Catalogue description The Shiffner Archives

This record is held by East Sussex Record Office

Details of SHR
Reference: SHR
Title: The Shiffner Archives

THE SHIFFNER ARCHIVES fall into seven groups, viz:


1. Title deeds and related documents deposited with the Sussex Archaeological Trust, Barbican House, Lewes, in 1945, and of which there is a calendar. These records (SH1-453) (The document having a number without a prefix are Shiffner MSS. in groups 2-5; those in the custody of the Sussex Archaeological Trust have the numbers prefixed by the letters SH.)


2. Family papers, deposited in the East Sussex Record Office by Mrs. O. Fooks of Swithewood, Horsted Keynes, Sussex, with the consent of the trustees of the will of Sir John Shiffner, 5th bart., on 3rd June, 1954, and catalogued as SHR/1-3080 (SHR/2861-2868 are the personal property of Mrs. O. Fooks.)


3. SHR/3080A-3143 and 3306-3308 were similarly deposited on 9 February, 1956,


4. SHR/3144-3232 were deposited in the East Sussex Record Office by Commander John Scarlett Shiffner of Ingleside House, Leslie, Fife, through Mrs. Fooks on 9th February, 1956,


5. SHR/3233-3305, being mainly estate papers, were originally deposited with the Sussex Archaeological Trust by Mrs. O. Fooks in September, 1955, and listed as SH454-502. It was subsequently agreed that these papers should be kept with those in group 2, and they were transferred to the East Sussex Record Office on 16th February, 1956.


6. The records SH503-1028 were originally part of the deposit made by Mrs. Fooks on 3rd June, 1954, but as they were title deeds and related papers were transferred to the Sussex Archaeological Trust on 16th February, 1956, to be united with group 1 above. These deeds have not yet been calendared


7. SHR/3306A-3749 are principally family and estate papers discovered at Offham late in 1958 when most of this book had been printed; they were deposited in the East Sussex Record Office on 2 December 1958.


Title deeds and associated papers are with the Sussex Archaeological Trust, and that all the family archives are in the East Sussex Record Office.

Date: 1614-1673
Held by: East Sussex Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Shiffner family of Coombe Place, East Sussex

Bridger family of Coombe Place, East Sussex

Physical description: 104 series
Administrative / biographical background:

The Coombe Estate, with Coombe House and the manor of Coombe, totalling 207 acres, was purchased in February 1657/8 by Richard Bridger of Ashurst from the executors of Sir Thomas Rivers, bart., for £2400, (SH583) and has remained in the hands of his family and their successors by marriage until the present day. (Coombe Place was sold in 1952 to Mr. R. N. Cannon.) As the papers refer extensively to the families living at Coombe and to their many connections, some notes on the principal persons concerned are given below.




The Bridgers originated from Warminghurst in West Sussex. (See The Visitations of Sussex, 1530 and 1633-4 (Harleian Society, vol. 53, 1905), p. 156, and W. Berry, Pedigrees of the Families in the County of Sussex (1830), p. 109). Many of the family are buried there, but they were also associated with Ashurst, and owned other properties in the surrounding parishes. The Warminghurst property was sold to James Butler in 1720, (E. Cartwright, The Parochial Topography of the Rape of Bramber in the Western Division of the County of Sussex (1830), p. 256.) and the remaining West Sussex lands seem to have been sold about 1761 to help pay off John Bridger's debts. The Richard Bridger who bought and settled at Coombe married Frances, daughter of Walter Burrell of Cuckfield (W. V. Cooper, A History of the Parish of Cuckfield (1912) treats of this family, pp. 102-111); he was an active justice of the peace, colonel in the militia, and Member of Parliament for Lewes from 1679 to 1694. (See Robert Chapman, 'The Parochial History of Hamsey', in Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. XVII, pp. 70-103, esp. p. 89.) Nothing beyond a few settlement and testamentary papers relating to him have survived. (Nos. SHR/386-389 (p. 13)) His son, Richard, married Elizabeth daughter of John Alford of Offington in Durrington, and through this connection the Bridgers became related to the Wenhams (see pedigree). The Alfords owned considerable lands in, as well as the manor of, Hamsey, (See Chapman, op. cit., pp. 81-3, and Victoria County History, Sussex, vol. 7 (1940), p. 85) and it was no doubt a matter of some distress that this was all bequeathed to the Wenhams on the death of John Alford, the last heir, in 1744. The marriages of the daughters of the elder Richard Bridger are recorded in the pedigree.


