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Historic Sussex

The Object of this project is to gather together information on historic or political people of Sussex and link them to profiles and trees on Geni. The exact format of the project is not written in stone and will evolve as research progresses. I have been inspired to do this through my curiosity regarding the names of local place names, streets, institutes, schools etc.

Famous people with Sussex connections and individual Sussex families are listed on a sister project - People Connected to Sussex

References, Sources and further reading

You are invited to contribute in any way you can -
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Historic Background Post 1066

Sussex was the venue for the Battle of Hastings, the decisive victory in the Norman conquest of England. In September 1066, Harold Godwinson, who had strong connections with Sussex and whose chief seat was probably in Bosham. After having marched his exhausted army all the way from Yorkshire, Harold fought the Normans at the Battle of Hastings, where England's army was defeated and Harold was killed. It is likely that all the fighting men of Sussex were at the battle, as the county's thegns (the majority of the aristocracy below the ranks of ealdormen and high-reeves) were decimated and any that survived had their lands confiscated. William built Battle Abbey at the site of the battle, with the exact spot where Harold fell marked by the high altar.

The county's existing sub-divisions, known as rapes, were made into castleries and each territory was given to one of William's most trusted barons. Castles were built to defend the territories including at Arundel, Bramber, Lewes, Pevensey and Hastings.

In 1264, the Sussex Downs were the location of the Battle of Lewes, in which Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester. These three were to elect a council of nine, to govern until a permanent settlement could be reached.

During the Hundred Years War, Sussex found itself on the frontline, convenient both for intended invasions and retaliatory expeditions by licensed French pirates. Hastings, Rye and Winchelsea were all burnt during this period and all three towns became part of the Cinque Ports, a loose federation for supplying ships for the country's security. Also at this time, Amberley and Bodiam castles were built to defend the upper reaches of navigable rivers.

Cinque Ports is a series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest.

  • Hastings
  • New Romney
  • Hythe
  • Dover
  • Sandwich

In 1538 there was a royal order for the demolition of the shrine of Saint Richard, in Chichester Cathedral, with Thomas Cromwell saying that there was "a certain kind of idolatry about the shrine". In the reign of Queen Mary, 41 people in Sussex were burnt at the stake for their Protestant beliefs.

Sussex escaped the worst ravages of the English Civil War, although in 1642 there were sieges at Arundel and Chichester, and a skirmish at Haywards Heath when Royalists marching towards Lewes were intercepted by local Parliamentarians. The Royalists were routed with around 200 killed or taken prisoner.Despite its being under Parliamentarian control, Charles II was able to journey through the county after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 to make his escape to France from the port of Shoreham.

Historic sub-divisions - Rapes

A rape was a traditional sub-division of the county of Sussex. Their origin is unknown, but they appear to predate the Norman Conquest. Each rape was split into several hundreds.

At the time of the Norman Conquest, there were four rapes:

  • Arundel,
  • Lewes,
  • Pevensey and
  • Hastings.
  • Bramber was created later in the 11th century and the rape of
  • Chichester was created in the 13th century.

Lord Lieutenants of Sussex to 1974

High Sheriffs of Sussex

The office of High Sheriff of Sussex is over 1000 years old, with its establishment before the Norman Conquest. The Office of High Sheriff remained first in precedence in the counties until the reign of Edward VII when an Order in Council in 1908 gave the Lord-Lieutenant the prime office under the Crown as the Sovereign's personal representative. The High Sheriff remains the Sovereign's representative in the County for all matters relating to the Judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.

At various times the High Sheriff of Surrey was also High Sheriff of Sussex (1229–1231, 1232–1240, 1242-1567, 1571–1635), The office of High Sheriff of Sussex ceased with local government re-organisation in 1974, when the county was split into East Sussex (see High Sheriff of East Sussex) and West Sussex (see High Sheriff of West Sussex).

William I & II (1066-1100)

  • 1086: Gislebertus
  • c1086: Robert FitzTerbald
  • c1080-c1095: Ralph de Bocco
  • c1091: E FitzAuger

* Henry I (1100-1135)

Stephen (1135-1154)

  • c1145: Ailwin
  • c1145: Roger Hay

Henry II (1154-1189)

  • 1154 Hugh de Warleville
  • 1155 Mauger de Maleuvenant
  • 1156 Richard de Humez (Paganus)
  • 1157-59 Rodophus Picol
  • 1160 Ralph de Picot
  • 1161-62 Hilary, Bishop of Chichester
  • 1163 Henry Archdeacon
  • 1164-70 Roger Hay
  • 1171-76 Reginald de Warenn
  • 1177-87 Roger fitzReinfrid
  • 1188 William de Ruffus
  • 1189 Philip Rufus

