THE MUDDLE FAMILIES
THE LINEAGE & HISTORY OF THE MUDDLE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD
INCLUDING VARIANTS MUDDEL, MUDDELL, MUDLE & MODDLE
The earliest the Ardingly Muddles have been traced back to is the marriage of Thomas Muddle to Ursula Earll at Buxted in Sussex in 1579. It seems likely that Ursula was therefore from Buxted but Thomas, whose baptism has not been found, was probably not. He was most likely born about 1555 and as Buxted’s parish registers do not survive from before 1565 he could have been born in Buxted, but it’s thought more likely that he came from either Hartfield or Withyham, whose registers do not survive from before 1594 and 1606, this is because the baptisms of his first four children, born 1580 to 1584, have also not been found and these would probably have been in Thomas’ home parish, which therefore seems most likely to have been either Hartfield or Withyham. By 1586 they had moved to Maresfield where their last three children were born, and Thomas and Ursula died there in 1614 and 1613 when probably in their late 50s.
The line continues with Thomas and Ursula's son Arthur who was a clothier who lived at Maresfield and then Fletching, and had four children before dying in his late 30s. It was Arthur's youngest son, William, born 1618, who next continued the line by marrying Timothie Field from Worth. They lived at Fletching where William was a glover; they had three children, and they both died at Fletching in 1680. Their eldest son, Edmund, born 1647, continued the family line; he moved to Ardingly where he married Diana Gibson in 1681 and had five children.
It is with Edmund’s two sons, William and Edmund, that we first have records, from 1714, of members of this family being coopers, a trade that was to be followed by four more generations of the family until the late 19th century, so it seems very likely that Edmund himself and possibly his ancestors, for whom no records of occupations have been found, were also coopers. Another apparent tradition in the family was to serve as Parish Clerk, with five family members known to have held this position, which once granted was held for life. Edmund Muddle had been Lindfield Parish Clerk for nearly half a century when he died in 1802 and two of his sons followed him into this position. William Muddle had been Uckfield Parish Clerk for 32 years when he died in 1812, his cooperage being next-door to the church.
It is also with Edmund’s two sons, William, born 1682, and Edmund, born 1684, that the family splits into its two main branches. William moved to East Grinstead where he had a cooperage business, and Edmund moved to Lindfield where he had his cooperage business. We will now consider each of these branches in turn.
William’s branch of the family
William senior probably stayed in East Grinstead until he retired, when he returned to Ardingly with his wife. His eldest son, William junior, born 1710, stayed in East Grinstead and probably took over his father’s business, but didn’t have any children that survived him, so this branch of the family and the Muddle’s cooperage business in East Grinstead came to an end with William junior’s death in 1780. The Muddle presence in East Grinstead was however continued from the very same year by butcher Thomas Muddle who was from Edmund’s branch of the family.
William senior’s younger son, Edmund, born 1717, moved to Balcombe and had one son, another Edmund, born 1744, who continued the Muddle’s cooperage business in Balcombe and passed it on to his only surviving son, William, born 1774. This William was also Parish Clerk at Balcombe, but his business was probably not very successful as his family are recorded as receiving handouts of flour from the parish. William had married Mary Rasstrigg and they had seven children. Both William and his wife died relatively young, William in 1828 at the age of 54.
William and Mary’s eldest son, Edmund, born 1803, took over his father’s cooperage business at Balcombe, but after about five years moved to Capel in Surrey where he had a cooperage business until he died, still a bachelor, in 1859.
Two of William and Mary’s other sons, William and Henry, became publicans and had descendants who were publicans. The elder of these two sons, William, ended up in Heston, Middlesex, and his son Henry and grandsons Charles, Allen and Edgar were all publicans in the East End of London, leading lives that seem typical of East Enders. They were part of the Bethnal Green branch of the family that now has descendants living in Australia, New Zealand and America The other son, Henry, was a publican at Reigate in Surrey and started the Reigate branch of the family. He was followed into the pub trade by his son William and grandson William Henry, all at Nutley Lane in Reigate. There are descendants of this line now living in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
The last of William and Mary’s sons, John, also became a publican for a time, at Thames Ditton in Surrey, but later became a gentleman’s servant and settled in Wandsworth, London. His descendants, who were mostly labourers in the docks and factories, form the Wandsworth and Battersea branch of the family. Most didn’t move far from there, several ending up in the Croydon and Caterham area of Surrey, but one did settle in South Africa, the only Muddle known to have migrated there.
William and Mary’s eldest daughter was Martha, born 1800, who had five illegitimate sons and seems to have survived on payments from Balcombe parish until her death just after the birth of her last son in 1841, when she was 40. Martha’s son Isaac, born 1835, joined the army and served in India during the Mutiny and in New Zealand during the 2nd Maori War, and after retiring to Portsmouth produced a family of army men, who mostly served in the same regiment. Martha’s youngest son, John, born 1841, had a large family that mainly stayed in Balcombe and the surrounding area until the 20th century when they started spreading out across England.
William and Mary’s youngest daughter, Milly, was an orphan at the age of 11. Balcombe parish paid for her clothes and for families to look after her until she moved to Dorking in Surrey where she married David Cox. Her descendants ended up living at Richmond in Surrey.
Edmund’s branch of the family
After Edmund moved to Lindfield in the early 1700s he remained there for the rest of his life as a master cooper. He married Sarah Tabb and they had two sons and three daughters. Edmund and Sarah both died in the 1760s, and Edmund’s cooperage business at Lindfield passed to his youngest son, also called Edmund.