The second Richard Bridger died in 1729 and was succeeded by his only surviving son, John, (He matriculated at New College, Oxford, 30 Oct., 1722, aged 17; see J. Foster, Alumni Oxonienses.) who married Mary White in 1732 thereby relating the family to the Tettersels (or Tattersalls) of Brighton and the Fullers of Catsfield. Richard's daughters, Frances and Elizabeth, both married Lewes lawyers, Edward Trayton and Richard Lardner respectively, while Jane married the Rev. John Davis, vicar of Iford and Kingston near Lewes and later a prebendary of Canterbury cathedral. (He was presented to the rectory of Hamsey in 1752 by John Wenham; see Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. XVII, p. 100. I am indebted to Mr. W. E. C. Cotton for information on the Davis family) It is with John Bridger that the family records become more plentiful; they include estate accounts from Richard's time, papers relating to business ventures and correspondence. The first record of Coombe Place also occurs in these archives at this time. A sketch of 'Combe House before rebuilt in the year 1730' (No. SHR/2829) shows a gabled house (This agrees with the house depicted on the estate map by Francis Hill in 1707 SH391, p. 84 For a description of the present house see Victoria County History, Sussex, vol. 7 (1940), p. 84) which was then replaced by a façade in the Georgian style with additions to the offices on the north side (No. SHR/2831). Between 1775 and James Lambert's drawing of it in 1780 (Nos. SHR/2836, 3060 and Frontispiece), the household offices and stables were shorn off and replaced by a separate group of buildings to the north of the house.


We have no account of the circumstances in which John Bridger became bankrupt apart from the fact that it was occasioned by losses 'by underwriting etc.', (See fn. 5 below.) but according to the deed mortgaging the Coombe estate to John Wenham of Beckenham, Kent, in 1763, (See SH724-740) Wenham had then paid his debts totalling £4657 9s. 11¼d., representing a composition with creditors of 10s. in the pound in 1761 which, with a further £1534 due to Wenham on a previous mortgage in 1760, was eventually increased to £6300 by an advance of £108 10s. 0¾d. All this was presumably in addition to payments resulting from the sale of the West Sussex property. (See SH979-1028. This was property under settlement on his marriage in 1732 and included Peppers Farm in Ashurst and West Grinstead, Huddlestone Farm in Steyning, and messuages and lands in Pulborough, Sullington, Storrington, West Chiltington and Thakeham. Langridge MSS. 142, 143 and 152 in the East Sussex Record Office are abstracts of title for some of Bridger's estate). John Bridger was saved from this critical position by the marriage of his son, John (afterwards Sir John), (Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, matriculating 13 Nov., 1751, aged 18 (J. Foster, op. cit.). His accounts are extant for the Oxford period (No. SHR/1373, p. 27). On the back of a small black and white portrait of Sir John Bridger in an oval frame now in the possession of Elsie, Lady Shiffner, has been written by William Green, jun. :-


The Picture of John Bridger Junior Eqr. done at Oxford, when gent Commoner of that University in 1752 Who was a Member of Christ Church and lived at No. SHR/2 Peckwater, was afterwards made Standard Bearer to the Honble Band of Gentlemen Pensioners, which was purchased for the sum of £4000 in the year 1757 and in weight of His Office was Knighted at the Coronation of George 3rd afterwards sold his place to John Lee Warner Esqr. of Walsingham Abbey in Norfolk for the sum of four thousand guineas, afterwards married Miss Rebecca Eliot of Croydon in Surrey Daughter of Mr. John Eliot a Quaker by whom He got fifty Thousand pounds and upwards and thereby restored the broken fortunes of His Family occasioned by the losses of his Father by underwriting etc. and took Possession of the Family seat of Combe near Lewes in Sussex in the year of his Marriage Febry. 1765.) to Rebecca Eliot, a rich heiress whose fortune in investments alone (as mentioned in the marriage settlement) (SH342) amounted to more than £22,700. The settlement merely states that the mortgage money had been repaid, although this may have been covered in the recital by the assignment of stock worth £7147 to John Tucker and John Wenham to purchase estates within 80 miles of London for the use of Sir John for life.


