James (1) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

James (1) Woodhurst was christened on February 2nd 1800 at Fairlight, East Sussex to parents Andrew (3) Woodus and Susannah (nee) Danel [Fairlight Parish Register]. He was christened with the Woodus surname but, like several of his siblings, adopted the Woodhurst surname in adulthood.

The registers of the various local parishes make clear that there were several co-existing Woodus families, sharing many common forenames. Probably they can never be wholly disentangled using such records as remain. However, James (1)'s ancestry can be traced with reasonable certainty back to Andrew (1) Woodus who was born in the late 17th century.

James (1) married Sarah Broadfoot at Pett, two or three miles from Fairlight, on June 2nd 1829, when she was described as being 'of Winchelsea' [Fairlight Parish Register]. Census data indicates her year of birth as variously 1807-11 [UK Census 1841] or 1809 [US Census 1860]. Her origins have not yet been determined.

The IGI contains an ancestral file [AFN: 22NQ-HTZ] claiming that Sarah's father was a Robert Broadfoot who was born at Winchelsea in about 1777 and married there in about 1800. It goes on to claim that he died at Greenwood, SC in about 1842. Lacking historical references, this source carries little weight.

By early 1841 James (1) and Sarah had seven children and were living in Pett. James (1) died there on April 30th. His death certificate [Death Index: Hastings VII 251, 1841 (June)] describes him as a labourer aged 41 and gives the cause of death as scrofula. The informant was Sarah.

The 1841 Census finds the widowed Sarah with her children in Pett, and describes her as a pauper. An agricultural labourer Richard Miles, aged 45, was also living with them.

At some date still unknown, probably within 1841-44, the widowed Sarah and her six surviving children emigrated to Abbeville, South Carolina (SC) in the USA. Their journey is understood to have been funded by the parish through a levy applied to the parishioners. It is not yet known which ship they sailed on or from which port it departed. An obituary of the daughter Mary Ann (1) is reported as saying that she was 7 years old when the family arrived in Abbeville [researcher's report], implying the date was 1841-42, but her brother Andrew Jackson entered the date as 1843 in the US 1900 Census.

Interesting accounts of arrangements for other families emigrating from East Sussex, extracted by Michael J. Burchall from original parish records, can be found on the Sussex Family History Group page East Sussex Emigration. Ports from which those families departed included London and Gravesend in Kent.

In America, Sarah remarried to John E. Coumbe(s). Various uncorroborated IGI ancestral files claim the date was January 31st 1844 but they disagree upon the location. John was born in England around 1818 and by 1860 he was living in Abbeville employed as a brick mason [US 1860 Census]. Nothing is known of his ancestry or his emigration. This marriage produced at least two children.

It is not known where or when John died, but it was certainly not later than 1880. The US 1880 Census finds Sarah widowed and living in Abbeville at age "69" in the household of her married daughter Mary Ann (1). She may have died on November 3rd 1887 and may have been buried at Bradley, Greenwood, SC, according to various informal sources.

His children by Sarah Broadfoot

  1. Susannah (1) Woodhurst
  2. Robert Broadfoot Woodhurst
  3. Andrew Jackson Woodhurst
  4. Mary Ann (1) Woodhurst
  5. George William (1) Woodhurst
  6. Elizabeth (1) Woodhurst
  7. Sarah Jane (1) Woodhurst

Sarah's children by John E. Coumbe(s)

  1. Caroline A. Coumbe(s)
  2. John T. Coumbe(s)
  3. and possibly others ...