Mystery of historic Worthing Chipper family books solved
Story books that belonged to a Worthing family back in the late 1800s have been returned to their direct descendents following an appeal to locate them.
The Chipper family can be traced back to the area as far as 1086 in the Domesday Book.
But over one hundred years ago it was Ambrose Chipper who lived in Tarring where the mystery begins.
Lyle Milner, of Coombe Rise, was given a series of illustrated children’s books by a work colleague some 20 years ago.
In one of the books, ‘The Life and Ballads of Robin Hood’, Lyle discovered someone had signed it ‘Ambrose Clipper, January 1884’.
Three more books were also signed by Ambrose between 1884 and 1887.
Curious about the Chipper family history, Lyle began to research the family tree and discovered Ambrose had three siblings – Luke, Obadiah and Louisa, who all worked on the land in High Street, Tarring.
But Lyle’s research hit a brick wall and he needed to know more about the family’s whereabouts, so he contacted the Herald and Gazette for help.
Within a matter of days, two direct descendents of Ambrose and his brother Luke, came forward.
Janet Oaten-Wareham, of East Street, Littlehampton, is the great granddaughter of Luke and has been immersed in her family history for the past ten years.
She has black and white photographs of the family and even some of their belongings that have been passed down four generations.
She said: “The men didn’t bother with the gossip, but the girls got it all. The girls were handed down by their mums all the little items.”
In fact, Janet has Luke’s dinner plate hanging on her wall and a cookbook that belonged to Ambrose and Luke’s mother Ann Chipper.
“It’s something I’ve been interested in, even as a little girl,” she added.
Ann was a baker who had ovens in a building to the south of The George and Dragon on the corner of Church Road, – since demolished.
Sons Ambrose (born 1856) and Luke (born 1849) were shepherds. But later in life Luke became a coal merchant and Ambrose a baker.
Steve Avery, of Victoria Road, Worthing, is the great grandson of Luke and has coincidentally worked most of his life in the baking industry. Also interested in his ancestors, Steve drew up an extensive family tree.
He said: “My mother was always proud of the Chipper name and said it’s one of the oldest families in Worthing.”
On Monday, February 29, Lyle met up with Janet and Steve for a gathering in Littlehampton, none of whom had met before, and presented to them the books signed by their relative Ambrose.
Steve said: “It’s fantastic because it’s real history right there in my hand.”
Janet said: “It’s absolutely wonderful, it’s such a small world.”
Lyle said he was ‘delighted’ to see the books finally with the rightful owners.
Also present at the reunion was Caroline O’Neil, of Yapton, who is an administrator for Family Tree Forum (www.familytreeforum.com). She took an interest in the Chipper family tree.
“I just wanted to see if there are any Chippers still around and it’s interesting that they have stayed local,” she said.
The books were left with Janet and Luke.
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