Although the marriage restored the broken fortunes of the Bridgers, it could hardly have met with the approval of the bride's family who were Quaker merchants. Their criticism must have rankled, for years later, in 1785, when asked to make some financial accommodation for an indigent relative, she reminded her nephew, John Eliot, that he had 'said when I was married, Sir John would be arrested at the Church door.' (Eliot Howard, The Eliot Papers, I (1893), p.100)


Coombe was settled on Sir John; his father retired to Wimbledon in Surrey with his wife and two daughters and died in 1784. The daughters, Susan and Frances, with their friend Mary Lewis, removed to Fowlers in Hawkhurst, Kent, where Frances, the survivor, died in 1807. Her papers show her actively asserting her rights and gradually sinking into debt in her last years. (A copy of a quitclaim of lands in Durrington by Frances and Susan Bridger to Hannah Shelley, 1777, is in the East Sussex Record Office (Langridge MS. 75).) Sir John's brother, Richard, worked in the Bank of England and died a bachelor in 1812; he bequeathed his estate to his housekeeper. (See nos. SHR/790, 791 (p. 20).)


Sir John Bridger's marriage with Rebecca Eliot brought mercantile wealth into the family and a share of estates principally in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire and in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the United States of America. These estates (referred to as 'joint estates', which originally belonged to Giles Fettiplace (Died 1702; a portrait of him is still owned by the Shiffner family (see No. SHR/3045).) of Coln St. Aldwyn, Gloucestershire, were increased by his son-in-law, John Bellers of London, merchant. (1654-1725; see Dictionary of National Biography; for his will, see Journal of The Friends Historical Society, vol. 12, p. 103.) The latter's son, Fettiplace Bellers, died unmarried c. 1742, (The notice of him in the Dictionary of National Biography gives his death as ? 1750, but a letter dated 9 February 1742/3 quoting another dated 19 August 1742 refers to him as deceased; see No. SHR/2629, f. iv.) and as all other heirs to the property had died by 1748, (See pedigree.) it was divided (as tenants in common) between the issue of Mary Ingram and Theophila Eliot, daughters of John Bellers. By her husband, Joseph, a linen draper of London, Mary had Thomas and Samuel. Thomas, the survivor, died in 1806 leaving the Ingram moiety to a Mrs. Frances Rice, Samuel's illegitimate daughter. Theophila had three daughters of whom only Rebecca married, and thus the Eliot portion finally came to the Bridgers and so to the Shiffners.


The English estate consisted of leasehold property held of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester in Coln St. Aldwyn (where the Ingrams lived), and freehold estates in Poulton, (Originally in Wiltshire, but now in Gloucestershire.) Little Lemill in Lechlade, Gloucestershire, Broughton Poggs and Langford in Oxfordshire, (Langford was formerly in Berkshire.) Radcot--a hamlet of Langford, and Little Alne in Aston Cantlow, Warwickshire. These seem to have been sold in the years 1845 to 1847. (See No. SHR/1322. The audit accounts (Nos. SHR/2482-2512) go to 1847.)


The American estates derived from purchases by Fettiplace and Bellers of rights to tracts of lands in West New Jersey and Pennsylvania. From somewhat discrepant lists of lands taken up, the main properties were:


3700a. on Cohansey Creek and 1500a. on Cader Creek, co. Salem, West Jersey; 2500a. on the River Tokhokkonelkong, 1250a. on the River Rockaway and 1250a. on the River Paquaessing, co. Hunterdon (otherwise Morris), West Jersey; and 1000a. and 1720a. in co. Bucks., Pennsylvania, with plots in the town of Philadelphia. The amount of correspondence on these properties reflects the fear of the English owners for the loss of their rights during the War of Independence and the difficulty in getting their title recognized by settlers on their lands. The disposal of this property took place in about 1806. (See the later correspondence of the Chews, Nos. SHR/2329-2371.)


Sir John Bridger had one surviving daughter and heiress, Mary, who married George Shiffner in 1787.




A branch of the Alfords, (An unpublished pedigree of this family is in the Comber Papers, vol. X, in the West Sussex Record Office. See also The Visitations of Sussex, 1530 and 1633-4 (Harleian Society, vol. 53, 1905), pp. 205-6, and W. Berry, Pedigrees of the Families in the County of Sussex (1830), p. 302.) originally of Denbighshire, seem first to have settled in Sussex at the end of the 16th century. Edward Alford of Offington in Durrington bought the manor of Hamsey and other land there in 1594, (Victoria County History, Sussex, vol. 7 (1940), p. 85.) and this remained in the family until the death of the last male heir, John Alford of Combe (or Combes), (Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 17, pp. 81-83.) in 1744. There seems to have been bad feeling between him and his sisters Sarah and Elizabeth (the latter married to Richard Bridger), which perhaps accounts for the devise of the Hamsey property to his nephew, John Wenham. (John Alford's will is No. SHR/SH4.)


