Birth: 1795 - Circa
Place or Registered Place of Birth: Catsfield, nr Battle, East Sussex
Baptism: Not Known
Place of Baptism: Not Known
Death: 29 September 1826 - Aged 30
Place or Registered Place of Death: Denne Park, Horsham, Sussex
Father: William Markwick (Eversfield), F.L.S. (1739-1812)
Mother: Mary Date (-1822)
Spouse(s): Mary Crewe
Date of Marriage: 15 June 1815
Place or Registered Place of Marriage: St. James, Westminster, Middlesex
Isabella Eversfield (1816-1902)
Sophia Eversfield (1819-1901)
Charles Gilbert Eversfield (1822-1886)
James Eversfield lived at Denne Park, Sussex, England.
The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 96 - 1826
After October 9
Sussex - Lately. At his seat, Denne Park, aged 31, James Eversfield, esq.
The Gentleman's Magazine - 1843
March 31. At Ditton House, Sophia, wife of Edward Bligh, esq. and dau. of the late Charles Eversfield, esq. of Denne-park, near Horsham, Sussex.
Sophia Eversfield was born about 1807 at Denne Park, Sussex and was married to Edward Bligh in 1827. She was James's sister.
Articles for a marriage settlement 14 Jun 1815
James Eversfield of Catsfield, esq, youngest son of William Eversfield, deceased, Mary Eversfield of Catsfield, widow, and one of the guardians of her children by William Eversfield, Robert Hawgood Crew of Pall Mall, Middlesex, esq, and his eldest daughter Mary Crew, spinster
the manor of Catsfield and Mansion House at Catsfield, messuages, farms, lands, woodlands and tenements in Catsfield, Pevensey, Ninfield, Mountfield, Netherfield in Battle, Battle and Bexhill, devised to JE by the will of his father WE, 2 Nov 1811
JE and ME covenant with RHC that JE, within a year of attaining 21 years, shall settle on MC an annuity of £300 arising from the lands devised to him in his father's will; JE, ME and RHC covenant to levy a fine.
Marriage settlement (lease and release and covenant to levy a fine) 19-20 Nov 1816
James Eversfield of Catsfield, esq, and his wife Mary, lately Mary Crewe, spinster, daughter of Robert Hawgood Crew of the Ordnance Office, Pall Mall, Middlesex, to the Revd John Godfrey Thomas of Bodiam, clerk, Charles Eversfield of Denn Place [in Horsham], esq, and Charles Wardroper of Seacocks Heath, Etchingham, esq
1 messuage and 50a land in Catsfield called Fart Lands; mansion house and land called Lodge lands and Grovers Crofts and Graynetts otherwise Gravetts (50a); three parcels of heath land called the Beaks (18a) in Catsfield [annotated: sold to Col Pilkington]
2 messuage called the Red House, with the stable, lodges, buildings and adjoining parcels of marshland in Pevensey (154a - names given); two parcels of salt marsh (9a and 30a) in Pevensey formerly part of the New Innings [annotated: Pevensey]
3 messuage and 21a called Beakes in Catsfield; land in Catsfield called Langsters (46a), The Great Spratts (21a), The Brodyard, Colewyshe and the Mill Pond (21a), croft near the churchyard (2a) [annotated: sold to Col Pilkington]
4 the manor of Catsfield; Tilton Farm (186a) in Catsfield and woodland in Catsfield and Ninfield (72a - names given); [annotated: sold to Col Pilkington]
5 capital messuage where John Hay formerly lived at Netherfield [in Battle] and 40a adjoining (field neames); capital messuage called Fox Earles and Goldings and 80a at Netherfield [in Battle]; seven parcels (54a - names given) in Mountfield and Battle; [annotated: sold to Mr Denne]
6 two parcels (20a - abbuttals) called Rushfords Wood and Rushfords Field in Bexhill, formerly occupied by Walter Roberts, gent; [annotated: sold to Wrenn and Sampson]
7 messuage near the church in Catsfield [annotated: sold to Col Pilkington]
8 parcel of land (2a 1r 1p) in Catsfield [annotated: query sold to Davis]
9 parcel called the Churchfield (11a) in Catsfield; brookland formerly part of the rectorial glebe of Catsfield (3 roods); parcel of wood (1a) formerly part of the glebe, in Catsfield [annotated: sold to Col Pilkington]
JE and ME convey the property to JGT upon trust for ME to take an annuity of £300 from certain of the lands, otherwise, to the use of CE and CW upon trust to preserve all rents and profits to whoever is entitled to them; JGT also covenants to levy a fine
endorsed: memorandum of conveyances (as annotated) to Andrew Pilkington of Catsfield Place, a Colonel in the Army, 20 and 30 Jun 1825, to Edward Denne of Montague Place, Russell Square, Middlesex, esq, 24 and 25 Apr 1823, to Richard King Sampson of Hailsham, esq, 28 and 29 Oct 1824, and to Benjamin Wrenn of Catsfield, miller, 22 and 23 Nov 1824.
