners for life with remainders to their children …….Statement filed in letter 1560491 shows the circumstances, but in brief, there was a dispute as to the will and the widow was paid £6,721 in liquidation of her claims under the will or interest …. Of deceased.  Such sum to be paid by residuary legatees.   By deed of 27 April 1850 Harriet Neve and the Tanners assigned their shares of residue to T Neve on his undertaking the  …. Debt of £6,721.  By a deed of 27 April 1850 H Neve and the 4 Tanners assigned to Thos Neve all their shares of residue and share of £7,000 given to the wife for life and all their legacies under the will in consideration of a payment of £8000. The deed noted above was the settlement of the sum agreed upon £3,200 was invested in £3570.8.8. consols. Counsel advised that the Tanners took vested interests in the ⅓ of residue.  The parties have always acted on the opposite view and that view was confirmed by the office in answer to letter 25604.9 of ? £3200, the greater part if not the entirety represents the legacy of  £4500 to which the Tanners were also entitled and therefore the deed of 28 April  remainder ⅓ each 1850 is a settlement by them”.


     By the 1861 census the family had moved from Lambeth to 3 Upper Eaumont Terrace, Hampstead where Richard is shown as a Wholesale Stationer. William by then aged 47 had given up work and with his two sisters and Aunt Harriet is shown as a Fundholder.  It would appear that Richard had decided with this share of the inheritance to leave Spalding & Hodge in 1859 and set up in business with John Hunt in the name of Hunt and Tanner.  Their partnership was dissolved in 1877 when Richard set up the family business of  R.T. Tanner & Company, which was to run through four generations of the family, finally ceasing trading in 1999.



    On the 19 January 1865 Richard Tuppen Tanner wholesale stationer of Hampstead, son of Anthony Tanner, Gentleman married Mary Ann  Scotney Ellis of Hampstead, daughter of Richard Ellis, Surgeon at St. Johns Hampstead, witnessed by J.Macquire and Harriet Tanner and they went to live at 38 Marlborough Hill, St. Johns Wood. They moved to 99 Alexandra Road, and then to 43 Belsize Park, Hampstead and in the next fifteen years had six children, two died and four survived.


    Harriet Neve died at 3 Upper Eamont Terrace on 19 May 1866.  She had drawn up her will 31 August 1849 shortly after the death of her brother John leaving £200 to her brother Thomas Neve of Benenden, £200 to her sister Caroline, wife of Francis Grant of Van Demansland [New Zealand] Gentleman, £200 to her nephew Thomas Montague Hammond son of her late sister Maria wife of Thomas Wiffnall Hammond of Brixton Surrey and £200 to each of her nephews and nieces, William Tanner, Richard Tuppen Tanner, Elizabeth Tanner and Harriet Tanner the sons and daughters of her late sister Mary, wife of Anthony Tanner, late of Wivelsfield in the County of Sussex Gentleman. The entire residue was to be divided between them. [As there is still no mention of Mary and Anthony it is safe to assume that they had both died].  Probate was granted the 25 June 1866 to William Tanner and Richard Tuppen Tanner of 38 Marlborough Hill, St.John's Wood gents and nephews, her effects were under £6000.


Richard Tuppen Tanner died 6 September 1880.  William died 13 December 1886 and in his will drawn up 1st September 1882 he mentions furniture and effects of his late father. He left everything to his two sisters Harriet and Elizabeth or if they had died to the children of his deceased brother Richard Tuppen. Stock £ 5% Great Western Railway 1500 shares personal estate was £10,617.4s.6d. His will was proved 13 December 1886 to executors Charles Neve of Amberfield, Chart Sutton, Kent and William West Neve 5 Bloomsbury Square, Middlesex. After his death Harriet and Elizabeth both wrote their Wills on 16 December 1887 leaving their effects either to each other or otherwise to Richard's children William Anthony, Frances Mary, Edith and Arthur. Their executors were William West Neve and William Anthony Tanner. Elizabeth's Will was proved 4 April 1888 £5,803.11s 3d and Harriet's 18 November 1890 £9,052.18s.


With the deaths of William, Richard, Harriet and Elizabeth all links with Sussex ended.  Richard’s widow and surviving children remained in Hampstead and later generations lived in Surrey, Kent, Northampton and Buckinghamshire.



Sarah Tanner. 

First written for my father-in-law Derek Tanner for his 80th birthday in 1993.

updated 2010 and 2012.









Copyright Sarah Tanner 2012