James Edward Ifould/Ifold born 1846 – A Colourful Character
James Edward Ifould/Ifold was born in Steep, but most of his life was spent in the nearby county of West Sussex, often around the Chichester area. He seems to have left Steep perhaps about 1872, at first to live in Bramshott and then went on to various parts of West Sussex. It is known that he returned on occasions to visit his family in Steep as a photograph of him was taken with them in Steep in 1937. James proved to be a colourful and on occasions, a somewhat notorious character. He lived to the great age of 97 years, dying in 1944.
This article about him is included on our History of Steep website because of his links to the rest of the Ifould family and their houses in Steep, which also feature on the website.
He was the grandson of Richard Ifold born 1785 Mapledurwell and Elizabeth Ifold née Etherington, both of Steep parish. They married at Steep church in 1815 and had at least 7 children, of whom James Edward’s father was the eldest and also named James, born about 1823.
Marriage of James Edward’s Parents
1845 Marriage of his parents: James Ifould/Ifold of Steep to Jane Lake of Buriton
1846 (2nd quarter) birth of James Edward Ifold recorded in Petersfield District – (England & Wales Births 1837-2006)
(1939 Register later recorded his day and month of birth as 21st June, although the year was incorrectly recorded as 1842. Later records show his name was James Edward)
He was the eldest son of James Ifould born 1823 Steep. There would later be at least six children in the family.
His father James was an agricultural labourer.
James Edward aged 5 yrs living with parents James and Jane Ifould née Lake at Sandsbury Lane Steep. The family surname has been incorrectly transcribed as IVALL in the census transcription. His father was an agricultural labourer who was about to become a small farmer.
James Edward aged 14 years at Church Farm, Steep, working as an under carter for farmer Richard Hall. James Edward’s surame has been miss transcribed as HARALD in this census transcription
James Edward’s parents and other siblings were at Lower Weston in nearby Buriton parish. His father was ‘a small farmer of four and a half acres employing one agricultural labourer’. The family surname has been incorrectly transcribed as HOULD in the census transcription.
At some point between 1861 and 1868, James Edward moved to Bramshott district (about 9 miles north east of Steep) He would probably have moved for work.
1868 (10th October) James Edward Ifould/Ifold of Bramshott married Charlotte West of Steep at All Saints’ church, Steep
James Edward was living ‘on the Common’ in Steep, (probably at Myrtle Cottage) next door to his parents who were ‘on the Common’ at Rose Cottage.
James was married to Charlotte and had two children: Anne, 7, and William aged one.
Anne was not actually James Edward’s daughter but Annie Moss West, Charlotte’s child, who had been born in 1864 in the Farnborough district, four years before she married James Ifould in 1868. Annie’s middle name might suggest that she was connected to one of the members of the Moss families of Steep, Petersfield and Froxfield of the time.
In court for Larceny
October 1873 Steep. Incident at a harvest home in Steep in which James Ifould/Ifold was accused of stealing 19s 9d. Case brought to Petersfield magistrates court a week later. The case was sent to Winchester.
January 1874 James Ifould/Ifold on trial for larceny of 19s 9d at Winchester Petty Sessions court. He was given the benefit of the doubt and acquitted.
In the Police Record of the case James was listed as of ‘imperfect’ education
The report of the case can be found in the Hampshire Independent of 7th January 1874. See later for full account.
James Ifould aged 34 years Agricultural Labourer and carter, living at The Cottage, Lowsley, Bramshott.
With him were his wife Charlotte 39 years and children William 11, Arthur 9, Charles 7, John 5, Thomas 2, Gertrude 0 and William White widower 58 lodger.
All of the children except William had been born in the Bramshott area, indicating that the family had probably lived there for at least 9 years.
Death of First Wife
1889 (4th quarter) James’s first wife Charlotte died aged 47 yrs in the Midhurst district
This perhaps indicates that the family had moved from Bramshott to West Sussex.
1890 (1st quarter) James married Fanny Stevens in the Midhurst district
His first wife had died just a few months before this.
In a later newspaper account, James claimed he had taken Fanny from the Petworth workhouse.