James, was originally intended for the Church.
Like his father, he also entered Peterhouse in 1813; in 1822, he became High Sheriff of Sussex, as had his great-grandfather, William Markwick in the reign of George I. In 1823, he sold the Catsfield property and moved to Denne. James married and had 3 children, but died young, in 1826, just short of his 31st birthday. He is buried in Horsham.
William Markwick (Eversfield) was born about 1739 and died 6 April 1812 at Catsfield Place, Horsham in Sussex.
Mary Date of Southampton in Hampshire died at Denne Park, Horsham in Sussex in 1822 and was buried there.
William Markwick and Mary Date were married at Catsfield, Horsham in Sussex on 30 June 1789.
Marriage settlement (leases and release and covenant to levy a fine and suffer a common recovery) for £3500
2-3 Apr 1735
William Markwick of Catsfield, esq, his wife Elizabeth and only son James Markwick of the Inner Temple, London esq, Mary Eversfield of Eastbourne, spinster, to Sir Charles Eversfield of The Grove [in Hollington], bt, John Middleton of Muntham in Findon, esq, Whistler Webster of Battle, esq, and Bartholomew Hughes of Navestock in Essex, clerk, in trust; JE to marry ME.
1 messuage, barns, buildings, orchards and gardens and 50a called Lodgelands, Grovers Crofts and Graynetts otherwise Gravetts in Catsfield, formerly the property of John Wykes, gent; parcels of land adjoining called The Beekes (18a) in Catsfield, formerly occupied by James Spray; marshland (20a) called The Great Bills or Great Bill Marsh (abuttals given) in Pevensey; two parcels of salt marsh (9a and 30-a) in Pevensey (abuttals given); messuage where Elizabeth Float lived, barn, garden orchard and 21a called Beaks (abuttals given), in Catsfield; 46a called Langsters in Catsfield, purchased by William Markwick, deceased, from Richard Alfrey of Ninfield; 21a called Great Spratts and Little Spratts, in Catsfield; 28a land called Bredgers, Colewyshe and the Mill Pond in Catsfield, purchased by William Markwick, deceased, from Thomas Alfray of Potmans in Catsfield, esq, and his eldest son Benjamin Alfray, 1 Aug 1676; messuage called Heards Leake [recte Herdesbeak] near Catsfield churchyard, malthouse, barns, stables, orchards and gardens, a croft (2a) near the churchyard and 90a called Somerlease and Twystlye in Catsfield, all formerly the property of Edward Byne of Catsfield, yeoman, and purchased from Richard Wimshurst and Thomas Colvill; moiety of 114a marshland in Pevensey called New Innings, now divided into seven closes (names given).
WM, JM and ME convey the property to CEand JM in trust to suffer a recovery to the use of WM until the marriage takes place, in trust for JM to take rents and profits for life with remainder to ME and the children of JM and ME.
