Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Ironmasters.                       65
woodman's axe. The skies are unsullied, the air is pure. All is peaceful—rural—and very slow and sleepy. The fierce tug of life, the strife for gold in the shape of iron, has passed away, with its noise and smoke and dirt, to other districts, the denizens of which—that is, such as can afford it—escape as often as they can from their Pandemoniums to the peaceful, rural villages of Sussex, ignorant, perhaps, for the most part, that they are coming to the ancient homes of the mine, the furnace, the forge, and the mill.
But are there no records of these old Sussex ironmasters ? of the Burrells, the Fullers, the Challoners, and the Gales? Are there no memorials of the life they lived, of the houses they built, and the fortunes they made—of their ups and downs in life ?
Thanks to the labours of modern archaeologists, a few relics have been preserved, " few and far between." Of the works that existed at different periods—and Mr. Lower believes that they date from the first century of the Christian era—there are several lists, and in a few cases with the names of the families who owned them. But we only know of two Sussex ironmasters who left any personal records for the information of those who came after them: and these are Leonard Gale, and his son and namesake, the owner of Crabbett House, Worth.
From the journals of these two, contributed to the Sussex Archaeological Society's Collection by Mr. R. W. Blencowe (to whom the MS. was lent by Mrs. Morgan, of Cuckfield), we will try to select a few facts that will illustrate an extinct class of men: the Ironmasters of Sussex.
Leonard Gale was not Sussex born or bred. ** I was born," he says, "in the Parish of Sevenoaks, in Kent, in 1620." " My mother was the daughter of one George Pratt, a very good yeoman, living at Chelsford." There was a family of five sons and one daughter, and the whole of these, with the exception of Leonard and a brother, were swept off by the plague. The brother went to sea and died. Leonard, the F
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