English Origins: Mewetts in the 17th Century

Alfriston viewed from the South Downs

“Ye Olde Smugglers Inne” – Alfriston

Two miles south of Arlington in Sussex is the village of Alfriston, hidden in the heart of the South Downs where the Cuckmere River has cut a gorge on its way to the open sea. The placid river and the bordering meadows contrast vividly with the high hills of the Downs. The picturesque old inns and houses along its narrow winding streets give it a peculiar charm and interest, especially the Market Cross Inn which was a smugglers’ retreat. Alfriston was the chief centre of Sussex smuggling when that industry was at its highest.”  (This description was written probably sometime early in the 20th century and now one could easily visualise the meadows overbuilt by housing estates, and the village modernised by 21st century self-serve supermarkets; but for our purposes the description would be appropriate for the 17th century.)

In 1616 Thomas Mewett was married to Margaret Rickwater at the Alfriston church of St Andrew, sometimes called the Cathedral of the Downs. They had five children: Ann (b 1617), Margaret (b 1621, married to Richard Worger in 1635), Thomas (b 1627, died in 1635), Nicholas and Sarah (b 1631). In 1634 the father Thomas died, and his widow remarried William Allan.

The marriage of Nicholas Mewett (b 1631) to Mary was not recorded at Alfriston but their children were baptised at the church of St Andrew: Mearey (Mary, 1659), Elizabeth (b 1661, died 1678), Thomas (b 1668), Sarah (b 1670). It appears to have been the custom of the Mewetts to name their eldest son, Thomas.

The marriage of Thomas Mewett (b 1668) was not recorded, but we find a Thomas Mewett, aged 28, and his wife  Catherine living at Willingdon where the baptisms of their children were entered: Mary (1695), Thomas (1697), Edmund (1700), Nicholas (1701, died 1704), Elizabeth 1705, died 1708).

The next post on this weblog will cover the Mewett family story as it developed in Willingdon.

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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