2 messuage and 50a land called Fartlands in Catsfield (E, N: road from Catsfield Green to Ninfield; W: house and land of John Skinner; N: the common stream and the land of John Easton otherwise Aneston)
JM conveys the property (which is subject to a separate lease for a year by JM) to CE and JM to the use of JM until the marriage takes place, then to WM for life with remainder to WW and BH in trust to preserve contingent remainders during the life of JM, with remainders to the children of JM by ME
Copy probate (PCC) dated of will (28 Sep 1739) of William Markwick of Catsfield, esq 27 Nov 1740
1 to his wife Elizabeth his messuage in the town of Battle
2 to his daughter Grace Markwick his farm in Brightling
3 to any children that his son James Markwick might have by his present or by any future wife, his manor, farm and woods in Netherfield (in Battle), Whites Wood and Kemhithe Wood in Battle, a field and wood and a copyhold farm called Roysers, held of the Manor of Buckholt, in Bexhill, land called Brands in Ninfield, held of the Manor of Moorhall, a house and land in Catsfield; In default of issue the property shall remain to his son James Markwick for life, with remainder to his two daughters Mary, wife of George Tilden of Battle, and Grace Markwick, and their heirs
4 several pecuniary and personal legacies
Executor: son James Markwick
Partition (lease and release) 3 -4 Oct 1786
William Markwick of Catsfield, esq, only son and heir of James Markwick of Catsfield, esq, deceased, who was the only son and heir of William Markwick of Catsfield, esq, deceased, with Thomas Madgewick of Lewes, mariner, only son and heir of John Madgewick of Lewes, mercer, deceased, to Joseph Calverley of the Broad, Hellingly, esq, in trust parcels of marsh formerly called The New Innings in Pevensey, now held by WM and TM in two separate moieties of 60a and 48a each (names of separate parcels given)
WM and TM convey the land to JC in trust to preserve the moieties which WM and TM now enjoy
recites enfeoffment of seven pieces called The New Innings (114a), occupied by Thomas Sloman, gent, by Thomas Collins, esq, and his wife Margaret, to Nicholas Pelham, kt, and George Elfred, gent, for £855, 22 Dec 1679; agreement between Pelham and Elfred to partition, 22 dec 1679; descent of Pelham's moiety to WM and of Elfred's moiety to TM; presumption that a partition was made but inability to find any conveyance
Marriage Settlement 22-23 April 1789
William Markwick of Catsfield, esq, only son and heir of James Markwick and his wife Mary Eversfield (who were married 10 June 1735 at Eastbourne in Sussex), both deceased, with Mary Date of Southampton spinster, to John Ellis of Hatton Garden, Middlesex, gent, John Mayo of Battle, gent, George Rogers of Southampton, esq, William Gilmore Harvey of Battle, gent, William Bulkeley of Chelsea College, Middlesex, esq, and John Tilden of Battle, gent, in trust; WM to marry MD.
Messuage, barn, gardens orchards and lands called Lodgelands, Groves Crofts, Graynetts otherwise Gravetts (50a) in Catsfield; 3 parcels of Heath Ground called the Beekes (18a) in Catsfield; parcel of marshland called The Great Bills or the Great Bill Marsh (20a) in Pevensey (abuttals given); two parcels of salt marsh (9a and 30a) in Pevensey (abuttals given); messuage, barn, garden close and 22a land called Beekes in Catsfield (abuttals given); several parcels of land called the Langsters (46a) in Catsfield; parcels of land called Bredgers, Colewyshe and the Mill Pond (28a) in Catsfield; messuage called Heardsbeake near the Churchyard at Catsfield, with the malthouse, barn, stables and buildings; croft (2a) in Catsfield near the churchyard; lands called Summerlease and Twylstye (90a) in Catsfield; marshland in Pevensey called the Lower Inner Salts, the Upper Inner Salts, the Little Marsh, the Pond Marsh and the Lower Strakes (60a, the moiety of land formerly called the New Innings); messuage and 50a land called the Fart Lands in Catsfield (abuttals given).
WM, in view of his forthcoming marriage with MD, conveys the property to JE that JE may be tenant to the praecipe of a common recovery and until this is suffered JE shall hold the lands to the use of WM until the marriage takes place, and then to the use of WM for life, but in case of forfeiture, the property shall go to GR and WGH in trust that MD may take her rightful benefits, and £200 annuity for life out of certain of the lands (which shall be held to the use of WB and JT in trust for the children of WM and MD).
Endorsed 18 November 1816
Mary Eversfield, née Date, widow of William Eversfield, formerly Markwick, (who took the name Eversfield upon the death of his Aunt Olive Eversfield of Southampton, spinster), Leonora Tilden Sampson, widow and relict of John Tilden Sampson (formerly known as John Tilden), James Eversfield of Catsfield, esq, youngest son of William and Mary Eversfield.
ME accepts the estate granted her in the will of her late husband William Eversfield of 2 Nov 1811 in lieu of the rights granted her in the settlement; LTS similarly assigns to JE any interest in:
the manor of Catsfield and farm called Tilton Farm (186a 2r 11p except Northland Field), occupied by Thomas Ellis, Tilton Wood (8a 1r 12p), Eleven Acre Wood (12a), Reed Wood (13a 2r 26p), South Wood (27a 2r 6p) all in Catsfield and Pipe Wood (13a 1r 26p) in Ninfield, conveyed to the trustees by William Markwick in exchange for a conveyance by them to him in fee of the settled estate in Catsfield, 23 and 24 Jun 1796.