Living at Oving Road, Oving in the Westhampnett area of Chichester district
James Ifould 45 yrs Farm carter, horse
Fanny Ifould wife 35 yrs
Children: George 20 farm carter, John 15 farm carter, Beatrice 9, Albert 6, Charley 4, Sarah 2, Harry 5 mths.
(Sarah was later claimed by James to have been Fanny’s Illegitimate daughter and not his. Both John and Sarah do not seem to have been James’s children but from Sarah’s previous relationships. They may both have been illegitimate.)
After this census, 6 more children were born: Maurice b.1892, Fred born about 1893, Sidney Percy b.1894, Richard b.1895, Robert b.1897, Walter Thomas b. 1898.
Of these children, Maurice, Richard, Sidney and Walter Thomas all died before they reached the age of two years. Perhaps this says something about the family circumstances of the time.
Living at Station Road, West Ashling, in the parish of Funtingdon in the Westbourne district of Sussex:
James Ifould 53 carter on farm
Fanny Ifould wife 39
Children: Albert 15 carter boy on farm, Sarah Ann 12, Harray 10, Fred 8, Robert 4
1901 Death of Second Wife
1901 (first quarter) Death of James’s second wife Fanny Ifould née Stevens aged 39 years in Westbourne district
James Ifould’s third ‘wife’
From 1901 a third ‘wife’ appeared on the scene: Rose Ann Horton née Netley.
Research by Andrew Ifould seems to indicate that James’s third ‘wife’ was Rose Ann Horton née Netley, born 1875 in Pulborough in the Thakeham district of Sussex. She was the daughter of Richard and Jane Netley. Her father was a thatcher.
In 1898 (fourth quarter) Rose Ann had married William Horton.
A son Walter Percy Horton was born in September 1899.
Rose’s husband William died aged 28 years in the third quarter of 1900.
Rose Horton née Netley seems to have become James’s common law wife after 1901.
It may have been, as was often the case in such matters, that Rose had originally gone to live with James Ifould to be his housekeeper. This would have provided the young widow and her son with a means of support.
Rose’s son Walter Percy is the child to whom Sarah Stevens referred when giving evidence in the 1903 court case.
Did James Ifould ever marry his third ‘wife’ Rose Ann?
I could find no marriage record entry for James Ifould having married after 1901. Could it be possible that his name may have been miss transcribed again? My Ifould family contact had found no marriage record either.
James would have been about 56 years old in 1901. Rose was less than half his age at about 26 years old. James had already been married twice and already had sixteen children of his own, although not all of these had survived. Did he feel that their age difference was too great to marry? Had he perhaps had enough of marriage and children?
Three more children did however follow: Queenie J b. 1903, Rosie May b. 1906 and Winifred Violet b. 1909. They all survived. Rose’s maiden name is not listed on any of their birth records in the ‘England and Wales births 1837-2006’ set.
Both the 1911 Census record and 1939 Register denote Rosa A. as the ‘wife’ of James Edward Ifould. Their three children have the surname Ifould.
1903 Court case for child cruelty
See later for more details.
Living at 67 Mid Lavant, Chichester. The house had 5 rooms.
James Ifould 60 head carter on farm (His birth place was incorrectly listed as Pulborough)
Rose Ifould 40 wife (her name and those of the children has been miss transcribed as HOULD in the census transcription)
Children: Rosie May 5, Queenie Jane 8, Walter Percy 12, Robert 14 farm lad, Winifred Violet 2
Winifred had been born in Lavant, indicating perhaps that the family had been living there since 1909.
Photographed at Rose Cottage
James Ifould was photographed at Rose Cottage, Steep in 1937, standing between two others who are thought to be his younger brother (Thomas) Frank and Nell Ifould, (Thomas Frank’s second wife). A photo of Rose Cottage, taken at the same time, was labelled on the reverse: ‘Rose Cottage Steep 1937 from Nell and Frank’. Nell (Ellen) appears in both the family group photo and the separate Rose Cottage photo of 1937, wearing the same dress and apron.
Living at 67 Mid Lavant, Chichester:
James Ifould Farm labourer retired, birth incorrectly listed as 21 Jun 1842.
