VOL. IV - CHAPTER 9

William Veness and Sarah Martin

William Veness, son of Joseph and Francis was baptised on 11 July 1824 at Wartling Parish Church (Chapter 4).

On 21 September 1845, at the age of 21 and whilst residing in Windmill Hill, William married Sarah Martin, aged 23, a fellow servant, daughter of Spencer Martin at Herstmonceux Parish Church. Both parties signed the marriage register.

William and Sarah's first daughter Mary Veness was born on 6 July 1846 at Herstmonceux. The birth certificate shows her father was employed as a groom. Mother Sarah registered the birth (Reg Gen Sept Qtr 1846 Hailsham 7 368) . Mary was baptised on 9 August 1846 at Herstmonceux Parish Church .

William and Sarah appear to have moved  to London and had two other daughters

  • Sarah Ann Veness. Baptised 23 July 1854 at St Brides, Fleet Street (Reg Gen June Qtr 1854 City of London 1c 74)
  • Ada Frances Veness. Baptised 18 May 1862 at St Brides, Fleet Street. 

In 1861 William and Sarah were living at St Dunstan's, Middx. William Veness, aged 36, is a police officer. His wife Sarah was 38 years old. Their daughter Sarah Ann Veness, is 6 years old and a scholar, born Whitefriars. Daughter Mary is not listed

In 1871 William and Sarah are living at St Anne's, Blackfriars, London. William is now a City Constable. Daughters Sarah and Ada are both listed.

The Metropolitan Police Act had came into force on 19 June 1829 after Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel had eventually persuaded Parliament of the importance of a new police force for London. The system replaced the watchmen that had been paid to guard the streets at night since the 1660's.

However the City of London was excluded, partly because they already had an early form of organised uniform patrol. Prior to 1839, the responsibility for policing in the City was divided between day and night, primarily under the two Sheriffs. However in 1838, the Day Police and Night Watch were merged into a single organisation and the passing of the City of London Police Act 1839 gave statutory approval to the City of London force as an independent police body, heading off attempts made to merge it with the Metropolitan Police. This seems to have been the force that William and his brother Thomas joined.

The City of London police remains a separate force to this day responsible for law enforcement within the City of London including the Middle and Inner Temple. Today it has around 1,200 employees, including 900 police officers and three police stations (located in Snow Hill, Wood Street and Bishopsgate), the City of London Police is the smallest Home Office territorial police force in England and Wales, both in terms of geographic area - the square mile centre of London - and the number of police officers. Today the City of London area has a resident population of 8,043 with 4,421 households. These numbers are increased by the daily influx of approximately 300,000 commuters working in the City, with an additional 300,000 cars passing through the square mile a day, along with a number of tourists.

By 1881 William, aged 56, was a "retired police officer" and the family moved back to Sussex and were living at Plenties Farm, Hellingly. Both daughters Sarah Ann and Ada Francis are described as "born precincts of Whitechapel, Middx"

The family were still at Plenties Farm, Herstmonceux in 1891 although Sarah Ann had married by then and was living next door.

Sarah Veness, wife of William Veness died aged 78 on 11 February 1901 at Cold Harbour Road, Hellingly. The cause of death was heart disease, 2 years certified (Reg Gen March Qtr 1901 Hailsham 2b 67). 

At the time that the 1901 census  was taken, William, now aged 76 and a widower was living with his daughter Ada, aged 39 at 4 Hatched Cottages, Hellingly.

In 1911 William Veness, a 86 year old police pensioner was boarding with Edwin and Martha Turner at the Old Pottery, Upper Dicker.

William Veness of Old Pottery Farm, Hellingly died on 10 December 1914, aged 90 (Reg. Gen. Dec. Qtr. 1914 Hailsham 2b 131 ). Probate was granted to Ada Frances Veness, spinster. His estate was valued at £64.

The following is known about William and Sarah's children:

Mary Vernon nee Veness

Mary Veness was born on 6 July 1846 at Herstmonceux and baptised on 9 August 1846 at Herstmonceux Parish Church.