The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne By Gilbert White
William Markwick, afterwards Eversfield, derived from his residence in the country opportunities of observing nature, which he embraced with a readiness worthy of a pupil of Gilbert White. His Naturalist's Calendar affords ample evidence of his perseverance in attending to and noting occurrences in both the organized kingdoms of the creation; and the remarks subjoined by him, in numerous instances, to our author's Observations on various Parts of Nature, shew him to have been a sensible as well as a diligent observer. He communicated to the Linnean Society various essays on subjects of interest to the British zoologist, which were published in the earlier volumes of the Transactions of that body: the first of them, On the Migration of certain Birds, and on other Matters relating to the Feathered Tribes, included a Table of the annual appearance and disappearance of certain birds, which was continued to the end of 1794 in a subsequent communication, entitled Aves Sussexienses ; or, a Catalogue of Birds found in the County of Sussex, with Remarks. His last paper consisted of Observations on the Clover Weevil, and was published in 1801. His death took place in 1813.
All through the centuries the finest and certainly the most attractive view of Horsham must have been enjoyed by those looking down on the town from the top of Denne Hill. As is to be expected the hill has been linked with local tradition, even its name is said to have been Dane Hill where the Danish army encamped and prepared to resist an attack by Alfred the Great, but there appears to be no more basis for this belief than for Horsa's victory on the nearby slopes of Picts Hill.
Much more feasible is that it is derived from the old Saxon word for a clearing, and all sources are agreed that the manor of Denne was anciently held of the manor of Washington by a yearly rent of 1s. 6d., heriots and other services, and became part of the de Braose possessions. From them it passed to the Dukes of Norfolk, and therefore with Chesworth became forfeit to the Crown on the execution of the fourth Duke in 1572. It then passed through several hands before being purchased for £5,500 by Sir John Eversfield in 1604.
Denne thus came into the possession of the family who were to hold it for very many years, during which time the Eversfields played a major role in the life of Horsham and its neighbourhood. On Sir John's death it passed to his son, Sir Thomas Eversfield, who was appointed by Parliament as one of the commissioners for the sequestration of "Malignants" at the beginning of the Civil War, but shortly afterwards changed his allegiance, for his own estate at "Den in Horsham'' was sequestered through his desertion from Parliament's cause and the local Parliamentary leader, Colonel Morley, was ordered to receive £200 "set upon" Sir Thomas, the money to be used for paying Parliamentary forces in Sussex.
When Sir Thomas died Denne passed to his son John, who became M.P. for Steyning, who in turn bequeathed it to his son, Charles, a leading figure in the struggle for the political mastery of Horsham in the early part of the eighteenth century and for many years M.P. for Horsham. His son, also called Charles, inherited the property on his death and in his will left it to his sister,, Mrs. Olive Eversfield on whose death in 1807 Denne passed to William Markwick of Catsfield near Battle, a leading naturalist of his day, who, in accordance with his aunt Olive's will, changed his name from Markwick to Eversfield. William's son, James, sold Catsfield and settled at Denne, being followed by his son, Charles Gilbert Eversfield, the property remaining in the Eversfield family until this century.
A certain amount of confusion appears to exist about the date of the building of Denne Park House, and indeed on whose orders it was constructed. At the time that Denne was bought by the Eversfields the old mansion at Chesworth was known to have been in a state of disrepair, and if they took immediate possession of the property it seems likely that it was built on their orders, very possibly on the site of an older building. Although the frontage of the building appears more modern, the gables, stone pediments and clusters of chimneys suggest the early part of the seventeenth century. Sir Thomas Eversfield is said to have enlarged the house in 1664 and to have I converted the private chapel into a dining room and to have allowed for greater bedroom space, but the building has probably undergone frequent alterations so that few parts of the original have remained, and local belief in the last century was strong that the tower was the oldest part of the building.
The anonymous writer whose observations of Horsham in the 1720's are printed at the beginning of this issue mentions Denne. "It is situated on a Hill w'ch yield a delicious prospect over the wild of Sussex and at the East hath a pleasant Park well stocked with fallow deer and wood……..and the house w'ch is of Free Stone is surrounded with good Gardens and avenues and besides other good surroundings." The description also mentions the paintings and family portraits and that "The Hall is a spacious Room and the Lobby floored with marble Slabbes."