John Alford, 1645-1691, (His tutor at Christ Church, Oxford, was John Locke (1632-1704; see Dictionary of National Biography), whose letter (No. SHR/1560) to his pupil is of interest. There are a number of Alford letters among the Locke MSS. in the Bodleian Library (ex. inf. Mr. E. S. de Beer); for transcript of these Aee AMS 5924) married Sarah, daughter of Joseph Jackson, alderman of Bristol, about the end of 1667, (Marriage settlement dated 4 December 1667 (No. SHR/SH1).) and this marriage is of incidental interest since Henry Shiffner married into the same family nearly a century later. Of their children, John the younger (d. 1744) seems to have been his only surviving son, (Sir John Bridger records (No. SHR/1) that Edward Alford 'died young shot by accident', and Charles, the third son, 'died a Merchant in Portugal'.) Elizabeth married Richard Bridger, Sarah was unmarried and lived at Coombe Place in her later years, and Mary married Thomas Wenham, of Bread Street, London, a merchant who is described as late of New York Province in 1744. (See No. SH5. A monument in Broadwater church refers to Mary as the 'Relict of Col. George Wenham who died at New York', but there is no evidence in the Shiffner archives of a second marriage or of any George Wenham (see note in No. SHR/1).) Wenham's elder son, John, remained single; he was a successful merchant described 'as of London and of Beckenham, Kent. He inherited the Hamsey estate from John Alford, assisted John Bridger in his bankruptcy, and wrote frequently to him mainly on disputed matters relating to the estate. (Nos. SHR/2630-2719.) He died in 1768 leaving Hamsey to his natural son, the Rev. John Wenham, who he had presented to that rectory in 1766. (For John Wenham's will, see No. SHR/SH6. See also Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 17, p. 100; G. Hennessy, Chichester Diocese Clergy Lists (1900), p. 77, gives the date of John Wenham's institution to Hamsey as 1760) Sarah, the only daughter, married Samuel Powell who had business interests in London and property at Mickleham in Surrey.


THE WHITE AND FULLER FAMILIES (For the White family, see Sussex Notes & Queries, vol. XI, pp. 60, 61, and for the Fullers, C. W. Attree's MSS. deposited with the Sussex Archaeological Society.)


Mary the wife of John Bridger, senior, was the younger daughter of Peter White, M.D., of Lewes (1672-1725), whose father, Benjamin (d. 1713), also practised as a doctor; both are mentioned as such in contemporary diaries. (See the diaries of Thomas Marchant of Hurstpierpoint and of Timothy Burrell of Cuckfield extracted in Sussex Archaeological Collections, vols. 25 and 3 respectively. See also Benjamin White's 'Breeches' Bible (No. SHR/3718).) They owned No. SHR/33 High Street (now called School Hill House), Lewes, in right of which the family had a seat in the chancel of All Saints church. (T. Woollgar, Spicilegia sive Collectanea ad Historiam et Antiquitates Municipii et Vicinice Lewensis (four MS. vols. in the library of the Sussex Archaeological Society), vol. I, pp. 403, 437. The reversion of the house and other lands was granted to Thomas Fuller of Catsfield as part of his marriage settlement; it came to his son, John, who also inherited the Catsfield estate and died unmarried in 1810, bequeathing it to his nephew, John Fuller of Rose Hill in Brightling. As the latter died unmarried, the property came to Sir Peregrine Acland, bart., in 1834, under John, the uncle's, will. Sir Peregrine sold it to W. V. Langridge, Clerk of the Peace, in 1842, and it was sold by his son to John Maxwell Smith in 1876. See also Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 93, p. 5.) Extracts from the rate books (T. Woollgar, Spicilegia sive Collectanea ad Historiam et Antiquitates Municipii et Vicinice Lewensis (four MS. vols. in the library of the Sussex Archaeological Society), vol. I, pp. 403, 437. The reversion of the house and other lands was granted to Thomas Fuller of Catsfield as part of his marriage settlement; it came to his son, John, who also inherited the Catsfield estate and died unmarried in 1810, bequeathing it to his nephew, John Fuller of Rose Hill in Brightling. As the latter died unmarried, the property came to Sir Peregrine Acland, bart., in 1834, under John, the uncle's, will. Sir Peregrine sold it to W. V. Langridge, Clerk of the Peace, in 1842, and it was sold by his son to John Maxwell Smith in 1876. See also Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 93, p. 5.) give these successive occupiers: Benjamin White, 1675; widow [Dorothy] White, 1720; Mr. Thomas Fuller, 1725; widow [Susan] White, 1735; Rev. [George] Lewis, 1745; John Fuller, esq., 1753. It was presumably to this house that Peter White made extensive alterations between 1715 and 1717. (See Nos. SHR/1641-1653. For deeds of this property, 1603-1722, see St. Audries MSS. in East Sussex Record Office; the deeds after 1722 are in the custody of the County Council of East Sussex as owners of this house.)