Rose A Ifould married born 8 Mar 1875 unpaid domestic duties
1944 (1st quarter) James Ifould died in the Chichester district.
Age incorrectly listed as 99. (He was actually 97.)
1953 (1st quarter) Rose A Ifould died in Chichester district aged 78 years
The Newspaper Articles in which James Ifould/Ifold featured:
In at least two, perhaps three, of these articles, James Ifould comes across as a very plausible character who could perhaps be a little economical with the truth at times. Was it his memory, or did he enjoy exaggerating his age on occasions?
1873-4 Steep James Ifould and the Larceny Case
The incident had taken place at a harvest home in Steep on 7th October 1873. Alfred Pocock, publican of the Cricketers Inn at Steep, was running a lunch tent in which drinks and food were being served by Matilda, his eleven year old daughter. A player named Alfred Reeks had ordered a beer, giving Matilda a sovereign. But then Reeks had to go to play cricket, so he could not wait for his change. It was alleged that James Ifould had offered to take the money and give it to Reeks on his return from the game. The girl gave him the money. But when Reeks returned, Ifould denied that he had been given any money, saying that a policeman could come and search him if he wished. A week later he was summonsed.
James appeared at the magistrates court at Petersfield and then was sent for trial at the petty sessions in Winchester in January 1874. Matilda was crossed examined by the defence counsel and admitted that she did sometimes make mistakes with change. In the lack of clear evidence for conviction, Ifould was given the benefit of the doubt by the jury, who acquitted him of larceny. The report of the case can be found in the Hampshire Independent of 7th January 1874. The police record of the case stated that Ifould was of an ‘imperfect’ level of education.
1903 Bosham: James and Rose Ifould and the Child Cruelty Case
Thirty years later, in September 1903 James Edward Ifould 57 and his common law (?) wife Rose 28, were convicted of child cruelty at Chichester Petty Sessions. The case concerned 14 year old Sarah Stevens, who Ifould alleged was the illegitimate daughter of his second wife Fanny Stevens. He said his second wife Fanny had baby Sarah with her, when he took her from Petworth workhouse. Fanny had died early in 1901. James said he had no intention of keeping a bastard child. The poor Sarah had been beaten with a metal bar, was made to sleep in a rat infested W.C. 30 yards from the house, was half starved and poorly clothed. She said her ill treatment had started the day after Rose had come into the house with a baby named Percy. The NSPCC brought a case of appalling mistreatment against James Ifould and Rose, who were living in Bosham at the time. James was sentenced to one month in prison. Because James’s wife Fanny appeared in court with a baby in her arms, she was sentenced to just one day’s imprisonment. The full details of this case can be found in the Chichester and West Sussex Recorder of 23 September 1903 and in the Bognor Regis Observer of 23rd September 1903.
c 1936 James Ifould photographed by George Garland
When he was about 90 years old, James Ifould, was photographed by well-known Petworth photographer George Garland. This may have been when ‘Jimmy’ Ifould was working at West Lavant Farm, near Chichester. His photo appeared in the West Sussex Gazette possibly around 1936. There are similar images of Jimmy Ifould in the Garland collection at West Sussex Record Office in Chichester.
In the West Sussex Gazette date unknown, possibly around 1936
The West Sussex Gazette ran a series of short pieces entitled ‘Sussex Types’ in the year 1936.
James featured as ‘Sussex Type No. 13: 90 Not Out’, with the text underneath his photograph reading as follows:
“Land and its harvests in the faces of active workers – what a springtide text for some pessimists and generalisers. Let Jimmy Ifold tell you his tale of our worlds. He has worked on West Lavant Farm, near Chichester, for the past 29 years, and at the age of 90 is still going strong.”
1939 In the Hampshire Telegraph
James featured again in a newspaper in January 1939, this time in the Hampshire Telegraph, when he was allegedly in his nineties. The report extolled his long life of working on the land:
LAVANT’S GRAND OLD MAN
‘At the age of 97 most people have little thought for work, except for the work they did in the distant past. Not so Mr James Ifould, Lavant’s Grand Old Man; he is thinking about the work he is going to do as soon as the weather permits him to get out and about.