Whether the avenues mentioned in the account include the main drive is not clear. The splendid avenue of limes leading from the Worthing Road to the house is supposed to have been laid out on the orders of Sir Thomas Eversfield, but other sources have stated that the stretch of the Worthing road passing that side of Denne was not made until long after Sir Thomas's death. But although it is very hard to set any date on the planting of the avenue it was clearly done with considerable vision and forethought and by someone with expert knowledge of the job. The drive to the Worthing road was six hundred yards long and there were one hundred and twelve trees in each row, and the view along it to the grey house when the trees were carefully tended and the wide verges well cut, must have been magnificent Local tradition also claims that the iron gates which stood at the head of the drive were manufactured from local iron and were brought from Chesworth. The secondary avenue leading to the other entrance to the Park seems to have fallen into neglect rather early in its career.
A walk over Denne remains one of the easiest ways in which the people of Horsham can escape to the countryside. The hill has taken the passing of time gently, even the scars of the army camp built there in World War II have virtually disappeared, but the plateau will probably never recapture the charm it must have had in the early part of the last century when it was kept rolled and mown and was much used by the townspeople in summer for walking, and also by the Denne Park Cricket Club. The view over Horsham has changed greatly since then, particularly in the last twenty years, but the view to the east still gives "a delicious prospect over the wild of Sussex."
The Linnean 2004, Volume 20
William Markwick FLS - a forgotten naturalist
William Markwick, later Eversfield, (1739-1813) FLS 1792 was a wealthy landowner of Catsfield, near Battle, East Sussex. He was a local magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of the county. In May 1758, he was admitted to the Inner Temple, London, and in June, to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, but he neither practised law, nor did he take a degree. Instead, in the typical manner of a country gentleman of the period, he spent his time looking after his estate of some 1,600 acres, which extended from beyond Hastings in the east, to west of “East Bourn”, where he spent his summers to benefit from its healthy sea air. He attended to the affairs of his villagers and the state of his crops and his livestock, in that area, principally sheep.
His “mansion”, variously named Catsfield Place or Church House, is adjacent to the village church. Markwick entertained the notion of creating the idyllic prospect of his sheep peacefully grazing on the sward outside his windows. Unfortunately, his seedsman mistook his order for the very short Sheep's Fescue and sent him some other grass (perhaps the Bearded Fescue), which the sheep refused to eat and which grew so rank and tall (3-4 feet), that his men had to use scythes to cut it down.
Markwick celebrated his 50th birthday by marrying Mary Date of Southampton a few days later. In 1803, when he was 64, he inherited the estate of Denne Park, just south of Horsham, West Sussex, from his aunt, Olive Eversfield, which entailed his taking that surname. Royal Licence was granted in 1807. Even though the family thenceforth used the name of Eversfield, he continued to sign himself “William Markwick” on papers that he sent to our Society. Although he must have anticipated this inheritance, as the years passed he may well have wondered if he would live to see the day - Olive Eversfield was 90 when she died. As it was, Markwick personally scarcely benefited. The lengthy legal procedures and, ultimately, the writing of a new Will - a complicated document, 15 pages long - seem to have occupied his time and energy for several years.
His Will is dated 1811. On his death, his widow removed to Denne Park. She died in 1822 and is buried at Horsham. His elder daughter, Sophia, received a dowry of £10,000; she married at Horsham in 1820, aged 28. His second daughter, Mary, had died in 1810, aged 19. The property at Catsfield was divided between the two sons; Charles, the elder, was also left the means to buy a commission (Lieutenant) in the 10th Hussars. His residence was at Charlton Court, near Steyning, West Sussex, an Eversfield property. He died in 1818 (or, according to Army records, in 1821), aged only 24 (or 27). He is buried at Catsfield. The younger son, James, was originally intended for the Church. Like his father, he also entered Peterhouse in 1813; in 1822, he became High Sheriff of Sussex, as had his great-grandfather, William Markwick in the reign of George I. In 1823, he sold the Catsfield property and moved to Denne. James married and had 3 children, but died young, in 1826, just short of his 31st birthday. He is buried in Horsham. The miniature at Hastings Museum showing a “William Markwick”, bewigged in the fashion of the 1730s, must be that of the High Sheriff (died 1740), not our naturalist of two generations later. The names 'William' and 'James' alternated with each generation. Charles, Sophia, Olive and Mary were also family names, used repeatedly.
