West Sussex, England | Email: jen@itdesigners.com

Vicar of Ferring from 1832 to 1870

These notes about Rev. Dixon were very kindly provided by John Stewart in North Carolina (Email: riverhouse@skybest.com)

On March 2, 1832, Henry Dixon succeeded Francis Whitcombe as vicar of St Andrew's Ferring, with the parishes of Kingston and East Preston. Ferring was a discharged vicarage worth 6 pounds 8 shillings and fourpence. There was, for a long time, a close association between St Andrew's and the chapels of Kingston and East Preston. All three were included in the prebend of Ferring founded by Bishop Hilary of Chichester in the 12th century.

The living was presented to Henry Dixon on March 18, 1832. He was the first rural dean to be vicar of Ferring. He would live at Ferring Vicarage permanently only after his mother died in 1835 (before that he had commuted to Ferring from Worthing, where he lived with his widowed mother). He would become the longest serving vicar of the parish (38 years).

Henry Dixon was born in the late Mrs Copley's house in Storrington on Jan. 12, 1798, second surviving son of the Rev. Joseph Dixon, rector of neighboring Sullington, by his wife Anne Partridge. He was baptized at Sullington Church by his father on Feb. 1, 1798. He went to Eton, and from there he was admitted as a commoner into Brasenose College, Oxford, matriculating as a trainee cleric on Jan. 22, 1817. He got his BA in 1820, was deaconed in 1821, and became a curate under his father at Sullington. In 1823 he got his MA and was priested. He also served as curate to his father's successor at Sullington, the Rev. George Palmer.

His father, the Rev. Joseph Dixon (1756-1824) was the son of an eminent London builder, Richard Dixon (1724-1785). His mother, Anne Partridge (1762-1835) was the daughter of the most famous and notorious publican of her time, Henrietta Partridge (19 men died one evening at her pub in Slough, the Castle Inn, in 1773 - bad turtle soup). Henry Dixon had an older brother, William (1795-1859), who became a captain the Royal Artillery and spent most of his working life in Corfu, marrying into the Corfiote nobility. Henry also had a younger brother, Fred (1799-1849), who became a doctor, the founder of what became Worthing Hospital, and a notable geologist and paleontologist and early dinosaur hunter. Henry had helped Fred found the Ann Street Dispensary in Worthing in 1829, and been the first chairman and treasurer.

On March 8, 1837, Henry married Anne Austen at St George Hanover Square in London. Anne, baptized July 27, 1799, in Cranbrook, Kent, was the third child and only daughter of Maj. John Austen of Goudhurst, by his wife Harriet Hussey. There would be no children of this marriage. Anne died at Ferring Vicarage on March 20, 1864.

In 1842 the flat ceiling of St Andrew's Church in Ferring was removed and a higher one installed under Henry's direction, and with the co-operation of Squire Henty, of the Grange. At the same time new pews were placed in the nave.

In 1851 Henry became involved in the Montague Peerage Claim, which had to do with the pedigree of the third branch of the Browne family. At one point the controversy revolved around a key entry that had been entered in the Storrington parish register during the time that Henry was relieving the sick curate Mr Griffith (between July 1822 and May 1823). During this time the register had been borrowed, and perhaps doctored by persons about to perpetrate a fraudulent peerage claim.

Henry died intestate on Nov. 6, 1870, and was buried at Ferring on Nov. 11. The officiating ministers were Gregory Bateman, curate of Ferring, and Charles William Salius, curate of East Preston. On Nov. 23 his effects went to his nephew, Col. Henry Dixon of the Indian Army. Gregory Walter Pennithorne took over as vicar of Ferring.

St Andrews Church, Ferring, West Sussex

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