Peter White married Susan, daughter of Nicholas Tattersall (or Tettersel), of Brighton, in 1702, (Langridge MS. 147 in the East Sussex Record Office recites a title to Birchansty in Ardingly from 1411 which shows a descent from Tettersel to the heirs of Susan, and a division of Peter White's estate between his two daughters; this property devolved to Mary Bridger. For the Tettersels, see Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 32, pp. 72, 73, 81-104, and H. D. Roberts, ed., The Parish Register of Brighton (1932).) and had two daughters of whom Frances married Thomas Fuller, of Parkgate in Catsfield, (The estates of the Fullers of Catsfield finally devolved on the Palmer-Acland family and so to the present Lord St. Audries whose Sussex title deeds (St. Audries MSS.) are deposited in the East Sussex Record Office; a summary of them is available. These deeds include those of the estate of the Lewis family in Westerham, Kent.) in 1722, and Mary married John Bridger on 10 April 1732. (Parish register of All Saints Lewes (East Sussex Record Office, Par.SHR/4).) Thomas and Frances appear to have lived at Lewes, and the social position of the White and Fuller families is indicated by the fact that the god-parents of their first son, Thomas White Fuller, baptized 16 September 1723, were the [1st] Duke of Newcastle, Sir William Gage and Lucy Pelham. (Parish register of All Saints Lewes (East Sussex Record Office, Par. SHR/4).) Thomas Fuller made his will on 4 December 1734; it was proved by his wife, Frances, and brother-in-law, John Bridger, on 13 November 1735. (P.C.C., Ducie 226. Taken from C. W. Attree's notebook CXI, p. 28, deposited with the Sussex Archaeological Society.) Thomas and Frances had six children born between 1723 and 1734 (Parish register of All Saints Lewes (East Sussex Record Office, Par. SHR/4).) of whom John (who succeeded to his father's estates) is represented in the Shiffner archives by his correspondence with John Bridger. (Nos. SHR/946-960.) His sister, Frances, married the Rev. Henry Fuller, rector of South Stoneham, Hampshire, a member of the family at Brightling, (See W. Berry, Pedigrees of the Families in the County of Sussex (1830), p. 278, and referred to in No. SHR/900.) whose son John inherited the Brightling and Catsfield estates respectively from his uncles, Rose Fuller and John Fuller.


Frances White (widow of Thomas Fuller) married, as her second husband, the Rev. George Lewis, vicar of Westerham, Kent, and thereby became allied to another branch of the Wenham family through the first marriage of the Rev. George Lewis, senior, to Hannah Wenham. (ex. inf. Dr. C. H. Thompson, then County Archivist of Surrey, in letters dated 29 March and 2 April 1955. See also pedigree.) George Wenham Lewis, the child of Frances' second marriage, was baptized at All Saints Lewes on 15 April 1747, (East Sussex Record Office, Par. SHR/5;) and he inherited the Hamsey estate on the death of the Rev. John Wenham in 1773, (Victoria County History, Sussex, vol. 7 (1940), p. 85.) selling the advowson to Sir John Bridger in 1777. (Op. cit., p. 87, and Nos. SHR/438-445.)




