Reproduced by kind permission of The Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove
The Cowley Family - Dairymen & Farmers
The association of the Cowley family with farming in the Brighton area is well documented. There are many references on various web sites to both people and locations, there is published research by local historians, there are entries in trade directories and in electoral registers, and, of course, there are census records.
I have attempted to bring together all the information that is in the public domain, to add photographs and historical facts provided by various people who have contacted me.
I am particularly grateful to Su and Paul Cowley, John G. Davies, Douglas d’Enno, and John Maddams for all the information that they have sent me, and to Su, Paul and Douglas for their kind permission to reproduce their photographs on this web site.
More photographs on the family tree pages
Click on the images to enlarge them. Click on underlined names to go to the relevant family tree
At least three generations of Cowleys were involved in farming in the Rottingdean and Ovingdean areas. Others worked in the dairy ‘industry’, some with their own businesses.
The generations that I have researched start with William Cowley (1798-1881) and his brother, Charles (1800-1880).
More people than I show were undoubtedly involved in farming and associated activities but exact research is difficult. More details will be added as, and when, I find them.
Black Rock Farm
The earliest reference to a Cowley farming in the Brighton area is on a tithe map dated 1838 which shows Charles Coley / Cowley at the 94 acre Black Rock farm in Rottingdean. I believe that Charles and his brother William were the sons of Stephen Coley. The link back to my own ancestors cannot be totally proven, but nonetheless I believe that the lineage that I show is likely to be correct. (You can see detailed research notes for Charles and William by visiting the family tree page ‘From Stephen Coley (1776)’ and following the links.)
Charles moved to Harrington Farm, Preston, Sussex, at some time between 1844 and 1851 leaving William at Black Rock. The farm was subsequently taken over by William’s son, Henry.
There was a severe coastal landslip which threatened the farm and the adjacent coastguard station and the farm was eventually abandoned in about 1887.
Ovingdean Grange Farm
By 1891 Henry Cowley is the tenant at Ovingdean Grange farm. After Henry’s death in 1893 the farm was taken over by his son, William Arthur Cowley. William Arthur subsequently passed the farm on to his son in law, Percy Filkins, who remained there until 1945.
Several other farms appear in the various research documents -
Harrington Farm, Preston, Sussex
Mill Farm, Laughton, Sussex
Hammonds Farm, Clayton, Sussex
Bear Farm, Preston, Sussex
Articles by Douglas d’Enno
The links below are to two interesting articles by historian and author, Douglas d’Enno, reproduced here with his kind permission.
Other web site links
There are several other web sites with information about both the Cowley farmers and the farms that they occupied. The most interesting links that I have found are shown below.