Although Mary was no longer at home in 1861, she may have moved with the family from Sussex. A 14 year old Mary Veness is a house servant living at 5 Queens Road West, St Pancreas. Her place of birth was given as Hastings, but this may be an error.

Other researchers have suggested that Mary Veness married Charles Frederick Vernon in London, although I have been unable to trace their marriage. 

I have been told that Charles and Mary had four sons:

  • Charles William Vernon, born 16 June 1871 at Camberwell, Surrey. 
  • Ernest Daniel Vernon, born 19 Feb 1872 at Camberwell, Surrey. 
  • Gilbert Hugh Vernon, born 11 January 1876 (twin) at Hastings, Sussex. 
  • Arthur Frederick Vernon, born 11 January 1876 (twin) at Hastings, Sussex. 

Charles died sometime between 1876 and 1881 as Mary is listed as a widow on the 1881 Census. She was living at 7 St Georges Road, St. Mary In the Castle, Hastings and aged 34 is described as an 'annuinant'. Her four sons were all scholars. 

Arthur Fredererick Vernon, aged 12 died in Hastings, Sussex in 1888 (Reg Gen April 1888 Hastings 2b 23)

Between 1881 and 1901 Mary moved from England, with three sons, and emigrated to Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. 

The 1901 census shows Mary, a widow and her son Ernest living at Truro, Colchester, Nova Scotia. The census confirms that Mary was born on 6 July 1846 and aged 54 was 'retired'. The census also suggests that she arrived in 1879, but that doesn't appear to be correct and other documents suggest that the family arrived in 1889.

 Mary Vernon died 7 April 1936 in Truro, NS and is buried at the Terrace Hill Cemetery (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=79099367).

  • Charles William Vernon and Bessie Campbell McNeail 

Charles and Mary's son Charles William Vernon became an Anglican Minister. He married Bessie Campbell McNeail on 13 June 1899 at Windsor Forks, Nova Scotia. They had two sons and two daughters:

  • Arthur Vernon. Born 1901
  • Harold Vernon. Born 1902
  • Alice Mary Vernon. Born 1904.
  • Dorothy Margaret Vernon. Born 1906

On 9 May 1924 Charles William Vernon returned to Canada from a business trip abroad. The arrivals form shows he is a clergyman returning home to 72 Howland Avenue, Toronto.  The form confirms that he first arrived in Canada in 1889.

Bessie Vernon died on 13 December 1929. Charles William Vernon of 72 Howland Avenue, Toronto died on 30 January 1934 at Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The death certificate confirms that he was the son of Charles Vernon and Mary Veness. To read more about Charles' life click here.

Charles and Bessie's son Arthur Vernon married to Helen Catherine Burford at St Albans Cathedral, Toronto on 12 October 1926. Arthur was 25 years old and an electrical engineer. Helen was 23 years old, the daughter of James Burford and Elizabeth McClung of 280 Rushton Road, Toronto. They were married by Arthur's father. Arthur died in 1961. Helen died in 1982. Both are buried in Prospect Cemetary. 

Charles and Bessie's son Harold Vernon married Marion Harris. They had two sons. Harold died on 4 February 1979. Marion Vernon died in 27 March 1995.

Charles and Bessie's daughter Alice Mary Vernon married Gerald Merrick Singleton on 9 August 1934 in Toronto. Gerald was 40 years old, a dentist of 26 Pembroke Street, Toronto. He was the son of Thomas Singleton and Florence Maude Merrick. Alice was 30 years old, a public health nurse from 23 Howland Avenue, Toronto.  Interestingly Gerald Merrick Singleton and Alice Mary Vernon are both listed as passengers on the S S Majestic which sailed from Southampton to New York on 10 August 1932 and arriving on 16 August 1932

Charles and Bessie's daughter Dorothy Margaret Vernon of 72 Howland Avenue, Toronto died on 26 March 1930. She died of Hodgkinsons disease and was buried at Prospect Cemetary. 