Something of the Eliot connection (The material for this section has been derived almost entirely from Nos. SHR/16-18 which include the notes of Mrs. O. Fooks, and from Eliot Howard, The Eliot Papers, Nos. I and II (1893-4).) and the property that came with it has been mentioned above (pp. vii, viii). Rebecca, wife of Sir John Bridger, was one of the three daughters of John Eliot, of Falmouth and London, by his second wife Theophila Bellers. John Eliot is said to have descended from a younger branch of the Port Eliot family, and was clearly a successful merchant. By his first wife, Hester Chappell, he had a son, John, whose son, another John of Bartholomew Close, London, corresponded occasionally or did business with the Bridgers. Mariabella, the daughter of this last John, married Luke Howard. (1772-1864; see Dictionary of National Biography.)


Theophila transmitted her share of the Bellers and Fettiplace property to her daughters, Frances, Rebecca, and Mary. (See No. SHR/2629 for accounts kept, presumably, by Rebecca.). Their father, John, devised his house and property at Croydon to them, (See No. SHR/624 for copy of John Eliot's will.) and to that house Rebecca and her husband retired when Coombe Place and estate were settled on George Shiffner and his wife Mary. Frances died unmarried in 1766, and her interest in the joint property seems to have been left to her sisters, so that when Mary died in 1794 the whole of Theophila's portion came to the Bridgers with the small exception of Mary's share in the American estates which went to her cousin John Eliot Turner. (See No. SHR/667 for copy of Mary Eliot's will.) It was on the strength of this share that the latter was sent to America in 1794 to report on the situation of the family property there, but he was summoned back the following year by Sir John Bridger and Thomas Ingram because of their lack of confidence in his business abilities. (See Nos. SHR/2285-2328.)




George Shiffner who married Mary, the Bridger heiress, came of a merchant family. His grandfather, Matthew, was a Russian subject who became a naturalized Englishman in 1711 under the Act 7 Anne, c.5 (1708), and is described as 'an Antient Member of the Russia Company in England'; he took up residence in London. (See Nos. SHR/1734-1737) Matthew's father was reputedly an Archbishop of Riga, (See No. SHR/5. Matthew married Agnata Brewer, said to be gouvernante to the Duchess of Courland, who later became Empress Ann of Russia, 1730-1740 (not Elizabeth, as stated in some papers in No. SHR/5). The Empress was godmother to Matthew's daughter Benigna.) but no such dignity seems to have ever existed. Matthew refers to five of his six children in his will proved in 1756, (No. SHR/439) and it appears that his sons Henry and John carried on his trade as merchants in Broad Street, London, principally with Northern Europe, (See Nos. SHR/2765-2812) and we have some accounts and papers relating to their insolvency in 1761 which Henry, in a letter to the Duke of Newcastle, (No. SHR/1738) ascribed to his brother's foolishness. It was an unfortunate event because Henry has just been elected Member of Parliament for Minehead, Somerset. John married Elizabeth Eleanor, daughter of Stephen Peter Godin (For his children and descendants, see his Family Note Book, transcribed in The Genealogist, vol. 28, pp. 129-141) who was a trustee to the Shiffners. Samuel and Matthew Shiffner (the other two sons) both died without heirs overseas, (According to a note by Sir George Shiffner, 1st bart., in No. SHR/5.) the one in Jamaica and the other at Hernont. One daughter, Catherine, married Matthew Dorrien, a London merchant, to whom some papers relate (Nos. SHR/641-655); their daughter Agnata married William Bingham, D.D. The other Shiffner daughter, Benigna, married Vincent John Biscoe of Hookwood, Surrey, and their daughter, Agnata Frances, married Sir William Ramsay of Bamff, 7th bart.


Henry Shiffner first married Ann Bronsdon of Blackheath, Kent, in 1749. (No. SH340 is a settlement dated 9 August 1749. In March 1757/8 he was accounting for 'Contingencies under the Wills of Thomas, Peter & Mary Bronsdon, & of My Late Wife' (see No. SHR/1739, fo. 5, where there is an account for the maintenance of Mary Bronsdon until her death in 1778).) She must have died soon after, for ten years later (Settlement, 8 March 1759 (see SHR/340-370).) he married Mary, daughter of John Jackson, governor-elect of Bengal. She brought the Pontrilas estate in Kentchurch, Ewyas Harold, Kenderchurch and Rowlestone in Herefordshire to the Shiffners and Henry lived there; two good views (Nos. SHR/3307, 3308 (see p. 73).) of the house date from this period. The estate was finally sold to a Dr. Trenchard in 1810. (No. SHR/2573) Of Henry's six children only two survived infancy: Thomas, who died in 1800, and George who married Mary Bridger.