Markwick became a Fellow of our Society in 1792 - his sponsors were the Rev. Samuel Goodenough, the first Treasurer; Jonas Dryander, the first Librarian; and Thomas Marsham, the first Secretary. Like most countrymen, Markwick took a keen interest in the wild life around him and since much of his land was on the Pevensey Levels or along the coast, he became particularly concerned with marshland and wading birds, sea creatures and fish. He was also a competent botanist. He wrote up his records as articles for publication in our Transactions: six papers between the years 1789 to 1801 (Trans. I, II, IV and VI, 1797-1807). He also submitted papers in 1797, 1800, 1806 and 1807, which remain in manuscript form in our archives. The greater part of Markwick material is to be found in Hastings Museum, Cambridge Road. The 46 volumes, bound in calf, contain his hand-written records on plants and birds and 'scrapbooks' of illustrations culled from books and newspapers, assembled for his daughter, Sophia, most probably with her assistance. There are also 200 books and his own library catalogue of some 750 titles, compiled by Markwick about 1780.
From these library lists and the copious bibliographies that he includes with each article, the diversity of Markwick's interests can be assessed. As well as containing the major ornithological and botanical works of the 17th and 18th centuries, there are books on rural economy and husbandry, gardening, geography and travel, political history and law, theology, literature, poetry and drama, all subjects that an educated gentleman would have in his collection. Other subjects that might be expected to figure, such as philosophy, history and antiquities are strangely wanting. There are no Classical authors, yet Markwick was able to translate some of Linnaeus's work from the Latin and annotate the text. It is, of course, possible, that such works had been disposed of before the remainder were listed in 1925.
One interesting title: The Art of Painting, 1678, by John Smith points to the ability Markwick possessed to illustrate his writings with 'portraits' of the subjects discussed. Using the popular grey wash of the period or full-colour, his pictures are painted with confidence on good quality laid paper. For his major articles, he employed the customary format of text opposite picture. He gives Latin and vernacular names, synonyms, references, detailed description, location and observations, the whole followed by a comprehensive bibliography.
Markwick's first publication was on bird migration [Trans.I, 1791]. At the end, there is a 'Calendar' for the years 1768-83, listing the dates of appearance and disappearance of 25 different birds [SP755(5)]; the list for 1783-94 [SP 758], 51 birds, is published in Trans.IV, 1798. At Hastings, there are 3 volumes called: A Calendar of Flora or Naturalist's Journal, covering the years 1768-76, recording the first sight, flowering, setting seeds, etc. of flowers. The information was published alongside the similar records collected by his contemporary, the Rev. Gilbert White (1720-93), in the 8vo edition, 1802, of The Natural History of Selborne. The editor, John White, acknowledges that these additions were obtained through “the Kindness of William Markwick, Esq., FLS, well known as an accurate Observer of Nature”. He and his father Benjamin (Gilbert White's brother) were the publishers of the Linnean Society's Transactions so knew of Markwick's work. It seems, however, that Markwick and White never knew each other, though it is always possible that their correspondence has been lost. That they were not close friends is a great shame, seeing that they had so many interests in common. Gilbert White even repines that he had nobody with whom he could have a scientific discussion. They could have exchanged views on the nesting of the ravens in the vicinity of their houses and commiserated with each other on not having glimpsed the noble Great Bustard, then still inhabiting the Sussex Downs, though depleted in numbers and soon to be coursed to extinction. White, who had observed the exotically plumaged Hoopoe in his garden, would have envied Markwick, who had a wounded bird brought to him and watched it strut about the room, pecking at the floor, raising its crest and uttering loud “schreitches”. Alas, it died in the night.
Markwick owned the first edition of White's Selbourne and some of his Remarks on the text were also published in the 2nd edition, as well as his Calendars. On the whole, he corroborates White's findings, though he occasionally hints at a certain naivety in his views. They both stand in awe of “the wonderful Works of God in the Creation” and “His Wisdom in adapting the singular Form and Position” of the limbs and the bills of birds to their particular mode of life. When he set himself the task of copying Extracts from the English translation (1786) of Count Buffon's Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux (1770-86) 1796, adding his own Remarks [MS 473], Markwick rebukes the Frenchman for “finding Fault with the Works of the Creator”. For instance, when he considers the uneven lengths of the mandibles of the Shearbill or Black Skimmer to be “an awkward and defective Instrument” and others, such as the curiously shaped beak of the Crossbill to be “a Deformity” and the turned-up bill of the Avocet to be “an Error of Nature”, which must ultimately lead to the bird's destruction, Markwick points out that, on the contrary, they are “admirably well formed” for their purpose, designed specifically “to fill a gap in Nature”. He chides Buffon for implying that he could have done better.
