THE MUDDLE FAMILIES
THE LINEAGE & HISTORY OF THE MUDDLE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD
INCLUDING VARIANTS MUDDEL, MUDDELL, MUDLE & MODDLE
The Buxted Muddles have been traced back to John Muddle of Rotherfield who married Margary Farmer in early 1588. They were destined to be the founders of by far the largest of the Muddle families, but it almost never happened, because five years before his marriage John was found guilty of horse theft and sentenced to hang, but a pardon from Elizabeth I saved his neck; for which John's many descendants across the World can be thankful. For full details of John and his two companions in this escapade see Three Elizabethan Horse Thieves.
For three generations the family stayed at Rotherfield and didn't expand much in size. Then with the two sons of John and Sarah Muddle born in the 1640s, during the upheaval of the Civil War, things begin to change. Their eldest son, Thomas, stayed in Rotherfield and one of his sons, another Thomas, was the first of the clockmaking Muddles, though earlier generations had been in the metal working trades as blacksmiths and whitesmiths, it's not known if any of them made clocks. Certainly the family had been associated with the Wealden iron industry of the time. Thomas' three sons all became clockmakers.
The eldest of Thomas' sons, yet another Thomas, stayed at Rotherfield and it is probably his clocks that are found today inscribed 'Thomas Muddle, Tunbridge Wells'. His son Thomas didn't follow his father's trade and moved to Brighton and Lewes, and his eldest son, again called Thomas, was the Muddle who enlisted in the Madras Artillery of the East India Company and sailed to India in 1819. He started a small family of Muddles in India but they seem to have soon died out.
The second of Thomas' sons, called Edward, moved to Chatham in Kent, where he made clocks and watches for many years. Several of his longcase clocks inscribed 'Edward Muddle, Chatham' are known to still exist today. Again none of his sons followed him into the clockmaking trade, all his children who survived childhood moved to London where they became involved in the sugar refining industry.
The third of Thomas' sons, called Nicholas, ended up in Tonbridge making watches, but no examples of his work are known to still exist. He had seven children, but they were all daughters, so he had no sons to follow him into the clockmaking trade, with the result that after two generations clock making in the Muddle family died out.
Going back to John and Sarah's sons, their younger son John, born in 1643, prospered as a collier supplying charcoal to the local iron making industry, but as this industry declined he moved to the hamlet of High Hurstwood where he purchased a house in 1681 and then some farmland the following year. He settled there with his wife Elizabeth and became a yeoman farmer. This property was to be the home and livelihood for his descendants for the next 170 years.
John and Elizabeth's only son to survive infancy was another John, he married Susanna and they had three sons. Their eldest son married but was childless, and their youngest son also married but only had a daughter before he died. This left their son Isaac to carry on the family line; this he did by marrying Elizabeth and having three children, all sons, born during the 1760s, who were all to have many descendants.
Isaac and Elizabeth's eldest son, John, was the one who inherited the family property at High Hurstwood; he married Mary and had nine children, but got into financial difficulties after the good times for farmers during the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815. Their two sons who survived infancy, Joseph and William, born in 1799 and 1809, where to each inherit part of the property when John died in 1843, but William died just before his father resulting in Joseph trying to claim all the property, and the ensuing problems with mortgages resulted in the farmland being sold in 1850 and then the house in 1859, though members of the family continued to live in the house until the 1870s. See the family story entitled Joseph Muddle - A Dickensian Wicked Uncle? for an overall history of the Muddle family's property at High Hurstwood and Joseph's involvement in its loss. This is shown in chart form on the chart entitled 'The History of the Muddle family's copyhold land in High Hurstwood' which also details the property owned by the Booker branch of the family that originated with John and Mary's daughter Dorothy marrying Richard Booker in 1811.
Joseph had a large family; fifteen children with nine sons surviving to adulthood and marrying. His eldest son, John, was a publican who ended up at Hawkhurst in Kent. His second son, Charles, lived in Uckfield and worked on the Rocks Park Estate. His third son, William, was a farm labourer whose two youngest sons migrated to Victoria, Australia in 1911; two of this grandsons migrated to Alberta, Canada in 1910; a third grandson served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers during the First World War before migrated to Queensland, Australia in 1919 and then served with distinction in the Australian Army during the Second World War.
Joseph's son James was a farm labourer at Burwash; most of his many descendants remained in Sussex, but his son James migrated to Ontario, Canada in 1913. Joseph's son Walter was a farm labourer at Danehill whose daughter Eliza Todman and her large family migrated to Western Australia in 1914. Joseph's sons Joseph and Spencer were farm labourers and the two sons who remained in High Hurstwood; their descendants mainly stayed in the local area. Joseph's sons George and Albert were also farm labourers; George at Tunbridge Wells and Albert at Alfriston.
Joseph's brother William had died just before their father but he left two young sons. The eldest of these sons, John, served in India with the Royal Regiment of Foot during the mid-19th century before settling in Uckfield and having a family. His three sons all served in the army, the eldest, John, was in the Boer War and then the First World War; the second son, William, served with the Royal Field Artillery in India before migrating to Canada, marrying, and then returning to be a publican at Isfield; the third son, James, served briefly in India before returning to fight in France during the First World War. The husbands of their two sisters served in the First World War and one was killed in action.
William's other son, Charles, married his second cousin, Sarah Charity Muddle. Their son John, with part of his family, migrated to Alberta, Canada in 1911; their son Charles was a deeply religious Methodist, being known as the 'Bishop of Buxted' and his son Ernest migrated to Ontario, Canada in 1910 and started the Moddle branch of the family. This family lived through the Haileybury fire, one of Canada's worst natural disasters, see October Inferno.
Returning to the sons of Isaac and Elizabeth, their second son, Isaac, was a farm labourer living mostly in the adjacent parishes of Buxted and Framfield, except for a few years at Isfield. His children and their descendants all stayed in the immediate area except for his son Isaac who was not born by his wife but was Isaac's illegitimate son by Amelia Gorringe. This son married twice and had a large family before migrating to New South Wales, Australia in 1838. See the full story of this migration at Bounty Migrants - Australia Bound This was the most significant migration, in terms of the number of descendents, by the Muddle family. They settled near Dungog in the Hunter River Valley, which had only been opened up to settlement about 20 years earlier, and had large families in a mainly empty land. Many of the descendents live in the Dungog area, but a significant number have moved to Sydney and Brisbane. Members of this family served with the Australian forces during both the First and Second World Wars and the only known gallantry medal awarded to a Muddle of the 'Buxted Muddles' was the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) to John William Muddle, who served with the RAAF in England during the Second World War.
Isaac and Elizabeth's third son, David, was a farm labourer who lived at Buxted and had five children, four of them sons. Two of these sons never married and another had just a daughter, who was the Sarah Charity Muddle that married her second cousin, Charles Muddle. The eldest son, David, made up for this by having thirteen children, some of his descendants continued to live in the Buxted area but a significant number of them moved to Brighton. Another descendent of this family had a thriving engineer company at Jarvis Brook and his son became a racecourse owner and probably the family's most successful businessman.
The above is just a brief outline of this very large family, to give a feel for how it has evolved over 450 years.