George settled down to the life of a country gentleman having before marriage spent five years in the 11th regiment of Light Dragoons as a cornet. (Army List. His appointment dated 27 February 1782; for his resignation see No. SHR/3035) He then took an active part in local affairs as a justice of the peace, (He took his oath of qualification at the Epiphany sessions, 1803; East Sussex Record Office, QO/EW35.) deputy lieutenant (For his commission, 25 August 1798, see No. SHR/141.) and as Captain of the Lewes Troop of Yeomanry and Captain of the South Lewes Volunteer Battalion during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. (See Nos. SHR/90-139, 327.) He took over his father-in-law's work in connection with the joint estates in England and America and continued to improve and extend the Coombe estate. We have ample evidence of these activities in his correspondence and diaries, the latter being continuous from 1784 to 1837. His local reputation was such that he was considered as a candidate for Sussex in the Conservative interest in the 1807 parliamentary election in the place of the sitting Member, John Fuller, who had become unpopular for his outspoken defence of slavery in the colonies. This was a delicate matter since Shiffner had proposed him in 1801 and was related to him, but as Fuller persisted in his candidature, Shiffner declined the invitation; (See Nos. SHR/145-169, and T. W. Horsfield, The History, Antiquities and Topography of the County of Sussex, vol. 2 (1835), Appendix, p. 25.) instead, he sat for Lewes from 1812 to 1826. (Horsfield, op. cit., Appendix, pp. 47-49.) He had a baronetcy conferred on him in 1818.


Of George Shiffner's children, two served with distinction in the Armed Forces. His eldest son, John Bridger Shiffner, entered the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards in 1805 and became lieutenant by seniority in 1811. He was on active service in the Spanish Peninsula from 1809 until his untimely death--after the war had officially ended--in the sortie from Bayonne in 1814. (Army Lists. His commissions were dated 24 October 1805 and 27 March 1811 respectively. The list does not distinguish lieutenants from captains in the regiment.) The greater part of the 191 letters to his father were written when on service and provide a valuable first-hand account of conditions and life there. (Nos. SHR/1037-1228.)


The death of this eldest son caused George to recall his second son, Henry, from his Indian station in the Navy. Henry had an active and successful naval career which is conveniently described in W. R. O'Byrne, Naval Biographical Dictionary (1849):--


This officer entered the Royal Navy Academy in May 1802; and embarked in Dec. 1805, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Thetis 38, Capts. Wm. Hall Gage and Geo Miller, under whom he was for three years employed in the North Sea, off the coasts of France, Spain and Portugal, in the Mediterranean, and at St. Helena. Soon after he had joined the Thisbe 28, flag-ship of Sir Henry Edwin Stanhope at Deptford, he was made Lieutenant, 10 Feb. 1809, in the Trusty 50, Capt. Brain Hodgson. In the following March he removed to the Owen Glendower 36, (In this ship he assisted at the capture of the island of Anholdt 18 May 1809.) Capts. Wm. Selby, Edw. Henry A'Court, and B. Hodgson; and after serving for three years and seven months in that ship on the Baltic, Channel, North American, Mediterranean, Cape of Good Hope and East India Stations, he received, in Oct. 1814, a Commander's Commission, dated 22 of the preceding Feb., appointing him to the Sphynx sloop, building at Bombay. Returning to England on Admiralty leave in 1815, he next, 6 Jan. 1818, and 1 July 1819, obtained command of the Drake 10 and Carnation 18, both on the Newfoundland station; where he was nominated, 11 Sept. in the latter year, Acting-Captain of the Egeria 26. In that ship, to which he was confirmed 10 Nov. following, he remained until paid off 5 Jan. 1820. His last appointment was, 7 April 1834, to the Hastings 74, bearing the flag of Sir William Hall Gage at Lisbon. He was placed on half-pay 12 Jan. 1838; and on 1 Oct. 1846 he accepted the Retirement.


After accepting retirement in 1846, he was promoted in the retired list according to custom, to rear-admiral on 19 January 1852, and vice-admiral 10 September 1857. (Navy Lists.) A large number of administrative papers surviving from his last command might have been expected to be in official custody. (Nos. SHR/193-270.) At home, he was a justice of the peace, and became chairman of Quarter Sessions. (He was placed on the commission in 1817 and is addressed as chairman in 1853; see Nos. SHR/271-281.) He succeeded to the baronetcy on his father's death in 1842, which passed, on his own death, in 1859, without issue, to his brother George.


