The copy letters listed as PLU/9 were provided by Mrs Daphne Sears, NSW, Australia 2820, who owns the originals.
Plumley family of Pevensey, East Sussex
Immediate source of acquisition:
Deposited by Mrs M C L Plumley, Pevensey, 5 Mar 1982 (ACC 2807), 2 Nov 1982 (ACC 2920), 19 Dec 1994 (ACC 6555)
Pevensey, East Sussex
Administrative / biographical background:
Chilley Farm, Pevensey, a copyhold of the manor of Downash called Eye, was bought by Thomas Plumley, a prosperous Hailsham farmer, from William Christian in 1745.
Thomas Plumley's son John was baptised at Hailsham on 25 May 1758 and his wife Mary buried there on 2 Sep 1771. Thomas himself was buried at Pevensey on 4 Oct 1780 and it is suggested that the farm there was occupied by John, who on 8 Nov 1779 married Mary Geer by licence. Their nine children were baptised at Pevensey between 1782 and 1801 and John Plumley died in Oct 1831 at the age of 73.
The property was inherited by Thomas Plumley who, according to his brother Robert's account, distressed it to build the schooner Tryall which was used to ship coal from the North East. The vessell, a sailing-ship of 65½ tons, was built at Rye in 1841 - for her registration see RSS 4/1/1, f43. Thomas Plumley died suddenly in 1843 and his brother Robert struggled to avoid bankruptcy, a struggle which was not helped by his speculation in a fishery at Wallsend in Pevensey established by the corporation. By 1860 the Tryall was owned by William and George Winter of Rye, whose deceit in her purchase still rankled with the Plumley family almost 40 years later - see PLU/9/7
After Robert's death in 1871 his daughter Sarah Ann Wood (who had married Thomas Wood, the master of the Tryall sold most of the land to William Charles Boden and retained the house and surrounding five acres. Sarah Ann Wood died in 1910 and the farm was run by her nephew Stephen Plumley, the grandfather of the depositor's late husband John Uriah Plumley. Additional land was purchased by the family in 1948 and 1951.
It is clear that until at least the middle of the nineteenth century the Plumley family was heavily involved in the coal trade and lime burning at Pevensey Bay. Robert Plumley's letter book PLU/1/4 contains descriptions of his business activities, including details of a proposed tramway to bring coal up the beach and addresses of customers, some as far away as Dallington.
The property purchased in 1951 had in 1788 been mortgaged to Thomas, William and James Richard Wood of London, coalmerchants and it may not be impossible that the coal trade had already been established at Chilley by that date.