Southbourne, West Sussex
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Agatha Christe's Family at Fraryhurst, Prinsted
Nathaniel was a wealthy American businessman, a partner in H.B Chaflin & Co., New York, and it was Margaret, his second wife, who dedicated the stained glass window in St John's Church. He was the grandfather of Agatha Christie and he married Margaret, a niece of Richard Kelsey, in April 1863 at Westbourne.
Richard Kelsey was a Prinsted landowning farmer and records show that he owned a number of plots of land from the Manor House to theMain Road and in the 1861 census had 161 acres employing 8 men and 3 boys. In1866 he sold a parcel of land identified as Homefield, to Nathaniel Frary Miller and this became Fraryhurst.
Nathaniel died aged 47 on 9th May 1869 in the Parish of Westbourne, but remember that Southbourne did not exist at this time and Prinsted, Lumley and Nutbourne were all part of Westbourne until 1878 when St. John's Churchwas consecrated. Nathaniel was buried on 11th June 1869 (lot 18760) in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.
The 1841 to 1871 censuses show Richard Kelsey and his relatives as living in Prinsted. Richard Kelsey (the first People's Warden at St. John's Church) died in 1879 and both his sisters, Margaret and Frances Kelsey, are listed as living in Fraryhurst in 1881, and only Frances in 1891. Margaret Miller (nee West) moved to Ealing, and various members of her family lived with her from 1881. The 1911 Census, records Agatha Christie, aged 20, living with her step grandmother at 99, Uxbridge Road, Ealing. In her autobiography Agatha describes Margaret as an intelligent feisty woman on which she based her Miss Marple character.
We now know who Nathaniel was and that he lived locally, as his death is recorded in the Westbourne register. We know he married a local girl, Margaret West in 1863. He bought land in 1866 and Fraryhurst was built during the 1860's, as stated in the Prinsted Conservation area appraisal Margaret continued to own Fraryhurst until 1909 and her cousins lived there after she moved to Ealing. It was sold in 1909 to Mr Lucas for £1537 which included outbuildings, offices, garden and orchard. In July 1918 Margaret, Muriel and Hope Ricardo leased Fraryhurst and then bought it in 1919. The three sisters lived at Fraryhurst for 40 years, and during the mid 1950's the orchard was divided and sold as individual plots. This became Frarydene. When Muriel died Fraryhurst was sold in 1958.
This all started because I just asked the question, who was Nathaniel Frary Miller and his widow that dedicated this beautiful stained glass window in St John's. No one seemed to know so that set me off on a mission and I am really pleased I now have an answer. The shame is the house no longer has the painted name 'Fraryhurst' over the front door, it was removed in late 2012.
My thanks to David Holman for his assistance with land registry research.
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