Sir George Shiffner, 3rd bart., the first baronet's third son, went to Christ Church, Oxford, as did his maternal grandfather; he matriculated in 1810, (J. Foster, Alumni Oxonienses. George Croxton Shiffner also went to Christ Church, Oxford, and matriculated 17 October 1838, aged 19.) aged 19, and later took holy orders. He was rector of St. Ann Lewes and of Hamsey, 1814-1848, when he resigned both, the latter in favour of his son George Croxton Shiffner. Sir George was prebendary of Eartham in Chichester cathedral and in 1848 until his death in 1863 he was vicar of Amport, Hampshire, a living in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester. (See Nos. SHR/2935-2946, and Diocesan Record Office, Chichester, CAP. I/3/6.) Thomas, the fourth son, matriculated at Christ Church Oxford in 1815; he studied law at Lincoln's Inn in 1819, and became paymaster of the Queen's Household. (J. Foster, Alumni Oxonienses.) He purchased the Westergate House estate, Aldingbourne, in 1846. (See Nos. SHR/396-437.)


Three of the Rev. Sir George Shiffner's sons entered the army, but only John, who fell in an attack on the Redan redoubt at the seige of Sebastopol on 18 June 1855, has left his mark. Having been first commissioned in the 53rd regiment of Foot, 15 October 1841, he became Captain in the 34th regiment of Foot, 3 August 1849, with whom he served in the Crimea. A faded photograph (In No. SHR/1330.) of him taken on the campaign shows him bearded, smoking a cigar, and in the rough dress of a hardened campaigner.


Details of later members of the family are given in Burke's Peerage and Baronetage.




The family (The material for this section is largely from an article on Sir Philip Jackson, director of the Bank of England, 1711-1724, by Reginald Saw, in No. SHR/15.) stems from Miles Jackson of Combe Hay in Somerset (living 1623) who had three sons, Philip, Joseph (His daughter Sarah married John Alford, see p. ix.) and Edward. Philip had two surviving sons of whom Edward lived at Pontrilas and was succeeded by his son Philip, sheriff of Herefordshire in 1714, knighted in 1715, and who died without issue in 1734. The second son, Philip, followed his father as a London merchant and lived at Richmond. He married Jane Vandeput and through this alliance the Shiffners were ultimately conected with the Dunsters and the Bosanquets. Philip of Richmond had many children, of whom Philip succeeded to his uncle's Herefordshire estate. (See letters, Nos. SHR/1706-1731.) On his death, intestate, in 1758, the property went to the children of his brother John.


John Jackson entered the East India Company in 1725 as a Writer for Bengal; he became a member of the Council there in 1743. On 22 July 1747, the Director appointed him as provisional successor to the governorship and 'next in council' to the governor, 'having a confidence in the Resolution and activity of Mr. John Jackson' to oppose the French. In March of the following year, on the news of Mr. Forster's death, Jackson was confirmed as governor, but he died before the dispatch reached him. (See extracts, Nos. SHR/13-15.) The only letter in this collection from him is that to his children, Mary and Elizabeth, (No. SHR/1732.) who succeeded to their uncle's estate and, previous to her marriage to Henry Shiffner, Mary bought Elizabeth's share of the Herefordshire property. (Lease and Release, 5, 6 March, 1759, between Elizabeth and Mary Jackson, coheirs of Philip Jackson of Pontrilas, deceased, are listed in a schedule of title deeds (No. SHR/685)). While in India, John Jackson married Elizabeth Bellenden whose grandfather was John [2nd] Lord Bellenden and thus directly related to the Dukes and Earls of Roxburghe. (Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, sub Roxburghe. Elizabeth was a daughter of James, son of John 2nd Lord Bellenden; her first marriage to John Jackson is not noted in Burke.) It was through this relationship that George Shiffner was called as a witness before the Committee of Privileges upon the claims for these honours in 1812. (See No. SHR/4.) Elizabeth Bellenden married, as her second husband, Edward Kelly of Dublin, and is mentioned in her sister-in-law's will, 1769. (Dorothy Jackson; No. SHR/639.)


Mary's sister, Elizabeth Jackson, married Jonathan Morton Pleydell of Whatcombe in Dorset, and there is considerable correspondence on her family affairs with Henry and George Shiffner (Nos. SHR/450-615.) who were trustees of her marriage settlement.

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