Sussex Piles

Westbourne before 1824

The earliest mention of a Pile found in Westbourne’s parish records is the baptism of James William Mayhew Pyle the illegitimate son of Sarah Pyle who was christened on 18 November 1804 at the parish church of St. John the Baptist. Sadly, at less than five months old, James Mayhew also becomes the first Pile burial on 15 April 1805. There is no mention of James’ father and where the name Mayhew comes from is unknown although there was a Benjamin Mayhew Piles born (apparently illegitimately) to Mary Piles in Hambleton, Hampshire in 1797, there are certainly connections between some of the Westbourne Piles and that area of Hampshire but whether our ancestors came from there is still unclear.

On 8 December 1809 the parish register records that Sarah Piles was buried in the churchyard at the age of 44 years, whether this is the mother of James is unclear.

In February 1810 Henry Piles married Elizabeth Robinson at Westbourne parish church, Elizabeth was pregnant at the time and just three months after the wedding she gave birth to a son whom they named Henry, he was christened at the parish church on 29 April.

On 13 September 1811 Henry Piles made his will. In it he states that he owns “five freehold Messuages or Tenements Gardens, Hereditaments and Premises situate at Warnford in the county of Southampton” (Hampshire), Messrs. Mansbridge, Goodall, Green, and Gregory occupied these properties. Henry bequeathed the property together with his household goods in trust to “my respected friends, Joseph Smith of Westbourne, Merchant and Michael Turner of the same place Yeoman their heirs and assigns” to be sold to provide for Elizabeth and his son Henry on condition that Elizabeth does not remarry. Elizabeth is in addition left the sum of thirty pounds “for her own use and benefit and pay”. Smith and Turner are also appointed with Elizabeth as the child’s guardians. Unfortunately Henry does not mention his family by name in the Will but merely refers to his wife and son.

Elizabeth fell pregnant again in 1811 but before the child was born Henry died and was buried in the churchyard on 8 October 1811, no age is given.

Henry’s will was proven at London on 11 November 1811 and the original document is in the Public Records Office. A handwritten copy appears in the Westbourne Church Memorandum Book 1797-1827; Joseph Smith, one of the trustees of Henry’s will was a churchwarden at Westbourne and it is likely that he copied the Will into this book for his own benefit.

The following year Henry and Elizabeth’s child, a daughter was born, she was christened at the parish church on 15 March 1812.

On 22 November 1813 Elizabeth Pile remarried at Westbourne church to Mark Meggs and on 4 September 1814 they had a son William.

Where these Piles came from prior to James baptism in 1804 is unclear but a family in East Meon in neighbouring Hampshire is a possibility. Between 1785 and 1792 Henry and Sarah Piles had four children, Sarah, Henry, William and Charlotte. William, born in 1790 is the only one positively connected to Westbourne, he married and had a daughter at Westbourne and his entry in the 1851 census confirms his origin.

Henry Pile who died at Westbourne in 1811 could be William’s brother born in 1787; in his will he bequeathed property at Warnford, which is less than four miles from East Meon. Sarah, the mother of James Pile born in 1804 could be either William and Henry’s mother or even their sister, but the one buried in the churchyard in 1809 is most likely their mother; at the age of 44 years she would have been born around 1765 making her twenty when Henry and Sarah’s first child, Sarah was born at East Meon. There is no record of Henry and Sarah’s marriage at East Meon but a Henry Pile married Sally Pidgeon at Alverstoke near Gosport in 1784.

There is nothing to suggest that these are the couple that are in East Meon except for a further connection between the Meon area and Alverstoke in the wills of William Pile of Warnford and John Pile of West Meon, William’s will was proved in 1789 and a witness was William Spearing who also appears as the occupant of a cottage at Warnford in John Pile’s will of 1818. In 1785 at Alverstoke near Portsmouth William Spearing married Mary Pyle, could Henry Pile and Mary Pyle be related?