Markwick followed his paper on Migration with two on the Wood Sandpiper [Trans.I, 1791; II, 1794 - SP 755 (2); SP 757] and, in Trans.IV, 1798 his important Aves Sussexiensis, read in 1795, the first avifauna of the county; the illustrations are in his manuscript [SP 758]. Unfortunately, the supplements: Remarks on Birds, 1795-1800  and Remarks on … Aquatic Birds called … Grallae or Waders, 1800 [SP 205] were never published. It is true that he sometimes misidentified the species, mistaking the duller plumage of a female or juvenile, even a male without its courtship colouration, for a related species, but any bird that was not either caught or shot could not be closely examined, the optical precision of telescopes of that period being wholey inadequate for such exactitude. Markwick sought help when he could, but that was not always so simple. The Scaup Duck and the Tippet Grebe that he sent to Goodenough for identification were, instead, carried off to the kitchen and served up as a delicacy for his dinner.
As well as water-fowl, Markwick also studied coastal fish and “sea blubbers” (jelly-fish). He sent papers on them to Thomas Marsham, with specimens and coloured figures, in 1806 and 1807 [SP 762; MS 475]. Of 4-footed creatures, there is a single manuscript, dated 1800, concerning the Harvest Mouse [SP 760, British Zoology, vol.4], with a water-colour of two animals. He rightly takes exception to White's belief, that they spend the winter in holes underground “in a torpid State”. In his opinion, they only resort to them “as a Place of Security from Danger” - a nice subject for discussion between the two naturalists. There are four volumes called British Zoology at Hastings.
Markwick's two major botanical papers, sadly remain unpublished. In 1802, he submitted: Plantae Sussexiensis [MS 474], a first flora for the county, comprising 558 species. In 1800, he had already sent: Descriptions and Figures of several Grasses and Rushes [MS 491] of a further 37 species. At Hastings, there are two volumes called: Centuria Plantarum indigenarum, 1799 [-1800?] with 200 species and another 50 species in each of the 8 volumes entitled: Fasciculus Plantarum indigenarum, 1786-1808. Belatedly as a first flora, if integrated together and published now, they would still be of considerable historical value, highlighting the tremendous changes that have overtaken the Sussex landscape - drainage of the marshes, massive urbanization, the coastline built over, deforestation followed by monoculture agriculture, not to mention huge tracts of land devastated for roads and railways. Many plants and birds, which for Markwick were a common sight, have become rarities or have disappeared altogether from the scene.
His second major contribution to botany and another 'first' was, strangely enough for a Sussex gentleman, Florula Canadiensis, 1805, 6 parts in 3 vols [MS 472], a flora for Lower Canada - Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Gaspé Peninsula - the only parts of Canada under British rule at that time. The flora itemises over 100 genera, plus some two dozen plants, which Markwick was unable to name. There are 219 figures and a bibliography of 67 titles. The collection was made by General Robert Prescott (1725- 1816), Colonial Administrator, General of His Majesty's Forces and Colonel of the 28th Regiment of Foot, while he was Governer-in-Chief of the two Canadas from 1797 to 1799. (The town of Prescott, Ontario, on the St Lawrence River, is named in his honour.) He retired to England and became a near neighbour of Markwick's, living at Rose Green, a property just outside Battle. He is buried at Winchelsea.
Markwick used grey wash for most of his illustrations of these unusual plants, since they were made from the herbarium specimens prepared by Mrs Prescott. He cleverly manages to make them look reasonably fresh, as if drawn from nature, which does Mrs Prescott great credit. He may, in fact, have compared some with examples growing in their garden, brought over as seeds or living plants. General Prescott had also made a plant collection, while he was stationed in the West Indies (Governor of Martinique, 1794-95, where his life was spared by the revolutionary French). A few plants from there may also have been flourishing at Rose Green.
Now that the Markwick manuscripts in our archives have been catalogued and the contents listed, although 200 years on, it only remains for specialists to edit them in conjunction with the material at Hastings Museum and, by publication, to release to science these valuable additions to botanical and ornithological knowledge and bring to William Markwick the recognition he so rightly merits.
ENID SLATTER July 2001