Marley and White's wife

Reputed to have one of the longest names in the country, the Shoulder of Mutton and Cucumbers Public House also shares in one of the most extraordinary stories to come out of Sussex.

According to a plaque in the saloon bar, it seems that ....

"At the turn of the century a thatcher named Marley lived in a cottage close by with his wife and four children, while in the Shoulder of Mutton and Cucumbers lodged a man called White the local rat-catcher.

Now White favoured Marley’s wife and all the village was wondering what the outcome of this situation would be. They were soon to be enlightened!

A meeting was arranged at the bar of the inn and eventually the thatcher faced the rat-catcher. It was decided to resolve the affair with a sale, if the rat-catcher was really interested then he should pay. Then and there a deal was made binding and forever. The rat-catcher took the thatcher’s wife, children and furniture, while the thatcher became richer by 7s. 6d and a quart of beer!"

David Tansley
March 2005


** UPDATE **

Thanks to some great detective work by family historian David Wilson we can now provide some evidence to back-up this story.

Walter Marley (aged 21) married Jane Howard (aged 20) at Boxgrove on 20th June 1890.

In 1891 the couple were living with their 4-month-old son Thomas in one room at 50 Chapel Street, Broadwater (Worthing). They moved to Yapton shortly after and had three more children (in 1893, 1895 and 1897).

It seems around 1899, Jane stopped living with Walter Marley and took her four children and moved in with George White who was a farm stockman.

Jane had another child Rose Alice White Marley in 1899. It's curious that both surnames are used - I think we need to see the birth certificate to see who is recorded as the father!

In 1901 George, Jane and four of the children were living at the end of Ford Lane, Yapton. Shortly afterwards they moved to Eastergate and then North Mundham. Meanwhile Walter Marley was living at Parsonage Farm, Barnham, as cowman to the farmer, Richard Collins. There is no mention of rat-catching which could have been a sideline.

Jane had another five children with George White, including twins Arthur and Albert but sadly Albert died when only a few months old.

In the 1911 census Jane and all of her children with George are using the surname White, although there is no evidence of George and Jane ever getting married. In 1939 they are living in Dukes Road, Fontwell, with George still working as a farm labourer even though he was 69 years old. The census of the time lists Jane as using the surname White "by usage" - in other words without getting married.
Walter Marley's fate is unclear. George White died in 1944, while Jane passed away in 1959 aged 89.

David Wilson / GJW
June 2020


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