It is just 88 years ago since he first went out to work, and he has been constantly working ever since, except for during the last two or three winters when bronchial trouble has stopped him. He carried on for so long for two reasons – one because he likes working and likes to show that a man is never too old to be a useful member of society, and the other because he needs all he can earn.
He is the eldest of a family of six. His father was a farm worker in the Petersfield district. At the age of nine he was out all day at a rate of 2 shillings a week leading horses, and at the age of 13 was taking two horses himself on the farm for ploughing.
Now at the age of 97 he claims he can milk as well as anyone else, and can get along comfortably ploughing, harrowing or sowing,
“Hard work never killed a man yet and I don’t think it will kill me,” he told a Hampshire Telegraph and Post representative. “I’d be out now if my chest would let me, but I haven’t got much breath to do it.”
His claims are supported by Mr George Mortimer, of West Lavant Farm where Mr Ifould has worked for many years.
The last few weeks have been rather trying for this veteran because snow and rain have kept him away from the work he might have been doing. “I can neither read nor write, because I didn’t have much schooling, but I can still do a day’s work.” He observed.
He has never used tobacco and had very little beer.’
Despite the newspaper report stating that he was 97, James was in fact 92 years old at the publication of this article, since he had been born in June 1846.
My Ifould family contact claimed that James Ifould had at least twenty children, although not all of them were his children and several died young.
Records seem to indicate there were about 23 children, of whom four were his step children. Eight of his children did not survive to adulthood. There were thus about eleven surviving children to whom James was the father.
The 1874 police record of James at the larceny trial, had labelled his education as imperfect. He admitted in one of the 1930s news articles that he could not read and write. He had been born in Steep in Hampshire and lived his early life there. A National School had existed in Steep from 1843, so there was the facility for him to have received a very basic education. No admissions books survive from this early school. Did he feel constrained by this small single roomed building and did he perhaps manipulate his way out of it as soon as possible? Or, as the eldest child of the family, was he required to work to supplement the family income? He later related that he had gone to work with horses at the age of nine years. This would have been on one of the farms in Steep. He may indeed initially just have been working for his father. By the age of 14, he was working as an under carter at Church Farm in Steep. Other Ifould family members attended the newer Steep Victorian School from the day that it opened on 1st January 1875 to 1914 and beyond, as witnessed by their names in the School Admissions Book.
James Ifould: The Affable Country Character
James seemed to like to portray himself as the epitome of an affable old country character who had lived a long, healthy and wholesome outdoor life on the land. Research here shows that he was not entirely that. There had been less than desirable aspects to his character and life. He is, however, an example of how some members of country labouring families developed a tenacity for life and survival by using the elements to hand at the time, to the best of their ability. They were resourceful and adapted to their circumstances, with a willingness to move about within an area. James’s father and grandfather had been agricultural labourers, yet James took one step up from this and became a carter, developing an employable facility to work with horses. The life of a carter was probably marginally less harsh than that of a labourer of the times, and may have been better paid.
On more than one occasion, James Ifould also seems to have showed a certain artfulness in manipulating situations in his favour. When a wife died, he lost no time in finding another to take her place to care and provide for all his needs. With that came ever more children. How kindly the wives or children were treated is uncertain. James lived however, in times when it was common for social attitudes to be much harsher than those of today. He was able to convince the jurors of the larceny court case that he should be let off the charge. He manipulated the news reporters in his favour by providing them with a good storyline. James is probably revered by many of his descendants as the upstanding patriarch of their family, who made a successful life for himself given the circumstances. In this he perhaps has much in common with other similar characters of the times.
There is more about the Ifould family and their houses in Steep here:
Find My Past – census, birth, marriage and death records, police records
Find My Past – British Newspaper Library
Registers of All Saints’ church, Steep
Family history research from Andrew Ifould, to whom I am most grateful
Photographs from the Garland Collection by courtesy of the County Archivist West Sussex Record Office. Not to be saved or distributed by third parties
If you know more about James Ifould born about 1846, or would like to correct errors in the above account, I would be pleased to hear from you. To get in touch, please see the ‘Contact Us’ section of the website.