Edmund and Sarah’s eldest son, William, married Anne Wheeler at Withyham in 1745 and after their first child was born at Lindfield the following year they moved to Uckfield where they had two more sons and a daughter. William was a cooper, but it’s not known if he was a master cooper with his own business until in 1788, when he was 68, he purchased property next to the church in Uckfield that been a cooperage business operated by the Ward family. On William’s death in 1795 the property and business passed to his eldest son, another William. This William had already married and had three sons. He sold this property eight years after he had inherited it, but it’s thought that he probably continued to live and run his cooperage business there until his death in 1812, at the age of 66, when the property again changed hands and became a malting business. William had also been Parish Clerk of Uckfield for 32 years.
William’s youngest son, Alexander, moved to Brighton where he married and had four children. William’s eldest son, yet another William, born 1772, had lived in Lewes where he married, but returned to Uckfield at about the time his father inherited the cooperage business. He probably worked in the business with his father and he also served the parish as headborough, though he died when only 41, just two years after his father. William’s brother John continued to work as a cooper in Uckfield until at least 1833, but his death in 1835 brought the end of coopering by the Muddles in Uckfield after about 85 years and three generations. William’s only son, the fourth in line to be called William and work as a cooper, moved to London. It was only William’s eldest daughter who stayed in Uckfield where she had an illegitimate son but remained a spinster until she died in 1866, aged 70. William’s two other daughters who survived childhood ended up in Portsea in Hampshire and Scotland.
Edmund and Sarah’s younger son, Edmund, married Elizabeth Brown and they lived at Lindfield where they had eight children. Edmund continued to operate the cooperage business at Lindfield started by his father, and had been Parish Clerk at Lindfield for nearly half a century when he died in January 1802, his wife having died the month before.
Edmund and Elizabeth’s eldest son, George, born 1747, continued the cooperage business at Lindfield but when he died in 1807, nearly six years after his father, he was in debt and there was no business to pass on to his two sons. George’s two sons were both coopers but never had their own businesses. The younger son died a bachelor, at the age of 36. The elder son, Charles, married twice and had ten children; he lived for several years at Canterbury and started the Kent branch of the family, but later moved to Fletching in Sussex. He was a journeyman hoopmaker and often worked away from home, going wherever there was work in Sussex and Kent, often with his son Thomas. All Charles’ children who stayed in England changed their name to Muddell.
Charles’ eldest son, another Charles, married and then migrated to Sydney, Australia in 1838, where he worked as a customs officer in Sydney Harbour. His eldest son, yet another Charles, did particularly well, becoming Deputy Registrar-General of N.S.W. Most of this family stayed in the Sydney area and became solicitors, government administrators and business managers.
Charles’ second son, George, moved to Halstead in Essex where he married and had six children to form the Halstead branch of the family. He was a hoopmaker like his father, but his children took up other occupations, his eldest son moved to Worcestershire and his eldest daughter to London.
Charles’ third son, Thomas, was also a hoopmaker and after he became bankrupt in 1854 he moved to Bermondsey where he married and started a small branch of the family in that part of London.
Charles’ fourth son, William, was also a hoopmaker and he moved to the East End of London where he had three children and started another small branch of the family in London.
Charles’ fifth son, Edward, was the only son not to become a hoopmaker; he had several jobs including grocer’s shopman and clerk. He had seven children and ended up living in Lewes. Several members of this Lewes branch of the family served as officers in the army, particularly in the Royal Army Medical Corps and Artillery.
Edmund and Elizabeth’s second son, Charles, born 1751, married Sarah Davey and had two sons and two daughters. They moved to Ditchling where Charles was a cooper, probably with his own business. Charles died in 1830 and it seems that his eldest son, another Charles had by then taken over the business. This Charles married, but his only child died soon after birth, and it seems that Charles probably gave up the business to his younger brother, Thomas, in the 1840s and with his wife moved to Brighton where he worked as a carpenter. Thomas continued the cooperage business at Ditchling and became Ditchling’s postmaster and then a farmer until his death in 1879, at the age of 85.
Thomas’ eldest son, another Thomas, took over his father’s cooperage business and position as Ditchling postmaster in about 1870, but he died in 1876, before his father, and was only survived by young grandsons, so with his death the Muddle cooperage business in Ditchling came to an end.
Thomas’ second son, Charles, did not follow the family tradition of becoming a cooper, but instead became a master butcher at Ditchling. He married and had a large family, but except for his eldest son, who went into the army and then afterwards settled in Ditching, all his other children moved to either Brighton or Croydon to find work and marriage partners; with his son George in particular forming the nucleus of a family of Muddles around the Croydon area.
Thomas had two daughters, the eldest, Mary, married gardener Walter Illman and raised a family at Ditchling. The younger daughter, Susan, married George Kemp, who was a master cooper at Lewes, and with their son Lewis also becoming a cooper this keep a tentative connection between the Muddle family and coopering into the early 20th century.
Edmund and Elizabeth’s third son, William, who was a cooper, married Mary Tomsett and moved to London where he had died by 1814 when Mary and her daughter Lydia moved to Mary’s home village of Buxted. Lydia married Thomas Starr and they migrated to Australia with their children in 1838, on the same ship as the family of Isaac and Amelia Muddle of the ‘Buxted Muddles’, and in the same year that the family of Charles Muddle, who was the son of one of Lydia’s cousins, migrated to Australia.
Edmund and Elizabeth’s fourth son, Thomas, who was a butcher, married Elizabeth Still in 1780 and they lived at East Grinstead, starting the second phase of the Muddle family in East Grinstead following the death of Thomas’ cousin William there in 1780. Several of their descendants became publicans at East Grinstead or otherwise worked in public houses there.
Edmund and Elizabeth’s fifth son, Timothy, who was a shoemaker, married Elizabeth Martin. They lived at Lindfield and were childless. Timothy was another family member who was parish clerk at Lindfield, and when he died in 1836 he was the last of the Muddles to have lived in Lindfield.