  • Ernest Daniel Vernon and Ella Miriam Thomas/Annie Thirza Dodson/Myra Christine Barnes 

Charles and Mary's son Ernest Daniel Vernon became an Architect and Merchant. He married three times. He firstly married Ella Miriam Thomas on 7 July 1904 in Truro, NS and had three children:

  • David Charles Vernon. Born on 14 April 1905 in Truro. 
  • John Frederick Vernon. Born 20 April 1907 in Truro. 
  • Richard Ernest Vernon. Born 19 October 1908 in Truro. Died 4 November 1908. Buried in Terrace Hill Cemetary, Truro.  

Ella M Vernon died on 10 July 1912 and was buried at Terrace Hill Cemetary, Truro. 

Ernest remarried on 16 September 1913 in Halifax, NS. His second wife was Annie Thirza Dodson. Ernest and Annie appear to have visited the USA sailing on S.S. Florizel on 16 September 1913. Was this their honeymoon? Ernest and Annie had two children:

  • Dorothy Vernon. Born 1914 in Nova Scotia.
  • Russell Ernest Vernon. Born 25 April 1918 in Truro. 

Annie T Vernon died of pneumonia on 31 December 1918 in Truro. 

Ernest remarried again and his third wife was Myra Christine Barnes. They married on 30 June 1920 in Pictou, NS.  In 1921 they were living in Truro and children David, "Jack" Dorothy and Russell are all listed. also listed is Edward Dodson, brother-in-law, presumably Annie's brother and Jennie Chapman, housekeeper. Ernest is described as a "retail merchant". In 1940 the family were living at 153 Dominion Street, Colchester, Nova Scotia and Ernest was described as an architect.  

Ernest Daniel Vernon died on 21 December 1941 at Colchester County, Nova Scotia, Canada. His wife Myra died in 1973. Further details of Ernest's life can be found here

Ernest and Ella's son David Charles Vernon married Thelma Adel Rath on 8 October 1932. David died on 8 October 1981 in Truro. Thelma died on 19 August 2000.

Ernest and Ella's son John Frederick Vernon married Florence Agnes Livingston on 22 February 1941 at Windsor, Essex. John was Catherine White's grandfather. Catherine provided much of the information about Charles and Mary's sons. John F Vernon died on 7 October 1957 and was buried at Windsor Grove Cemetary. Florence Vernon died in 1984.

The last we know about Ernest  and Annie daughter Dorothy Vernon was in 1940 when she was living with her father and stepmother at 153 Dominion Street, Colchester, Nova Scotia and is described as a school teacher.

In 1940 Ernest and Annie son Russell Ernest Vernon was still living with his father and stepmother and is described as a clerk. He married Catherine Mildred McPhee on 4 July 1942 in Schubenacadie, Hants, Nova Scotia. Russell died on 30 January 1958 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Catherine died on 14 July 1995 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 


  • Gilbert Hugh Vernon and Katie Louise Craig

Charles and Mary's son Gilbert Hugh Vernon married Katie Louise Craig in 1899 at Erskine Presbyterian Church.  

In 1901 they were living in Truro, boarding with E E McNutt, a grocer and his family. Gilbert was a lawyer. 

They had two children:

  • Irene M Vernon. Born 1904. 
  • Reginald Vernon. Born 1912.

In 1911 and 1921 they were living at Truro, Colchester, Nova Scotia where Gilbert was a lawyer. 

Gilbert died on 27 September 1936 at Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada and was buried at Terrace Hill Cemetary.

Sarah Ann Mitchell nee Veness

Sarah Ann Veness was born in Whitefriars in 1854 (Reg Gen June Qtr 1854 City of London 1c 74) and was baptised on 23 July 1854 at St Bride, Fleet Street. 

She was living with her parents in both 1861 and 1871.

