Horsham, Sussex Family History Guide

Horsham is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Sussex.

Other places in the parish include: Broadbridge Heath, Southwater, Roughy, and Roffey.

Parish church: St Mary

Parish registers begin: 1540; separate registers exist for Southwater: 1850

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Calvinist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Baptist, Independent/Congregational, Particular Baptist, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Horsham

  • Itchingfield
  • Warnham
  • Shipley
  • Rusper
  • Broadwater
  • Upper Beeding
  • Nuthurst
  • Storrington
  • Lower Beeding

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

HORSHAM, a town, a parish, two sub-districts, and a district, in Sussex. The town stands on a branch of the river Arun, at the W side of St. Leonard's forest, at a forking of railways toward Crawley and Dorking, on the Mid Sussex railway, at its junction with the Horsham and Dorking railway, 2 miles NE of its junction with the lines toward Shoreham and Guildford, and 22 NNW of Brighton. Its name is derived, by some, from "hurst" and "ham," signifying the wood town; by others, from "hors-ham," signifying horse meadow; by others, from the Saxon chief Horsa, whom some accounts assert to have been slain and buried in the neighbourhood. The town was a place of much trade prior to the decay of Shoreham haven; it went into considerable decadence in the 16th century; it presented, so late as about 1830, an appearance more of village than of town, with most of its houses only one storey high, and many of them wooden; but latterly it has been very much improved, by the reconstruction of houses, by the erection of numerous villa residences, and by general cleaning and embellishment. One of its principal streets is adorned with rows of trees; this street and another principal one cross each other at right angles; and several smaller streets go off to the right and the left. Some pleasant scenery lies around; and Denne Hill, closely adjacent, commands extensive views, and overlooks an avenue of 1¼ mile in St. Leonard's forest. The chief public buildings are the courthouse or town hall, the market house, the parish church, St. Mark's church, eight dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel built in 1866, the grammar school, the national school, and a workhouse. The court house is far from being a handsome edifice. The parish church is partly Norman, partly later English, but chiefly early English; was mainly built, in the time of King John, by the nuns of Rusper monastery, who held the great tithes; consists of nave, chancel, aisles, and porch, with lofty tower and spire; contains a fine octagonal font, altar tombs of Thomas Lord Braose and Thomas Hoo, a fine marble tomb and effigies of Elizabeth Delves, and a brass of a priest of 1430; and was under process of restoration in 1865, when in Oct. of that year about £7, 000 had been expended on the process, and about £1, 000 more were required for completion. The grammar school was founded, in 1540, for sixty boys; is under the trusteeship of the Mercers' Company, who have added twenty scholars; was rebuilt in 1840, and in 1857; and has an endowed income of £544. The national school includes a girls' school room, erected in 1862. The workhouse has capacity for 250 persons; and, at the census of 1861, had 138 inmates. There are, also, alms houses for twenty-four persons, and partially endowed; a British school; a literary and scientific institute, with reading room; a permanent benefit building society; an agricultural society; several other institutions; and some small charities. The King's Head hotel has a music hall and assembly room, with accommodation for upwards of 500 persons; and there are two other good hotels and several inns. The town has a head post office, a railway station with telegraph, and two banking offices; and is a seat of petty sessions, county courts, and midsummer quarter sessions, and a polling place. A weekly corn market is held on Wednesday; a weekly poultry market, on Monday; a fortnightly cattle market, on Wednesday; and fairs, on 5 April, the Monday before Whitsuntide, 18 July, and 17 and 27 Nov. There are an extensive tannery, an iron foundry, two breweries, a large nursery ground, and several corn mills and malting establishments. The town is a borough by prescription; sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till the act of 1832; was reduced by that act to the sending of one member; and is nominally governed by a steward, two bailiffs, and two constables. The borough boundaries are identical with those of the parish. Electors in 1868, 400. Nicholas of Horsham, a physician of the time of Henry VI., and Barnaby Lintot, the famous publisher of the time of Gay and Pope, were natives. The parish comprises 10,770 acres. Real property, £27,468; of which £183 are in gas works. Pop. in 1851, 5,947; in 1861, 6,747. Houses, 1,267. The village of Southwater, the hamlet of Roughey, and part of Broadbridge-Heath are included. Denne House was anciently a seat of the Braose family; is now occupied by G. Eversfield, Esq.; stands on a spot which is supposed to have had a Danish camp; derives thence its name of Denne, originally Dane; is confronted by an eminence called Picts' hill, supposed to have been a post of the Picts in conflict with the Danes; and is surrounded with a park which commands fine views over the North Weald. Cheesworth also was anciently a seat of the Braoses; was the place where Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, was apprehended in 1571; and is now a farmhouse. Coolhurst is a mansion in the Tudor style; was rebuilt, in 1831, for the Dowager Marchioness of Northampton; and is now the residence of S. Dickens, Esq. Horsham Park is the seat of R. H. Hurst, Esq.; Holbrook, of W. R. S. Vesey Fitzgerald, Esq.; Wimblehurst, of John Braby, Esq.; Springfield Place, of the Hon Mrs. Pelham; and Manor House, of Henry Padwick, Esq. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Chichester. Value, about £420. Patron, the Archbishop of Canterbury. St. Mark's is a separate charge, with income of £100. Southwater vicarage also is separate. The sub-districts are North H. and South-H. North H. contains the parishes of Horsham, Lower Beeding, Ifield, Rusper, and Warnham. Acres, 32,607. Pop., 10,799. Houses, 1,972. South H. contains the parishes of West Grinstead, Shipley, Nuthurst, Itchingfield, and Slinfold. Acres, 24,416. Pop., 4,514. Houses, 806. The district consists of these two subdistricts. Acres, 57,023. Poor rates, in 1863, £11,045. Pop. in 1851, 14,018; in 1861, 15,313. Houses, 2,778. Marriages, in 1862, 82; births, 474, of which 19 were illegitimate; deaths, 282, of which 88 were at ages under 5 years, and 11 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 903; births, 4,495; deaths, 2,589. The places of worship, in 1851, were 13 of the Church of England, with 5,745 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 406 s.; 3 of Baptists, with 516 s.; 2 of Quakers, with 362 s.; 2 of Wesleyans, with 250 s.; 1 undefined, with 120 s.; and 2 of Roman Catholics, with 100 s. The schools were 20 public day schools with 1,399 scholars; 35 private day schools, with 572 s.; and 18 Sunday schools, with 1,359 s.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].


Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Agate Michael, Horsham, grocer, August 10, 1832.

Briggs James, Horsham, Sussex, victualler and cordwainer, July 13, 1830.

Evershsd Thomas, Horsham, Sussex, soap maker, Aug. 6, 1825.


  • County: Sussex
  • Civil Registration District: Horsham
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) of Chichester for the Archdeaconry of Chichester, Court of the Peculiar of the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Exempt Deaneries of Pagham and Tarring
  • Diocese: Chichester
  • Rural Deanery: partly Storrington, Pre-1846 - partly Pagham, Post 1845 - Storrington
  • Poor Law Union: Horsham
  • Hundred: Singlecross
  • Province: Canterbury