Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Diarists.                         25
touched closely upon each other, and mixed with and were probably related to the same families : the Campions, Court-hopes, Dodsons, Scutts, Harts, Turners, Whitpaines, Lind-fields, Stones, &c. For Thomas Marchant belonged to that higher order of English yeomen who farmed their own land, and the house he resided in at Hurst was one of some preten­sions. It had originally belonged to Sir William Juxon, of whom it was bought by Mrs. Annie Swaine, of Hurstpierpoint, and was purchased of her son and heir by the father of Thomas Marchant. Little Park is now the property of Col. Smith Hannington, who acquired it from the Executors of the last male representative of the Marchants of Hurst. Thomas Marchant, our diarist, was the second of his family who held Little Park, and he began his diary in September, 1714; a few years before that of the Stapleys was brought to a close.
There is a certain family resemblance between the Stapley and the Marchant diaries. Both illustrate the character of the times—one of great material prosperity, but, in country places, at all events, of little intellectual activity, and of peaceful pursuits. The sword had, in very truth, been turned into the ploughshare. The campaigns of Marlborough were brought to a close, and the next 50 years were passed, with only rare exceptions, in profound peace, and in a state of material prosperity which has perhaps never been exceeded in England. But it was of a gross kind. This is reflected in the diary of Thomas Marchant, of Hurst; in that of Thomas Turner, of East Hoathly; and others of the same period. They are redolent of eating and drinking and of the dealings connected therewith. People married, begat and christened children, eat and drank " hugely," amused themselves in a coarse kind of way, bought and sold, died, and were buried. And all this went on in an uniform way as if there were nothing more in life, and as if life would always go on in the same way. The education of the lower classes was utterly neglected, and their morals did not improve. But they were fed well—to a large extent in the houses of
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