Sarah Ann married Johnson Mitchell on 28 May 1881 at Upper Dicker (Reg Gen June Qtr 1881 Hailsham 2b 147). Johnston was the son of Richard Mitchell and Ann and had been born in Beckingham, Lincolnshire.

In 1891 Sarah Ann Mitchell and her family were living next door to her father, William at Plenties Farm, Herstmonceux. Johnston Mitchell was 34 years old and a "poultry keeper and firewood maker". Sarah Mitchell was now 36 years old.

Johnston and Sarah had at least three children

  • William Johnson Mitchell. Born 6 March 1882 in Polegate
  • Evelyn Annie Mitchell. Born 1886 in Dicker. Baptised 23 May 1886 at Upper Dicker.
  • Eliza Rosina Mitchell. Born 1893 in Hellingly

At the time his eldest daughter was baptised Johnson is descibed as "Richard Johnson Mitchell". Johnston Mitchell died in 1895 aged 39 (Reg Gen June Qtr 1895 Eastbourne 2b 53)

In 1901 Sarah was living at 512 Cobden Road, Brighton. Sarah, a 42 year old widow was employed as a dressmaker. Her son William J Mitchell, aged 19 was a grocers shop assistant. Eliza, aged 8, was also at the address but Evelyn is not listed. Also at the address is Alice Dilloway, aged 32, dressmaker, born London. She is described as Sarah's sister but is also single so presumably Dilloway is her family name. It is not at all clear how she fits in.

Sarah Ann Mitchell died in 1904 aged 50 (Reg Gen March Qtr 1904 Brighton 2b 165)

Nothing more is known about daughters Evelyn and Eliza, but the following is known about Johnston and Sarah's son:

  • William Johnson Mitchell and Helen Jane Upton

William Johnson Mitchell married Helen Jane Upton in 1904 (Reg Gen Sept Qtr 1904 Brighton 2b 405).

In 1911 William and Helena were living at 2 Brunswick Row, Brighton. William, 29, was a "car man" for a provision dealer. There are four children listed

  • Victor Charles Mitchell. Born 1907 in Brighton
  • Leslie Richard Mitchell. Born 14 September 1908 in Brighton
  • Thurza Mitchell. Born 1910 in Brighton
  • William Mitchell. Born 1911 in Brighton and aged 'under 1 month'. Died 1911. 

The entry for William is then crossed out and the census records that the couple had 4 children of whom 1 had died. Had son William died between the completion and submission of the form?

In 1939 William and Helena were living at 36 Carlyle Street, Brighton where William was a painter.

William Johnson Mitchell (otherwise William John Mitchell) of 36 Carlyle Street, Elm Grove, Brighton died on 27 June 1958 at The General Hospital, Brighton. Administration was granted to Helena Jane Mitchell, widow. 

Helena Jane Mitchell died in 1967. 

William and Helena's son Victor Charles Mitchell married Minnie E Phillps in Brighton in 1935. He may have remarried in 1964, his second wife was Louise Brooke. Victor C Mitchell died in 1967 in Worthing. 

William and Helena's son Leslie married Lily E Measor in Brighton in 1932. Leslie died in 1983

Ada Frances Veness

Ada Frances Veness was born in Whitefrairs in 1862 (Reg Gen June Qtr 1862 City of London 1c 63) and baptised on 18 May 1862 at St Brides, Fleet Street. 

Ada was living initially with her parents in London and then with her widowed father back in Sussex up to and including 1901. In 1901 she was 39 years old, still single and gives her occupation as housekeeper, presumably to her father.

In 1911 she was still single and aged 49 was lodging with Mary Harriett Goad, at 7 Elmsdown Place, Hailsham. Emily, aged 41 who gives her occupation as "laundry and housework". Ada gives her as "plain needlework".

Ada Veness may have died in 1929 (Reg Gen March 1929 Hailsham 2b 234).


Click here to go to "Chapter 10 -  Thomas Veness and Sarah Fairburn"

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