Richard 1 (1189-1199)

  • 1190-91 Philip de Tresgar
  • 1192-93 John Marescal (John Marshal)
  • 1194-98 Sir William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke
  • 1198 Sir Michael de Appeltrieham

John (1199-1216)

  • 1199 Sir Michael de Apletrichan/ William Marescal
  • 1200 Robert de Turnham
  • 1201 John Chapter
  • 1202 William Marescal (William Marshall)
  • 1203 Sir Michael de Apletricham/ John Ferles
  • 1204-07: William de Chaignes
  • 1208: John Fitz Hugonis
  • 1209: William Briwere
  • 1210: John Fitz Hugonis
  • 1211-15:Matthew Fitzherbert

Henry III (1216-1272)

  • 1217: Gilbert de Barrier
  • 1218: Matthew FitzHerbert
  • 1219-24: Gilbert de Barrier, Matthew FitzHerbert & Herbert FitzWalter
  • 1225-28: Matthew FitzHerbert & Herbert FitzWalter

Custos Rotulorum of Sussex

The following people have served as Custos Rotulorum of Sussex.

Members of Parliament

From 1290, Sussex returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of England. The Reform Act of 1832 divided what had been a single county constituency into eastern and western divisions, with two representatives elected for each division.

1290-1832 (Two Members) - alphabetical list

(For a chronological list see

  • John Ashburnham
  • John Babelake
  • Richard Bannebury
  • Richard Bitterley
  • William Bramshott
  • John Broke
  • Walter Burrell
  • James Butler
  • Henry Campion
  • John Caryll
  • Hon. Spencer Compton
  • George Courthope
  • John Covert
  • Sir Walter Covert
  • * Thomas Cure East Grinstead 1572 and 1584
  • Edward Jeremiah Curteis
  • Herbert Barrett Curteis
  • Francis Lord Dacres
  • Sir Edward Dallingridge
  • Sir John Dallingridge
  • William Dawtery
  • Edmund Dudley
  • Sir Thomas Dyke, Bt.
  • Charles Everfield
  • Sir John Fagg
  • Sir Roger Fiennes
  • Sir Edmund FitzHerbert
  • John Fuller
  • John 'Mad Jack' Fuller
  • Sir John Gage
  • Sir Henry Goring
  • Sir William Goring, 1st Baronet
  • Samuel Gott
  • Peter Gott
  • John Halle
  • Richard Harcourt
  • William Hay
  • Charles Howard
  • Sir Henry Hussey
  • Nicholas Hussey
  • Roger Hussey
  • Thomas Jardyn
  • John Jeffrey
  • Sampson Lennard
  • Charles Lennox
  • Lord George Henry Lennox
  • Lord John Lennox
  • John Lewknor
  • Richard Lewknor
  • Robert Lewknor
  • Henry Lumley
  • Charles Sackville, 2nd Duke of Dorset - Earl of Middlesex
  • John Miller
  • Herbert Morley son of Robert
  • Sir William Morley
  • Christopher Neville
  • Henry Neville
  • Robert Ore
  • Robert Orme
  • Sir Robert Oxenbridge
  • John Palmer
  • Sir Thomas Palmer
  • Sir George Parker
  • Sir Nicholas Parker
  • Sir Thomas Parker
  • Sir. Henry Peachey
  • Algernon Lord Peircy
  • Hon. Henry Pelham
  • Sir John Pelham, 3rd Baronet
  • Sir Nicholas Pelham
  • Sir Thomas Pelham, 2nd Baronet
  • Sir William Percy
  • Andrew Peverell
  • Robert Poynings
  • John Preston
  • Hugh Quecche
  • Ralph Rademylde
  • Sir Thomas Rivers, 2nd Baronet
  • William Ryman
  • Sir Edward Sackville
  • Sir Richard Sackville
  • Robert Sackville
  • Sir Thomas Sackville II
  • Anthony Shirley
  • Sir Thomas Shirley
  • Sir John Shurley
  • Thomas St. Cler
  • Sir Richard Shirley
  • Sir Thomas Shirley
  • William Spence
  • Herbert Springet
  • Anthony Stapley
  • John Stapley
  • Nathaniel Studeley
  • Richard Styuecle
  • Robert Tauk
  • Sir Alexander Temple
  • Sir William Thomas
  • John Morley Trevor
  • Richard Wakehurst
  • Sir William Waleys
  • Richard Wayville
  • Sir Godfrey Webster, Bt
  • William Weston II
  • Nicholas Wilcombe
  • Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson
  • John Wood
  • Charles William Wyndham

County Resources

// this project is in History Link